Assuming that you can get out of your house this weekend (something that’s not at all certain with me), there are three new movies opening on Friday: The Green Hornet, Made in Dagenham and The Dilemma. One of these I’ve seen. One of them I’m curious about. One of them makes me think being snowed in might not be so bad.
As this week’s Xpress will prove, the one I’ve already seen is Nigel Cole’s Made in Dagenham, a fact-based drama/comedy starring Sally Hawkins (Happy-Go-Lucky) and Bob Hoskins that opens at The Carolina. I’ll leave you to wait on the review, though I will say it got “Pick of the Week,” which probably tells you absolutely nothing since the competition was Country Strong and Season of the Witch.
Ron Howard’s The Dilemma presents no dilemma whatsoever for me—apart from making sure I don’t have to watch it. Here’s the idea: Vince Vaughn finds out that Winona Ryder is stepping out on husband Kevin James and has to decide whether or not to tell him. This idea is complicated by Ryder threatening to claim Vaughn is cheating on fiancée Jennifer Connelly. Now, the idea that Vaughn and James are paired up with Connelly and Ryder may make you think this is a science-fiction film, but there you would be wrong. This is a romantic comedy, designed to inspire laughter. The trailer suggests otherwise, though I am impressed that in addition to Ron casting dad Rance and little brother Clint in the film as usual, he’s actually gotten them into the previews this time. I believe that’s a first.
OK, The Green Hornet is far from being one of my favorite examples of old-time radio fare (The Shadow it ain’t). Plus, it was made into a TV series in the 1960s, which didn’t do much for me when I was 12. Let’s add to this the facts that I don’t find Seth Rogen a very appealing performer, the trailer looks pretty darn bad, and it’s not been shown to critics. And all that’s overlooking the fact that the damn thing is in 3-D. This looks pretty grim. But the fact that it was directed by Michel Gondry keeps me hoping against all reason that this might actually be good.
Now, aside from these three, all the choice items from Christmas—Black Swan, True Grit, The King’s Speech, I Love You, Phillip Morris—are still with us, so if you can hook up the sled dogs and make your way to the cinema, it’s not like there’s a lack of things to see—or even to see again.
Since we had to cancel tonight’s Asheville Film Society showing of Unfaithfully Yours because of the snow, I’m on the gun-shy side as concerns all the special showings. But for now, at least, we have a full set of screenings this week. Mario Bava’s Black Sunday (1960) is this week’s Thursday Horror Picture Show at 8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 13, in the Cinema Lounge of The Carolina. World Cinema has Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker (1979) at 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 14, at the Courtyard Gallery in the Phil Mechanic Studios building. The Name of the Rose (1986) is this week’s Hendersonville Film Society offering at 2 p.m Sunday, Jan. 16, in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. Mike Leigh’s Topsy-Turvy (1999) is the Asheville Film Society title for Tuesday, Jan. 18, at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina.
The big release this week is David Fincher’s The Social Network. If you missed it in the theaters, here’s your chance to find out what all the fuss is about. Of course, we also have Piranha and Alpha and Omega, the latter reminding me that Justin Souther’s birthday is coming up soon. On a somewhat happier note, there’s also the rather charming French romantic comedy Heartbreaker. And in the non-mainstream realm, there’s the inevitable “collector’s edition” of the 1940 serial The Green Hornet. Can’t imagine why that comes out this week.
Notable TV screenings
Of course, tomorrow (Jan. 12) is the continuation of the 24 hours of Laurel and Hardy short films (and a couple features) that starts at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 11.
Thursday finds a selection of Kay Francis movies during the day, starting at 7:15 a.m., with two of her best, Jewel Robbery and One Way Passage (both from 1932). Francis co-stars in each with William Powell. The first is a risqué comedy/romance, while the second is in the running for one of the top 10 romances of all time. That evening is given over to Peter Sellers movies starting at 8 p.m., with Only Two Can Play (1962). It’s followed by The Millionairess (1961), I Love You, Alice B. Toklas (1968), What’s New, Pussycat? (1965), After the Fox (1966) and The Bobo (1967). Are they all great? No, but it’s an interesting collection. If I had to pick one, it’d be What’s New, Pussycat?, which starts at 1:30 a.m.
On Sunday, Jan. 16, at 10:30 a.m., TCM has the Mae West picture I’m No Angel, which horrified the moralists in 1933 and was a key reason for the censorship that clamped down the next year. It’s still a bit surprising as concerns what she got away with. Late that night—so late that it’s really 4 a.m. Monday, Jan. 17—they have Richard Lester’s remarkable How I Won the War (1967) with Michael Crawford and John Lennon.
If you caught the Will Rogers A Connecticut Yankee (1931) a week or so ago, you might give a look-in on the Bing Crosby A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (1949) at 8 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 17. It’s the same story, but tailored for Bing with songs and Technicolor. It’s not bad at all, but I wouldn’t call it one of Crosby’s best.
On Tuesday, Jan. 18, the TCM salute to the Hal Roach studio continues for another 24-hour set starting at 8 p.m. with some curios from Roach’s TV production era: 10 episodes of Screen Directors Playhouse. As the series title indicates, these were TV shows (self-contained) made by established movie directors. I’ve never seen them, but the most interesting are probably “The Silent Partner” (1955) starring Buster Keaton and “The Sword of Villon” (1956) starring Errol Flynn. The TV shows are followed by an eclectic selection of Charley Chase, Taxi Boys, Boy Friends and Thelma Todd-ZaSu Pitts short films. Be on the lookout for the Charley Chase short Public Ghost No. 1 at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan 19. The whole thing is a must-see, if only for the scene where the genially insane Edwin Maxwell demonstrates his invention, the Simplex Fly Exterminator, to Charley. I’ll say no more about it, because it’s too good to spoil.