Usually by this time of the year I've started giving some thought to what's likely to qualify for a "Best of" list come the year's end, but the truth is that so far the pickings have been what you'd call lean. We've had one sure thing and a couple of maybes — and leave us face it, that's not so hot for a year that's racing toward being half over. With that in mind, I'm pleased to announce that one more strong candidate opens this Friday. There are also three other titles that are not strong candidates.
This is actually another of those two mainstream and two art film weeks. In the mainstream corner we have Rock of Ages and That's My Boy — both of which are opening everywhere except the Carmike and the Fine Arts. And in the other corner we find Hysteria and Sound of My Voice — both opening at The Carolina. I assure that the "Best of" candidate is from the latter category, which is, I suppose, not that surprising. Nor is it surprising that those are the ones I've seen and which are reviewed in this week's Xpress.
What is surprising — at least to me — is that Hysteria would turn out to be a pretty strong "Best of" contender. I can't say the title did much for me, nor the poster. And the concept of a movie about the invention of the personal vibrator sounded suspiciously like a one-joke affair. Well, it isn't. You can read more about it in the review, but allow me to go ahead and say it's one of the most charming movies I've seen in a while. A long while. As for Sound of My Voice — well, you can read the review and make of it what you will.
So let's look at the mainstream world.
First up is Rock of Ages, the latest film from the wildly uneven (putting it mildly) Adam Shankman, who, I suspect, never met a paycheck he didn't like. It's adapted from a popular stage play by Chris D'Arienzo that's built around a bunch of 1980s pop songs. The goal of the whole thing would seem to be make hair metal accessible to elderly folks from Dubuque visiting the Big Apple — at least so far as the show is concerned. The film has branched out to include generally overaged movie stars in dubious wigs as performers. In other words, we get shirtless Tom Cruise as a rock star. The studio promises us the film will include music taken from "Def Leppard, Joan Jett, Journey, Foreigner, Bon Jovi, Night Ranger, REO Speedwagon, Pat Benatar, Twisted Sister, Poison, Whitesnake and more." That will doubtless appeal to some. I admit I have never owned a single album or single by any of those named, though I've certainly hit the button on many a car radio to avoid a few of them — but then I'm also not a 1980s nostlagia person. That said, I've liked a lot of music I'm not keen on in the context of films — The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert is a good example. This could be a similar case, but, boy, does that trailer make me skeptical.
And then, there's That's My Boy — the latest assault on the art of film from Adam Sandler. Sandler's a lot like the seven-year locust, except that he shows up far more frequently. This time he's eschewing his recent tendency to create more or less family-friendly stuff and gone for that R-rated raunchy stuff that's so cool these days. He's also not gone to his usual go-to director, Dennis Dugan, and opted for someone named Sean Anders, whose previous directing credits don't seem to have made it into theaters. This time Sandler plays father to Andy Samberg — and apparently a very bad father indeed, one Samberg feels himself well rid of. Of course, Daddy Sandler shows up — uninvited — to his son's wedding to cause all manner of riotously amusing (theoretically) mayhem. No doubt there is an audience for this — none of whom are personally known to me.
Both The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and Bernie are holding strong as The Carolina and the Fine Arts, which is not very surprising. It's also not exactly astounding that Darling Companion is taking its leave from The Carolina on Friday, nor that First Position has been reduced to daytime shows only.
Before getting down to the usual stuff, let me remind you of the special Budget Big Screen Classics showing of Rene Clair's film of Agatha Christie's classic mystery And Then There Were None at 7:30 p.m. on Wed., June 13 at The Carolina. Admission is $5 for Asheville Film Society members and $7 for the general public.
This week the Thursday Horror Picture Show is running Boris Karloff in Karl Freund's The Mummy (1932) on Thursday, June 14, at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina (with chapter four of The Lost City at 7:40 p.m., of course). World Cinema is showing the Australian short The Boy Who'd Never Seen Rain (2012) at 8 p.m. on Friday, June 15, in the Railroad Library in the Phil Mechanic Building. Noel Langley's Svengali (1954) is this week's film from the Hendersonville Film Society on Sunday, June 17, at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. On Tuesday, June 19, the Asheville Film Society is showing Alec Guinness in Ronald Neame's The Horse's Mouth (1958) 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.
This week we get Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, which is probably the best of the new mainstream titles, but, hey, don't dismiss the cheesy goodness of Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. There's also Tyler Perry's Good Deeds, which certainly could have been worse than it is. And in the column that suggests an argument for the existence of God, that latest Kate Hudson thing, A Little Bit of Heaven, has gone to DVD before it could show up in a local theater. Also out is In Darkness. But of greater note than the rest are the Blu-ray releases of Harold and Maude (time to retire that old Paramount DVD), The Gold Rush, and Shallow Grave (presumably at last in an anamorphic copy!).
Notable TV Screenings
Well, TCM is honoring the often-neglected Japanese filmmaker Inoshiro Honda on Friday, June 15, starting at 8 p.m. with his best-known film Gojira or Godzilla (1954). This is followed by Rodan (1957), Mothra, and one of Honda's most intriguing movies, The H-Man (1958).