Last week boasted such titles as Love & Friendship, High-Rise and A Bigger Splash. So far as I know all of these are still playing this week. (Update: A Bigger Splash is being dropped on Friday.) This is something you will do well to remember as we move forward. Oh, there’s one worthy art title, but the three mainstream titles…oh, Sweet Merciful King of Glory, do they look grim.
I am happy to see — as we slide into the half-way mark — that 2016 is shaping up as a much more exciting movie year than 2015 so far as I’m concerned. We’ve already had enough good films that I could come up with a respectable Ten Best list without stretching too much. Better yet, at least four of those stand a good chance of being on the top half of the final list. It’s going to take some doing to dethrone High-Rise, Love & Friendhip, Sing Street, and Miles Ahead. Don’t misunderstand, 2015 was a good year, but 2016 has already excited me in ways that 2015 only did once. This is a good thing.
The sole art title opening this week is Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Lobster — starting Friday at Carolina Cinemark and Fine Arts Theatre. I caught this at a press screening on Saturday morning, so the review is in this week’s Xpress. I liked it — or maybe appreciated it — a good bit, but I wasn’t quite blown away by it. However, any movie in which a schlubby Colin Farrell has 45 days to find a partner or be transformed into a lobster (his choice of animal) is worth a look. It’s darkly funny and offers a very pointed critique of the obsession over pairing off, as well as an absurdist vision of the things we do to connect with others.
And here they come…
First up is theatre director Thea Sharrok’s feature directorial debut Me Before You — starting Friday (with requisite Thursday evening shows for those who can’t wait) at Carolina Cinemark, Epic of Hendersonville, Regal Biltmore Grande, UA Beaucatcher. What is it? Well, it’s based on a book by Jojo Moyes, who also wrote the screenplay. I am told the book was a best-seller. I won’t dispute. It appears to be all about the romance between a nurse/caregiver (Emilia Clarke) and her quadriplegic charge (Sam Claflin). Since the film is being called a “weepie” by the few critics who have reviewed it, I feel we may assume this doesn’t end well. I am hoping to never know. The not-really-stars in the leads do not entice me, nor does the story. The fact that it’s British soap doesn’t either. With that in mind, there are worse looking fates.
Speaking of worse looking fates, we have Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone’s Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping — apparently this arrives on Friday (with Thursday, etc.) at Carmike 10, Carolina Cinemark, Epic of Hendersonville, Regal Biltmore Grande. I am assuming that the title is meant to be humorous. That doesn’t keep it from being in the running for Worst Title Ever. It gets worse. (Watch the trailer and you’ll see what I mean.) It stars Andy Samberg as an idiot rock star. It is predicated on the idea — of which I have never been convinced — that Samberg is funny. It is R rated, which means pointlessly raunchy comedy. The MPAA tells us that the R is for “some graphic nudity, language throughout, sexual content and drug use.” The concept of the words “graphic nudity” and “Andy Samberg” is worrisome. Universal assures us that Messrs. Samberg, Schaffer, and Taccone (aka The Lonely Island) are “musical digital-shorts superstars.” This seems to be connected to SNL. Another selling point is that it’s from producer Judd Apatow. In its favor? At 86 minutes it is much shorter than the other mainstream releases.
If the words “from producer Judd Apatow” don’t fill you with glee, how about “from producer Michael Bay?” Those words festoon Dave Green’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows — doing the Friday/Thursday evening thing as Carolina Cinemark, Epic of Hendersonville, Regal Biltmore Grande, UA Beaucatcher. Now here’s the thing — apart from trailers and merchandising — I have never encounter these anthropomorphic martial arts mutated reptiles. When they first appeared I was 33 and my daughter was 11. I was too old and she was just not interested. Now we’re both too old and not interested. I also think it’s too late in the game for me to undertake them now, though I’m starting to feel like the reviewing chores this week might involve drawing straws. The only possible point of curiosity here is Tyler Perry as a mad scientist.
This week we lose Sing Street (still doing well at the Fine Arts, but space is a premium), The Man Who Knew Infinity (also Fine Arts), A Bigger Splash (Carolina Cinemark) and The Meddler (barely at Carolina Cinemark last week, and leaving this week). Hanging in at both theaters — and healthy — is Love & Friendship, while High-Rise (one of the year’s best films) gets a second week at Grail Moviehouse. See it. I am guessing (the Monday holiday makes this guess-work) A Bigger Splash is lasting another week at Carolina Cinemark, but it might well be on a split bill.
This week the Thursday Horror Picture Show shows the Bela Lugosi classic cheesefest The Devil Bat (1940) on June 2 at 7:30 p.m.at the Grail Moviehouse (45 S. French Broad Ave.). World Cinema is showing Max Ophuls’ La Ronde (1950) at 8 p.m. on Fri., June 3 at Phil Mechanic Studios, 109 Roberts St., River Arts District (upstairs in the Railroad Library). The Hendersonville Film Society is running Irwin Winkler’s Cole Porter biopic De-Lovely (2004) Sunday, June 5, at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing Retirement Community (behind Epic Cinemas), 333 Thompson St., Hendersonville. The Asheville Film Society is screening Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell in Howard Hawks’ screwball comedy classic His Girl Friday (1940) on Tuesday June 7 at 7:30 p.m. at the Grail Moviehouse — note new time and new location. More on all titles in this week’s Xpress and in the online edition.