Three mainstream and one art title (complete with Oscar nomination) come our way this week. I’d like to be able to say that there’s nothing as dire — and unintentionally funny — on the slate this week as last week’s The Loft, but I’d have to indulge in a fair amount of prevarication not to suggest strong doubts on that point.
The art title — Two Days, One Night — opens Friday at The Carolina, and is reviewed in this week’s paper. It’s the kind of art title — Belgian with subtitles — that would likely go unnoticed by all but the art film faithful, except for the fact star Marion Cotillard sneaked in and snagged a Best Actress Oscar nomination for her portrayal of a damaged woman campaigning to not lose her job. The tone is populist and very anti-corporatist, which works well here, since the ideas have been scaled down to human size. It also benefits greatly from a premise — she has the course of one weekend to convince her co-workers to vote for her keeping her job and forego their annual bonuses — that comes with a built-in suspense mechanism. Can she pull it off in time? It makes for surprisingly compelling viewing.
On the unseen side we start with Andy and Lana Wachowski’s Jupiter Ascending — a long delayed release that has a great many people already reading last rites over it. This was aggravated when the film was ill-advisedly shown at Sundance (where people go to see the latest art/indie titles) to a cool reception — or so it was reported. Why people insist on paying attention to this sort of thing mystifies me. Are we as a society just becoming more and more addicted to rooting for failure? The Wachowskis have called their sci-fi fantasy movie a “space opera,” which is itself derived from the term “horse opera,” a term coined for rather silly cowboy pictures. This later got altered to “space opera” to describe a kind of western — good guys vs. bad guys — in outer space. It’s action-adventure meant to be fun and not taken all that seriously. The original Star Wars (1977) qualified as a “space opera.” Personally, I’m keen to see what the Wachowskis have cooked up. Nobody goes over-the-top like they do.
Much less enticing is Seventh Son — some sort of fantasy horror hooha that looks for all the world like the rightful heir to Season of the Witch (2011), but with a slumming Jeff Bridges standing in for Nicolas Cage. To add insult to injury, this thing also boasts Oscar nominee Julianne Moore as some kind of evil witch in some kind of feather dress that might have been designed by Bob Mackie for Cher to wear on an awards show. It’s all about Bridges as the force of good out to prevent Moore from destroying the world — or something like that. The real star appears to be Ben Barnes — you know, Prince Caspian from those dire Narnia movies. Good heavens.
Finally, there’s The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water. This is a presold thing — so presold that the studio didn’t bother with a plot synopsis. The irony here is that this will probably be the movie to dethrone American Sniper. I’ve never gotten the appeal of Mr. Squarepants, so I have every intention of sitting this one out. I do wonder if anyone in the film’s target demographic will even get the gag of presenting SpongeBob in a parody of the old — and now politically incorrect — Coppertone sun tan oil ad.
Also worth noting, Asheville Pizza and Brewing is bringing back The Grand Budapest Hotel in the 7 and 10 p.m. slot.
This week we lose Cake, which took quite a tumble following a surprisingly strong first week.
Before getting down to the usual listings, there’s this press release for a screening of The American Nurse — “Highlighting the lives of five American nurses from diverse specialties, the moving documentary The American Nurse — a recent recipient of the American Academy of Nursing’s Excellence in Media Award and a Top 10 2014 Documentary according to www.aisleseat.com – is booked for a special one-night exclusive screening engagement at the Carmike 10 (121 River Hills Road in Asheville) on Thursday, February 5, 2015 at 7:00 p.m.”
This week the Thursday Horror Picture Show has a double bill of Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi in The Black Cat (1934) and The Raven (1935) at 8 p.m. on Thu., Feb. 5 in Theater Six at The Carolina. World Cinema will show Jean Cocteau’s Orphée (Orpheus) (1950) on Fri., Feb. 6 at 8 p.m. in the Railroad Library in the Phil Mechanic Building. The Hendersonville Film Society is running Gregory Hoblit’s Fracture (2007) on Sun., Feb. 8 at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. The Asheville Film Society is showing the Maria Montez-Jon Hall campy adventure romance Gypsy Wildcat (1944) in glorious Technicolor on Tue., Feb. 10 at 8 p.m. in Theater Six at The Carolina. More on all titles in this week’s Xpress — with extended coverage in the online edition.
This week’s releases do not make a pretty picture — Dracula Untold, John Wick and Ouija. My advice? Go to the movies.