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Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler January 27-February 2: Finest Fifty Shades of Nominated Panda

In Theaters.  You know things are looking grim when the most promising mainstream release of the week is the third film in an animated series. OK, we do get the Oscar nominated short films, so that’s something, but we are clearly still in the winter of our discontent — again. Next week promises to be […]

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Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler January 20-26: Dirty 5th Anomalisa Boy — and Those Oscar Noms

In Theaters.  Count your blessings for movies that are still playing, movies that are being brought back, and Charlie Kaufman. Otherwise, this looks like a week that might challenge last week for sheer dreadfulness and maximum awfulness — and utter suckage. Last week could indeed go down in history. And not in a good way. […]

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Starring: Javier Bardem, Natalie Portman, Stellan Skarsgård, Randy Quaid, Jose Luis Gomez, Michael Lonsdale

Goya’s Ghosts

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In Brief: Chances are you've never heard of this 2006 release. Then, it's even money that you'll look at the fact that it's from Milos Forman, and that it stars Javier Bardem, Natalie Portman and Stellan Skarsgård, and wonder why you've never heard of Goya's Ghosts. A couple of hours with the film will pretty…
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Starring: Jenny Agutter, Luc Roeg, David Gulpilil, John Meillon, Robert McDarra

Walkabout

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In Brief: Prior to Walkabout (1971), Nicolas Roeg had co-directed (with Donald Cammell) only one film, the astonishing Performance, so a good deal was riding on the cinematographer-turned-filmmaker’s second outing. Could Roeg pull off a solo film? Indeed, he could. In so doing, he established himself as a filmmaker with a unique, if not always completely penetrable,…
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Starring: Tallulah Bankhead, Gary Cooper, Charles Laughton, Cary Grant

Devil and the Deep

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In Brief: A legacy from that brief period when Paramount was determined to make Tallulah Bankhead into a movie star (they gave up after this one), Marion Gering's Devil and the Deep was also meant to introduce the movie world to Charles Laughton. Back in 1932, it wasn't especially effective at either, but today it plays as deliciously overheated…
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Starring: Margot Kidder, Jennifer Salt, Charles Durning, Bill Finley, Lisle Wilson, Barnard Hughes

Sisters

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In Brief: Sisters (1973) is by no means the first Brian De Palma film, though it might fairly be called the first De Palma film as we know them. The theme is, in part, voyeurism — so we're right at home from the onset. The tone is set as much by Michael Powell's Peeping Tom (1960) as it…
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Starring: Natalie Dormer, Taylor Kinney, Yukiyoshi Ozawa, Eoin Macken

The Forest

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The Story:  A girl searches for her twin sister in Japan's notorious "Suicide Forest." The Lowdown: Whether or not the Aokigahara Forest prompts people to commit suicide, chances are good that this first release of the new year will put you to sleep.
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Starring: Bela Lugosi, Leo Gorcey, Huntz Hall, Bobby Jordan, Sunshine Sammy Morrison, Dave O'Brien, Dorothy Short, Angelo Rossitto

Spooks Run Wild

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In Brief: The second of Bela Lugosi's Monogram Nine, Spooks Run Wild, mixes horror with comedy as it finds Lugosi going up against producer Sam Katzman's other major property of the era, The East Side Kids, a slightly cleaned-up version of The Dead End Kids from Sidney Kingsley's play (and film) Dead End. In other words, these…
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Starring: Alan Ladd, Jean Arthur, Van Heflin, Brandon De Wilde, Jack Palance, Ben Johnson, Edgar Buchanan

Shane

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In Brief: George Stevens' post-WWII films tend to be an acquired taste which I've never really managed to acquire. They're too heavy-handed, too self-conscious, too self-important and, invariably, too long. The first time I saw Shane (1953) was at a kiddie matinee in 1963 or thereabouts. (Our local theater ran a lot of old Paramount and…
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Starring: Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Grace Kelly, Celeste Holm, Louis Armstrong, John Lund

High Society

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In Brief: No, this musical version of The Philadelphia Story is not a great film by any means. Charles Walters' direction is at best workmanlike, at worst pedestrian. It has the air of canned theater in many scenes, along with that typical 1950s overlit look of most MGM musicals. But it does combine the talents of Bing…
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Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler January 13-19: Norm of Benghazi Ride Along — and Farewell to Major Tom

In Theaters.  And you thought last week was bad? At least last week you got the expansions of Carol and The Revenant. This week — No such luck. In fact, no luck at all. It is so exceedingly grim that…well, you’ve certainly noticed by now that the featured image is from a movie made 40 […]

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Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler December 30-January 5: This Is the Way the Year Ends

In Theaters.  So here we are celebrating the end of the year with exactly one new movie to choose from (not that there aren’t some pretty choice choices already out) — and because it’s from the Weinsteins, they’ve played around with when we’ll get it because…well, they’re the Weinsteins and they can. You may recall […]

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Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler December 23-29: The Big Christmas Flood — Including the Best Film of the Year

In Theaters. It’s Merry Christmas at the movies week and to prove it we are on the receiving end of no less than seven new movies — five mainstream and two art titles. Six of them open on Friday, and one on Wednesday. Move over Star Wars. Owing to the time of year, I’ve also […]

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Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler November 18-24: Spotlight Secret Room Night Games

Once again the floodgates have opened and we are deluged with movies — three mainstream and two art titles. Of course, one of those mainstreamers is one of the year’s biggest Next Big Things: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 2. This is one those movies that you “have” to see or suffer a violent loss of pop culture social status.

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Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins, Demian Birchir, Tim Roth, Michae; Madsen, Bruce Dern, James Parks

The Hateful Eight

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The Story: Eight people — all with secrets and hidden motives — are trapped in a cabin in a snowstorm.  The Lowdown: A sprawling, darkly funny Western that's really more of a whodunit than a Western. Violent, bloody, provocative, likely to upset some audiences and one of the best films of the year.
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Starring: Hugh Quarshie, Tomas Arana, Feodor Chaliapin Jr., Barbara Cupisiti, Asia Argento

The Church

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In Brief: Michele Soavi's 1989 film was originally intended to be part of producer and co-writer Dario Argento's loosely connected Demons movies. While it retains elements of those films — especially contagious possessions and trapping the cast in a single location — it is mostly its own beast. And a very curious beast it is. Like most…
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Starring: Gary Cooper, Jean Arthur, James Ellison, Charles Bickford, Helen Burgess, Porter Hall

The Plainsman

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In Brief: Yes, Wild Bill Hickok (Gary Cooper), Calamity Jane (Jean Arthur) and Buffalo Bill Cody (James Ellison) really existed. For that matter, so did a lot of the characters in Cecil B. DeMille's The Plainsman (1936), but nearly every connection to reality ends there — and the film is pretty upfront about it. Right…