Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler August 22-28: Queen of Hit & Run Rush

In Theaters

This may actually be a week that’s more notable for what we’re losing than for what we’re getting, which is a little on the depressing side. For that matter, there’s some question over just exactly what we’re getting—all this and yet another incomprehensible Wednesday opener.

Here’s what I know—we get one art title—The Queen of Versailles (opening at The Carolina)—and two mainsteam ones—Hit & Run and Premium Rush. Now, my information has it (as you’ll see in the paper) that there’s a third mainstream title—The Apparition—opening in wide release. However, I have been unable to confirm that anyone locally is actually booking the thing. I’ll report on this as details become available. Exciting, isn’t it? OK, so maybe not.

The one thing I’ve seen is The Queen of Versailles—the review for which is in this week’s Xpress. Whatever else can be said about it—and I liked it with some reservations—this trip into the lifestyles of the rich and clueless will most definitely keep your attention. Just exacrly how you end up feeling about the subjects is probably going to be dependent entirely on your worldview.

So let’s venture into the realm of the unknown…

This Wednesday opener is some kind of action comedy called Hit & Run (warning: Red Band trailer). Why it’s opening on Wednesday, I haven’t the least idea. Certainly nothing about it stands our as special, or something so highly anticipated that it requires two extra days on opening week. That it gives The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and To Rome with the Love their walking papers two days early does nothing to endear it to me. Then again, neither does the trailer. Dax Shepard wrote the film and co-directed it with David Palmer (whose name means nothing to me). They tried this in 2010 with something called Brother’s Justice, which never managed much of a release. They got luckier this time. I remain unconvinced that audiences have. Shepard plays Charlie Bronson (no fooling), a reformed getaway driver living in a protection identity program. Naturally, the film will bring that to an end in order to drive the plot. It mostly looks loud and obnoxious—and it’s aimed right at us.

Now, on Friday we’re assured of Premium Rush. Here’s a film that has “bad idea” scribbled all over it. Maybe it’s just me, but a story about a NYC bike messenger (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) being chased all over the city by bad guys over some envelope he’s supposed to deliver just doesn’t incite enthusiasm. That said, Gordon-Levitt is generally an interesting actor and writer-director David Koepp has some pretty good things to his credit. (I still maintain that his Stir of Echoes is far better than The Sixth Sense. And, for that matter, I like his Ghost Town—no matter what anybody says.) The trailer, however, is pretty much what the plot suggests. Michael Shannon appears to be playing the bad guy, which raises the inevitable question of whether he will run the gamut of his emotional range from A to A 2.0 as usual.

And then there’s the maybe it is/maybe it isn’t opening of The Apparition—a PG-13 horror film made by a director from nowhere, starring people you either recognize from playing supporting roles, or simply don’t recognize at all. It has something to do with a paranormal experiment that actually pays off, which, unfortunately, has downsides for those involved. Seems that whatever they’ve unleashed feeds on fear (insert political joke here) and is out to get them—or something like that. The highlight of the trailer—apart from the usual crappy video footage (which thankfully seems minimal)—is a marauding bedsheet. Don’t get too excited, since this might not be happening.

Now, this week’s casualties are on the numerous side—and they portend more. While the Fine Arts is keeping both Moonrise Kingdom and Beasts of the Southern Wild for this week, they will be dropping them next Friday. The Carolina is already dropping Moonrise Kingdom on Friday, along with Safety Not Guaranteed. Both To Rome with Love and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel are, as previously noted, leaving Wednesday. After all, we have to make room for Hit & Run (no comment). On the plus side, Ruby Sparks and The Intouchables are still hanging in there, as is Beasts of the Southern Wild.(I do not get the appeal of that film and, as yet, no one has effectively explained to me what I’m missing.)

Special Screenings

This week the Thursday Horror Picture Show is screening John Carpenter’s Big Trouble in Little China (1986) at 8 p.m. on Thu., Aug. 23 in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. The splendid Le Havre (2011) which never got a booking locally finally makes it to town via World Cinema on Fri., Aug.24 at 8 p.m. in the Railroad Library in the Phil Mechanic Building. The Hendersonville Film Society is showing Marc Forster’s Stranger Than Fiction (2006) on Sun., Aug. 26 at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. Charles Chaplin’s Modern Times (1936) is this week’s film from the Asheville Film Society at 8 p.m. on Tue., Aug. 28 in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. More on all titles in this week’s paper with extended coverage in the online edition.

On DVD

Two good—maybe even great—titles come to DVD this week with Bernie and A Separation. There’s also The Dictator, which is pretty entertaining. Viewers in search of Big Embarassments by Great Directors may want to check out Leo McCarey’s anti-commie McCarthy era drama My Son, John (1952).

Notable TV Screenings

Well, on Fri., Aug.24 TCM gives us 24 hours of Irene Dunne. It’s a mixed bag, but Theordora Goes Wild (1936) at 2:45 p.m. is agreeable fluff. Much the same can be said of Together Again (1944) which comes right afer it at 4:30 p.m. The very choice The Awful Truth (1937)—the film that really catapulted Cary Grant to stardom—is on at 8 p.m. And, if you want to wander into the late night hours, there;‘s James Whale’s Show Boat (1936) at 2:15 a.m.

Also worth noting—and also in one of those graveyard slots—is Billy Wilder’s Witness for the Prosecution (1957) at 2:30 a.m. (late night Saturday, Aug. 25 or early morning Sunday, Aug. 26, if you prefer). Like Whale’s Show Boat, this is nor available on DVD, which is pretty disgraceful.

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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."

3 thoughts on “Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler August 22-28: Queen of Hit & Run Rush

  1. Ken Hanke

    It appears to be official — of the 900 lucky theaters getting The Apparition not a one of them is in our area. Quelle fromage.

  2. Ken Hanke

    Well, it may be on that page, but it’s not at the theater. That it could be much worse than Hit & Run seems unlikely to me, though the reviews indicate it’s pretty dire.

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