Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler August 28-September 3: Spectacular Closed Crystal Fairy War

In Theaters

OK, this is an odd week in a couple of ways. Not only are there too may “art” titles opening — four is just more than the market will bear — but exactly what is opening in the supposedly mainstream realm is still open to some question, and that’s question that won’t be answered till sometime tomorrow.

Things we do know — there are four art/indie titles opening at The Carolina: Closed Circuit, Crystal Fairy, I Declare War, The Spectacular Now. All of these have been seen and reviewed in this week’s paper. I reviewed all of them, but I Declare War, which fell to Mr. Souther. (I saw the movie at ActionFest last year.) Perhaps the oddest thing is that both Closed Circuit and The Spectacular Now are opening on Wednesday. No, I don’t know why.

For my money, the best is Closed Circuit, which is an unusually intelligent thriller that I’m glad to see Focus is finally putting some push behind. I still hold out little hope for it at the box office, since it lacks a big name star. All the same — and despite some far from glowing early reviews — it strikes me as a good film, and certainly the one with the broadest appeal. Check out the review.

The big surprise for me was how much I liked Crystal Fairy — a film that by all rights, I oughtn’t have cared for. On the other hand, I had been looking forward to The Spectacular Now and was … well, underwhelmed. Maybe it was one coming-of-age movie too many. Maybe it was just over-praised, but it really didn’t do it for me. You can read why in the review. And bear in mind, I’m in the minority on it. It may appeal more to you.

Now, these other things …

Well, yesterday I was told that this One Direction: This Is Us quasi-documentary from Morgan Spurlock wasn’t opening here. Last evening, I found out otherwise. I am not sure why. Granted, I don’t follow this kind of music at all, but I’ve never heard of this boy band that appears to have been assembled by Simon Cowell. (Can anything possibly make this less appealing? Well, the Morgan Spurlock factor doesn’t help either, as far as I’m concerned.). They look for all the world like Menudo for WASP girls. In any case, it’s obviously not aimed at me. Actually, I’m not quite sure who it’s aimed at — or who it will attract, especially in light of the less than stellar box office of most such films recently.

Also, yesterday it seemed that this Getaway picture starring Ethan Hawke was a certainty. All I know at this point is that neither The Carolina nor Carmike booked it. Whether or not either of the Regal theaters are getting it, I’ll know tomorrow. Anyway, if it does show up, it was directed by Courtney Solomon — who made the pretty bad An American Haunting back in 2006 and whom the IMDb claims is an “indie-horror maverick.” Hawke stars as someone named Brent Magna (really?) and is playing someone whose wife has been kidnapped (whether by Jon Voight or just his voice is unclear). According to the studio blurb, Hawke’s only ally is computer hacker Selena Gomez. Anybody really hoping this will open locally?

This week, the Fine Arts holds steady, but The Carolina loses Kings of Summer (today is the last day) and Unfinished Song (lasts through Thursday).

Special Screenings

This Thursday’s Thursday Horror Picture Show is a double bill of Bela Lugosi Monogram B-pictures, William Beaudine’s Voodoo Man (1944) and Phil Rosen’s Return of the Ape Man (1944) on Thu., Aug. 29 at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. World Cinema is showing Jules Dassin’s Rififi (1955) at 8 p.m. on Fri., Aug. 30 in the Railroad Library in the Phil Mechanic Building. The Hendersonville Film Society is running Ronald Neame’s The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1969) on Sun., Sept. 1 at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. The Asheville Film Society is screening Michel Gondry’s Be Kind Rewind (2008) on Tue., Sept. 3 at The Carolina. More on all titles in this week’s Xpress with full reviews in the online edition.

On DVD

This big news this week is the debut of The Great Gatsby on DVD (my copy should be arriving any minute). Also up is the underrated and underseen The Reluctant Fundamentalist, as well as Pain & Gain.

