A friend of mine who saw all three of last week's releases (that's one up on me) told me he'd convinced himself he didn't see any new movies last week. His ability to block things from his mind is greater than mine. Plus, apart from this week's art title, I see no great hope that this week is going to any better. However, that art film,Frances Ha, makes up for much.
Before getting into this week's movies, let me note that this week's column is going to have a kind of work-in-progress feel to it. Blame it on Memorial Day, which has left me without much in the way of theater listings, and not a clue (well, I could guess) as to what films are leaving local screens this week. Check back online. Information should be coming in today and tomorrow.
For me, the big news this week is Noah Baumbach's Frances Ha (opening Friday at The Carolina) — a film I was primed to like on the basis of the trailer (I'm a sucker for a well-placed Bowie song) and the presence of Greta Gerwig (who also co-wrote the film). I was not, however, prepared to like it as much as I do. Indie films — especially ones about the ennui of late 20-somethings — are often too much more-of-the-same with characters that are more irritating than endearing. Happily, that is not the case here. You can check out the review in this week's paper, along with excerpts from an interview I had with Greta Gerwig (the full interview will be in the online edition).
That brings us to the mainstream titles.
First up is After Earth. This is the movie that the studio is praying you don't notice was directed and co-written by M. Night Shyamalan — a name long associated with empty theaters. That fills me with less dread than the fact that this is a father and son enterprise for Will Smith and and son Jaden. Smith's original story (yes, he wrote it) involved a father and son on a camping trip where dad gets hurt and junior has to face the perils of the wilderness to get help. Somehow it grew into futuristic sci-fi with the two crashing on the now uninhabited planet Earth — well, not entirely uninhabited since it's apparently full of animals and some alien creatures who like to eat people. Your level of enthusiasm will probably depend of your fondness for Will Smith, but it is perhaps worth noting that it has not been shown to critics and there aren't even any "fan" reviews on the IMDb. Proceed with caution.
And then there's Now You See Me — another film in the unseen by critics realm. This one comes from action director (The Transporter) turned big-budget comic book director (The Incredible Hulk) turned fantasy director (Wrath of the Titans) Louis Letterier, who has now become a heist/caper movie director. It all has to do with a group of stage magicians who pull off impossible heists during their act and showering money on their audience. The hook here is the big cast — Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher, Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine. This could go either way, but there's a possibility that it will go down in history as the film where Morgan Freeman nodded off during a live TV interview while touting it.
This week we say goodbye to both The Place Beyond the Pines and The Company You Keep (both at The Carolina). I'd held out some hope for Pines getting one more week, but no. And in a move that will surprise no one, Java Heat is going south as well.
This week's Thursday Horror Picture Show is Al Rogell's The Black Cat (1941) Thursday, May 30, at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. World Cinema is showing Jane Campion's An Angel at My Table (1990) Friday, May 31, at 8 p.m. in the Railroad Library in the Phil Mechanic Building. The Hendersonville Film Society will run Jack Clayton's The Great Gatsby (1974) Sunday, June 2, at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. The Asheville Film Society is screening Roy Del Ruth's pre-code comedy-melodrama Bureau of Missing Persons (1933) Tuesday, June 4 at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. More on all films in this week's paper — with complete reviews in the online edition.
The only new release of a mainstream theatrical title this week to the pretty darn dismal Dark Skies. I would advise against it. Strongly.
Notable TV Screenings
The masochistically-minded may want to wade through the Bob Hope-athon on TCM Wednesday, May 29 starting at 6 a.m. with The Seven Little Foys (1955) and it's mostly downhill from there. I admit to a lingering childhood fondness for The Road to Hong Kong (1962) and Call Me Bwana (1963) — showing at 11:30 a.m. and 1:15 p.m., respectively — but after that, the rest of the day is just God awful.
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