Now that ActionFest is over (not that I got to deal with much of it — something easily explained when you see the volume of reviewing in this week's paper), things can get back to normal. Judging by the week's mainstream releases that may not be such a good thing. Thank Clapton for "art house" titles.
Actually, this week we have two movies that qualify as art titles and one of those hard-to-classify items, otherwise known as the faith-based film. These peculiar offshoots of cinema have traditionally wandered into town entirely on the strength of being promoted through churches and aimed at people mostly who haven't been to the movies since the last time they re-issued Gone with the Wind. This has shifted recently — possibly ill-advisedly — as both the recent October Baby and now Blue Like Jazz have courted the critics. I'm not sure why, but — at least in my case — it paid off better for them with Blue Like Jazz (opening at the Biltmore Grande), which you can see in this week's reviews.
It's much less surprising that I've also seen the more traditional art titles, Marley and the Oscar-nominated In Darkness (both opening at The Carolina). Both are reviewed in this week's Xpress and both are worth a look — though in somewhat different ways. And Marley will obviously have a greater appeal for fans of Bob Marley than it will the average moviegoer, which is actually rather a shame, since it's definitely of more value than you're probably assuming.
And then there are three other things to take into consideration if we must, and I guess we must.
Seeing as we're coming up on Earth Day (or it's coming up on us), it follows as the night the day that Disney — or Disneynature, to be specific — is out to make a buck off the event with yet another of their nature documentaries. This one is entitled Chimpanzee and boasts the talents of Tim Allen — though not, I believe, as the title character. There are those who think that this should be up my street owing to its obvious simian value. Ah, but they are in error, since my well established simian fondness is saved for the smaller monkey variety. Nothing against the chimpanzee, mind you, it just isn't the same thing. The upshot of this is that I believe we will be continuing our Established Policy of allowing Mr. Souther to review the annual nature movie. (And, by the way, near as I can determine, this one's the exclusive province of the Carmike this year.)
Now, does this mean that the newest movie adapted from a Nicholas Sparks novel is falling to me? Very well could be. I mean, who can possibly fail to be enticed by the prospect of a tattooed Zac Efron as an ex-Marine in a far-fetched gooey romance with Taylor Schilling? If the name Taylor Schilling is unknown to you, I'll remind you that she was the charisma-challenged lead in the inert Atlas Shrugged: Part I. Honestly, I would be glad to remain unenticed by The Lucky One, but that may not be possible. This one appears to be all about how Efron keeps a photo of Schilling that he finds on the battlefield (the trailer is very coy about who was carrying the picture) and comes to believe it was the good luck charm that kept him from being killed. So as any reasonable person in a romantic novel would do, he tracks her down and romances her — despite her resistance to the idea, the presence of her stalker ex-husband and the fact that he can't figure out how to tell her about the photo. Don't pay much attention to its currently positive Rotten Tomato rating till you look at the review sources.
Bringing up the rear is Tim Story's Think Like a Man, which appears to be a sort of rom-com adapted from a book by Steve Harvey, who also appears in the film as himself. The trailer doesn't look any too spiffy to me, and I can't say that the whole idea of four guys who find their love lives turned upside down when the objects of their affections start playing by the rules laid down by Harvey's book is exactly appealing. However, much of the cast is appealing, especially Taraji P. Henson and Gabrielle Union. And there's the fact that back in 2002 Tim Story made the pretty darn excellent Barbershop. Of course, he then turned around and made the execrable Taxi and those two fairly bad Fantastic Four movies, so it's a hard call, but if the alternative is The Lucky One...
Now, this week we lose Rampart and Jeff, Who Lives at Home. It also might be noted (see the movie times starting Friday) that We Need to Talk About Kevin is seriously curtailed at the Fine Arts owing to the Jewish Film Festival (the schedule for which can be found in the advert in the paper).
Before tackling the usual suspects, I will once again mention that the Jewish Film Festival is at the Fine Arts Theatre this week. Unfortunately, I've not had the opportunity of seeing any of these, so I can't weigh in on them. Historically, though, the festival has had some pretty good movies.
Celebrating our second anniversary, the Thursday Horror Picture show returns to its splattery roots by showing Paul Morrissey's Flesh for Frankenstein (1974) at 8 p.m. on Thursday, April 19, in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. The folks at World Cinema are screening Atom Egoyan's Ararat (2002) on Friday, April 20, at 8 p.m. in the Railroad Library in the Phil Mechanic Building. Roland Emmerich's Anonymous (2011) is the Hendersonville Film Society's offering at 2 p.m. on Sunday, April 22, in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. The Asheville Film Society is showing George Arliss in A Successful Calamity (1932) at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, April 24, in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. More on all titles in this week's Xpress with expanded coverage in the online edition.
Unless I'm missing something, it looks like this week pretty much comes down to Shame (wherein Michael Fassbender shows off his ... talent) and Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol.
Notable TV Screenings
Unless you're especially keen on "Beach Party" movies and their assorted offspring (the definition of "classic" becomes more and more elastic), there's not a lot on TCM of note this week. (And where is The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini, eh? Where is it?) However, there's a nice little run of Laurel and Hardy silent shorts on Monday, April 23, starting at 6 a.m. — Do Detectives Think (1927), Putting Pants on Phillip (1927), You're Darn Tootin' (1928), Two Tars (1928), Habeas Corpus (1928), Big Business (1929), Double Whoopee (1929), and Angora Love (1929). Then, if you missed it last time, the rarely shown James Whale film One More River (1934) at 11:30 a.m. on the same day.