In Theaters The movies are often accused of a lack of originality — thriving on remakes and sequels. I suppose it is an endorsement of this when you consider that last week’s Big Thing was a sequel, and this week’s Next Big Thing is also a sequel. But it doesn’t end there. A disturbing […]
Captain America: The Winter Soldier crashes, bursts and bludgeons his way into theaters this Friday (or Thursday night for the Truly Dedicated) and no mere mortal mainstream movies dare to challenge his might. Locally, however, no less than four art titles willing to stand up to the onslaught. They won’t defeat him, of course, but they’re willing to give his tights a tug.
Frankly, any week coming after The Grand Budapest Hotel is apt to taste like wax fruit, but we do have four movies opening this week — two mainstream, two art titles (sort of). At least one of the art titles I know to be good, even if it’s the kind of film for which the phrase “not for everyone” was coined. And how.
Like a harbinger of the end of a winter that seemed utterly disinclined to go away — and the typical dead-of-winter parade of dreary movies (at least the ones actually released this year) — Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel comes to town this week. It’s a joy. It’s a wonderment. It’s a delight. It’s a must-see. It’s a film I didn’t mind in the least getting up early Saturday morning to be at a 9 a.m. press screening at The Carolina to see. Oh, yeah, there’s some other stuff opening, too. I’ll get to those eventually.
Where did all these movies come from? That’s a rhetorical question, but there are six of the things this week — six. I know rabbits that don’t breed like that. (And before anybody asks, Veronica Mars is a limited release and to the best of my knowledge is not opening here — at least not this week.) We’ve got three art titles, two mainstream titles and one that isn’t really either one. Come with me and I will explain.
OK, the Oscars — where it was decided that 12 Years a Slave made itself — are over, so now we can start worrying about next year. Something tells me that nothing coming our way this week will be involved. We have but two mainstream titles and one art title, though the art title is so long that it’s in two parts and perhaps should count as two movies. It will, I imagine, come as no surprise that it’s the one film I’ve seen. The other two … well, we’ll see about those. And, no, despite what you may have heard, Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel won’t make it to Asheville till March 21.
I hate weeks like this. Oh, I’m not complaining that I have zero interest in seeing Non-Stop or Son of God (though I do). No, what distresses me is that there are three truly excellent art titles opening this week. Each of them was completely worthy of being the “Weekly Pick.” But more than that, they’re going to get in each other’s way at the box office. Terrific movies are likely to get overlooked for no reason other than there are too many of them opening on the same weekend. My suggestion is see them all, but I know that’s not practical in terms of time or expense for most people.
Thank goodness for art titles. Otherwise, this week would look pretty bleak. At the same time, there are all those titles you possibly missed owing to the weather last week. Today (I’m writing this on Monday) marks the first day it has been possible to get out of my driveway since last Tuesday night. (Yes, I have cabin fever. You are warned.) That also resulted in the first time since I started reviewing for the Xpress in 2000 where some movies didn’t get reviewed.
If nothing else, there’s at least one excellent art title — of the must-see variety — this week. The mainstream offerings — four of them — would seem to be a much dicier proposition. At the moment, it’s an even dicier proposition as to whether we thaw out enough (assuming the weather prognosticators are correct) to actually get to them.
Well, it’s an interesting week, if nothing else. We have three mainstream films and one art title that is really two art titles (I’ll explain that later). At least two of the mainstream releases are in the keenly anticipated category — well, depending on who you talk to, of course.
Yes! The wait is over. The (deservedly) Oscar-nominated The Great Beauty (La Grande Bellezza) is actually opening this week. In the immortal words of Groucho Marx — “Let there be dancing in the streets, drinking in the saloons, and necking in the parlor.” I was beginning to despair — and it was with some trepidation that I called the Fine Arts on Monday morning to find out. But here it is at last. Seize the opportunity. Me? I’ll be glad to stop moving the review from week to week (and tinkering with it each time). Otherwise, this week … but, hey, The Great Beauty is opening.
