In the immortal words of the immortal Groucho Marx when faced with Chico’s piano solo in the immortal Horse Feathers (1932), “I’ve got to stay here, but there’s no reason you folks shouldn’t go out into the lobby till this thing blows over.” If it weren’t for Harry Brown opening, that would be exactly how I would feel about this week’s movies. In fact, that’s exactly how I do feel about the week’s two mainstream offerings.
Except to note that Harry Brown is definitely worth your while—assuming the often brutal violence doesn’t put you off—I’ll make you wait until the review comes out in this week’s Xpress to tell you why. Instead, let’s face the grim fact that The Twilight Saga: Eclipse is opening tomorrow—or tonight if you count the midnight shows. Those of you who are fans of this series—you’re obviously out there because you keep throwing money at the damned franchise—are well aware of its arrival. You may, in fact, be planning on gorging yourself with the screenings of the first two installments that some theaters are offering prior to the midnight premiere of the third. Those of us who are not fans should probably just hide under the bed.
There are rumors flying around that this entry is better than its predecessors. As an accomplishment that pales in comparison to stating that Scared Stiff (1953) is better than any other Dean Martin-Jerry Lewis film—even the bar there was higher than that set by the first Twilight movies. (Plus, Dean and Jerry had the advantage of Carmen Miranda being added to the mix, and I know that’s not happening here.) There may, however, be more plot this round. I don’t know because I have yet to see the film for myself, but how it’s not going to be basically more of the same is baffling. Look, it’s going to have Bella (Kristen Stewart, using up all the good will The Runaways created for me) being all icky and indecisive over vampire Edward (Robert Pattinson) and werewolf Jacob (Taylor Lautner). And based on the other two films, it’s perfectly obvious that Edward would be happier with a full-length mirror and Jacob really wants to run around naked in the woods with the boys. I don’t see how that’s going to alter significantly.
Maybe I’m wrong—and since I have to sit through it (I’m working up the courage for midnight), I hope I am. If nothing else, I have to admit I’ve been enjoying the IMDb message boards, which consist of pages and pages of oohing, ahhing and fighting with the “haters.” (In retaliation, the “haters” have managed to drag the utterly meaningless IMDb rating down to 3.3 out of 10.) Alas, my favorite thread—the one about Stephenie Meyer supposedly hating gays—seems to have vanished. But there are compensations—like the user review that claims that Jumper (2008) is the greatest movie ever made. You just don’t see that every day.
And then on Thursday—yes, I found out it’s opening on Thursday for no apparent reason—M. Night Shyamalan’s The Last Airbender crashes the party. How Mr. Shyamalan got to make anything after Lady in the Water (2006) and The Happening (2008) is hard to understand. Yeah, I kind of liked Lady in the Water (no one else did) and The Happening was so dumb and worthless that I felt sorry for it, but he wouldn’t be on the short list of people I’d give millions of dollars to to make a movie. But here he is with the big-screen version of a Nickelodeon-animated series that the studio assures us is popular—something that I can neither prove nor disprove. A coating of after-the-fact 3-D-eification is supposed to help. All I can say is that tower on the right in the photo beside this paragraph looks mighty Freudian to me.
Of course, there’s still Harry Brown, which comes with the bonus that the Carolina will be running free screenings of three earlier Michael Caine actioners—Ronald Neame’s Gambit (1966), Ken Russell’s Billion Dollar Brain (1967) and Peter Collinson’s The Italian Job (1969)—for free in the Cinema Lounge on Friday and Saturday. The three films run at 1 p.m., 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. respectively. Theoretically, you could make a whole day of Michael Caine, if you were so inclined.
The Secret in Their Eyes and Please Give are both holding steady at the Fine Arts, while the same is true of Solitary Man, Mother and Child and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo at the Carolina. On the other hand, The Good, the Bad, the Weird (people do not know what they’re missing!) and Survival of the Dead—both at the Carolina—have been relegated to one show a day (the last show). Both How to Train Your Dragon and Kick-Ass (10 p.m. only) are still in residence at Asheville Pizza and Brewing.
This week’s Thursday Horror Picture Show is the X-rated Blood for Dracula—aka Andy Warhol’s Dracula—an outrageous curio of the genre from 1974, showing at 8 p.m. World Cinema presents the lovely The Burmese Harp at 8 p.m. on Friday, and the Asheville Film Society honors the late Dennis Hopper at 8 p.m. on Tuesday with David Lynch’s Blue Velvet. More information about these are in tomorrow’s paper and in the online edition of Xpress, which will change over around midnight tonight.
I can’t get all that enthused about the DVD debut of The Crazies, which I enjoyed on its own limited merits theatrically. At best, it’s a rental, but that might be more than can be said about Hot Tub Time Machine and Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief. Since I’ve seen neither, I have no opinion—beyond noting that I have a hard time imagining the merits of a movie called Hot Tub Time Machine. You’d probably be better advised all the way around to consider Michael Haneke’s The White Ribbon, which played here briefly and almost no one went to. Perhaps it will find a more congenial home at home.
Notable TV screenings
Once again, nothing leaps out at me—other than things I’ve already suggested on other weeks. Take a look for yourself and maybe you’ll have better luck. My own weekend will be taken up with screenings of the new Jean-Pierre Jeunet film Micmacs and what is supposedly the most shocking, depraved and disgusting movie of our age, The Human Centipede, both of which open next Friday.