The mainstream and art titles are evenly matched this week—two of each. On the mainstream side we have The Ides of March and Real Steel. (There are no prizes for guessing who reviews which this week.) The art titles are The Whistleblower at the Fine Arts and Restless at The Carolina. With any luck, this week will fare better than the lackluster last week when no new movie could crack the top three. Audience lack of interest has rarely been so high—which in some instances was understandable. And, guess what? The special two-week engagements of The Lion King enter their fourth week.
Here’s one of those weeks where I’ve seen both the art titles. That would make for a nice break, I suppose, except that I have a couple of sceenings in the offing that will allow me to say next week that I’ve already seen the two art titles. And I’ll also be able to say that the reviews for them are in the paper—which, of course, is also the case with Restless and The Whistleblower. And, in the main, I’ll let those reviews speak for themselves, but I will go ahead and say that Restless—from which I was expecting not much—turned out to be one of the year’s pleasantest surprises to date.
So that only leaves us with the two mainstream titles to conjecture about.
George Clooney returns to directing with The Ides of March. This is is first directorial effort since Leatherheads three years ago, and while you may be thinking he was waiting for the tepid response to that one to blow over, it’s worth noting that three years have separated all of his films from each other. Now, having said that, it’s also undeniable that “the director of Good Night, and Good Luck” is being played up—and it’s probably not just because this film has more in common with Good Night, and Good Luck thematically. Anyway, this political drama about a supposedly “perfect” candidate (Clooney) and the hero-worshipping aide (Ryan Gosling) who finds out otherwise marks the beginning of the award season titles. Its early position—despite strong early reviews—may have less to do with the film’s quality than with its apparently pessimistic and cynical tone. My own cynicism and pessimism kicked in when I saw the people on the IMDb who had to have the title explained to them.
With the exception of the OK Date Night (2010), reading down director Shawn Levy’s credits is like perusing a career criminal’s rap sheet—Just Married (2003), Cheaper by the Dozen (2003), The Pink Panther (2006) and both Night at the Museum pictures. Since that recalls five pretty unhappy moviegoing experiences for me, I can’t say that this Rock-‘em-Sock-‘em Robots opus called Real Steal sets my heart a-flutter. (And I even briefly had the original 1964 edition of the toy. I say briefly because it broke on Christmas Day and ended up being traded in for a selection of records when the same problem was afflicting the floor models.) Regardless, what we have here has no actual connection to the game/toy, but it some near-future yarn about a neglectful dad (Hugh Jackman), the son he’s trying to make it up to, and the broken-down sparring robot the son believes can become a champion robot boxer. It may involve boxing robots, but it seems to be redefined as an underdog sports drama.
Now, this week we lose Point Blank at The Carolina and the unstoppable Midnight in Paris gets split with Drive there, while Sarah’s Key and Senna keep full sets of shows. The Fine Arts splits The Guard with Sarah’s Key.
Roy Ward Baker’s Quatermass and the Pit (aka: Five Million Years to Earth) is this week’s Thursday Horror Picture Show on Thursday, Oct. 6, at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. Starting a month of Halloweenish fare, World Cinema has Ingmar Bergman’s Hour of the Wolf (1968) at 8 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 7, in the Railroad Library in the Phil Mechanic Building. The Hendersonville Film Society is screening the documentary film D.W. Griffith: The Father of Film on Sunday, Oct. 9, at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. This week’s Asheville Film Society offering is Preston Sturges’ classic comedy The Palm Beach Story (1942) at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 11, in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. More on all of the films—except the Griffith documentary—can be found in this week’s Xpress.
Well, this week we can look forward to Scream 4 (it really wasn’t that bad), Fast Five (which I grudgingly admit enjoying) and African Cats (which, if memory serves, Justin Souther did not enjoy, resultig in someone calling him “a bad person”). Otherwise, I’m not spotting anything other than Blu-ray releases of existing titles.
Notable TV screenings
Apart from Murder on the Blackboard (1934)—the sequel to last week’s Penguin Pool Murder (1932)—on Saturday, Oct. 8, at 8 a.m., I’m not seeing anything that out of the ordinary on TCM this week. Even the Monday night line-up of horror titles are shown fairly often.