Mark Gibney and UNC Asheville are hosting their eighth annual Human Rights Watch Film Festival this week. The festival consists of five carefully selected films that are shown each night of the week beginning tonight, Mon. Jan. 27. The films are at 7 p.m. and are free to the public. All films are shown in the basement of the Highsmith Union. All films — except for the Wednesday screening of Rafea: Solar Mama — are being screened in the Grotto. Rafea: Solar Mama is being shown in Alumni Hall.
Slim pickings this week — not that there was much of anything to get excited about last week, but there was more of it. Actually, we get one really good art title this week, but I fear it’s going to be of limited appeal. There is one mainstream(ish) title, too. It is an unknown quantity, but the indications are that this might be a good week to start filling in the blanks of those Oscar contenders you’ve missed.
Way back in 1932 filmmaker Josef von Sternberg resigned from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, noting it had “nothing to do with art and even less to do with science.” While it’s likely that this was in part the result of constantly losing potential awards to lesser talents, it was not without its truth. And every year they reinforce his statement by holding the Oscar awards—something that most of us approach with a strange mixture of apathy and addiction. We don’t take them seriously really — especially now that every half-assed, semi-credible organization has awards — but we seem to be compelled to follow them and watch them through some kind of Pavlovian effect.
Here at last are our picks for the ten best films of the year — and they’re sure to be the cause for much wailing and gnashing of teeth. One notable omission is sure to raise eyebrows and even hackles. I mean everybody is supposed to have 12 Years a Slave on his or her list, right? Here’s the thing (and I think I can speak for Mr. Souther, too), I have the utmost respect and admiration for the film. I think it is brilliant. I am cheering for Chiwetel Ejiofor to win that Best Actor Oscar, and I’ll be cool with it if 12 Years a Slave takes Best Picture. I think it’s a fine film and a powerful one, but something about the film feels just a little at arm’s length and keeps it from engaging me fully on an emotional level. That aside, here are the lists
I know I promised you something really tasty this week. Actually, I promised it to you two weeks ago. Well, it — The Great Beauty — has been moved back again. (I had nothing to do with this.) Will it open next week? Maybe. And that’s as far as I’m committing myself at this point. In its stead, we do have four movies of the mainstream variety. There’s one pretty fair possibility and three long shots. You may want to consider movies that are still playing — or some of the awards contenders that are making encore appearances.
I promised you a better week and here it is — though it’s shy one title I was expecting. That said, we get five new movies this week, and three of them have merit. One of them has a lot of merit. The other two — well, you can’t have everything. Just remember that this pretty much washes up the 2013 holdovers (apart from the one that didn’t open). And that means it’s probably lean times ahead. Get your movies while the getting’s good.
OK, so only one of the Christmas Day openings was worth seeing. That’s still one more than this week promises. There are two bright sides to this. First of all, you can catch up with all the good movies you still haven’t seen. Second, next week, a pretty strong blast of movies you’ve been waiting to see finally make it to the provinces — including one terrific movie you don’t even know you’re waiting on.
Christmas is upon us and it comes bearing Martin Scorsese, Keanu Reeves, Robert DeNiro, Sylvester Stallone, Ben Stiller (as director) and Ben Stiller (as star). At least the first of those is a good thing. One of them is OK. The rest represent what we call an unknown quantity. It is also a quantity of which I am deeply skeptical. Since at least some of these are in my future, I put on my Christmas cheer face and hope for the best. (Yeah, I’m not fooling myself either.)
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. This week we get three pretty darn terrific — and wildly diverse — new films. It’s also that time of year where the line between art and mainstream blurs to a degree we don’t see at any other time of the year. This is both pleasant and mildly distressing, since the big-box theater chains get into the picture. Regardless, we have three choice movies this week — and a couple of others.
Last week wasn’t very much fun, was it? There we were gathered together— gloomy and despondent — huddled around a single, meager mainstream release and a documentary no one cared about. (The situation was so bad from my perspective that I opted to make the Weekly Pick one of the Special Showings.) This week is somewhat more promising — in its way. (What we’re really waiting for are the next two weeks.) Exactly how promising you will find it depends a great deal on how much you are jazzed about yet another Hobbit movie — that and your Tyler Perry tolerance.