Once again we have some of those Wednesday openings. Why? I have no earthly idea. But we do. We also have two other mainstream titles, one art film, and a curio that I can’t quite classify. It perhaps doesn’t matter, since it seems to me to be a very long shot in terms of audience appeal. Time will sort that, of course.
The single art title—Take This Waltz (opening at The Carolina)—is the new film from Sarah Polley, who made her mark as a director a few years back with Away from Her. It’s also—as often seems to be the case—the one film opening that I’ve seen (and have reviewed). Stylistically, it’s quite different from Away from Her—much more stylistically adventurous—but the tone is not wholly dissimilar, even if the subject matter is. It’s also the kind of film that—for me at least—is much more impressive on a second viewing when you can better appreciate just how intricately structured it is. But even on a single look, there’s something quite haunting about it. (Well, that’s how I ended up seeing twice.)
I do recommend catching it quickly, however, since the art title slate is pretty crowded already and only looks to get more so in the coming weeks. However you feel about the mainstream fare this year, it’s hard to deny that the crop of art films has been unusually strong and plentiful. The downside to that, of course, is that some titles are apt to get lost in the shuffle.
Now, let’s get on with these other titles.
Actually, two of these week’s movies open on Wednesday, but the main one is David Frankel’s Hope Springs with Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones undergoing marriage counselling under the guidance of Steve Carell. The film has been heavily promoted as being from the director of The Devil Wears Prada, which is true in itself. It also fails to mention that since that film David Frankel made Marley & Me and The Big Year. Details like that are probably worth knowing. It seems especially worth considering since it has been rightly pointed out that more and more it seems that La Streep is less and less willing to make films with directors she can’t ride roughshod over, and that may well be the case. When the first reviews started to trickle in, the movie was getting a free pass, but now the voice of dissent is starting to creep in. It will be interesting to see how this plays out, but, in all honesty, the trailer looks pretty grim to me.
The other Wednesday opener—which I only learned about last night, and that’s why it’s not in the print edition—something called Nitro Circus: The Movie 3D. Frankly, I never knew there was a Nitro Circus, let alone a movie version in however many dimensions. I was perfectly happy in ignorance of this. What it appears to be is some form of documentary about some pack of extreme stunt enthusiasts. The press guff makes this claim: “The show follows Travis and the Nitro Circus Crew as they travel around the world setting up outrageous stunts and pushing the human body to the limit, constantlylooking to innovate the world of action sports. Travis’ compound in Annapolis houses a full motocross course, foampits and a homemade waterslide carved into a hill creating a self contained extreme sports circus.” I suspect that calling it a “show” is nearer the mark. It looks awfully like some kind of cross between a Jackass movie and one of those “reality” Wipeout shows. I’m debating whether or not it even warrants reviewing. I lean toward not.
Now, on to Friday and The Bourne Legacy wherein star Matt Damon is replaced by Jeremy Renner and director Paul Greengrass by Tony Gilroy. It is perhaps worth noting that Greengrass did not direct the first film, but Gilroy—who went on to make Michael Clayton and Duplicity—was involved with writing all three. It is also notable that this latest is not a sequel, but more in the nature of a spin-off. That means that Jeremy Renner is only inheriting lead role status and not the role of Jason Bourne. The idea is that Aaron Cross (Renner) finds himself in a situation “triggered by the events of the first three films.” This, you see, cleverly leaves the door open for Damon’s return in a future film should that eventuality present itself. The presence of Joan Allen, Albert Finney, Scott Glenn, and David Strathairn is meant, it would seem, to preserve some unity with the earlier films, but I’d guess we’ll be seeing more of new additions Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton, and Stacy Keach. Early reviews on this are currently split, but in such short supply that it means little.
That brings us to week’s last entry—and what looks like the possible wild card—The Campaign. There’s some slight chance that this might turn out to be a penetrating political satire. All the elements are there including the concept of “the best candidates money can buy.” Aspects of the trailer are promising. Other aspects of it somewhat less so. The real question lies in the stars—Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis—and the director—Jay Roach. All of them have done fairly credible work in the past, but they’ve all also done some…well, less credible work. The prospect of the three of them indukging each other’s absolute worst instincts is frankly bone-chilling. But there’s still some possibility that some good may come of all this. I’m curious, but cautious.
Amazingly enough, none of the art titles are leaving this week. Moonrise Kingdom and Beasts of the Southern Wild are sticking at the Fine Arts, while those, along with Safety Not Guranteed, To Rome with Love, The Intouchables, and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, are still at The Carolina.
This week’s Thursday Horror Picture Show title is the sci-fi horror movie Timecrimes (2009) at 8 p.m. on Thu., Aug. 9 in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. World Cinema is showing the purported final film of Bela Tarr, The Turin Horse (2011) at 8 p.m. on Fri., Aug. 10 in the Railroad Library in the Phil Mechanic Building. W.C. Fields stars in William Beaudine’s The Old Fashioned Way (1934), presented by the Hendesonville Film Society at 2 p.m. on Sun., Aug. 12 in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. The Asheville Film Society is showing Fritz Lang’s The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (1932) on Tue., Aug. 14 at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. More on all titles in this week’s Xpress with expanded coverage in the online edition.
Notable TV Screenings
The TCM theme for August is, as usual, “Summer Under the Stars,” which means you get a 24 hour dose of whatever star happens to get whichever day. One of the more interesting choices this year is Toshiro Mifune, which of course also means a lot of Akira Kurosawa. The usual suspects are there—Rashomon, Seven Samurai, Throne of Blood, Yojimbo—but the day—Thu., Aug 2—begins at 6 a.m. with one of my favorites, the too often overlooked Drunken Angel (1948).