Notable TV Screenings

In one of TCM’s more interesting moves, the subject of their Thu., Aug. 29 “Summer Under the Stars” is the great Glenda Farrell — who is usually better than the movies she’s in. The best thing from the persepective of Ms. Farrell is Michael Curtiz’s Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933) in which she plays the movies’ first bonafide wisecracking newspaper woman. That’s at 9:15 p.m. It’s followed by Mervyn LeRoy’s classic I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (1932) — a great picture, but not really a Glenda Farrell picture.

Sunday, Sept. 1 brings us something close to an all Alfred Hitchcock day. The order is pretty random. It all starts at 10 a.m. with Murder! (1930). Then we get Rope (1948) at noon, Spellbound at 1:30 p.m., Marnie (1964) at 3:30 p.m., The Birds (1963) at 5:45 p.m., Shadow of a Doubt (1943) at 8 p.m., Psycho at 10 p.m., The Lodger (1926) at midnight, Blackmail (1929) at 2 a.m., and Frenzy (1972) at 3:30 a.m. If you can detect any pattern to this, let me know. If you catch nothing else, you should make it Shadow of a Doubt.

Monday, Sept. 2 is rather curious. Worth noting, however, is Frank Borzage’s History Is Made at Night (1937) at 8 a.m., and Aki Kaurismaki’s Le Havre (2011) at 2:30 p.m. That evening TCM is starting the 15 part The Story of Film: An Odyssey, which I am told is very good and very idiosyncratic, meaning it won’t be the same old thing.

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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."

34 thoughts on “Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler August 28-September 3: Spectacular Closed Crystal Fairy War

  1. Jeremy Dylan

    Hawke stars as someone named Brent Magna

    BRENT MAGNA! He’s a cop who plays by the rules! With his maverick partner JACK CARTER, they are a team of mismatched detectives who GET RESULTS DAMNIT!

    MAGNA / CARTER

    Coming to CBS this Fall!

  2. Xanadon't

    That evening TCM is starting the 15 part The Story of Film: An Odyssey, which I am told is very good and very idiosyncratic, meaning it won’t be the same old thing.

    You were told correctly, as far as I’m concerned. Apparently some are put off by Mark Cousins’ narration (imagine an Irish Werner Herzog) but I loved it. He’s articulate and sometimes academic, but also very plain spoken and not afraid to shut up altogether and let the image do the talking when it’s called for.

  3. Ken Hanke

    You were told correctly, as far as I’m concerned. Apparently some are put off by Mark Cousins’ narration (imagine an Irish Werner Herzog) but I loved it. He’s articulate and sometimes academic, but also very plain spoken and not afraid to shut up altogether and let the image do the talking when it’s called for.

    He and I have a mutual friend. Said friend told me I needed to see this, because he was pretty sure I’d like it and agree with it more than not — plus, he says Cousins would agree with me that 21st century film starts with Moulin Rouge!.

  4. Ken Hanke

    By the bye, I’ve been looking at Gatsby on DVD. Watching the first hour, I’ve got a hunch I’m going to find this endlessly fascinating. I’m already of the opinion that it’s even better than I thought.

  5. Xanadon't

    – plus, he says Cousins would agree with me that 21st century film starts with Moulin Rouge!.

    Actually, yes, I thought of you as I watched that installment in the series and Moulin Rouge! came up for discussion.

    By the bye, I’ve been looking at Gatsby on DVD. Watching the first hour, I’ve got a hunch I’m going to find this endlessly fascinating. I’m already of the opinion that it’s even better than I thought.

    I very nearly rented it online early this morning, but figured I’d wait to watch it again until I buy it. All this alcohol talk over in the World’s End thread had me about ready to pour myself a drink, but now I may just run to Walmart instead.

