Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler Jan. 25-31: Feast and Famine in One

In Theaters

There are five movies coming to town this week, which I guess puts us on equal footing with last week, at least in terms of quantity. There are two art titles. Those represent the feast, you see. Then there are three titles that—from all appearances—are about as far from art as one can imagine. That, then, is the famine. I grant you, I am making what can best be called and educated guess on the non-art titles, but I’m on much surer ground with the art titles, since I’ve seen them both. Twice.

The two art titles are David Cronenberg’s A Dangeous Method—opening at The Carolina and the Fine Arts—and Rodrigo Garcia’s Albert Nobbs (you know, the movie where Glenn Close plays a woman posing as a man in 19th-century Dublin)—opening at The Carolina. Reviews for both are in this week’s paper, of course, but I’ll throw a few preliminary words around anyway. A Dangerous Method may well confound some Cronenberg fans. In other words, in this work of historical fiction about Freud and Jung, no one’s head explodes (except maybe figuratively) and the two grand old men of psychology don’t go at each other with linoleum knives. The tone is different. The themes are still Cronenbergian.

I’m actually a little sorry that Albert Nobbs is opening this week, because it’s apt to be lost in the shuffle of A Dangerous Method, The Artist and The Descendants still going strong. That’s a real pity, because Albert Nobbs is so much better than its poster—and is so much more than its gimmicky-sounding premise might suggest. I urge you, if you can, to try to catch this very worthy little film. If not for the film, and if not for Close, then for Janet McTeer, who gives one of the best supporting performances of the year. Will the fact that both Close and McTeer have just been nominated for Oscars pique your interest? Maybe it should.

And then there are those other offerings…

One of the more perplexing (to me) things of recent years has been the rise of Liam Neeson as some kind of action star, though I’m not necessarily against it and I have no doubt that pays well. In any case, he’s back with another one. This one’s called The Grey and it’s written and directed by Joe Carnahan, who was briefly a big deal—in the critical sense at least—in 2002 for Narc, a film I confess never struck me as anything to get excited about. Then Carnahan came crashing to earth with Smokin’ Aces in 2006, only to somewhat re-establish himself commercially with The A-Team in 2010. That also starred Neeson. This round, Neeson and some others—two of whom I recognize, Joe Anderson and Delmot Mulroney—are stranded in the frozen wilds of Alaska and at the mercy of both the elements and a pack of wolves. If nothing else, I understand we get to see Neeson punch a wolf.

Now, the depressing news is that The Grey looks like it’s probably the best of the three. Up next is Man on a Ledge from one-time documentarian Asgar Leth, who now becomes first-time narrative filmmaker. It’s all about a former cop—and now fugitive—played by Sam Worthington threatening to jump off a ledge a la Richard Basehart in Fourteen Hours (1951). But rather than having good-hearted cop Paul Douglas trying to talk him out of jumping, Worthington gets police negotiator Elizabeth Banks. The trick here is that this supposed suicide bid apparently contains an ulterior motive. Also on board are Jamie Bell, Ed Harris and Edward Burns. Very little early word, but the reviewers for both Variety and The Hollywood Reporter panned it.

It gets potentially grimmer with One for the Money. This comes from director Julie Anne Robinson, a TV director whose only theatrical credit is The Last Song, which, if you’ve forgotten, is one of those seemingly non-stop films from a Nicholas Sparks novel—and the one that starred Miley Cyrus. Yes, well. This round she brings us some rom-com suspense hybrid starring Katherine Heigl, the appeal of whom escapes me, as a down-on-her-luck woman who wrangles a job with her cousin’s bail bond company. As luck and clever scripting has it, her first assignment is to bring in ex-cop Joe Morelli (TV actor Jason O’Mara)—who seduced and abandonned her in high school. It’s like The Bounty Hunter (2010)—only, it’s not, you see, because the genders are reversed. In Hollywood, this passes for creativity.

Now, all this also means that we’re losing some things. The Fine Arts is dropping The Descendants, but it’s staying at The Carolina. The Carolina, however, is losing Carnage and My Week with Marilyn. Plus, Hugo is absenting itself, meaning that Carmike is the only place still running that—and only in 3D. The Artist is staying everywhere (of course) and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy sticks around The Carolina, though is losing its first show of the day.

