Put bluntly, last week’s releases were pretty darn grim. When the best thing that opened—apart from the art title Of Gods and Men—was an action movie starring Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, and Dwayne Johnson. you know things weren’t looking any too rosy. What of this week? Well, there are two indies—Rubber and I Am (both at The Carolina)—two rom-coms of sorts—Jumping the Broom and Something Borrowed (everywhere but Carmike)—and, of course, Thor (again, everywhere but Carmike). So what of them? What indeed.
I’ve already seen both I Am and Rubber, meaning the reviews will be in this week’s paper. However, it bears remarking at any opportunity that Rubber is one of the damndest things I’ve encountered in some considerable time. Anyone out there who’s interested in movies that are not your average multiplex fare needs to see this one. Even if you end up hating it and think it’s fuller of crap than a Christmas turkey, you need to see it.
But then there are the other three—two of which are probably negligible both as movies and as box office contenders.
Let’s be honest here, is there anything about Jumping the Broom that doesn’t look like it could have easily have been in last year’s abominable Our Family Wedding? It’s really just another culture clash comedy of warring parents of the betrothed. This time it’s an upscale black mother vs. a working-class black mother. That differs from upscale black dad vs. working class (but prosperous) Latino dad only in gender and ethnicity. And something tells me that Jumping the Broom won’t even afford the spectacle of a Viagra-fueled goat pursuing Forest Whitaker with connubiality on its mind. I don’t think the presence of Bishop T.D. Jakes among the producers bodes well for that eventuality. After all, Jakes is the man who passed up the opportunity to have a real hit with Woman Thou Art Loosed (2004) by not dropping that “d” from the title.
I could be charitably minded and note that the director of Something Borrowed, Luke Greenfield, also made the surprisingly decent The Girl Next Door (2004), but it’s hard to overlook the fact that he also made the infamous Rob Schneider “comedy” The Animal (2001). This one’s based on an apparently popular book of the same name, and it stars Ginnifer Goodwin as the perpetually unattached Rachel, who is in love with the fiance (TV actor Colin Egglesfield) of her self-centered best friend Darcy (Kate Hudson). Things get complicated when Rachel sleeps with said fiance. The trailer looks both irritating and predictable, while the smattering of early reviews bear this out. Look, when you can’t get at least one of Australia’s “Urban Cinephiles” (they appear to be Australia’s answer to Pete Hammond) to give your movie a good review, you’re in trouble.
Frankly, no one cares about these movies anyway. This is the week Kenneth Branagh goes comic book on us with Thor, which has already been out in the UK and Australia and which has gotten mostly positive (as opposed to enthusiastic) reviews from those shores—not to mention from the curiously unimpressive array of select US reviewers who’ve weighed in. Those few reviewers who have not liked it are now buried in the backyard by fanboys in need of that 100 percent approval rating to validate their own taste. At this point, I have little opinion. The cast is good (though whether Chris Hemsworth can beat Vincent D’Onofrio’s imaginary Thor in Adventures in Babysitting is another matter). The production values look to be first rate. But the trailer left me at best tepid. I am, however, relieved to see that the originally reported running time of 130 minutes now seems to be only 114.
Departing this week is, unfortunately, Super (Carolina), but I’m not overwhelmingly surprised. You still have a few days to catch it. Also making a very quick exit from The Carolina is Dylan Dog: Dead of Night, but having seen the film, I’m not exactly surprised at this either. It’s hanging on at the Carmike—I suspect less out of choice than lack of options. Jane Eyre is sticking around both The Carolina and the Fine Arts. Win Win is staying at the Fine Arts. The Conspirator and Of Gods and Men are good for another week at The Carolina, but I wouldn’t expect either to stay any longer than that.
The Hendersonville Film Society isn’t with us this week because of Mother’s Day, but they’ll be back next week. The Thursday Horror Picture Show screens Boris Karloff in the once-lost The Ghoul (1933) in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina on Thursday, May 5, at 8 p.m. World Cinema is showing Nicolas Roeg’s Walkabout (1971) at 8 p.m. Friday, May 6, in the Railroad Library of the Phil Mechanic Building. Marc Forster’s Stranger Than Fiction (2006) in this week’s Asheville Film Society title on Tuesday, May 10, at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. More on all three titles in this week’s Xpress.
I liked Michel Gondry’s The Green Hornet more than a lot of people, but I’m not sure I have any desire to see it again. I know if I do, I won’t bother with the lousy post-production 3D-ified version. I have no dilemma at all about The Dilemma. To watch or not to watch? Not.
Notable TV screenings
I’m not saying it’s exactly good, but Alan Crosland’s Big Boy (1930) is on TCM Wednesday, May 4, at 7:15 a.m. This is the film version of one of Al Jolson’s Broadway shows and it doesn’t show up all that often because, unlike his other movies where he may have a couple of numbers in blackface, here he’s in blackface for the entire film as Gus, the trainer of the titular racehorse. Typically, it’s the white characters who come off the worst in the film, which makes it kind of interesting. All the same, the approach is bound to upset some viewers. At the very end, Jolie comes out of blackface and appears as himself, which complicates things even further when he ends the picture with a joke about being Jewish. It was a very different era.