Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler January 30-February 5: Stand Up Warm Bodies

In Theaters

Welcome to a week in flux. Up until Monday morning we were slated for two art films and, it appeared, two mainstream titles. Then we were “Weinsteined” (I can think of no other word for their…quixotic approach to releasing movies) on one of the art titles. Now, one of the mainstream titles isn’t looking too healthy. I shall explain.

Here’s what we know is coming to town—Stand Up Guys and Warm Bodies. OK? Those are locked in. No, we’re not getting the geographically incomprehensible The Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia, but then we never were. (When a horror movie opens in limited release, chances are everyone involved knows they’ve got a lox on their hands.) Now,  theoretically we might—

—be getting Walter Hill’s Stallone picture A Bullet to the Head, but it’s definitely not at The Carolina or the Carmike. My early information is that it’s also not at the Regal Biltmore Grande, but I can’t confirm that or the Beaucatcher till tomorrow. As for that Weinstein title that got bumped, it’s supposedly moved to next week. I’m taking a wait-and-see stance.

So, of the two movies that we know we’re getting, I’ve seen one—Stand Up Guys—which opens on Friday at The Carolina. In fact, I risked life and limb—or at least ending up in a ditch—to see it at 9 a.m. on Saturday. I’m not going to claim it’s a great movie, but I liked it. Any movie that gives Al Pacino, Christopher Walken and Alan Arkin the chance to hold the screen for 90 minutes is doing something right from the onset. You can read the review in this week’s Xpress.

That leaves us with Warm Bodies, Jonathan Levine’s first movie since 50/50 in 2011. I wouldn’t be expecting anything similar in this romantic comedy about the love between a human girl (Teresa Palmer) and a zombie (Nicholas Hoult)—based, in some degree, on Romeo and Juliet. No, I didn’t just make that up. I have no idea who Teresa Palmer is, though I’ve apparently seen her in at least one film. Nicholas Hoult, on the other hand, I know—and you probably do, too, if only as the boy in About a Boy. He was also the student who may or may not be in love with Colin Firth’s character in A Single Man, and was Hank McCoy/Beast in X-Men: First Class. This, however, is his first chance at carrying a film—and as strange a choice as this role may seem, he appears to have possibly pulled it off. At least, the trailer looks that way—and reviewers for The Hollywood Reporter and Screen International seem to agree. I’m willing to give it a chance.

Since we’re not getting much this week, we’re not losing anything of note.

Special Screenings

This week the Thursday Horror Picture Show taps into the 1950s insect fear film with Jack Arnold’s Tarantula (1955) at 8 p.m.on Thu., Jan. 31 in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. World Cinema will be showing Gregory Nava’s El Norte (1983) on Fri., Feb. 1 at 8 p.m. in the Railroad Library in the Phil Mechanic Building. The Hendersonville Film Society will show David Frankel’s The Devil Wears Prada (2006) on Sun., Feb. 3 at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. The Asheville Film Society is screening Denys Arcand’s Love & Human Remains (1993) at 8 p.m. on Tue., Feb. 5 in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. More on all films in this week’s paper—with expanded reviews in the online edition.

On DVD

Seven Psychopaths comes out on DVD this week. (My copy is on the way.) I can’t imagine there’s anything else you need to know, but in case you do, we also see the debuts of Hotel Transylvania, Hello I Must Be Going, and, God forbid, Paranormal Activity 4.

Notable TV Screenings

Before TCM bogs itself down in their annual “31 Days of Oscar” orgy, they’re showing a rarity. Unfortunately, it’s a 6:30 a.m. on Wed. Jan. 30, but it’s worth getting up for. It’s John M. Stahl’s film of Preston Sturges’ play Strictly Dishonorable (1931). You won’t see this show up very often. Make the most of it.

At 7:30 a.m. on Fri., Feb. 1 they have George Arliss in his Oscar-winning role in Disraeli (1929). Yes, the film is a little stagy and Mr. Arliss is at his most theatrically over-the-top here, but it’s still an enteraining movie and an engrossing performance. And after that…the yearly Oscar Parade really takes hold.

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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."

23 thoughts on “Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler January 30-February 5: Stand Up Warm Bodies

  1. Jeremy Dylan

    I have no idea who Teresa Palmer is

    She’s from the antipodes.

