If it weren’t for the one new art title and the surprise addition of a more-or-less art title that showed up at the last minute, this would frankly look like one of those weekends the pages of history tell us is best spent with DVDs — or at least with worthy holdovers from last week. The three new mainstream offerings…well, I suppose they may appeal to someone somewhere. But let’s be honest — they’re being dumped this week since the Captain America: Civil War juggernaut will steamroll the lot of them.
The scarcity of reviews I’ve been responsible for (or guilty of, if you prefer) has, as previously noted, been due to health problems — Clapton knows crappy movies don’t keep me out of the theater, though whether they have taken their toll on my well-being may be a point to ponder. The plan at this point is that I’ll be back in something like full form this weekend. You Are Warned.
Now, I haven’t seen it, but I am told by Scott Douglas (whose review is in this week’s Xpress) that this week’s big art title Green Room — starting Friday at the Carolina Cinemark — is what we used to call a solid sender (at least in music terms). In other words, he thinks this new riff on the slasher horror thriller starring Patrick Stewart, Anton Yelchin, and Imogen Poots is pretty swell. It certainly has a cast not usually associate with such fare. While I wasn’t one of the bigger admirers of Jeremy Saulnier’s previous film, Blue Ruin (2014), I admit this intrigues me.
So last night I found — long after presstime — that Bob Yari’s Papa: Hemingway in Cuba is opening on Friday at the Carolina Cinemark. OK, I’m intrigued — more than intrigued when I look at the mainstream titles. I’m also intrigued by producer Bob Yari’s decision to serve as director on the film. It’s not unprecedented, but the last time Yari actually directed one of his productions was in 1989 with some schlock horror picture called Mind Games. So why now? That’s not clear. The cast includes Giovanni Ribisi, Joely Richardson, Mariel Hemingway (well, why not), and Adrian Sparks as Ernest Hemingway. Solid, but lacking in box office names. The film is described this way: “The first Hollywood film to shoot on location in Cuba since the 1959 revolution, Papa: Hemingway in Cuba is the true-life story of a young journalist who finds a father figure in legendary author Ernest Hemingway. Their relationship began in the late 1950’s when Ed Myers, then a junior reporter at The Miami Herald, wrote a fan letter to his idol. Myers thought he was being pranked when the larger than life Hemingway phoned the newsroom a week later, inviting him to Havana. ‘Good letter, kid,’ the famous voice growled. ‘You like to fish?’ Hidden away at his private estate with his wife Mary, the elusive author mentors Myers in fishing, drinking, and finding his voice while the Cuban Revolution boils up around them. In this turbulent landscape, observing an icon in his twilight years, Myers discovers his strength while recognizing that all of our heroes are human.”
And then there’s Keanu — starting Friday (with the usual Thursday evening shows) at the Carolina Cinemark, Epic of Hendersonville, Regal Biltmore Grande. What is it? Well, it’s an attempt by Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele (or Key and Peele) to transfer their TV sketch comedy to the big screen (with their TV director, Peter Atencio, at the helm). The approach seems to be to graft their comedy onto a story where they pose as drug dealers in order to retrieve a stolen kitten. The results are apparently an action comedy spoof combined with something like a stoner comedy and a YouTube cat video. Will it work? Well, right now it boasts 12 positive to four negative reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, but it should be noted that the good reviews all come from Key and Peele admirers. I admit I am not in that number. I don’t dislike them, but I think I’m more perplexed by their appeal than anything.
Next we find Garry Marshall laying waste to another holiday with another “name” ensemble cast (and Hector Elizondo because it’s a Garry Marshall picture) with Mother’s Day — doing the Thursday evening/Friday opening at the Carolina Cinemark, Epic of Hendersonville, Regal Biltmore Grande, UA Beaucatcher. (Personally, I’m trying to hold out for when he tackles St. Swithin’s Day.) The folks at Open Road assure us: “Bringing together Jennifer Aniston, Kate Hudson and Julia Roberts along with Jason Sudeikis, it’s a celebration of mothers everywhere. This big-hearted comedy invites us all to enjoy the laughter, tears and love as three generations come together in the week leading up to Mother’s Day.” Be honest, you know whether or not this is for you.
Bring up the rear is some animated sci-fi fantasy called Ratchet & Clank — doing the Thursday evening/Friday biz at the Carolina Cinemark, Epic of Hendersonville, Regal Biltmore Grande. Having read the plot and seen the trailer — the latter pulling off the incredible feat of being both innocuous and obnoxious at the same time — I don’t so much know what this is about, but get the sense that it’s an undigested conglomeration of at least 20 other cartoons about learning Life’s Important Lessons. The blurb says, “Ratchet and Clank tells the story of two unlikely heroes as they struggle to stop a vile alien named Chairman Drek from destroying every planet in the Solana Galaxy. When the two stumble upon a dangerous weapon capable of destroying entire planets, they must join forces with a team of colorful heroes called The Galactic Rangers in order to save the galaxy. Along the way they’ll learn about heroism, friendship, and the importance of discovering one’s own identity.” Now, honestly, tell me you haven’t seen this in some other iteration.
This week, the Fine Arts holds steady with Miles Ahead (which deserves your support) and Everybody Wants Some!!. On the other hand, the Carolina Cinemark is dropping Miles Ahead (which for some reason did three times the business at Fine Arts), Elvis & Nixon, and Midnight Special. It’s worth noting that Hello, My Name Is Doris and Everbody Wants Some!! are being cut to three shows a day. The latter may only be cut for Friday-Sunday. Still, it bodes ill for them lasting more than this week.
Before getting to the usual films, let’s note that on Thu., Apr. 28 at 7 p.m., the Fine Arts Theater begins this year’s Jewish Film Festival with the documentary Rosenwald, which will have an encore screening Fri., Apr. 29 at 1 p.m.
On Friday and Saturday at 9:30, the Fine Arts is screening Prince in Purple Rain (1984), which is also slated to show at the Carolina Cinemark (at 2:10 and 7:50) on Friday through Sunday.
World Cinema is screening Ermanno Olmi’s Il Posto (1980) at 8 p.m. on Fri., Apr. 29 at Phil Mechanic Studios, 109 Roberts St., River Arts District (upstairs in the Railroad Library). The Hendersonville Film Society is screening Blake Edwards’ A Shot in the Dark (1964) at 2 p.m. on Sun., May 1 in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. More on all films in this week’s Xpress and in the online edition.