Only three movies come our way this week—two in the mainstream realm and one art title. One the mainstream side we get Captain America: The First Avenger and Friends with Benefits. Neither of these carry anything like the level of Harry Potter excitement—and I am skeptical (oh, yes, skeptical) that either will dethrone Mr. Potter as the top-of-the-pops movie. Submarine (which takes place in Wales and not on a submarine)—opening this Friday at The Carolina—certainly has no such aims, but that doesn’t keep it from being one of the best movies I’ve seen this year.
As you may gather from the opening paragraph, I’ve already seen Submarine—and the review will appear in this week’s paper—but I have no qualms about saying here and now that this debut film from Richard Ayoade is the most exciting filmmaking I’ve seen in 2011. The film and the style have been likened to Wes Anderson’s work—especially Rushmore (1998)—but that’s hardly the whole story. Read the review and then go see for yourself. I haven’t seen a debut work this impressive since Rian Johnson’s Brick (2006). The difference here is that nobody booked Brick locally, but Submarine is another story. It’s frankly just the kind of movie that history tells us ought to be a good fit with Asheville audiences.
Of course, if you insist, there’s also Captain America: The First Avenger—a movie I remain unconvinced anyone wants all that much. By that I simply mean that I’ve yet to run into a single person telling me that this is one of the summer movies they’ve been waiting for. Oh, it’ll probably do all right—and now that I’ve made an issue of its anticipation status (or lack thereof), someone will doubtless tell me it’s the one movie they’ve waited for all year. Really, the cast is fine, the director is OK, and the trailer doesn’t look bad. My own familiarity with the character is based entirely on having sat through the entire 1944 serial in 1976 while dealing with an infant with the colic. I’ve never decided which was more tiresome—the baby or the serial. I will say that the trailer for the new film looks considerably more entertaining. I do find it “interesting”—and not in a good way—that no reviews seem to have sneaked out yet.
And then there’s Friends with Benefits, which I’d normally be writing off as yet another rom-com with that concept as its hook—and, of course, that R rating for a dollop of raunch dressing. What gives me cause for pause is how very good director Will Gluck’s Easy A was last year—and with even less promising material. It helps that two of the actors—Patricia Clarkson and Emma Stone—from Easy A are on board here, though in what capacity remains unclear. Stars Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake are agreeable performers, too. So just maybe this will be a pleasant surprise.
The only title of note that’s taking its leave this week is TrollHunter, but that’s not exactly unexpected. Both Beginners and Midnight in Paris are staying at the Fine Arts, and Midnight is also hanging in nicely at The Carolina—and it’s also opening at the Flatrock Cinema this week. Queen to Play is sticking around another week at The Carolina, but it’s being cut to three shows a day. Buck and The Tree of Life are also on the bill there for at least one more week.
In addition to the usual set of special screenings, this week, there’s the single showing of the 1933 King Kong on Wednesday, July 20, at 7:30 p.m. at The Carolina. This is an Asheville Film Society fundraiser—tickets are $5 for AFS members and $9.75 for the general public—and are on sale now.
The Thursday Horror Picture Show this week is the Hammer horror The Kiss of the Vampire (1963) at 8 p.m. on Thursday, July 21, in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. World Cinema has Seraphine on Friday, July 22, at 8 p.m. in the Railroad Library at the Phil Mechanic building. Roger Corman’s The Secret Invasion (1964) is this week’s title at the Hendersonville Film Society on Sunday, July 24, at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. The Deanna Durbin romantic comedy It Started with Eve (1941) is this week’s Asheville Film Society offering on Tuesday, July 26, at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. More on all titles in this week’s Xpress.
Limitless and Take Me Home Tonight appear to be the “big” releases this week. I’ve seen neither and don’t have any burning desire to correct that. I have seen Potiche, which also makes it DVD bow this week, and it I can recommend.
Notable TV screenings
I hate to sound like the proverbial broken record, but once again TCM appears to be offeing us nothing out of the ordinary this week.