Here we have a week with some slight — and very minor — confusion, but we'll get to that later. What we know for sure is that this week finds two of the season's most anticipated art/indie titles hitting town and the next Big Budget Would-be Blockbuster. That's three movies — and one more that might show up yet — which is something of a relief after last week's flood of movies.
One of this week's art offerings is the much-praised and controversial Fruitvale Station, which completely blindsided the people who do bookings (which is to say no one knew anything about this coming till late Monday morning) and the folks who set up screenings for the press with art/indie movies. In part — let's be honest — this is because the film is relevant in light of verdict in the George Zimmerman trial. But the out-of-nowhere aspect of its arrival has much to do with the fact that it's being handled by the Weinsteins — and that explains a lot. (Insert heavy sigh here.) I'll get back to this in due course, because obviously I haven't seen it.
I did however see The Way, Way Back — definitely lighter fare than Fruitvale Station — which opens on Friday at The Carolina and the Fine Arts. The review is this week's paper, but I'll note a few things here. Yes, it's good, but disabuse yourself of the poster's attempt to link the film (somewhat late in the day) to Little Miss Sunshine (2006) and Juno (2007), because it has very little in common with either. (The whole idea of "the studio that brought you" is meaningless these days anyway, since there's no longer any such thing as a studio style — and "brought you" simply means that they bought completed works, marketed and distributed them. The studio didn't make them.) The Way, Way Back is its own thing and can stand on its own merits.
Okay, so on to the other films.
Fruitvale Station — which at this point is only down for The Carolina and somewhat peculiarly the Carmike (which hasn't successfully handled an art title for years) — is, if you don't know, a fact-based story. It won both the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award at Sundance (the twain rarely do meet). It's about a young black man, Oscar Grant (Michael B. Jordan), on the last day of his life, which happens to be Dec. 31, 2008 — a day the film puts forth as the one in which Grant decided to pull his life together. It doesn't work out that way owing to him being shot by a policeman in the titular station. The critical acclaim for the film is almost universal and the movie pulled down an impressive $21,750 per theater in 34 locations last week. Well, come Friday you can find out what all the fuss is about.
I'm not altogether certain that anyone is quite as jazzed about James Mangold's The Wolverine as 20th Century Fox would like — especially since "everyone" seemed to hate X-Men Origins: Wolverine (which I never really understood) and X-Men: The Last Stand (which I did). I think everyone's a little cautious about the return of Hugh Jackman and his Elvis sideburns. I know I am. Supposedly, this one is helped by being transplanted (mostly) to Japan. However, from what I can determine from the reviews, Jackman — plagued by ghostly visits from Jean Grey (Famke Janssen) — appears to have turned into a kind of Larry Talbot (aka: The Wolf Man) who only wants to die. There even seems to be some flapdoodle about transferring his regenerative energies to another host. The whole thing sounds too much like some wayward variant on Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man — a movie I certainly wouldn't want to borrow from.
The other movie that might open somewhere is this thing starring Aubrey Plaza called The To Do List — an R-rated sex comedy about a girl trying to become sexually experienced before going to college. What I know so far is that it's not at The Carolina or the Carmike. Whether it's down for Biltmore Grande or the Beaucatcher I won't know until tomorrow. This presupposes that anybody cares. I remain unconvinced of this even though I loved Plaza in Safety Not Guaranteed. I'll update this as soon as I know. In other words, watch this space.
Now, this week the Fine Arts is dropping Fill the Void. The Carolina drops Dirty Wars (no surprise) and splits Girl Most Likely and Mud. They're also splitting Only God Forgives — except that splitting here means one show a day (at the improbable time of 1:45) in the smallest house possible. (I don't get it, but these decisions are made by folks who make a lot more money than I do.) I'd expect to see all of them gone by next Friday. (Come on, Mud has been playing since April.)
This week the Thursday Horror Picture Show is running James Whale's The Invisible Man (1933) on Thu., July 25 at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. World Cinema is showing Andrea Arnold's Fish Tank (2009) at 8 p.m. on Fri., July 26 in the Railroad Library in the Phil Mechanic Building. The Hendersonville Film Society has Robert Altman's A Prairie Home Companion (2006) at 2 p.m. on Sun., July 28 in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. The Asheville Film Society closes out its month of musicals with Robert Altman's Popeye (1980) on Tue., July 30 at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. More on all titles in this week's paper with full reviews in the online edition.
The big title this week is Danny Boyle's Trance — a film I liked a lot when it first played, but which I have to admit has pretty completely vanished from my mind. Also up is Ginger & Rosa, which I wanted to like more than I did.
Notable TV Screenings
Probably the best thing on TCM this week is Alfred Hitchcock's massively underrated Foreign Correspondent (1940) on Wed., July 24 at 7:45 a.m. Worth getting out of bed for.
Friday night they're wrapping their Francois Truffaut retrospective starting with one of his best, Day for Night (1975), at 8 p.m.
Saturday morning finds Charles Chaplin's black comedy Monsieur Verdoux (1947) at 8:30 a.m.