While Hollywood sits around trying to figure out how a film nobody thought would make a nickel almost stole Thor's thunder last weekend, the rest of us are poised to try to withstand the arrival of The Next Big Thing this week — and it's an almost surefire juggernaut. It will easily rake in a few trillion bucks before the weekend is out and restore the status quo that was briefly disturbed by last weekend's fluke. And there's more than that heading our way.
One of the other things heading our way this Friday is something of a juggernaut in its own right — at least in art/indie terms — and that's Dallas Buyers Club (opening at The Carolina and the Fine Arts). Yes, I've seen it. In fact, I've seen it twice. (And someone will still ask me if I liked it.) The review is in this week's paper. This is perhaps just the film for those of you who have found most of the art awards-season offerings so far to be a little shy in the emotional resonance department — All Is Lost, 12 Years a Slave, Blue Is the Warmest Color. If there's one thing Dallas Buyers Club isn't lacking, it's emotional resonance — and yet, paradoxically, it's one of the least sentimental films you're apt to find.
You can put away any skepticism you may be harboring about the weight-loss gimmickry of stars Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto. In fact, their performances will make you forget about it altogether. And can we now stop marveling over the fact that McConaughey is in a good movie, or that he is just good in a movie? After Bernie, Killer Joe, The Paperboy, Magic Mike, Mud and now this, it's probably time to stop with the surprise business. Save your surprise for when he makes another Ghosts of Girlfriends Past. If you insist on expressing surprise here, save it for Jared Leto, who is absolutely brilliant. But really, everybody is good in this.
Now, about the approaching juggernaut and its apparently suicidal companion ...
Before tackling the biggie, let's consider Vince Vaughn in Delivery Man — a vehicle apparently intended to soften what the IMDb is pleased to call Mr. Vaughn's "aggressive charm." (I think that means obnoxiously, in plain English.) Delivery Man finds Vaughn as a sperm donor who's on the receiving end of a class action suit filed by 142 of his 533 offspring who want to know his identity. The trick (of course) is that he finds himself drawn into their lives (albeit with them not knowing who he is). Life lessons will be learned. Writer-director Ken Scott made this film two years ago as Starbuck — it played in very limited release in the U.S. this past spring — but that was a Canadian movie and was also in French. This is apparently almost an exact copy — but in English, with Vince Vaughn. Yes, it has a 60 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, which is based on five reviews.
That bring us to The Hungadunga Games ... excuse me, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. (Marx Brothers fans will get the joke.) OK, the best I can say about the first one is that I didn't mind it. Well, I didn't mind it except for director Gary Ross' addiction to the shaky-cam. The good news here is that Ross has been replaced by Francis Lawrence — and early reports indicate that he prefers a less-jittery style. It hardly matters what I think — or what anyone thinks — this will take the box office by storm. At the moment, it has 39 reviews on Rotten Tomatoes — 36 of them are positive, and some of them are over the moon about it. If you're morbid about it, you can see for yourself on Thursday at 8 p.m. Otherwise, maybe I'll bump into you on Friday morning.
This week, we finally bid farewell to Enough Said (hey, it almost lasted two full months). The Fine Arts is dropping All Is Lost to make room for Dallas Buyers Club, but it remains at The Carolina. Also worth noting is that Great Expectations did well enough (a pleasant surprise) to merit a second week at The Carolina, though it's relegated to matinees only — a good indication that the second week will be its last. It's definitely worth catching.
Before hitting the usual suspects, I'll go ahead and remind readers that the Asheville Film Society's Budget Big Screen film — Billy Wilder's Sabrina (1954) — is playing for one show at 7:30, Wed., Nov. 20 at The Carolina. Classic comedies from the golden age of movies don't get much better than this sparkling romance from master filmmaker Billy Wilder — and stars did not get any more iconic than Bogart and Audrey Hepburn. Made at the beginning of the waning days of the big studios' seemingly effortless ability to turn out sophisticated entertainment, Sabrina was a type of film less and less seen as the 1950s wore on — and one seen not at all these days. Don't miss this chance to see it in all its big-screen glory from a brand-new, restored digital print that will bring out every bit of that shimmering classic Paramount look -- not to mention Hepburn in all those Givenchy clothes. Admission is $5 for AFS member and $7 for the general public.
This week, the Thursday Horror Picture Show is running a double feature of Bela Lugosi 1940s B-horror trash classics — William Nigh's Black Dragons (1942) and Christy Cabanne's Scared to Death (1947) — on Thu., Nov. 21 at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. On Fri., Nov. 22 at 8 p.m. World Cinema is showing Rene Clement's Forbidden Games (1952) in the Railroad Library in the Phil Mechanic Building. The Hendersonville Film Society is screening the MGM musical compilation That's Entertainment! III (1994) at 2 p.m. on Sun., Nov. 24 in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. The Asheville Film Society concludes its November screenings with Peter Bogdanovich's Paper Moon (1973) on Tue., Nov. 26 at 8 p.m. in Theater Six at The Carolina. More on all titles in this week's Xpress — with complete reviews in the online edition.
Easily the most noteworthy release this week is Edgar Wright's The World's End. Also up are Planes, We're the Millers. 2 Guns and Paranoia. Stick with The World's End.
Notable TV Screenings
One of those weeks where you're on your own.