Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler October 10-16: Perks of Seven Sinister Wallflower Psychopaths

In Theaters

It’s a busy week at the movies. Not only are there six movies—well, five real movies and a curiosity—opening, but there’s QFest at the Fine Arts more than doubling the number. With that in mind, let’s jump right into the fray and see what’s out there.

If Looper opening two weeks ago suggested that we were edging into award season territory where the line between art and mainstrem titles becomes pretty blurry indeed, this week seals the deal with Ben Affleck’s Argo and Martin McDonagh’s Seven Psychopaths. You’ll find Justin Souther’s review of the former in this week’s paper. (He cheated and saw both of these movies in Toronto, but there was no way he was getting to review the new film from McDonagh—though you can flip back through his Toronto reports for his enthusiastic assessment of it.) I’m actually a little surprised to see Seven Psychopaths being given a wide release—and I question the wisdom of the approach, but no one asked for my opinion. More on it further down.

The other opening film that’s been seen is The Perks of Being a Wallflower, which I saw on Saturday morning—early Saturday morning—and which you’ll find reviewed in this week’s Xpress. This was something of a surprise to me, because I really wasn’t expecting much. Actually, I was expecting to dislike it and ended up loving it. (The only reason it didn’t get the Weekly Pick was because it was up against Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie.) We’re talking the kind of loving it where I now want to read the source novel. In short—get yourself over to The Carolina when it opens there this weekend.

So let’s get on with the broader picture.

It causes me no joy to announce the arrival of Atlas Smug…er Atlas Shrugged: Part Two, but here it is. Considering that Part One lost a young fortune as soon as its niche market was exhausted—and neither the foreign market (Ayn Rand seems to be a strictly American interest), nor DVD sales helped much—it’s somewhat surprising to see that a second installment got made. (Granted, everyone from the first film jumped ship, so this one boasts an even less impressive cast and director.) It’s no secret that I find Ms. Rand’s philosophy a bit wanting and utterly repellent, so I’m not the target audience for this. (Well, I am curious if this latest film attempt sidesteps her atheism and rough sex fantasies again.) But let’s face it, this movie isn’t aimed at people interested in films or filmmaking, but in Ayn Rand’s ideas.

According to the one review that’s on Rotten Tomatoes for Here Comes the Boom, the film “showcases Kevin James’ comic genius as his best.” Setting aside the idea that James’ “comic genius” has a gender, I have to say that it never occurred to me that I’d see the name “Kevin James” in the same sentence with “comic genius,” and I suspect a degree of hyperbole at work here. That said, if Adam Sandler insists on foisting his buddies on us, I’d rather see James than Rob Schneider—even if he does come to us in a movie from another Sandlerian hanger-on, director Frank Coraci. This one looks pretty harmless with James starring as a high school biology teacher who becomes a mixed martial arts fighter in order to help save the school’s music department. (Yes, it does sound an awful lot like Nacho Libre, which seems like the last thing you’d want people to be reminded of.)

On a much more hopeful note, there’s Martin McDonagh’s Seven Psychopaths starring Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Christopher Walken, Tom Waits, and Woody Harrelson. McDonagh’s first feature In Bruges (2008) announced the writer-director as a fresh, unique voice in the art film world. This new film—with which he and star Farrell reunite—appears poised to at least attempt to move McDonagh more into the mainstream. However, nothing—apart from more Americans in the cast and a wide release—suggests that McDonagh has in any way changed his stripes to get there. Here we have a comedy built around a pair of guys—Sam Rockwell and Christopher Walken—who make a living by stealing dogs and returning them to their owners for the reward. Throw in Colin Farrell as Rockwell’s best friend—a writer trying to finish a screenplay called Seven Psychopaths—and Woody Harrelson as a psychotic gangster, whose dog probably oughtn’t have been stolen. Tom Waits and some rabbits are in there somehow, too. The trailer looks wonderful. Early reviews are very strong. And, yes, Mr. Souther gave it high marks when he saw it. I’ll be there on Friday.

That brings us to Scott Derickson’s Sinister with Ethan Hawke as a true crime novelist who “discovers a box of mysterious, disturbing home movies that plunge his family into a nightmarish experience of supernatural horror.” OK, let’s look at this realistically. Derrickson’s The Day the Earth Stood Still (2009) was pretty awful. Some people (I am not among them) were quite taken with his supernatural-courtroom drama hybrid The Exorcism of Emily Rose. This one is being touted mostly on “the producer of the Paranormal Activity movies,” which is really a case of one of the producers. In truth, the trailer suggests something more like Insidious (2010)—a film also on producer Jason Blum’s resume—which strikes me as a good thing. Early reviews have been surprisingly good—especially for a horror picture—and the film is being called terrifying. Well, I’ll be honest—I’ve never actually been terrified by a movie (at least not past the edge of 10) and I doubt this will change that. However, it does look creepy and I’m interested.

