Unless there's something hiding in the recesses of the listings I haven't seen — thanks to Labor Day — this has all the earmarks of being the lamest week of 2013. We have one mainstream title and one documentary headed our way. It's not really surprising — the summer is over and awards season hasn't started — but that doesn't keep it from being dispiriting.
Fortunately, there are brighter things down the road in both arts titles and mainstream offerings, but this weekend is probably a good one to check out some DVDs you've been meaning to catch up with — or those movies that are still hanging around theaters.
The week's art title is the documentary Blackfish — opening Friday at The Carolina. I've seen it. I've reviewed it — it's in this week's Xpress. It's fine, but I can't say that it excited me. It's going to depend on how much you want to see an activist documentary on whales in captivity. But let's be honest, I'm not a big documentary fan in general. (It is, however, the only chance I know of to see a whale get a good wanking — if that's on your must-see list. I confess it was not on mine.)
And then there's Riddick — the sequel that nobody expected. After all, David Twohy's original Pitch Black (2000) was never more than a cult item, while his more expensive sequel, The Chronicles of Riddick (2004), was an outright flop that was savaged by critics and fans alike. So here we are with Mr. Twohy and his star, Vin Diesel, back nine years later. How? Well, by budgeting the film at about a third of the cost of Chronicles. The fact that it's opening against ... well, nothing might tip the scales in its favor. The fans will like the fact that, unlike Chronicles, this one hasn't been PG-13-ified. U.S. reviews are largely nonexistent at this point, but the Brit critics who have weighed in mostly like it. But, hey, on the IMDb message boards they're at least tackling the Big Questions by debating whether or not Riddick could "kick Bane's ass." Last I looked, the Dark Knight Rises villain seemed to be getting the worst of it.
So, what's leaving this week? Well, I really don't know because of the Monday holiday (studios take those even if I don't). I know the Fine Arts is holding steady. I can pretty much assure you that The Carolina will hang onto Blue Jasmine, Closed Circuit, The Spectacular Now, and The Way, Way Back. Crystal Fairy is iffy, but I'd say I Declare War is dead in the water. (Judging by the weekend box office, I'd also say nobody cares.)
This week's Thursday Horror Picture Show is Robert Rodriguez's The Faculty (1995) on Thu., Sept. 5 at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. World Cinema is showing Agnes Varda's first film La Pointe Courte (1955) on Fri., Sept. 6 at 8 p.m. in the Railroad Library in the Phil Mechanic Library. The Hendersonville Film Society is running Jean-Paul Rappeneau's The Horseman on the Roof (1995) on Sun., Sept. 8 at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. The Asheville Film Society has Martin Scorsese's Gangs of New York (2002) at 8 p.m. on Tue., Sept. 10 at The Carolina. More on all titles in this week's paper — with full reviews in the online edition.
While I don't quite share Justin Souther's enthusiasm for Rob Zombie's Lords of Salem, I'm at least in the same basic area. Anyway, it's far and away the most interesting DVD release this week. Also up is the surprise hit Now You See Me.
Notable TV Screenings
On Fri., Sept. 6 at 8 p.m. TCM is showing Fritz Lang's Metropolis (1927) — presumably the restored version — as part of a night-long series of futuristic films that includes William Cameron Menzies' Things to Come (1936), John Carpenter's Escape from New York (1981), and Terry Gilliam's Brazil (1985).
Sunday, Sept. 8 is another day with Alfred Hitchcock — Under Capricorn (1948) at 10 a.m., Stage Fright (1950) at noon, I Confess (1953) at 2 p.m., The Wrong Man (1956) at 4 p.m., Saboteur (1942) at 6 p.m., Foreign Correspondent (1940) at 8 p.m., North by Northwest (1959) at 10:15 p.m., and The Ring (1927) at 12:45 a.m. My suggestion is to start at 6 p.m., but if you only catch one make it Foreign Correspondent — probably the most underrated of all his films, and my personal favorite of his U.S. work.
Monday marks the second episode of Mark Cousins' The Story of Film: An Odyssey. This one is 1918-1928 — The Triumph of American Film and the First of Its Rebels. Having seen the first episode, I strongly endorse this. I'm not saying I entirely agreed with him in the first one (I don't think that's the point), but the break from the usual academic-minded look at film history — and Cousins' very personal approach — is both refreshing and exciting (even if his narration sometimes feels a little bland).