Hey, young movie fanatic, interested in trawling commercial cinema for cool discoveries and honing your auteurist cred? Here's where I'd start: the Carmike Hickory 8 at 901 Bell Road near the old Hickory Hollow Mall, where the movies are nearing second-run and dirt-cheap at $2 a pop.
For a while, this was a secret handshake among local cinephiles as one of the city's last two holdouts against digital projection. Now The Belcourt stands alone. But your likelihood of finding something of interest at the Hickory 8 remains unusually high. Sometimes it's the only theater in the city to show a contractually obligated release or dying offbeat film, like the Robert De Niro noir item Stone. Often, it manages to catch an interesting studio picture before it slips out of local theaters altogether.
That's the situation this weekend. It's got Looper, the tricky Rian Johnson sci-fi thriller that'll be turning up on lots of year-end lists this month; it's got Seven Psychopaths, the gangster meta-comedy from Irish playwright-turned-filmmaker Martin McDonagh; it's got the RZA's fun, idiosyncratic martial-arts epic The Man with the Iron Fists; it's got Pitch Perfect, the singing-competition comedy that people keep telling me I'll love. And the 3D kids' horror homage ParaNorman got great notices.
I'm not trying to hype this theater as Antioch's Cinematheque Française or anything, but it reminds me that when I was a budding movie nut, I loved hanging out in mall cinemas because I never knew what I might find. At the Hickory 8's prices, I hope some wiseguys and girls are tempted to start their own Cahiers du Cumberland and write about what they're seeing.
This weekend, it's Alex Cross, Brave, Fun Size, Looper, The Man with the Iron Fists, The Odd Life of Timothy Green, ParaNorman, Pitch Perfect, Seven Psychopaths and Silent Hill: Revelation. (Save your $1.50 on that piece of crap.) Call (615) 731-5516, or click here for more info.
Above: a trailer for everyone who's ever wanted to hear Lucy Liu in German. (It's worth watching just for the catchphrase, "FUCK YOU MIT KUNG FU!")