Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler August 7-13 We’re the Unfished Lovelace Song on Elysium

In Theaters

Let’s admit it — last week was between lame and painful. (If you had to sit through The Smurfs 2, you’ll know how painful.) This week looks better. It’s certainly more movie-packed — four mainstream and two art titles hit town. No complaining about dearth of product at least.

As is usually the case, I’ve seen and reviewed the art titles — Lovelace and Unfinished Song (both opening at The Carolina). You can read the reviews in this week’s Xpress. I have mixed feelings about Lovelace — not to mention serious questions about a market for it (apart from those who just want to see Amanda Seyfried take off her shirt) — but I’m four-square sold on Unfinished Song.

Sure, it’s what we call “geezer bait” (being a geezer myself, I can say that). In other words, it’s squarely aimed at those of us whose mailboxes bulge with offers from the AARP and who aren’t shy about using our Long John Silver’s senior-discount cards. It not only has two “vintage” stars — Terence Stamp and Vanessa Redgrave — but it’s about old folks. So what? Some of us don’t need to see the older crowd in ridiculous fare like RED 2 and like something a little more human. It also stars two great actors. For that matter, it has a couple of pretty darn respectable younger performers in Gemma Arterton (her best role since Tamara Drewe) and Christopher Eccleston. Plus — and I think this is key — it’s honest in its emotion and sentiment. Will it change the way you think about film? No, but it doesn’t attempt to.

Now, I fear we must plunge into the mainstream …

First up is the most promising — Neill Blomkamp’s Elysium. This is his first film since his modestly-budgeted sci-fi hit District 9 (2009). Now, we get his first movie with real stars — Matt Damon and Jodie Foster — and at about three times the expense. It’s still sci-fi with a socio-political bent, which means it’s already annoyed those rare creatures, the right-wing movie critics. And since this movie puts forth a future where the one-percent have relocated themselves to the Elysium of the title (a kind of gated-community in space) and left the riff-raff (meaning most of us) to make do with a planet that’s been almost totally depleted of natural resources, it’s even more of a lightning rod. (Being the more typical lefty movie critic, I have no issues with the premise, though I can see it possibly sending out a message it doesn’t intend. We’ll see.) The plot concerns earthling schlub Matt Damon trying to infiltrate Elysium. Right now, the critics seem mixed, leaning positive. I’m interested, but cautious.

Then there’s Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters. Apart from the fact that the studios are still looking for the next Harry Potter, I don’t get why there’s a sequel to the “underperforming” Percy Jackson film from a few years back. Do they really think that replacing the innocuous director Chris Columbus with Thor Freudenthal is going to turn things around? Sure, he made a modest success of the first Diary of a Wimpy Kid movie in 2010, but he also made 2009’s mind-numbing Hotel for Dogs. (I’m still hoping for Eli Roth’s Hostel for Dogs, but I don’t guess that’s on tap.) Mind, I have nothing against the idea of this franchise. Logan Lerman is certainly an appealing young actor (see The Perks of Being a Wallflower) and I understand the first film wasn’t bad. I just don’t understand why it was made.

The reason for our next movie is simple: Greed. I refer to Disney’s Planes — like Cars, but with planes. The fine folks at Disney — who I’ve always tended to think would knock your kids’ teeth out on Main Street USA if there was a profit in it — are hoping against hope that the similarity (not to mention the poster) will hornswoggle you and your children into thinking this is from Pixar. Well, it ain’t. It’s from DisneyToons. Its idea of a big name voice actor appears to be Dane Cook. More interesting — that may not be the best word — is that this wasn’t even made for theatrical release. It was supposed to go straight-to-video. Then someone seems to have decided that a faux-Pixar ad campaign could make it theatrically profitable.

Last — and quite possibly least — we have Rawson Marshall Thurber’s (Dodgeball: An Underdog Story) We’re the Millers. This supposedly a real rib-tickling, knee-slapping bout of R-rated raunch-com. I say “supposedly” because the trailer isnt, the poster isn’t and so far it’s gotten the kind of reviews normally reserved for Adam Sandler pictures. The idea is that Jason Sudeikis is a pot dealer out to make a big score, but to do so requires him having what appears to be a “normal” family. So he does what any pot dealer in a movie would — he assembles one with the aid of a stripper (Jennifer Aniston), a nerdy virgin (Will Poulter) and a runaway (Emma Roberts). As you can tell, the possibilities for mirth are almost endless. Well, maybe not. And, no, Jennifer Aniston is not going to pop her top (who cares?). I thought we settled that last year when she backed out of doing it in Wanderlust.

This week we predictably lose Fruitvale Station (boy, did that flop here!) and we finally say goodbye to Mud. Come on, it’s been playing since April and it comes out on DVD today. Otherwise, the art stuff is holding steady.

Special Screenings

Before getting to the usual things, let me note (I’m not sure it made it into print) that Pack Memorial Library is running David Lean’s Summertime at 3 p.m. on Tue., Aug. 13 in Lord Auditorium.

