We're looking at a big weekend comprised of three mainstream offerings and three art/indie titles -- one of which has shot to being my favorite film of the year (so far). Another most assuredly has not.
It will, I'm sure, come as no surprise that I've seen the art/indie titles, which are comprised of Michael Apted's 56 Up (opening at the Fine Arts), Harmony Korine's Spring Breakers (opening at The Carolina and possibly elsewhere), and Chan-wook Park's Stoker (opening at The Carolina and Fine Arts). All three are reviewed in this week's Xpress. Mr. Souther reviewed Spring Breakers -- about which all I'll say is that I thought him extremely generous to the movie. I reviewed the other two.
I suppose -- based on its opening weekend in NY and LA -- that the hot flavor of the week is going to be Spring Breakers (never underestimate the power of the prospect of seeing Disney teeny-boppers getting "nekkid"), but so far as I'm concerned, Stoker is the movie to see. I'm not all that familiar with Chan-wook Park's films. I've certainly heard of Oldboy (how can one not have heard of it), but the only film I've seen is his unusual and stylish Thirst, which I liked, but didn't quite love. Stoker I loved. In fact, it shot to my favorite film of 2013. I suppose that's not saying all that much, considering what 2013 has been like so far. But Stoker stands a very good chance of still being in at least the top five by the end of the year. It might somewhat disappoint Park's fanbase, because this -- his first English-language move -- is a bit less violent and bloody than his other work, but hopefully that will expand his audience. (And make no mistake, this does have its moments and is quite disturbing.) I'm looking forward to seeing it again -- maybe more than once.
Now, I suppose it's necessary to consider that there are those of you out there who want to know something about those mainstream titles, so let's look at what the promise.
First up (alphabetically) is Paul Weitz's Admission. Now, here's the thing -- I like Paul Weitz (his Being Flynn almost made my top ten last year) and I like Tina Fey. The problem is that I find Paul Rudd less charming and more smarmy with each successive appearance he makes for Judd Apatow (or in any ersatz Apatovian endeavour like Our Idiot Brother) -- and This Is 40 was a huge dose. I'm not sure I'm ready to forgive Rudd for that one. I may never be. Can he be offset Weitz and Fey -- and the bonus participation of Michael Sheen, Lily Tomlin, and Wallace Shawn? That remains to be seen -- and possibly not by me.
Then we have Chris Sanders' and Kirk De Micco's The Croods -- in your choice of 3D or 2D. I'm a huge admirer of Sanders' work, especially Lilo & Stitch, but how he fares without co-writer-co-director Dean DeBlois may be another matter. And then there's the trailer for The Croods -- a stone age comedy about a family on the first family road trip of all time. It makes me think of The Flintstones in Are We There Yet?. This is not a good thing. Sitting through the tie-in promotion with MovieTickets.com before every movie in recent memory has not helped. But the fact remains that I already lost the coin toss on this one, so I'll be finding out for myself come Friday.
And coming in at the finish is Antoine Fuqua's Olympus Has Fallen -- thriller that boasts some interesting casting. I mean here we have a cast that includes Gerard Butler, Morgan Freeman, and Aaron Eckhart in a story about the president of the United States being captured by terrorists that doesn't cast Morgan Freeman as the president. What were they thinking? Morgan Freeman is clearly the most presidential actor we have. I mean, the man has played God for Clapton's sake and that's nearly as big a gig as president, right? So what do we get instead? Aaron Eckhart as the president? Really? Of course, we also have Gerard Butler trying to pull himself out of the run of things like Machine Gun Preacher, Playing for Keeps, and Chasing Mavericks. In other words, getting back to movies that people actually see. Will it work? Hard to say. It's been awhile since Fuqua lit up the box office either. We shall see.
So what leaves us his week? Well, I can't say it isn't a disappointment, but I also can't say that it's a surprise to see John Dies at the End dying after one week at The Carolina. Chasing Ice didn't quite melt at the Fine Arts, though. It's being kept for the 1:20 show only for another week at the Fine Arts. The Carolina is still holding Quartet and Silver Linings Playbook.
This week's Thursday Horror Picture Show is a double bill of Lon Chaney in Calling Dr. Death (1943) and Bela Lugosi in Invisible Ghost (1941) at 8 p.m. on Thu. Mar. 21 in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. World Cinema is showing Luis Bunuel's That Obscure Object of Desire (1978) on Fri., Mar. 22 at 8 p.m. in the Railroad Library in the Phil Mechanic Building. The Hendersonville Film Society is screening D.W. Griffith's The Battle of the Sexes (1928) at 2 p.m. on Sun., Mar.24 in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. The Asheville Film Society closes out March with Frank Capra's Lady for a Day (1933) on Tue., Mar. 29 at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. More on all movies in this week's paper with expanded reviews in the online edition.
The movies out on DVD this week will likely be of more interest to some than they are to me. I don't think there's a one I am keen on seeing again -- and that's putting it mildly in some cases. However, it appears we have The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Les Miserables, Zero Dark Thirty, and, God save us, This Is 40.
Notable TV Screenings
If anyone else spots anything all that out of the ordinary on TCM this coming week, please let me know. I plan on catching up on some DVDs.