It’s a light week at the movies. Stranger still, it’s a week with absolutely no art titles. Yes, we’re strictly mainstream this week, though I suppose one of openers could be said to be of the cult variety.
What makes the lack of art titles notable from my perspective is that there’s nothing coming out that I’ve already seen. And the same is true for Mr. Souther. In other words, we’re just as in the dark about Friday’s new offerings as you are. Frankly, with one exception (no prizes for guessing which one), I’d be just as happy to remain in the dark and hope for better things. That, alas, is not my lot in life.
The only thing coming to town that I’ve any real enthusiasm for is Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie. It’s of course an established fact that I’m keen on Burton’s work, so this is not unexpected. (I mean, I fully intend to pick up the much disdained Dark Shadows this week. So there.) Frankenweenie, however, seems poised to be getting an overall warmer reception. (The only critic I have any truck with who has so far come down against it is Luke Y. Thompson, who I fully intend to castigate at the earliest opportunity.) The prospect of seeing Burton expand on his likable, but somewhat crude, 1984 short film is at the very least interesting. The story of a little boy bringing his dead dog back to life—complete with all its visual echoes of the James Whale Frankenstein pictures of the 1930s—is something that seems better suited to animation in the first place. Plus, Burton is certainly a more mature filmmaker now than he was in 1984. And if nothing else, this one won’t have Sofia Coppola in it. That right there is worth its weight in gold.
And then there are these other things…
Well, first off, there’s Pitch Perfect, which is this first theatrical feature from Broadway director (Avenue Q) Jason Moore, and in which the biggest name is Anna Kendrick. Somewhat oddly, the film was given a limited release (it’s not that kind of movie) last week and goes wide this week. What is it? It’s a college comedy about dueling a cappella groups. Now, you know I couldn’t make that up. Stranger still, it’s gotten largely positive reviews. My guess is that it depends a great deal on your fondness for a cappella singing. I confess that the last time it appealed to me was when I heard the Hall Johnson Choir perform “St. Louis Blues” in the 1936 film Banjo on My Knee. I similarly confess that I didn’t make it through the trailer on this. Mr. Souther and I may have to go best two falls out of three on this one—and I might cheat. Then again, it’s just possible that this actually is the pleasant surprise it’s been painted as by some.
That leaves us with the latest example of Liam Neeson in action star mode—a career move that still puzzles me. Taken 2, a sequel to the popular 2008 movie that started him on this path comes to us from the improbably named Olivier Megaton. And while I can’t help but admire an action director who goes by that monicker, his credits suggest that his name is perhaps the most appealing aspect of his work. This is the plot as put forth by the studio—“Former government agent Bryan Mills has retired and attempts to reassemble his old life, after years of overseas employment have left him estranged from his teenage daughter. But when she is kidnapped while in Europe, Bryan must revert to his old skill set to rescue her before she disappears forever.” Maybe it’s just me, but that sounds less like a sequel than it sounds like the first movie all over again. I guess that might be the whole idea.
What does this find us losing? Well, the Fine Arts is keeping both The Master and Samsara. The Carolina, however, is dropping Sleepwalk with Me and The Imposter. 2 Days in New York, Arbitrage, Searching for Sugar Man, and The Master are holding steady.
Before getting down to the usual run of movies, let’s note that on Sun., Oct. 7 at 7 p.m. the Fine Arts is running the very worthwhile documentary Gen Silent with the filmmaker at the screening. This is worth seeing and worth supporting.
This week’s Thursday Horror Picture Show is the Tod Slaughter classic melodrama The Face at the Window (1939) on Thu., Oct. 4 at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. World Cinema is showing Leni Riefenstahl’s 1936 Olympics documentary Olympia (1938) on Fri., Oct. 5 at 8 p.m. in the Railroad Library in the Phil Mechanic Building. Martin Scorsese’s The Aviator (2005) is this week’s title at the Hendersonville Film Society on Sun., Oct. 7 at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. The Asheville Film Society is showing Henry Cass’ Last Holiday (1950) on Tue., Oct. 9 at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. More on all titles in this week’s Xpress with expanded reviews in the online edition.
The most notable title for me this week is Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows, followed by the largely overlooked pleasures of Peace, Love & Misunderstanding. Also up are People Like Us and Sound of My Voice. Once was more than enough for me.
Notable TV Screenings
On Wed., Oct. 3 at 7:45 a.m. TCM is showing Penguin Pool Murder (1932), the first and best of Hildegarde Withers mysteries starring Edna May Oliver and James Gleason.
On Mon., Oct. 8, starting at 6 a.m. it’s a Rouben Mamoulian birthday celebration—Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1932), Queen Christina (1933), We Live Again (1934), The Gay Desperado (1936), Golden Boy (1939), Silk Stockings (1957). I can’t say these would all have been my choices, but the thought is nice—and I like seeing the rarely considered We Live Again among the choices, even if it’s a film that works better in conjunction with Mamoulian’s masterpiece Love Me Tonight, which isn’t being shown.
Frank Borzage’s Lucky Star (1929) is being shown at 8 p.m., Tue., Oct. 9. I have to admit I wasn’t as taken with this late period silent as a lot of people were when it showed up in that massive box set of Borzage and F.W. Murnau titles a few years ago, but it’s certainly worth seeing. It is, however, done no favors by the appallingly bad musical track that’s been slapped on it. You might want to turn the volume down—way down. Off even.