OK, this is an odd week in a couple of ways. Not only are there too may "art" titles opening — four is just more than the market will bear — but exactly what is opening in the supposedly mainstream realm is still open to some question, and that's question that won't be answered till sometime tomorrow.
Things we do know — there are four art/indie titles opening at The Carolina: Closed Circuit, Crystal Fairy, I Declare War, The Spectacular Now. All of these have been seen and reviewed in this week's paper. I reviewed all of them, but I Declare War, which fell to Mr. Souther. (I saw the movie at ActionFest last year.) Perhaps the oddest thing is that both Closed Circuit and The Spectacular Now are opening on Wednesday. No, I don't know why.
For my money, the best is Closed Circuit, which is an unusually intelligent thriller that I'm glad to see Focus is finally putting some push behind. I still hold out little hope for it at the box office, since it lacks a big name star. All the same — and despite some far from glowing early reviews — it strikes me as a good film, and certainly the one with the broadest appeal. Check out the review.
The big surprise for me was how much I liked Crystal Fairy — a film that by all rights, I oughtn't have cared for. On the other hand, I had been looking forward to The Spectacular Now and was ... well, underwhelmed. Maybe it was one coming-of-age movie too many. Maybe it was just over-praised, but it really didn't do it for me. You can read why in the review. And bear in mind, I'm in the minority on it. It may appeal more to you.
Now, these other things ...
Well, yesterday I was told that this One Direction: This Is Us quasi-documentary from Morgan Spurlock wasn't opening here. Last evening, I found out otherwise. I am not sure why. Granted, I don't follow this kind of music at all, but I've never heard of this boy band that appears to have been assembled by Simon Cowell. (Can anything possibly make this less appealing? Well, the Morgan Spurlock factor doesn't help either, as far as I'm concerned.). They look for all the world like Menudo for WASP girls. In any case, it's obviously not aimed at me. Actually, I'm not quite sure who it's aimed at — or who it will attract, especially in light of the less than stellar box office of most such films recently.
Also, yesterday it seemed that this Getaway picture starring Ethan Hawke was a certainty. All I know at this point is that neither The Carolina nor Carmike booked it. Whether or not either of the Regal theaters are getting it, I'll know tomorrow. Anyway, if it does show up, it was directed by Courtney Solomon — who made the pretty bad An American Haunting back in 2006 and whom the IMDb claims is an "indie-horror maverick." Hawke stars as someone named Brent Magna (really?) and is playing someone whose wife has been kidnapped (whether by Jon Voight or just his voice is unclear). According to the studio blurb, Hawke's only ally is computer hacker Selena Gomez. Anybody really hoping this will open locally?
This week, the Fine Arts holds steady, but The Carolina loses Kings of Summer (today is the last day) and Unfinished Song (lasts through Thursday).
This Thursday's Thursday Horror Picture Show is a double bill of Bela Lugosi Monogram B-pictures, William Beaudine's Voodoo Man (1944) and Phil Rosen's Return of the Ape Man (1944) on Thu., Aug. 29 at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. World Cinema is showing Jules Dassin's Rififi (1955) at 8 p.m. on Fri., Aug. 30 in the Railroad Library in the Phil Mechanic Building. The Hendersonville Film Society is running Ronald Neame's The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1969) on Sun., Sept. 1 at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. The Asheville Film Society is screening Michel Gondry's Be Kind Rewind (2008) on Tue., Sept. 3 at The Carolina. More on all titles in this week's Xpress with full reviews in the online edition.
This big news this week is the debut of The Great Gatsby on DVD (my copy should be arriving any minute). Also up is the underrated and underseen The Reluctant Fundamentalist, as well as Pain & Gain.
Notable TV Screenings
In one of TCM's more interesting moves, the subject of their Thu., Aug. 29 "Summer Under the Stars" is the great Glenda Farrell — who is usually better than the movies she's in. The best thing from the persepective of Ms. Farrell is Michael Curtiz's Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933) in which she plays the movies' first bonafide wisecracking newspaper woman. That's at 9:15 p.m. It's followed by Mervyn LeRoy's classic I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (1932) — a great picture, but not really a Glenda Farrell picture.
Sunday, Sept. 1 brings us something close to an all Alfred Hitchcock day. The order is pretty random. It all starts at 10 a.m. with Murder! (1930). Then we get Rope (1948) at noon, Spellbound at 1:30 p.m., Marnie (1964) at 3:30 p.m., The Birds (1963) at 5:45 p.m., Shadow of a Doubt (1943) at 8 p.m., Psycho at 10 p.m., The Lodger (1926) at midnight, Blackmail (1929) at 2 a.m., and Frenzy (1972) at 3:30 a.m. If you can detect any pattern to this, let me know. If you catch nothing else, you should make it Shadow of a Doubt.
Monday, Sept. 2 is rather curious. Worth noting, however, is Frank Borzage's History Is Made at Night (1937) at 8 a.m., and Aki Kaurismaki's Le Havre (2011) at 2:30 p.m. That evening TCM is starting the 15 part The Story of Film: An Odyssey, which I am told is very good and very idiosyncratic, meaning it won't be the same old thing.