A week of some interest from my perspective heads our way. Yes, it’s big news that Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours opens (at The Carolina and the Fine Arts), but I’ve seen it (twice). Both it and another opener, Cool It, are reviewed in this week’s Xpress. All that leaves is The Warrior’s Way. It occurs to me that if I work this right—meaning I palm off The Warrior’s Way on a certain particular person whom you know and I know—I can get something like the weekend off. The prospect of this causes me no pain. Granted that doesn’t get me out of writing a review for something else I’ve already seen that opens next week, and it doesn’t get me out of the “Screening Room” or the special screenings. (Come to think of it, though, one of those special screenings was somebody else’s idea.) But all things considered, it’s like a little vacation—which I’ll undoubtedly spend catching up with award-season screeners.
Now, from your perspective, the weekend should be all about 127 Hours. My full review appears in this week’s Xpress, but I’ll go ahead and note that Danny Boyle remains one of our absolute best filmmakers and that this is almost certainly going to be a contender at this year’s Oscars. I think there’s a good chance that the same can be said of Boyle and of the film’s star, James Franco. I haven’t seen Cool It (Justin Souther reviewed it), so I can’t say much about it, though I’m given to understand that it isn’t the right-leaning anti-global-warming movie that certain quarters were hoping for.
And what is this The Warrior’s Way? That’s a good question. The trailer—with its improbable concept of a Wild West character merely noting, “Ninjas, damn,” upon the arrival of said ninjas in town—looks agreeably silly. Actually, I think Ninjas, Damn would be a much better title than the pompous moniker they hung on it. It appears to be about a warrior-assassin hiding out in the Old West after he refuses an assignment. Naturally, a band of ninjas show up in pursuit. In other words, it’s going to be a cowboys-and-ninjas opus. The point seems to be to introduce “Korean superstar” Dong-gun Jang to western audiences. I confess, I’ve never heard of Dong-gun Jang—and no one seems to have heard of director-writer Sngmoo Lee. I have, however, heard of Kate Bosworth, Geoffrey Rush, Danny Huston and Tony Cox, who comprise the names in the supporting cast. So far, no one has reviewed it. You’re on your own.
Still hanging around this week are Fair Game (Fine Arts) and Tamara Drewe (The Carolina), though the latter has been reduced to three shows a day, so I wouldn’t expect it to hang around for a fourth week. While Inside Job takes its leave from the Fine Arts, it’s only making a short jump over to the The Carolina, so it’s around for at least another week.
Well, we’re down to three this week—the Hendersonville Film Society takes December off—starting with The Midnight Meat Train (2008) from the Thursday Horror Picture Show at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 2, in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. World Cinema offers Ang Lee’s Eat Drink Man Woman (1994) on Friday, Dec. 3, at 8 p.m. at the Courtyard Gallery in the Phil Mechanic Studios building. Peter Bogdanovich’s What’s Up, Doc? (1972) is the Asheville Film Society title on Tuesday, Dec. 7, at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina.
Whoa, this looks pretty grim indeed. The big title is The Twilight Saga: Eclipse. Many thanks, no. Then we have the monumentally so-so Knight and Day, which is strictly in the “once was quite enough” column, and Vampires Suck, and in this case, once was way too much. I’ve never seen Diary of a Wimpy Kid, though I recall that Justin Souther was not unimpressed with it. It may, in fact, be your best bet. Certainly Going the Distance isn’t, and I don’t know about The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.
Notable TV screenings
OK, it’s another week on TCM where there’s not a lot that stands out to me. I suppose Lucio Fulci fans (I know they exist, I just don’t know why) would argue that showing The Beyond (1983) at 2 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 4, is noteworthy, so I’ll mention it. More interesting to me is Wesley Ruggles’ The Gilded Lily (1935) on Sunday, Dec. 5, at 2 p.m. Now, I’m pretty sure I haven’t seen this since 1974 at the latest, so my memory is hazy at best. I know it’s the first of several films Claudette Colbert co-starred in with Fred MacMurray. I remember it as a pretty clever satire on the whole idea of celebrity, with Colbert achieving a kind of star status by being dubbed the “No girl” for turning down a proposal from a nobleman, which she cashes in on by appearing in a night club and doing nothing (“This is it, boys, it’s all I do”) other than be pretty. The rest of you can do what you like, but I’m getting re-acquainted with it.
And then there’s Rowland V. Lee’s rather odd Zoo in Budapest (1933) on Monday, Dec. 6, at 3:45 a.m. (that’s late-night Sunday for those of us working on TV Guide time). This is probably more of a curio than anything else, but its curio value is undeniable. Gene Raymond plays Zani, a strange young man who works and lives at the zoo. He only relates to animals and is, in fact, so incensed by women who wear furs that he steals the garments from them (PETA would like this boy). He meets Eve (Loretta Young) and gets her to run away from the orphan group she’s with and live with him in the zoo. Yes, that really is the basic plot.