The Week in Film: 21st century ‘Say Anything’ edition

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

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In Theaters

The Spectacular Now (A24)

The Spectacular Now

24 years after Lloyd Dobler held up a boom box in Diane Court’s front yard, another unlikely pair connect in The Spectacular Now.  Miles Teller (Rabbit Hole) stars as Sutter Keeley, the life of every good high school party.  Dumped by his girlfriend, he goes on a bender and winds up in the front yard of bookish Aimee Finecky (The Descendants‘ Shailene Woodley), to whom he finds himself drawn on levels he didn’t think were possible.  The coming-of-age story sounds great; buzz out of Sundance was ecstatic (the two leads won a special jury award for their “rare honesty, naturalism and transparency”); I enjoyed director James Ponsoldt’s 2012 film Smashed a great deal; and the supporting cast of Kyle Chandler, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Andre Royo (Bubs from The Wire), Brie Larson, Bob Odenkirk, and Smashed‘s Mary Elizabeth Winstead is more than respectable.  We’ll see if it all comes together beginning Wednesday.

Closed Circuit (Focus Features)

Closed Circuit
(Focus Features)

In a rare British legal thriller, Eric Bana and Rebecca Hall (The PrestigeVicky Christina Barcelona) play attorneys assigned to defend a bombing suspect in Closed Circuit.  Cleanly shot, smartly written (by Eastern Promises scribe Steven Knight), and tense throughout, John Crowley’s film was a joy to watch at Sunday’s early morning critics’ screening.  Having Jim Broadbent, Ciarán Hinds, Julia Stiles, Riz Ahmed on board also helped, but as The Big Wedding proved, an appealing cast isn’t everything.  That’s not to say this film is perfect, but for a supremely satisfying hour and a half, this Wednesday opener is the ticket.

Crystal Fairy (Sundance Selects)

Crystal Fairy
(Sundance Selects)

Remember Gaby Hoffman?  She of Field of DreamsSleepless In SeattleNow & Then, and the TV remake of Freaky Friday fame?  Well, she’s back and playing the titular free spirit in Crystal Fairy, joining Michael Cera’s Jamie and his friends on a drug-fueled road trip in Chile.  South of the equator, their joint object of desire is a San Pedro cactus, whose hallucinogenic juice they plan to imbibe on the beach.  Besides Hoffman’s nostalgic charm and another potentially douchey Cera performance (following his hilarious coked out alter ego in This Is the End), the trailer for Sebastián Silva’s film simply looks like a lot of fun.  (The use of Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros helps.)  Friday is the release date for this one.

I Declare War (Drafthouse Films)

I Declare War
(Drafthouse Films)

August’s ActionFest selection I Declare War opens nationwide on Friday and gets its own run at the Carolina.  The consistently entertaining Canadian indie features a neighborhood game of Capture the Flag in which the participants imagine their sticks and slingshots are actual deadly weapons.  The schtick plays out surprisingly well and, even with the possible deterrent of a cast of child actors, the film has a good deal to say, especially when shit gets real.  This one will likely be around only for a week (as is, it’s only playing at 1:35 and 3:45 daily), so act quickly if the premise sounds interesting.

One Direction: This Is Us (Sony Pictures)

One Direction: This Is Us
(Sony Pictures)

I’m the wrong person to ask for information about One Direction.  I’ve seen the British (?) boy band on what I think was a Pepsi commercial and am pretty sure one of them either dated or is dating Taylor Swift.  I don’t know any of their songs, which won’t be the case after I see their concert film-slash-documentary One Direction: This Is Us, directed by Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me) of all people.  I’ll give it a go in full 3D glory on Friday.

Fleeing the Scene

The Kings of Summer, Paranoia, and, at long last, The Wolverine bow out on Wednesday.  Unfinished Song, Jobs, and Kick-Ass 2 follow their lead on Friday.


Overall, this is one of the better weeks for new home viewing choices.  Pain & Gain, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, and The Great Gatsby all debut along with Best Foreign Language Oscar nominee Kon-Tiki.  Also of note is At Any Price, the latest film from Ramin Bahrani, whose Goodbye Solo was shot in Winston-Salem and Blowing Rock.  The film stars Dennis Quaid and Zac Efron as a father and son at odds over the family farming business.

On Netflix Instant

Asheville Qfest is less than two months away and the big thematic addition this week is a new block of gay-themed films.  Among the new offerings are Another Gay Movie, Bear City, Boy Culture, Is It Just Me?, Longhorns, and 3.

Even with many strong reviews and positive word-of-mouth, Dredd was one of 2012’s biggest flops, recouping $15 million of its $50 million budget.  Its stylized action sequences won’t look nearly as good on the small screen, but is still worth a look.  Also worthwhile but from a few years back is Our Idiot Brother, a more than decent comedy starring Paul Rudd, Zooey Deschanel, Elizabeth Banks, Rashida Jones, Emily Mortimer, and Steve Coogan.

Fans of Sleepwalk With Me and NPR’s “This American Life” may want to check out the new Mike Birbiglia stand-up special, My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend.  Also in the comedy department are several Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes and, to some extent, the first film of Pablo Larraín’s accidental Pinochet trilogy, Tony Manero, in which “series” mainstay Alfredo Castro is obsessed with John Travolta’s Saturday Night Fever persona.

Gear up for Ridley Scott’s upcoming Cormac McCarthy-penned The Counselor with John Hillcoat’s bleak but powerful adaptation of the author’s The Road, starring Viggo Mortensen.

The Moo Man looks at the year in the life of an English dairy farmer and is joined on the documentary front by Rhymes & Reason, a profile of the hip-hop industry circa 1997 (before things got out of control…).

Last and least is one of the year’s worst films, Marlon Wayans’ A Haunted House.  Instead of fretting about the potential of this junk at our fingertips, however, let’s reframe its appearance as an opportunity for national unity.  Now, on three, everyone pull up the laugh-free film’s page and click “Not Interested.”  Ready?  One…two…three!

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

  • 1

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  1. Murphy August 28, 2013

    I tend to agree on the movie reviews … unless they’re AVL related.

  2. Jennifer S. August 28, 2013


  3. Seeger August 28, 2013

    It’s 24 years after “Say Anything…” Nice try, though.

    1. Edwin Arnaudin August 28, 2013

      Whoops! Didn’t mean to omit an entire decade.

  4. Craig Collins August 27, 2013

    In the spirit of a “Say Anything” edition, this is a “say anything” comment. With due respect to Mr. Arnaudin, I do not visit Ashvegas for movie reviews — I come here for the scoop of what’s opening and what’s closing here in Asheville, who and what’s behind the scenes, and what’s popping in Asheville that is fun and ready to take off, something I might be interested in joining. That kind of material is the best (and I would argue, the heart) of Ashvegas — movie reviews seem like filler in comparison.


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