This week’s Next Big Thing would seem to be wisecracking, R-rated superhero I freely admit to never having heard of prior to this movie. But there’s also the new Michael Moore documentary, a sequel I’m not sure anyone asked for, and something I’m pretty sure nobody asked for.
While the Coen Brothers’ latest offering couldn’t dethrone Kung Fu Panda, I’m happy to report that it did better locally than nationally. In fact, at The Carolina it was the No. One film, beating the Panda. The winter is still with us, but at least there are signs of a cinematic thaw.
The only thing on the “art” side this week is Michael Moore’s Where to Invade Next — opening Friday at The Carolina and the Fine Arts. The review is in this week’s Xpress, but let me note here that the title is deceptive. That’s to say that the movie is not an attack on the U.S. getting involved in international altercations, but is instead a good-natured invasion by Moore into other countries to see what we might learn from them. It is easily the filmmaker’s sunniest work, but that doesn’t mean the targets have changed, though the approach has. Does Moore stack his deck and ignore things that don’t suit his purposes? Of course, he does. I’ve never seen a documentarian who didn’t. Is the film likely to change any minds? Probably not. Moore will continue to polarize audiences. The thing that most amuses me is the fact that his detractors worry so about what he says. Seriously, if you consider the fact that Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004) is still the highest grossing documentary of all time, but it didn’t impact the presidential election, it seems unlikely there’s much cause for concern.
First up in the mainstream realm is Tim Miller’s Deadpool — starting Friday (with the usual Thursday night shows) at Carmike 10, The Carolina, Co-ed of Brevard, Epic of Hendersonville, Regal Biltmore Grande. I am startled to see that this is predicted to gross $70 million on its opening weekend. I grant you I haven’t followed comic books since somewhat before the demise of Magnus, Robot Fighter (which apparently limped along in its original incarnation till 1977, but I bailed about 1968). As such, it’s not surprising that I’d never heard of Deadpool till this movie started being promoted. Near as I can tell he’s kind of like Wolverine, but far less attractive and much more foul-mouthed. OK. I have nothing against that, and at this point I have nothing against the movie, which has gotten pretty stellar early reviews. It’s being praised for its self-awareness and raunchy sense of humor, and that may be well deserved. But there’s a thin line between smart and merely smart-assed. Some of the advertising are just too cute (or maybe campy) and borrowing Jack Nicholson’s line from the 1989 Batman for a catch-phrase feels like wishful thinking. Still, I’m curious to say the least. I’ve liked the trailers, but have been finding advertising otherwise a little too much. We shall see.
Next we have Christian Ditter’s How to Be Single — starting Friday (with the usual Thursday night shows) at The Carolina, Epic of Hendersonville, Regal Biltmore Grande, UA Beaucatcher. Who, you may ask, is Christian Ditter? Well, he seems to have made a few children’s movies in Germany and a UK/German co-production (made in Toronto) called Love, Rosie (2014). None of these seem to have played locally. Now, he’s made this rom-com about the difficulties of finding love in modern society. It stars Dakota Johnson (the lip-biting lead from Fifty Shakes of Grey), Rebel Wilson (whose appeal escapes me), Leslie Mann (Mrs. Judd Apatow), Damon Wayans, Jr. (of the second wave of Wayanses), and the charisma-challenged Jake Lacy. I guess there’s a market for this (primarily, people who won’t go to Deadpool), but I can’t name one.
Last up is Ben Stiller’s Zoolander 2 — starting Friday (with the usual Thursday night shows) at Carmike 10, The Carolina, Epic of Hendersonville, Regal Biltmore Grande. Yes, 15 years ago Stiller’s Zoolander at least seemed pretty cool. It was silly, a little raunchy, stuffed with celebrity cameos, and just generally unexpected. I liked it enough that I bought the DVD (not sure that I’ve ever played it, though). So here we are with a sequel. Stiller is starring and directing again. Owen Wilson and Will Ferrell are also back. The trailer is…so-so. Penelope Cruz and Kristen Wiig may help, but there’s nothing here that looks fresh or surprising. The pop culture references are updated (we get Justin Bieber instead of Paris Hilton), but so what? Well, it looks better that How to Be Single. There’s an endorsement.
This week we lose The 2016 Oscar Shorts (all categories) at The Carolina and Anomalisa at the Fine Arts. It’s not exactly an art title (it almost is), but, as predicted Regression is also taking its leave from The Carolina.
The Thursday Horror Picture Show is running Rafael Baledón’s werewolf Mexi-horror The Man and the Monster (1959) at 8 p.m. on Thu., Feb. 11 in Theater Six at The Carolina. World Cinema is screening Carl Theodore Dreyer’s Ordet (1955) at 8 p.m. on Fri., Feb. 12 at Phil Mechanic Studios, 109 Roberts St., River Arts District (upstairs in the Railroad Library). The Hendersonville Film Society is showing Max Ophuls’ La Ronde (1950) on Sun., Feb. 14 at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. The Asheville Film Society has Rouben Mamoulian’s High, Wide and Handsome (1937) on Tue., Feb. 16 at 8 p.m. in Theater Six at The Carolina. More on all titles in this week’s Xpress and in the online edition.