Forget that it was 30 degrees this morning. Never mind what that silly calendar says. (And leave the Groundhog out of this altogether.) According to The Powers That Be in Hollywood, Friday, March 25 is when summer officially begins — at least at the movies, and it seems happen earlier every year.
If nothing else, this week will be less of a crushing disappointment than last week. The “big” releases “underperformed.” Two out of three art titles crashed and burned. It didn’t help that The Bronze — a movie with no name value, no big stars, and a raft of bad (often brutal) reviews — opened locally in every possible theater. (The big winner was the one that crossed the $200 mark for the weekend.) The other film (which only had two shows a day and so was already written off), Creative Control, seems to have proved that there’s no real market for movies about high tech hipsters wanking — or at least a severely limited one. Personally, I can’t mourn either film (they weren’t great), but it was something of a black eye for art films locally.
This week’s art title, Michael Showalter’s Hello, My Name Is Doris — starting Friday at The Carolina and Fine Arts — is certain to have a happier fate. This offbeat romantic comedy about a 60-something woman (Sally Field) falling in love with a 30-something man (Max Greenfield) has all the makings of a crowd-pleaser — especially, with more mature audiences — and it more than delivers on its potential. I’ve watched it twice and pretty much loved it both times. (There’s a lot more to Doris than its concept and it’s more nuanced and complex than it perhaps sounds.) My review is in this week’s Xpress.
That brings us to The First Big Thing of the summer, “visionary director” Zack Snyder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice — starting Friday (with the usual run of Thursday night showings) at Carmike 10, The Carolina, Epic of Hendersonville, Regal Biltmore Grande. I would assume that everybody knows — at least in broad strokes — what this is. The title itself seems to give it away. However, a friend of mine who doesn’t follow pop culture (or perhaps any kind of culture) bumped into the trailer and asked me, “Why are Batman and Superman fighting?” Well, that’s a fair question. It’s also one that I realized doesn’t have an easy answer. Indeed, I was stumped to explain it exactly, and said I’d get back to him after I’d seen it — all two-and-one-half hours of it. Anyway, Ben Affleck is Batman, Henry Cavill is Superman, Amy Adams is Lois Lane, Jesse Eisenberg is Lex Luthor, Diana Lane is Ma Kent, Laurence Fishburne is Perry White, Jeremy Irons is Alfred, Gal Gadot is Wonder Woman — and Zack Snyder is the visionary.
Then there’s Kirk Jones’ My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 — opening Friday (with Thursday night…) at Carmike 10, The Carolina, Epic of Hendersonville, Regal Biltmore Grande. Oh, dear. If you recall, 14 years ago writer-star Nia Vardalos had a freak hit movie when Rita Wilson saw a stage version of My Big Fat Greek Wedding and suggested her husband, Tom Hanks, should produce a film version. It was a huge hit — nearly $250 million gross in the U.S. alone — on a five million dollar investment. Why? I will never know. It looked like a big fat sitcom that wandered into a theater by mistake to me, but people flocked to it — and a few sent me hate mail for thinking it was mediocre. Regardless, it was a fluke. Vardalos’ next starring vehicle, Connie and Carla, was a big fat flop. Things got no better, so what more natural than to see if there was still life in the original concept, which we are told is “an even bigger and Greeker wedding.” The early reviews suggest otherwise. I have no intention of finding out.
This week we lose (no surprises here) The Bronze and Creative Control. The Fine Arts is dropping The Lady in the Van (which is staying at The Carolina) and Where to Invade Next. Plus, Hail Caesar! comes to the end of its nearly two month run at The Carolina.
The Thursday Horror Picture Show is running Erle C. Kenton’s The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942) at 8 p.m. on Thu., Mar. 24 in Theater Six at The Carolina. World Cinema is screening Luis Buñuel’s Simon of the Desert (1965) at 8 p.m. on Fri., Mar. 25 at Phil Mechanic Studios, 109 Roberts St., River Arts District (upstairs in the Railroad Library). The Hendersonville Film Society is taking Easter Sunday off. The Asheville Film Society has Deanna Durbin in Henry Koster’s First Love (1939) on Tue., Mar. 29 at 8 p.m. in Theater Six at The Carolina. More on all titles in this week’s Xpress and in the online edition.