OK, here it is — the first week of the real fall movie season and we have one mainstream release, one expanding to mainstream art title and one little art title of some note which is likely to be crushed under the combined weight of those two. That’s assuming it isn’t already going to be trounced by simply being on too many screens.
Originally, there was another title slated for this week, but it got pulled at the last minute — created all kinds of behind-the-scenes havoc, I can tell you. It’s supposed to happen next week, and I hope it does, because it’s on the terrific side.
The art title is Leslye Headlander’s Sleeping with Other People — opening Friday at The Carolina, and UA Beaucatcher. This was in the neighborhood of the pleasant surprise — the very pleasant surprise. Being unfamiliar with Headlander’s work, I could only gauge my expectations based on the concept and the stars. The concept sounded like Yet Another Raunchy-Com. And the stars…well, I’ve never warmed to Jason Sudeikis and, though I’ve seen her, never particularly noticed Alison Brie. The film changed both those things. It also put Ms. Headland on the list of filmmakers to be watched. As for the raunch — yes, it’s there, but it’s (mostly) smart raunch. Plus, it’s housed in a film of style and sophistication and centered on characters it’s impossible not to like in spite of (maybe because of) their numerous flaws. What bothers me here is that IFC is opening the film on too many screens. They’ve done this before and it ended badly. I hope history doesn’t repeat itself. Read the review. Check out the film. But remember, it’s very R rated.
The big deal this week is Ridley Scott’s The Martian — opening Friday (and Thursday evening) at Carmike 10, The Carolina, Epic of Hendersonville, and Regal Biltmore Grande. This is expected to take the weekend with ease and has a cautious prediction of $50 million for the three days. We shall see. Early reviews for this story about Matt Damon trying to survive on Mars while awaiting rescue are very strong, though I can’t avoid noticing that the big name critics have mostly failed to show up yet. Time will tell. It certainly cannot be said to lack for an impressive cast in addition to Damon — Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels, Michael Pena, Sean Bean, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Donald Glover. But how much can they be given to do in the course of even a long (141 minute) movie?
Then there’s Denis Villeneuve’s Sicario — opening Friday (and Thursday etc.) at Carmike 10, The Carolina, Epic of Hendersonville, and Regal Biltmore Grande. This has done spectacularly strong business in limited release, and while those $30,000 per theater weekend grosses at 59 theaters will of necessity plummet when it goes wide, they’re still impressive. They’re more impressive still when you look at how soft the “art” market has been all summer. How far an R rated crime drama about the war on drugs on the Mexican border can go is another matter. Emily Blunt, Benicio Del Toro, and Josh Brolin are all name actors, yes, but are they really box office draws? I’m certainly intrigued. My familiarity with Villeneuve’s work only extends to three movies — Incendies (2010), Prisoners (2013), and Enemy (2014). This looks more in line with Prisoners, which struck me as a movie that strained too hard for importance.
This week we lose Meet the Patels (which kind of surprises me because it did well for a documentary), Learning to Drive, and Jimmy’s Hall (neither of which surprises me).
On Wednesday, September 30 at 8:00 p.m., the Asheville Film Society will screen the brand new 4K restoration of Carol Reed’s The Third Man at The Carolina in Theater Eight. No sooner was this restoration announced than people started asking if it was coming to Asheville. Confirming my suspicion that no one was going to book it for a full week, I researched the situation and found that, yes, it was available for single showings, so it became the September Budget Big Screen offering. It quickly occurred to me that I had never seen this on the big screen in any capacity (I missed its 50th anniversary run at the Fine Arts Theatre by about a week.) So this chance to not only see it on the screen, but to see it in this new restoration has me as excited as anyone. If you’ve caught any of the recent restorations shown here — especially, Harold and Maude and The Lady from Shanghai — you know what a revelation these modern restorations are, often looking better than the films did when they were new. And with something as visually stunning as The Third Man, it should be an experience like no other. Tickets are on sale now. The price is $6 for AFS members and $8 general admission.
The Thursday Horror Picture Show has the first of their two film tribue to the late Wes Craven with A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) at 8 p.m. on Thu., Oct. 1 in Theater Six at The Carolina. World Cinema is showing François Truffaut’s Jules et Jim (1962) on Fri., Oct. 2 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 Frank Capra’s Lost Horizon (1937) on Sun., Oct. 4 at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. The Asheville Film Society begins its October calendar with Albert Finney in Suri Krishnamma’s A Man of No Importance on Tue., Oct. 6 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 best thing coming out this week is Cop Car, a throwback to 1970s drive-in fare that came and went too quickly. Also up are Spy, Poltergeist (the remake), and Entourage. Go with Cop Car.