Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler October 17-23: Paranormal Alex Cross Is Embarassing
If last week was too full—and it was—this week looks positively threadbare. We have two mainstream releases of debatable interest and one art film. (And I mean that last quite literally.) All in all, it looks like a good week to catch up on the better movies you didn’t get to last week.
We use the term “art movie” in a very loose sense as a rule. It’s a catch-all term for just about anything that isn’t a mainstream release. The films themselves aren’t invariably artistic at all—and they’re almost invariably not about art. This week, however, we have a film called Beauty Is Embarassing, and it is an art film in the strict sense. It’s a documentary about artist/designer/puppeteer/renaissance man Wayne White, whose work you know from such things as Pee-Wee’s Playhoue and some high-end music videos—even if his name is unfamiliar to you. It’s also the only film coming to us this week—it opens Friday at The Carolina—that I’ve seen. (The review is in this week’s Xpress.) Additionally, it’s the only film opening this week that I can imagine is actually worth seeing.
Last week we saw the distributors make a couple of pretty bone-headed plays. Two films of merit—Seven Psychopaths and The Perks of Being a Wallflower—were given wide releases that they benefitted neither. If ever two movies needed the slow roll out of a platform release, these qualified. As a result, neither film did the box office they ought to have—and chances are good that neither will be around as long as they should be. Partly this was the result of big box theater chains pulling the usual stunt of jumping into the fray to make a buck off titles that normally play only at art house venues. (I don’t suppose it will do any good to once again point out that it’s in our own best interest to support the theaters that bring us offbeat films like this year round rather than patronize the big chains when they pounce on these titles?) But this was also just plain bad planning on the part of the people putting these movies out. In any case, don’t dawdle as concerns catching these two—especially Seven Psychopaths.
Otherwise, this week consists of two titles that look pretty negligible on the surface.
First up is Alex Cross. You may remember a couple of movies—Kiss the Girls (1997) and Along Came a Spider (2001)—where Morgan Freeman played James Patterson’s fictional detective, Dr. Alex Cross. Well, Dr. Cross is back in Alex Cross. But no longer is he played by Morgan Freeman. He’s played by Tyler Perry—and he’s been re-configured as more of a man of action. Now, as regular readers know, I’ve made my peace with Tyler Perry. I might even be said to have come to like him—on certain terms. But really, this just has “bad idea” written all over it—as the trailers attest. (In fact, my co-conspirator, Justin Souther, thought the trailer was a parody of a movie trailer when he first encountered it.) Nothing about this looks like it works—not for fans of the books, not for action fans, and not for Perry’s core audience. Perry looks uncomfortable in the trailer and the whole film looks indifferent and tired. You know a movie’s in trouble when they’re trying to sell you on the director—Rob Cohen—on the strength of a movie he made more than a decade ago.
Last year they promised us that Paranormal Activity 3 was the end of the line for the series, remember? Well, they lied. I think we all knew they were lying. After all, these movies cost about a buck and a quarter to make and they make money. Why they make money continues to mystify me, but they do. As I noted in the paper’s “Upcomers,” the folks at Rotten Tomatoes don’t even bother to tell you anything about this one. The plot synopsis merely notes that Paranormal Activity 4 the fourth in the series. The IMDb tells us,“It has been five years since the disappearance of Katie and Hunter, and a suburban family witness strange events in their neighborhood when a woman and a mysterious child move in.” So presumably the murderous/possessed Katie Featherston is back and more spooky stuff is going to happen. Well, that sounds original and refreshing. They brought back Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman to direct, which, I guess, assures us that there will be no lowering of quality from the last film. Just remember, Silent Hill: Revelation opens next week.
What do we lose this week? Well, nothing, though it’s worth noting that Arbitrage has been split with Atlas Shrugged: Part II at The Carolina (a more ironic pairing could scarcely be imagined) at The Carolina, which means this is probably the last week for both. (Not that I care about the latter.)
This week’s Thursday Horror Picture Show is Neil Jordan’s Interview with the Vampire (1994) at 8 p.m. on Thu., Oct. 18 in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. World Cinema is showing Francois Truffaut’s Jules et Jim (1962) at 8 p.m. on Fri., Oct. 19 in the Railroad Library in the Phil Mechanic Building. The Hendersonville Film Society is screening the Sherlock Holmes comedy Without a Clue (1988) on Sun., Oct. 21 at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. The Asheville Film Society screens Roy Del Ruth’s blistering pre-code comedy Blessed Event (1932) on Tue., Oct. 23 at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. More on all films—with expanded coverage in the online edition—in this week’s paper.
There’s a biggie this week. Wes Anderson’s wonderful Moonrise Kingdom comes out (yes, it’s still playing at Asheville Pizza, too). This is cause for celebration. That, I’m afraid, cannot be said about the week’s other offerings: Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted, That’s My Boy, and Chernobyl Diaries.
Notable TV Screenings
Fans of Hammer horrors may want to note that there’s a full night of Hammer movies on Wed., Oct. 17 on TCM, starting with Horror of Dracula (1958) at 8 p.m. and running till early morning. On Thu., Oct. 18—again starting at 8 p.m.—TCM has what can only be called a very peculiar presentation with an evening of movies made in Cinerama, including This Is Cinerama (1952), which I dragged to the old Carolina Theatre in Charlotte to see as a very young child. Whatever dubious value this had on the big screen will be utterly lost on even the most magnificent home theater set-up imaginable. What are they thinking?