So what do we lose this week to make room for all this? Well, the Fine Arts is holding The Master and Samsara, but check the schedule because the QFest films will cause some cancellations. The Carolina is keeping Abritrage and The Master, but 2 Days in New York and Searching for Sugar Man are leaving. It’s also worth noting—if you’re looking for a last chance to catch it in a theater—that Asheville Pizza is bringing in Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom for its 7 p.m. set this week.

Special Screenings

In addition to the usual special screenings this week, we have QFest at the Fine Arts. There will be a separate article on the festival selections and a schedule of the films online on Wednesday. There’s some prime stuff in this year’s movies.

This week’s Thursday Horror Picture Show is Tobe Hooper’s intergalactic vampire epic Lifeforce (1985) at 8 p.m. on Thu., Oct. 11 in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. World Cinema is showing Yashujiro Ozu’s silent film I Was Born, But… (1932) on Fri., Oct. 12 at 8 p.m. in the Railroad Library in the Phil Mechanic Building. The Hendersonville Film Society is screening Howard Hughes’ Hell’s Angels (1930) at 2 p.m. on Sun.,Oct. 14 in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. The Asheville Film Society is showing Marlene Dietrich in Josef von Sternberg’s Dishonored (1931) on Tue., Oct. 16 at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. More on all titles in this week’s paper with extended coverage in the online edition.

On DVD

A light week on DVD with the big title being Ridley Scott’s mixed bag Promotheus, followed by the enjoyably cheesy The Raven. The less said about Rock of Ages,  the better, but it’s coming out, too.

Notable TV Screenings

You’re on your own here. I didn’t see anything out of the ordinary the entire week.

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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."

16 thoughts on “Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler October 10-16: Perks of Seven Sinister Wallflower Psychopaths

  1. Jim Donato

    Oooh! Martin McDonoagh! Sign me up! He’ll have to ratchet up the goods to top his brother’s last outing. “In Bruges” is a rare entry into the DVD shelf, but “The Guard” [still not yet in house] got better with each viewing, of which they were many.

  2. Xanadon't

    Wow. I was overwhelmed when I thought there were three films clamoring for my attention set to open this week. Your praise for Wallflower brings the total to four.

  3. Me

    The one i was looking forward to the most Killing Them Softly has seemed to vanish. It was on the Carolina’s coming soon schedule for October 12 now its not on there at all.

    I guess i will go with 7 Psychopaths even though it looks like hes turned into Guy Ritchie with this film.

  4. Ken Hanke

    I thought there were three films clamoring for my attention set to open this week. Your praise for Wallflower brings the total to four.

    I can only come up with three.

  5. Ken Hanke

    The one i was looking forward to the most Killing Them Softly has seemed to vanish. It was on the Carolina’s coming soon schedule for October 12 now its not on there at all.

    Well, I’m pretty sure I’ve suggested that that website isn’t all that reliable, but the movie in question isn’t slated for theaters till Nov. 30.

  6. Xanadon't

    I can only come up with three.

    Well it should be of no surprise that I’m eager for Seven Psychopaths, so you’re either underestimating my interest in Argo or Sinister.

    Admittedly my excitement for the former has waned a bit since I first spied its trailer however many months ago. And I have no trouble believing Justin when he says that Argo leaves a faint reek of Oscar-bait in its wake and that the film is ultimately a bit too conventionally crowd-pleasing for its own good. Even so, I enjoyed The Town more than I’d have ever guessed. And it’s got Goodman.

    As for Sinister, well. October horror releases that don’t include the words “saw” “centipede” or “paranormal” in the title are something of a luxury these days, as you know. And in keeping with my steady diet of horror films all month long, there’s little doubt that I’ll give Sinister a look within its first week.

  7. Orbit DVD

    Also out is the Oscar-nominated cartoon A CAT IN PARIS and the LCD Soundsystem doc SHUT UP AND PLAY THE HITS.

    TV includes IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILLY S7, THE LEAGUE S3 and BONES S7.

    There’s a lot of positive buzz about SINISTER, but I might wait on that one.

    I do highly recommend ROCK OF AGES. I haven’t seen a film so bombastically bad in years. And Cruise is the best thing about it!

  8. Orbit DVD

    I’ve never actually been terrified by a movie (at least not past the edge of 10) and I doubt this will change that.

    It’s been awhile since I’ve been scared, but the last film to give me nightmares was THE BEGOTTEN, but I think that one just drove right into my subconscious.

  9. Ken Hanke

    Well it should be of no surprise that I’m eager for Seven Psychopaths, so you’re either underestimating my interest in Argo or Sinister.

    It was Sinister I was underestimating. (I was worried for a minute that you had some inexplicable pash for Kevin James pictures or Ayn Rand.)I’m interested in Sinister, but I don’t know if it’d be a must-see for me if I was in another profession.

  10. Ken Hanke

    And Cruise is the best thing about it!

    And that alone should chill you to the marrow. Anyway, I think the baboon is the best thing about it.

  11. Justin Souther

    I guess i will go with 7 Psychopaths even though it looks like hes turned into Guy Ritchie with this film.

    He hasn’t.

  12. Jeremy Dylan

    Tom Waits and some rabbits are in there somehow, too.

    This is really all that needed to be said to get me into the cinema.

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