You know it's a pretty dire week when the thing I'm most looking forward to is Fast & Furious 6. (And you can imagine how much it pains me to type those words.) There's not even a single new art title to brighten the weekend (no, last Friday's ActionFest offering, Java Heat, going to a full run doesn't count) — merely three mainstream movies I find it hard to get jazzed about. These are the conditions that prevail.
Fortunately for me, I did get to see next week's art title — about which I will say no more, except that I'm trying to decide whether I merely liked it a lot or outright loved it. I'm leaning toward the latter. I will leave you to wonder about what it is until next week. Yes, I am taunting you. But next week definitely brings something a lot more special than this week appears to offer.
I should note that I am not against seeing Fast & Furious 6. I simply find it hard to accept it as the potential high water mark of the week. But let's look at this lineup.
Now, I liked the last Fast & Furious picture — Fast Five — just fine as mindless, disposable entertainment in overkill mode. I expect to like this new one — cleverly titled Fast & Furious 6 on the same basis. And I'm marginally interested to see if Dwayne Johnson's performance is anywhere near as sweat-soaked as the one he gave in Fast Five. The addition of Gina Carano is interesting — as is the apparent promise (or threat?) of a certain Brit action star joining up for the already-in-the-works seventh film. The plot has something to do with bringing down a new bad guy and the return of Michelle Rodriguez. I'm not sure it matters, since it's really all about the action and the easy camaraderie of the characters.
Then there's Chris Wedge's Epic — an animated film that arrives on the scene just in time to replace the estimable, but played out The Croods. Wedge is the basic mastermind behing the Ice Age movies (the appeal of which escapes me), but he hasn't himself directed a movie since 2005's Robots. This new one appears to be a significant departure from his earlier films — at least in terms of its look. The look here is more storybook with a heavy dose of Miyazaki — and it was probably dictated by the look of the source book, The Leaf Men and the Brave Good Bugs, by William Joyce. The concept is one of those things where a human is reduced to insect size and becomes enmeshed in the conflict of the little world she's forced to deal with. It has a pricey voice cast — headed by Amanda Seyfried — and the ever present 3-D option. But the trailer looks on the generic side.
I never saw The Hangover, but I caught the last hour of The Hangover Part II while killing time between movies, which I found OK — a verdict having something to do with the movie's simian value, I admit. Now we get The Hangover Part III (the clever titles just won't stop this week) — something that apparently exists strictly because the last one grossed $600 million. I'm sure that's a pretty good incentive — and it's not like any of the participants other than Bradley Cooper are exactly setting the world on fire. While people complained that the second film was too much like the first one, they now appear to be poised to complain that this one is too different. I may or may not find out.
Even with this lackluster lineup, it turns out that we're losing both of last week's seriously underperforming art titles. No and Gimme the Loot ought to have done better than they did, but that's not how it worked out, so they're leaving The Carolina this week. The rest of the art titles — both there and the Fine Arts — are holding steady.
Before hitting the standard offerings, let's note that Pack Memorial Library concludes its month of Cary Grant series with Walk Don't Run (1966) Tuesday, May 28. at 3 p.m.
This week the Thursday Horror Picture Show is running Godzilla Raids Again (1955) Thursday, May 23 at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. World Cinema is showing the feature film winner of the Twin Rivers Media Festival House of Good and Evil Friday, May 24 at 8 p.m. in the Railroad Library in the Phil Mechanic Building. The Hendersonville Film Society is screening That's Entertainment (1974) Sunday, May 26 at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. The Asheville Film Society closes its May schedule with the Coen Brothers' The Ladykillers (2004) Tuesday, May 28 at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. More on all titles in this week's paper — with full reviews in the online edition.
There are several titles coming out this week. At the top of that list are the massively undervalued Beautiful Creatures, Steven Soderbergh's theoretically last theatrical feature Side Effects, and Stand Up Guys. On the lower end of the spectrum are The Last Stand and Parker.
Notable TV Screenings
On Thursday, May 23 at 10:15 a.m., TCM is showing the early sound oddity Voice of the City (1929) — not exactly good, but very interesting — and very rarely shown. That night, starting at 8 p.m., they offer 12 hours of Harold Lloyd silent films, starting with the iconic Safety Last (1923). If you don't know Lloyd's work, this is a solid crash course.