Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler Nov. 23-29: Hugo Arthur Marcy May Muppets like crazy

Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler Nov. 23-29: Hugo Arthur Marcy May Muppets like crazy-attachment0

In Theaters

This is an interesting week. Everything—even the art titles—open on Wednesday, which is unusual, Thanksgiving or not. The three mainstream openers—Arthur Christmas, Hugo, The Muppets—are all of the family-friendly persuasion, which isn’t surprising at this time of year. What is surprising is that they’ve all been seen by some critics of note, and have all fared very nicely in the process. It will undoubtedly be noted that the bulk of the Arthur Christmas reviews are from the UK—its country or origin—and are therefore suspect. The problem with that bit of “conspiracy” theory is that the Brit reviewers love nothing better than trashing their own though some weird sense of cultural inferiority. Neither of the art titles—Like Crazy at The Carolina and Martha Marcy May Marlene at the Fine Arts—could even slightly be construed as family-friendly, especially the latter.

As is often the case, I’ve already seen the art titles—Like Crazy and Martha Marcy May Marlene—and the reviews for both are in this week’s paper. I’m going to pretty much leave it at that this week. Let’s just say that neither or these is in contention for a slot on my Ten Best list this year. Anything further you can find out in the reviews themselves.

It does indeed look like there’s a chance that all three of the mainstream releases are going to be worth your attention—and I really can’t imagine anyone who’s interested in film not being curious to see just exactly what Martin Scorsese does with a children’s story. Actually, yes, I can imagine one person I know not being curious, but that’s a separate can of worms altogether. So anyway, let’s take a prognosticating squint at these three movies.

First up is Arthur Christmas, which comes to us from the Aardman Animations. These are the folks behind Wallace and Gromit and Flushed Away (2006). The premise of the film is partly a look into just exactly how Santa can cover the Earth (sounds like a paint company slogan) in one night, and partly a standard-issue unlikely-hero-proves-himself yarn. In this case, that’s the title character (voiced by James McAvoy) who, upon learning that one child has been missed, takes matters into his own hands—with the help of outmoded and out-to-pasture Grandsanta (voiced by Bill Nighy)—to set things right. OK, so that’s not the most strikingly original plot, but any movies with Jim Broadbent and Imelda Staunton providing the voices of Mr. and Mrs. Santa and Bill Nighy doing the honors with the elder Santa is clearly onto something. I’m living in hope that that awful Vampire Weekend song, “Holiday,” is only in the trailer and not the film itself. I’d have to dock the film a half-star on general principles for bad taste if it’s actually on the soundtrack.

Alphabetically speaking, this brings us to Hugo, which, for me, is one of the most keenly anticipated films of the year. And, no, that’s not because I think Martin Scorsese can do no wrong. He has made a number of films that I can admire, but don’t actually like. He’s also made a couple where I can do neither. My excitement is simply because Hugo strikes me as being potentially the most personal film the man has ever made—and perhaps is likely to make. In listening to and reading Scorsese on the topic of movies, this particular film—forgeign though it may be (at least in subject matter) to his oeuvre—has the appearance of being much nearer Scorsese the man than his other works. If we are to believe the early reviews—and in the case of content, I see no reason not to—this is more than a children’s fantasy about a young boy (Asa Butterfield, Nanny McPhee Returns) living in a Paris railway station, and has much to do with movies, the magic of movies, and even film preservation. We don’t have much longer to wait to find out.

As for The Muppets, I seem to be the only person in the world who hasn’t been waiting for their return. This latest big screen incarnation has already garnered 30 reviews on Rotten Tomatoes and of those, 30 are positive. Mind you, I have nothing against another Muppet movie, but neither am I excited about it. I’m glad to see that Amy Adams is in it, but I’m glad to see Amy Adams in just about anything. The story finds Adams and Jason Segel getting the Muppets back together to put on a show to save the old Muppet theater that’s about to be knocked down by Texas oil man Chris Cooper, who wants to drill for oil beneath it. It sounds perfectly serviceable as a story and will provide room for the Muppets to do all the things audiences want them to do.

