Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler September 19-25: Farewell Master Dredd at the End of the Curve

In Theaters

One of the year’s most anticipated films comes our way this week—and that’s not all. We’re also looking at four mainstream titles and another art title. That’s six movies hitting town on Friday. I guess we’d better get down to them.

The big news, of course, is Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master—an art title with the kind of interest that crosses the line into something like mainstream. At this point, the only theaters that have confirmed its opening are The Carolina and the Fine Arts. Whether it stays that way remains to be seen, but I’ll go ahead and remind readers that those are the theaters that bring us this kind of film year round and they deserve our support.

In an unusual turn of events, this is an art title that I have not seen. You will, however, find a review in this week’s Xpress since Mr. Souther caught the film at the Toronto International Film Festival. I hope to catch it this weekend myself if circumstances permit themselves the luxury of occurting. We shall see.

Another art title—the French film Farewell, My Queen—is also opening at The Carolina on Friday. This one I have seen and I’m hoping it doesn’t get lost by being up against The Master, because it’s very good indeed. The review is also in this week’s paper, so check that out.

On the other side of the ledger there are four other titles—Dredd 3D, End of Watch, House at the End of the Street, and Trouble with the Curve.

The biggest surprise—in terms of early reviews—is Dredd 3D (which, yes, is also available in 2D). At the moment it has a 90 percent positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but apart from the inherent flaw in reading too much into review aggregations, it’s worth noting that the bulk of these reviews are from the UK. And there’s often a pretty sharp divide there with US tastes. That said, I find myself intrigued by the Hollywood Reporter review (by British critic Stephen Dalton) that the film has a “gritty style more akin to cult hits like District 9 or 28 Days Later than to standard Hollywood comic-book blockbusters.” Certainly, there’s no denying that Karl Urban is a better actor than Sylvester Stallone, who played Judge Dredd the last time the character was brought to the screen. Director Pete Travis, however, doesn’t have an impressive track record. Plus, the plot—dispenser of justice of the dystopian future Judge Dredd up against drug dealers—doesn’t sound all that promising. I’m willing to chance it…I think.

David Ayer’s End of Watch is also starting out of the gate with good reviews (far fewer). Ayer is better known for his screenwriting than his directing—and mostly for Training Day (2001). His directorial work has hardly set the world on fire. (If you saw his 2008 film Street Kings you know what I mean.) This time, however, he has a pair of leads—Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena—who are likely to help. The presence of Anna Kendrick is also a plus. The story sounds pretty much Cop Movie Basic. Gyllenhaal and Pena find themselves “marked for death” when they learn something they shouldn’t that puts them in bad with a drug cartel. The question is what Ayer has done with that less-than-original premise.

Next up is House at the End of the Street—a PG-13 horror picture that seems to have been seen by no critics anywhere. If the trailer is any indication, it’s easy to see why that is. The film stars Jennifer Lawrence (it was apparently supposed to come out closer to The Hunger Games) and Elisabeth Shue as daughter and mother who move into a house where strange things begin happening. (Well, of course, they do otherwise there’d be no movie at all.) It all has to do with a murder that took place years earlier and a “dark secret” being kept by the entire town and goodness knows what else. Director Mark Tonderai has some TV work and a direct-to-video movie called Hush (2008) to his credit. I can’t say my interest is really piqued, but I’ll probably be there Friday morning anyway.

And last up we find Trouble with the Curve which stars Clint Eastwood and Amy Adams (who undoubtedly makes a better co-star than that chair did). Also on board are Justin Timberlake, John Goodman, and Matthew Lillard. So why isn’t there more fuss being made about this? Probably the reason lies with the fact that Eastwood didn’t direct this one. The direction is from Robert Lorenz who normally works as a producer or second unit or assistant director for Eastwood. (Hey, that’s better than when Mel Gibson promoted his hairdresser to feature director back in 2004.) And the screenplay comes from the unknown Randy Brown. Still, it’s surprising that only today have a smattering of (generally positive, but hardly over-the-moon) reviews made their way into public scrutiny. It looks like a probably likable, but terminally old-fashioned comedy-drama with Eastwood as an aging (well, that’s a given) scout for the Atlanta Braves, whose judgment and skill are starting to be called into question. The one person who might be able to help him is his estranged daughter (Adams). Goodwill for the movie is going to be based on the personalities of its two stars than anything else.

