It is a week of some considerable interest — and one surprise — not to mention the purported final entry (I want that in writing) of a certain wash-rinse-repeat series of Liam Neeson action movies. And after last week’s weak tea of a horror movie, we deserve something tasty. And at least one of these qualifies as very tasty indeed.
The certified tasty title is Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice. You may note (as soon as it goes live at 1 p.m., that is) that it appears on both Mr. Souther’s Best of 2014 list and mine. I have seen the film three times and while I feel confident of understanding its labyrinthian plot, I doubt I have completely savored its richness of character and dialogue. I expect to revisit it often. I’m pretty sure it is my favorite of Anderson’s films. I’m even more sure that it will be a divisive film. It already is with critics, while commenters on the IMDb (for what that’s worth) range from the ecstatic to ones who vilify it as “sexist garbage,” which strikes me as a grotesque misunderstanding of both the movie and life in 1970. Some people will love it. Some will find it confusing. Some will, I am certain, just plain hate it. Since I have already written a review that’s half-again as long as the usual, I’ll leave it at that for now. It opens Friday at The Carolina. I have no information on other venues at this point.
Now, into the great unknown…
First up alphabetically is the surprise. Asheville Pizza and Brewing — who normally have what is known as second-run features — have booked the infamous Seth Rogen-James Franco international incident known as The Interview for one week starting this Friday. It will play at all shows — 1, 4, 7, 10 — and because it is first-run is priced at $5 for the 1 and 4 shows and $9 for the evening ones. To be upfront, I seriously doubt the movie is any good, but I don’t find Seth Rogen appealing and it’s going to be a long, long time before I’m likely to forgive James Franco for last year’s Interior. Leather Bar, and it just doesn’t look good. I had thought I’d dodged this bullet, but now…Well, I learned about it too late review it for this week’s paper, but I intend on having a review up online by Thursday. This is what is known as dedication.
Under normal circumstances, there would have been a press or an awards screening of Ava DuVernay’s Selma (opening Friday at The Carolina), but nothing about Paramount’s handling of this movie has been normal. Asheville is not alone in having requests for a screening not refused, but simply ignored. You may notice that it is not among the nominated films by the PGA (Producers Guild of America). Why? The Guild was not provided with screeners, it appears. Now, this might seem to suggest the kind of bad movie the studio has no interest in supporting. (Bear in mind, that movies like Legally Blonde (2001) and the barely released The Good German (2006) were promoted by their studios.) That won’t wash with a movie that has been sufficiently seen to have garnered 79 out of 79 positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes — most of which aren’t just positive, but ecstatic. Granted, Paramount is only distributing the film. They didn’t produce and their stake is not as high. But it seems that they’re also shying away from the controversy that has been springing up around the film for alleged inaccuracies. (Honestly, what fact-based film doesn’t have inaccuracies? Others, however, aren’t about Martin Luther King.) You can find out for yourself on Friday.
Is there anything to be said about Olivier Megaton’s final — really, last, no kidding (they say) — film in unlikely 62-year-old action star Liam Neeson’s Taken franchise? Honestly, I can’t think of anything in the world to say about the cleverly titled Taken 3. It’s opening. It’s expected to dethrone The Hobbit: Been There Done That at the box office and be the weekend’s big grosser.
Now, this week we lose The Theory of Everything, which, frankly, doesn’t bother me and The Homesman, which does. The worst of it is that The Homesman — even on a split bill — was still doing well, but screens are crowded right now. So both are leaving The Carolina this Friday. And Birdman is going back to split shows.
This week the Thursday Horror Picture Show is showing the sci-fi horror cheese-fest Creature with the Atom Brain (1955) at 8 p.m. on Thu., Jan. 8 in Theater Six at The Carolina. World Cinema is running Jacques Tati’s Playtime (1967) on Fri., Jan. 9 at 8 p.m. in the Railroad Library in the Phil Mechanic Building. The Hendersonville Film Society is running Joe May’s The House of the Seven Gables (1940) on Sun., Jan. 11 at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. The Asheville Film Society has Leos Carax’s Mauvais Sang (Bad Blood) (1986) on Tue., Jan. 13 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.
The big release this week is Richard Linklater’s Boyhood. Next most notable is Get on Up. Otherwise — if you insist on knowing — it’s Left Behind and No Good Deed. I’d as soon not spread that around too much.