Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler Dec. 28-Jan 3: No news is no news

In Theaters

We are officially in the doldrums this week. That is to say that absolutely nothing is slated to open this week. With the possible exception of some theaters doing some tweaking of times (and how corporate offices do dearly love to do that to help justify their existence), everything that is playing on Christmas Day is very likely to be playing through Jan. 5. This week you may breathe easily or play catch-up with those movies you have yet to make it to. Next week at least I can pretty much promise you one treat and almost definitely promise you a cheesy-looking horror picture (of the low-budget R rated variety). But for the moment, I can say no more since things do change when you least expect it.

For me, it’s the week I catch up with War Horse (while Mr. Souther does the same with The Darkest Hour). I also have other things to amuse myself — like the presumptive treat for next week — and we’ll both be extending out (possibly even altering) our “best of 2011” lists, including the dreaded “worst of” selection.

And since there’s nothing new arriving, that also means that there’s nothing to warn you of being in immediate danger of not being around when you want to see it. Well, at least, as long as you plan on seeing it this or next week.

Special Screenings

This week’sThursday Horror Picture Show is Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining (1980) at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 29, in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. The Asheville Film Society starts its month-long tribute to British filmmaker Ken Russell (who passed away on Nov. 27) at 8 p.m on Tuesday, Jan 3, in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina with a double feature of two of the director’s finest films for the BBC — Isadora (1966) and Song of Summer (1968).  More on all these in this week’s Xpress.

On DVD

Well, this doesn’t look any more promising. The only things I spy are Final Destination 5 (meh) and Apollo 18 (blech). I confess some interest in the miniseries The Borgias, which also comes out this week, based on the involvement of Neil Jordan. Whether that’s enough to get me to tackle hours of the series itself is another matter.

Notable TV screenings

TCM is offering an “In Memoriam” set on Wednesday, Dec. 28, but it’s mostly titles they’ve run a good bit. However, the evening does start with Norman Z. McLeod’s Bob Hope western comedy The Paleface (1948), in honor of Jane Russell. This doesn’t get seen all that much these days (possibly it’s considered politically incorrect), so if you’ve never seen it, it’s worth a look, though its sequel Son of Paleface (1952) is a much wilder film.

On Friday, Dec. 30, at 7:45 a.m., they’re running what gets my vote for the best of the William Powell-Myrna Loy films that aren’t “Thin Man” movies with Double Wedding (1937).  At noon the same day, there’s Edward Cline’s W.C. Fields classic The Bank Dick (1940). They do run this a good bit, but if you’ve never seen it, you should. Things get even better at 3:30 p.m. with Ernst Lubitsch’s masterpiece Trouble in Paradise (1932), one of the very few films I’d slap the label “perfect” on. I suppose I should note that very late that night (as in 4:15 a.m on Saturday, if you want to get technical) is Charles Bunrett’s Killer of Sheep (1977), a film a lot of people seem to like a lot better than I do.

As they traditionally seem to do New Year’s Eve — or at least New Year’s Eve Day — is given over to the Marx Brothers. It starts on the lame side with what gets my vote for their worst film, Go West (1940) at 6 a.m. My advice is watch the opening sequence in the train station, then take a nap till the far better At the Circus (1939) starts at 7:30 a.m. It’s not first-rate Marx Brothers, but it has its moments. Less pleasing is Room Service (1938) at 9 a.m.. It isn’t so much that it’s a bad movie (though I wouldn’t call it good) as it is that it’s adapted from a play that didn’t star the Marxs, and they’ve been shoehorned into it. It’s less a Marx Brothers picture than it’s a movie with them. Things get much better at 10:30 a.m. with A Day at the Races (1937). Oh, it has imperfections — any movie where a musical number not really involving the boys is the most striking thing in it is doing something wrong — but it’s still pretty funny and individual set-pieces are classic. But at 12:30 p.m. we hit A Night at the Opera (1935) and from then on, we’re in clover with it being followed by Animal Crackers (1930), Monkey Business (1931), Horse Feathers (1932), and their best film of all Duck Soup (1933). Just settle in.

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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."

14 thoughts on “Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler Dec. 28-Jan 3: No news is no news

  1. Andy

    [b](while Mr. Souther does the same with The Darkest Hour)[/b]

    That poor bastard.

  2. RingoStarchy

    I can’t really recall a weekend with no new films. How often does this happen?

  3. Ken Hanke

    It’s pretty darn rare, but if it’s gonna happen, this is the week it happens in.

  4. Jeremy Dylan

    Does this mean you’ll have time to watch STATE OF PLAY now?

  5. Me

    So i guess The Descendants is staying at the Fine Arts?

    TCM played Nicholas Rays We Cant Go Home Again last night, that’s twice in the past couple of month seems like.

  6. Ken Hanke

    Does this mean you’ll have time to watch STATE OF PLAY now?

    I don’t quite get the break out of this that it implies. I still have two big reviews and four theoretically little ones (if you look at the one on Isadora and Song of Summer, little is perhaps not the word that comes to mind) — plus the expanded and expanding Best/Worst thing and the Janurary AFS newsletter. I’m not expecting much in the way of spare time, but I will note, it’s still right on my desk.

  7. Ken Hanke

    So i guess The Descendants is staying at the Fine Arts?

    It would stand to reason, yes.

    TCM played Nicholas Rays We Cant Go Home Again last night, that’s twice in the past couple of month seems like.

    And it’s two times too many.

  8. davidf

    So when are all of us anxious readers going to get to read your highly-anticipated best/worst lists?

  9. Ken Hanke

    So when are all of us anxious readers going to get to read your highly-anticipated best/worst lists?

    Well, a short — and not necessarilly etched-in-stone in a couple of cases — version of the best ran in the print edition this week. A more complete version — one that will at least be etched-in-marzipan — is planned for online this week. And, yes, it will include a worst of list.

  10. Xanadon't

    and not necessarilly etched-in-stone in a couple of cases

    Oh my, the suspense is protracted! Will one of the Fassbender pics muscles its way into the top ten? (I know that until at least recently you hadn’t yet seen Shame.) Had Justin not seen The Artist yet, I wonder? And will it make a difference? And what’s to make of this apparent oddity Le Havre? Oh so many questions I’ll look forward to finding the answers to!

    So long as The Tree of Life or Moneyball doesn’t suddenly crop up on anyone’s list, or to a lesser extent The Guar- er, hmmm, Contagion, I’ll be happy.

  11. Ken Hanke

    So many questions…and so few answers just yet. I will say yes to your first question (with at least one of us), note that we’ve both seen Shame and The Artist. I at least have seen Le Havre. Your second paragraph is largely safe…I think. I did watch Moneyball. Meh. It was “Perfectly Fine.”

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