Every so often people pose the question, "What makes you so cranky?" Mostly, I think it's an undeserved label — and this despite the fact that I've seen every Tyler Perry movie ever made. Then something like The Smurfs 2 comes along and my normally sunny disposition goes into full cranky mode.
This is a slack week by any standards. In addition to the dreaded Smurf infestation, all we get is a relatively low-profile action picture and a documentary. I've seen the documentary — Sarah Polley's Stories We Tell (opening Friday at The Carolina). It's good — you can read the review in this week's Xpress — but let us face the fact that it's a documentary and is not likely to set the moviegoing world a-quiver with anticipation. Considering the options, however, you might want to give it some serious thought.
I want to pause here to remark that this past weekend startled me. It startled me that The Way, Way Back did something like what we call land-office business. I expected it to do well, but not this well — and I certainly didn't anticipate hearing about audiences bursting into spontaneous applause. Almost as surprising — and despite the fact that it was unwisely slapped on three screens (so was The Way, Way Back, if it comes to that) — was the lackluster response to the critically-acclaimed Fruitvale Station. While Asheville was well above the national average on The Way, Way Back, it was markedly below the average on this title. I haven't seen it myself, but both Justin Souther and Edwin Arnaudin tell me it's good.
Anyway, let's get on with these two mainstream openers.
Iceland's Baltasar Kormakur showed up on the U.S. film scene last year with Contraband, a moderately profitable action thriller starring Mark Wahlberg. Now, Messrs. Kormakur and Wahlberg are back with another action thriller — and they've brought Denzel Washington with them. It's called 2 Guns and according to the write-up, what we have here is "Two crooked undercover officers — one from the DEA and the other from the Navy — unknowingly lead investigations on the other in this crime thriller." In its favor, it doesn't claim to be "high octane" or "adrenalin-fueled." Not so much in its favor is that it hasn't been screened for critics, but it does have one choice user review on Rotten Tomatoes — "I Like Mark Wahlberg I am Big fans the his movies Actors that's good story Action movies very good stuffs I give him Award he doing very Good Job his New movies this year?!!" Can't argue with that, can you?
And then ... there it is. It sits there taunting me — The Smurfs 2. It comes to us from Raja Gosnell. Just look at this man's filmography — Home Alone 3, Never Been Kissed, Big Momma's House, Scooby-Doo, Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed, Yours, Mine and Ours, Beverly Hills Chihuahua, The Smurfs and now The Smurfs 2. That is undeniably some kind of accomplishment. What kind is a separate issue altogether. OK, sure, it wasn't made for me. I'm a 58-year-old without some small child to drag me to this. (I suppose I could rent one, but I'd rather not.) I don't even know how it is that I'm reviewing the damned thing, but somehow or other Mr. Souther has managed to weasel out of doing it. I have no idea how that happened, but it did. And I will be there at 11 a.m. on Friday to see it in all its smurfing 3D splendor. I am not happy.
So, what are we losing this week? Well, let's see. Girl Most Likely and Only God Forgives are in their last throes at The Carolina. Somewhat mystifyingly, Mud is still hanging on. (I think this is more dearth of product than anything. I mean it's been there for three months and hits DVD next Tuesday.)
This week's Thursday Horror Picture Show is Boris Karloff in Roy William Neill's The Black Room (1935) at 8 p.m. on Thu., Aug. 1 in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. World Cinema is showing Akira Kurosawa's Red Beard (1965) on Fri, Aug. 2 at 8 p.m. in the Raiload Library in the Phil Mechanic Building. The Hendersonville Film Society is running Ingmar Bergman's The Magic Flute (1975) at 2 p.m. on Sun., Aug. 4 in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. The Asheville Film Society kicks off its August screenings with MGM's all-star Dinner at Eight (1933) on Tue., Aug. 6 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.
It appears the only thing coming out this week is G.I. Joe: Retaliation. This week is just not going well.
Notable TV Screenings
And for the maraschino cherry to top off the week, there's nothing really noteworthy on TCM. I should warn you, however, they threaten us with 24 hours of Doris Day on Friday. You have been cautioned.