Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler Feb. 29-March 6: A Separation Lorax Pariah

In Theaters

It’s kind of a light week from where I sit (and I’m not sorry), since we get four movies this week and I’ve seen two of them already. We’ve got two mainstream releases and two art titles overall, though, so it may not be so light from your perspective. And with a couple of last week’s titles being given the bum’s rush, you might want to consider some mid-week trips to the movies, too.

Normally, I leave the question of what’s going to be gone by Friday till I’ve gone through what’s opening, but I’m going to break with that format here, since two worthy titles—Bullhead and Pina—only made it for a week. It’s not so much that they underperformed (though Bullhead sort of did) as it’s a question of space—and, in the case of Pina 3D capability. In any case, both films will depart The Carolina after this Thursday, so if you want to catch them time is of the essence.

The week’s art titles are the movies I’ve seen, and they’re both pretty choice. The Fine Arts is getting the Oscar-winning Iranian film A Separation and The Carolina opens Pariah. Both are reviewed in this week’s Xpress and both are very good indeed. A Separation very nearly lives up to the hype. and Pariah is not only the freshest coming-out/coming-of-age story I’ve seen in a while, but this movie about a black lesbian teenager reminds me of the days when independent films were actually exciting.

Of course, that leaves us with the two mainstream releases to consider—neither of which has been screened for critics.

The bigger of the two is Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, which has become notable for cheesing someone on Fox News because its “liberal agenda” about ecology is out to brainwash children. Personally, this strikes me as one reason to see it. It also looks bright and colorful and probably nicely suited to 3D. The “agenda driven” story is all about a boy (voiced by Zac Efron) trying to find a tree to impress a girl (voiced by Taylor Swift) he’s goofy over. (Trees, it seems, have become unknown where they live.) My biggest fear about the movie is the prospect of encountering that Polyphonic Spree “Reach for the Sun” song, which shows up in one of the trailers. I can think of few things more likely to make me bolt for the exit.

The other thing—which has been fairly heavily seen by IMDb users (some of whom don’t sound like studio shills)—is something called Project X, which, it appears, has nothing whatever to do with Matthew Broderick and chimps. Rather, it’s an R-rated affair in what appears to be the raunchy-com form, and is all about teenagers (played by people you never heard of before and may never hear of again) throwing one of those parties that gets spectacularly out of hand. Its main claim to fame is that Todd Phillips—the reigning sultan of tastelessness—produced it. The only curious thing about it is that Rotten Tomatoes lists it under “Drama, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Comedy.” That almost intrigues me enough not to palm it off on Mr. Souther. Almost.

Special Screenings

Lambert Hillyer’s Dracula’s Daughter (1936) is this week’s Thursday Horror Picture Show on Thursday, March 1, at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. The Polish film Blind Chance is this week’s offering from World Cinema on Friday, March 2, at 8 p.m. in the Railroad Library in the Phil Mechanic Building. The Hendersonville Film Society is showing William Wellman’s Wings (1927) on Sunday, March 4, at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. Milos Forman’s Hair (1979) is this week’s Asheville Film Society title at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, March 6, in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. More on all titles in this week’s Xpress, with expanded coverage in the online edition.

On DVD

The big news this week is that Martin Scorsese’s Hugo comes to DVD. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I already ordered my copy. On the other hand, I did not order Johnny English Reborn. There’s probably some reason for that.

Notable TV Screenings

At long last, we come to the end of TCM’s “31 Days of Oscar—as is immediately apparent with Erle C. Kenton’s Island of Lost Souls (1933) at 6 a.m. on Saturday, March 3. Unfortunately, this sort of improvement doesn’t last, though it’s worth noting that a pretty good—and infrequently run—mystery, The Silk Express (1933) shows up at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, March 6. Also, if you missed it when the AFS screened it last month, Frank Borzage’s History Is Made at Night (1937) is on that same night at 10:15 p.m.

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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."

8 thoughts on “Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler Feb. 29-March 6: A Separation Lorax Pariah

  1. Me

    TCM is playing Kurosawas first color film Dodes’ka-den this week.

  2. Me

    The Myth of the American Sleepover,The Catechism Cataclysm, and Vanya on 42nd Street are also out on DVD this week.

  3. Dionysis

    While the number of viewers of this year’s Oscar was up slightly from last year, there is a sense that it is losing its luster. For the first time ever, there was a bigger audience for the Grammy Awards than the Oscars; more significantly, there was a drop in the highly coveted 18 to 49 year old demographic group of viewers.

    Completely off topic, but when I saw that Tim Burton’s next release will be ‘Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter’, I took it as a sign of the end times. Maybe there is something to the interpretation of the Mayan calendar’s 12/21/2012 date as being the end of history.

  4. Ken Hanke

    Completely off topic, but when I saw that Tim Burton’s next release will be ‘Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter’, I took it as a sign of the end times.

    Bear in mind, he didn’t direct it. In fact, I think his Dark Shadows comes out before it.

    • Dionysis

      I see; having seen one trailer for it on IMDB, I find it surprising he’d allow his name to be associated with it.

  5. Jeremy Dylan

    It should be noted that Burton ‘produced’ BATMAN FOREVER.

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