Even though Avengers: Age of Ultron has grossed enough money to buy several small countries, the studios are still on the reticent side about going up against it, so there’s only one mainstream release this week — one not aimed at anything remotely like the same audience. On the other hand, we get three — count ’em — art/indie titles of the most diverse kind imaginable. If you’re already Ultron-ed out, don’t despair, the powers that be will get bolder next week — even to the point of tackling the reigning king of the box office head on with Mad Max: Thunder Road, but that’s next week.
But this week we do, as I said, have an interesting array of art/indie fare this week — all of which are reviewed in this week’s Xpress.
First up — alphabetically — is Jarrad Paul and Andrew Mogel’s The D Train — opening Friday at The Carolina. (There is the possibility of an 8 p.m. show on Thursday, but one has yet to be scheduled.) This, for me, is the best of the three — and certainly the week’s big surprise. To say that I was reticent about watching an R rated comedy starring Jack Black and James Marsden would be an understatement of great note. Black is very hit or miss with me — and with more misses than hits. Marsden, on the other hand…let’s just say that it was going to take a lot — a whole lot — to erase the creepy awfulness of Hop. And damned if Marsden didn’t do just that here. This is not your average raunchy-com. In fact — even though it fully earns its R rating — I didn’t find it in the least raunchy. Now, I suspect many will not agree with this. This is, after all, a movie that redefines the “bromance” by taking it to a whole new level. (Think Y Tu Mama Tambien‘s climax and you’ll be in the basic — but far from exact — ballpark.) More, it intelligently, compassionately, and warmly examines the fallout from going to that level. This is going to cause the “ewww” factor to kick in with some, but hopefully not with everyone. (I’d like to believe there’s an audience mature enough for this.) Black is relatively subdued here, and Marsden has never been this good. I strongly recommend this film — but with certain qualifications (for the viewer, not the movie).
Then we have David Zellner’s Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter — opening Friday at the Fine Arts. This is a film that I was — based on two trailers — fully expecting to love, and the truth is I didn’t love it. In fact, it took me a while to even like it, but I finally did. It stars Rinko Kikuchi, who will, I fear, always be Bang Bang in The Brothers Bloom for me. The truth is she doesn’t talk much more in this film, but the tone is very different. She plays the title character, a lonely young woman working in a Tokyo office whose only friend is a pet rabbit. She becomes convinced that the Coen Brothers’ Fargo is a personal clue for her to the location of the buried case of money depicted in the movie. What starts out as a sad, but harmless delusion escalates into an obsession, and this is where I start having some issues with the film. The film does an excellent job of blurring the line between reality and fantasy and is full of truly haunting images, but … well, read the review.
Finally we have Henry Hobson’s Maggie — opening Friday at The Carolina (no indications of the possibility of a Thursday night show). This is an oddity. I can think of no other word for it. It’s a PG-13 rated zombie movie that improbably stars Arnold Schwarzenegger, Abigail Breslin, and Joely Richardson. It gets stranger. This is the world’s first attempt at what might be called a combination of a Disease-of-the-Week movie and an angsty mopey teen one. Ms. Breslin plays the teen — and she has some reason for moping, since she’s been bitten by one of the victims of a zombie plague and is slowly turning into one of the lurchning dead. Der Arnold plays her concerned dad with a measure of screen presence and his usual inability to credibly deliver dialogue. Is it different? Well, yes. And there are some terrific — and touching — scenes, but are they enough? See it and find out for yourself.
On the unknown — but pretty predictable — front we also get Anne Fletcher’s Hot Pursuit — opening for sure at The Carolina and almost certainly at Epic of Hendersonville and Regal Biltmore Grande, while it’s completely up in the air as to whether Carmike or Beaucatcher will get it. (My money’s on Carmike because they’re due to get thrown a bone soon.) Anyway this is one of those odd couple comedies. This time it’s Reese Witherspoon (getting back at us for not winning that Wild Oscar) as a hard-nosed cop charged with protecting an uncooperative witness (Sophia Vergara). Sound familiar? That’s probably because it is. And it’s likely to seem even more so in the perpetually uninspired hands of director Anne Fletcher. I suppose it would be gilding the lily to note that this has yet to be screened by critics.
This week we lose True Story and Danny Collins at The Carolina (the latter has been picked up by Flat Rock Cinema). The Fine Arts is splitting Clouds of Sils Maria (1:20, 4:20) with Ex Machina (7:20, Late Show Fri-Sat 9:40).
Before getting down to the usual suspects, let me remind you that the Jewish Film Festival starts Thu., May 7 at the Fine Arts Theatre with their opening night film Deli Man and reception at 6 p.m. (all tickets include both and are $22; the film only plays again on Fri., May 8 at 1 p.m. with tickets at $8.50).
There’s no Hendersonville Film Society movie on May 10, because of Mother’s Day. This week the Thursday Horror Picture Show has Tourneur’s Night of the Demon (1957) at 8 p.m. on Thu., May 7 in Theater Six at The Carolina. World Cinema is showing Who Is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe (1978) on Fri., May 8 at 8 p.m. at Phil Mechanic Studios, 109 Roberts St., River Arts District (upstairs in the Railroad Library). The Asheville Film Society W.C. Fields in George Marshall’s You Can’t Cheat an Honest Man (1939) on Tue., May 12 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.
This week we get Mr. Turner, Selma, and Black or White. Well, the first two are good. And then there’s…Fifty Shades of Grey.