Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler Dec. 13-19: Shelter Young Adult Sherlock Holmes from Chipmunks

In Theaters

It’s two and two this week. We’re looking at two mainstream titles—Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows and Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chip-wrecked—and two art titles—Take Shelter and Young Adult. Take Shelter—which has been moved back several times—is finally opening at the Fine Arts, and Young Adult is coming to The Carolina (it may be opening somewhere else, but that’s the only confirmed venue). Of course, next week gets really screwy with some titles opening on Wednesday (or even Tuesday night), some on Friday and at least one film opening on Sunday. We can happily leave that confusion alone right now.

I’ve seen Take Shelter and Young Adult. In fact, it seems like ages ago that I saw—and wrote the review for—Take Shelter, but the film kept getting pushed back (in part due to the—to me—mystifying popularity of The Way). Now, it’s finally, actually, really—no foolin’—opening. Young Adult I just saw and reviewed. And I have to say I was impressed, but I admit to some reservation about how it will play to a lot of viewers. The trailer makes the film look like a quirky comedy and is banking on the strength of reteaming of director Jason Reitman and writer Diablo Cody, whose last pairing resulted in Juno. OK? Well, yes, it’s quirky and sometimes it’s very funny, but it’s also a very bitter, often uncomfortable movie, the aims of which are pretty far removed from the realm of “feel good.”

And what of the two other titles? Well, let’s do some prognostication on those.

First off, there’s Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chip-wrecked, the very existence of which elicits a “Dear God, no!” from me. I find this particularly depressing because I saw the first one of these rampaging rodents reboot back in 2007. At that time, I was certain that no one would go see anything this lame, this bad, this cheesy, this abominable. Well, I was wrong. The only consolation was that I was able to foist the 2009 sequel—pardon me, “squeakquel”—on Justin Souther. And now … here comes the third film in the series. And just guess whose turn in the barrel it is. Uh huh. I am the lucky one who gets to spend 87 minutes with the Chipmunks, the Chipettes (are those miniature chippies?), and the formerly rather likable Jason Lee. My guess is I won’t even be able to hornswoggle some poor boob … I mean good friend into sitting through it with me.

A much more pleasant prospect comes our way in Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. I know that it’s fashionable among certain devout Sherlockians to decry the very existence of the rethinking of Sherlock Holmes found in the first film, but I found it to be a great deal of fun. I admit, however, that it has not proved to be a film that called me back to revisit it. That’s not necessarily a criticism, merely a sense that I got the good out of it in one sitting. (Others are at liberty to disagree.) However, I am more than ready to experience the Holmes and Watson chemistry between Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law again. I’m also more than a little curious to see the original Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Noomi Rapace, in her first English-language film. Plus, the fact that Ritchie has indicated that he felt more free to be himself on this entry is intriguing. And before someone bitches about it, no, this is not the first time Sherlock Holmes has appeared in drag. High marks to anyone who knows where this happened before (no, it’s not a parody film).

Leaving us this week are The Way and Martha Marcy May Marlene, which are departing the Fine Arts. The Carolina is divesting itself of Into the Abyss, Like Crazy and Margin Call. The Descendants is hanging on everywhere, while The Carolina is keeping Melancholia. It’s worth noting, however, in the case of Melancholia that there are movies opening at least as early as Wednesday (possibly Tuesday evening), so dawdling is not recommended. I also expect J. Edgar to leave after this week.

Special Screenings

The Thursday Horror Picture Show is running Tobe Hooper’s The Funhouse (1981) this Thursday, Dec. 15, at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. Short Films by Maya Deren and Arthur Lispett is this week’s screening at World Cinema. The films show at 8 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 16, in the Railroad Library in the Phil Mechanic Building. The Asheville Film Society is showing Laurel and Hardy in Babes in Toyland (March of the Wooden Soldiers) as its Christmas movie on Tuesday, Dec. 20, at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. Reviews and more information on all titles is available in the online edition of this week’s Xpress.

On DVD

The big title this week is probably Rise of the Planet of the Apes, though I wasn’t as wild about it as some. Also up are Fright Night, Kung Fu Panda 2 and The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975. That last named played here, but almost no one went to see it and that was a mistake on a lot of people’s part. I hope it finds a more congenial reception on DVD.

