This week the White House is under siege (yes, again), odd-couple cops are on the loose, ecoterrorists are upon us, middle-aged romance is in bloom and a very different kind of thriller is at hand. And at least two of these are outstanding.
Three of the new titles this week are of the art-film variety, which, as usual, means they've already been seen and reviewed in this week's paper. These are Francois Ozon's In the House (opening at the Fine Arts), Susanne Bier's All You Need Is Love (opening at The Carolina), and Zal Batmanglij's The East (also opening at The Carolina).
The best of the three is Ozon's In the House — a film I've seen three times now and one that I was very much afraid wasn't going to make it onto local screens. (It probably wouldn't have if Before Midnight and Much Ado About Nothing hadn't underperformed.) Ozon's film is a supense thriller, but it's not like one you've seen before. It's a kind of intellectual thriller that wittily and effectively deconstructs and critiques itself and its genre.
Graced with terrific performances by Fabrice Luchini, Kristin Scott Thomas, Emmanuelle Segnier and a young man you've probably never heard of named Ernst Umhauer, this is great filmmaking of a kind we don't get nearly often enough. Even if you have an aversion to subtitles, you should catch this wickedly devious and delightfully disturbing film. I'm pretty sure you won't be sorry. It's one of the year's best and it's not like anything else you're likely to see anytime soon.
Less ambitious, but offering delights of its own is Love Is All You Need from Danish filmmaker Susanne Bier that stars Pierce Brosnan and Trine Dyrholm as a pair thrown together by the pending nuptials of his son and her daughter. It works on a basic romantic comedy template, but it's not your usual romantic comedy by any stretch of the imagination. The characters have greater depth and the story goes in some unusual directions. The two stars are beautifully matched and Brosnan hasn't been this good in years. Worth making time for if you possibly can.
I'm less enthused by The East, but it has its merits. It probably depends on how much you like its star and co-writer Brit Marling. If you liked her last film made with director and co-writer Zal Batmanglij, Sound of My Voice, you'll probably get more good out of this than I did. After all, it's virtually the same movie, but with better production value and something more on its mind.
You can check out the full reviews in the paper and online.
That brings us to the week's mainstream offerings, neither of which is the tentpole variety we've been used to.
First up is Paul Feig's The Heat — the inevitable R-rated raunch-com in the wake of his surprise success with Bridesmaids back in 2011. This one has that film's breakout star, Melissa McCarthy, as a foul-mouthed (naturally) Boston cop who gets paired with a tight-assed FBI agent played by Sandra Bullock on a case involving taking down a drug kingpin. The trailer — and the concept — looks an awful lot like every other odd couple, cop-buddy picture ever made. That doesn't preclude the possibility of it being funny within those limitations, but the fact that it hasn't been screened for any critics so far isn't encouraging — nor is the fact that what looks like a 90-minute concept clocks in at nearly two hours.
And then there's the legendary Roland Emmerich — a man who never met a premise he didn't buy into — with the year's second White House under siege picture, White House Down, in which President Jamie Fox and cop Channing Tatum kick terrorist ass for a preposterous 137 minutes. Presumably, Emmerich just couldn't resist another chance to blow up the White House. Anyone familiar with Emmerich's rather lovably stupid filmography should know that this stands almost no chance of being good in any useful sense of the term. On the other hand, there's a strong chance that it will be a lot funnier than The Heat, and it's almost certainly going to be less obnoxious than Olympus Has Fallen — and with less cartoonish special effects.
This week we lose Frances Ha. The Fine Arts is splitting Before Midnight and Much Ado About Nothing, but The Carolina is keeping both at full schedules. They are, however, cutting The Bling Ring to two shows a day.
In addition to the usual screenings, the Fine Arts is showing the Levon Helm documentary Ain't in It for My Health on Thu., June 27, at 7 p.m.
This week's Thursday Horror Picture Show is Alejandro Amenabar's The Others (2001) on Thu., June 27 at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. World Cinema is showing Michelangelo Antonioni's L'eclisse (1962) at 8 p.m. on Fri., June 28 in the Railroad Library in the Phil Mechanic Building. The Hendersonville Film Society has John Madden's Shakespeare in Love (1998) on Sun., June 30 at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. The Asheville Film Society begins a month of musicals with Peter Bogdanovich's At Long Last Love (1975) on Tue., July 2 at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. (I couldn't find a trailer for this, but here is the cut musical number, "Etiquette" for you.) More on all titles in this week's Xpress with full reviews in the online edition.
With the exception of the little seen No, this is a pretty lackluster week. The big titles being The Call and The Incredible Burt Wonderstone. A good week to go to the actual movies.
Notable TV Screenings
It's another of those weeks on TCM where there's no shortage of good titles, but there's just nothing on that doesn't show up pretty frequently, so you're on your own to sift through them.