With all this opening, quite a few titles are going south this week. The Fine Arts is holding Searching for Sugar Man, but losing Robot & Frank. The Carolina is dropping Celeste & Jesse Forever, Killer Joe, and Dark Horse (the last named was a pretty spectacular flop). Arbitrage and The Intouchables are holding steady, though this is probably the final week for the latter/

Special Screenings

In addition to the usual weekly offerings, let me remind you of the AFS Budget Big Screen showing of Stanley Donen’s Charade (1963) starring Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn. The movie screens at 7:30 p.m. on Wed., Sept. 19 at The Carolina. Admission is $5 for AFS members and $7 for the general public.

This week the Thursday Horror Picture Show is showing Jacques Tourneur’s Night of the Demon (1957) at 8 p.m. on Thu., Sept. 20 in the Cinema Lounge atThe Carolina. World Cinema is screening Akira Kurosawa’s Throne of Blood (1957) on Fri., Sept. 21 at 8 p.m.in the Railroad Library in the Phil Mechanic Building. Lewis Gilbert’s Alfie (1966) is this week’s film from the Hendersonville Film Society on Sun., Sept. 23 at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Moutain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. The Asheville Film Society is showing Paul Verhoeven’s The Fourth Man (1983) on Tue., Sept. 25 at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. More on all titles in this week’s paper with expanded coverage in the online edition.

On DVD

Quite a number of movies are coming out this week. At the top of the list (for me) is Hysteria, closely followed by The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (assuming there’s anyone left who hasn’t seen it). Also of note are Chico & Rita and Salt of Life—neither of which got the attention they deserved when they played here. In addition, we have the overrated Cabin in the Woods and the largely unseen Katy Perry: Part of Me.

Notable TV Screenings

Well, I looked over the TCM listings and I have to say nothing jumped out at me, so you’re on your own this 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."

30 thoughts on “Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler September 19-25: Farewell Master Dredd at the End of the Curve

  1. Justin Souther

    While I missed Dredd at TIFF, I heard a lot of positive things about it, if only that’s it’s an entertaining piece of junky action filmmaking. That Alex Garland wrote it (and apparently had a hand in the direction, though he’s not credited) makes it sound a bit interesting.

  2. Big Al

    “Dredd 2…’gritty style more akin to cult hits like District 9 or 28 Days Later than to standard Hollywood comic-book blockbusters.'”

    That aspect of the preview was a big turn-off for me. This is a comic-book adaptation, so I actually expect the schlocky FX and CGI, and found the realistic style boring and flat. (What kind of film was used here vs the previous Dredd?)

    “Certainly, there’s no denying that Karl Urban is a better actor than Sylvester Stallone…”

    I love Urban (he nailed the re-boot Dr. McCoy), but he is best in roles with more gravitas, while Stallone is better in roles that are meant to be taken less seriously. The preview never showed Urban without the helmet on, and I felt his jaw and voice manipulation was far beneath Satllone’s, whose voice and jaw lend themselves to comic-book levity.

    The preview for “End of Watch” rocked!!! Michael Pena is an underutilized actor and will be great to watch in a starring role.

  3. Ken Hanke

    That aspect of the preview was a big turn-off for me. This is a comic-book adaptation, so I actually expect the schlocky FX and CGI, and found the realistic style boring and flat. (What kind of film was used here vs the previous Dredd?)

    I could almost agree with you — if you’re willing to lump all self-serious comic book movies into this assessment. On the other hand, being of the mind that I’d be perfectly happy to never see another comic book movie, I’m curious to see what this is. I don’t know the format, but this was probably shot on digital and the earlier movie definitely on film (just based on the year).

    I felt his jaw and voice manipulation was far beneath Satllone’s, whose voice and jaw lend themselves to comic-book levity.

    I don’t think they were going for levity, but in that I have never actually enjoyed Stallone in anything, I’ll take the trade-off regardless.

  4. Justin Souther

    The preview never showed Urban without the helmet on

    Apparently there was much trepidation amongst Judge Dredd faithful when the Stallone version came out, because this was a character whose face was never meant to be seen. So — for what it’s worth — keeping Karl Urban masked appears to be keeping faithful to its source material.

  5. Xanadon't

    I have never actually enjoyed Stallone in anything

    Not even in Stop, Or My Mom Will Shoot? Poppycock.

  6. Jeremy Dylan

    I don’t know the format, but this was probably shot on digital and the earlier movie definitely on film (just based on the year).