  6. Ken Hanke

    All this alcohol talk over in the World’s End thread had me about ready to pour myself a drink

    I suppose I could get wild and have a tot of Tia Maria, but I’ll probably just pack it in about now.

    now I may just run to Walmart instead

    I splurged and paid the obscene shipping to have it show up today. I’m especially fascinated this round by the deliberate use of color and the pacing. As I suspected, it is 30 minutes — in fact, almost exactly — before we actually meet Gatsby. I was intersted to see that it’s almost exactly the one hour mark when Gatsby and Daisy first meet in the main story. I suspect this is not coincidental. (Though it may be intuitive more than conscious.) What I’m curious to see is if there are other points like this. There is much to explore, I think.

  7. Jeremy Dylan

    Mark Kermode has been evangelizing the Cousins doco since it came out a few years ago. If Ken likes it, I’ll have to track it down.

  8. Me

    Tuesday night on TCM looked pretty good The Anderson Tapes and Little Big Man.

    This Story of Film appears to be the same one that Netflix keeps recommending me.

  9. Ken Hanke

    In other news, both the Beaucatcher and Biltmore Grande have “Ethan Hawke is Brent Magna in Getaway.” Starting Friday. I hope you can all contain your excitement.

  10. Me

    Is that the film where Ethan “just wants his wife back”? I saw that trailer before Blue Jasmine and it had me cracking up.

  11. Xanadon't

    I’m especially fascinated this round by the deliberate use of color

    I’d be interested to hear more. I felt a vague sense that reds and oranges saturated scenes of desire and passion (as one might guess), but of the more wanton, reckless variety while greens and blues dominated in scenes in tune with things more intimate, doomed and beautiful. Apart from the general sense there are a few specific instances I have in mind, (a bright red fire escape, Myrtle’s red dress in our first encounter vs. green dress when Gatsby and Nick dive past, Gatsby drowning in Daisy’s turquoise bedsheets – nearly identical to the turquoise pool that where he will later meet his demise). But really, I feel Luhrmann employs such a lavish color wheel that it’s difficult to detect any decipherable, or at least overt pattern.

    I’m beginning to think that I dislike 3D presentation even more than I thought. I engaged more excitedly and appreciatively with the movie this time around. Whether it was the raucous energy and thrilling camera movements of certain scenes or the perfectly measured intensity or emotional delicacy of other scenes, it all seemed to play in tighter harmony for me this time. I was more responsive to the music too. And while I thought Cary Mulligan was good, but not remarkable the first time, I found her phenomenal this time.

    Maybe some of this is simply benefit of a repeat viewing, but I really do feel like the 3D effect distances me from the movie as a whole. Which would seem sensible enough perhaps in terms of story and character, but I’m not sure it doesn’t in some cases intrude on my ability to appreciate that which it’s supposed to enhance — the visual language of the film.

    But yeah, I’m pretty sure this shot up to my top 3 for the year so far. And that may still be selling it short.

  12. Ken Hanke

    It becomes difficult to determine how I feel about the 3D, since I can make no direct comparison between the two. I have been better able to appreciate the finer details of the film in 2D, yes, but, as you indicate, how much of that is down to simply seeing the film again is hard to say. I wish I had immediately seen it in 2D when it was in the theater, but that didn’t happen. (That is less laziness than logistics that involve the limitations of my traveling oxygen.) Maybe the best approach would have been to see it in 2D first and 3D afterwards, but it’s a little late to be considering that.

    About the color — it’s, of course, tricky because of the admitted fact that Luhrmann loves color and lots of it. And that means this isn’t going to be easily dug into. But I immediately noticed that when we first see Myrtle at the gas station, she has a green scarf on that exactly matches the color of the garage door. When next we see her in the love nest, she has that red dress that matches the color of the apartment. I suspect there’s more, but that jumped out at me.

    I agree that Mulligan comes across much better on a second viewing. (She, by the way, is mostly identified with white.) I don’t know if I responded better to the music, but I certainly noticed it a lot more. I was impressed by the way its hip-hop (if that’s what it should be called) manages to incorporate a 1920s hot jazz feeling. (Though it probably should be noted that Idlewild did something very similar.)

