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Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler November 26-December 2: The Theory of Horrible Penguins

In Theaters. One much-anticipated art title is pitted against two mainstream titles that may or may not be that anticipated in search of your Thanksgiving moviegoing dollars. I admit to still being a little mystified by the idea of spending your holidays at the movies. Oh, I understand it in broad strokes — it gives […]

New Movie Releases

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Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Donald Sutherland, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Julianne Moore

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1

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The Story: The first half of the final chapter in The Hunger Games series finds the rebels preparing for an all-out war with the government. The Lowdown: More intelligent, more interesting and generally better made than its predecessors, but it's a film that would be hard to even follow for a newcomer.

Special Screenings This Week

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Starring: George Arliss, Maureen O'Sullivan, Edward Arnold, Cesar Romero, Douglass Dumbrille

Cardinal Richelieu

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In Brief: George Arliss — in his final Hollywood movie — takes on Cardinal Richelieu, and the results are more or less what you expect. In his version of Cardinal Richelieu (1935), the old boy is just as wily as the real one, but he's now become the wily hero of the story. In other words, this has only the slightest connection to history. Oh, it's kind of in there — like Richelieu's desire to create a united France and his chicanery in doing so — but the spin is a little skewed. It is what might best be called an historical romp of the sort Arliss was famous for. Actually, Arliss had envisioned a different film, but when everyone became enthused over him dusting off Bulwer-Lytton's hoary old melodrama, the enthusiasm won out. The results — with Richelieu dividing his time between bringing young lovers together and saving the country — are pretty specious as history, but they're certainly entertaining fun. The Asheville Film Society will screen Cardinal Richelieu Tuesday, Dec. 2, at 8 p.m. in Theater Six at The Carolina Asheville and will be hosted by Xpress movie critics Ken Hanke and Justin Souther.
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Starring: Jackie Gleason, Katherine Kath, Diane Gardner, Jacques Marin, Gabrielle Dorziat

Gigot

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In Brief: On the surface, the idea of a movie in which Jackie Gleason plays mute has its appeal. At least he can't bellow every line of dialogue, because ... well, he hasn't any. In practice, however, what we get in Gigot (1962) is a gooey vanity project for Gleason, who seems to think he's the heir apparent to Chaplin — an elephantine Chaplin, but Chaplin nonetheless. I was warned of this outburst of saccharine years and years ago by the critic Judith Crist in TV Guide, and I have spent those years avoiding any contact with it — until the Hendersonville Film Society opted (for whatever inexplicable reason) to show it. It is everything I thought it would be. Gleason mugs, he shambles, he pleads for our sympathy in his personal take on Chaplin's The Kid (1921) — here with the child transformed into a little girl. It is grim stuff, made all the more so by director Gene Kelly favoring his star with endless close shots. In its favor? The Parisian locations are nicely photographed. Whether that compensates for such things as Gleason punching himself in the face when he can't explain Jesus to the child is up to you. The Hendersonville Film Society will show Gigot Sunday, Nov. 30, at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing Retirement Community (behind Epic Cinemas), 333 Thompson St., Hendersonville.
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Starring: Homayoun Ershadi, Abdolrahman Bagheri, Afshin Khorshid Bakhtiari, Mir Hossein Noori

Taste of Cherry

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In Brief: Some movies are leisurely paced. Some are deliberately paced. Still others are glacially paced. They all are on the slow side — in varying degrees. Depending on where you land in it, Abbas Kiarostami's Taste of Cherry (1997) covers all the bases of slowness. And yet, I have to admit that it held my interest for its entire length. In essence, the film consists of Mr. Badii (Homayoun Ershadi) driving around the arid Iranian countryside trying to find someone who will bury him after he commits suicide. That's it. But there's something almost hypnotic about it, especially as the conversations with his various prospects increase in complexity. We never learn much about Mr. Badii — including the reason for his planned suicide — but that may be part of why the film works as well as it does. I wouldn't want to see it again any time soon, and I find its appeal limited, but I'd say it's worth at least one watch — assuming you have the patience. Classic World Cinema by Courtyard Gallery will present Taste of Cherry Friday, Nov. 28, at 8 p.m. at Phil Mechanic Studios, 109 Roberts St., River Arts District (upstairs in the Railroad Library).  Info: 273-3332, www.ashevillecourtyard.com