Whatever else happens this week at the movies, I suspect that we can be assured that the mainstream titles (of which there are two) will be better than last week’s mainstream titles (of which there were two). Before you get too excited, remember what last week’s titles were. It won’t be hard to be better than those. Now, the art title is another matter.
Aside from the mainstream titles—I’ll get to those in a minute—we also have one art title opening this week (at both The Carolina and the Fine Arts). It’s the highly-acclaimed Beasts of the Southern Wild, which a lot of folks are anxious to see—or so I’m told. Here’s the thing: I saw it on Saturday morning. The review is in this week’s paper, so you’ll soon know that I wasn’t exactly blown away by the film, though I did—and do—admire its imagination, which is why I still gave it the Weekly Pick. (Well, it also wasn’t up against much.) That said, this is one of those films that I’d suggest those interested in movies that aren’t mainstream fare should check out for themselves. It’s sufficiently unusual to be of interest—and enough people whose opinions I tend to respect have gotten a lot more out of it than I did. You may, too. This may simply not be my kind of movie.
The mainstream stuff this week is the sort of thing that mostly—on the surface at least—appears to come under the heading of unnecessary. That doesn’t immediately preclude the possibility of it being passably entertaining in the purely transitory sense. But I can’t imagine anyone getting too excited about either offering.
When the first Diary of a Wimpy Kid picture came out in 2010 nobody was all that excited and the critics were pretty evenly divided on it. Certainly, no one expected a sequel, but it was a modestly budgeted movie that turned an OK profit, so 2011 found us with another one. It followed the same pattern with critics and the box office. It was inevitable, I guess, that a third film—Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days—would come along this year and here it is whether you wanted it or not—and we can now refer to it as “the Wimpy Kid trilogy.” Now, I’ve never seen one of these movies—they are Justin Souther’s territory. That’s the way of these series movies: review one and they’re yours for life. In truth, he hasn’t seemed to mind the films, though he has expressed a suspicion that this may well be “one Wimpy Kid too many.” Having seen the trailer, I’m inclined to agree, but it at least doesn’t look like another Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer. Then again, what does?
That brings us to Len Wiseman’s remake of the 1990 Paul Verhoeven-Arnold Schwarzenegger sci-fi actioner Total Recall. I’m not against the idea of remakes as a rule, and I have no particular ax to grind with the idea of remaking this one. I’m not overly fond of the original (I’m much happier with Verhoeven on his own turf in Holland), even if it has somehow been tagged with the increasingly meaningless term “classic.” I can think of no situation where I wouldn’t rather watch Colin Farrell over Der Arnold. The presence of Bill Nighy in this new version is also a plus. So much for the upsides. Len Wiseman of Underworld fame isn’t more than a workmanlike filmmaker, and the best thing I can say about Kate Beckinsale (aka: Mrs. Wiseman) is that she’s a better actress than Milla Jovovich. But the real kicker here is that they’ve taken a film that was originally slapped with an NC-17 rating, was cut to bring it down to an R, and have made it into a viewer-friendly (read: sanitized and safe for kids) PG-13 one. Moreover, the trailer…well, it looks like a CGI orgy. We shall see.
The only thing we lose this week is Your Sister’s Sister, which I predicted last week. The Fine Arts is dropping To Rome with Love, but keeping Moonrise Kingdom, which is also staying at The Carolina. In addition, To Rome with Love, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Safety Not Guaranteed, and The Intouchables are all holding strong at The Carolina.
This week the Thursday Horror Picture Show is screening Tobe Hooper’s The Mangler (1995) on Thu., Aug. 2 at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. World Cinema offers Andrei Tarkovsky’s first feature Ivan’s Childhood (1962) on Fri., Aug. 3 at 8 p.m. in the Railroad Library in the Phil Mechanic Building. Charles Chaplin’s rarely seen final film A Countess from Hong Kong (1967) is being shown by the Hendersonville Film Society at 2 p.m. on Sun., Aug. 5 in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. The Asheville Film Society is screening Woody Allen’s Love and Death (1975)—one of Allen’s “early funny ones”—at 8 p.m. on Tue., Aug. 7 in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. More on all titles in this week’s Xpress with expanded coverage in the online edition.
Remember when Le Havre was supposed to open locally and then never did? Well, this very fine film is now available on DVD, so you can see what you missed.
Notable TV Screenings
I’m not so sure how notable this is (take it as a warning, if you like), but starting at 6 a.m. on Fri., Aug. 3 TCM gives us 24 hours of Tarzan movies—well, almost. The last three are Jungle Jim pictures. Perhaps they figure that by that point you’ll be loin-clothed out and ready to see some safari jacket action instead.
On a somewhat more agreeable note, James Whale’s The Invisible Man (1933) is showing on Sun., Aug. 5 at 8 p.m. It’s part of their “Essentials Jr.” programming, and I can think of few more worthy endeavours than turning kids onto James Whale.