In Theaters Though it lacks anything that qualifies the new Next Big Thing, this is a pretty rich week — at least artwise. There are only two mainstream entries — Maleficent and A Million Ways to Die in the West — but there are three art ones. Of those, two are truly remarkable, but the third is […]
In Theaters Here we have a fairly slight week. Only three new movies are opening locally — two mainstream ones and one art title (next week will be another story on art titles). But that single art title is a surprisingly good one, and one of the mainstream ones may well be more than […]
In Theaters Now this is a week. This is, in fact, partly the week we were supposed to have last week till the Weinsteins decided to play around with the date on The Railway Man. This week we get not only it, but Jim Jarmusch’s utterly remarkable Only Lovers Left Alive. In the bargain, we […]
The Story: A group of gay activists in Great Britain set out to help striking coal miners during the 1984 strike — whether the miners like it or not. The Lowdown: An absolutely pitch-perfect comedy-drama with a remarkable ensemble cast, a witty, literate script and a strong cinematic approach. There is absolutely no excuse for missing this one.
The Story: A post-D-Day war story about a tank crew making their way through Germany. The Lowdown: Violent, bloody, straightforward old-school war movie that overcomes its shortcomings in its battle scenes — with help from three of its five lead actors.
The Story: Misanthropic drunk plays babysitter and mentor to a young boy. The Lowdown: Yes, it's almost alarmingly unmysterious — a feel-good crowd-pleaser tailored to the talents of star Bill Murray. You know where it's going from the onset, but the trip is still very enjoyable.
The Story: Old high school sweethearts reunited after the death of their mentor must look back on — and finally face — their past. The Lowdown: Run-of-the-mill goopy, melodramatic romance from the master of the form, novelist Nicholas Sparks.
The Story: Animated fantasy grounded in the concept of the Day of the Dead. The Lowdown: Its actual plot may be fairly standard love triangle stuff, but The Book of Life's nonstop array of stunning images and invention — not to mention the freshness of its cultural identity — more than transcends its basic plot.
In Brief: A curious, occasionally fascinating, but unfortunately uneven look at the life and work of musician Nick Cave, as seen through the eyes — or more accurately, the memory — of Cave himself. Like so many documentaries, 20,000 Days on Earth depends mostly on your interest in Cave, his music and his thoughts on life, art and himself. Occasional striking images and an interesting — but eventually too thin — motif of documenting one's life make for an original angle at which to tackle the documentary form, but this is ultimately a movie for fans, who should be easily satisfied. The film plays for one show on Thursday, Oct. 23, at 7 p.m. at Fine Arts Theatre.
In Brief: The Asheville Film Society is having a special Halloween Budget Big Screen Showing of Brian De Palma's horror classic Carrie (1976) on Wednesday, Oct. 29, at 7:30 p.m. at The Carolina. Actually, the AFS attempted to do this last year, but there was a moratorium on the film so that it couldn't compete with that lousy remake that was then in theaters. This, however, is the real thing — the ground-breaking, Oscar-nominated original being presented in all its glory from a new DCP remastered print. It is that rarest of things — a great horror movie that so transcends its genre that it's simply a great film. But it is unmistakably a horror film with everything that implies — and it's one that redefined much about the genre by presenting things in a manner no other film had. If you've never seen Carrie, it's high time you did. If you've never seen it in a theater with an audience, that's as good a reason, because it's a completely different experience.
The Asheville Film Society is showing Carrie Wednesday, Oct. 29, at 7:30 p.m. in at The Carolina Asheville as part of the Budget Big Screen series. Admission is $6 for AFS members and $8 for the general public. Xpress movie critics Ken Hanke and Justin Souther will introduce the film.
In Brief: Though pretty obviously inspired by Julien Duvivier's Flesh and Fantasy (1943) — the recurring dream business is a little too much to take as coincidence — the multidirector British horror anthology Dead of Night (1945) is the go-to movie as the source for all subsequent horror anthologies. Of course, since it's a portmanteau film — and one made by four directors — it follows that some stories work better than others. It also now feels just a little overrated in general, but it's still good — at least when it's on its game — and it has a creepiness that is not easily dismissed.
