Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler July 10-16: 20 Feet from Pacific Rim Grown Ups

In Theaters

This week we have the good, the potentially good and the almost certainly dismal. At one point yesterday, we had a fourth option. Then we didn’t. Then we did again. Finally we didn’t. If that confuses you, just be glad you didn’t have to deal with the flurry of calls and e-mails that surrounded the movie that isn’t opening. Anyway, let’s look at what we do have.

First up is easy. It’s the very entertaining music documentary 20 Feet from Stardom (opening Friday at the Fine Arts), which takes a very tuneful look at the world of backup singers. This, I have seen and reviewed — it’s in this week’s paper — and I have no reservations about recommending it. It sheds a light on a largely overlooked aspect of pop music — and does so with warmth and some fine songs. It also gives a lot of people whose work you’ve admired without knowing it their moment in the spotlight.

The theoretical big movie this week is Guillermo del Toro’s modern day rethinking of the kaiju film — you know the Japanese giant monster movies that started with Gojira (Godzilla) in 1954. The film is Pacific Rim and the story is all about mankind attempting to save itself from destruction by constructing giant robots to duke it out with the monsters — sort of like Godzilla Meets Robot Jox, but with money. It’s depressing to realize that this is del Toro’s first film since Hellboy II back in 2008 — most of the last five years eaten up with not making The Hobbit, producing other people’s pictures and watching projects like At the Mountains of Madness fall through. The question here is whether or not this is really worth del Toro’s time and talent. It’s also debatable whether audiences will flock to this, since it has no brand name (like Transformers) to entice them. We shall see. The early reviews are mostly positive, but after the blistering reviews for The Lone Ranger I’m putting little stock in reviews at the moment. (I probably oughtn’t say that.) I’m interested and I’m hopeful, but I have to say that the trailers haven’t whelmed me.

We also have Grown Ups 2. The only thing I can find in favor of this latest assault from Adam Sandler is that Rob Schneider is not in it. The claim is that he couldn’t make it due to “scheduling conflicts.” That Rob Schneider even has a schedule comes as a surprise to me. The studio, on the other hand, seems to be impressed by the fact that this is the first time Sandler has made a sequel The studio is more easily impressed than I am. The premise is that Sandler and his family move back to his hometown where hilarity will ensue. You know, back in the early 1930s was a hit song, the title of which can no longer be mentioned, but it espoused the view that there was a reason why a certain ethnic group was born. Well, films like this is why Justin Souther was born. (I’d feel more smug about this if I didn’t know that The Smurfs 2 was looming in my future.)

This week we lose Much Ado About Nothing at both The Carolina and the Fine Arts. The Fine Arts is also dropping Before Midnight, but it’s being split with Love Is All You Need at The Carolina. The East and We Steal Secrets: The Story of Wikileaks are both taking their leave from The Carolina.

Special Screenings

We’re back to a full set of showings this week. The Thursday Horror Picture is screening Michel Soavi’s The Church (1989) on Thu., July 11 at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. World Cinema is running Kaneto Shindo’s Kuroneko (1968) on Fri., July 12 at 8 p.m. in the Railroad Library in the Phil Mechanic Building. The Hendersonville Film Society has Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly’s Singin’ in the Rain (1952) at 2 p.m. on Sun., July 14 in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. The Asheville Film Society is showing Busby Berkeley’s Gold Diggers of 1935 (1935) on Tue., July 16 at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. More on all titles in this week’s Xpress with complete reviews in the online edition.

On DVD

We may have actually been better off last week when nothing came out. This week foists some real … uh, rubbish on us — the odious fever dream of Spring Breakers, the boring silliness of The Host, the Tyler Perryness of Tyler Perry’s Temptation. It’s pretty darn grim. Also up are Admission and the documentary The Gatekeepers, neither of which I’ve seen, but which Mr. Souther seemed to like.

Notable TV Screenings

On Wednesday, July 10 TCM offers us a day of John Gilbert movies, starting at 6:30 a.m. with Bardelys the Magnificent (1926). By mid-day they’ve moved into his talkies. It’s a chance to see that it wasn’t Gilbert’s voice that did his career in, but rather the lackluster movies Louis B. Mayer forced him into. The Phantom of Paris (1931) at 3:30 p.m. is one of his better ones. That same evening, they have Max Ophuls’ The Reckless Moment (1949) at 8 p.m., followed by Tay Garnett’s quirky and enjoyable Trade Winds (1938) at 9:30.

Friday evening, TCM continues its Francois Truffaut series, starting at 8 p.m. with The Bride Wore Black (1968). Probably the best one — Shoot the Piano Player (1960) — doesn’t come along till 4 a.m., though.

