It’s a busy week at the movies. Not only are there six movies—well, five real movies and a curiosity—opening, but there’s QFest at the Fine Arts more than doubling the number. With that in mind, let’s jump right into the fray and see what’s out there.
If Looper opening two weeks ago suggested that we were edging into award season territory where the line between art and mainstrem titles becomes pretty blurry indeed, this week seals the deal with Ben Affleck’s Argo and Martin McDonagh’s Seven Psychopaths. You’ll find Justin Souther’s review of the former in this week’s paper. (He cheated and saw both of these movies in Toronto, but there was no way he was getting to review the new film from McDonagh—though you can flip back through his Toronto reports for his enthusiastic assessment of it.) I’m actually a little surprised to see Seven Psychopaths being given a wide release—and I question the wisdom of the approach, but no one asked for my opinion. More on it further down.
The other opening film that’s been seen is The Perks of Being a Wallflower, which I saw on Saturday morning—early Saturday morning—and which you’ll find reviewed in this week’s Xpress. This was something of a surprise to me, because I really wasn’t expecting much. Actually, I was expecting to dislike it and ended up loving it. (The only reason it didn’t get the Weekly Pick was because it was up against Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie.) We’re talking the kind of loving it where I now want to read the source novel. In short—get yourself over to The Carolina when it opens there this weekend.
So let’s get on with the broader picture.
It causes me no joy to announce the arrival of Atlas Smug…er Atlas Shrugged: Part Two, but here it is. Considering that Part One lost a young fortune as soon as its niche market was exhausted—and neither the foreign market (Ayn Rand seems to be a strictly American interest), nor DVD sales helped much—it’s somewhat surprising to see that a second installment got made. (Granted, everyone from the first film jumped ship, so this one boasts an even less impressive cast and director.) It’s no secret that I find Ms. Rand’s philosophy a bit wanting and utterly repellent, so I’m not the target audience for this. (Well, I am curious if this latest film attempt sidesteps her atheism and rough sex fantasies again.) But let’s face it, this movie isn’t aimed at people interested in films or filmmaking, but in Ayn Rand’s ideas.
According to the one review that’s on Rotten Tomatoes for Here Comes the Boom, the film “showcases Kevin James’ comic genius as his best.” Setting aside the idea that James’ “comic genius” has a gender, I have to say that it never occurred to me that I’d see the name “Kevin James” in the same sentence with “comic genius,” and I suspect a degree of hyperbole at work here. That said, if Adam Sandler insists on foisting his buddies on us, I’d rather see James than Rob Schneider—even if he does come to us in a movie from another Sandlerian hanger-on, director Frank Coraci. This one looks pretty harmless with James starring as a high school biology teacher who becomes a mixed martial arts fighter in order to help save the school’s music department. (Yes, it does sound an awful lot like Nacho Libre, which seems like the last thing you’d want people to be reminded of.)
On a much more hopeful note, there’s Martin McDonagh’s Seven Psychopaths starring Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Christopher Walken, Tom Waits, and Woody Harrelson. McDonagh’s first feature In Bruges (2008) announced the writer-director as a fresh, unique voice in the art film world. This new film—with which he and star Farrell reunite—appears poised to at least attempt to move McDonagh more into the mainstream. However, nothing—apart from more Americans in the cast and a wide release—suggests that McDonagh has in any way changed his stripes to get there. Here we have a comedy built around a pair of guys—Sam Rockwell and Christopher Walken—who make a living by stealing dogs and returning them to their owners for the reward. Throw in Colin Farrell as Rockwell’s best friend—a writer trying to finish a screenplay called Seven Psychopaths—and Woody Harrelson as a psychotic gangster, whose dog probably oughtn’t have been stolen. Tom Waits and some rabbits are in there somehow, too. The trailer looks wonderful. Early reviews are very strong. And, yes, Mr. Souther gave it high marks when he saw it. I’ll be there on Friday.
That brings us to Scott Derickson’s Sinister with Ethan Hawke as a true crime novelist who “discovers a box of mysterious, disturbing home movies that plunge his family into a nightmarish experience of supernatural horror.” OK, let’s look at this realistically. Derrickson’s The Day the Earth Stood Still (2009) was pretty awful. Some people (I am not among them) were quite taken with his supernatural-courtroom drama hybrid The Exorcism of Emily Rose. This one is being touted mostly on “the producer of the Paranormal Activity movies,” which is really a case of one of the producers. In truth, the trailer suggests something more like Insidious (2010)—a film also on producer Jason Blum’s resume—which strikes me as a good thing. Early reviews have been surprisingly good—especially for a horror picture—and the film is being called terrifying. Well, I’ll be honest—I’ve never actually been terrified by a movie (at least not past the edge of 10) and I doubt this will change that. However, it does look creepy and I’m interested.
So what do we lose this week to make room for all this? Well, the Fine Arts is holding The Master and Samsara, but check the schedule because the QFest films will cause some cancellations. The Carolina is keeping Abritrage and The Master, but 2 Days in New York and Searching for Sugar Man are leaving. It’s also worth noting—if you’re looking for a last chance to catch it in a theater—that Asheville Pizza is bringing in Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom for its 7 p.m. set this week.
In addition to the usual special screenings this week, we have QFest at the Fine Arts. There will be a separate article on the festival selections and a schedule of the films online on Wednesday. There’s some prime stuff in this year’s movies.
This week’s Thursday Horror Picture Show is Tobe Hooper’s intergalactic vampire epic Lifeforce (1985) at 8 p.m. on Thu., Oct. 11 in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. World Cinema is showing Yashujiro Ozu’s silent film I Was Born, But… (1932) on Fri., Oct. 12 at 8 p.m. in the Railroad Library in the Phil Mechanic Building. The Hendersonville Film Society is screening Howard Hughes’ Hell’s Angels (1930) at 2 p.m. on Sun.,Oct. 14 in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. The Asheville Film Society is showing Marlene Dietrich in Josef von Sternberg’s Dishonored (1931) on Tue., Oct. 16 at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. More on all titles in this week’s paper with extended coverage in the online edition.
Notable TV Screenings
You’re on your own here. I didn’t see anything out of the ordinary the entire week.