  2. Ken Hanke

    By the way, though it is of zero interest to me personally, it appears that the Regal theaters — Biltmore Grande and Beaucatcher — are indeed getting Bullet to the Head.

  3. Orbit DVD

    Not a Walter Hill fan?

    Downton Abbey Season 3 is also out. Give me strength.

  4. Ken Hanke

    I’ve never seen what the fuss was over Walter Hill and I don’t much like Stallone. That’s kind of a lose-lose thing here.

  5. Dionysis

    “Any movie that gives Al Pacino, Christopher Walken and Alan Arkin the chance to hold the screen for 90 minutes is doing something right from the onset.”

    I guess. While I do like all of these actors, any film I’ve seen with Pacino in it since, oh, Michael Mann’s HEAT, he seems to over-act to the point of being almost like a caricature of an actor. The last thing I saw him in that impressed me was David Mamet’s GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS, which goes back a ways now, and of course that was an ensemble situation.

  6. Ken Hanke

    I’d be spouting taradiddle if I said Pacino was subdued here, but I found it worked for me as contrast to the underplaying of his co-stars. That Pacino keeps going for haircuts that make him look like an enraged cockatoo is another matter.

  7. Big Al

    Ditto on the cockatoo hair, although I found the beard more distracting.

    While I enjoyed this film, there were too many borrowed lines from other films. Aside from the obvious “…chew gum and kick ass…” (“They Live”), I noted Pacino’s “…kept my head on the swivel…” which was almost verbatim borrowed from “Any Given Sunday”, and I swear he was half a vowel away from saying “Hoo-ah!”(“Scent of a Woman”) at the table with the boys and Silvia.

    And while Arkin was being, well…himself (his range, while entertaining, is limited), at least Walken kept his part down to an empathetic simmer which I felt was most appropriate for his role as executioner/victim.

  8. Jeremy Dylan

    any film I’ve seen with Pacino in it since, oh, Michael Mann’s HEAT, he seems to over-act to the point of being almost like a caricature of an actor.

    I would recommend you check out S1MONE and INSOMNIA.

  9. Ken Hanke

    And while Arkin was being, well…himself (his range, while entertaining, is limited)

    I wouldn’t argue that, but when you consider how many people have limited ranges and aren’t entertaining, that’s a pretty good accomplishment.

  10. Big Al

    I love Arkin, especially when he is being himself. I regret my statement came off as a criticism.

  11. Ken Hanke

    Funny thing is I never paid much attention to him as a younger man. I scarcely noticed him — apart from Catch-22 — until Edward Scissorhands.

  12. Big Al

    I reviewed Arkin’s filmography and found that while I too have seen several films that he was in as early as 1966 (“The Russians Are Coming..!), the first film in which I could identify him by name was “The Rocketeer”, which came out in 1992, only a year after you noticed him.

  13. Ken Hanke

    Well, I noticed him at least as early at Wait Until Dark in 1967, but that was because he was in one of the great shock effects of the era — especially if you were 13 years old and saw it in a theater where they turned off the house lights and leaving you in pitch blackness during the last 15 min. of the movie (violating who knows how many fire codes). But I never thought much about him, though I saw him in Catch-22, Little Murders and The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter on TV in the late 70s. I think it was because I didn’t find him all that appealing as a young man. He aged into being appealing.

  14. Me

    Wish Arkin would direct again Little Murder was one of the greatest 70′s films.

  15. Orbit DVD

    All this Arkin talk is making me want to watch FREEBIE & THE BEAN again. And again.

    There’s a Pacino performance that many have missed that also veers from his “BOOYAA!” shtick over the past 20 years. YOU DON’T KNOW JACK was an HBO movie where he is Jack Kevorkian, and he is great in it.

  16. Big Al

    “a Pacino performance…where he is Jack Kevorkian..”

    Was it a killer performance? (rimshot!)

  17. Ken Hanke

    Little Murder was one of the greatest 70′s films

    Hyperbolic much?

  18. Orbit DVD

    Was it a killer performance? (rimshot!)

    Hachadachadacha! (is that how you do Durante?)

  19. Edwin Arnaudin

    YOU DON’T KNOW JACK was an HBO movie where he is Jack Kevorkian, and he is great in it.

    I also thought he was good in ANGELS IN AMERICA.

  20. Jeremy Dylan

    He’s playing Phil Spector for David Mamet next, opposite Helen Mirren.

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