This is a slack week for one reason: No one is dumb enough to go up against the latest entry in the Fast and Furious series. (I have banned the word “franchise” from my lexicon — Radio Shack is a franchise, these are movie series.) OK, so there’s one art title opening locally, but that’s a different animal altogether.
Incredible as it may seem, April 3 appears to have become the official start of the summer movie season. Next stop — St. Patrick’s Day and the Valentine’s Day. Can Twelfth Night be far behind? Perhaps this needs to be rechristened Big Budget Blockbuster Season.
But before revving our engines, let’s take a look at that lonely art title braving the exhaust fumes. The film is Damián Szifron’s Oscar-nominated Wild Tales and it opens on Friday at the Fine Arts. I saw the film during awards season (though it’s being considered a 2015 release) and again for the review (the review is in this week’s Xpress), and it’s one of those films that I liked pretty well the first time, but really liked on a second look. It’s easy to think of this collection of six tales from Argentina as kind of Almodóvar Lite — especially since Almodóvar is a producer — but, apart from its wicked, dark humor, it’s not that much like Almodóvar. Well, maybe the final story is, but all in all, the film has a tone all its own. It’s not going to be to every taste — some of the comedy is very dark indeed — but it’s a whole lot of pretty unwholesome fun — if you care for that sort of thing, and I know some of you do.
And then there’s James Wan’s Furious 7, which is expected to pull down between $110 million and $130 million in the first five minutes of its release. (Well, over the weekend anyway.) What began as little more than a glorified B actioner The Fast and the Furious in 2001 has now become one of the biggest cash cows still grazing. The films have gotten, bigger, longer (this one clocks in at 137 minutes), and more preposterous right along. Whether or not that makes them better is a separate issue — and one I can’t address, since I’ve only seen four of the seven. (No, I do not plan on rectifying this.) Of the ones I’ve seen, I think the series peaked as dumb entertainment with Fast Five (2011). This latest has the unfortunate advantage of being the final film of series star Paul Walker, who was killed while this was in production. This will probably only goose the box office — out of a mix of respect and a somewhat ghoulish desire to see how they worked around him and how they ushered him out of the series. Will I see it? That’s up in the air. I may be wrapped up in dealing with the four art titles that are set to open next Friday. At the same time, my wife has this mystifying fondness for Messrs. Diesel and Johnson. I may have no choice in the matter. We shall see.
This week we lose Red Army and Leviathan (no surprises there) — especially since The Carolina is bringing on four screens of Furious 7. In a somewhat unusual move the Fine Arts is dropping It Follows (long story), but The Carolina is most certainly keeping it. The thing that continues to amaze me is that What We Do in the Shadows continues to hold strong as it heads into a fifth week. I don’t begrudge it — it’s a terrific horror comedy — but I am surprised by its longevity.
This week the Thursday Horror Picture Show has Fred Walton’s April Fool’s Day (1986) at 8 p.m. on Thu., Apr. 2 in the Theater Six at The Carolina. World Cinema is screening Ken Russell’s TV film Dance of the Seven Veils (1970) on Fri. Apr. 3 at 8 p.m. in the Railroad Library in the Phil Mechanic Building. The Hendersonville Film Society is sitting this week out because of Easter. The Asheville Film Society, on the other hand, is marking Easter — well, a couple days late — with Norman Jewison’s Jesus Christ Superstar (1973) on Tue., Apr. 7 at 8 p.m. in Theater Six at The Carolina. More on all titles in this week’s Xpress — with full reviews in the online edition.
There are three choice titles hitting DVD this week — Interstellar (somehow I can’t imagine this except on a theater screen), The Imitation Game, and Wild. Though it didn’t play here and I haven’t seen it, I confess some curiosity about Marc Lawrence’s The Rewrite with Hugh Grant and Marisa Tomei.