This is one of a mere handful of times where I didn’t use some kind of image from a new movie as the header for this column. The truth is I just can’t bring myself to put up an image for this week’s new movies. It’s just so incredibly underwhelming. We don’t even have one art title to cling to for hope.
Yes, this is a week bereft of art titles. That also means I haven’t seen a single thing that’s opening. If only it could stay that way, but I fear that is not to be. Even with the prospect of two art titles to review for next week, at least one of this crop is in my future. Only more winter weather could change this, and I think I’d rather see one of this week’s offerings than deal with that prospect.
First up we have something called The DUFF. Apparently, DUFF stands for “designated ugly fat friend.” Said DUFF is played by someone named Mae Whitman, who is neither ugly, nor fat,” but then you expected that, didn’t you. I think this has designs on being the next Mean Girls, but I suspect it will fall shy of that desire. The only cast members whose names I recognize are Allison Janney and Ken Jeong. This has not been screened for critics, which is hardly surprising. In all honesty, no matter what, this strikes me as possibly the least painful of the choices.
Then there’s Hot Tub Time Machine 2. This will always be notable to me for my wife leaning over after the trailer and asking me, “That was a joke, right? That’s not a real movie, is it?” With heavy heart, I assured her it was. If the movie is even 1/32 as awful as the trailer, this should be something to behold — or to avoid better still. The rating assures us the movie contains “crude sexual content and language throughout, graphic nudity, drug use and some violence.” That may be the good news. The best news is I didn’t see the first one and therefore fear I might be lost with the sequel, therefore this belongs to Mr. Souther. He will doubtless thank me later.
Finally, we have McFarland USA. Now, this has a smattering of reviews. By smattering I mean eight, but of those eight, seven are positive. A couple of those are even from possibly reputable sources. Here’s what the studio says: “From Disney comes McFarland, the true against-all-odds story of the 1987 McFarland high school cross country team in an economically challenged community.” It does have a couple of name stars — Kevin Costner and Maria Bello — in its favor. However, all of this is negated for me by the claim of “true story,” the fact that it’s live action Disney, and that it’s clearly in the sub-genre known as “uplifting sports story.” I think I have dodged every “uplifting sports story” since I was damn near killed by sitting through the sap of Radio in 2003. I’d rather take my chances with Hot Tub Time Machine if it came down to it.
This week we lose Song of the Sea (that was quick), Two Days, One Night (that was a foregone conclusion when it got slashed to one matinee a day), and the 2015 Oscar-Nominated Shorts. The Carolina has split The Imitation Game (Fine Arts is holding it clean) with Birdman, and has brought back the Oscar-nominated Whiplash and split it with Selma. You can expect Oscar-roulette to slow down after Sunday.
This week (weather permitting, of course) the Thursday Horror Picture Show has Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Santa Sangre (1989) at 8 p.m. in Theater Six at The Carolina. World Cinema has had to move its last two titles for February to March. The Hendersonville Film Society is showing Tod Browning’s The Show (1927) on Sun., Feb. 22 at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. The Asheville Film Society closes out their February calendar with Warner Oland in James Tinling’s Charlie Chan in Shanghai (1935) on Tue., Feb. 24 at 8 p.m. in Theater Six at The Carolina. More on all titles in this week’s Xpress — with complete reviews in the online edition.
This week Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) is the big news. Lesser news is that The Theory of Everything is also out. Lesser than that is the appearance of the so last year notorious The Interview.