The big question on everyone’s mind — or so I’m told — is whether or not Der Arnold can take down those dinosaurs that have been ruling box office for three weeks. (There’s a gag in there somewhere, but I’m far too polite to use it — and too near Der Arnold’s age to be comfortable with it.) It will be somehow amusing if male semi-strippers manage to take all of them down. Personally, my interests lies elsewhere.
This, by the way, is one of those weeks where most things open on Wednesday — nothing says July 4th like an Austrian body-builder-actor playing a robot — but to confuse the issue, one of the art/indie titles just had to open on Friday. (I understand the distributor is to blame.)
As is often the case, I’ve seen and reviewed the art titles. First up — both alphabetically and in terms of quality — is Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s Me and Earl and the Dying Girl — opening Wednesday at The Carolina and Fine Arts Theatre. In all honesty, this was a film I was not looking forward to and had expected not to like. In a way that’s true, since I’m close enough to having loved it as makes no difference. It’s clever, inventive, witty, and moving — without ever becoming gooey. It’s the story of a high school outsider (Thomas Mann) who spends most of his time making knock-off goofs of films he likes with his only close friend, Earl (RJ Cyler) — except that he is so afraid of emotional intimacy that he refuses to call Earl a friend. Instead, Earl is his co-worker. Things change when his domineering mother (Connie Britton) forces him to visit a classmate (Olivia Cooke) who has just been diagnosed with leukemia. It’s the kind of story that could have gone wrong in so many ways, but here they miraculously don’t. Check out the review — and definitely check out the film, too.
The other art title is that pesky Friday opener, Patrick Brice’s The Overnight — at the Fine Arts. OK, I’ve watched this thing twice and I still don’t quite know what to make of it. This tale of “innocents” from Seattle falling in with sophisticated LA residents is marketed as a comedy, but I rarely found it funny. I did find it interesting, but I think that’s more in the attempt than the execution. At least it’s not a total cop-out and may be even less of one depending on how you read the ending. I’m not recommending it, but neither am I not recommending it. Read the review and see if you think you’d be interested.
And then there’s the mainstream stuff — starting with Magic Mike XXL — opening tonight (Tuesday) at Carmike 10, The Carolina, Epic of Hendersonville, and Regal Biltmore Grande. Most of the male strippers are back, especially Channing Tatum. (The chances of this even existing without him are slim.) Steven Soderbergh has turned over the directorial reins to his assistant director Gregory Jacobs — but since Soderbergh photographed, edited, and acted as executive producer, he was certainly involved. I never saw the first film, but I confess to being somewhat amused by critics (especially, the ones who insist on telling us that male strippers hold no appeal for them) who criticize the movie for pandering to women who want to see beefy boys strut their stuff onstage. Fine, but…did they not see the poster? What did they think this was?
Finally, we come to Alan Taylor’s (Thor: The Dark World) Terminator Genisys — opening tonight at The Carolina, Epic of Hendersonville, Regal Biltmore Grande, and UA Beaucatcher. Personally, I find the idea of the offscreen battle between Schwarzenegger and Jurassic World far more interesting than another Terminator movie — with or without Der Arnold. I understand this plays fast and loose with the series’ basic mythology, but I’m not sure I’d notice. I can’t imagine it won’t be better than Terminator Salvation (2009). Certainly it can’t be as drab and dreary…can it?
This week The Carolina is dropping Dope — as is the Biltmore Grande, but it’s staying at the UA Beaucatcher, which makes no sense (except on a dearth of product basis), since it has performed much worse there than anywhere else. The Carolina is keeping Escobar for one show (1:55) a day, and splitting A Little Chaos (1:50, 4:25, 7:05) with Far from the Madding Crowd (11:10, 9:45). The Fine Arts is splitting I’ll See You in My Dreams (1:20, 4:20) with Love & Mercy (7:20), but this is only for Wed. and Thu. They drop them altogether come Friday. (Both titles are holding at The Carolina.)
The Thursday Horror Picture Show has Ken Russell’s The Lair of the White Worm (1988) at 8 p.m. on Thu., July 2 in Theater Six at The Carolina. World Cinema is showing Ingmar Bergman’s The Passion of Anna (1969) on Fri., July 3 at 8 p.m. at Phil Mechanic Studios, 109 Roberts St., River Arts District (upstairs in the Railroad Library). The Hendersonville Film Society is screening Peter H. Hunt’s 1776 (2005) on Sun., July 5 at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. The Asheville Film Society kicks off its July calendar with Ken Russell’s rarely seen first feature French Dressing (1964) on Tue., July 7 at 8 p.m. in Theater Six at The Carolina. More on all in this week’s Xpress — with complete reviews in the online edition.
On the plus side of the ledger this week we have We’re Young and Danny Collins. On the so-so side is Kumiko the Treasure Hunter. But then we also have Get Hard and The Gunman.