One of the year's most anticipated films comes our way this week -- and that's not all. We're also looking at four mainstream titles and another art title. That's six movies hitting town on Friday. I guess we'd better get down to them.
The big news, of course, is Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master -- an art title with the kind of interest that crosses the line into something like mainstream. At this point, the only theaters that have confirmed its opening are The Carolina and the Fine Arts. Whether it stays that way remains to be seen, but I'll go ahead and remind readers that those are the theaters that bring us this kind of film year round and they deserve our support.
In an unusual turn of events, this is an art title that I have not seen. You will, however, find a review in this week's Xpress since Mr. Souther caught the film at the Toronto International Film Festival. I hope to catch it this weekend myself if circumstances permit themselves the luxury of occurting. We shall see.
Another art title -- the French film Farewell, My Queen -- is also opening at The Carolina on Friday. This one I have seen and I'm hoping it doesn't get lost by being up against The Master, because it's very good indeed. The review is also in this week's paper, so check that out.
On the other side of the ledger there are four other titles -- Dredd 3D, End of Watch, House at the End of the Street, and Trouble with the Curve.
The biggest surprise -- in terms of early reviews -- is Dredd 3D (which, yes, is also available in 2D). At the moment it has a 90 percent positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but apart from the inherent flaw in reading too much into review aggregations, it's worth noting that the bulk of these reviews are from the UK. And there's often a pretty sharp divide there with US tastes. That said, I find myself intrigued by the Hollywood Reporter review (by British critic Stephen Dalton) that the film has a "gritty style more akin to cult hits like District 9 or 28 Days Later than to standard Hollywood comic-book blockbusters." Certainly, there's no denying that Karl Urban is a better actor than Sylvester Stallone, who played Judge Dredd the last time the character was brought to the screen. Director Pete Travis, however, doesn't have an impressive track record. Plus, the plot -- dispenser of justice of the dystopian future Judge Dredd up against drug dealers -- doesn't sound all that promising. I'm willing to chance it...I think.
David Ayer's End of Watch is also starting out of the gate with good reviews (far fewer). Ayer is better known for his screenwriting than his directing -- and mostly for Training Day (2001). His directorial work has hardly set the world on fire. (If you saw his 2008 film Street Kings you know what I mean.) This time, however, he has a pair of leads -- Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena -- who are likely to help. The presence of Anna Kendrick is also a plus. The story sounds pretty much Cop Movie Basic. Gyllenhaal and Pena find themselves "marked for death" when they learn something they shouldn't that puts them in bad with a drug cartel. The question is what Ayer has done with that less-than-original premise.
Next up is House at the End of the Street -- a PG-13 horror picture that seems to have been seen by no critics anywhere. If the trailer is any indication, it's easy to see why that is. The film stars Jennifer Lawrence (it was apparently supposed to come out closer to The Hunger Games) and Elisabeth Shue as daughter and mother who move into a house where strange things begin happening. (Well, of course, they do otherwise there'd be no movie at all.) It all has to do with a murder that took place years earlier and a "dark secret" being kept by the entire town and goodness knows what else. Director Mark Tonderai has some TV work and a direct-to-video movie called Hush (2008) to his credit. I can't say my interest is really piqued, but I'll probably be there Friday morning anyway.
And last up we find Trouble with the Curve which stars Clint Eastwood and Amy Adams (who undoubtedly makes a better co-star than that chair did). Also on board are Justin Timberlake, John Goodman, and Matthew Lillard. So why isn't there more fuss being made about this? Probably the reason lies with the fact that Eastwood didn't direct this one. The direction is from Robert Lorenz who normally works as a producer or second unit or assistant director for Eastwood. (Hey, that's better than when Mel Gibson promoted his hairdresser to feature director back in 2004.) And the screenplay comes from the unknown Randy Brown. Still, it's surprising that only today have a smattering of (generally positive, but hardly over-the-moon) reviews made their way into public scrutiny. It looks like a probably likable, but terminally old-fashioned comedy-drama with Eastwood as an aging (well, that's a given) scout for the Atlanta Braves, whose judgment and skill are starting to be called into question. The one person who might be able to help him is his estranged daughter (Adams). Goodwill for the movie is going to be based on the personalities of its two stars than anything else.
With all this opening, quite a few titles are going south this week. The Fine Arts is holding Searching for Sugar Man, but losing Robot & Frank. The Carolina is dropping Celeste & Jesse Forever, Killer Joe, and Dark Horse (the last named was a pretty spectacular flop). Arbitrage and The Intouchables are holding steady, though this is probably the final week for the latter/
In addition to the usual weekly offerings, let me remind you of the AFS Budget Big Screen showing of Stanley Donen's Charade (1963) starring Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn. The movie screens at 7:30 p.m. on Wed., Sept. 19 at The Carolina. Admission is $5 for AFS members and $7 for the general public.
This week the Thursday Horror Picture Show is showing Jacques Tourneur's Night of the Demon (1957) at 8 p.m. on Thu., Sept. 20 in the Cinema Lounge atThe Carolina. World Cinema is screening Akira Kurosawa's Throne of Blood (1957) on Fri., Sept. 21 at 8 p.m.in the Railroad Library in the Phil Mechanic Building. Lewis Gilbert's Alfie (1966) is this week's film from the Hendersonville Film Society on Sun., Sept. 23 at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Moutain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. The Asheville Film Society is showing Paul Verhoeven's The Fourth Man (1983) on Tue., Sept. 25 at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. More on all titles in this week's paper with expanded coverage in the online edition.
Quite a number of movies are coming out this week. At the top of the list (for me) is Hysteria, closely followed by The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (assuming there's anyone left who hasn't seen it). Also of note are Chico & Rita and Salt of Life -- neither of which got the attention they deserved when they played here. In addition, we have the overrated Cabin in the Woods and the largely unseen Katy Perry: Part of Me.
Notable TV Screenings
Well, I looked over the TCM listings and I have to say nothing jumped out at me, so you're on your own this week.