Notable TV Screenings

I’m not at all sure if these are “notable,” except in the sense of being unusual. I certainly cannot vouch for their quality because I’ve never seen them. Now, that’s a much bigger statement than it might seem on the surface, because there just aren’t that many extant movies from the early years of sound that I haven’t seen—albeit sometimes in crappy, multi-generation VHS dupes, which is often like not seeing them at all. That said, I have never seen even those ghostly whispers Paul Muni’s debut film William K. Howard’s The Valiant (1929) or Gloria Swanson’s early sound hit Edmund Goulding’s The Trespasser (1929). But both are on TCM on Wednesday, Dec. 14., The Valiant is on at 7:45 a.m. and The Trespasser at 10 a.m. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m getting up for them.

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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."

23 thoughts on “Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler Dec. 13-19: Shelter Young Adult Sherlock Holmes from Chipmunks

  1. Jeremy Dylan

    And before someone bitches about it, no, this is not the first time Sherlock Holmes has appeared in drag. High marks to anyone who knows where this happened before (no, it’s not a parody film).

    Holmes drags up in ‘The Mazarin Stone’, one of the original Doyle stories. There are also numerous examples through the lands of pastiche through the years.

    As a die-hard Sherlockian, I pretty much adored the first Ritchie film, and I can’t wait for this outing. The additions of Jared Harris and Stephen Fry can only be an improvement.

  2. Ken Hanke

    Actually, I’m looking for a film, not a story.

    I don’t know Jared Harris, but I second the addition of Fry.

  3. Me

    Im falling behind on my movie viewing, there are to many good films out to keep up with i still need to see The Descendants, Meloncholia, Young Adult, and Take Shelter, and Le Harve, Shame and The Artist havent even been released yet.

    Ken TCM is doing a salute to the Motion Picture Collection at George Eastman House Wednesday and the main film they are premiering is Kubricks Fear and Desire.

  4. Ken Hanke

    Le Havre, Shame and The Artist have all been released (actually, I’ve seen all of them), but they haven’t made it here yet. My understanding is that The Artist should be Jan. 13. I think Shame is later. Le Havre is waiting for an opening at the Fine Arts. The ones I haven’t seen that interest me are Carnage and A Dangerous Method and it doesn’t look very promising for me to see them before Best of time either.

    And I would definitely try to hit Melancholia this weekend, if you want to see it.

  5. Xanadon't

    Young Adult is one of those films that I’ve already decided I like a whole helluva a lot, never mind the pesky little detail that I haven’t seen it yet. The fact that much of it was filmed in my hometown is just gravy. Can’t wait.

  6. Andy

    Any idea if we’re slated to get [i]Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy[/i]?

  7. Ken Hanke

    Rumor has it that we’ll see it on Jan. 13, but that’s not etched in stone.

  8. Xanadon't

    The ones I haven’t seen that interest me are Carnage and A Dangerous Method and it doesn’t look very promising for me to see them before Best of time either.

    Well as of now one personal source that I consider to be highly credible, a less-than-automatically credible Richard Roeper video review, and the trailer itself have all conspired to dent my initial strong interest in Carnage and makes me think that its tardiness for your Best OF list will ultimately be a non-issue.

    Excited to see that list though. Justin is of course compiling one too, right?

  9. Xanadon't

    The ones I haven’t seen that interest me are Carnage and A Dangerous Method and it doesn’t look very promising for me to see them before Best of time either.

    Well as of now one personal source that I consider to be highly credible, a less-than-automatically credible Richard Roeper video review, and the trailer itself have all conspired to dent my initial strong interest in Carnage and makes me think that its tardiness for your Best OF list will ultimately be a non-issue.

    Excited to see that list though. Justin is of course compiling one too, right?

  10. Xanadon't

    The ones I haven’t seen that interest me are Carnage and A Dangerous Method and it doesn’t look very promising for me to see them before Best of time either.

    Well as of now one personal source that I consider to be highly credible, a less-than-automatically credible Richard Roeper video review, and the trailer itself have all conspired to dent my initial strong interest in Carnage and makes me think that its tardiness for your Best OF list will ultimately be a non-issue.

    *I’m sensing a “website strikes again” moment here. WORK you stupid ‘submit’ button! Hmm, we’ll see…

    Excited to see that list though. Justin is of course compiling one too, right?

