It’s the week of Bond 24 — or Spectre, if you will — and no one can be happier than Hollywood after last week’s debacle at the box office. And if you have kids, or are nostalgic for your childhood, there’s an alternative Big Deal out there, though by the age of eight, I was being taken to James Bond movies. Some will claim this probably explains how thoroughly sunk I am in depravity, but then there are always “some.”
Much ink has already been spilled over this past weekend’s way beyond underwhelming box office. The movies were bad — which I don’t even agree with in all cases — is at the top of the list. The titles were bad is another. And there’s the notion that people won’t pay to see two hour movies that aren’t some kind of spectacle in theaters, since they can stay home and watch “better” TV shows for “free,” or as part of this or that subscription service. These are all shot-in-the-dark answers. None are etched in stone, though the writers seem to think so. In the end, it’s a crap-shoot — and Hollywood knows that. But in this age where everybody with an internet connection knows everything there is to know about movies, “answers” must be found — even if they have to be retrieved by proctologists. The truth is that movies like Burnt and Truth (especially Truth) did far better locally than the national averages indicate. Hits? No, but not — at least in this small section — but not disgraces. Generalizations remain just that.
The only art title that was made available to local critics this week was Catherine Hardwicke’s Miss You Already — opening Friday at The Carolina. It was an agreeable surprise, but I admit it’s still going to be a tough sell. In its bare bones description it sounds like the latest Lifetime Channel disease-of-the-week pap. That it was made by Catherine Hardwicke — who’s been dining for 12 years on the critical reputation of Thirteen without making anything of real merit since — isn’t likely to help matters. But this is a tough-minded little movie that manages to be witty and moving without glossing over the ugliness of cancer, or descending into maudlin goo. Hardwicke’s direction is reasonably assured, but the film is carried by the screenplay (by Morwenna Banks) and top-drawer performances that complement each other from Drew Barrymore and Toni Collette. There’s also strong acting support from Paddy Considine, Dominic Cooper, and Jacqueline Bisset. Is it an assault on the tear ducts? Only sort of. It’s too smart just for that. My review is in this week’s Xpress.
There is a second art title, Sarah Gavron’s Suffragette — starting Friday at The Carolina and the Fine Arts. This was not previewed for local critics — probably because the decision to open it was only made on Monday morning. However, Suffragette has Oscar Bait written all over it. Two Oscar-nominated stars, Carey Mulligan and Helena Bonham Carter adorn the cast — as does three-time Oscar winner Meryl Streep. It’s a period piece and can boast historical importance. The somewhat mixed reviews and it being opened this early suggest that it may not be quite up to its pedigree. We shall see.
Next is Steve Martino’s (Ice Age: Continental Drift) The Peanuts Movie — starting Friday at Carmike 10, The Carolina, Epic of Hendersonville, and Regal Biltmore Grande (no there are not Thursday evening shows). Look, you know what it is — a very expensive big screen, computer animated version of a very economical series of hand-drawn TV cartoons — and you know if you want to see it. I have recused myself from reviewing it. I loved the comics as a small child, spent hours lying on the floor reading the book versions. Then when I was 10 came the first animated TV show, A Charlie Brown Christmas, and I was never so disappointed. No one sounded like I wanted them to sound, and the Charlie Brown perennial loser business that was okay in print grated on me in action. Now, if you grew up where these shows were your first experience with the characters, fine. I’m sure that makes for a very different experience. I’m passing.
Finally, there’s Sam Mendes’ Spectre — starting Friday (with Thursday evening shows) at Carmike 10, The Carolina, Co-ed of Brevard, Epic of Hendersonville, and Regal Biltmore Grande. Here’s Bond 24 — with a director who says no more and a star who said he’d rather kill himself than play James Bond again. This is another case of you know what it is and you know if you’re going to go see it. Since I’ve more or less followed the series since its inception — though I’ve never made it through the Timothy Dalton duo — I’ll see it. Am I excited? Not really, though the presence of Christoph Waltz helps. The fact its early reviews are not exactly glowing might matter more to me, except that when I read complaints about a lack of character development, I wonder what the reviewer was expecting…
This week the Fine Arts drops Goodnight Mommy (really, it only got that second week because of lack of product). There’s no bona fide art leaving The Carolina, but I guess it’s worth noting that Steve Jobs is leaving (that was quick work) and Crimson Peak is being cut to three shows a day (11:50, 5:10, 10:30), signalling its end is nigh.
The Thursday Horror Picture Show has Vincent Price, Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, and John Carradine in Pete Walker’s House of the Long Shadows (1983) at 8 p.m. on Thu., Nov. 5 in Theater Six at The Carolina. World Cinema is showing François Truffaut’s The 400 Blows (1959) on Fri., Nov. 6 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 D.W. Griffith’s Isn’t Life Wonderful (1924) on Sun., Nov. 8 at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. The Asheville Film Society is running the Northern Ireland punk rock comedy-drama Good Vibrations (2013) with guest speaker and Northern Ireland native Gareth Higgins on Tue., Nov. 10 8 p.m. in Theater Six at The Carolina. More on all titles in this week’s Xpress — with complete reviews in the online edition.
The major release this week is the excellent The End of the Tour. Also up is the good documentary Best of Enemies, as well as the Pixar film Inside Out. In addition, Peter Bogdanovich’s critically savaged She’s Funny That Way — which never played locally — comes out this week. I admit I want to see it.