Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler February 26-March 5: Kill Non-Stop Son of Omar Rises

In Theaters

I hate weeks like this. Oh, I’m not complaining that I have zero interest in seeing Non-Stop or Son of God (though I do). No, what distresses me is that there are three truly excellent art titles opening this week. Each of them was completely worthy of being the “Weekly Pick.” But more than that, they’re going to get in each other’s way at the box office. Terrific movies are likely to get overlooked for no reason other than there are too many of them opening on the same weekend. My suggestion is see them all, but I know that’s not practical in terms of time or expense for most people.

These art titles are Kill Your Darlings — opening at The Carolina — and Omar and The Wind Rises — both opening at the Fine Arts. Though I plopped for Kill Your Darlings for the Weekly Pick online (where there can only be one pick thanks to way the website works), I had both it and The Wind Rises as picks in the print edition. I feel better about that, but I still feel like I’m selling Omar short. Like I said, these are three terrific movies. Moreover, they don’t really lend themselves to comparison.

My preference for Kill Your Darlings is based solely on the fact that it has the most resonance for me personally. Plus, it’s always exciting to see something fresh and vibrant from a new filmmaker, which is the case here from first-time feature director and co-writer John Krokidas. His film grabbed me immediately and held me for its entire length — which was especially noteworthy given the disappointing attempts at bringing the Beat Generation writers to the screen in the past few years. Where those were flaccid at best, Kill Your Darlings really soars with life and filmmaking imagination. And, yes, Daniel Radcliffe — playing the young Allen Ginsberg — completely obliterates any trace of Harry Potter. Read the review in this week’s Xpress for more on the film.

Also reviewed in this week’s paper are Omar and The Wind Rises – both of which are exceptional films of very different kinds, and both of which are Oscar-nominated. Omar is from Hany Abu-Assad who made the remarkable Paradise Now back in 2005, and is almost as intense as that film. (And, it’s very likely a little more accessible.) The Wind Rises, of course, is the latest — and supposedly the final — film from Japanese animation master Hayao Miyazaki, making it a must-see for those who love animation. One thing I didn’t know at the time of writing the review is that the Fine Arts will be showing The Wind Rises in its English language version at 1:00, 4:00 and 7:00, and running it in Japanese with subtitles for the Friday and Saturday late shows at 9:30.

Now, these so-called mainstream titles are…well, another thing all together.

Non-Stop reteams director Jaume Collet-Serra with Liam Neeson (the two made Unknown in 2011 — another February offering). Presumably, this is Neeson defending his aging action star supremacy against last week’s interloper, Kevin Costner. (At least, these boys have yet — mind you, I said yet — to descend to the level of signing up for an Expendables movie.) In its favor, Neeson does not appear to be rescuing his daughter in this. No, he plays an air marshall on a transatlantic flight where the passengers are threatened unless the airline ponies up $150 million in ransom. For reasons best known to her agent, Julianne Moore is also onboard. It has not been reviewed except by two British and one Australian sources.

The other offering this week is Son of God, the topic of which is pretty self-evident. Less evident is the fact that this “major motion picture event” (that’s what 20th Century Fox are calling it) is in fact carved out of the 2013 History Channel TV series The Bible. Maybe I’m just jaded, but this raises the question in my mind as to whether this can really be called a movie at all, let alone a “major motion picture event.” (They did this with two part Man from U.N.C.L.E TV episodes back in the 1960s, too.) Of course, this is aimed at the faith-based niche market more than the average moviegoer. In other words, it isn’t designed with viewers who are interested in film for its own sake, but strictly the subject matter. It has not been reviewed, but it’s working on the assumption of a built-in audience.

I suppose it should also be noted that Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues is resurfacing in an R-rated cut that weighs in at either 138 or 143 minutes. In either case, that’s a unconscionable length for a film that was already pushing it at 119 minutes.

So what departs our realm this week? Well, the Fine Arts wipes its slate clean, meaning we say goodbye to both The Great Beauty and The Past (you have through Thursday to catch them). The Carolina is dropping The Oscar-Nominated Short Films and relegating In Secret (which was on borrowed time anyway) to two shows a day. On the other hand, it’s worth noting that Asheville Pizza and Brewing is running Saving Mr. Banks at 1:00 and 4:00 and Nebraska at 7:00 p.m.

Special Screenings

This week the Thursday Horror Picture Show is showing Arthur Lubin’s Phantom of the Opera (1943) — in a gorgeous restored version — on Thursday, Feb. 27 at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. World Cinema is running Federico Fellini’s Nights of Cabiria (1957) at 8 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 28 at 8 p.m. in the Railroad Library in the Phil Mechanic Building. The Hendersonville Film Society has Russell Rouse’s The Thief (1952) on Sunday, March 2 at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. The Asheville Film Society begins its month long tribute to Philip Seymour Hoffman with Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous (2000) on Tuesday, March 4 at 8 p.m. in Theater Six at The Carolina. More on all titles — with full reviews in the online edition — in this week’s Xpress.

On DVD

It’s a pretty busy week with the DVD releases of Gravity, Nebraska, Muscle Shoals and Blue Is the Warmest Color heading the list. Thor: The Dark World is also out.

Notable TV Screenings

TCM is bringing out the last of their “31 Days of Oscar this week, but the relief isn’t really felt till next week. Check back with me then.

