OK, so only one of the Christmas Day openings was worth seeing. That's still one more than this week promises. There are two bright sides to this. First of all, you can catch up with all the good movies you still haven't seen. Second, next week, a pretty strong blast of movies you've been waiting to see finally make it to the provinces — including one terrific movie you don't even know you're waiting on.
I can only assume that there is a market for yet another of those Paranormal Stupidity ... er Activity things. Obviously, somebody's watching them. Despite the fact that they cost about $1.98 to make, they still wouldn't be bothering with this stuff if it didn't sell tickets to apparently horror-starved audiences. Now, we're getting an off-shoot that seemingly ties in to the first film in some convoluted manner. Seems the producers figured out that there's a sizable Latino market for these movies, so this latest is tailored to that audience. It's called Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones. Why? I have no idea. Is it a prequel? Is it a spinoff? Is it really something other than Paranormal Activity 5? You can find out on Friday. It alarmed me when these movies started to make me miss the Saw franchise. Now, I'm starting to get nostalgic for the Hostel movies. I fear for my sanity.
So what do we lose to make room for this? Well, The Carolina is dropping Dallas Buyers Club, but the Fine Arts is keeping it and Flat Rock Cinema is picking it up. That said, it's my guess that this will be its final week. Ditto Philomena and The Book Thief — and possibly Nebraska.
With the new year, things are getting back to normal, though World Cinema doesn't return till next Friday. This week the Thursday Horror Picture Show is running Seth Holt's Blood from the Mummy's Tomb (1971) at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 2 in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. The Hendersonville Film Society rings in the new year with Alfred Hitchcock's Rebecca (1940) on Sunday, Jan. 5 at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. The Asheville Film Society opens a two week tribute to Peter O'Toole with Richard Rush's The Stunt Man (1980) at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 7 in Theater Six at The Carolina. More on all titles in this week's Xpress — with full reviews in the online edition.
The only thing of note — indeed, the only thing that saw much theatrical life — this week is Joseph Gordon-Levitt's Don John, a movie that had the power to drive several ladies out of the screening I saw. You may take that as a recommendation, if you choose.
Notable TV Screenings
Had I not been trapped in dial-up hell last week at this time, I would have noted that Richard Lester's first film, the clever and charming It's Trad, Dad (US title: Ring-a-Ding Rhythm (1962) is on TCM at 12:15 p.m. today, Tuesday, Dec. 31. You may well be surprised how fully formed — well, nearly fully formed — Lester's style is in this pre-A Hard Day's Night (1964) film. All the cinematic playfulness is in evidence, but, of course, it lacks the Beatles. Making it even more troublesome for US audiences is the fact that it focuses on pre-Beatle UK performers who were unknown at the time and are still largely unknown here. (Changing the title to — gad — Ring-a-Ding Rhythm did nothing to change the content.) It may still be of note to early readers.
The week is otherwise pretty bare until Monday, Jan. 6 when we get Carol Reed's The Third Man (1949) at 9:30 p.m. Movies simply don't get better than this. If you hang around, Jack Conway's splendid screwball comedy, Libeled Lady (1936), is on at 1 a.m., followed at 3 a.m. by William Dieterle's glossy romance, Love Letters (1945), which also has the distinction of a screenplay by Ayn Rand (who isn't peddling her crackpot agenda here). Tuesday morning — starting at 7 a.m. with Frank Capra's Lady for a Day (1933) — we get a pretty good run of movies, including Capra's It Happened One Night (1934), John Ford's The Whole Town's Talking (1935), and Howard Hawks' His Girl Friday (1940). No need to change the channel.