Monday, July 15 finds Bryan Forbes’ always welcome The Wrong Box (1966) at 9 p.m., followed by an evening of Forbes’ movies.

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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."

24 thoughts on “Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler July 10-16: 20 Feet from Pacific Rim Grown Ups

  1. Ken Hanke

    You mean the one we were/weren’t/were/didn’t get — Dirty Wars. We’ll probably get it next week.

  2. Dionysis

    “…watching projects like At the Mountains of Madness fall through”

    I’m still irked about this. I was unaware that as much had been put into this production as apparently was, until I accidently found a trailer of this ill-fated movie (on YouTube). It really did look fantastic, and what little there was (maybe a 3 or 4 minute trailer) really seemed to capture the feel and look one derives from reading Lovecraft’s story.

  3. Justin Souther

    You mean the one we were/weren’t/were/didn’t get — Dirty Wars. We’ll probably get it next week.

    With Girl Most Likely and Only God Forgives opening on the 19th, that may not be certain.

  4. Jeremy Dylan

    I would encourage you all the heed the words of Ken and Justin and get yourselves to the nearest cinema playing THE LONE RANGER. Then after you enjoy it, see it again and bring friends.

    I feel like an unpaid viral marketing consultant for Disney this week.

    GO SEE THE LONE RANGER!

  5. Ken Hanke

    Considering that we seem to be feeling the effects of Rotten Tomatoes no longer allowing comments on reviews on their site (come on, guys, you created this mess, you should keep it to yourselves), I suspect you have your work cut out for you. The minute someone voices a positive opinion, people will be honor bound to step in and tell you the movie sucks or at least defames the mystifyingly sainted Clayton Moore.

  6. DrSerizawa

    And here I was just breathing a sigh of relief at the absence of a Sandler “Grocery Store Checkout Stand” movie. Like the publications at the store, Sandler inhabits the bottom of the cinematic Bell Curve. And without the unintentional humor. I don’t know that anyone has made so many totally abysmally degraded virtually humorless movies as Sandler outside of the porn genre. Maybe the Wayans, but I don’t think they’ve made as many. I don’t have the heart to bother to count.

  7. luluthebeast

    The only bad thing is that, due to my work schedule, I’m going to have to wait until Sunday to see PACIFIC RIM.

  8. DrSerizawa

    And here I was just breathing a sigh of relief at the absence of a Sandler “Grocery Store Checkout Stand” movie. Like the publications at the store, Sandler inhabits the bottom of the cinematic Bell Curve. And without the unintentional humor. I don’t know that anyone has made so many totally abysmally degraded virtually humorless movies as Sandler outside of the porn genre. Maybe the Wayans, but I don’t think they’ve made as many. I don’t have the heart to bother to count.

  9. Xanadon't

    I start twitching when I think of Adam Sandler movies too. A full-blown violent shudder came over me when I noted the Grown Ups 2 poster across from one of the wash rooms at The Carolina.

  10. Xanadon't

    Only God Forgives opening on the 19th

    Just over a week to decide whether to brace for disappointment or approach it with the same rabid enthusiasm still in tact that I felt before the Cannes reviews started coming in.

  11. Ken Hanke

    I saw it…and damned if I’ve figured out how I feel about it, but I don’t think it’s a disaster. It’s paced differently than Drive and more of mind-fuck (the film is very disorienting). That may or may not matter to you. But bear in mind, I only liked Drive. I think I’m too old and insufficiently hip and disaffected to quite love it.

    Next week’s gonna be a tough one with this and Girl Most Likely and The Conjuring coming out. Those anxious about RED 2 and R.I.P.D. may find it even more so. (I don’t know that anybody is all a-dither over Turbo.)

  12. Ken Hanke

    No word on them so far. It’s fairly unusual for local bookings to be bandied about until there’s some feel about how they’ll do. I think we can be sure we’ll see at least Fruitvale Station.

  13. Ken Hanke

    Well, it’s from A24 so it’s a good bet, but it doesn’t open till Aug. 2 in limited. Now, we’ve been included in some releases for limited releases lately (meaning Asheville is increasingly viewed as a solid venue for limited opening), so that’s possible. But I haven’t seen it on a booking sheet yet.

  14. Justin Souther

    The Spectacular Now trailer has been playing at The Carolina.

    A24 likes to attach their own trailers to their films.

  15. Ken Hanke

    It doesn’t rule it out, but the lackluster (but not disastrous) opening of The Crystal Fairy may make it a long shot, though the fact that it’s IFC will help.

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