Now that the studios have finished putting their supposed best feet forward for Christmas -- two cheesy cash-grabs and one re-issue notwithstanding -- it's back to business as usual. Oh, sure there are some limited release things waiting in the wings that will be doled out to us in the coming weeks, but when all is said and done, the studios' January White Sale is upon us -- as demonstrated by this week's notion of a mainstream offering.
There are three movies coming our way on Friday -- and two of them are OK, but I can't claim great excitement over them (and, yes, I've seen them both). They come under the heading of art or maybe prestige pictures that didn't quite make the cut for the holiday rush. First, there's Hyde Park on Hudson -- opening at The Carolina and the Fine Arts -- a movie that had awards in its starry eyes not so long ago. That changed once the film started screening for frequently perplexed critics. Granted, Bill Murray has scored a Golden Globe nomination for his performance as FDR -- and not undeservedly -- but it looks like it might end there. It's not that the movie is bad. It's slight and entertaining, but it falls far short of being the sort of film it wanted to be. You can read my review in this week's paper.
The other notable release is Gus Van Sant's Promised Land -- opening at The Carolina. It stars Matt Damon, Frances McDormand, Rosemarie DeWitt, and John Krasinski. It is certainly well intended -- and it has wrung some right wing withers because it's about fracking. In fact, I think of it as "that fracking movie." That said, it's...well, just not very exciting. Mr. Souther's review of the film appears in this week's paper.
Now, all this looks like a super-duper classy treat of sheerest ne plus ultradom when placed up against this week's single mainstream release -- Texas Chainsaw 3D. Yes, for whatever low-rent, low-brow, low-stakes, low-interest reason, we're down for another of these. Nevermind that the only merit to be found in this series begins and ends with the first two Tobe Hooper movies, here comes another -- and in 3D, no less. It appears to have been directed by John Luessenhop -- a man primarilly know for the 2010 stinkeroo Takers. (Yes, I know, there's at least one person out there who thinks it was "off the hook good," but we'll let that pass.) It stars people I never heard of -- including Clint Eastwood's son, Scott, and someone by the unlikely name of Trey Songz. The latter appears to be a musician. Based on one of stills from the movie, he also appears to have difficulty keeping his trousers up. This could prove fatal when trying to escape chainsaw mayhem. The film has thrown fans of the first couple of movies a bone or three by bringing in Bill Moseley, Gunnar Hansen (the original Leatherface), and Marilyn Burns in presumably small roles. My question is -- does anybody really want this movie?
This week looks like the end of the line for both Anna Karenina and Hitchcock. Damn shame, too.
Things start to settle back into normalcy this week -- with only World Cinema missing in action (they come back next week). This week the Thursday Horror Picture Show is running Ishiro Honda's classic Gojira (Godzilla) (1954) at 8 p.m. on Thu., Jan 3 in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. The Hendersonville Film Society returns with Carol Reed's Oliver! (1968) on Sun., Jan. 6 at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. The Asheville Film Society is screening Pedro Almodovar's :Live Flesh (1997) on Tue., Jan. 8 at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. More on all titles in the Xpress -- with expanded coverage in the online edition.
I've seen worse weeks. First and foremost we have Rian Johnson's Looper. I confess this hasn't stayed with me the way I had hoped it would, but I'd certainly recommend it. I'd also recommend David Cronenberg's Cosmopolis, which didn't play here. I didn't like it exactly, but it lingered -- not entirely pleasantly -- in my mind for serveral days after seeing it. Now, whether I want to see it again...
Notable TV Screenings
It's another non-starter really, but it's worth noting that Fellini's Julet of the Spirits (1965) is on TCM at 8 p.m. on Mon., Jan. 7. Also, Jean-Pierre Melville's Bob le Flambeur (1955) shows up at 12:15 a.m. late night on Tue., Jan. 8 (or early Wed., Jan. 9, depending on whether you were raised on TV Guide time or not).