The Hendersonville Film Society will show Dead of Night Sunday, Oct. 26, at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing Retirement Community (behind Epic Cinemas), 333 Thompson St., Hendersonville.
In Brief: Somewhere on the border between Luis Bunuel and Salvador Dali's Un Chien Andalou (1929), David Lynch's Eraserhead (1977) and David Cronenberg's Scanners (1981) lies Darren Aronofsky's debut film, Pi (1998). It clearly draws its surrealism from the first, its tone from the second and its "body horror" from the third. Yet this extremely strange, sometimes maddening film is somehow its very own beast — one that announced the arrival of a filmmaker to reckon with, and one that pointed the way to the Aronofsky films that followed. This story of a theoretical mathematician driving himself insane — possibly with the help of some very strange outsiders who may or may not exist — by trying to explain everything in terms of mathematic sequences is undeniably cruder — and more deliberately impenetrable — than Aronofsky's later films. Still, it's also the work of the same sensibility.
Classic World Cinema by Courtyard Gallery will present Pi Friday, Oct. 24, at 8 p.m. at Phil Mechanic Studios, 109 Roberts St., River Arts District (upstairs in the Railroad Library). Info: 273-3332, www.ashevillecourtyard.com
In Brief: This is the 1939 Bob Hope version of the venerable old dark-house mystery The Cat and the Canary, and while it’s not as stylistically impressive as the 1927 Paul Leni silent, it’s probably an all-around more successful film. Strangely, considering it’s a Bob Hope movie (the one that made him a star, in fact), the comedy element is less intrusive here than the broad slapstick of the silent. The film follows its 1920s source play pretty closely: the will reading at midnight in an isolated creepy mansion, an escaped homicidal maniac called “The Cat,” an heiress being driven insane by the next relative in line for the estate. It all revolves around lawyer Crosby (George Zucco) assembling the possible heirs to the Norman estate at the house at midnight 10 years after the death of Cyrus Norman as per the instructions of the old boy. Naturally, the will contains one of those clauses providing for an alternative heir that places the leading lady in mortal peril — or at least her sanity, since insanity also disqualifies her. Toss in a maniac on the loose — “He has sharp teeth and long fingers and fingernails like claws and when he’s violent he crawls around on all fours like a cat” — and a missing necklace, and you have the recipe for a solid 72 minutes of entertainment.
The Asheville Film Society will screen The Cat and the Canary Tuesday, Oct. 28, at 8 p.m. in Theater Six at The Carolina Asheville and will be hosted by Xpress movie critics Ken Hanke and Justin Souther.
In Brief: Note carefully that this week's film shows at 8:45 p.m., not 8 p.m. It matters very little that George Waggner’s The Wolf Man (1941) is perhaps most notable for assembling one of the greatest casts of any horror movie and then giving them nothing much to do. It’s still the movie that has become ingrained in pop culture as the essential werewolf movie. Lon Chaney Jr.’s turn as Larry Talbot — the lycanthrope of the title — became the role that would always be the centerpiece of Chaney’s career. Jack Pierce’s werewolf makeup became the standard look for a werewolf. Atmospheric photography by Joseph A. Valentine, a great musical score (from Charles Previn, Hans J. Salter and Frank Skinner) and a brisk pace sealed the deal. The fact that most kids discover horror pictures around the age of puberty has kept the torch burning, because The Wolf Man is the perfect horror film for that age group. Nostalgia has done the rest, but the film is certainly not without merit. It’s a horror essential.
The Thursday Horror Picture Show will screen The Wolf Man Thursday, Oct. 23, at 8:45 p.m. in Theater Six at The Carolina Asheville and will be hosted by Xpress movie critics Ken Hanke and Justin Souther.