Movie schedules are on the screwy side with the holiday. For example, the Fine Arts loses The Way on Wednesday and Thursday, but brings it back for one show a day—split with The Skin I Live In—on Friday. The second-run theaters are confusing. Asheville Pizza is closed on Thanksgiving and their schedule doesn’t change till Friday. On the other hand, I’ve seen Cinebarre’s list through Thanksgiving, but have no clue what they’re doing come Friday. Anyway, The Skin I Live In is staying at the Fine Arts (losing its 4:20 show come Friday) and Margin Call is staying at The Carolina.

Special Screenings

Thanksgiving gets its own peculiar celebration from the Thursday Horror Picture Show and the turkey known as The Giant Claw (1957) on Thursday, Nov. 24, at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. World Cinema, on the other hand, is taking the week off. The Hendersonville Film Society is screening Fantasia 2000 (2000) on Sunday, Nov. 27, at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. The Asheville Film Society closes out November with Gary Cooper and Madeleine Carroll in Lewis Milestone’s The General Died at Dawn (1936) on Tuesday, Nov. 29, at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. Information on all three titles can be found in this week’s Xpress.

On DVD

Probably the most appealing title this week for the largest number of people is going to be Super 8, but don’t overlook Sarah’s Key and take this opportunity to catch up with The Devil’s Double, which almost no one went to see in the theater. For that matter, there’s also Spy Kids: All the Time in the World and, alas, Conan the Barbarian.

Notable TV screenings

I’ve gone through the TCM listings twice now and I’m coming up empty-handed as far as finding anything really notable in the sense that it’s something work checking out that doesn’t run with a (sometimes alarming) degree of frequency. Check it for yourself if there are still things TCM runs fairly often you haven’t caught up with.

 

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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 Nov. 23-29: Hugo Arthur Marcy May Muppets like crazy

  1. Jeremy Dylan

    The premise of the film is partly a look into just exactly how Santa can cover the Earth (sounds like a paint company slogan)

    “It’s a small world, but I wouldn’t want to paint it.” – Steven Wright.

  2. Xanadon't

    There’s precious little that will get me sitting down to a 3D showing, but Scorsese at the helm definitely qualifies. Looking forward to it!

  3. Ken Hanke

    There’s precious little that will get me sitting down to a 3D showing, but Scorsese at the helm definitely qualifies. Looking forward to it!

    I was hoping to get there today, but it looks like I’m not getting there (The Carolina) till the 11:20 a.m. show on Friday,

  4. Ken Hanke

    Saw both the Devil’s Double and Sarah’s Key. Both excellent.

    You are one of the very few who saw The Devil’s Double! It really ought to be seen for Dominic Cooper’s performance if nothing else.

  5. Ken Hanke

    A Note About the Movie Times on Here

    I can’t fix ‘em. Hell, I can’t even find where to get into them. And I don’t think there’s anybody around today who can, so let me explain how to read them. In the main, what has happened is that this week’s times are under last week’s listings. For instance, Drive and The Help are last week’s Asheville Pizza times.

    The Carmike times are just last week’s (I never received their listings this week).

    The Carolina times for this week start with Arthur Xmas. Everything above that is last week.

    Cinebarre I can make no sense out of at all.

    Co-ed is right after the first listing of Happy Feet

    Epic is right starting with Arthur Christmas.

    Fine Arts is right starting with Marcy May.

    Flat Rock is the second Tower Heist.

    Beaucatcher is right starting at the second Immortals, though the layout is still pretty screwed up.

  6. Xanadon't

    I was hoping to get there today, but it looks like I’m not getting there (The Carolina) till the 11:20 a.m. show on Friday

    Let’s hope for one of those “All good things are worth the wait” (not to mention black-friday-traffic) scenarios. I’d say “See you there”, but my line of work generally precludes me from knowing what 11:20 am looks like exactly. *Sigh* Probably won’t be till Monday for me.

