Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler June 29-July 5: Swiss Legend of Our Kind of BFG De Palma Election Year

In theaters.  It’s the July 4th weekend, which I guess means people are expected to go to the movies. I don’t know. I can’t keep track of these things anymore. So maybe. Actually, there are only two mainstream movies locked in a death match (the third is on a wholly different level). So that means […]

Starring: Jan Vokes, Brian Vokes, Howard Davies, Angela Davies

Dark Horse

The Story: Documentary about a real-life uplifting sports tale of an unlikely racehorse. The Lowdown: Sweet without being cloying, crowd-pleasing without being obviously manipulative, this is how this kind of tale ought to be told. See it now before Hollywood decides to remake it.
not of this
Starring: Paul Birch, Beverly Garland, Morgan Jones, Jonathan Haze, William Roerick

Not of This Earth

In Brief: In 1957, this Roger Corman cheapie played on a double bill with Attack of the Crab Monsters and was advertised as a “Terrorama! Double Horror Sensation!” As with most sci-fi horror pictures of its era, the ad campaign smacks of wishful thinking. Yet, there’s no denying that Not of This Earth (a premise Corman liked so much…
Starring: Leslie Banks, Edna Best, Peter Lorre, Frank Vosper, Hugh Wakefield

The Man Who Knew Too Much

In Brief: The Asheville Film Society's first monthly ticketed film, 1934's The Man Who Knew Too Much, is the movie that gained Alfred Hitchcock the attention of the international film world — attention that would increase with The 39 Steps (1935) and The Lady Vanishes (1938), the films that took him to America. It is also a film that…
Starring: Kasia Smutniak, Riccardo Scamarcio, Jasmine Trinca, Vittoria Puccini, Rosabell Laurenti Sellers

Wondrous Boccaccio

In Brief: Put bluntly, the Taviani Brothers' Wondrous Boccaccio (2015) isn't. That's not all that surprising since it's from the Taviani Brothers, gained no release in the country and is out on DVD from Film Movement, whose name is synonymous with movies no one else would touch. What you get with this adaptation of Giovanni Boccaccio's…
Starring: Jean Gabin, Michel Simon, Michèle Morgan, Pierre Brasseur, Édouard Delmont

Port of Shadows

In Brief: Marcel Carné's Port of Shadows (1938) is — not unjustly — celebrated today as a kind of precursor to film noir, but the truth is that it's more a very French fatalist romance of a kind that can best be called poetic, trashy melodrama. And that is not a put-down by any means.…
Starring: Anthony Weiner, Huma Abedin, Adam S. Barta, Amit Bagga, Sydney Leathers


The Story: Documentary about Anthony Weiner's doomed bid for redemption by running for mayor of New York City. The Lowdown: Yeah, you almost certainly know how this is going to play out, but that doesn't keep the film from being compelling and even fascinating.
Starring: Royalty Hightower, Alexis Neblett, Inayah Rodgers, Da'Sean Minor, Antonio A.B. Grant Jr., Lauren Gibson

The Fits

The Story: A young girl finds her world opening up when she becomes a member of a dance group at a community center. The Lowdown: Virtually impossible to synopsize and not even easy to describe. Let me just say that this is a rather special movie.
Starring: Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, Madison Wolfe, Frances O'Connor, Lauren Esposito, Simon McBurney, Simon Delaney

The Conjuring 2

The Story: "Psychic investigators" Ed and Lorraine Warren are called in on a case of demonic possession in England. The Lowdown: A considerable improvement over its predecessor, this one is genuinely unsettling and atmospheric — even knowing that the story is utter hogwash. While deploring the glorification of the Warrens, I can't deny that James…
Starring: Emma Thompson, Tom Hanks, Colin Farrell, Ruth Wilson, Paul Giamatti, Bradley Whitford, B.J. Novak, Jason Schwartzman

Saving Mr. Banks

In Brief: For their Father's Day selection , the Hendersonville Film Society has settled on the ... interesting, but defensible, choice of the 2013 movie Saving Mr. Banks. In order to enjoy this movie, it’s necessary to realize only that the principal characters truly did exist. Walt Disney did indeed woo P.L. Travers for years to…
Starring: Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn, Walter Matthau, James Coburn, George Kennedy


In Brief: Often spoken of as “the best Alfred Hithcock movie Hitchcock never made,” the truth is that Stanley Donen’s Charade is much better as sophisticated, sexy entertainment than anything Hitchcock himself was making in the 1960s. In fact, by 1963, Hitch would never make anything that was this much pure fun again. This is old-style Hollywood moviemaking, complete…
Starring: Michael Redgrave, Margaret Lockwood, Paul Lukas, Dame May Whitty, Cecil Parker

The Lady Vanishes

In Brief: The Lady Vanishes (1938) is not only one of Hitchcock’s best and most completely entertaining films, but it’s the film that launched Hitch on his Hollywood career. Hollywood had taken notice of him with The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934) and The 39 Steps (1935), but it was The Lady Vanishes that sealed the deal. It’s not hard…
Starring: Colin Firth, Jude Law, Nicole Kidman, Laura Linney, Guy Pearce, Dominic West


The Story: A film centered on the relationship between Thomas Wolfe and his editor, Maxwell Perkins. The Lowdown: Highly polished, poetically minded biographical film that captures something of the essence of the author-editor relationship and the genius of both of its subjects. Few films have such a literary aura as this.
Starring: Helena Carter, Arthur Franz, Jimmy Hunt, Leif Erickson, Hillary Brooke

Invaders from Mars

In Brief: William Cameron Menzies’ Invaders from Mars has the unusual distinction of being one of the silliest and most threadbare 1950s science fiction movies and, at the same time, being one of the best. And it’s quite possibly one of maybe two or three that are actually effectively scary. The film was responsible for thousands — if…
Starring: Greta Gerwig, Ethan Hawke, Julianne Moore, Bill Hader, Maya Rudolph, Travis Fimmel, Wallace Shawn

Maggie’s Plan

The Story: A young New York academic decides to have a baby by artificial insemination and finds love, though not with the donor. The Lowdown: A little film of considerable charm and some degree of depth, the real joy of Maggie's Plan lies in the role it affords Greta Gerwig.
Starring: Ann Sheridan, Dennis O'Keefe, Robert Keith, Frank Jenks, John Qualen, Ross Elliott, J. Farrell MacDonald, Victor Sen Yung

Woman on the Run

In Brief: Almost startlingly good — and just barely rescued from oblivion — film noir from generally overlooked director Norman Foster. Co-writing the independently produced Woman on the Run (1950) with Alan Campbell, Foster came up with an unusually intelligent (and suspenseful without being in the least graphic) noir that made excellent use of its…
Starring: Andy Samberg, Jorma Taccone, Akiva Schaffer, Sarah Silverman Tim Meadows, Imogen Poots

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping

The Story: When his second solo album flops, an egotistical, idiot pop star tries to regain his following with disastrous results. The Lowdown: High on my list for worst movie of the year. Unfunny, charmless, noisy and tedious.
Starring: Catherine Frot, André Marcon, Michel Fau, Christa Théret, Denis Mpunga, Sylvain Dieuaide, Aubrey Fenoy, Sophia Leboutte


The Story: An almost completely fictionalized account of an historic character who insisted on singing opera, despite having a terrible voice. The Lowdown: A real-life story (which gets its own film later this year) is turned into a tragi-comic film of startling beauty and complexity. Unless you're utterly allergic to subtitles, this is a must-see.