Here we have a week of some uncertainty and a great many last-minute changes that threw a monkey wrench or two into the whole business. You see, up until Monday at noon, we were set with a movie (and a review and the Weekly Pick) that the distributor moved (tentatively) to May 23. (The whole reason for this lies in a single word — Weinstein — that is largely interchangeable with quixotic.) Then another distributor decided to move up the expansion on John Turturro’s Fading Gigolo, which wasn’t previously on the map, and it all just kind of fell apart from there — with some questions left hanging. I’ll attempt to explain why — and why some things you will see in print in the upcomers have vanished and others are now “iffy.” Oh, and God’s Pocket, which was in the upcomers has been moved to next week.
Here is what we know: On the mainstream front, the big deal this week is Neighbors. Also a certainty is the frankly dismal-looking animated film Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return. Up in the air is Jon Favreau’s Chef. All I know at this point is that neither The Carolina, nor Carmike are getting it. What the Regal folks are doing, I might know on Wednesday, but the listings they send are often incomplete. In the art/indie realm we get Blue Ruin, Particle Fever and Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago — all at The Carolina and all reviewed in this week’s paper. The Fine Arts is opening local filmmaker Katie Damien’s My Toxic Backyard (one 7 p.m. show a day), and it’s also reviewed in this week’s Xpress. Both The Carolina and Fine Arts are getting Fading Gigolo, which has neither been seen, nor reviewed. Is all that clear to you? If it is, explain it to me.
While Mr. Souther reviewed Blue Ruin, I did at least see it. I think his review pegged it pretty well. It and Particle Fever (which I reviewed) are on a split schedule. (Blue Ruin gets three shows: 12:10, 5:15, 9:45, and Fever gets two: 2:50, 7:30.) I think it unlikely they will play more than one week, so bear that in mind. Mr. Souther reviewed Walking the Camino, which I did not see. You can check out those reviews — and My Toxic Backyard — in the paper (or online) later today.
Now, about these other certain things. First up — and the most interesting looking to me — is John Turturro’s Fading Gigolo in which Turturro plays the title character and Woody Allen plays his … well, pimp. The critics are so far pretty evenly divided on this one, which is about what I would expect, but when a tough critic like David Edelstein is in a movie’s corner, I tend to listen. And when he writes, “What puts Fading Gigolo over the top is the presence of Allen, who’s just the sort of earthy, fast-talking foil the moony Turturro needs. It’s true that Allen is 90 percent shtick: the falsetto stammer, the compulsive gesticulations, the Groucho-vaulting eyebrows. But in this context he’s like a figure out of commedia dell’arte, and you can properly savor how musical — how jazzy — those tics and stammers are.” You can bet I’ll be first in line come Friday. Plus, I’m just glad to see Turturro in something isn’t a dumb Transformers movie.
Far less appealing on any level is the seemingly cheapjack animated cash-grab Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return. The press notes say it’s “animated musical based on the adventure books by Roger Stanton Baum, the great-grandson of L. Frank Baum. A continuation of one of the world’s most popular and beloved fairy tales, Legends of Oz finds Dorothy (Lea Michele) waking to post-tornado Kansas, only to be whisked back to Oz to try to save her old friends the Scarecrow (Dan Aykroyd), the Lion (Jim Belushi), the Tin Man (Kelsey Grammer) and Glinda (Bernadette Peters) from a devious new villain, the Jester (Martin Short). Wiser the owl (Oliver Platt), Marshal Mallow (Hugh Dancy), China Princess (Megan Hilty) and Tugg the Tugboat (Patrick Stewart) join Dorothy on her latest magical journey through the colorful landscape of Oz to restore order and happiness to Emerald City.” I say it looks like spinach and the hell with it. But since it has brand-name recognition, parents will probably take the kiddies — which they should have done with Ernest & Celestine, but didn’t.
