Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler April 17-23: Like Ginger & Oblivion

In Theaters

The excitement of last week—the opening of Trance and Beyond the Pines—gives way to slighter art house pleasures this week, but pleasures all the same. There are two of those, but only one mainstream title—and no matter how it fares it absolutely has to be better than Scary Movie 5. An evening with a door-to-door God salesman or someone making an Amway pitch is better than Scary Movie 5.

I probably should note that I didn’t see last week’s other release, 42. That’s because I’m still holding out for an uplifting badminton movie. Now, I have seen this week’s art titles—Sally Potter’s Ginger & Rosa and Abbas Kiarostami’s Like Someone in Love (both opening at The Carolina)—though I only reviewed the latter. Mr. Souther tackled the former. There’s no denying that these are not in the same league of exciting filmmaking as Trance and The Place Beyond the Pines, but they’re definitely worth consideration.

Like Someone in Love—the one I reviewed—is clearly a film for specialized tastes. If you like Kiarostami’s last film, Certified Copy, there’s a good chance this will appeal to you. But be warned this is small scale work in which very little happens that can reasonably be called action. Plus, Kiarostami leaves the motivations and feelings of his characters up to the viewer to read. I like it a good bit—in part because it didn’t do a single thing I expected. Read the review and decide.

I suspect Ginger & Rosa will find a warmer reception. It’s more accessible and its story is more universal. I suspect it will work even better for those who were in their teens during the Cuban missile crisis and have a clearer memory of the time and the first glimmerings of what would come to be called the counter-culture. The presence of familiar faces—Annette Bening, Timothy Spall, Oliver Platt—is also a plus. Check out Justin’s review.

And that brings us to the week’s single mainstream offering, Oblivion, which stars Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman (unlike Scary Movie 5, this has the real one), Olga Kurylenko, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, and Melissa Leo. It was directed and co-written by Joseph Kosinski, who made TRON: Legacy. The trailers make the film look very slick with impeccable effects work. But neither they, nor the studio plot outline can make it sound like something you haven’t seen before—even if they assure us it’s “an original and groundbreaking cinematic event from the visionary director of TRON: Legacy.” But then I’m skeptical of “events” and even more skeptical when I’m told the director is “visionary.” (Zack Snyder, anyone?) Maybe I’m jaded. Still, can you honestly read this and not wonder how it’s “original?”—“Living in and patrolling the breathtaking skies from thousands of feet above, Jack’s soaring existence is brought crashing down after he rescues a beautiful stranger from a downed spacecraft. Drawn to Jack through a connection that transcends logic, her arrival triggers a chain of events that forces him to question everything he thought he knew.” It sounds like dozens of conspiracy-based movies to me (not to mention being appallingly written). Well, we’ll see.

This week we lose Stoker—which I was really hoping would do better than it did—and West of Memphis—which did about what I expect from a documentary. You’ve still got a couple days to catch them.

Special Screenings

This week the Thursday Horror Picture Show celebrates its third anniversary by showing the film that started the series three years ago—Stuart Gordon’s Re-Animator (1985) at 8 p.m. on Thu., April 18. World Cinema is screening Ishiro Honda’s Gojira (Godzilla) (1954) on Fri., April 19 at 8 p.m. in the Railroad Library in the Phil Mechanic Building. The Hendersonville Film Society has Richard Fleischer’s Soylent Green (1973) at 2 p.m. on Sun., April 21 in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. On Tue., April 23 a 8 p.m. the Asheville Film Society is running the Irving Cummings’ Technicolor musical-comedy That Night in Rio (1941) in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. More on all films in this week’s paper with expanded reviews in the online edition.

On DVD

There’s only one thing of note here, but that one is incredibly choice—Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained. Also up are a couple of titles that didn’t make it to local theater screens—the animated Monster in Paris and the geographical oddity The Haunting in Connecticut2: Ghosts of Georgia. I’ve heard good things about the former, but not the latter.

Notable TV Screenings

I’m very much afraid that this is one of those weeks—one where there’s no real shortage of good stuff on TCM, but nothing particularly out of the ordinary.

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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."

28 thoughts on “Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler April 17-23: Like Ginger & Oblivion

  1. Jeremy Dylan

    Now, I have seen this week’s art titles — Sally Potter’s Ginger & Rosa

    Now do you know who Christina Hendricks is?

  2. Ken Hanke

    It is worth noting that Rob Zombie’s new film Lords of Salem is opening at the Biltmore Grande. Why it went there exclusively, I have no idea.

  3. Xanadon't

    Strange indeed. Carolina couldn’t kick out Oz or Tyler Perry or something? I really try to limit my trips to the Biltmore Grande to an annual number in company with trips to the DMV or Dentist’s office.

  4. Ken Hanke

    Yeah, I don’t do the Grande period. (Actually, I don’t do Biltmore Park.) I’m not keen on stadium seating. I try not to support big box corporate theaters when there are independents around. Plus, there’s just too much walking involved given my current physical status. So it looks like I won’t see this till DVD time, which depresses me.

    • Dionysis

      My feelings exactly; I would add that another turn-off with these big box theaters is the almost carnival-like maze of endless, over-priced concession items and the rooms with those arcade-type machines and cheap trinket dispensers that blight the way into the actual theater (and I do mean the Biltmore Park types of theaters).

  5. Ken Hanke

    My feelings exactly; I would add that another turn-off with these big box theaters is the almost carnival-like maze of endless, over-priced concession items and the rooms with those arcade-type machines and cheap trinket dispensers that blight the way into the actual theater (and I do mean the Biltmore Park types of theaters).

    The one thing I have reservations about with The Carolina are the few video games it has (I do kind of appreciate the actual pinball machine). I think they’re…well, tacky.

  6. Steven

    [b]Just one of the most beloved red heads on tv.[/b]

    That would be Jane Levy, friend.

  7. Me

    I dont know who Jane Levy is but after looking her up she is more attractive.

  8. Ken Hanke

    It’s still by and large a different can of worms. Movies remain director-driven, while TV is producer or writer or creator driven. Even after Ryan Murphy dropped out of directing American Horror Story, for example, it retained his fingerprints regardless of the credited director. This isn’t anything new — can you really distinguish the directorial signature on an Avengers episode from 40+ years ago?

  9. Ken Hanke

    By the way, you never brought me that DVD you wanted reviewed.

  10. Ken Hanke

    And here I thought I’d dodged watching it. Oh, well. I’m sure I’ve seen worse. I’m sure you’ve brought me worse.

  11. Ken Hanke

    All it says is, “Get it off!” That may refer to it or any of about 30 discs.

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