It’s Harry Potter week. What more do you want? Well, the folks at Disney seem to think you want some kind of quasi reboot of Winnie the Pooh, which I guess works for younger children and those who think Harry Potter movies are only a step removed from attending a Satanic mass. Plus, the art film is alive and well with Queen to Play at The Carolina and Beginners at the Fine Arts. Put mildly, I’ve seen less enticing weeks—like last week and the week before. If I never encounter two weeks in a row like that again, I’ll be perfectly cool with that.
In the art film realm, I’ve already seen Queen to Play—and will be seeing at again on Wednesday when I host the Asheville Film Society member screening of it at The Carolina. The review for it will be in this week’s paper, but I’ll go ahead and tell you now that it’s far and away the most charming movie I’ve seen this year. And, yes, it’s in French and, yes, Kevin Kline speaks French in it. And so far as I can tell, it’s perfectly good French, but my high-school level French doesn’t extend very far beyond asking where library is or noting that the snow is beautiful today—and since neither phrase appeared in the film, I’m hardly an expert judge in the matter. Let us simply say that it sounds pretty good to me. You may be relieved to to learn that Jennifer Beals, who is also in the film, says very little and is playing an American.
It’s been six years since Mike Mills brought us Thumbsucker and while I can’t say I’ve been burning up with anticipation for his next film (nothing against Thumbsucker, but it’s not a movie that stayed on the tip of my brain), I’m certainly glad to see a new film from him—especially in the rather grim movie year of 2011. That his new film Beginners stars Christopher Plummer and Ewan McGregor is also a plus. Apparently, the film exists in three different time frames that it moves in and out of as it charts the story of a young man (McGregor) dealing with the death of his father (Plummer)—right on the heels of dealing with the old boy’s revelation that he’s gay—as well as having to tussle with problems of his own. For those living in fear of the fact that the movie has a talking dog, it should be noted that the talking doesn’t appear to be conversational and is conveyed in subtitles.
Then there’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, about which there’s probably not much that needs to be said. It seems hard to believe that the series is 10 years old. It’s even harder to believe that it hasn’t always existed, since it’s become such a touchstone of pop culture. (And, no, I don’t care if you hate the movies and have never seen one—an interesting combination—the pop culture significance is hard to deny.) If I flog my memory, I can recall when I’d never heard of Harry Potter. After all, I got along for 46 years without a Harry Potter movie. When the first one came out, I’d virtually no clue what it was all about. And now we’ve come to the final installment. I have vague notions of watching all the films in order, but with any luck that will pass. (And I’m not sure I have four and five.)
The fear is whether it can live up to expectations. (I clearly remember my feelings about the ending on the original film—“The one thing Harry Potter so desperately needs, it doesn’t have: an impressive climax. It duplicates the book’s ending in such a thoroughly dull and mechanical manner that it’s utterly anticlimactic.”) Right now, the reviews indicate that it will not disappoint. (The only dissenters so far are those people from Australia’s Urban Cinephiles, whose judgment is … dubious.) Now, some have claimed that the reviews are skewed positive because they’re mostly from Great Britain—a claim that betrays a degree of ignorance over the fact that Brits like nothing better than trashing their own. (In terms of a sense of cultural inferiority, the U.K. rivals the U.S.)
If anyone cares—and I confess I don’t—that leaves us with Winnie the Pooh. When I was very young, I liked the books. But I can’t say the movies ever appealed to me. And I most certainly don’t care for the fellow who impersonates Sterling Holloway doing Pooh’s voice. At the same time, I’m sure it will appeal to those who liked the earlier movies.
Leaving town this week is Cave of Forgotten Dreams. Somewhat surprisingly, TrollHunter is hanging on for another week at The Carolina, albeit only at 10:15 p.m. The Tree of Life leaves the Fine Arts, but is staying at The Carolina. The surprise hit Buck is definitely staying for another week at The Carolina as well. The seemingly unstoppable Midnight in Paris is still at both The Carolina and the Fine Arts. Fans of the esoteric may wish to take note that David Lynch’s Eraserhead at 10 p.m. on Thursday, July 21.
This week the Thursday Horror Picture Show has the Karloff-Lugosi thriller The Invisible Ray (1936) on Thursday, July 14, at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. Andrei Tarkovsky’s Andrei Rublev (1966) is this week’s World Cinema offering at 8 p.m. on Friday, July 15, at 8 p.m. in the Railroad Library in the Phil Mechanic Building. Roger Corman’s The Masque of the Red Death (1964) is presented by the Hendersonville Film Society on Sunday, July 17, at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. Peter Greenaway’s Prospero’s Books (1991) is the film from the Asheville Film Society on Tuesday, July 19, at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina.
It should also be noted that there’s a single showing of Shoals at 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 16, at the Fine Arts Theatre. And, if you’re a member of the Asheville Film Society—and (shameless plug) if you aren’t you ought to be—there’s a free (it’s one of the perks of membership) members only screening of Queen to Play at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 13, in one of the downstairs theaters at The Carolina. More on all titles can be found in this week’s Xpress.
Notable TV Screenings
Yes, it’s one of those weeks on TCM. Oh, there’s some aces things on, sure, but it’s all in the realm of the usual aces things, unless I’ve missed something. Let the TCM listings be your guide.