  7. Ken Hanke

    not to mention black-friday-traffic

    I’m guessing that 40 to exit 50 and Hendersonville Road at that point will be largely unaffected. We shall see.

    • DrSerizawa

      Oops. How did that happen?

      I think The Giant Claw has surpassed Bride of the Monster as my favorite turkey. (pun intended)

    • DrSerizawa

      Oops. How did that happen?

      I think The Giant Claw has surpassed Bride of the Monster as my favorite turkey. (pun intended)

  8. DrSerizawa

    Oops. How did that happen?

    I think The Giant Claw has surpassed Bride of the Monster as my favorite turkey. (pun intended)

  9. DrSerizawa

    Oops. How did that happen?

    I think The Giant Claw has surpassed Bride of the Monster as my favorite turkey. (pun intended)

  10. Ken Hanke

    Wow! Wow! Wow! Wow! It looks like our new website has struck again.

    In the meantime — and I don’t normally do this — I’m going ahead and saying that Hugo is a masterpiece. Drop whatever you’re doing and go see it now. And — here comes a strange one — see it in 3D at least once. (I believe you’ll want to see it more than once.)

    • Xanadon't

      Excellent! Well that’s more prompting than I need. If things go according to plan I’ll have seen it by the time your review goes public. Been a while since I’ve opted for the 3D experience (pretty sure Coraline was the last), but I’ll heed your advice. Getting a bit of a Cinema Paradiso vibe from what I’ve seen/read. What do ya think, anything to it?

  11. Ken Hanke

    I suppose it’s not unreasonable as a comparison, but it didn’t occur to me. At the same time, I’ve never been as keen on Cinema Paradiso as I’m supposed to be (that’s not a criticism, I don’t dislike it) and it probably wouldn’t be the first thing to enter my mind. For obvious reasons, I don’t want to get into the film much here — and also I plan on seeing it again tomorrow morning — but it struck me as — among several other things — being a kind of “every movie geek’s story.”

  12. Ken Hanke

    So I was sitting here this morning trying to get motivated to get dressed to go see Hugo again when there was a terrifically loud noise and a kind of bump. “What the f**k was that?” I asked. Well, it turns out the f**k it was was a tree falling on the house — and one side of my truck. It is unclear why the tree broke — especially since it unaccountably snapped off 10-12 feet up — though I lean toward the theory that a bear was climbing it. Naturally, said bruin would be far, far away by the time we actually started to see what had happened. I reckon the second viewing of Hugo is postponed.

    • davidf

      Damned inconsiderate bears.

      Meanwhile, I’m sad that Hugo apparently isn’t playing within an hour-and-a-half’s drive of me, so I may not get that first viewing. Do you know if this opening is a limited release and I should expect a wider release coming soon, or am I out of luck?

  13. Ken Hanke

    Meanwhile, I’m sad that Hugo apparently isn’t playing within an hour-and-a-half’s drive of me, so I may not get that first viewing. Do you know if this opening is a limited release and I should expect a wider release coming soon, or am I out of luck?

    At the last minute — roughly — Paramount reduced the film to about 1200 theaters, which is somewhere between wide and limited. Offhand, I wouldn’t expect an expansion (not sure where you are), though I might suggest making a 90 minute drive for this one. (I’d do it, but that’s me.) However, since there are no mainstream titles currently down for opening this coming Friday, you might get lucky.

  14. Orbit DVD

    Bad few days for you Ken, sorry.

    I’m itching to discuss HUGO, but I’ll wait until Wednesday. I will say that it has my favorite 3D effect ever, involving someone’s head.

  15. Ken Hanke

    I’m itching to discuss HUGO, but I’ll wait until Wednesday.

    Well, you could join us on the podcast tomorrow if you’d like.

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