Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler May 30-June 5: Bernie and the Undefeated DD Huntsman UPDATED

In Theaters

It’s a two and two week — two mainstream titles and two art titles (there’s a flood of art titles just now), and all in all, it looks like the art titles are the better deal, though it’s just possible that one of the mainstreamers will be a pleasant surprise. The other one? Far less likely. Well, as it turns out (you can thank the Monday holiday for this), no one locally is getting Piranha 3DD. I do not know why, unless the Weinsteins have decided they have a major lox on their hands, or else they think it’s so special it needs a platform release to increase excitement. I know some of you will be heartbroken, but you’ll just have to bear up at this affront to art. But despair not, for a bonus specialty title of a different nature called For Greater Glory, which is opening at The Carolina.

The art titles — Bernie (The Carolina and the Fine Arts) and Undefeated (The Carolina) — are reviewed in this week’s paper. I can’t personally weigh in on Undefeated because that one went to Justin Souther. He seemed better suited to a documentary about high school football than I (I can never even tell which end of the field I’m supposed to be watching). If you’ve forgotten, this is the movie that snagged Best Documentary Feature at the Oscars. Justin seems to have liked it, but did he agree with the Academy voters? Well, the review will answer that question.

Richard Linklater’s Bernie I have seen. In fact, I’ve seen it twice. That probably tells you whether or not I liked it. This could have easily gone either way, since I’m not exactly a fan of Mr. Linklater, and star Jack Black is rarely in the plus column for me. This time he was, but I should note that this is a Jack Black performance quite unlike any you’ve seen. Perhaps even more surprising is the fact that my 83-year-old mother liked the movie. I certainly hadn’t seen that coming. It may prove — or at least suggest — that the film has a much broader appeal than it might seem on the surface. Now, whether or not that larger audience will give the movie a chance is another question entirely, since my mother was kind of what you’d call a captive audience.

Now, about those mainstream titles…

Not opening after all! Please contain your disappointment. Alphabetically speaking, the first up is Piranha 3DD — double D, get it? (Insert groaning sound here.) OK, I’ll be the first to say that I found Alexander Aja’s Piranha remake/reworking from 2010 more boring than anything else, but I have to say that the trailer for this one makes Aja’s film look like a classic of the horror genre. This one was made by one John Gulager (son of actor Clu Gulager, who is in the movie). He made something called Feast in 2005, which seems to have had an actual release (not around here). This was followed by two direct-to-video sequels. I’ve seen none of these. Once more, we have a roster of past-their-prime guest stars — David Hasselhoff, Christopher Lloyd, Gary Busey and Ving Rhames — to supposedly add interest or production value to the otherwise largely no-name cast. But does this need a cast? Isn’t it really all about boobs and mayhem? The thing about this sort of movie is that there’s only so much it can be. You have vacationers in water. You have a bunch of prehistoric piranha. Luncheon ensues. That’s really about it — except this is luncheon with nipples. Come to think of it, that pretty much describes the last one.

Well, we may not be getting Piranha 3DD—a cultural disaster of some note—but we are getting Andy Garcia in For Greater Glory, a film that also promises performances from Eva Longoria, Oscar Isaac, Bruce Greenwood, Ruben Blades, and the venerable Peter O’Toole. I know little about this—except that it was partly financed by the Knights of Columbus—but here’s what the press blurb says: “What would you pay for the price of freedom? In the exhilarating action epic For Greater Glory an impassioned group of men and women each make the decision to risk it all for family, faith and the very future of their country, as the fims adventure unfolds against the long-hidden, true story of the 1920s Cristero War the daring peoples revolt that rocked 20th Century North America.” I think we may conclue that this is more seriously intended. If you’ve never heard of the Cristero War…well, neither have I.

