The only surprising thing about George Lucas embracing the 3D-ification re-release schtick is that it took him so long to get around to it. That he chose the most criticized and least liked of the entire set of Star Wars movies isn't all that surprising, since Lucas' lack of real concern over what his fans want has done nothing but become more evident every year. The real question is whether or not the Lucasian faithful will flock to see it anyway. But of course, The Phanton Menace isn't the only thing arriving in town this week.
The realm of the art film is represented -- as it has come to be every year of late at The Carolina -- with the packaged release of The Oscar Nominated Short Films 2012, which of course contains the 2011 shorts. I know it's confusing, but go with it, OK? And, yeah, I've seen them. And, yeah, there's a review in this week's paper. The layout this year is a little different. The documentaries -- not shown last year -- are on the bill, but in a separate showing and only once a day (at 11:00 a.m.). The live-action and animated shorts are once again combined in one large set. I'll also say that there are two pretty outstanding live action nominees and one extraordinary animated one. For more you'll have to read the review.
So apart from that and the 3D-ed Phantom Menace we get three other films this week, so we can take a look at those.
From Brad Peyton, the man who gave us Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore (2010) comes Journey 2: The Mysterious Island. This is the long-awaited (by whom?) sequel -- more or less -- to 2008's Journey to the Center of the Eartth. What this means is that Josh Hutcherson is back and the movie is once again vaguely based on a Jules Verne novel. Doing the adult male lead bit this time is Dwayne Johnson instead of Brendan Fraser, and it's all about searching for Hutcherson's missing grandfather (Michael Caine), who is apparently on some obscure island inhabited by giant CGI monsters and irritable natives (I think it's called Staten Island). As you can see by the photo, the cast spent time at the Corey Haim School of Acting. I read somewhere that Hutcherson claimed he'd forgotten he'd made this. Is that like excusing abominable behavior by claiming you were drunk last night?
Safe House looks like the most potentially interesting of the mainstreamers. It has a largely unknown director from Sweden, Daniel Espinosa, so the results could go either way. It boasts a cast that includes Denzel Washington, Brendan Gleeson, Vera Farmiga, Sam Shepard, but Ryan Reynolds. I'm not four-square against Reynolds, but really, he seems a little out of his depth in that cast list. Anyhow, Washington plays some long out of touch secret agent who comes in from the cold, only to be put in a safe house with rookie agent Reynolds as his keeper. When the joint's attacked, they go on the run -- and in the manner of such movies, the duo become strange bedfellows, odd couple buddies. It looks like nothing new, but it might be decent for what it is.
And then there's Valentine season romance picture. In this case it's Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams in a film directed by the unfortunately named Michael Sucsy. It's called The Vow and it's all about how married couple Tatum and McAdams are in a car wreck that lands the latter in a coma. When she comes out of it, she doesn't know Tatum from the guy in Step Up 2: The Streets and has no memory of having been married to him. Ah, but she does remember being engaged to Scott Speedman, who seems perfectly happy with this turn of events. The question is whether or not our Channing can make her fall in love with him all over again. And guess what? This is all "inspired by true events," so it's going to be played very seriously indeed.
Despite all this, nothing of any real note makes its exit this week. The Fine Arts is holding steady and the only art title change at The Carolina is that A Dangerous Method is being split with Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.
This week the Thursday Horror Picture is running Brian DePalma's Phantom of the Paradise (1974) at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 9, in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. The offering from World Cinema is Michelangelo Antonioni's Blowup (1966), which accompanied by the premiere of two short documentaries by local filmmaker Chris Gallway. It all starts at 8 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 10, in the Railroad Library in the Phil Mechanic Building. The 2004 version of The Phantom of the Opera is this week's title at the Hendersonville Film Society on Sunday, Feb. 12, at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. Frank Borzage's History Is Made at Night (1937) is the Asheville Film Society film on Tuesday, Feb. 14, at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. More on all titles in this week's paper and the online edition.
There's something for just about everyone with this week's releases. Alphabetically, we have Anonymous, Project Nim, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 and A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas. There must be something in there to interest you.
Notable TV Screenings
It's still "31 Days of Oscar" on TCM and it's still mostly "classy" stuff that's been on a lot of times, so you're on your own this week.