There are no mysteries this week—four movies are definitely opening on local screens. Come Friday, one horror movie, The Rite, one action picture, The Mechanic, and two art house films, Blue Valentine and Tiny Furniture will all be festooning our screens with cinematic delights. Well, with cinematic something. The delight part remains to be seen.
Actually, this is one of those weeks where I’ve already seen two of the titles opening (this should be true next week as well)—and as usual, those are the art house ones. My review for Blue Valentine—which opens at The Carolina and the Fine Arts—(interest in which may be goosed thanks to Michelle Williams’ Best Actress Oscar nomination) will be in this week’s Xpress, as will Justin Souther’s review for Tiny Furniture—which opens at The Carolina. (I saw it, but I didn’t review it). That’s all I have to say on the topic—at least for now (he said ominously).
So what are we to make of Simon West’s The Mechanic? Well, it’s a remake of a 1972 Michael Winner picture starring Charles Bronson. This in itself has proved amusing since the mere existence of this new version with Jason Statham has drawn Bronson fans from the four corners in the IMDb to express their great displeasure. (I was surprised to find that there still are Bronson fans. I have not been surprised by their level of literacy.) My personal favorite is a “review” from a really hardcore Bronsonphile (he has awarded 10 out of 10 to nearly every movie Bronson ever made), who almost certainly hasn’t seen the new movie. He and I may end up with that much in common, since it looks like the review will fall to Mr. Souther.
Mikael Hafstrom’s The Rite, on the other hand, belongs to me, even though I’m prepared for it to disappoint. I wasn’t that impressed with Hafstrom’s 1408, but it wasn’t bad. I’ve never seen the Brit TV star Colin O’Donoghue, but I’m favorably inclined toward the rest of the cast—Anthony Hopkins, Alice Braga, Ciaran Hinds, Rutger Hauer, Toby Jones. Oh, sure, Hopkins can easily slip into auto-pilot mode whenever a paycheck is the only motivation, but his presence does add tone to the proceedings. The PG-13 rating is a little worrisome, and the fact that no one at all seems to have been allowed to see this is even more so. All the same, I’ll be there.
Now, as concerns the broader picture, let’s take immediate note of the departure (which slightly surprised me) of Made in Dagenham, which leaves The Carolina. Black Swan leaves the Fine Arts to make room for Blue Valentine, but it hangs on at The Carolina. I’m glad to see that The Way Back did surprisingly well this past weekend and is staying at The Carolina. The King’s Speech and True Grit show no sign of going anywhere—especially after the Oscar noms came out. I Love You, Phillip Morris is sticking around (Carolina) for another week, but it’s on a split bill come Friday, so I wouldn’t expect to be around much longer. Apparently in anticipation of a nomination for Robert Duvall (he didn’t get it), Regal booked Get Low into the Beaucatcher if you missed it on the first go around.
Before getting to the usual stuff, let me point out that there’s a free ActionFest preview screening of Black Death starring Sean Bean, David Warner and Carice van Houten this Friday at 10 p.m. at The Carolina. So how do you get tickets? Well, you toddle on down to Orbit DVD, Harvest Records, TV Eye, Pastimes, or Comic Envy and say the secret password—“ActionFest 2011”—whereupon a pair of tickets will be yours. Only one pair per person, of course, and this is “while supplies last” thing. They should be already, so don’t dawdle.There will be more information on this in the paper.
On the regular front, the Thursday Horror Picture Show has Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) this Thursday (funny how that works), Feb. 27, at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. World Cinema is screening Akira Kurosawa’s High and Low (1963) in the Railroad Library at the Phil Mechanic Building. The Night They Raided Minsky’s (1968) is the week’s offering from the Hendersonville Film Society at 2 p.m.on Sun., Jan.30, in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. Since snow killed off the original attempt by the Asheville Film Society to show Preston Sturges’ Unfaithfully Yours (1948) a second attempt is being made to show this on Tue., Feb. 1, (not Feb. 2 as it says in the paper) at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. Let’s hope the weatherpersons are good to us.
Well, it won’t be the big title for most people, but for me this week is mostly notable for the very fine Nowhere Boy, which came and went with almost no one noticing at the Beaucatcher. I’m hoping that it gets a little—or even a lot—more attention on DVD. Next in line, for me, is The Girl Who Kicked Hornet’s Nest. While neither it, nor The Girl Who Played with Fire was in the same league as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, it’s still a good movie and a solid climactic entry in the trilogy. RED was fine in the theater, but I can’t say I’m compelled to see it again. Ditto Saw 3D, which is now Saw: The Final Chapter with its extra dimension missing. I didn’t like Secretariat in the theater and I’m leaving the experience there.
Notable TV screenings
Before TCM settles in for its annual “31 Days of Oscar” (which is occasionally blessed by nominees that didn’t win), there are a few titles worth noting.
On Wed., Jan. 26, at 11:30 p.m. they have the not often seen Robert Siodmak noir Phantom Lady (1944). It’s a good deal shy of greatness, but it’s certainly worth a look. Better still, it’s followed (at 1 a.m.) by Rouben Mamoulian’s glorious Love Me Tonight (1932) starring Maurice Chevalier and Jeanette MacDonald. If you missed this gem when the Asheville Film Society ran it a while back, you can gain some small measure of redemption by catching it here.
The Peter Sellers Tribute concludes with Man in a Cocked Hat (1960), Being There (1979), Dr. Stangelove Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), Lolita (1962), and tom thumb (1958)—starting at 8 p.m., Thu. Jan. 27. I admit I adored George Pal’s tom thumb when I was four years old. I am very much no longer four years old and am not getting suckered into seeing it again, but the first four are notable.
I’ve never been all that on German filmmaker G.W. Pabst (his name got bandied around a lot in Inglourious Basterds last year), but I’m prepared to give him another chance with three movies —Pandora’s Box (1929), The 3 Penny Opera (1931), A Modern Hero (1934)—that start at midnight Sunday (into Monday) Jan. 30, and run all night. I’m particularly curious about his one-shot American film that concludes the set.