Three mainstream titles and two art ones head our way this week. I can’t honestly say it’s the most exciting-looking week I’ve ever seen, but neither is it the worst. I suppose there’s something to be said for a weekend that doesn’t actively make you want to hide behind the sofa till the whole thing blows over.
Last week was, of course notable in that nothing managed to even get near to toppling Deadpool (and this week looks about the same). But on the local front, it was interesting to see that both The Lady in the Van and The Witch were above the national averages. In the case of The Lady in the Van, the difference was remarkable. Once again, Asheville proves itself to be ahead of the curve.
I’ve seen both of this week’s art titles, but — as with last week — I gave the more important title to Scott Douglas, and for the same reason: The belief that he was more in tune with the material than I was. The film in question is László Nemes’ Oscar-nominated Son of Saul — opening Friday at The Carolina. This is a Hungarian film that tells an unusual story of the Holocaust — from the perspective of a Jewish inmate/worker at Auschwitz, who is involved in the disposal of the bodies from the gas chambers. And, yes, it is exactly as devastating and bleak as that sounds. Read Mr. Douglas’ excellent and perceptive review and decide whether or not you’re up to this.
Now, I saw and reviewed Alê Abreu’s also Oscar-nominated Boy & the World — starting Friday at The Carolina. The chances of it snagging the Best Animated Feature Oscar are, I think, non-existent. There’s too much love for Inside Out, and even if you put it up against the other nominees — Anomalisa, Shaun the Sheep Movie, Marnie Was There — I think this Brazilian entry is just too specialized. It’s hand-drawn and told entirely in visuals (there’s some incomprehensible and not subtitled dialogue, but it’s inessential) and is often striking visually. However, it’s more interested in being a take-down of capitalism, consumerism, and modern times in general than it is in telling a story. (I have trouble imagining what a child would even make of it.) Apparently, The Carolina booker sees little traction, since it’s playing matinees only (11:10, 1:30, 3:30).
First up in the mainstream titles is Dexter Fletcher’s (Sunshine on Leith) Eddie the Eagle — starting Friday (with the requisite Thursday evening shows) at The Carolina, Epic of Hendersonville, Regal Biltmore Grande, and UA Beaucatcher. This stars Taron Egerton (who distinguished himself in last year’s Kingsman: The Secret Service), Hugh Jackman, and Christopher Walken. It is, in fact, being promoted as being “from the producers of Kingsman.” This is an old gambit. I remember when Ken Russell’s Valentino was advertised as being “from the people who brought you Rocky.” Well, yes, it’s undeniable that Robert Chartoff and Irwin Winkler produced both movies, but two more dissimilar films would be hard to imagine. This looks to be about the same sort of thing. Yeah, you can find some Kingsman names in the laundry list of producers and associates on Eddie the Eagle. But neither the director, nor the writers. And, seriously, what does an extremely violent, cynical spy comedy really have in common with an “inspired by true events” uplifting sports biopic about an underdog Olympic ski-jumping champion? My guess is not much. Currently, Eddie the Eagle has 11 positive and 4 negative reviews on Rotten Tomatoes — for what that is or isn’t worth.
Then we have Alex Proyas’ Gods of Egypt — starting Friday (with the requisite Thursday evening shows) at The Carolina, Epic of Hendersonville, Regal Biltmore Grande, and UA Beaucatcher (in your choice of 2D or 3D). OK, this is what the studio has to say (mind the hyperbole!), “In this spectacular action-adventure inspired by the classic mythology of Egypt, the survival of mankind hangs in the balance as an unexpected mortal hero Bek (Brenton Thwaites) undertakes a thrilling journey to save the world and rescue his true love. In order to succeed, he must enlist the help of the powerful god Horus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) in an unlikely alliance against Set (Gerard Butler), the merciless god of darkness, who has usurped Egypt’s throne, plunging the once peaceful and prosperous empire into chaos and conflict. As their breathtaking battle against Set and his henchmen takes them into the afterlife and across the heavens, both god and mortal must pass tests of courage and sacrifice if they hope to prevail in the epic final confrontation.” I think that should dispell any belief you may have been having about this having much to do with actual Egyptian mythology. (Think Clash of the Titans with different gods played by different Brits.) In fact, the CGI-heavy trailer makes it look suspiciously like a very noisy superhero movie. Also in the cast are Rufus Sewell, Bryan Brown, and Geoffrey Rush (who looks like he gets to play his role sitting down, since he’s the head god).
Finally, we have John Hillcoat’s Triple 9 — starting Friday (with the requisite Thursday evening shows) at Carmike 10, The Carolina, Epic of Hendersonville, and Regal Biltmore Grande. Though this has mixed reviews — 19 good, 11 bad — it’s easily the most interesting looking of the mainstream offerings and boasts the most interesting cast: Casey Affleck, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Anthony Mackie, Woody Harrelson and Kate Winslet. Open Road says, “a crew of dirty cops is blackmailed by the Russian mob to execute a virtually impossible heist and the only way to pull it off is to manufacture a 999, police code for ‘officer down.’ Their plan is turned upside down when the unsuspecting rookie they set up to die foils the attack, triggering a breakneck action-packed finale tangled with double-crosses, greed and revenge.” I guess we’ll see.
This week we lose 45 Years and seemingly The Big Short. The Carolina is dropping Where to Invade Next, but the Fine Arts is keeping a full set of shows. It is worth noting that Flatrock Cinema is bringing in Youth for one week starting Friday.
The Thursday Horror Picture Show is running Stuart Walker’s classic Werewolf of London (1935) at 8 p.m. on Thu., Feb. 25 in Theater Six at The Carolina. World Cinema is screening Federico Fellini’s Fellini Satyricon (1969) at 8 p.m. on Fri., Feb. 26 at Phil Mechanic Studios, 109 Roberts St., River Arts District (upstairs in the Railroad Library). The Hendersonville Film Society is showing John Huston’s Moby Dick (1956) on Sun., Feb. 28 at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. The Asheville Film Society has Pedro Almodóvar’s What Have I Done to Deserve This? (1984) on Tue., Mar. 1 at 8 p.m. in Theater Six at The Carolina. More on all titles in this week’s Xpress and in the online edition.