Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler March 20-26: Up Stoker Breakers and Other Things

In Theaters

We’re looking at a big weekend comprised of three mainstream offerings and three art/indie titles—one of which has shot to being my favorite film of the year (so far). Another most assuredly has not.

It will, I’m sure, come as no surprise that I’ve seen the art/indie titles, which are comprised of Michael Apted’s 56 Up (opening at the Fine Arts), Harmony Korine’s Spring Breakers (opening at The Carolina and possibly elsewhere), and Chan-wook Park’s Stoker (opening at The Carolina and Fine Arts). All three are reviewed in this week’s Xpress. Mr. Souther reviewed Spring Breakers—about which all I’ll say is that I thought him extremely generous to the movie. I reviewed the other two.

I suppose—based on its opening weekend in NY and LA—that the hot flavor of the week is going to be Spring Breakers (never underestimate the power of the prospect of seeing Disney teeny-boppers getting “nekkid”), but so far as I’m concerned, Stoker is the movie to see. I’m not all that familiar with Chan-wook Park’s films. I’ve certainly heard of Oldboy (how can one not have heard of it), but the only film I’ve seen is his unusual and stylish Thirst, which I liked, but didn’t quite love. Stoker I loved. In fact, it shot to my favorite film of 2013. I suppose that’s not saying all that much, considering what 2013 has been like so far. But Stoker stands a very good chance of still being in at least the top five by the end of the year. It might somewhat disappoint Park’s fanbase, because this—his first English-language move—is a bit less violent and bloody than his other work, but hopefully that will expand his audience. (And make no mistake, this does have its moments and is quite disturbing.) I’m looking forward to seeing it again—maybe more than once.

Now, I suppose it’s necessary to consider that there are those of you out there who want to know something about those mainstream titles, so let’s look at what the promise.

First up (alphabetically) is Paul Weitz’s Admission. Now, here’s the thing—I like Paul Weitz (his Being Flynn almost made my top ten last year) and I like Tina Fey. The problem is that I find Paul Rudd less charming and more smarmy with each successive appearance he makes for Judd Apatow (or in any ersatz Apatovian endeavour like Our Idiot Brother)—and This Is 40 was a huge dose. I’m not sure I’m ready to forgive Rudd for that one. I may never be. Can he be offset Weitz and Fey—and the bonus participation of Michael Sheen, Lily Tomlin, and Wallace Shawn? That remains to be seen—and possibly not by me.

Then we have Chris Sanders’ and Kirk De Micco’s The Croods—in your choice of 3D or 2D. I’m a huge admirer of Sanders’ work, especially Lilo & Stitch, but how he fares without co-writer-co-director Dean DeBlois may be another matter. And then there’s the trailer for The Croods—a stone age comedy about a family on the first family road trip of all time. It makes me think of The Flintstones in Are We There Yet?. This is not a good thing. Sitting through the tie-in promotion with MovieTickets.com before every movie in recent memory has not helped. But the fact remains that I already lost the coin toss on this one, so I’ll be finding out for myself come Friday.

And coming in at the finish is Antoine Fuqua’s Olympus Has Fallen—thriller that boasts some interesting casting. I mean here we have a cast that includes Gerard Butler, Morgan Freeman, and Aaron Eckhart in a story about the president of the United States being captured by terrorists that doesn’t cast Morgan Freeman as the president. What were they thinking? Morgan Freeman is clearly the most presidential actor we have. I mean, the man has played God for Clapton’s sake and that’s nearly as big a gig as president, right? So what do we get instead? Aaron Eckhart as the president? Really? Of course, we also have Gerard Butler trying to pull himself out of the run of things like Machine Gun Preacher, Playing for Keeps, and Chasing Mavericks. In other words, getting back to movies that people actually see. Will it work? Hard to say. It’s been awhile since Fuqua lit up the box office either. We shall see.

So what leaves us his week? Well, I can’t say it isn’t a disappointment, but I also can’t say that it’s a surprise to see John Dies at the End dying after one week at The Carolina. Chasing Ice didn’t quite melt at the Fine Arts, though. It’s being kept for the 1:20 show only for another week at the Fine Arts. The Carolina is still holding Quartet and Silver Linings Playbook.

Special Screenings

This week’s Thursday Horror Picture Show is a double bill of Lon Chaney in Calling Dr. Death (1943) and Bela Lugosi in Invisible Ghost (1941) at 8 p.m. on Thu. Mar. 21 in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. World Cinema is showing Luis Bunuel’s That Obscure Object of Desire (1978) on Fri., Mar. 22 at 8 p.m. in the Railroad Library in the Phil Mechanic Building. The Hendersonville Film Society is screening D.W. Griffith’s The Battle of the Sexes (1928) at 2 p.m. on Sun., Mar.24 in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville.  The Asheville Film Society closes out March with Frank Capra’s Lady for a Day (1933) on Tue., Mar. 29 at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. More on all movies in this week’s paper with expanded reviews in the online edition.

On DVD

The movies out on DVD this week will likely be of more interest to some than they are to me. I don’t think there’s a one I am keen on seeing again—and that’s putting it mildly in some cases. However, it appears we have The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Les Miserables, Zero Dark Thirty, and, God save us, This Is 40.

Notable TV Screenings

If anyone else spots anything all that out of the ordinary on TCM this coming week, please let me know. I plan on catching up on some DVDs.

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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."

