On the one hand, there’s probably nothing bigger than Dwayne Johnson and an earthquake, but on the other hand, this week — like last week — is a little shy on the really high call summer items. The next one of those isn’t due till June 12. This is only the Sort of Next Big Thing, I guess.
The truly unfortunate thing about this week is that there are indeed two good — even very good — movies opening, but they both have the hard luck of being documentaries. And you know what that usually means.
The better of the two — though they’re so different that comparing them is pointless — is Denny Tedesco’s The Wrecking Crew, which is opening this Friday at The Carolina. Actually, this one stands a fair chance of drawing a crowd, since it’s about the session musicians collectively known as the Wrecking Crew. The name — depending on the circles you knock around in — may mean little to you. But the singers and even groups they helped to achieve their sound certainly will — the Beach Boys, the Byrds, the Monkees, Sonny and Cher, Nancy Sinatra, etc. The result is a delightful and song-filled history of a little explored aspect of 1960s and 70s pop and rock music. It’s pretty much an essential for anyone who cares about the music of that era. The review is in this week’s paper.
Almost as good (and also reviewed in this week’s Xpress) is Wim Wenders’ and Juliano Ribeiro Salgado’s The Salt of the Earth — starting Friday at Fine Arts. This is a film that functions virtually as biography of photographer Sebastião Salgado. That he’s the father of co-director Salgado gives the film an unusually personal look at its subject — but not, I think, an unbalanced one. If nothing else it respectfully and generously reproduces the elder Salgado’s incredible photographs. I have a minor quibble with the film on a stylistic point (addressed in the review), but all in all I highly recommend this film.
At the top (alphabetically) of the mainstream releases is Cameron Crowe’s Aloha — opening Friday (and Thursday evening) at The Carolina, Epic of Hendersonville, Regal Biltmore Grande, UA Beaucatcher. It has some impressive names in its cast — Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone, Rachel McAdams, Bill Murray, Alec Baldwin (and, alas, Danny McBride) — but it’s also the latest bid by Cameron Crowe to reclaim his status a filmmaker to reckon with. And let’s face it, Crowe hasn’t really been that since Almost Famous — 15 years ago. Vanilla Sky (2001) wasn’t bad, but it was a huge step down, while Elizabethtown (2005) could charitably be called a disaster — something not corrected by the innoccuous We Bought a Zoo (2011). The probability that this is the film that will mark his recovery seems pretty slim, especially since it hasn’t been shown to critics and is predicted to be easily beaten at the box office by our other mainstream release.
The projected big winner is Brad Peyton’s San Andreas — starting Friday (and, yes, Thursday evening) at Carmike 10, The Carolina, Epic of Hendersonville, Regal Biltmore Grande. If director Peyton’s name means nothing to you, that may mean you’ve never been subjected to Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore (2010) or Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (2012), and for this may you be truly thankful. Of course, if you haven’t seen the latter, you missed Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson doing the “pec pop of love,” and since this movie re-teams Messrs. Peyton and Johnson that may have been a useful experience — or fair warning. Here the duo seem to be entering Roland Emmerich territory — or maybe Mark Robson territory, since he made the Big Budget Disaster Movie Earthquake was back in 1974. This appears to be much the same thing — only with “The Rock” instead of Charlton Heston, more elaborate noise, and the miracle of CGI effects. Face it, you know exactly what you’re getting into here.
This week we the Fine Arts is dropping both Ex Machina and She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry. The Carolina is axing Good Kill (which undeservedly tanked) and, worse, 5 to 7. Ex Machina and Woman in Gold are being split, which likely means this will be their last week.
This week the Asheville Jewish Film Festival concludes with Dough at 7 p.m. on Wed., May 27 and at 1 p.m. on Thu. May 28 at the Fine Arts Theatre. The Thursday Horror Picture Show has Roman Polanski’s The Tenant (1976) at 8 p.m. on Thu., May 28 in Theater Six at The Carolina. World Cinema is showing Federico Fellini’s Amarcord (1973) on Fri., May 29 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 John Sturges’ Bad Day at Black Rock (1955) on Sun., May 31 at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. The Asheville Film Society starts its June calendar with Cary Grant and Jean Arthur in Howard Hawks’ Only Angels Have Wings (1939) on Tue., June 2 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.
Well, this week we see the fairly awful Seventh Son and the truly execrable The Loft come to DVD. Have I mentioned — since last week — that Zombeavers is on Netflix Streaming? Well, it’s a lot better than either of these.