Actually, I know it’s better than last week, since I’ve already seen Get Low, which is worth more than all five of last week’s movies put together. The fact that we’re otherwise getting another of those fake cinéma vérité horror pictures (rated PG-13, no less), The Last Exorcism, and some kind of cops-and-robbers flick (also rated PG-13) called Takers is another matter. But I’m betting it’s safe to say they won’t be able to scale the Everestian heights of unmitigated awfulness attained by Vampires Suck.
The review for Get Low (opening Friday at The Carolina) appears in this week’s Xpress, but I’ll use this space to say a little bit about it. Get Low is the art-house title of the day. Unlike a lot of art offerings, this one keeps holding its own with each expansion. It’s easy to see why, since it boasts a trio of bankable and appealing stars: Robert Duvall, Sissy Spacek and Bill Murray. How can you go wrong with that cast? Well, I suppose it’s possible, but it doesn’t happen here. Even the reviewers that don’t like the film (it rates an 84 percent approval on Rotten Tomatoes) have good things to say about the cast.
Then there’s The Last Exorcism. Ostensibly, this was produced by Eli Roth, but I won’t hold that against it. I admit to having little patience with this shaky-cam fake documentary stuff. I also freely admit that I found the trailer more funny than scary (though I’d settle for funny if the other option is tedium). At the same time, I’d love for it to be actually good, and the early word from the trades is positive. It boasts three other good reviews from people I put little stock in and one bad review from a similarly dubious source. As of this writing, that’s all that’s showing. We’ll see.
Takers, on the other hand, I don’t plan on seeing. No prizes are offered for who’s reviewing it. It has a cast of B-list, but recognizable stars—Matt Dillon, Chris Brown (well …), Hayden Christensen (well … and then some), Idris Elba, Jay Hernandez—but nothing I’ve heard or read exactly entices me. A yarn about bank robbers up against a “hard-boiled” detective isn’t all that exciting in and of itself—unless you’re simply a sucker for that kind of thing. There are things I’m a sucker for, but that isn’t one of them. You and Mr. Souther are on your own with this one.
It’s definitely worth noting that I Am Love and Ondine are departing The Carolina come Friday, while Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky leaves the Fine Arts on the same day. (It, however, may be back at The Carolina next week.) The Girl Who Played With Fire finally opens at the Fine Arts on Friday, so those of you who’ve been waiting can stop waiting soon enough. Both the Fine Arts and The Carolina are holding The Kids Are All Right, while Winter’s Bone is sticking around The Carolina for at least one more week. It’s probably as well to note—since there’s only one showing—that available tickets for the Asheville Film Society showing of Ken Russell’s Tommy on Wednesday, Sept. 1, at 7:30 p.m. at The Carolina are dwindling.
On the special-showing front this week, the Thursday Horror Picture Show has a double feature of the rarely seen Island of Lost Souls (1933) and White Zombie (1932) this Thursday, Aug. 26, at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. World Cinema has Norman Jewison’s The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming (1966) on Friday, Aug. 27, at 8 p.m. at the Courtyard Gallery in the Phil Mechanic Studios building. Billy Wilder’s Sunset Blvd. (1950) is on the bill this Sunday, Aug. 29, at 2 p.m. from the Hendersonville Film Society in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. Anthony Harvey’s They Might Be Giants (1971) is this coming Tuesday, Aug. 31, at 8 p.m. from the Asheville Film Society in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. For more details, see this week’s Xpress. And for full reviews of all the special-showing titles check out the online edition of the Xpress after midnight tonight.
Apparently fearful that The Switch doesn’t offer viewers enough artificial-insemination romcom, the Jennifer Lopez one, The Backup Plan, comes out this week. Also up is City Island, which fared pretty well locally. And there’s the Aussie thriller The Square, which ought to have fared well locally and didn’t. Hopefully, viewers will give it a shot on DVD. It’s certainly worth it.
In the pricey-but-gotta-have-it department is a Criterion three-movie set of silents from Josef von Sternberg. Both Docks of New York (1928) and The Last Command (1928) were at least out on VHS, but this marks the first legitimate release of Sternberg’s Underworld (1927)—the very first gangster movie, and still one of the best. Also up is a new version of the 1941 B picture King of the Zombies, but whether this is any better than the so-so Alpha version, or if it’s only selling point is that it comes with a T-shirt, I have no idea.
Notable TV screenings
TCM wraps up its Summer Under Stars series, meaning that you’re no longer out of luck if you’re faced with a solid 24 hours of, say, June Allyson movies (as nauseating a proposition as I’ve ever heard). Of course, there’s some good stuff in a lot of these, but the standout for me is the Peter O’Toole set on Saturday, Aug. 28. It’s not so much the daytime offering, but starting at 8 p.m. you get David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia (1962), Peter Medak’s The Ruling Class (1972) and Richard Rush’s The Stunt Man (1980). That’s one hell of a block of movies—to my mind, it’s the absolute best of O’Toole.
For some reason, they depart from the format on Monday, Aug. 30, starting at 6 a.m. with a solid run of comedies from Joe E. Brown, Charley Chase, Thelma Todd, ZaSu Pitts, Wheeler and Woolsey, the Marx Brothers, and Laurel and Hardy. I’m not complaining (well, the Joe E. Brown maybe), especially because there are a bunch of rarely shown Charley Chase, Thelma Todd-ZaSu Pitts, Thelma Todd-Patsy Kelly, and Laurel and Hardy short films in the mix. Check it out.