And then there’s Snow White and the Huntsman. This is the apparently very serious-minded reworking of the Snow White story, as opposed to Tarsem’s largely comedic Mirror Mirror — that golden oldie that takes us all the way back to April. This is Snow White as a horror picture, which might be a perfectly sensible approach. I can’t say that all the CGI raven business in the trailer really entices me, and I freely confess that I find Kristen Stewart off-putting — and that has less to do with Twilight than it has to do with the fact that she always looks like she’s encountered an unfortunate aroma. On the other hand, Chris Hemsworth seems a reasonable choice for the Hunstman, and Charlize Theron an inspired one for Ravenna (the wicked stepmother). The array of talent chosen to play the dwarves — Ian McShane, Bob Hoskins, Ray Winstone, Nick Frost, Eddie Marson, Toby Jones, Brendan Gleeson — is, if nothing else, intriguing. They aren’t the first folks I think of when I think of dwarves — well, maybe Toby Jones — but I’m assuming CGI jiggery-pokery has taken care of that. Well, we’ll see.

It’s safe to say that we won’t be losing The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel this week at either The Carolina or the Fine Arts, but the Fine Arts is dropping Monsieur Lazhar to make room for Bernie.

Special Screenings

Before listing what is showing, let me make it clear what is not showing. Owing to The Carolina being in the throes of being revamped for digital projection next week, there will be no Asheville Film Society screening on Tuesday, June 5.

This week’s Thursday Horror Picture Show is a double feature of Karl Freund’s Mad Love (1935) with Peter Lorre and Edgar G. Ulmer’s The Black Cat (1934) with Messrs. Karloff and Lugosi at 8 p.m. on Thursday, May 31, in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. (And don’t forget, chapter two of the 1935 serial The Lost City starts at 7:40 p.m.) World Cinema continues with Twin Rivers Media Festival screening with The Duck Hunter at 8 p.m. on Friday, June 1, in the Railroad Library in the Phil Mechanic Building. Robert Wise’s The Hindenburg (1975) is this week’s film from the Hendersonville Film Society on Sunday, June 3, at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. The Asheville Film Society screenings will resume on June 12. More on all films in the Xpress with expanded coverage in the online edition.

On DVD

Probably the best thing hitting DVD this week is Coriolanus — a film that didn’t get a theatrical showing locally. Otherwise, we have the overrated We Need to Talk About Kevin, the apparently (according to Mr. Souther) fairly egregious Man on a Ledge, and the very egregious Gone, which quickly lived up to its title in theaters.

Notable TV Screenings

OK, they’re not great, but TCM is running no less than seven “Crime Doctor” mysteries with Warner Baxter on Thursday, May 31, starting at 6 a.m. A must for Baxter completists and mystery fans. On Friday, June 1, they have one of John Ford’s oddest and most overlooked movies, Tobacco Road (1941) at 10:15 p.m. Definitely worth a look if you’ve never seen it.

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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."

25 thoughts on “Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler May 30-June 5: Bernie and the Undefeated DD Huntsman UPDATED

  1. Dionysis

    “this is a Jack Black performance quite unlike any you’ve seen.”

    If he’s portraying anything other than an obnoxious and unfunny lout, then it would be unlike anything I’ve seen so far (but to be fair, I’ve not seen all of his films).

    Oh, and it seems to happen frequently; I recently watch the very films that end up being shown on Thursdays. I watched Mad Love last week (first time in decades), and I was struck by just how weird Peter Lorre was in that film, and how much I disliked the scenes with the drunken housekeeper with the cockatoo on her shoulder. They weren’t funny (although I guess it was supposed to be humor); I ended up fast-forwarding through her scenes.

  2. Ken Hanke

    If he’s portraying anything other than an obnoxious and unfunny lout, then it would be unlike anything I’ve seen so far (but to be fair, I’ve not seen all of his films).

    Well, I like his lout in Be Kind Rewind and I’m okay with him in School of Rock, but this is nothing like anything he’s done before.

  3. Dionysis

    “Well, I like his lout in Be Kind Rewind and I’m okay with him in School of Rock, but this is nothing like anything he’s done before.”

    I wish I had liked Be Kind Rewind as much as everyone else seemed to. School of Rock probably fit him better than other films. However, I have to qualify my comment now that I recall one film in which I thought he was not bad…The Holiday. I actually liked him in that one film, anyway.

