Here’s a surprisingly interesting week for this late in the summer. Two “art” films of note — Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky and The Killer Inside Me — open at the Fine Arts and the Carolina respectively. And at least two of the mainstream releases — Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and Eat Love Pray — hold potential interest, while the third — The Expendables — has undeniable curio value. Yeah, you could ask for more, but you’re not likely to get it — not at this time of year.
I’ve already seen Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky and The Killer Inside Me. They’re both reviewed in this week’s Xpress, but I do want to make it clear that The Killer Inside Me is a provocative, disturbing and very violent film that is apt to alienate some viewers. Since I’ve already been accused of having failed humanity once this year (which is actually kind of chic as an accolade), I want that distinctly understood. If you subject yourself to it, you’ve been warned and have no one to blame. See it at your peril. The caveat stands. Complain not if you are offended.
I admit to being intrigued by Edgar Wright’s Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. I liked Wright’s Shaun of the Dead (2004) and loved both Hot Fuzz (2007) and his fake trailer in Grindhouse (2007). And I have to say I am even more intrigued by the look of the trailer. Even so, I have reservations as to whether or not the film can sustain the promise of the trailer, and I have even greater reservations about the fact that Michael Cera stars in the film. (He was wearing thin for me some time ago — and then outdid himself in 2009 with Paper Heart to hit something like anathema status.) And some of the film’s negative reviews address exactly those issues. However, I am still on the list of those planning on seeing the film.
I’m also willing to admit to being interested in Ryan Murphy’s Eat Love Pray — based almost entirely on the fact that I think his darkly comedic Running with Scissors (2006) is one of the best films of the 2000s that almost nobody saw. Otherwise, I doubt I’d have that much interest in this. I don’t know the memoir it’s based on, but it doesn’t have the appearance of something I’d naturally gravitate toward. I also don’t mind Julia Roberts, but neither do I seek her out. Still her post-2000 work has included a number of movies I’ve liked, so I’m not alarmed by her presence.
Am I intrigued by Sylvester Stallone’s The Expendables? No. Intrigued is the wrong word. I’m more like just incredulous about the whole thing. Stuffing all these — not necessarily prime — action stars into this one movie the way Contadina packs those “eight big tomatoes in that itty bitty can” of tomato paste doesn’t seem wholly rational to me. And if you’re going insist on doing such a thing, where is Steven Seagal? Was he too busy doing Robert Rodriguez’ Machete? And I’m amused by the early good reviews falling all over themselves for their breakout quotes to appear in the DVD. “Lean, mean, funny and chockablock with fast-twitch demolition spectacle,” enthuses Cole Smithey, who I suspect has no more idea what “fast-twitch demolition spectacle” means than I do. At the same time, Pete Hammond gushes as only he can that “it’s filled with literally explosive excitement.” Me, I’ll be happy if it’s simply dumb, ridiculous and unintentionally funny.
There’s no shortage of decent fare still faring well enough to be hanging around for another week. The Kids Are All Right is still at the Fine Arts and the Carolina.Ondine and I Am Love are holding nicely at the Carolina, though the latter is losing both Cyrus and the surprisingly long-lived Solitary Man. This is also the weekend with the Saturday night screening (11 p.m.) of The Rocky Horror Picture Show at the Carolina. Flatrock Cinema is keeping The Girl Who Played with Fire for those who don’t want to wait for it to hit Asheville on the 27th of the month.
Thursday night the Thursday Horror Picture Show is running Guillermo del Toro’s Cronos (1993) at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 12 at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at the Carolina. Local filmmaker Joe Chang’s Passenger Pigeons makes its local debut at 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 12 at the Fine Arts. World Cinema has Sidney Lumet’s Fail-Safe (1964) Friday, Aug. 13 at 8 p.m. at the Courtyard Gallery in the Phil Mechanic Building. Sunday, Aug. 15 finds Henri-Georges Clouzot’s documentary The Mystery of Picasso being shown by the Hendersonville Film Society at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. Mae West’s birthday is Tuesday, Aug 17 and though Miss West will be unable to attend, the Asheville Film Society will screen a double feature of her first two movies, Night After Night (1932) and She Done Him Wrong (1933), at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at the Carolina in honor of the occasion. More information on all these titles can be found in this Wednesday’s Xpress—with even more information available in the online edition.
This isn’t one of the more exciting week for new DVDs. Date Night was agreeable enough entertainment when it played theatrically. I doubt it’s worth a second viewing, but if you missed it first round, it’s certainly worth a look. On the other hand, if you missed the pointless almost scene-for-scene remake of the British comedy Death at a Funeral, my suggestion would be to keep on missing it, but it does come out this week. So do The Joneses and Letters to God, which I’ve never seen and that’s fine with me.
Notable TV screenings
I’m sorry, but this is a truly despiriting week on TCM. Maybe I’m in a snit because they’re doing a Norma Shearer day and have once again not included The Trial of Mary Dugan (1929), her first talkie. I know they have it and that they did run it at least once. I’m sure it’s a typically static MGM early talkie, but it was a big deal in its day. It has historical significance and the cast includes the wonderful Lilyan Tashman. Instead, we get the standard — and pretty frequently shown—Shearer films. Beyond that, nothing leapt out at me. Might be a good week to catch up on some of those DVDs I have yet to catch up on.