Well, here we go again—and, no, I don’t mean the fact that another Tyler Perry movie is coming out. Once more, a title has sneaked into town while I wasn’t looking (or at least after the print deadline). The week started out with the promise of For Colored Girls, The Tillman Story, Due Date and Megamind. Then last night out of nowhere Nowhere Boy was added to the list. I’m not complaining, mind you, because it’s a film I’m actually anxious to see, and one I was beginning to think was passing us by altogether.
Since I have no idea which of the mainstream titles—that is everything except Nowhere Boy and The Tillman Story—is the most anticipated (it’s probably a case of demographics), I’ll take them on alphabetically, I reckon. That means we’ll start with Due Date, the updated rethinking of Planes, Trains & Automobiles (1987), even if it technically isn’t. It’s Todd Phillips’ (of course) R-rated follow-up to his R-rated hit The Hangover, the movie that catapulted Zach Galifianakis to stardom. Mr. G. is back again, teamed with Robert Downey Jr. as the hapless guy who gets trapped into a road trip with Galifianakis’ character, who, according to the trailers, may be the world’s dumbest human being. The film will likely rise or fall based entirely on their chemistry. Nothing in the trailer suggests it has anything else particularly fresh about it.
Tyler Perry’s For Colored Girls is the film version of the play For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf. Presumably, its title had to be shortened for the Twitter generation. It marks a departure for Perry, since this is the first time he has worked from material that isn’t his. As usual, he has managed to corral a sizable amount of talent and/or recognizable names—Kimberly Elise, Janet Jackson, Loretta Devine, Thandie Newton, Kerry Washington, Whoopi Goldberg—to aid him in his efforts. Early word has it that Mr. Perry has wrestled the play to the ground and turned it into yet another of his overheated soap operas. I already know I have to find out for myself. The rest of you have a choice.
Megamind—inevitably in 3-D on some screens—is the latest bout of animation from Dreamworks and the first from director Tom McGrath since Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa (2008). There are the anticipated pricey voice actors—in this case, Will Ferrell, Brad Pitt, Tina Fey, Jonah Hill, Ben Stiller—though I’ve yet to be convinced that voice actors really sell animated films. (They must do something, since Hollywood has been using them at least as far back as 1960 with the American dubbing of Alakazam the Great.) The trades—Hollywood Reporter and Variety—are split on it. I admit that the trailer doesn’t excite me much. It just looks too much like Despicable Me all over again.
Then there are the “art” titles. Sam Taylor Wood’s Nowhere Boy—a film about John Lennon’s (Aaron Johnson) pre-Beatles teenage years—has gotten good reviews. It rates an 82 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. It has not—despite the presence of Kristin Scott Thomas as Lennon’s Aunt Mimi—been raking in the money, even on the art circuit. This may or may not have something to do with the, shall we say, quixotic manner in which the Weinstein’s have been handling their product this year. Perhaps it’s just too specialized. In any case, it’s probably the film I’m most interested in seeing. That it has been booked into the Beaucatcher will likely not help matters. Nothing against the Beaucatcher, but art and indie titles have not traditionally fared well there.
Speaking of the quixotic Weinstein’s and strong approval ratings, the Fine Arts opens The Tillman Story this week. This is Amir Bar-Levi’s acclaimed documentary about NFL player Pat Tillman who walked away from a multimillion-dollar contract to go fight in Iraq and who was killed by friendly fire. His death was then used for propaganda purposes by the military, turning him into something he never was or intended to be. This film comes to town with a 92-percent approval rating. It boasts 71 good reviews against six bad ones. Considering that one of the bad ones comes from the ever-popular Armond White, a lot of people would probably lower the number to five.
As for what stays and what goes this week, I’m going ahead and telling you that the Weekly Pick in this week’s Xpress is Jack Goes Boating. Why am I telling you this before the issue hits the streets? Simply because it fared so poorly over the weekend that this Thursday is its last day. So if you have any interest in it, a certain degree of hurry-up is involved. It’s briefly at the Fine Arts. Departing from The Carolina is Never Let Me Go, though You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, Heartbreaker and Catfish are hanging on at least one more week.
The special screenings this week start with Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow (1999) from the Thursday Horror Picture Show on Thursday, Nov. 4, at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. World Cinema brings back Jeunet and Caro’s Delicatessen (1991) at 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 5, at the Courtyard Gallery in the Phil Mechanic Studios building. Terence Fisher’s Four Sided Triangle (1953) is showing courtesy of the Hendersonville Film Society on Sunday, Nov. 7, at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lakepoint Landing in Hendersonville. The Asheville Film Society has the original 1934 version of Little Miss Marker at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 9, in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. Reviews of all these are in this week’s Xpress, with extended reviews in the online edition at www.mountainx.com/movies.
This may be the most peculiar week I’ve seen in terms of new mainstream releases. Why? Well, apart from Toy Story 3, there aren’t any! In fact, of the other titles listed, the only one that even played in Asheville at all is Neil Marshall’s Centurion, which was part of ActionFest last spring.
Personally, I’m most interested in a new set of Bing Crosby pictures from Universal—and this is mostly because, within its confines, they’ve finally found a home for the 1935 W.C. Fields picture Mississippi. I’m not sorry to see Sing You Sinners (1938) either, if only because I’ve never seen it before. And Bing’s very pleasant, but generally overlooked Welcome Stranger (1947). Those titles alone will get me to pick the set up.
Notable TV screenings
Foreign Correspondent Friday, Nov. 5, at 3:45 p.m.
This is Alfred Hitchcock’s second American film and somehow it always seems to get overlooked. I can’t think why—except that maybe it’s too much like his British pictures, though that strikes me as a good thing. It’s got a nice cast with Joel McCrea and Laraine Day in the leads and Herbert Marshall, George Sanders, Albert Basserman, Robert Benchley and Edmund Gwenn in support. There are some amazing set pieces, breathtaking visuals, nice comedy—and even a patriotic ending that actually works without seeming in the least jingoistic. If you’ve missed this one, it’s a must-see Hitchcock movie.
Fritz Lang Tribute
Well, TCM is catching up with us in terms of Fritz Lang, since they’re screening the restored Metropolis (1927) at 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 6—and following it up with his Spies (1928) at 12 a.m. and M (1931) at 2:30 a.m. If you weren’t able to make it to Metropolis on the big screen last week, this will give you some idea of what you missed. If you did, you might want to check out the other two titles. Spies is particularly engaging—a kind of Hitchcockian thriller (before there was such a thing) that was made in part to try to recoup the losses on the incredibly expensive Metropolis. Viewers who saw Metropolis may recognize Rudolf Klein-Rogge (Rotwang, the inventor) as master criminal Haghi in this film. As for M—surely I don’t have to tell anyone what it is!