Special Screenings

The Thursday Horror Picture Show this week is David Cronenberg’s Scanners (1981) on Thursday, Jan. 26, at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. World Cinema is screening Sergei Eisenstein’s Strike (1924) at 8 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 27, in the Railroad Library in the Phil Mechanic Building. George Cukor’s Gaslight (1944) is this weeks title for the Hendersonville Film Society on Sunday, Jan. 29, at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. And the Asheville Film Society concludes its month-long Ken Russell tribute with Lisztomania (1975) at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 31, in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. More on all titles in this week’s online edition of the Xpress.

On DVD

This week sees 50/50 come to DVD, which is probably the most anticipated title, but don’t overlook Gus Van Sant’s Restless the way most of you did when it played here theatrically. Also up are Real Steel and Paranormal Activity 3. It’s worth noting that a newly restored Blu-ray of William Wellman’s silent film Wings (1927) is coming out.

Notable TV screenings

The big deal to me this week is TCM’s tribute to James Whale on Friday, Jan. 27. It starts with a second-tier Whale film, The Great Garrick (1937) at 8 p.m. But at 9:45 we get Whale’s One More River (1934), which, so far as I can tell hasn’t been on TV in 20-plus years. The film is an intelligent adaptation of John Galsworthy’s last book, which was also the final book in his nine-volume Forsyte Chronicles. The film by necessity only deals with one storyline from the book (you’d have to film the two previous novels to do the rest), but it works splendidly—and is boosted no end by the appearance of the legendary Mrs. Patrick Campbell. It’s Whale at his best—film historian William K. Everson even argued that it was the director’s best. I wouldn’t go that far, but it’s up there. If you stick around you’ll see a couple of better-known Whale titles, The Invisible Man (1933) and Frankenstein (1931). The rest of the week is kind of negligible, but this is enough for me.

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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."

20 thoughts on “Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler Jan. 25-31: Feast and Famine in One

  1. Xanadon't

    If nothing else, I understand we get to see Neeson punch a wolf.

    And with that, you just undid all the convincing it took for me to give Albert Nobbs a look.

    Well, okay… I guess I’ll read the review and see if I can’t restore some of that short-lived resolve.

  2. Ken Hanke

    And with that, you just undid all the convincing it took for me to give Albert Nobbs a look.

    I understand the temptation…

  3. Orbit DVD

    Also out this week is the Criterion version of Godzilla, which contains both versions. Lucky McKee has been making odd horror/cult films for about 10 years now and THE WOMAN might be his most polarizing one yet… it’s bloody, disgusting and all the things I like to see, but also thought provoking as well. SHUT UP YOU LITTLE MAN is a fun documentary tracing one of the most infamous underground audio recordings. REVENGE OF THE ELECTRIC CAR is the more positive sequel to WHO KILLED THE ELECTRIC CAR.

    We have both versions of WINGS and I’m happy they finally put it out.

  4. Edwin Arnaudin

    In response to the ALBERT NOBBS poster, someone on Twitter wrote, “It’s nice to see Bicentennial Man can still get good roles.”

  5. Mr.Orpheus

    I have a very specific question that could probably be asked somewhere else. I’ve no idea where that other place is though, so I’ll ask here.

    I’m a brand spanking new AFS member and I’m also 16; will I be able to get into the screening of A DANGEROUS METHOD?
    I’d hate to make the drive and be turned away, forced to choose between WAR HORSE and JOYFUL NOISE. I’m entirely positive my heart wouldn’t be able to take the stress of such a choice.

  6. Ken Hanke

    In response to the ALBERT NOBBS poster, someone on Twitter wrote, “It’s nice to see Bicentennial Man can still get good roles.”

    That poster does the film no favors. I don’t put all that much stock in Oscars (but I’ll bitch about them), but I’m hoping the double-barreled nominations will overcome that poster!

  7. Ken Hanke

    I’m a brand spanking new AFS member and I’m also 16; will I be able to get into the screening of A DANGEROUS METHOD?

    Well, I probably oughtn’t relay this here, but these screenings aren’t ticketed in the normal sense, which is to say you just show your card to Justin or me at the door. I’m usually there about 30 min. before the show and hanging out in the lobby (one of my friends calls it “holding court”), so look for me. If you don’t know what I look like, I’m the guy with portable oxygen tank.

  8. Me

    Im getting the feeling Le Havre is going to get bumped off since Dangerous Method wasn’t even on the coming soon list and now its scheduled for Friday.

    Ken i haven’t seen any weekend post since the new website, what happened?

    @Orbit ive been curious to check out Shut Up Little Man.

