The Smurfs to one side, last week didn’t turn out so badly. So what of this week? Well, let’s see. In the land of the mainstream we have The Change-up and Rise of the Planet of the Apes (both everywhere but the Carmike). And on the art film side of the ledger there’s Project Nim and The Trip (both at The Carolina). Apart from the unintentional connection between two movies involving chimpanzees, it’s at least diverse.
As is often the case, I’ve already seen and reviewed the art titles—the reviews are in this week’s paper—and I have to say that they appear to be far more interesting and noteworthy than the mainstream offerings. Of course, the mainstream may prove surprising. That remains to be seen, but a new documentary from the maker of Man on Wire and a variant of the “road/buddy” picture from Michael Winterbottom is a hard duo to top. We shall see.
The Change-up is from David Dobkin, whom the ads delight in telling us gave us Wedding Crashers (2005) while skillfully leaving out the fact that he also made Fred Claus (2007)—which might be worth considering. I’m not sure exactly who decided it was high time to revive the “body switch” comedy—let alone why they made this decision—but that’s what we have here. Much put-upon married man (Jason Bateman) and unrepentant ladies’ man (Ryan Reynolds)—supposedly best friends since childhood, which is a neat trick considering the seven-year age difference—make one of those ill-advised wishes to change places in an unfortunate locale. They awake the next day in each other’s bodies. Hilarity ensues—in theory at least. This is also one of the current wave of R-rated comedies with a raunch factor. Based on seeing both the “audience appropriate” trailer and the “red band” one, it appears to be full of both bathroom and bedroom amusement in order to appeal to all audiences.
I’m equally unsure of the need to—or desirability of it—reboot the Planet of the Apes series, much less provide us with an origins story. But that’s what we’re being offered with Rise of the Planet of the Apes—which seems to be a sci-fi variation on Project Nim gone very wrong. In its service are a good cast—James Franco, Freida Pinto, John Lithgow, Brian Cox—and Andy Serkis doing his motion-capture thing to be CGI’d into chief chimp Caesar. And there’s certainly plenty of state-of-the-art effects stuff going on. Now, the folks at 20th Century Fox assure us that “The film is a reality-based cautionary tale—a science fiction/science-fact blend where mankind’s hubris leads to the development of intelligence in apes and the onset of a war for supremacy.” That, I presume means the old sci-fi notion that “there are some things that man must leave alone” is alive and well and coming to a multiplex near you. The early reviews are generally good and entirely from people I don’t pay much attention to. Friday will reveal all.
Leaving town this week is, unfortunately, Submarine. My personal belief is that it was killed by Bele Chere, but that hardly matters—you only have through Thursday to catch it, and well you should. Beginners is around for another (probably final) week at the Fine Arts. Midnight in Paris (can’t kill it with a stick!) is staying at both the Fine Arts and The Carolina, while Page One and Buck are also staying at The Carolina, but have been split, which suggests this is probably their last week. The Tree of Life, however, is still going pretty strong there.
In addition to the usual fare, there’s an Asheville Film Society word-of-mouth screening on Wednesday, Aug. 3, at 7:30 p.m. at The Carolina of Project Nim, which is an exclusive free showing for AFS members. Not a member? That can be remedied for ten bucks, which’ll fix you up for a year’s worth of these screenings—among other things. (End of shameless plug.)
This week the Thursday Horror Picture Show has a double feature of The Strange Case of Dr. Rx (1942) and The Last Warning (1938) at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 4, in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. World Cinema has Robert Bresson’s Diary of a Country Priest (1951) on Friday, Aug. 5, at 8 p.m. in the Railroad Library in the Phil Mechanic Building. The Hendersonville Film Society is screening Richard Thorpe’s Ivanhoe (1952) on Sunday, Aug. 7 ,at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. The Asheville Film Society has Josef von Sternberg’s The Scarlet Empress (1934) on Tuesday, Aug. 9, at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. More on all films (except Ivanhoe) in this week’s Xpress.
It appears to be a pretty slack week on DVD releases. The only mainstream titles I see are Rio and Soul Surfer, neither of which I’ve seen. A film I had kind of hoped with play here theatrically—The Music Never Stopped—is also coming out, but that’s truly an unknown quantity.
Notable TV screenings
TCM is in its “Summer Under the Stars” mode, meaning you get 24 hours devoted to a single star. In other words, unless you’re into a particular star, you’re out of luck for a day. Wednesday is Bette Davis, and that’s fine except for the fact that there’s never what you’d call a shortage of Bette Davis movies on TCM, though the day’s first offering, The Working Man (1933), isn’t shown very often. It’s Bette in support of George Arliss—whom she always credited for getting her career started—and a rather charming little movie it is. You can catch it at 6 a.m.
Thursday is all Ronald Colman. The most notable or unusual are blocked together starting at 11:30 a.m. with Kiki (1926), Raffles (1930), The Unholy Garden (1931), and Arrowsmith (1931). John Garfield gets Friday, which is fine, but since TCM owns just about everything he ever made, he’s in the Bette Davis boat of being generally around TCM a lot of the time. Saturday is given over to Lucille Ball, who is an acquired taste I’ve never really acquired. That said, the 1947 thriller Lured—which also has Boris Karloff and George Zucco in it—is pretty agreeable and is on at 1:30 a.m. Sunday we have Charles Laughton, but nothing unusual for TCM is on hand. Monday we get Orson Welles—pretty much the usual suspects, but most of those are are pretty tasty. A rather strange choice is Ann Dvorak on Tuesday, but this does provide us with Crooner (1932) at 6 a.m., Scarface (1932) at 8 p.m., and Three on a Match (1932) at 9:45 p.m.