Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler January 23-29: Hansel & Parker 43

In Theaters

Strangely, we are looking at a week with no art titles. That’s actually unusual in Asheville. Also unusual is that everything is rated R. But perhaps the most unusual thing is that this may well be the second week where the most interesting film might be the horror movie in the batch. That, of course, remains to be seen.

This is also a week where neither Mr. Souther, nor I have seen anything ahead of the game, so what follows is sheer prognostication.

First up alphabetically is Tommy Wirkola’s Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters. Yes, the title is kind of a groaner and perhaps conjures up unpleasant memories of the horror-centric fairy tale re-monkeying of Red Riding Hood. But there’s some reason to be hopeful. Honest. OK, I’ll go with cautiously intrigued. A friend foisted a copy Tommy Wirkola’s Norwegian horror picture Dead Snow on me not too long ago, and while I wasn’t exactly blown away by it, I can state categorically and without reservation that it’s the best movie about Nazi zombies I’ve ever seen. In addition to that, Gemma Arterton and Jeremy Renner are better leads than one is used to in horror movies most of the time. The idea of Hansel and Gretel growing up to become witch bounty hunters (think of it perhaps as Dgretel Unchained) is workable, though it does sound a little like Terry Gilliam’s The Brothers Grimm. Come to think of it, the trailer looks a bit like that film, but that may not be a bad thing. Surprisingly, this movie went for the R rating, though there’s very little difference between its regular trailer and the Red Band one.

And then there is Movie 43 (caution: Red Band trailer)—the film that no one wants to talk about and the distributor apparently wants no one to see. What is it? Well, that’s kind of hard to say. Apparently, Peter Farrelly and his producing partner, Charles Wessler, wanted to create a Kentucky Fried Movie for our time. I guess they thought this was a lofty goal. So did they go to John Landis? Either the answer is no, or Landis told them to go pollinate themselves. Instead, they corralled a bunch of B list directors and somehow—over a period of years—bamboozled, buffaloed, or blackmailed a number of A list stars—Hugh Jackman, Kate Winslet, Naomi Watts, Emma Stone, Richard Gere—filled in with some not-quite-A-listers, and came up with this movie that no one wants to promote. It would seem to be a bunch of gross-out short skits hooked together to achieve a 90 minute running time. Based on the trailer, it looks like they may have aimed for Kentucky Fried Movie, but instead grazed The Groove Tube and landed squarely in Meet the Spartans country. According to Farrelly in the New York Post, “Kids, teenagers, 50-somethings who still smoke pot ¬ they’re all going to find something here.” So there. You have a choice in the matter. Me? Well, I think my A Haunted House chickens have come home to roost, and so I expect to find myself—Cheerwine in hand—gloomily sitting in The Carolina at 11:40 a.m. on Friday, trying to keep in mind that Hansel & Gretel starts in two hours.

Last, but probably not least, there’s Taylor Hackford’s Parker starring Jason Statham. Let’s be honest, Hackford hasn’t had a hit since Ray in 2004, and Statham could do with a little credibility boost at this point in his career. Is this it? Hard to say. Statham is not the first person to play this character, though he is the first to play him under this name—the actual monicker from the Donald E. Westlake (writing as Richard Stark) novels from which he’s drawn. The character— under a variety of names—has been played by Jim Brown, Peter Coyote, Robert Duvall, Mel Gibson, and Anna Karina. The most famous—and the yardstick by which portrayals are judged—was Lee Marvin in John Boorman’s Point Blank (1967). Now we have Statham as the career criminal anti-hero. It’s not a bad fit. We also get Jennifer Lopez as the leading lady—a performance Hackford assures us will be surprising. That remains to be seen.

Nothing of note departs this week. Argo finally leaves The Carolina, but is going into second run and resurfaces at Asheville Pizza and Brewing (and, in an unusual move, for all four shows). Unfortunately, the estimable A Royal Affair is being split with Hyde Park on Hudson at The Carolina. Expect to see both depart next Friday—and expect the latter to also leave the Fine Arts then.

Special Screenings

Before getting down to the usual stuff, it’s worth noting that the Asheville Art Museum’s screening of Flux Film Anthology was postponed last week due to the “snow event” that didn’t really happen. It has been reschedduled for this week. Here’s the press release:

“Join us for a rare screening of a 16mm print of the Flux Film Anthology, lent to us by the NY Filmmakers Cooperative. 16mm film was developed by Eastman Kodak in the 1920s, and for the next fifty years became the standard for home movies due to its affordability, which of course was the appeal for artists as well. This special screening allows us to see the Flux films as closely as possible to the original intentions of the artists which is critical to the understanding of these short films. This anthology includes films by George Maciunas, Chieko Shiomi, Paul Sharits, Yoko Ono, John Cale and others. Seating is limited; please reserve your seats early by contacting the Museum’s front desk for reservations at 828.253.3227.” The film shows on Thu., Jan. 24 at 7 p.m., and Fri., Jan. 25 at noon. Free (with membership) or $5 + Museum admission (non-members)

