When a re-release of a 20-year-old film is the week’s most exciting offering, perhaps it’s extra good that I’ll be out of town.  Thursday through Sunday, I’ll be in Durham for the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival where I’ll view some of the world’s best non-fiction works.  It’ll be my fifth time covering the festival, my first for Ashvegas, and is always an enjoyable few days.  Many of the films make their way to Asheville throughout the year, so as time allows I’ll send out dispatches from the Bull City to give you a heads up on what to expect.

Now for the new films headed our way this weekend…

In Theaters

Jurassic Park
(Universal Pictures)

When Jurassic Park premiered in 1993, I was excited to see it…just not in a theater…or at night.  Convinced that it would give me nightmares, I waited until it was released on VHS, borrowed a friend’s copy, and watched it on a sunny afternoon.  Now I’ll get a second chance at experiencing one of my favorite films on the big screen when Steven Spielberg’s dinosaur epic returns to theaters, celebrating its two-decade anniversary in both 2D and 3D formats.  Early reports indicate that the added effects are tastefully done and enhance an already spectacular film.  Redemption awaits!

Damien Echols as himself in the Peter Jackson film West of Memphis
West of Memphis
(Sony Pictures Classics)

The story of the West of Memphis Three has been documented in the revered Paradise Lost trilogy, but the story is complex enough that it warrants further exploration.  With the aid of Peter Jackson, director Amy Berg (Deliver Us From Evil) delves deeper into the case of three Arkansas teens wrongfully accused of murder and their near 20-year battle for justice in West of Memphis.  Damien Echols, the supposed ringleader of the Three who became their unofficial spokesman in prison, also serves as one the film’s producers.  Be sure to go with a small soda at the concession stand, however, as this one is a healthy 147 minutes.

The Evil Dead
(TriStar Pictures)

Breaking with the two-decade theme is Fede Alvarez’s remake of the 1981 DIY-horror classic The Evil Dead.  As in Sam Raimi’s original, five teenagers vacation in a remote cabin, awaken some nearby evil spirits, and get picked off one by one.  I’m not a huge fan of the original, but early reviews have been promising and new filmmaking blood is almost always welcome, even when it arrives by the corn syrup bucketful.

Fleeing the Scene

The Call begins its descent on the second-run theaters, where it will deliver even more thrills for the buck.  That Spring Breakers made a single buck is cause for concern.


The wait for John Dies at the End sure wasn’t long.  Joining its wonderfulness on the New Shelf is LUV, a coming of age tale starring Danny Glover, Common, Dennis Haysbert, and Charles S. Dutton.

On Netflix Instant

An encouraging week on the streaming front.  Up front are two excellent documentaries, Detropia and Beauty Is Embarrassing, plus the much-hyped Bully.  Similarly appealing is the indie Gayby, one of the favorites at last fall’s Qfest; the well-received horror film The Awakening; popular TV miniseries Hatfields & McCoys, starring Kevin Constner and Bill Paxton; and a Juno Temple double feature of Little Birds and Dirty Girl.

The wild card is without a doubt the Sean Penn vehicle This Must Be The Place.  When it premiered on DVD, I erroneously said that the two-time Oscar winner appears in drag when he is actually a Robert Smith type.  My apologies.

Choice older titles that are part of the monthly opening day dump  include Man on the Moon, Witness, Roman Holiday, Young Mr. Lincoln, Along Came A Spider, John Singleton’s Shaft remake, and But I’m A Cheerleader.

If that wasn’t enough, just about every Cartoon Network program, including those from its popular Adult Swim block, is now available.  I suggest starting with Aqua Teen Hunger Force and Regular Show.


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