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.
I’m not going to mince words, gloss things over or put a brave face on it. This week is pathetic. There are two movies opening — one of limited audience appeal (it’s a documentary) and one about which there is cause for some skepticism. It’s a good thing that there’s still a large quantity of good things that are still playing. That’s the most comfort I can give. I can’t even bring myself to use an image from this week’s crop and have settled on a movie from 10 years ago, which is a special screening this week.
Since it has been authoritatively proved that a significant portion of the American public can only survive an entire day with their family if at least two or three hours of that day are spent in a darkened movie theater — offering the illusion of togetherness without actual interaction — it is my civic responsibility to enlighten you on your options. This year — filling that space between the turkey and the Alka Seltzer — we have a fairly pleasing variety of diversions at our disposal.
While Hollywood sits around trying to figure out how a film nobody thought would make a nickel almost stole Thor’s thunder last weekend, the rest of us are poised to try to withstand the arrival of The Next Big Thing this week — and it’s an almost surefire juggernaut. It will easily rake in a few trillion bucks before the weekend is out and restore the status quo that was briefly disturbed by last weekend’s fluke. And there’s more than that heading our way.
The studios seem to be taking the week off. We get exactly one movie that could be called mainstream — and it’s a borderline case that no one is expecting anything out of, and not everyone is bothering to book at all. On the other hand, we do get two new art titles of a certain interest — one of them bordering on the notorious.
It looks like awards season is upon us, since two of the heaviest hitters are opening this week. There’s also a third art title for our viewing, a sort of mainstream/art hybrid and a big-budget blockbuster that’s already conquered most of the rest of the world. Actually, life looks pretty good this week — cinematically speaking.
While civilization attempts to recover from the embarrassing fact that Bad Grandpa is the number one movie in the country, we find ourselves faced with something of a slight week as concerns new movies hitting town (next week is slated to be a very different proposition, I assure you). This week we get three mainstream titles, one art title and a sort-of-art title.
If you take a look at the Upcomers in the print edition, the week looks pretty crowded, but three of those titles are part of the second edition of The Carolina’s “Music Madness” mini-festival. Not to minimize those — there’s some choice stuff in this second set — but that only leaves us with three full openings: two mainstream and one art title. (There was supposed to be one more, but the distributors changed their minds.)
This is an odd week in a number of ways. First of all, there’s something unusual in terms of approach with a collection of music films. Then we have one art title — an unusually fine documentary — and three mainstream ones, which is no shock. But on top of that those happy Weinstein pranksters have hit us with another of those curious, out-of-nowhere split bills.
This is quite a week — at least in terms of quantity. We’re looking at two art/indie titles (one of which blindsided me) and three mainstream ones. What to make of it all is another question.
What started off as a simple week of two art titles and two mainstream ones permitted itself the luxury of becoming more complicated. The truth, however, is that the complication of three additional films isn’t likely to make much impact on very many moviegoing plans. I will explain.
There is certainly no shortage of movies hitting town this week. There are, in fact, seven of the things. Seven, mind you. You could make a movie about Snow White with those. The question is whether this is an embarrassment of riches, or merely an embarrassment.
All in all, we’re looking at a pretty good week — and it’s not particularly overcrowded. We have two art titles that have things to recommend them, and two mainstream offerings, one of which stands a good chance of being genuinely worth your while. The other is another matter.
Well, this is certainly tastier than last week, which produced the absolute worst grosses I’ve seen in … well, a very long time. This week looks better. I say that based on both things I’ve seen and my level of interest in at least one thing unseen. This is also one of those weeks in which there are, I fear, more art titles than the market will bear.
Unless there’s something hiding in the recesses of the listings I haven’t seen — thanks to Labor Day — this has all the earmarks of being the lamest week of 2013. We have one mainstream title and one documentary headed our way. It’s not really surprising — the summer is over and awards season hasn’t started — but that doesn’t keep it from being dispiriting.
OK, this is an odd week in a couple of ways. Not only are there too may “art” titles opening — four is just more than the market will bear — but exactly what is opening in the supposedly mainstream realm is still open to some question, and that’s a question that won’t be answered till sometime tomorrow.
At last, the new Woody Allen film hits town — with all its awards buzz and strong, national box office intact. Plus, we get a new Edgar Wright comedy, the next Harry Potter wannabe, and (yet again) the “reinvention of horror.” It could be worse. It has been worse. It will be worse again.
Another fairly heavy week at the movies comes our way with four mainstream offerings and one art title. That, of course, refers to quantity, not quality. Quality looks a much less reliable consideration. Much less. Oh, yes.
Local production company Down Poor Pictures is premiering its first independent feature film, Ringside Rosary, at the Fine Arts Theatre on Aug. 15. Filmed mostly in Asheville, with a local cast and crew, the drama tells the story of a boxer trying to shed his criminal past.