Now that Insurgent defied its critics, The Gunman tanked, and Do You Believe? underwhelmed, we’re looking at a week of diminished expectations — at least so far as mainstream releases are concerned. Art titles — one of them anyway — may be another matter.
What we have here is a kind of holding pattern week. Neither mainstream title — Get Hard, nor Home — are out to conquer the world and the studios aren’t really expecting them to. No, all eyes are on next week’s more or less (who can tell anymore?) first big “summer” release. James Wan’s Furious 7. That’s the Next Big Thing.
The art titles — all of which have been seen and reviewed — offer the most promise. One of them in particular is worthy of your attention — David Robert Mitchell’s It Follows (opening Friday at The Carolina and Fine Arts Theatre). This amazingly well-reviewed — 94 percent (95 positive vs. six negative) approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes — was originally intended to expand and go to VOD last week. But its remarkable financial success the previous week caused that plan to be altered. Last week’s expansion got smaller, this week’s expansion got larger, and the VOD plans were put to rest (for now at least). So what is It Follows? Well, it’s a very surprising horror movie — and I know I just lost at least half of you right there. That’s too bad, because while this will never be mistaken for anything other than a horror picture, it’s a pretty unusual one. It’s scary without being terribly gory, for one thing, and that’s kind of a shock since it’s also very retro — deliberately recalling horror films from the late 1970s and ’80s. Its story — and its “monster” — is something else again. In fact, it’s probably the most deeply disturbing “monster” since Wes Craven came up with Freddy Krueger in A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984). And yet we never actually see this horror — only the various human forms it takes — and we never know why it’s doing what it’s doing. Read the review for more details. But you should check this one out.
I have very little to say about the documentary Red Army (opening Friday at The Carolina) — largely because I let Justin review it. Why? It’s about the Soviet hockey team called the Red Army — and I am just not the right audience for a sports documentary, no matter how well done or what its historical significance may be. You can read his take on it in this week’s Xpress.
And then there’s much maligned Serena (opening Friday at The Carolina) from Danish filmmaker Susanne Bier. It’s adapted from the novel (which I haven’t read) by Ron Rash. Despite being set in Western North Carolina (and partly in Asheville), it was filmed in the Czech Republic (a la Cold Mountain, except that Romania). It’s also been sitting around for years — despite starring Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper — and was taken away from Bier and recut. The reviews have been mostly blisteringly negative. I can’t say it’s great or even very good, but as overheated pulpy trash, I freely confess I enjoyed it. If you take it as preposterous melodrama, you might, too. The review is in the paper.
The first of the unknown quantities is writer Etan Cohen’s (Men in Black 3) R rated raunchy-com Get Hard (opening Friday at Carmike 10, The Carolina, Epic of Hendersonville, Regal Biltmore Grande). It stars Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart and frankly looks terrible even by their none-too-sterling standards. The early reviews are not good. (Edward Douglas at ComingSoon.net opined, “Finally, a comedy that homophobes, racists and generally stupid people can all enjoy together!” Not having seen it, I can’t say, but it matches the trailer and the premise.) It appears to be all about a prison-bound investment banker (Ferrell) hiring the guy (Hart) who washes his car to harden him into a bad ass because, you know, the prison populace are just waiting to rape Will Ferrell. Yes, well. Everyone is entitled to his own fantasy, I guess. Fortunately for me, Mr. Souther once expressed his fondness for Kevin Hart. I wish him well with this one.
Then there’s Tim Johnson’s (Over the Hedge) Home (opening Friday at The Carolina, Epic of Hendersonville, Regal Biltmore Grande, UA Beaucatcher) — the latest from Dreamworks Animation. It, too, has not been treated very kindly by the early reviews. For that matter, even its supporters don’t seem all that excited about. It stars the voice of Jim Parsons as an alien called “Oh,” who makes friends with an earthling (Rihanna) when he comes to earth to get away from his own people. The trailer is more shrill and annoying than cute, but it still looks preferable to a dose of Messrs. Ferrell and Hart.
This week we don’t actually lose anything in the art film realm, though the Fine Arts is cutting ’71 to a single show (1 p.m.) and The Carolina is splitting Leviathan (with Do You Believe? of all things) leaving it playing only at 12:05 and 6:45 p.m. Meanwhile What We Do in the Shadows is still holding strong (The Carolina) and Still Alice is hanging on (The Carolina), while The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel still has some life in at both theaters.
This week the Thursday Horror Picture Show has Ford Beebe’s The Invisible Man’s Revenge (1944) at 8 p.m. on Thu., Mar. 26 in Theater Six at The Carolina. World Cinema is taking a break this week, but slated to be back next week. The Hendersonville Film Society is floating Raise the Titanic (1980) on Sun., Mar. 29 at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. The Asheville Film Society closes its March calendar with Preston Sturges’s sparkling romantic comedy The Lady Eve (1941) starring Barbara Stanwyck and Henry Fonda on Tue., Mar. 31 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 array of new offerings this week consists of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, Into the Woods, and Unbroken. I’d go see It Follows if I were you.