Owing to the wonderful world of screeners, I’ve seen all but two of the things opening this week, so it seems like a fairly light week from my perspective. Really, it isn’t, however, and it’s a week that has something for just about every taste I can think of: You’ve got toys, zombies, art-house fare (for those who don’t think zombies are) and a comic-book movie that hopes to be the next franchise. What more could you want? How about no less than six special screenings. (Now, you know why I put in about 20 hours on Sunday alone.)
In the land of the mainstream, the big thing is, of course, Toy Story 3 (in 3-D at some theaters on some screens). The chances of this not taking away first place at the box office from The Karate Kid seem slim to nonexistent—with or without that 3-D surcharge. It’s not just Pixar; it’s pre-sold Pixar. I’ve admitted elsewhere that I’m just not excited by the prospect. I’m sure the movie is fine—probably more than fine—but I simply can’t get worked up about it. Fortunately, a lot of people can, and I wish them the joy of it.
I think I’ll idle away my mainstream time with Jonah Hex this weekend. No, I don’t expect it to be good. The production has been troubled. They apparently hired the wrong director, which comes as no surprise to anyone but the studio. Let’s see, if you wanted someone to helm an action film with a mutilated hero, would your first choice be a guy whose only previous directorial credit was Horton Hears a Who? No? Well, that’s why neither you nor I will ever be heading up a studio. So what if they had to bring in somebody else to reshoot a rumored 40 percent of the footage? What mystifies me more than anything is that they had Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor (of Crank fame) right there—they wrote the screenplay—so why not tap them to direct? But that probably made too much sense.
Now, better judgment was shown in part of the casting. Josh Brolin and John Malkovich look like good choices for the title character and his nemesis respectively. At the very least, I’ve never seen either be actively bad. On the other hand, there’s Megan Fox, who I’ve only seen be passively good—in Jennifer’s Body—and that was a very near thing. Here, they not only expect her to act (on what evidence?), but to affect a kind of cowboy-picture Southern-ese. It is just possible—based on the trailer—that hiring the director of Horton Hears a Who was a minor gaffe by comparison. Still, I’m moderately interested.
The remainder of opening films I’ve seen—the reviews appear in tomorrow’s Xpress—meaning I won’t go into detail about them here. I will say that Please Give is good and is the kind of indie film that ought to please a number of people. If you liked Lovely and Amazing (2001)—by the same director, Nicole Holofcener, and also starring Catherine Keener—chances are you’ll like this. It opens Friday at the Fine Arts.
What is there to be said about George A. Romero’s Survival of the Dead? Well, quite a lot actually, but I said most of it in the review. I’ll go so far as to say that I liked it more than I didn’t—and, yes, I know that’s a very unhip view to take. It’s definitely on the loopy side—but I think that was intentional. In any case, it does deliver all the requisite gut-munching zombie mayhem audiences have come to demand of the undead. Yes, intestines will be eaten and zombies will be sent to their just desserts in various juicy ways.
But there’s more to tell. For those of you who take your zombies seriously, the Carolina is giving out free passes to the first 25 viewers who lurch up to the box office dressed in zombie regalia to the 7:10 p.m. show on Friday. Those of you who care for this sort of thing should probably brush up on your lurching now.
On tap in special movies, there’s an abundance of choices—The Sentinel (Thursday Horror Picture Show, Thursday at 8 p.m., Carolina Cinema), Twenty-Four Eyes (World Cinema, Friday at 8 p.m., Courtyard Gallery), Chinatown (Hendersonville Film Society, Sunday at 2 p.m., Lake Pointe Landing) and Twentieth Century (Asheville Film Society, Tuesday at 8 p.m., Carolina Cinema). Plus, there are works by local filmmakers—Thomas W. Oliver’s Raven Fork and Chris Bower’s Solatrium, which is paired with Daniel Judson’s The Transmission—this week at the Fine Arts. Reviews and more information are in this week’s Xpress or in the online edition, which goes up about midnight tonight.
The Square, The Secret of Kells and Casino Jack and the United States of Money all take their leave of us on Friday, so if you’re interested, now is the time. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is leaving the Fine Arts on Friday, too, but it’s resurfacing at the Carolina, so it can still be seen for another week at least. The very fine (see tomorrow’s review) The Secret in Their Eyes is held over this coming week at the Fine Arts.
My bank account will appreciate the fact that this is a slack week in terms of DVD releases. Last week’s pair of box sets, plus Shutter Island, took their toll. I won’t be buying The Book of Eli, but the fact that it’s on Justin Souther’s list in the top 10 of the year means I at least have every intention of finally catching up with it. I may also—on his recommendation—check out Youth in Revolt, but I managed to miss When in Rome when it came out, too, and I don’t think that omission needs rectifying.
Notable TV screenings
I hate to say it, but it’s another one of those weeks—again. If anyone spots some must-see title that escaped my notice, please feel free to post it, below.