  9. Ken Hanke

    Im getting the feeling Le Havre is going to get bumped off since Dangerous Method wasn’t even on the coming soon list and now its scheduled for Friday.

    No, it’s not bumped and I think it’ll follow Method, which wasn’t originally planned for two runs here and had been allocated to The Carolina. Suddenly, Sony decided to open it at two theaters. How wise that was remains to be seen.

    By weekend post, I’m guessing you mean a “Screening Room,” which there have been less of for factors of time, health, and workload. But that’s not related to the New Coke site. Offhand, I know there’s been a Halloween article, a Xmas article, and the Ken Russell tribute piece since the change. I think there were others. I plan on one this week — and I have a series idea, but it’s not ready for revealing yet.

    • Mr.Orpheus

      Unfortunately not, and I’m pretty irked about it. I developed some kind of head cold last night, and decided not to risk making it worse by going out and enjoying myself. I am going to try my darnedest to make it to LISZTOMANIA, though. I’m guessing that, at the very least, it will make for a memorable first AFS experience.

  10. Ken Hanke

    I’m guessing that, at the very least, it will make for a memorable first AFS experience.

    You may well dislike in intensely, but I do suspect you will remember it. Of course, I know nothing of your taste, so I’m not going to even try to guess what you’ll make of it. Are you at all familiar with Ken Russell?

    • Mr.Orpheus

      Much to my chagrin, no. I may have watched a few pieces of TOMMY here and there, but I’ve never actually sat down and watched one of Russell’s films.

      I have been meaning to watch THE MUSIC LOVERS for a few weeks now, but I haven’t got around to it. At this point I’m debating whether or not I should try to squeeze it in before LISZTOMANIA. I’m assuming that I’ll be at least marginally more prepared if I watch it beforehand, but I bet it’ll be more fun to go in without the slightest idea of what to expect.

  11. Big Al

    While I am excited about “Dangerous Method”, being a fan of historical drama AND Viggo Mortenson (Ms. Knightly and Fassbinder are OK too), I REALLY want to see if fisticuffs break out between the Freudians and the Jungians in the audience.

  12. Big Al

    “…so look for me. If you don’t know what I look like, I’m the guy with portable oxygen tank.”

    Ken, are you REALLY oxygen-dependant? I have never seen you in person, but your photos in Xpress look pretty healthy and I see no nasal tubing.

    Or maybe I am being too gullible to get the joke…?

  13. Me

    TCM is playing the early 80′s cult horror classic Possesion Saturday at 2a.m. followed by Repulsion.

  14. Ken Hanke

    I have been meaning to watch THE MUSIC LOVERS for a few weeks now, but I haven’t got around to it. At this point I’m debating whether or not I should try to squeeze it in before LISZTOMANIA. I’m assuming that I’ll be at least marginally more prepared if I watch it beforehand

    I’m sorry you didn’t see The Music Lovers when we ran it back in September. It really benefits from size. Would it prepare you? Maybe, though it’s comparatively restrained (and a lot grimmer). The “1812 Fantasy” (if you watch it you’ll know what I mean when you see it) might give you some clue.

    I bet it’ll be more fun to go in without the slightest idea of what to expect.

    That is possible.

  15. Ken Hanke

    I REALLY want to see if fisticuffs break out between the Freudians and the Jungians in the audience.

    Well, I didn’t stay for the screening on Wed. night, since that would have been my third time watching the film in a week, but I think I’d have heard if that had happened. If there was a scuffle in the parking lot afterwards, I haven’t heard about it.

    Ken, are you REALLY oxygen-dependant? I have never seen you in person, but your photos in Xpress look pretty healthy and I see no nasal tubing.

    Unfortunately, I am. I have been for about 2 1/2 years. Or maybe I should say I’ve been willing to admit to it for 2 1/2 years, because I fought using it for about 1 1/2 years. I only started using portable oxygen about 9 months ago, though, which had more to do with my old oxygen provider not offering patient-refillable tanks than any sort of vanity. (That said, I probably would unhook the tubing for a photo.) I am, by the way, otherwise reasonably healthy.

  16. Xanadon't

    Just got back from watching the wolf knuckle-sandwich Aussie-style thing. Gotta say that with independent film-making being in the by-and-large dismal state that it’s in, I’m okay with these Megaplex/art-house hybrids like Haywire and The Grey.

    Eager to find out tomorrow what you make of it.

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