The horror! The horror! It’s finally here—the dreaded week that finds Justin Bieber: Never Say Never comin’ at you in the miracle of 3D. It’s not as if it wasn’t a sufficiently terrifying prospect without 3D-ification. Thank God, there are five other movies opening—even if one of them stars Adam Sandler and another stars Channing Tatum. Relativity is a wondrous thing.
OK, let’s look at this dispassionately for a moment and take the week as we find it—regardless of how we find it. In addition to the massive Bieberfying, we have The Eagle, Gnomeo and Juliet, The Illusionist, Just go with It, and The Oscar Nominated Shorts 2011. Of these, the only one I’ve seen in the last named. The review for The Oscar Nominated Shorts—which opens Friday at The Carolina—appears in this week’s Xpress. In the meantime, I’ll say it’s your chance to actually have an informed opinion of what wins in the short film categories this year. It also offers you three-plus hours of movies.
Let’s jump to The Eagle (opening at every multiplex other than Carmike on Friday). It was directed by Kevin Macdonald, who did fine with The Last King of Scotland (2006) and State of Play (2009). Now, whether that means he can make this ancient (140 A.D.) Romans in Britain yarn starring Channing Tatum worthwhile is another matter. The still photos from the film have that gray drabness that filmmakers seem to feel was inherent to Ye Olde Times. I’m not sure why they feel this way, but they sure seem to think it’ll all be more convincing if they leech nearly all the color from the frame. You’d think Tatum (who I am told is on his way to stardom) was sufficiently colorless without digital intermediate jiggery-pokery. In any case, Donald Sutherland and Jamie Bell are there to help out. For another plus, it has nothing to do with Justin Bieber.
I have to admit that I am shocked—yeah, shocked—and stunned—very stunned—that it took this long for someone to hit on the idea of rethinking Romeo and Juliet with yard ornaments. (Take that, Baz Luhrmann!) Well, at least they have now and it’s called Gnomeo and Juliet, and it opens Friday everywhere but the Carmike and Fine Arts. It looks rather quirky, and it does boast a pretty interesting voice cast—James McAvoy, Emily Blunt, Michael Caine, Maggie Smith, and Ozzy Osbourne. It also has songs by Elton John and Tim Rice. OK, I admit I stopped buying everything Elton put out after Rock of the Westies in 1975, and I’m pretty sure I haven’t bought anything since Ice on Fire in 1985. I’ll also admit that I tend to find his attempts at “show tunes” lacking in personality, but maybe this’ll be different. At least—yes, you guessed it—he’s not Justin Bieber.
Sylvain Chomet’s The Illusionist (opening Friday at The Carolina) is the one unknown I can say I’m really looking forward to this week. I thought Chomet’s The Triplets of Belleville (2004) was very fine and I liked his “Tour Eiffel” segment in Paris, Je Taime (2007). Here he’s back with animation—and animation that’s up for an Oscar, too—and working from a script he adapted from a never-produced screenplay by Jacques Tati. The spirit of Tati—and a poster for Tati’s M. Hulot’s Holiday (1953) appears, as does a clip from his Jour de Fete (1949)—hangs heavy over Triplets, so this seems a natural—as does the fact that the Magician in The Illusionist is clearly supposed to be Tati. Word has it that this is a rather melancholy film, but not without moments of comedy—and a lot of charm. That anything else opening this week could be in this league is unlikely indeed.
The most notable thing about the latest Adam Sandler offering, Just Go with It (opening at all multiplexes but Carmike), seems to be that Rob Schneider isn’t in it. Frankly, I suspect a trick where they don’t warn you of his presence till you’re in the theater and it’s too late. (And, unfortunately, it’s my turn for the Adam Sandler movie.) Otherwise, he’s brought his usual director, Dennis Dugan, along for this supposed rom-com that has Sandler playing a guy who keeps women from getting serious about him by wearing a wedding band. (Does anyone really think this would be a problem for Sandler if he wasn’t the Adam Sandler?) This runs aground when he meets a girl he’s serious about, so he talks a friend (Jennifer Aniston) into posing as the wife he’s divorcing. Hilarity ensues, Rob Schneider doesn’t —they claim.
And then, inescapably, there’s Justin Bieber: Never Say Never, which inflicts itself on all multiplexes (except Carmike again). What is there to say? I’ve managed to limit my exposure to Bieber to a few clips and the trailer for this movie. (“He’s living this amazing life, but he’s just like you and me!”—a claim I question.) I have every intention of keeping it that way (Justin Souther knows exactly what that means). I find all these pictures of him where he seems to be reaching out to us most disconcerting and I don’t like the prospect of seeing them in 3D.
So what else is up? Well, time is up as far as The Way Back and 127 Hours are concerned or will be come Friday. You still have a little time to catch them at The Carolina. Blue Valentine is still at The Carolina and the Fine Arts. But it’s been split with another title at The Carolina and is supposed to depart the Fine Arts next week, if nothing changes. In other words, this is very probably its last week. The King’s Speech and True Grit haven’t left anyplace. Black Swan is still at The Carolina and the Beaucatcher. And Another Year and Biutiful are remaining at The Carolina. It’s also worth noting that Asheville Pizza and Brewing is bringing in Raising Arizona (1987) for its 10 p.m. movie. And this is the Rocky Horror Picture Show weekend at The Carolina (11 p.m. Sat.).
This week’s Thursday Horror Picture Show is Robert Rodriguez’s From Dusk Till Dawn (1996) on Thu., Feb.10, at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s Lola (1981) is this week’s World Cinema title on Fri., Feb. 11, at 8 p.m. in the Railroad Library of the Phil Mechanic Building. The Hendersonville Film Society is showing The Night Visitor on Sun., Feb. 13, at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. And this week’s Asheville Film Society offering is Charles Chaplin’s City Lights (1931) on Tue., Feb. 15, at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina.
It’s Kind of a Funny Story is kind of a good movie and if you missed it in theaters, you can now see it on DVD. Tyler Perry’s For Colored Girls is not a good movie, but it’s a movie with good—sometimes at least close to great—things in it that’s ultimately compromised by Perry’s usual ham-fisted melodrama. Once was way more than enough for You Again, and I’m personally quite happy to never see Life As We Know It altogether. As for Paranormal Activity 2—well, it’s quite perfect for anyone who wants to be terrorized by a robotic pool cleaner.
Notable TV screenings
TCM is still in its “31 Days of Oscar” mode. I’m sure there’s some very fine stuff mixed in there, but you’re on your own to find it this week.