    Indeed. The new one was shot by Anthony Dod Mantle on the Red One MX and the Phantom Flex (for the super slo mo stuff). The original was shot by Adrian Biddle on Panavision anamorphic 35mm (no idea if it was Kodak of Fujifilm).

    I haven’t seen the trailer for the new version, but the Red One is characterised by an extremely clean, somewhat antiseptic look – which can be quite effective on films like THE SOCIAL NETWORK and MARGIN CALL, but is not a great substitute for film when you want something with a bit more character or texture.

    The Red Epic shoots a much richer image, and I’m assuming DREDD 3D was shot after that camera’s release, so I’m not sure why they wouldn’t have used it. Perhaps Peter Jackson was hording them all.

  7. Ken Hanke

    The Red Epic shoots a much richer image, and I’m assuming DREDD 3D was shot after that camera’s release, so I’m not sure why they wouldn’t have used it. Perhaps Peter Jackson was hording them all.

    I have heard even better things about the Arri Alexa — and Hugo kinda bears that out.

  8. Ken Hanke

    Not even in Stop, Or My Mom Will Shoot? Poppycock.

    You have no idea how lucky you are I didn’t read that before I saw you tonight.

  9. Justin Souther

    The trailer for DREDD looks an awfully like THE RAID.

    Raid director Gareth Evans has said that the two films went into production at the same time, so all of these obvious similarities are just coincidences.

  10. Jeremy Dylan

    I have heard even better things about the Arri Alexa — and Hugo kinda bears that out.

    To my eyes, the Alexa has a significantly superior image to any of the Red cameras. It’s the closest to film I’ve seen any digital system yet, and it’s Roger Deakins’ camera of choice – he’s shot the new Bond picture on it.

    The only knock against it is Red’s superior resolution, which is more a matter of future proofing than any significance for today’s cinemas – where most digital projector systems are 2K.

    Aside from HUGO, the Alexa has been deployed in such films as DRIVE, LAWLESS, IN TIME, KILLER JOE, BERNIE, SPY KIDS 4, MELANCHOLIA and MR. POPPER’S PENGUINS.

  11. Xanadon't

    You have no idea how lucky you are I didn’t read that before I saw you tonight.

    It was a calculated risk indeed, but I don’t presume to get away with such a thing every time.

  12. Ken Hanke

    most digital projector systems are 2K.

    I’m not sure that’s true of the more recent installations, though to be honest my eyes can’t tell the difference.

    Aside from HUGO, the Alexa has been deployed in such films as DRIVE, LAWLESS, IN TIME, KILLER JOE, BERNIE, SPY KIDS 4, MELANCHOLIA and MR. POPPER’S PENGUINS.

    Well, all you needed was that last one to clinch the argument.

  13. Ken Hanke

    It was a calculated risk indeed, but I don’t presume to get away with such a thing every time.

    I might keep these things in a little book, you know.

  14. Me

    TCM is playing Jules and Jim Friday afternoon which is a pretty weird time slot.

  15. Ken Hanke

    Weird, I suppose, but it’s not overtly “offensive” and really who that is too young for it is likely to sit through a black and white movie with subtitles?

  16. Ken Hanke

    Well, then why is the timing weird? They do show subtitled movies more than just on late Sunday nights — especially, the better known ones.

  17. Me

    Harmony Korine is one of those people that i admire what he stands for more than his work. Ive only seen three of his films 2 directed and one written. I agree he is probably a better writer than director but he is good at both it just feels like he can never find the crosshairs of the two. He almost feels like a modern day Kenneth Anger or George Kuchar, and while i don’t think even with this new film that he will ever be accepted by the mainstream i still hold out that he will someday make something worth watching.

  18. Ken Hanke

    I have yet to see anything by him I would call good. And after finally seeing Gummo a few years ago, I’m not of a mind to seek him out. At least, Trash Humpers didn’t make it here.

  19. Me

    Aslo looking forward to Murder by Death on TCM just to see Truman Capote act.

  20. Xanadon't

    It looks like a probably likable, but terminally old-fashioned comedy-drama with Eastwood as an aging (well, that’s a given) scout for the Atlanta Braves…

    That’s more or less what I thought it looked like too.

    But it felt positively ordinary to the point of dreadful. In fact, I kind of hated it. Trouble with the Curve makes last year’s inexplicably overrated Moneyball seem like a masterpiece. At this point I can’t decide if I hope you got more from it, or if I just want my disdain for the film validated.

    Guess I’ll find out where you sit with it in a matter of hours.

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