If nothing else, the entire weekend doesn’t revolve around giant CGI toys and explosions. This doesn’t mean that this messy, messy holiday weekend — where some things open on Wednesday, some things open on Friday, and, in one curious case, another opens on Saturday — is necessarily going to be that much better than last weekend. But there will be more of it. This may or may not comfort you.
Now, the art titles — the things that open on Friday — have been seen and reviewed, and can be read about in some detail in this week’s Xpress. The Carolina is opening Jodorowsky’s Dune, and the Fine Arts has Obvious Child. My pick was Jodorowsky’s Dune — and bear in mind I’m not predisposed toward documentaries. This, however, is like no documentary I have ever seen in the way it paints the portrait of a movie that never was, but which has enough pre-production material to allow a pretty good idea of the film that might have been. That it gives the 84-year-old Jodorowsky — in all his gloriously outrageous eccentricity — free rein to tell his story also makes it wildly entertaining. And all the while, you can dream about a film of Dune that would have involved Salvador Dali, Orson Welles, Pink Floyd, Mick Jagger, and H.R. Giger if only it had been made — and it almost was.
I freely confess that I am less whelmed by Obvious Child — and that’s being exceedingly kind about it. After the press screening, the studio rep asked me for my initial reaction and I said, “Well, it was in focus.” Now, having said that, I should note that the film has gotten a ton of critical praise from other quarters. It has been likened to Woody Allen (as if) and to Lena Dunham (far more on the mark). The idea is that it’s an edgy romantic comedy. I suppose I’d agree that it at least attempts being edgy, but I found it neither romantic, nor funny. You may feel differently. Others have.
The Saturday opening is a 50th anniversary re-release of Richard Lester’s A Hard Day’s Night — you know, that movie starring four fellows named Lennon, McCartney, Harrison and Starr. It’s only playing for two days at The Carolina — Saturday, July 5 at 8 p.m. and Sun., July 6 at 2 p.m. It’s a landmark — perhaps the film of the 1960s, the one that changed everything. But it’s also just 90 minutes of pure, exuberant fun that captures a time and place like few films have ever done. And, of course, there are all those wonderful Beatle songs.
And now, the Big Fourth of July Mainstreamers …
First up, we have Scott Derrickson’s Deliver Us from Evil — a “fact-based” horror opus from the guy who gave us The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005), The Day the Earth Stood Still — or Keanu Barada Nikto — (2008) and Sinsister (2012). In other words, the bar is not set all that high. This one stars Eric Bana (yes, his career has come to this) as a real-life NYPD cop battling the forces of evil. (The film is based on said cop’s “actual account” book.) In its favor, they went for the R rating. Plus, it’s the only horror movie opening to celebrate July 4. Not so in its favor — I mean apart from the concept and the cheapjack Screen Gems release — is the fact that it opens tomorrow and still has zero reviews.
Then there is Earth to Echo — a family friendly, PG-rated science fictioner about some kids becoming involved with the darn cutest little alien robot you ever saw in your life. (Pardon me while I clean the goo off my keyboard.) Why, yes, it does sound like an E.T. rip-off — even if the little robot fellow looks like that abomination of a stop-motion mechanical owl from the 1981 Clash of the Titans. And for even more variation, one of the characters in this is named for a character in The Goonies (1985). If all this doesn’t send you screaming into the night, this may be for you. I know one critic who usually makes me look like Pollyanna, who deemed the alien robot “adorable.” Oh, well.
The supposed big deal this week is Tammy — the latest raunchy com starring Melissa McCarthy, whose popularity could well be tested with this one. Apparently feeling the need to expand herself, Ms. McCarthy co-wrote this one with her real-life husband Ben Falcone, who also functioned as director. There’s nothing like having no one to say “no” to whatever you wish to do — not that there’s much evidence of anyone so much as telling her to take it down a notch in her previous films. This time, McCarthy plays a downtrodden character who loses her job, finds her husband is cheating on her and destroys her rattletrap car. The only way out of town and a supposed new life is to team up her troublesome, hard-drinking, outspoken grandmother (Susan Sarandon) for a road trip to Niagara Falls. As a premise, it’s workable. A supporting cast of Kathy Bates, Allison Janney, Mark Duplass, Dan Aykroyd, Toni Collette and Sandra Oh could help. Again, this is a movie that opens in less than 24 hours and it has one review so far.
This week, we lose We Are the Best!, which is not unexpected, but still unfortunate. It was, I fear, a movie that was not likely to find its audience — Swedish, subtitled, 13-year-old girl, punk rock band. Too bad, because it was a pretty special movie — as just about anyone who saw it will attest. The Fine Arts is relegating Ida to one show a day, and The Carolina is cutting The Immigrant to two.
This week’s Thursday Horror Picture Show celebrates Ken Russell’s birthday with his 1986 film Gothic at 8 p.m. on Thursday, July 3 in Theater Six at The Carolina. World Cinema is skipping a week because of the July 4th holiday. The Hendersonville Film Society is showing Herbert Ross’ The Sunshine Boys (1975) on Sunday, July 6 at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. The Asheville Film Society is screening John Ford’s Steamboat Round the Bend (1935) at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, July 8 in Theater Six at The Carolina. More on all titles in this week’s Xpress with complete reviews in the online edition.
It’s another slack week as far as mainstream — or even mainstreamish — releases are concerned. The only title that played — albeit very briefly — on local screens is Hirokazu Koreeda’s Like Father, Like Son.
Notable TV Screenings
The best thing on TCM this week is a run of Mae West movies on Thursday, July 3 starting at 8 p.m. with her three best films — I’m No Angel (1933), She Done Him Wrong (1933), and Belle of the Nineties (1934) — in a row. These are followed by her famous teaming with W.C. Fields, My Little Chickadee (1940) at 12:45 a.m. and the fairly dire The Heat’s On (1943) at 2:15 a.m. But those first three titles are pure gold.