What should still be playing
Now, the truth is that I have an almost perfect record of not attending Bele Chere. OK, so I got cajoled, bamboozled and frankly tricked into filling helium balloons at the Xpress booth one year, but I'd prefer not to think about that. So I find it fairly easy to find things that strike me as more fun than watching shirtless folks (who, of course, are always people you don't want to see shirtless) drink beer or listen to hot gospellers harangue me about hell. And I find it even easier to find things that take place in air conditioning — like in movie theaters. (Is no one here old enough to remember the "Come In, It's Kool Inside" door decals?) Of course, with Bele Chere being a little ways away as I write this, it can be tricky making long range movie plans — and there's the fact that we're down a theater that weekend, since the Fine Arts closes during Bele Chere (not that I'd want to go downtown anyway). That said, it seems likely that two of the best movies I've seen this year — Moonrise Kingdom and To Rome with Love — are going to be still be around. Think of it — good movies, air conditioning, comfortable seats, and since these are playing at The Carolina, you can have beer if you want. (Not to mention Cheerwine and Sundrop.) — Ken Hanke
What’s opening, though we haven’t seen it yet
In case you've seen everything of any interest to you that's at the movies on Bele Chere weekend, there are four movies opening then. The truth is two of them come under the heading of movies you'd have to pay me to see. I have zero personal interest in the fourth — fourth, for Clapton's sake — Step Up movie. This one's called Step Up Revolution. It's the trailer with the "dancing" cars. Need I say more? Then there's The Watch — originally called Neighborhood Watch until events made that seem unwise. It's still about a neighborhood watch group — Ben Stiller, Jonah Hill, Vince Vaughan, Richard Ayoade — who end up fighting an alien invasion, and it still sounds like a less edgy Attack the Block. Ah, but that is not all. There are two art titles set to come our way that weekend. There's the French film The Intouchables about the friendship between a filthy rich (that's feelthy reech in French, of course) quadriplegic and his totally inappropriate, Kool and the Gang-loving, black caregiver. And there's the indie comedy Safety Not Guaranteed in which presumably crazy Mark Duplass (who I'm rapidly coming to like a lot) places a personal ad for someone to go time traveling with him. Now, here's the thing … I've already seen both of these and while I can't say much (I have to review these, after all), I can tell you that both of them are choice. Either of these — better yet, both — would be time well spent. — Ken Hanke
Summer, of course, is generally known less for its quality and more for its blockbusters. This year is no different, but this doesn’t mean there aren’t some entertaining summer movies still hanging around to be enjoyed. Steven Soderbergh’s Magic Mike is still out, and while some might be hesitant to watch a movie about male strippers, this is Soderbergh after all. A character study of our titular Magic Mike (played by a likable, ever improving Channing Tatum), this is a movie about more than just titillation. Though that’s there too, if your thing is beefy dudes in ass-less chaps. Of course, you can find that downtown, too, though I doubt they’re in as good of shape.
Looking for something with a bit more CGI and fewer thongs? Marc Webb’s Amazing Spider-Man may not be quite up to par with Soderbergh’s film — or even this summer’s earliest cash cow The Avengers — it’s still a surprisingly solid action fantasy. Rebooting Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man movies seemed like an odd choice to me, not because of any reverence towards Raimi’s flicks, but more due to the superfluity of it all. Sans Raimi’s jokiness, and with a blessedly stronger cast (Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone make the casting of Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst look dopey by comparison), Webb’s managed to improve certain areas of the Spider-Man formula just enough to make his film worth a look — even if it’s nothing new. And if that kind of comic book movie isn’t your speed, don’t forget that Bele Chere will be cutting into what’s left of the crowds for Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Rises. — Justin Souther
Or how about rent a movie?
Instead of fighting the crowds downtown, or the lines of people at the multiplex, maybe you’d rather just stay in this weekend? West Asheville’s Orbit DVD, downtown’s TV Eye and Rosebud Video on Merrimon Avenue will all be open. Need some suggestions, perhaps? Nothing says summer and cinema quite like musicals. We’re big fans of Ken Russell’s classic 1975 big-screen version of The Who’s rock opera Tommy (and if you didn’t know that, you haven’t been reading us very long). If you’ve never seen this film, it’s a hyperactive orgy of rock music and color and excessive vision. In the same vein, there’s Julie Taymor’s love letter to The Beatles, Across the Universe (2007), or Baz Luhrmann’s frenetic Moulin Rouge! (2001) and its pop music soundtrack. Wanting something with a bit more bite? Tim Burton’s adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007) is certainly bloody enough for that. And don’t forget the movie that was Rocky Horror before Rocky Horror, Brian De Palma’s The Phantom of the Paradise (1974). De Palma took the Phantom of the Paradise, transposed it into a parody of the ’70s rock scene, threw in some excellent Paul Williams songs and created one of the great cult hits in cinema’s history. It’s irreverent, flamboyant and has better costumes than anyone hanging out at Bele Chere’s likely to be sporting. — Justin Souther