  11. Ken Hanke

    What appears to be happening with the website is that it’s taking the submissions even though it seems to merely be sitting there staring at you. Why, I do not know.

    I have some reservations about Carnage, based mostly on the fact that the last time Polanski took a play like this resulted in Death and the Maiden, which while well done enough was…well, pretty darn dull. All the same, it’s Polanski, so I’m witholding judgment. It may be one of those movies where it works better in the context of a filmography than on its own. We shall see, but not in time for our lists.

    And as for the lists…they’ll be a little different this year, since a preliminary barebones list will be in the issue of the 28th and a more complete list will wander into view (whether in print or online is unknown at this point) after the first of the year — including the dreaded worst films of 2011. And, yes, we’ll both have lists.

  12. Me

    The Carnage trailer did look great but then it kind of vanished and i haven’t really heard anyone else talk about it come year end lists.

  13. Ken Hanke

    The Carnage trailer did look great but then it kind of vanished and i haven’t really heard anyone else talk about it come year end lists.

    I’m not sure how the trailer can be said to have “vanished.” I will grant you that it has not been attached to any of the art titles lately, but that’s to be expected, since no one knows when it’s going to play here. And I can’t imagine it being attached to anything other than an art title. As for hearing anyone else talk about it on year end lists, I’m not sure why anything other than seeing it should matter to me.

  14. Edwin Arnaudin

    *I’m sensing a “website strikes again” moment here. WORK you stupid ‘submit’ button! Hmm, we’ll see…

    I’ve submitted 2-3 comments in the past week, including one Saturday night on THE DESCENDANTS, and none have shown up.

  15. Xanadon't

    I’ve submitted 2-3 comments in the past week, including one Saturday night on THE DESCENDANTS, and none have shown up.

    Bummer. No wonder activity has been light around here lately. I get cranky when I can’t talk movies. And Ken’s that way to begin with. Can something be done about this? What gives?

    • Edwin Arnaudin

      I get cranky when I can’t talk movies.

      Ditto. My DESCENDANTS post showed up after I submitted my complaint here (which showed up at the same time). Perhaps they were in a holding pattern? If so, I posted one on why Ken should watch MONEYBALL over on a Weekly Reeler a little while back. Release the truth!

  16. Ken Hanke

    I get cranky when I can’t talk movies. And Ken’s that way to begin with.

    You can be testy or crabby or bitchy or grumpy or Sneezy or Doc, but not cranky.

  17. Ken Hanke

    Perhaps they were in a holding pattern?

    Maybe, but I doubt it was an intentional one. I don’t think you’re moderated — oh, wait, yes you are. I’ll see what I can do about that, but it hardly explains everything.

    If so, I posted one on why Ken should watch MONEYBALL over on a Weekly Reeler a little while back.

    It’d need to be a really compelling argument, but I would like like to ready it. Do you know where it was?

    Release the truth!

    You can release the Kraken, if it’ll make this work better.

    • Edwin Arnaudin

      Maybe, but I doubt it was an intentional one. I don’t think you’re moderated — oh, wait, yes you are.

      I don’t think it was intentional. Only reason I partly think so is because I sent the “where’s my comment?” message and suddenly it and the DESCENDANTS comment appeared. I’m also no longer receiving email notifications to follow-up comments. Is that somewhere in account preferences?

      It’d need to be a really compelling argument, but I would like like to ready it. Do you know where it was?

      It was in the Dec. 7-13 Reeler. I said something pithy like, “The writing is so good that it makes Pitt and Hill appealing.”

      You can release the Kraken, if it’ll make this work better.

      Kraken: released. But I don’t think he knows html.

  18. Ken Hanke

    Both of you guys have my e-mail. If you post something and it doesn’t show up, let me know and I’ll see if I can take care of it. I’m not promising I can (hell, no one can figure out how to make the 50/50 review go away from the Still Showings), but I’ll have a bash.

  19. Ken Hanke

    I’m also no longer receiving email notifications to follow-up comments. Is that somewhere in account preferences?

    No, it seems to be something that went south with the “New-and-Improved” website — like so many functional things.

    I said something pithy like, “The writing is so good that it makes Pitt and Hill appealing.”

    Well, now that the madness of awards season is sort of behind me, I might try it.

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