This week the Thursday Horror Picture Show has a double bill of Mexican Mummy madness with The Curse of the Aztec Mummy (1957) and The Aztec Mummy vs. the Human Robot (1958) on Thu., Jan. 24 at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. On Fri., Jan. 25 Word Cinema is showing Andres Wajda’s Danton (1983) at 8 p.m. in the Railroad Library in the Phil Mechanic Building. The Hendersonville Film Society is screening Fred Zinneman’s A Man for All Season (1966) at 2 p.m. on Sun., Jan. 27 in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. The Asheville Film Society is running Josef von Sternberg’s silent gangster classic Underworld (1927) on Tue., Jan. 29 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

The big title for me this week is The Paperboy—which made my Ten Best List and will soon adorn my shelves. Also of note is the pretty terrific documentary Searching for Sugarman, and Justin Souther gave high marks to another documentary coming out this week, The Imposter. Another good documentary, Beauty Is Embarassing comes out this week. No one went to see this in the theater. Maybe DVD will be another matter. There’s also End of Watch.

Notable TV Screenings

Bing and Bob are off on the Road to Morocco (1942) on TCM on Thu., Jan 24 at 8 p.m., which is followed by one of Bing’s most charming and overlooked solo efforts, Welcome Stranger (1947) at 9:30 p.m. And speaking of Bing, he shows up in support of the Rat Pack (well, most of them) in the not-really-good, but entertaining Robin and the Seven Hoods (1964)—and strangely finds Frank Sinatra giving him the lion’s share of the songs.

On Sun., Jan. 27, TCM has three of Alfred Hitchcock’s British films—The 39 Steps (1935), The Lady Vanishes (1938), and Sabotage (1936)—starting at 8 p.m.

On Mon., Jan. 28 we find Rouben Mamoulian’s The Mark of Zorro (1940), which gets my vote for the best Zorro movie ever made.

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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."

26 thoughts on “Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler January 23-29: Hansel & Parker 43

  1. DrSerizawa

    Since most of the 50+-year-olds that I know that still smoke pot still have all the socipolitical “acumen” of college sophomores…. I think I’ll pass.

  2. Jim Donato

    “I can state categorically and without reservation that it’s the best movie about Nazi zombies I’ve ever seen.” C’mon! Better than “The Frozen Dead…?!!!”

  3. Ken Hanke

    My — admittedly distant — memory of The Frozen Dead is that it was mostly pretty boring. You would think that any movie with a (quite possibly intoxicated) Dana Andrews doing a German accent and experimenting on frozen Nazis would be pretty exciting. I don’t remember it that way, though.

  4. Dionysis

    I saw ‘Dead Snow’ not long ago, and it was pretty good as far as Nazi zombie movies go, but have you seen the late Peter Cushing film on the same subject, called ‘Shock Waves’?

    As for the Hansel and Gretel thing, the previews I saw only made me wince, and as unpopular as this may be, I’m just not that impressed with Jeremy Renner (and I am not familiar with the female lead), so I can easily skip it.

  5. Ken Hanke

    I have to admit, Shock Waves has escaped my viewing.

    the previews I saw only made me wince

    It may be that I see too many trailers, but I place them into one of two camps, “Hmmm” or “There must be some way to get Justin to sit through this.” This was merely a “hmmm.”

    I’m not a fan of Remmer, but I have nothing against him — and he’s better than the leads in most horror pictures. You obviously never saw Tamara Drewe if you’re not familiar with Gemma Arterton.

  6. Orbit DVD

    SHOCK WAVES was pretty creepy, and provided some iconic images for my generation.

    This is a big week for dvds. In addition to what you mention, there’s also another excellent Takashi Miike samurai film, HARA-KIRI DEATH OF A SAMURAI. Wim Wender’s PINA finally gets a Criterion release. A female festival favorite is FOR A GOOD TIME CALL. Finally, and I liked it, is UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: DAY OF RECKONING.

  7. Xanadon't

    My Top 10 Norwegian Horror Flicks

    1. Troll Hunter
    2. Cold Prey
    3. Dead Snow
    4. Next Door
    5. Hidden
    6.

  8. Ken Hanke

    You came up with five. That’s three more than I can come up with!

  9. Ken Hanke

    Wish I had known this when it could have gone in the paper, but I just now got word that Flat Rock Cinema is going to be showing Anna Karenina starting Fri., Jan. 25. I imagine it will only be for the week and it’s at 3:30 and 7 p.m.

  10. Chip Kaufmann

    SHOCK WAVES, although an ultra low budget film, remains an old favorite of mine thanks to the cast and the effective electronic music score. The Blue Underground DVD from a few years back is excellent.

    THE FROZEN DEAD along with its companion piece IT!, Roddy McDowall’s take on the Golem, made for an interesting double feature back in 1966. I just remember the blue disembodied head and the wall of arms come to life. McDowall’s Golem looked like a stone pinhead scarecrow.

  11. Ken Hanke

    Well, the wall of arms was the big promotional still in FM, and I think I remember it more from that than from the film.

  12. Me

    What’s up with James Franco’s inauguration poem about Asheville/Obama?

  13. Ken Hanke

    Oh, you mean the movie that most of us call Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai? It’s sitting on my desk, but I haven’t watched it yet.

  14. Orbit DVD

    It’s one of Miike’s best, regardless of what you call it. Very sad though.

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