  4. Orbit DVD

    Warming up to Linklater Ken?

    The biggest dvd release is TRUE BLOOD SEASON 4. Also out are two Actionfest films: the really good GOON and the no so good AGGRESSION SCALE. Another smattering of Jean Rollin and Criterion Bergman films round out a pretty busy week.

  5. Ken Hanke

    Warming up to Linklater Ken?

    Well, if he stays on this path. Doesn’t mean I’m going back to the earlier ones.

    Another smattering of Jean Rollin

    Even a smattering is too much.

    • Orbit DVD

      Come on and smatter one of them at the Thursday night horror show.

      What’s odd is that Kino is putting them out. They look stunning with tons of special features… but why???

  6. Ken Hanke

    What’s odd is that Kino is putting them out. They look stunning with tons of special features… but why???

    There are some secrets man is not meant to know.

  7. Me

    Just noticed Take This Waltz is now available on itunes which is weird because it also says now in theatres, but sweet.

  8. Me

    Just seen a message on the Fine Arts Facebook page that they will have the LCD Soundsystem Documentary “Shut Up And Play The Hits” for one night only on July 18.

  9. Ken Hanke

    Just noticed Take This Waltz is now available on itunes which is weird because it also says now in theatres

    Not weird at all. It’s from Magnolia who often release on VOD before the theatrical release. I don’t understand it from a business standpoint, but it seems to work — and since not everyone does the VOD thing, it actually doesn’t seem to hurt the theatrical release significantly. Maybe there are still people who realize the superiority of the theatrical experience.

  10. Big Al

    “If you’ve never heard of the Cristero War…well, neither have I.”

    I had to Google it. It was a revolt by Catholics against the Socialist Mexican government’s ban on religious displays in public spaces. Despite the violence ending with a settlement negotiated by the U.S., this ban still exists in Mexico today.

  11. Joey

    I’m interested to see if Kristen Stewart is able to break out of the twilight mold, after her counterparts Taylor and Robert failed doing.

  12. Ken Hanke

    I’m interested to see if Kristen Stewart is able to break out of the twilight mold, after her counterparts Taylor and Robert failed doing.

    I wouldn’t count Pattinson out just yet. This new Cronenberg movie might see him with a very different career path. Stewart scored okay critically in The Runaways. I find her utterly uncharismatic myself, but that has never precluded a number of careers I could name.

  13. Xanadon't

    It seems that to some degree the studio has anticipated this fear -the trailers almost seem to indicate that she doesn’t have a speaking role in the film. There’s no doubt that I’m seeing this one for Charlize and I find it amusing that the trailers have been spinning it that way for me.

  14. Ken Hanke

    Ms. Stewart can be as silent as the grave and she will still look like she smelled something unpleasant. Me, I’m seeing this because it looks better than the alternative choice.

  15. Me

    Looks like Fine Arts is getting Beasts of the Southern Wild and To Rome With Love.

    Kristen Stewart is decent but she has done a lot of films besides the Twilight films, shes acted with some pretty big names.

    I read that Pattinson is already set to star in the next Cronenberg film.

  16. Ken Hanke

    Looks like Fine Arts is getting Beasts of the Southern Wild and To Rome With Love.

    I doubt these have been definitely alotted yet, or that anyone knows whether either will be on more than one screen.

    Kristen Stewart is decent but she has done a lot of films besides the Twilight films, shes acted with some pretty big names.

    A lot of mediocre to bad performers have appeared with some pretty big names.

    I read that Pattinson is already set to star in the next Cronenberg film.

    You mean the one after the one that was at Cannes?

  17. Me

    Yeah they are already working on another one after Cosmopolis and its going to be his first to be filmed in the US.

  18. Me

    Ken did you hear a bout Woodys next film set in New York? The cast is Louie CK, Bobby Cannavale and Andrew Dice Clay.

  19. Ken Hanke

    Well, part of the cast. I’m crossing my fingers that Dice Clay is a very, very small part of the cast.

  20. Me

    Im assuming he will probably play some type of gangster character similar to something like Broadway Danny Rose.

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