31 thoughts on “Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler March 20-26: Up Stoker Breakers and Other Things

  1. Xanadon't

    I have Park’s Vengeance trilogy sitting on my shelf if you’re interested in seeing any/all of it.

  2. Xanadon't

    Also, now that Rust and Bone hits DVD this week I can start getting over the fact that it never opened here.

  3. Ken Hanke

    I have Park’s Vengeance trilogy sitting on my shelf if you’re interested in seeing any/all of it

    I wouldn’t say no.

  4. Orbit DVD

    I was going to mention RUST & BONE, and it is excellent. From the director of A PROPHET.

    Criterion is also releasing Terrance Malick’s BADLANDS this week. It’s a great movie, but I’m even more excited that it is the first title licensed by Warner Brothers to another company in the US (Ken, correct me if that’s wrong). Could one of our favorite films get a release in the near future?

  5. Jeremy Dylan

    And coming in at the finish is Antoine Fuqua’s Olympus Has Fallen

    One of two different ‘DIE HARD in the White House’ flicks coming out this year.

    The other one, WHITE HOUSE DOWN, boasts Channing Tatum as the secret service agent and Jamie Foxx as the President.

  6. Ken Hanke

    And I’m excited about neither one. The winner will be the one that destroys the most national monuments.

  7. DrSerizawa

    The things I like best about The Invisible Ghost are that there is no ghost and that what passes for the ghost is not invisible.

  8. Ken Hanke

    Well, that’s certainly true, but I like almost everything about it — not always for the reasons intended, but for a Monogrammer, more so than most. And I’m a sucker for that old Abe Meyer music library (here applied by Lange and Porter) soundtrack.

  9. Me

    The most anticipated film of the year so far Spring Brreakers, and the most anticipated tv film so far the David Mamet Phil Spector film all in one weekend.

  10. Ken Hanke

    The most anticipated film of the year so far Spring Brreakers

    Most anticipated by whom? I saw it last week and I thought it was absolute shit. One of the worst films I’ve ever seen.

  11. Me

    The internet apparently and someone strated a thread at the Filmspotting Forum before the film even came out.

    here

    http://www.filmspotting.net/forum/index.php?topic=12126.0

    Im looking forward to it with reviews like

    “A candy-colored fever dream is the most unforgettable movie of the year so far.”

    “This is one of the few modern movies whose sheer entertainment value locks eyes with you and says, “You’re going to be watching me regularly for the rest of your life.” Spring Breakers feels like a new classic. Spring break forever, bitches.”

  12. Ken Hanke

    I must know who wrote those reviews so I can disregard them in the future. I have no doubt you will adore it.

  13. Xanadon't

    Well the top quote originates with the man-child Richard Roeper. I don’t claim knowledge about the second quote.

  14. Ken Hanke

    I already pay no attention to him. I probably don’t read anyone who would pen that second review.

  15. Steven

    [b]One of the worst films I’ve ever seen.[/b]

    This applies to [i]Kids[/i] for me, so I have zero desire to see any of Korine’s other films.

    Kind of surprised that you and Justin’s opinions differ. It seems like you two are always in sync.

  16. Jeremy Dylan

    “A candy-colored fever dream is the most unforgettable movie of the year so far.”

    This is a quote that carries no qualitative connotations whatsoever.

    With a little tweaking, it could apply to CASINO ROYALE (1967) and the Vietnam war equally.

    Unforgettable is a neutral term. It merely implies distinctiveness.

  17. Ken Hanke

    Kind of surprised that you and Justin’s opinions differ. It seems like you two are always in sync

    Not quite always. This is one of the more extreme cases — mostly because I don’t buy his central concept of “it can mean anything or nothing” — but if he’d actually given it a good review, I might have had to kill him.

  18. Me

    Almost the entire audience was teenagers. It seems Korine has warped a whole new generation with his twisted vision.

  19. Ken Hanke

    Boy, that’s what we need in this world — more nihilistic sociopathic teenagers. But don’t kid yourself, that audience was probably teenagers wanting to see Disney bimbettes get naked.

  20. Ken Hanke

    Of course, they were quoting it. It’s not hard to do. Do I think having a bunch of kids walking around saying, “Sprang break fo’evah, bitches,” is a good thing? No, I do not.

  21. Me

    I do, they could be quoting a lot worse more mainstream movies. I love it when something like this penetrates the mainstream.

  22. Ken Hanke

    No, I don’t honestly think they could be quoting from anything worse, but then I put this trash near the top of my list of worst movies I’ve ever seen.

  23. Xanadon't

    I do, they could be quoting a lot worse more mainstream movies.

    When a movie opens on two screens at the Biltmore Grande I’m not sure that there’s much relevance left to this argument. I haven’t seen either of them, but on this ground I don’t see much difference between quoting Spring Breakers and Project X.

  24. Me

    Is there any of Korine’s films that you don’t despise?

    I guess your theory will be put to the test this weekend when we see how many teens flock to see a nude Kristen Stewart give two guys “hand love”.

  25. Ken Hanke

    The only other Korine film I’ve seen is Gummo. I thought it was awful, too, though in a somewhat different way.

    The comparison to On the Road has no merit. There’s no media fuss about it and no push. In fact, it’s an already written-off movie. Plus, Stewart’s not a squeaky clean Disney teeny bopper and has been in “adult” fare before.

    The real test of my “theory” is how badly Spring Breakers hemorrhages this weekend. Considering it dropped every day opening weekend (locally, at least, where Stoker beat it) I’m expecting a big drop.

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