Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler February 20-26: Snitch Dark

In Theaters

This could be handled very easily. There are two movies opening this week. They both look pretty bad. There. That about covers it. Fortunately, there are compensations in special showings and on DVD.

Before we move on to the compensations, I suppose we should look at what’s opening. After all, at least one of us will be watching them. First up, we have something called Dark Skies, which boasts a trailer that actually provoked laughter in the theater when I saw it. That might be considered desirable, except this is supposed to be some kind of sci-fi horror alien abduction thriller. If the shot of the open-mouthed Josh Hamilton wasn’t enough, then the one of Keri Russell banging her head against the glass door sealed the unintentional mirth deal. It comes to us “from the producers of Paranormal Activity and Insidious,” but was written and directed by Scott Stewart, the special effects guy turned director who gave us Legion and Priest. That says a lot right there—none of it good. For what it’s worth, J.K. Simmons is also in the cast. Whether this lives up to his insurance commercials remains to be seen.

On the other hand, we have Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in Snitch. This appears to be another of The Rock’s bids for actual action star—and possibly even actor—status, as opposed to his usual walking punchline material. Actually, it looks like something Liam Neeson might have passed on in the father-out-to-save-his-child sub-genre. (See also Mr. Willis in A Good Day to Die Hard.) It comes from stuntman-turned-director Ric Roman Waugh. Somehow (read: paycheck) Susan Sarandon is also in the film. It’s all about The Rock infiltrating a drug cartel in order to save his son from a (wrongful) ten year stretch in the Big House. The trailer looks exactly like what you’d expect. In other words, it makes me look forward to Dark Skies.

With this light a schedule of openings, there’s not much of anything going away this week, though I’d expect an exodus of a lot of the Oscar nom hangers-on after the awards on Sunday.

Special Screenings

Before getting down to the movies on tap for this week, I’ll note that this is the place to report on any public Oscar festivities. I know there’s an Oscar party in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina on Sunday night, but I imagine there are others. If you know of any, please let me know in the comments section.

This week the Thursday Horror Picture Show is running J. Walter Ruben’s The Phantom of Crestwood (1932) on Thu., Feb. 21 at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. Roman Polanski’s debut feature Knife in the Water (1962) is this week’s offering from World Cinema on Fri., Feb. 22 at 8 p.m. in the Railroad Library in the Phil Mechanic Building. The Hendersonville Film Society is showing last year’s Oscar winner for Best Picture The Artist at 2 p.m. on Sun., Feb. 24 in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. The Asheville Film Society is screening the first Astaire-Rogers pairing Flying Down to Rio (1933) on Tue., Feb. 26 at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. More on all films in this week’s paper with expanded coverage in the online edition.

On DVD

There are two films of note coming out this week. The biggest so far as I’m concerned is Joe Wright’s Anna Karenina (my copy is on its way to me), but since it took my top spot on this year’s Ten Best list, that should come as no surprise. The popular choice, however, is certainly going to be Ben Affleck’s Oscar-poised Argo, which I freely admit is all kinds of entertaining. Of somewhat lesser note are Sinister and Fun Size, but even they appear as masterpieces when placed next to those floor sweepings of a movie known as Atlas Shrugged II: The Strike.

Notable TV Screenings

There’s an OK line-up of titles on Wed., Feb. 20 starting at 8 p.m. on TCM. First up—and most interesting—is Mitchell Leisen’s Hold Back the Dawn (1941). It’s not that it’s the best of the line-up, but it’s the least shown and the only of the titles that has stubbornly refused to make it to DVD. Following it are Leo McCarey’s Going My Way (1944) and thre Preston Sturges pictures, The Lady Eve (1941), Hail the Conquering Hero (1944). and The Great McGinty (1940). Unfortunately, the rest of the week—while containing some good stuff—is made up of things that are shown an awful lot.

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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."

9 thoughts on “Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler February 20-26: Snitch Dark

  1. Orbit DVD

    I believe the biggest dvd release will be the 2nd season of GAME OF THRONES. Also out is Magnet’s SUSHI GIRL and an interest set of 80s vhs horror from Shout! Factory: THE NEST, PRISON and TERRORVISION/VIDEO DEAD.

  2. Ken Hanke

    I say it with pride — I have never seen even an excerpt from Game of Thrones.

  3. Jeremy Dylan

    Oddly enough, I’m with Ken on the latter, despite my affection for period drama, Julian Fellows writing and Maggie Smith.

    I figure that between COMMUNITY, PARKS AND RECREATION, GAME OF THRONES, MAD MEN, BREAKING BAD, HOMELAND, THE HOUR, NEW GIRL, ELEMENTARY, PERSON OF INTEREST, HOUSE OF CARDS, THE AMERICANS, DR. WHO, SHERLOCK and JUSTIFIED, I’m probably watching enough TV shows at the moment.

  4. Me

    Notable tv screening PBS is playing the acclaimed documentary Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry on Monday nights Independent Lens.

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