If it wasn’t for the art titles, this week would look pretty grim — especially when compared with last week which was at least respectable. This is an entirely different can of worms. Others may feel differently.
This is also the week where Everest (reviewed in this week’s paper by Scott Douglas) goes wider — at present, I know it’s slated for Carmike 10 and The Carolina — for those of you who don’t feel the need to see it in ersatz-IMAX.
The big art title this week is Edward Zwick’s Pawn Sacrifice — starting Friday at The Carolina and the Fine Arts. Honestly, I expected little from this, based on the fact that I’ve rarely been wowed by Zwick’s work. When Blood Diamond came out in 2006, I wrote: “The biggest problem with Edward Zwick’s Blood Diamond — apart from getting used to Leonardo DiCaprio’s accent — is that it’s an Edward Zwick film.” Here, however, his usual desire to make a statement is nowhere to be found, and his craftsmanlike, but old-fashioned Hollywoodesque style suits the proceedings. But a lot of the credit here comes from Steven Knight’s (Locke) taut screenplay (that dictates its own degree of style) and the strong lead performance from Tobey Maguire — who is aided greatly by the strong support of Peter Sarsgaard, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Liev Schreiber. The film — a biopic of Bobby Fischer (Maguire) centered on his 1972 chess match with Boris Spassky (Schreiber) — is compelling, often complex entertainment that is very worth watching.
Less impressive, but very enjoyable is Meet the Patels — starting Friday at The Carolina. On the surface, this is something a little different — a documentary that also serves as a kind of romantic comedy about a young American of Indian descent coming to terms with both his Indian heritage and his Americanized youth. Often very funny, and offering an interesting look into another culture, the film falters somewhat due to the predictable nature of the rom-com buried at its center.
First up of the unseen mainstream stuff is Eli Roth’s The Green Inferno — opening Friday (with the usual Thursday evening shows) at Carmike 10, The Carolina, Epic of Hendersonville. Remember when Hostel (2005) made Roth the king of torture porn horror (a dubious distinction)? Do you then remember when Hostel: Part II (2007) tanked and Roth had an Internet Meltdown blaming illegal downloading and ungrateful fans for not supporting his movie? (He quickly deleted his tantrum, but, hey — the internet.) Well, he’s back with this one — an homage to Cannibal Holocaust. What this means is a bunch of folks you never heard or being eaten by a bunch of extras you’ve never heard in the jungles of the Amazon. The MPAA’s R rating is explained with “aberrant violence and torture, grisly disturbing images, brief graphic nudity, sexual content, language and some drug use.” You are warned.
Then we have the CG-animation of Hotel Transylvania — opening Friday (with no hint of Thursday evening shows) at The Carolina, Epic of Hendersonville, and Regal Biltmore Grande. (I suspect either Carmike 10 or UA Beaucatcher will be added.) What is there to be said about this? Even Sony hasn’t even bothered with a blurb. In other words it’s Adam Sandler doing his dodgy Bela Lugosi accent. The plot seems to center on Sandler’s Dracula trying to bring out the monster in his half-human grandson. The big addition — other than the grandson — is Mel Brooks as Dracula’s father. It has not been screened for critics. Yes, well…
Finally, there’s Nancy Meyers’ The Intern — starting Friday (with those Thursday evening shows) at The Carolina, Epic of Hendersonville, Regal Biltmore Grande, and UA Beaucatcher. Few things will cause my spirits to sink faster than the words “A Nancy Meyers Film.” What this means to me is that it will be overlong, it will be completely out of touch with the world as I know it, it will be overdesigned, and it will not be nearly as funny or clever as she thinks it is. If you are getting the sense that I am not an admirer, you are correct. This one is described with — “A retired successful business owner and widower lands an internship at a fashion website run by a young, career-driven woman.” The retired man is Rober De Niro. The driven woman is Anne Hathaway. It currently has four positive reviews and two negative. Variety‘s Guy Lodge seems to suggest my suspicions are well-founded — “It takes all the leads’ considerable combined charm to forestall the aftertaste of the pic’s smug life lessons and near-comically blinkered worldview.” I plan on fobbing this off.
This week we lose Mr. Holmes, which still has the distinction of being the art house hit of the summer. The Fine Arts is dropping Learning to Drive, but The Carolina is holding it for three shows a day on a split with Jimmy’s Hall.
The Thursday Horror Picture Show has Ryûhei Kitamura’s The Midnight Meat Train (2008) at 8 p.m. on Thu., Sept. 24 in Theater Six at The Carolina. World Cinema is showing Alfonso Cuarón’s Y Tu Mamá También (2001) on Fri., Sept. 25 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 James Ivory’s The White Countess (2005) on Sun., Sept. 27 at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. The Asheville Film Society closes out September with W.C. Fields The Bank Dick (1940) on Tue., Sept. 29 at 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 only mainstream release is Pitch Perfect 2. I shall therefore note that Michael Winner’s The Sentinel (1977) comes out on Blu-ray this week, too.