When the biggest thing — mainstream at least — this week is a Melissa McCarthy spy comedy you know that you’re still a week away from CGI dinosaurs. It is not, however, your only option. There are two other mainstream options — and two art titles.
Frankly, I’d lean toward the art titles — and not just because I’ve seen them, but because they’re unusually choice, even if one of them is (gasp!) a documentary. But, hey, there are documentaries and there are documentaries — this one is in the latter category.
At the top of my list — and it should be at the top of everyone’s list — is Bill Pohlad’s pretty darn amazing — and unorthodox — biographical film on Brian Wilson, Love & Mercy, which opens Friday at The Carolina and the Fine Arts. If you don’t know, this is a film that looks at Wilson at two very different points in his life — 1966 at the time of the Pet Sounds album and his breakdown, and 1986 when he was under the dubious care of venal shrink. Paul Dano plays him in 1966 and John Cusack plays him in 1986. The film cuts back and forth between the two eras, and is a very refreshing change from the standard biopic format. In fact, it’s probably one of the most brilliant films of the year. (I expect my feelings on it to become even stronger with time and subsequent viewings.) Both Dano and Cusack are very good, though I give the edge to Dano here — probably because it’s the stronger part. Elizabeth Banks is equally fine as the woman who comes into the older Wilson’s life, while Paul Giamatti is downright terrifying at the controlling psychiatrist. You really need to see this movie — even if you aren’t a fan of the Beach Boys. The review is in this week’s Xpress.
The documentary is James D. Cooper’s Lambert & Stamp — opening Friday at The Carolina. This is about Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp — the odd couple would-be filmmakers who planned on making an art documentary on a rock group — one they would help to shape — as their ticket to the big time. The group in question was then calling themselves the High Numbers. Lambert and Stamp got them to change back to their original name — the Who. Did they make the film? Well, they shot a lot of film (much of it on display here), but managing the Who got in the way of that. I’d say what they did help happen here was more important than the film they’d planned. This is a rich, deep documentary. It’s certainly a must for any fan of the Who and can take its place next to Jeff Stein’s The Kids Are Alright (1979) as a rock ‘n’ roll essential. This is also reviewed in this week’s paper.
That brings us to the mainstream releases, which start on Wednesday with Entourage — opening at The Carolina, Epic of Hendersonville, Regal Biltmore Grande, and UA Beaucatcher. This is based on some HBO show I’d never heard of, made by someone I’d never heard of, and stars people I’ve barely heard of (and have no real desire for further encounters with). Plus, the trailer looks pretty awful — and as the reviews start to come in, they tend to bear this out. The only difference is that rather than just awful, it sounds offensive. Why is this opening on Wednesday? Only God and Warner Bros. can answer that. Considering that it’s expected to come in at the bottom of the heap, it’s even more curious.
More encouraging — at least for fans of the first two films — is Insidious: Chapter 3, which opens Friday (and Thursday evening, of course) at The Carolina, Regal Biltmore Grande, and UA Beaucatcher. (Epic is, as yet, not listed.) OK, so James Wan — who directed the first two — has turned over the directing chores to his writing partner Leigh Whannell (who also plays Specs in the movies), but at least Whannell knows the series (hell, he wrote the first two) and the characters. Now, I’m a huge admirer of the first two, and I admit I cringe a little at the very fact that it’s a prequel, especially since Chapter 2 set things up for a sequel. But I’m approaching it all with cautious optimism, but optimism all the same.
Then there’s the weekend’s projected winner (in a light week), Paul Feig’s Spy — starting Friday (and, yes, Thursday evening) at Carmike 10, The Carolina, Epic of Hendersonville, and Regal Biltmore Grande. This is the spy comedy starring Melissa McCarthy, Rose Byrne, Jude Law, and Jason Statham. I admit I have not been exactly thrilled with the trailers. However, the early reviews are almost entirely positive. However, those positive reviews come mostly from people who thought Feig’s previous McCarthy offerings — Bridesmaids and The Heat — were, you know, actually good. I do not really number myself in that group. I guess we’ll see.
This week, the only loss seems to be Woman in Gold (it’s been around a long time), but The Carolina is cutting The Wrecking Crew back to two shows (1:55, 6:55) and the Fine Arts is trimming The Salt of the Earth to one show (1:20).
The Thursday Horror Picture Show has Ray Milland in Lewis Allen’s classic ghost story The Uninvited (1944) at 8 p.m. on Thu., June 4 in Theater Six at The Carolina. World Cinema is showing Lasse Hallstrom’s Chocolat (2001) on Fri., June 5 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 Steven Spielberg’s Empire of the Sun (1987) on Sun., May 31 at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. The Asheville Film Society is running Jean-Paul Belmondo in Philippe de Broca’s That Man from Rio (1964) on Tue., June 9 at 8 p.m. in Theater Six at The Carolina. More on all titles in this week’s paper — with full reviews in the online edition.
I don’t care what anybody says I think Jupiter Ascending is a good movie and I’ll be glad to have it on DVD. Also up are Focus and The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water, neither of which I’ll be adding to my shelves.