Oh, yes, it’s a slack week at the movies—only two movies are opening. That said—and in full knowledge of the fact that I’m setting myself up for a huge letdown—one of those, Drive Angry 3D, is the first mainstream offering of 2011 I’ve actually been looking forward to. Come on, breathes there a fan of trash cinema who can resist the prospect of Nicolas Cage breaking out of hell in an effort to redeem himself by saving his infant grandchild from serving as the centerpiece of a human sacrifice by a cult? If so, you’re made of sterner stuff than I am.
Drive Angry 3D not only boasts a terminally ridiculous plot, but it has easily the coolest trailer of the year. It tells you plainly—in no uncertain terms—that you’re being offered unadulterated exploitation rubbish that has no desire to be taken for anything else. It’s the kind of movie that you might expect from Patrick Lussier, the director of My Bloody Valentine 3D (2009), a film that threw a ripped off lower jaw at its viewers. (Yeah, it’s also a pretty bad movie of the so-bad-it’s-funny school that just happens to be the most effective 3D movie to come down the pike in terms of lighting and design.) On top of that, it’s got Cage in the kind of role that only Cage would sign up for—whether or not it’s all about staving off bankruptcy. The whole thing promises hot babes, fast cars, gunplay, explosions, supernatural hijinks, gore—in short, everything you could want from a trashy exploitation movie. The question is whether it can really deliver. I don’t know about anybody else, but I’ll be finding out at the first show on Friday.
There’s also this raunch rom-com from the Farrelly Brothers called Hall Pass with Owen Wilson and Jason Sudeikis as the Farrelly equivalent of the Judd Apatow man-boys. The premise finds these overaged frat boys being given a week off from marriage with no consequences. Of course, they’re going to find they’re not the kids they were and they’ve lost the stamina they once knew. My guess is that all this is going to lead to the revelation that they didn’t realize how good they had it. It has all the earmarks of trading on juvenile raunchiness for the sole purpose of selling the same old load of clams the movies have clung to since 1912. Personally, I’m not ready to forgive the Farrellys for The Heartbreak Kid (2007). That means that this one is all yours—and Justin Souther’s, of course.
Owing to the Monday holiday, it’s not entirely clear just what is still staying this week. Oh, sure, The King’s Speech will still be at The Carolina, the Fine Arts, and anyplace else that could get it. I don’t expect that to change right away. Barney’s Version is sticking around the Fine Arts for another week, too. My guess is that The Illusionist will hold on at The Carolina, since it actually did better this past weekend than opening weekend—and that was with being cut to two shows a day. On the other hand, I’m not expecting Another Year to last another week, nor the Oscar shorts. Black Swan and Biutiful, on the other hand, I expect to hold at The Carolina.
Brian De Palma’s Carrie (1976) is this week’s Thursday Horror Picture Show at 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 24, in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. On Friday, Feb. 25, World Cinema has the 2003 Russian film The Return at 8 p.m. in the Railroard Library of the Phil Mechanic Building. Mario Bava’s Danger: Diabolik (1968) is this week’s film from the Hendersonville Film Society at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 27, in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. The Asheville Film Society is screening Josef von Sternberg’s Shanghai Express (1932) at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Mar. 1, in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. Reviews of these films appear in this week’s Xpress—with extended reviews in the online edition.
Also of note, the Asheville Film Society and The Carolina are having an Oscar watching party in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina starting at 7 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 27, and ending after the last award is handed out.
Though it seems unlikely that there are those who didn’t catch it when it played here (it was the art hit of the summer locally), the big release this week is Get Low with Robert Duvall and Bill Murray. Well, even if you did see it, you might want to consider seeing it again. Also out is Megamind, which was fine, but not the sort of thing I feel like seeing a second time. Then there’s the highly-regarded Chinese documentary Last Train Home, which didn’t play here. Word is that it’s very well worth a look.
Notable TV screenings
Well, it’s finally wrapping up, but it’s still “31 Days of Oscar” on TCM, and you’re still on your own till that blows over.