If it was measured in sheer quantity, the indie and art titles would win this coming weekend hands down — at least locally. There are three of them — and something else harder to quantify — up against one mainstream film. By rights, it ought to be a blood bath. And it will be, but with that solo juggernaut that is The Hunger Games the easy victor.
But just in case you aren't hungry for these particular games, there are some options this weekend. There are four of them — and at least two of them are actually good. All four are reviewed in this week's paper — three by me and one by Justin Souther. By his reckonging I got two of the good ones — the Oscar-nominated Chico & Rita (opening at The Carolina) and Thin Ice (opening at the Fine Arts). He got the documentary Crazy Horse (opening at The Carolina), which, by the way, is about the classy strip joint in Paris, not the Native American gentleman — and please note the trailer inevitably has nudity in it. Of course, I ended up with the faith-based film October Baby (opening somewhere I'm assured by the distributor), which by and large I could have done without. You can, of course, read about all of these in greater depth in the paper.
And then there's The Hunger Games.
Even if either of us had seen The Hunger Games (and we haven't) we wouldn't be able to talk about it because like everything else about the marketing of this has been as skillfuly manipulated as if it was brain surgery (and in some ways, maybe it is). Only the trades, the British papers, and some "select" reviewers (in other words, reviewers who will gush, I think) have been allowed to speak about what they saw — until Friday. This is very much in keeping with the whole marketing campaign — a carefully orchestrated online approach that was designed to convince its target audience that wanting to see the movie was all their idea and not the studio's. Lionsgate has been almost embarassingly upfront about how this worked — and about the fact that it's a movie that's built around children killing children.
I have to admit that prior to the film being shot here, I'd never even heard of The Hunger Games (I don't spend enough time hanging out in YA section of bookstores, I guess). Even then, it was just a title — until it was a trailer. Then it was a title and a trailer. I still haven't rushed right out and bought the book, and, no, I'm not braving a midnight show. Friday morning is soon enough for me. But I will be there then.
Most theaters seem to have a midnight (or 12:01) showing on Thursday night. In fact, The Carolina even has a pre-show party in the Cinema Lounge starting at 10 p.m. (admission to the party only is $2 or five canned goods for the MANNA Food Bank).
The only thing from the art/indie side of the ledger is Tim & Eric's Billion Dollar Movie. I can't imagine why.
This week's Thursday Horror Picture Show is Larry Cohen's exploitation classic Q (The Winged Serpent) (1982) on Thursday, March 22, at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. The folks at World Cinema are screening part one of Bela Tarr's Satantango (1994) at 8 p.m. on Friday, March 23, in the Railroad Library in the Phil Mechanic Building. David Lean's film of Noel Coward's Brief Encounter (1945) is the title this week at the Hendersonville Film Society at 2 p.m. on Sunday, March 25, in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. The Asheville Film Society will be showing Warner Oland in H. Bruce Humberstone's Charlie Chan at the Race Track (1936) at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, March 27, in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. More on all films in this week's Xpress with expanded coverage in the online edition.
I suppose the big news this week is supposed to be The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, but I don't mind saying that I'm much keener on the appearance of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Carnage. Also up are The Muppets and The Sitter, neither of which I've seen — and Hop, which to my everlasting regret I did see. Of more note than all of these is the fact that Ken Russell's The Music Lovers is appearing on DVD — well, manufactured-on-demand DVD-R — for the first time in this U.S. The same is also true of Richard Lester's little seen first feature under its U.S. title Ring-a-Ding Rhythm (UK title: It's Trad, Dad) — except this is the first time it's ever been on DVD of any kind anywhere.
Noteworthy TV Screenings
Buried in the middle of the night — like 2:30 a.m. and 4 a.m. — there's a double feature on TCM of Richard Lester's The Knack...And How to Get It (1965) and Petulia (1968) on either Monday, March 26, (if you're on TV Guide time) or Tuesday, March 27 (if you're on normal time).