Last week was pretty much given over to Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. This week is more diverse with two new art titles—13 Assassins (Carolina) and The Double Hour (Fine Arts)—and two mainstream ones—The Hangover Part II (everywhere but Carmike) and Kung Fu Panda (everywhere but Beaucatcher). It’s an interesting array at the very least.
Some of you may have caught Takashi Miike’s 13 Assassins at ActionFest. I didn’t, but Justin Souther did, and told me it was the best thing he’d seen all year. I can’t say that I thought the trailer exactly bore this out, but I caught up with the film over the weekend (review appears in this week’s paper) and damned if he wasn’t right. This is at least close to Seven Samurai territory. I’ve also seen The Double Hour (also reviewed in this week’s Xpress), which is a first-rate mystery thriller with more twists and turns than you can shake a stick at—assuming you’d want to do such a thing.
Those titles open on Friday, but the mainstream movies both open on Thursday—presumably to get as much good as possible out of the Memorial Day weekend. Both are sequels and I wouldn’t be expecting either one to depart very much from the formula that made the originals hits.
I never saw the original The Hangover (2009), but Justin Souther did, and his review did nothing to make me think I should. Now, if I was the suspicious type, I’d think those responsible for the new film—primarily those responsible for the last one—were trying to lure me into seeing the sequel by giving it simian value. And I admit that the prospect of a cigarette smoking money is not without its inducements, but I think this might be better left to Mr. Souther, since he saw the first one, and this looks like more of the same—with a monkey and more expensive location work. I like the stars well enough—Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifiankis, Justin Bartha—but I can’t say I’ve ever forgiven director Todd Phillips for Old School (2003) or School for Scoundrels (2006).
I think my energies might be better spent on Kung Fu Panda 2. I liked the original well enough and most of my reasons for liking it seem to be in place with the sequel. The first film could have made it just on the interplay between Jack Black and Dustin Hoffman, but it had more going for it than that. One of the things in its favor was that it was visually impressive—making this one case where I’m curious to see if 3D mightn’t actually be an enhancement and not just a ticket-price-inflating gimmick.
Making very quick departures this week are The Greatest Movie Ever Sold (perhaps I’m not the only person who sees Morgan Spurlock and wants to throw something) and Bloodworth (both at The Carolina)—neither of which will be more than a memory come Friday. Potiche and Everything Must Go are going to be sharing the upstairs screen at the Fine Arts to make room for The Double Hour. Everything Must Go is keeping a full set of shows at The Carolina, while The Conspirator is amazingly hanging on for another week of almost full shows.
Owing to the Twin Rivers Media Festival, there’s no movie from World Cinema this week, but check out the article on the festival in this week’s paper or go to twinriversmediafestival.com for more information. This week’s Thursday Horror Picture Show is Dario Argento’s Inferno (1980) on Thursday., May 26, at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. Delbert Mann’s Desire Under the Elms (1958) is the film from the Hendersonville Film Society on Sunday, May 29, at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. The Asheville Film Society is screening Frank Borzage’s 7th Heaven (1927) at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, May 31, in the Cinema Longe at The Carolina. More on all the films can be found in this week’s Xpress.
For more on the Twin Rivers Media Festival go to: http://www.mountainx.com/ae/2011/twin_rivers_media_festival_2011
I can honestly think of nothing more absolutely horrifying than the announcement that an extended version of the already 229 minute butt-numbing fiasco known as Gods and Generals (2003), yet this is what I have read. Sweet Jesus! Why? That news is almost enough to make me want to sit through I Am Number Four again. I mean, I didn’t mind it once but once was definitely a gracious plenty and it wasn’t good, it just wasn’t painful. Gnomeo and Juliet—which earned me a nasty letter to the editor of dubious authenticity—wasn’t actually painful either, but as an admirer of garden gnomes and Elton John (1969-1975 era anyway), it was somewhat embarrassing.
Notable TV screenings
Since TCM has given over the entire weekend to war movies, there’s not much doing there—unless you like war movies, of course. However, I noted a couple of interesting things on earlier. The Man with Two Faces (1934), 9:30 p.m., Wednesday, May 25, is a movie I don’t know at all. The existence of a 1934 film that I’ve never seen intrigues me from the onset. That it stars Edward G. Robinson and was adapted from a play by George S. Kaufman and Alexander Woolcott makes me know what I’ll be doing on Wednesday night. And it’s followed by The Doorway to Hell (1930) at 11 p.m.—an early gangster film (we’re talking pre-Little Caesar early) that usually gets short shrift. I suspect that has a lot to do with the atypical casting of youthful Lew Ayres as a gangster with James Cagney shunted to a supporting role as Ayres’ duplicitous lawyer. Actually, I think the casting works and I’ve liked the film since I first saw it on TV in a motel room in Fort Lauderdale when I was about 12.