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About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress since December 2000. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

16 thoughts on “Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler February 26-March 5: Kill Non-Stop Son of Omar Rises

  1. DrSerizawa

    Ha! The Oscar nominated short films are in town this week. I guess we’re just slow here in the hinterlands. I know where I’ll be this Sunday now.

  2. Me

    Kill Your Darlings? Wasn’t that released mid last year, its just now making it to Asheville, i thought it was already out on DVD. I guess the “disappointing attempts” you’re referring to is the terrible James Franco film that he did about Ginsberg.

  3. Ken Hanke

    Ha! The Oscar nominated short films are in town this week. I guess we’re just slow here in the hinterlands. I know where I’ll be this Sunday now.

    They seem to open in Charleston this weekend, too. I guess Asheville is just ahead of the curve.

  4. Ken Hanke

    Kill Your Darlings? Wasn’t that released mid last year, its just now making it to Asheville, i thought it was already out on DVD.

    Well, it isn’t on video yet, and it’s Sony Pictures Classics, which means it takes a while to get around. It was still playing the film festival circuit in late October.

    I guess the “disappointing attempts” you’re referring to is the terrible James Franco film that he did about Ginsberg.

    Well, that’s one of them and it was better than the other one, On the Road.

    Blue is the Warmest Color is also available for streaming on Netflix.

    Beats paying money for it.

  5. Lisa Watters

    Kill Your Darlings is suppose to be released on March 18th according to Amazon streaming video (which is where I watch most of the films I don’t see in the theater.) Sometimes though they’re only available to buy the first week or two and then they go into rental mode.

  6. Xanadon't

    Plus, it’s always exciting to see something fresh and vibrant from a new filmmaker, which is the case here from first-time feature director and co-writer John Krokidas

    The Q&A session following the TIFF screening was far and away my favorite of the 10 movies I caught last September. It captured exactly the kind of energy and idyllic imaginings one might have when it comes to film festivals.

    The fact that the film played so well to the audience helped immensely, of course. But also Mr. Krokidas was just very engaging and immensely gracious and humble. If I remember correctly, he spent something like 11 years trying to get this film made… until suddenly there was a breakthrough and everything kind of came together at once for him. Radcliffe was the first name actor to come aboard and it snowballed from there. Very likeable personality, that Krokidas, and certainly a filmmaker that I’ll be interested in and rooting for going forward.

    His film grabbed me immediately and held me for its entire length

    Same. I was really struck by how, not simply professional-looking, but how rich and textured the look of the film was. And also how a first-time director wrangled such wonderful performances out of his actors– perhaps Dane DeHaan most memorably. (Though come to think of it, I was also extremely impressed by him in The Place Beyond the Pines.)

  7. swilder

    The fact that I plan to see Son of God with a large group this Sunday will probably come as no surprise, although my motives may. I’m NOT going just to send a message that there’s a market for such films…Hollywood appears to have figured that out. Believe it or not, Christians are not sheep who will blindly shell out our hard earned money for anything clothed as “faith based”. Most of my circle have no desire to see the upcomming Noah film. I’m going because I really enjoyed the History channel series, and yes this is just a reworking of parts 4 and 5 with a few extra screens, but I want to experience it in a large format. I would even buy you a ticket if you want to join us, but I know the odds of that are less than zero.

  8. Ken Hanke

    You’re going to see it exactly for the reason I expected you would — because of the subject matter. Frankly, it doesn’t strike me that Hollywood has figured out that there’s a market so much as they’ve figured out a really cheap way to cash in on that market — by repackaging a cable TV series. Maximum profit with little risk.

    Aranofsky’s Noah isn’t a faith-based film in the same sense. It’s an expensive Biblical epic aimed at a broad audience, not a specialized market.

  9. swilder

    I cant think of a riskier subject than something poeple are as personal, as passionate, and as protective of as the Word of God. Yes you may get a gauranteed audience, but so will SAW 37 or the next of any such series. You will also get gauranteed criticism. Not just the expected dribble from the agnostic crowd about only preaching to the already converted. The harshist attacks usually come from those who claim to share your beliefs. but are offended by your personal dramatizations, interpretations, inclusions, and exclusions. That being said, I may go see Aranofsky’s film after all. I wouldnt want to be one of those who are critical of something based on what others have said, and not see it for themselves.

  10. Ken Hanke

    You misunderstand my point. 20th Century Fox is risking very little financially here. There are no production costs to speak of, since the film already exists. I doubt they care very much about the film being criticized or not, only that it’s guaranteed a healthy return on a small investment. In that regard, it’s hardly risky. I am, by the way, not weighing in on its actual quality or lack thereof, because I didn’t see it. But you know, you only fuel the agnostics’ credibility by calling their remarks “dribble” (by which I assume you mean “drivel”).

  11. swilder

    I’m more excited about Ridley Scott’s Exodus film late this year. While it may be close to blasphemy is some circles, I think you and I both would agree on something…FEW of us need to see Charlton Heston is DeMille’s epic AGAIN this Easter season. If ever a film, religous or otherwise, needed updating more, this would be it.

  12. swilder

    And yes I know there have been other attempts at The Ten Commandments, but I meant good ones. Even I had a hard time viewing that TV version a few years back.

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