Though there are three new movies opening this week, no one really expects to dethrone Jurassic World — a film that could be called the Saviour of the Summer — but I expect Pixar hopes to worry it a little. Otherwise, we have one art title and one film that probably should have been an art title — or at least handled like one.
I honestly have no clue what Open Road is thinking by going wide with Dope. If it’s not an art film, then it’s certainly an indie (I’d call it both), and a wide release…OK, it’s a decision that was made by people who get paid far more than I do, so what do I know? (Well, I do know that Asheville isn’t a big urban market, and that Hendersonville is even less so.) In any case, both that title and the bona fide art title have been screened and reviewed.
I gave the Weekly Pick to When Marnie Was There — opening Friday at The Carolina — but honestly it’s on completely even footing with Dope. Plus, let’s be honest, it’s impossible to compare a gentle animated fantasy and an R rated coming of age comedy. In truth, I highly recommend them both. If you don’t know Hiromas Yonebayashi’s When Marnie Was There may well be the last film from Japan’s Studio Ghibli — and it already is the first Ghibli film without any input whatever from Hayao Miyazaki. If indeed this turns out to be the last, what a perfect farewell this elegant and touching film is — and it serves as something of a reminder of what we’ve lost in the move to computer animation. The beautiful hand-drawn images — like water colors in motion — have a beauty that computers — at least as they’re being used — just aren’t capable of.
Let’s call Rick Famuyiwa’s inventive and stylish Dope — opening Friday (and Thursday evening) at The Carolina, Epic of Hendersonville, Regal Biltmore Grande, and UA Beaucatcher — my Weekly Co-pick. It really is that good — and was it ever a surprise. I went into the screening expecting nothing much and soon found myself utterly captivated. (Had I realized that Famuyiwa’s last film was the truly appalling Our Family Wedding — the “highlight” of which was a Viagra-fueled goat with romance on its mind — I would have approached Dope with absolute dread. I now officially — and without qualification — forgive Famuyiwa for that movie.) What we have here is a wholly fresh and refreshing take on the coming of age comedy — focused on three geeks from a bad neighborhood going to a bad school. It sticks pretty closely to the sub-genre’s format — well, apart from backpack of drugs — but it does so from a new perspective and in ever surprising ways. It has no name stars (though in a sane world it would make a star out of Shameik Moore) and it’s by no means a big movie — except in heart and creativity. It is a movie you really should see and support, but it never should have been put on four area screens. This is an art/indie title. It should have been at one theater — preferably one that specializes in this kind of film — and had the chance to find its audience. I’ll restate something I often point out when the big box corporate theaters jump on the broader interest titles — just remember the theaters that bring you this kind of film on a weekly basis in making your choice.
That leave us with the unseen new Pixar film Inside Out — starting Friday (and, yes, Thursday evening) at Carmike 10, The Carolina, Epic of Hendersonville, and Regal Biltmore Grande. The film is from Pete Docter who gave us Up (2009), and, in fact, is being called the studio’s best film since Up. (That’s not quite as impressive as it sounds, considering the movies that come between them.) At the moment the film has 34 reviews on Rotten Tomatoes — all of them positive and most of them rapturous. Even allowing for the casual tendency toward hyperbole (I’m rarely sure whether “best in years” says more about the movie or the memory of the reviewer), it’s pretty impressive. Whether it lives up to this, of course, remains to be seen.
This week we don’t actually lose anything (though I’m personally sorry to see Insidious: Chapter 3 leaving The Carolina after only two weeks). Instead, we get Woman in Gold back (at 11:20 and 4:30 only) at The Carolina. Why? Because the ways of the Weinsteins are ever mysterious.
On Wednesday, June 17 at 8:00 p.m., the Asheville Film Society will screen Alfred Hitchcock’s suspense thriller Rope in Theater 10 at The Carolina. Dismissed as a failed experiment in 1948, reassessed as anything but a failure (by most) when it was re-issued in 1984, Rope is a film that was truly ahead of its time. It’s as tense as anything Hitchcock ever made — and more provocative than just about anything he made. Here’s a a chance to see it — from a new DCP — on the Big Screen, as it has to be seen to truly appreciate the technical mastery of Hitch’s long-take approach.
The Thursday Horror Picture Show has Dario Argento’s Deep Red (1975) at 8 p.m. on Thu., June 18 in Theater Six at The Carolina. World Cinema is showing Rainer W. Fassbinder’s The Marriage of Maria Braun (1979) on Fri., June 19 at 8 p.m. at Phil Mechanic Studios, 109 Roberts St., River Arts District (upstairs in the Railroad Library). (This title was not reviewed for lack of a viewable copy.) The Hendersonville Film Society is screening Terence Fisher’s So Long at the Fair (1950) on Sun., June 21 at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. The Asheville Film Society is running Peter Greenaway’s black comedy A Zed & Two Noughts (1985) on Tue., June 23 at 8 p.m. in Theater Six at The Carolina. More on all titles in this week’s Xpress — with full reviews in the online edition
The big — or at least most desirable — titles this week are Wild Tales and The Wrecking Crew. This, however, does not prevent the arrival of Chappie, Run All Night, Unfinished Business, The Lazarus Effect, and Welcome to Me — and there’s not a thing that can be done about it.