In terms of mainstream movies, the week belongs to Saw 3D—but there’s certainly some heavy art-title competition for it. The Carolina opens Heartbreaker and Catfish. The Fine Arts has Jack Goes Boating. Even the Beaucatcher is getting into the act with Buried. And if that’s not enough for you, there’s a raft of Halloween special offerings to tempt you out of the house and into the Old Dark Movie House.
Of the titles that are opening, the only one I’ve seen is the French romantic comedy Heartbreaker, which you will find reviewed in this week’s Xpress. I will, however, taunt you with the knowledge that it beats the pants off anything of the sort I’ve seen come along from Hollywood or Great Britain this year. I realize, of course, that since the most recent such offerings were Going the Distance, You Again and Life as We Know It, that’s not a statement that necessarily says very much. But consider yourself taunted all the same.
I suppose the big news this week is Saw 3D. Now, in all honesty, this is Saw VII, but not only does that lack much in the way of oomph, it also does nothing to hawk the all-important 3-D gimmick. The theory is that this is “The Final Chapter,” which may well be true, since Saw VI proved to be perhaps one trip to the machine shop too many. Of course, the idea of closure will make this a little more appealing, as will the apparent actual reappearance of the oft-rumored Cary Elwes—presumably minus a foot—and the 3-D. At least, the movie was actually shot in 3-D and isn’t yet another of those pointless exercises in applying a couple of coats of gimmickery to an existing film. (Yes, I am looking at you, Wes Craven.) Of course, the big question is whether or not Saw 3D can best Paranormal Acitivity 2 in a grudge match. After having sat through the latter, I’m firmly in the Saw corner for this bout.
This leaves us with the art titles. For those who don’t follow such things, Catfish is one very extremely controversial documentary—but it’s a controversy that comes with a 78-percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Granted, even some of those positive reviews raise serious questions about the ethics of the filmmakers. Here’s the pitch. New Yorker (apparently credulous New Yorker) Nev Schulman—the subject of a documentary being made by his sister Ariel and Henry Joost—becomes involved over the Internet with a family in Ishpeming, Mich. This, in turn, ignites an online romance of sorts (I said he was credulous) with one of the family members. Things take a turn when Nev—and, of course, his documentarians—decide to just drop in on the folks unanncounced, whereupon he, they and we find things are not what they seem. So what are they? Beats me. But despite what the trailer may suggest, what ensues is not a thriller. Just what it is, then, I reckon I’ll find out on Friday.
That brings us to the apparently off-beat and definitely indie romantic comedy Jack Goes Boating, which stars Philip Seymour Hoffman and marks his directorial debut. Early word on this tale of a poor shnook (Hoffman) who gets lessons in how not to be a social disaster from his friend (John Ortiz) is generally positive. The trailer is actually quite charming and Hoffman, though sometimes a bit on the overrated side, is a pretty reliable screen presence. I can’t really think of a movie where he’s not in the plus column of its merits. With that in mind, this strikes me as a potentially strong bet.
I knew about all these yesterday, which is why they made it into the upcomers (you know that thing in the paper we pretend I don’t write). But it was considerably past deadline when I learned that the very highly rated Buried—87 percent on Rotten Tomatoes—is coming to the Beaucatcher. The concensus is that this impossible-sounding thriller built around Ryan Reynolds being trapped six feet underground in a coffin for 90 minutes is absolutely riveting and possibly even brilliant. That may be, but I will never know. Nothing against the film, but the premise makes me sufficiently uncomfortable—and not in a good way—that I know this is not a movie for me. That, of course, means Mr. Souther will be paying it a call.
Now, where does that leave us otherwise? It’s Kind of a Funny Story departs both The Carolina and the Fine Arts come Friday. Never Let Me Go closes as the Fine Arts, but is hanging on for at least one more week at The Carolina. Get Low is finally out of steam, it seems, and takes its leave on Friday. On the other hand, Woody Allen’s You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger is sticking around The Carolina, and Waiting for “Superman” is doing the same at the Fine Arts.
Being that this is Halloween weekend, there’s something like an embarassment of spooky and otherwise fantastic-realm cinema heading our way—and I mean other than the usual special screenings, though most of those qualify, too.
First of all, there’s the special one-time screening of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1927) from the Asheville Film Society at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 29, at The Carolina. More on this is available in this week’s “Screening Room” and in this week’s reviews.
Also starting on Friday, the Cinebarre has booked John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982) for the entire week. A review is available in this week’s paper.
This week’s Thursday Horror Picure Show—Thursday, Oct. 28, 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge of The Carolina—is a double feature of Michael Cutiz’s Doctor X (1932) and Tod Browning’s Mark of the Vampire (1935). On Friday at 8 p.m., World Cinema scares up Guillermo del Toro’s The Devil’s Backbone (2001) at the Courtyard Gallery in the Phil Mechanic Studios building. The Hendersonville Film Society takes you on a scary stroll with Jacques Tourneur’s I Walked With a Zombie (1943) on Sunday, Oct. 31, at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. The Asheville Film Society has the first post-Halloween offering with Charlie Kaufman’s Synecdoche, New York (2008) on Tuesday, Nov. 2, at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. More on all these in this week’s paper and even more in most cases in the online edition.
In addition, The Thursday Horror Picture Show has turned the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina into a home for silent horror movies all day Saturday, Oct. 30, and Sunday, Oct. 31. The chills start at 1 p.m. each day, and the schedule is as follows:
The Bat (1926)—1 p.m.
Haxan (1922)—3 p.m.
The Cat and The Canary (1927)—5 p.m.
The Phantom of the Opera (1925)—7 p.m.
The Golem (1920)—1 p.m.
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1920)—3 p.m.
The Magician (1926)—5 p.m.
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1919)—7 p.m.
Check out the week’s upcoming “Screening Room” on Friday for more on these titles.
The most impressive releases this week are The Girl Who Played With Fire (hey, you want to be up to speed when The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest opens here in November, don’t you?) and Winter’s Bone. I’m pleased to announce those, but chagrined to have to note that Sex and the City 2 also comes out. You win some. You lose some.
Notable TV screenings
OK, look, here’s the thing, TCM starts in showing horror movies—some good, some great, some downright awful—at 6 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 29, and they don’t stop till the middle of the night on Halloween. Basically, you’re on your own with these. There’s just more here than I’m going to tackle.