We get something a little out of the ordinary this week in that what is probably the most anticipated art title of the year — Boyhood — arrives on local screens. I know it’s partly because of the film’s length, but this is the first time I can remember an art title opening on two screens at The Carolina. And we also get three (at least) mainstream offerings. That nothing is likely to skyrocket like last week’s Guardians of the Galaxy is hardly a surprise.
That art title — Richard Linklater’s Boyhood (opening at The Carolina and the Fine Arts) — is the one film I’ve already seen. It’s reviewed in this week’s Xpress, and while I don’t quite love it as much as a lot of people, I think it’s a fine work — and I admire the sheer insanity of the undertaking. This is a film that Linklater shot over a period of 12 years — using the same core actors: Patricia Arquette, Ethan Hawke, Ellar Coltrane, Lorelei Linklater — as he follows Mason (Coltrane) from the age of six to 18. Whether you view this as visionary or a stunt or a little of both, you’ll have to admit that it’s unique. Is it episodic? By its very nature, of course it is. But it fits together surprisingly well as a single piece. Whether it’s quite the masterpiece it’s been called, I think only time will tell, but as a bold piece of filmmaking, it’s definitely in the must-see column.
And then we arrive at the unseen titles, starting with Lasse Halstrom’s The Hundred Foot Journey. Looked at from the outside, it’s the sort of film that you’d expect to be given an art house platform release. Hallstrom — when he’s not turning out those Nicholas Sparks things — is mostly an art director. The screenplay is by Steven Knight, who wrote such things as Dirty Pretty Things (2003), Eastern Promises (2007), Closed Circuit (2013), and Locke (2014). It stars Helen Mirren, who is known for some mainstream work, but whose core audience is the art house crowd. It even has a poster that deliberately evokes the colors of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2013). So why are the folks at Disney putting it out in wide release? Either they think it’s that good, or they think it’s going to be critically trounced. It has all the earmarks of the sort of culture clash and cuisine comedy-drama-romance that should play well to — let’s be honest — an older crowd. Consider it counter-programming aimed at those of us who do not count mutant turtles as treasured childhood memories.
Then there’s Into the Storm from Steven Quale, who knows from elaborate destruction having made (his only other feature) Final Destination 5. This should serve him well in what looks like a chaos-athon of natural disasters and their attendant explosions. Think of it as Twister (1996) for Our Time — in other words with references to climate change and more of…everything courtesy of CGI. What is there to say about it? It’s a movie about seriously inclement weather and untold property damage. That should tell you whether or not it’s in your future.
Finally, we have Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles from producer — and master of overkill — Michael Bay and hack director Jonathan Liebesman. Since I know almost nothing about these peculiar amphibian ninjas, let’s go with the studio blurb, “Darkness has settled over New York City as Shredder and his evil Foot Clan have an iron grip on everything from the police to the politicians. The future is grim until four unlikely outcast brothers rise from the sewers and discover their destiny as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The Turtles must work with fearless reporter April O’Neil (Megan Fox) and her wise-cracking cameraman Vern Fenwick (Will Arnett) to save the city and unravel Shredder’s diabolical plan.” (“The future is grim.” That’s exactly how I felt when I saw the trailer for Dolphin Tale 2.) The early reviews have not been kind, but since a lot of the ire seems to be from people who don’t like what’s been done to the characters, which is hard for me to care about. This one is definitely going to Mr. Souther. He may not be a fan, but at least he’s the right age to know the basics of these critters.
I should note that there’s a good chance that Step Up All In is opening somewhere, but I’ve had no confirmation of that and won’t for a day or two.
The casualties this week are numerous. The Fine Arts is dumping Begin Again and Snowpiercer. The Carolina is also dropping Snowpiercer (which actually did pretty well last weekend, but space is tight right now), along with Venus in Fur (sad, but fully expected) and Wish I Was Here. But, everything else art-wise is holding — inclding that damnably indestructible Chef, which continues to cling to life like some cinematic cockroach.
This week the Thursday Horror Picture Show serves up a Bela Lugosi double-feature, Victor Halperin’s White Zombie (1932) and William Beaudine’s The Ape Man (1943) at 8 p.m. on Thu., Aug. 7 in Theater Six at The Carolina. World Cinema is running Carlos Saura’s Goya in Bordeaux (1999) on Fri., Aug. 8 at 8 p.m. in the Railroad Library in the Phil Mechanic Building. Though there’s no review for it (the review ran a couple weeks back, but the film was rained out), Wedge Brewery will show Thunder Road on Sat., Aug. 9. Films start 15 minutes after sundown. The Hendersonville Film Society is screening Georges Franju’s Judex (1963) at 2 p.m. on Sun. Aug. 10 in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. The Asheville Film Society is showing Frank Borzage’s Liliom (1930) on Tue., Aug. 12 at 8 p.m. in Theater Six at The Carolina. More on a all titles in this week’s Xpress — with full reviews in the online edition.
You know it’s a slack week when Oculus is the best thing going, but there’s also Divergent, and (Clapton save us) God’s Not Dead.
Notable TV Screenings
We’re now in TCM’s “Summer Under the Stars,” which means we get 24 hour doses of single actors. This can be painful. (Endurng 24 hours of Walter Pidgeon just isn’t on my list of things to do.) However, I do like the fact that Wed., Aug. 6 is given over to the far-too-often slighted Paul Muni, whose famous biopics (and, yes, they’re there) have tended to overshadow his versatility. Just check out The World Changes (1933) at 6 a.m. Hi, Nellie! (1934) at 7:45 a.m., Bordertown (1935) at 9 a.m., The Good Earth (1937) at 11 a.m., I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (1932) at 8 p.m., Scarface (1932) at 9:30 p.m., and Black Fury (1935) at 11:15 p.m. Nothing else this week is quite so enticing though a Saturday’s worth of William Powell ain’t bad, but these are on a lot. The same is true of a Sunday of Carole Lombard. But a day of Alexis Smith? What are they thinking?