Definitely a less exciting week than last week. Oh, we get some new movies — one of which I know is good — but nothing like last week’s trio of heavy hitters. For that matter, the mere existence of one of these strikes me as an embarrassment to the entire human race — and possibly some primates.
In a somewhat unusual turn of events, I have seen, but did not review this week’s big art opening, Whiplash, which opens this Friday at The Carolina and the Fine Arts. I specifically did not want to review it because I have developed an aversion to Miles Teller and didn’t think I could give it a fair shake, so I passed it to Justin. But I was curious to see it, so I dutifully tramped to The Carolina to see the press screening last Saturday morning. I’m still not wild about Mr. Teller, but I’m glad I saw the movie. I was a little surprised to find that Mr. Souther and I had a very similar take on the film. While I have some reservations about certain aspects of the film, I mostly liked it — and would recommend it to anyone won’t be offended by the almost non-stop swearing of J.K. Simmons as perhaps the most unlikable character of the year. However, the last 10-15 minutes of the film are such a remarkable outburst of pure filmmaking excitement that I not only recommend it, I’m calling it a must-see.
Everything else is an unknown quantity — and in the case of the first up, Gina Prince-Bythewood’s Beyond the Lights, I’m not even entirely certain if the film is opening here. I know it is not opening at The Carolina, but there’s no news on whether or not it will elsewhere. My suspicion is it will, but even the IMDb is mute on this question. (Then again, the IMDb seems to have mislaid The Carolina altogether.) Anyway, the film is a backstage story — complete with tyrant stage mother (Minnie Driver) — and it stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw, who made an art house splash earlier this year with Belle. Strangely enough, the film has been getting positive reviews. The only naysayer at this point is Chris Cabin from Slant Magazine — and generally, if you want to find a negative review, Slant is the place to go. Bear in mind, this is only from a sampling of nine reviews.
And then there’s Dumb and Dumber To — the very existence of which appalls me as few things have done. Frankly, this attempt to revive the popularity of a 20 year old movie of this kind smacks of desperation from a pair of filmmakers — the Farrelly Brothers — and a pair of performers — Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels — whose careers could use a hit. (I won’t even cut it any slack for having Kathleen Turner play a character named Fraida Felcher.) The only upside is that this one will not send the viewer who went to the ill-advised prequel at the Carmike back in 2003 into an irate rant that “nowhere on that poster does it tell you that Jim Carrey and…that other fellow aren’t in this film.” (I could have shown him a lot of posters that don’t have such a disclaimer.) This time he will have only himself to blame.
Bringing up the rear is Jon Stewart’s Rosewater, which is the sort of film that usually gets a press screening. Why this didn’t, I don’t know. The early reviews for this fact-based writing-directing effort from Stewart have been mostly positive — albeit not gushingly so. It stars Gael Garcia Bernal and is the story of Maziar Bahari a broadcast journalist who was arrested in Iran and interrogated and tortured for 118 days by a man calling himself “Rosewater.” The big question in my mind is what makes Stewart think he’s capable of writing and directing a movie. I mean, he may well be, but I never even knew he was wanting do so. I guess we’ll find out. I know it opens at The Carolina, but I don’t know if it’s opening elsewhere.
Now, this week we do lose some things. Both Dear White People and Pride are leaving the Fine Arts. And while we don’t lose Laggies at The Carolina, it’s been cut to one show a day (3 p.m.), which says it soon will be gone.
This week the Thursday Horror Picture Show is running Arthur Crabtree’s Fiend Without a Face (1958) — that’s the movie with the ambulatory brain monsters — at 8 p.m. on Thu., Nov. 13 in Theater Six at The Carolina. World Cinema is showing Lina Wertmuller’s The Seduction of Mimi (1972) on Fri., Nov. 14 at 8 p.m. in the Railroad Library in the Phil Mechanic Building. The Hendersonville Film Society has Joyeux Noel (2005) on Sun., Nov. 16 at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. The Asheville Film Society is screening Fritz Lang’s thriller Ministry of Fear (1944) on Tue., Nov. 18 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.
Looks like the big titles this week are Mood Indigo and How to Train Your Dragon 2. And if you really must Let’s Be Cops also comes out.