This week the Thursday Horror Picture Show will screen Ti West’s The Innkeepers (2011) at 8 p.m. on Thu., Aug. 8 in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. World Cinema is showing Ingmar Bergman’s Sawdust and Tinsel (1953) on Fri., Aug. 9 at 8 p.m. in the Railroad Building in the Phil Mechanic Building. The Hendersonville Film Society is running Julien Duvivier’s Anna Karenina (1948) at 2 p.m. on Sun., Aug. 11 in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. The Asheville Film Society has George Marshall’s Murder, He Says (1945) on Tue., Aug. 13 at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. More on all titles in this week’s paper — with complete reviews in the online edition.

On DVD

As already noted, this week brings us Mud, but there’s also The Place Beyond the Pines. In addition, we get On the Road, West of Memphis, Oblivion — and your chance to see Terrence Malick’s To the Wonder, which may or may not reveal why it didn’t play here.

Notable TV Screenings

Unfortunately, the TCM website has been down all morning, so you’re really on your own this week.

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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."

26 thoughts on “Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler August 7-13 We’re the Unfished Lovelace Song on Elysium

  1. Steven

    [b] and your chance to see Terrence Malick’s To the Wonder, which may or may not reveal why it didn’t play here.[/b]

    About time. I take it you have no interest, Ken?

  2. Ken Hanke

    I’m curious, but Malick is not in my pantheon, so I’m not morbid about it.

  3. Jeremy Dylan

    Then there’s Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters.

    Shit. Does this mean I have to make BENJAMIN SNIDDLEGRASS 2?

    This week we predictably lose Fruitvale Station (boy, did that flop here!)

    I blame television.

  4. Ken Hanke

    While I blame TV for lots of things, I think this has more to do with a.) the Weinsteins dropping it into the mix at the last minute so it was neither screened, nor reviewed, b.) they booked into three theaters here, c.) it was up against a crowd-pleaser like The Way, Way Back, and d.) people don’t line up for depressing movies with a cast that has little box office draw.

  5. DrSerizawa

    Well, I’ll try Elysium but as someone with a scientific background the idea that a civilization that could hang “a jewel-like space station inhabited only by super-rich, (mostly) white folks nineteen miles above Earth” couldn’t also reach the limitless resources of the other planets is illogical. (Actually we have the ability to do this now. Too bad we have no vision in our leadership.)

    Not to mention that a place inhabited by “super-rich mostly white folks” sounds suspiciously like the place that Matt Damon and Jodie Foster live. A place where illegal aliens either clean house or get rousted out by the local cops. Maybe Matt is going to be shooting at mirrors?

    Well, I’ll go see it. I’ve pretty much learned not to expect too much logic in scifi flicks.
    Might be good. I don’t care about political messages as long as that aren’t as ham-handed as James Cameron is wont. District9‘s message was quite well handed.

  6. Ken Hanke

    We shall see. I have no particular problem with the film’s politics — as already noted — but I still see a huge potential pitfall that would warm the cockles of a Randian’s heart. Whether the film sidesteps it…well, that’s another matter. And, as far as I’m concerned, James Cameron is pretty much of a bozo.

  7. Me

    Good stuff this weekend Larry David’s movie on Saturday, Breaking Bad final episodes Sunday, and Martin Scorsese picks his favorite Catherine Deneuve films all day Monday on TCM.

  8. Ken Hanke

    Mr. David’s TV movie, of course, requires having HBO — and I have to admit my interest dipped when I saw Danny McBride was in the cast.

  9. Steven

    I think we all know what everyone is anticipating for this weekend.

  10. Ian C

    If I’m responding to a rhetorical statement, I apologize. But my understanding is that Percy Jackson got a sequel because the first movie did well internationally.

  11. Ken Hanke

    I think we all know what everyone is anticipating for this weekend.

    Is this a trick observation?

  12. Ken Hanke

    But my understanding is that Percy Jackson got a sequel because the first movie did well internationally.

    Well, the international box office kept it from losing money, but not much more than that.

  13. Me

    Anybody see new the leaked The Day the Clown Died footage? It actually doesn’t look like that bad of a movie.

  14. Me

    There has been footage around for years from the “making of” piece but there was a new clip posted this past weekend to Youtube which shows the longest clip from the actual movie to date.

  15. Ken Hanke

    Then why don’t you post the link to it. The only thing I’ve seen is what I posted and there’s very little actually from the film.

  16. Me

    Its the same clip in your link, but im just saying that it is the first clip to show almost a full scene from the film.

  17. Ken Hanke

    Maybe I’m missing something, but all I see is some rehearsal footage.

  18. Me

    The beginning of the clip is a scene from the movie, its indiscernible though why the people making the documentary cut the continuity and announce him as Jerry Lewis when he starts doing his silent act though.

  19. Ken Hanke

    I do not believe any of that is anything more than test or rehearsal footage of Lewis being spectacularly unfunny. It looks too cheap and shoddy to be final footage.

  20. Ken Hanke

    Oh, it’ll probably surface (assuming it was ever properly finished) when Lewis dies.

  21. Me

    Not really.

    I’ve got it! Kings of Comedy 2, Robert Deniro gets out of jail and is on a mission to see The Day The Clown Cried by any means necessary.

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