Apart from the special screening of Tommy at The Carolina on Wed., Sept. 1, at 7:30 p.m., this week belongs to more or less mainstream offerings—three of them to be exact. One of the films is probably negligible, but The American (which opens Wednesday) and Machete hold more than a little interest—much more than you’d expect for traditionally dull (cinematically speaking, of course) Labor Day weekend.
Since The American opens early (Clapton knows why—except to make the job of movie listings harder), I’ll look at it first. I have no opinion on the director, Anton Corbijn, since I’ve never seen his biopic on Joy Division singer Ian Curtis, Control. I do have an opinion on George Clooney. I think he’s the only true “movie star” we have and he can actually act in the bargain. The trailer makes the movie look all kinds of stylish—OK, so one shot looks like an outtake from an Audi commercial—and possibly suspenseful. (Granted, almost anything can be made to look stylish for two minutes.) So where does that leave us? Hard to tell. The few reviews that are up at this point do not come from sources I tend to pay a lot of attention to. Put me down as interested, leaning cautiously optimistic.
I freely admit to being pretty darned jazzed about Machete—even if Robert Rodriguez has a co-director, Ethan Maniquis (who has worked as an editor for Rodriguez), on the project. Frankly, the film deserves kudos just for quirkiest casting of the year: Danny Trejo, Robert DeNiro, Steven Seagal, Lindsay Lohan, Michelle Rodriguez, Jessica Alba, Don Johnson, Cheech Marin, Jeff Fahey and, of course, a bit for Tom Savini. If ever there was a cast to conjure with—and a roster you never expected to see in one movie—this is that cast. The film is an expansion on the fake trailer seen in Grindhouse (2007), which was hysterically funny and over-the-top in itself. (Now, if only Rob Zombie and Edgar Wright would expand on their Grindhouse trailers.)
There’s nothing about the film in terms of reviews yet, but I don’t personally care. Nothing could keep me from seeing this one. Unfortunately, something will keep me from reviewing it, because not letting Justin Souther review a Robert Rodriguez movie would be like someone keeping me from reviewing a Ken Russell or Tim Burton picture. In other words, it’s just not happening. But I will be watching.
I will also be watching the romcom Going the Distance with Drew Barrymore and Justin Long, and I can’t say that this fills me with joy—and not just because the early reviews have mostly been unkind. (In all fairness, the only reviewers who’ve had their say that have any impact on me are from the trades.) The trailer is dull and lackluster, and the premise of the characters trying to keep a long-distance relationship alive isn’t very enticing. Barrymore is an engaging actress and Long is a likable-enough lightweight, but I don’t think either one can carry a story this thin. Oh, well, we’ll see. Or I will. The rest of you have a choice.
The only thing new on the art-film scene this week lies in The Carolina picking up Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky. The Fine Arts is holding both The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Kids Are All Right. The Carolina is keeping Get Low, The Kids Are All Right and Winter’s Bone. I believe that, come Friday, the Beaucatcher will be the only theater still showing Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. I would not expect this to last, because it’s probably only there now because of a dearth of available titles.
In the realm of special showings this week, the Thursday Horror Picture Show has Ken Russell’s Altered States (1980) at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 2, in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. And in keeping with the Ken Russell theme that starts with the Wednesday showing of Tommy, on Tuesday, Sept. 7, the Asheville Film Society will show Russell’s Valentino (1977) at 8 p.m., also in the Cinema Lounge of The Carolina. World Cinema has the documentary Winged Migration (2003) at 8 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 3, at the Courtyard Gallery in the Phil Mechanic building. Another documentary, We Want the Light (2006), is this week’s offering from the Hendersonville Film Society on Sunday, Sept. 5, at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville.
This week finds the very good Harry Brown with a brilliant performance from Michael Caine coming to DVD, but it also finds the encroachment of the execrable Marmaduke and the rather flat, but more innocuous Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married Too?. You stand warned. Times are lean.
Notable TV screenings
And the times are lean on TCM this week, as well—at least insofar as anything out of the ordinary is concerned. I do want to make note, however, that Leo McCarey’s Make Way for Tomorrow (1937) is showing at 8 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 6. This shattering movie about old age is something that everyone should see. It’s been on before and it’s probably going to show up in the Asheville Film Society roster in November, but its presence should always be noted. At 11:45 p.m. that same night, TCM has Jacques Tati’s Playtime (1967). This is a Tati film I have never seen, so I’m not weighing in on it, though Tati’s comedies are usually worth at least one viewing. There’s simply nothing quite like them.