    For me, I suspect this is going to be a fairly long process of exploration. Of course, it was already at no. one for me, so it can’t go higher in that regard. (And I find it unlikely that there’s anything on the way that’s going to change that ranking.) What still amazes me is how much more it makes me like the story.

  13. Me

    Orbit doesnt post here anymore. Did they go out of business, the website is down too. I was wondering if they had the cult film “Even Hitler Had a Girlfriend”.

    • bsummers

      No, Orbit is not out of business – far from it. I was there tonight. It’s always packed when I go in. They said they don’t have “Even Hitler Had a Girlfriend”, but they would look into it.

      Not a shill, but hey – maybe call them before suggesting they are out of business: 251-1337

  14. Ken Hanke

    He posted a day or two ago in The World’s End thread and I got the Orbit mailing about new releases last night.

  15. Me

    Not sure if they are going to show it any more this week, but PBS also played Keanu Reeves documentary film Side by Side.

  16. Me

    They just played a one hour section of the movie not the whole thing. What i saw of it, they were interviewing people like David Lynch, Martin Scorsese, and James Cameron and talking about the differences between using film and digital cameras and the differences in editing the two formats.

  17. Ken Hanke

    Did it touch on this?:

    I hate to see theaters go out of business, but it’s been known for at least three years that 2013 would be the end of distributors handling 35mm prints.

  18. Ken Hanke

    Probably the only reason I knew it is because I deal closely with theaters, but the minute Fox (I think they were the first) announced a cut-off date for supplying 35mm, it was a given that others would follow. It makes sense. A 35mm print costs $3-5,000. A reusable hard-drive is about a hundred bucks. Shipping on a print is about $50 one way. A drive is about $15. The digital print doesn’t scratch and doesn’t fade, etc. (Ironically, they still make a certain number of 35mm prints on an archival basis, since there are still questions about the life span of digital prints.)

  19. Jeremy Dylan

    I think digital projection is totally positive thing and will result in better and more consistent viewing experiences around the world.

    It’s shooting digital that can be problematic.

  20. Orbit DVD

    Orbit doesnt post here anymore. Did they go out of business, the website is down too.

    Orbit is coming off the busiest summer ever in the 10 years that I’ve been open. And looking at last weekend’s business, I don’t see any signs of it slowing down.

    I love to talk movies, but I do it all day long at the store and to be honest it’s hard for me to follow a conversation online.

  21. Ken Hanke

    I think digital projection is totally positive thing and will result in better and more consistent viewing experiences around the world.

    It’s shooting digital that can be problematic

    That first seems pretty much unarguable, though there are still some potential pitfalls with theaters — or theater chains — using lamps long past their brightness dates just because they’ll still strike. (That problem existed with 35mm, too, so it’s not inherent in digital.) One of the biggest improvements, though, is the fact that quality control on 35mm prints was getting worse and worse in the ten years I worked at a theater.

    The thing about shooting in digital…well, it bothers me less than it does you. Normally, I can’t even tell with any certainty anymore when it comes to anything that’s properly lit. When you look at a movie like Gatsby or Hugo and compare it with early digital filmmaking from 2001 — see The Anniversary Party — the advances are astounding.

  22. Me

    One of the things they talked about in Side to Side was the way shooting digital effects the actors and their performances. They also interview David Fincher and he confirms the Robert Downey Jr.rumor about the film Zodiac.

  23. Ken Hanke

    Now, I can see where shooting digital effects could affect a performance, but you’d have some pretty tall explaining to do to convince me that actors are affected differently because of the medium being employed.

    I’m sure that information about Zodiac is fascinating — assuming you know what this rumor is.

  24. Ken Hanke

    They explain in the film that when shooting digital there is no down time, you can constantly film, something some actors aren’t accustomed to.

    Oh, you mean the sort of thing actors have been doing onstage for hundreds of years.

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