Apparently just about everyone in the movie-booking world spent Labor Day roasting weenies—or whatever it is that people who have Labor Day off do—and the result of this is that I’m sitting here trying to put together a “Weekly Reeler” with limited information. I know what’s going on at the Fine Arts and I know what art titles are slated for The Carolina and I know the mainstream titles. I know the Fine Arts is opening The Guard and The Carolina is set to open The Devil’s Double and Terri. The “big” releases are Contagion, Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star and Warrior. But there are gaps.
The gaps come in the form of having no clue about what’s leaving this week—except for Tabloid. That’s being dropped come Friday at the Fine Arts and Another Earth is being split with, yes, Midnight in Paris. I also have no clue as concerns whether or not anyone locally is picking up the self-distributed horror picture Creature—despite the fact that it’s boldly advertised as “opens everywhere September 9.” (I suspect that’s optimistic anyway.) These things may be known later today—or it might take till tomorrow. We’ll see.
You’ll notice—I hope—that there are reviews for The Devil’s Double and Terri in this week’s paper. I’ll note here that both are good and that Terri is a little more than good. I think it’s probably unfortunate that it’s opening the same week as The Guard, because I think that will—to some degree—split the audience for both. And I expect Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle are going to prove bigger draws than Jacob Wysocki and John C. Reilly. Here’s hoping it doesn’t get buried.
So that brings us to Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star. I’d really rather pretend this just didn’t exist or take a nap till it blows over, but that seems impractical—though not unenticing. What we have here is a movie starring Adam Sandler hanger-on Nick Swardon. Strike one. It was written by Sandler, Swardson and another Sandler hanger-on, Alan Covert. Strike two. It was directed by yet another Sandler buddyTom Brady, who made The Hot Chick (2002) and The Comebacks (2007) and co-wrote (with Rob Schneider!) The Animal (2001). Strike three. The premise is that Bucky (Swardson) learns that his parents (his father is played by a humiliated Edward Herrmann) were porn stars and decides that this is where his talents must lie, so he heads to L.A. to become a porn star. I tried to fob this off on Justin Souther—based on his claim that Swardson wasn’t so bad in 30 Minutes or Less. Unfortunately, he reminded me that that assessment included the phrase “when he’s away from Sandler.” So I suspect I will take the Victorian mother’s advice and “close my eyes and think of England.”
Well, since Steven Soderbergh is now claiming that he’s not leaving the movies to go all Gauguin on us, but merely taking a sabbatical, Contagion is not one of the wind-down films on his way to a box of paints and retirement. That still leaves us looking toward a big name cast—Marion Cotillard, Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Gwyneth Paltrow (seemingly as “Bird Flu Mary”), Jude Law, Laurence Fishburne—dealing with some new and deadly virus and the panic that comes with it. Soderbergh is said to think of the movie as a horror picture—and yeah, the idea of Gwyneth Paltrow destroying us all is horrific. The largely positive early reviews don’t give us much to go on in the credibility department. I mean, having Pete Hammond gush, “A movie so real it’s frightening—hypochondriacs may collapse from shock,” isn’t likely to impress anyone.
That brings us to John Michael McDonagh’s (brother of Martin McDonagh who gave us In Bruges in 2008) The Guard—a comedy about the teaming of an unorthodox and outspoken Irish police sergeant (Brendan Gleeson) and an uptight and by-the-book FBI agent (Don Cheadle). What we have here then is two appealing stars in a movie with some potential—as well as a good trailer and a 94 percent Rotten Tomatoes rating (99 good reviews vs. six bad ones). This has been high on my list of movies I wanted to see for some time now.
Now we come to Warrior. OK, I like Tom Hardy, Joel Edgerton and Nick Nolte just fine. My qualms about this movie rest squarely on director and co-writer Gavin O’Connor, whose 2008 movie Pride and Glory was—well, I don’t think calling it “awful” overstates the case. Of course, he also made the uplifting sports picture Miracle (2004). Since I’m pretty much allergic to uplifting sports movies, I managed to dodge that one. But I can’t get away from a feeling that this sounds like a cross between the faux grit of Pride and Glory and the uplift of Miracle. Well, since I don’t think I can Svengali Mr. Souther into Bucky Larson, he may be the one to find out.
And then there’s still the Creature question. Is it or isn’t it? I simply don’t know. Despite a very murky, underlit trailer that promises Sid Haig doing a variation on his Capt. Spaulding schtick, I’m not in the least convinced that it would be such a bad thing if we missed it altogether. This really looks like direct-to-DVD stuff that’s somehow insistent on a theatrical release.
So, what’s leaving this week? Well, I know that Tabloid is leaving. Magic Trip is staying at The Carolina, but I don’t know if it’s a full set of shows yet. I know that Midnight in Paris is sticking around for one show daily at the Fine Arts. Based on what it did over the weekend at The Carolina, I’d guess it’s keeping a full set of shows there. Beyond that, I’m in the dark. I’ll update this as I find out.
The Thursday Horror Picture Show this week is William Malone’s 1999 remake of House on Haunted Hill and is at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 8—immediately after another amazing (it says so on the box) chapter of Adventures of Captain Marvel (1941) at 7:40 p.m.—in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. World Cinema is screening Andrei Tarkovsky’s The Mirror (1975) at 8 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 9, in the Railroad Library in the Phil Mechanic Building. The Hendersonville Film Society is showing Buster Keaton’s The General (1927) on 2 p.m. on Sunday., Sept. 11, in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. On Tuesday, Sept. 13, at 8 p.m. the Asheville Film Society will show George Stevens’ Astaire-Rogers film Swing Time (1936) in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. More on these (except The General) in this week’s paper.
This week sees X-Men: First Class coming out (though not till Friday for some reason). Also out is Hanna. Unless I’m missing something amidst all the TV, straight-to-video and general Girls Gone Wild stuff, that seems to be it. Perhaps Marc will stop by and further enlighten us.
Another one of those weeks where there’s no end of decent stuff, but it’s all the usual decent stuff. If something jumped out at someone, sing out.