There’s nothing terribly exciting this week, but after last week’s mammoth blockbuster of Batman v Superman — not to mention the local art semi-blockbuster of Hello, My Name Is Doris — you almost have to expect a slump, especially since neither of those are likely to go away any time soon. But we do have two new art titles and one specialty film hitting town this week.
Before going further, I need to announce that this will be the last week for both the Asheville Film Society and the Thursday Horror Picture Show — for a while, that is. I’m sure that many of you know that The Carolina Asheville was sold and is now The Carolina Cinemark. Since The Carolina has been the home of the AFS and the THPS (for right at six years now), this has direct impact on their continuation. It is really no one’s fault. It’s simply a difference between what a small theater can do and one belonging to a large chain can. Both the AFS and the THPS fully expect to be back sometime in April or the first of May — just where that will be is up in the air at the moment. Stay tuned.
The one art title that I’ve seen this week is Marc Abraham’s I Saw the Light — starting Friday at The Carolina and UA Beaucatcher (the latter is per the distributor, but has not been confirmed). This is a biopic on Hank Williams and, in all honesty, it is not a good movie — disjointed is a kind description — but it features a terrific performance by Tom Hiddleston (who also sings credibly) as Williams that by itself might make it worth your while. Elizabeth Olsen as Audrey Williams is also good and the film looks great, with a truly authentic period feel. Actually, Abraham’s direction isn’t bad, but he also wrote the screenplay and that screenplay is a problem of some note.
The other art title is Gavin Hood’s Eye in the Sky — starting Friday at The Carolina and Fine Arts Theatre. This is perhaps a borderline art title, but it’s being given that kind of release. (Why we didn’t have a press screening here, I put down to the transition of The Carolina.) In art film terms, it does star Helen Mirren and the late Alan Rickman, which certainly gives it some art crowd cred. The distributor describes it this way: “Eye in the Sky stars Helen Mirren as Colonel Katherine Powell, a UK-based military officer in command of a top secret drone operation to capture terrorists in Kenya. Through remote surveillance and on-the-ground intel, Powell discovers the targets are planning a suicide bombing and the mission escalates from ‘capture’ to ‘kill.’ But as American pilot Steve Watts (Aaron Paul) is about to engage, a nine-year old girl enters the kill zone triggering an international dispute, reaching the highest levels of US and British government, over the moral, political, and personal implications of modern warfare.” The early reviews are strongly positive (currently 85 positive to seven negative) with critics describing it as a real thriller of unusual substance. As things look this week, I’m guessing it’s the best bet going in new titles.
And then there’s Harold Cronk’s God’s Not Dead 2 — opening Friday at Carmike 10, The Carolina, Epic of Hendersonville, Regal Biltmore Grande. This is not really a sequel (though David A.R. White is back as Rev. Dave) to the 2014 faith-based hit — after all, atheism was punished and all ended well in that — but a follow-up from the same production company (Pure Flix) with the same director (Mr. Cronk) and the same writers (Chuck Konzelman, Cary Solomon). It appears, however, that Christianity is once again under attack when a high school teacher gets into hot water for talking about Jesus in her class. The cast is the usual collection of C listers, but this time you get the bonus of Pat Boone! Look, you already know if you’re going to see this and you also know that it isn’t really aimed at people who are interested in movies, but in this particular topic.
This week we don’t really lose anything of note, but the Fine Arts cuts Embrace of the Serpent to the late show (9:30) on Friday and Saturday only. The Carolina reduces The Witch to two shows a day (2:15 and 10:15). I would expect neither to be around next week.
The Thursday Horror Picture Show is running George Waggner’s Horror Island (1941) and Man Made Monster at 8 p.m. on Thu., Mar. 31 in Theater Six at The Carolina. (This will be the last Thursday Horror Picture Show for a few weeks.)World Cinema is screening Jean Renoir’s Grand Illusion (1937) at 8 p.m. on Fri., Apr. 1 at Phil Mechanic Studios, 109 Roberts St., River Arts District (upstairs in the Railroad Library). The Hendersonville Film Society is screening Max Reinhardt and William Dieterle’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1935) at 2 p.m. on Sun., Apr. 3 in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville.