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.
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.
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.
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.