And then there’s Nicholas Stoller’s latest raunch-com, Neighbors, which has so far been getting pretty good reviews. Stoller is the guy who gave us Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008), its semi-sequel Get Him to the Greek (2010) and the dismal The Five Year Plan (2012). Make of that filmography what you will. This one’s all about a war between Zac Efron’s frat house and Seth Rogen’s middle-class lifestyle next door. It looks … well, obvious, but it’s expected to be a big hit. I actually like Zac Efron, and I don’t always mind Rogen, so it’s something of a crap shoot. The showtimes for it fit together comfortably with those for Fading Gigolo, so I will probably be the one who sees it.
This week we lose Under the Skin, Joe, Ernest & Celestine, and Le Weekend — all at The Carolina. The Fine Arts is dropping The Grand Budapest Hotel, but The Carolina is holding on to it for at least another week (it’s now the only place around that has it).
Before getting down to the usual suspects, this is the week that the Asheville Film Society starts its Budget Big Screen series up again. The opening film is Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange (1971). It will be shown on the big screen from a newly remastered digital cinema print on Wednesday, May 14 at 7:30 p.m. at The Carolina. Admission is $5 for AFS members and $7 for the general public. Tickets should be on sale today (Tuesday) or tomorrow. Since Kubrick films have always been big sellers, it might not be a bad idea to get yours soon.
There is no Thursday Horror Picture Show this week, owing to the Cinema Lounge having been rented. Similarly, there is no Hendersonville Film Society screening because of Mother’s Day. Both will be back next week. World Cinema is showing Luis Buñuel’s Belle de Jour (1967) at 8 p.m. on Friday, May 9 in the Railroad Library in the Phil Mechanic Building. Wedge Brewery is starting the annual summertime outdoor screenings (most of which a Coen Brothers movies this year) with the Coens’ Raising Arizona on Saturday, May 10 starting just after sundown. The Asheville Film Society is screening Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. and Bette Davis in Aflred E. Green’s Pre-Code Parachute Jumper (1933) at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, May 13 in Theater Six at The Carolina. More on all titles in this week’s paper — with full reviews in the online edition.
The theme this week seems to be Movies That Nobody Saw in Theaters — Veronica Mars, The Art of the Steal, and Generation War are heading the list. Perhaps they will fare better on DVD. One movie that at least a few people did see is also up — Still Mine.
Notable TV Screenings
Wednesday, May 7 is Gary Cooper’s birthday, so TCM is giving him the daylight hours, but not, for the most part, with titles I’d have chosen, though they do have Frank Borzage’s A Farewell to Arms (1932) at 6:15 a.m. This was dismissed for years, owing to the proliferation of lousy public domain copies, but now that it’s been restored to something like it must have looked in 1932, it turns out to be pretty good Cooper and excellent Borzage. It’s followed at 7:45 a.m. by Stephen Roberts’ fairly charming One Sunday Afternoon (1933), which was buried for years by Warner Bros.’ 1941 remake, The Strawberry Blonde. If the rest are a pretty standard array of choices, at least Frank Capra’s fascinatingly flawed Meet John Doe (1940) pops up at 1 p.m.
On Thursday, May 8 at 4:30 a.m. (which is technically Friday a.m.) TCM has Peter Brook’s magnificent film version of The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat As Performed by the Inmates of Asylum at Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis De Sade (1966), or as it’s more commonly called (for obvious reasons) Marat/Sade. If you’ve never seen this, you should.
At 6:30 a.m. on Friday, May 9 they have the odd, nicely creepy and little seen Before Dawn (1933), a convoluted murder mystery with mysticism and seances and Warner Oland as the villain and Dudley Digges as the heroine’s dishonest father. It’s not great, but it’s entertaining.
On Tuesday, May 13 we get the two most famous films made by Sam Goldwyn’s “new Garbo,” Anna Sten. The first is Nana (1934) at 8 p.m. — a somewhat ill-advised attempt to turn Emile Zola’s novel into a film. It might have worked if it had been directed by someone other than the stodgy Dorothy Arzner. Much better is Rouben Mamoulian’s We Live Again (1934), which follows a 9:45 p.m. Oh, what a diference a director makes!