After the surprise box-office juggernaut of Fast Five week before last and the unsurprising box-office success of Thor, it comes as no great shock that the studios aren’t bringing out the big guns this week—especially when you consider that whatever opens this weekend is almost certain to get trounced next weekend when Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides comes out. So what do we get? Well, from the mainstream we have Bridesmaids and Priest (both opening everywhere except the Beaucatcher). On the art/indie side things look a little more interesting with Everything Must Go (opening at The Carolina and the Fine Arts).
Everything Must Go is the film from newcomer writer-director Dan Rush that’s adapted from a Raymond Carver short story—and presents Will Ferrell in a non-comedic role. I’ve already seen this one—the review is in this week’s Xpress—but I will say that it’s something of a surprise, even if you’re familiar with Ferrell in Marc Forster’s Stranger Than Fiction (2006).
That brings us to Bridesmaids—a female-centered raunch comedy from the Apatow Factory. Directed by Paul Feig—primarily known for TV work, but with a couple of non-starter theatrical films to his credit—and starring Kristen Wiig, who also co-wrote the screenplay, Bridesmaids has gotten surprisingly good early reviews. I’m not entirely sold myself, because I’ve seen other Apatow produced movies that I found mostly obnoxious get enthusiastic reviews. On the other hand, I like Kristen Wiig and I like co-star Maya Rudolph. Exactly what can be done with a wedding-preparations comedy remains to be seen, though this has to be more entertaining than last week’s Something Borrowed. Then again, my big toe is more entertaining than Something Borrowed.
Last year, director Scott Stewart and star Paul Bettany got together and made Legion, which turned out to be a jaw-droppingly bad, theologically specious and mind-numbingly dull horror picture. Well, now they’ve teamed up again to bring us Priest, which the studio describes as “a Western-fused post-apocalyptic thriller.” In other words, it sounds a lot like The Book of Eli with vampire action. Unlike Bridesmaids this has been getting really, really, really bad early reviews. Most times, I don’t pay much attention to reviews of horror movies—too many critics think they’re above such things. In this case, I’m not so sure—based on my last Stewart/Bettany experience, the PG-13 rating (yeah, I know, it didn’t hurt Insidious), and the fact that Cam Gigandet is in the cast. But who are we kidding? I’ll see it because it’s a horror picture. I’ll probably regret it, but I’ll see it.
In the area of what’s leaving and what’s staying, let’s note first off that Rubber will be history come Friday. I’m not sure why, since a movie about a killer tire ought to have found a niche in Asheville on quirk value alone, but the only thing I’ve seen have a worse opening weekend of late was Prom. On a happier note, The Conspirator, Of Gods and Men and Jane Eyre are holding at The Carolina. (So is the New Agey documentary I Am, though I’m less enthused about that. Sentient yogurt has its appeal, I guess.) Win Win is staying at the Fine Arts, but they’re dropping Jane Eyre to make room for Everything Must Go.
This week’s Thursday Horror Picture Show is a double feature of TV terror with the Thriller episode Pigeons from Hell (1961) and the TV movie The Night Stalker (1972) that introduced the world to Darren McGavin as Carl Kolchak. The films show on Thursday, May 12, at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. World Cinema has In the Mood for Love (2000) on Friday, May 13, at 8 p.m. in the Railroad Library in the Phil Mechanic Building. Frank Capra’s Lost Horizon (1937) is this week’s Hendersonville Film Society offering at 2 p.m. on Sunday, May 15, in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. The Asheville Film Society has Ken Russell’s Savage Messiah (1972) on Tuesday, May 17, at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. Reviews of all films are in this week’s Xpress.
Also up this week and worth the attention of anyone interested in the local filmmaking scene is David Saich’s debut film Scapegoat, which makes its bow at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 12, at the Fine Arts Theatre.
This week’s offerings are a mixed bag. Never having seen No Strings Attached and Justin Bieber: Never Say Never suits me just fine. I admit I’m a little curious about Black Death, which was given a free showing prior to ActionFest, but didn’t reappear and didn’t play here. Blue Valentine was definitely a once-was-enough proposition for me. Others may like it better. I Saw the Devil is a good—and disturbing—Korean film that almost no one went to see theatrically when it played here. I’ll be interested to hear if it fares better on DVD. In their constant efforts to squeeze every nickel out of their old movie library, Universal has brought out a stand-alone DVD of My Little Chickadee (1940), which has already been in at least two sets. Also going stand-alone are The Sign of the Cross (1932), Christmas in July (1940), and Hail the Conquering Hero (1944)—all of which have also been sold as parts of sets.
Notable TV screenings
I have fond memories of Tay Garnett’s Trade Winds (1938) and it’s showing on Wednesday, May 11, at 10 p.m. on TCM. It’s famous as the movie where Joan Bennett became a brunette. I’ll probably check it out, but I make no claims for its actual quality, since I was in high school when last I saw it. If you stick around till 3 a.m. you can try the feature film spin-off of Dark Shadows, House of Dark Shadows (1970). I saw this when it was new and was seriously underwhelmed, but it might look better now.
On Saturday, May 14, at 9:15 a.m., there’s Rene Clair’s first English-language film The Ghost Goes West (1936) with Robert Donat, Jean Parker and Eugene Pallette. It’s not up to Clair’s earlier French films, but it’s worth seeing, if you never have.