Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler September 4-10: This? This Is It?

In Theaters

Unless there’s something hiding in the recesses of the listings I haven’t seen — thanks to Labor Day — this has all the earmarks of being the lamest week of 2013. We have one mainstream title and one documentary headed our way. It’s not really surprising — the summer is over and awards season hasn’t started — but that doesn’t keep it from being dispiriting.

Fortunately, there are brighter things down the road in both arts titles and mainstream offerings, but this weekend is probably a good one to check out some DVDs you’ve been meaning to catch up with — or those movies that are still hanging around theaters.

The week’s art title is the documentary Blackfish — opening Friday at The Carolina. I’ve seen it. I’ve reviewed it — it’s in this week’s Xpress. It’s fine, but I can’t say that it excited me. It’s going to depend on how much you want to see an activist documentary on whales in captivity. But let’s be honest, I’m not a big documentary fan in general. (It is, however, the only chance I know of to see a whale get a good wanking — if that’s on your must-see list. I confess it was not on mine.)

And then there’s Riddick — the sequel that nobody expected. After all, David Twohy’s original Pitch Black (2000) was never more than a cult item, while his more expensive sequel, The Chronicles of Riddick (2004), was an outright flop that was savaged by critics and fans alike. So here we are with Mr. Twohy and his star, Vin Diesel, back nine years later. How? Well, by budgeting the film at about a third of the cost of Chronicles. The fact that it’s opening against … well, nothing might tip the scales in its favor. The fans will like the fact that, unlike Chronicles, this one hasn’t been PG-13-ified. U.S. reviews are largely nonexistent at this point, but the Brit critics who have weighed in mostly like it. But, hey, on the IMDb message boards they’re at least tackling the Big Questions by debating whether or not Riddick could “kick Bane’s ass.” Last I looked, the Dark Knight Rises villain seemed to be getting the worst of it.

So, what’s leaving this week? Well, I really don’t know because of the Monday holiday (studios take those even if I don’t). I know the Fine Arts is holding steady. I can pretty much assure you that The Carolina will hang onto Blue Jasmine, Closed Circuit, The Spectacular Now, and The Way, Way Back. Crystal Fairy is iffy, but I’d say I Declare War is dead in the water. (Judging by the weekend box office, I’d also say nobody cares.)

Special Screenings

This week’s Thursday Horror Picture Show is Robert Rodriguez’s The Faculty (1995) on Thu., Sept. 5 at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. World Cinema is showing Agnes Varda’s first film La Pointe Courte (1955) on Fri., Sept. 6 at 8 p.m. in the Railroad Library in the Phil Mechanic Library. The Hendersonville Film Society is running Jean-Paul Rappeneau’s The Horseman on the Roof (1995) on Sun., Sept. 8 at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. The Asheville Film Society has Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York (2002) at 8 p.m. on Tue., Sept. 10 at The Carolina. More on all titles in this week’s paper — with full reviews in the online edition.

On DVD

While I don’t quite share Justin Souther’s enthusiasm for Rob Zombie’s Lords of Salem, I’m at least in the same basic area. Anyway, it’s far and away the most interesting DVD release this week. Also up is the surprise hit Now You See Me.

Notable TV Screenings

On Fri., Sept. 6 at 8 p.m. TCM is showing Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1927) — presumably the restored version — as part of a night-long series of futuristic films that includes William Cameron Menzies’ Things to Come (1936), John Carpenter’s Escape from New York (1981), and Terry Gilliam’s Brazil (1985).

Sunday, Sept. 8 is another day with Alfred Hitchcock — Under Capricorn (1948) at 10 a.m., Stage Fright (1950) at noon, I Confess (1953) at 2 p.m., The Wrong Man (1956) at 4 p.m., Saboteur (1942) at 6 p.m., Foreign Correspondent (1940) at 8 p.m., North by Northwest (1959) at 10:15 p.m., and The Ring (1927) at 12:45 a.m. My suggestion is to start at 6 p.m., but if you only catch one make it Foreign Correspondent — probably the most underrated of all his films, and my personal favorite of his U.S. work.

Monday marks the second episode of Mark Cousins’ The Story of Film: An Odyssey. This one is 1918-1928 — The Triumph of American Film and the First of Its Rebels. Having seen the first episode, I strongly endorse this. I’m not saying I entirely agreed with him in the first one (I don’t think that’s the point), but the break from the usual academic-minded look at film history — and Cousins’ very personal approach — is both refreshing and exciting (even if his narration sometimes feels a little bland).

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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."

37 thoughts on “Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler September 4-10: This? This Is It?

  1. Ken Hanke

    I was right — both I Declare War and Crystal Fairy will be gone come Friday.

  2. Steven

    Sarah Polley’s [i]Stories We Tell[/i] also releases today. It’s worth checking out, I think.

  3. DrSerizawa

    Pitch Black compared to Chronicles of Riddick is a prime example of how less is more. A better than average (in spite of Vin Diesel) little scifi cheapie was followed by a big brawling incoherent mess. A much reduced budget might make the latest one watchable. But I’m not holding my breath.

    Speaking of franchises, isn’t it about time for another interminable Terminator flick? Whoops, I spoke too soon. Looks like one is slated for 2015. As if anyone with 2 brain cells to rub together believed it when they said that there wouldn’t be any more. After all Star Trek with what, 12 movies and 5 TV series so far, has proven that a franchise can continue for eternity with spinoffs and remakes translated for the next generation of bubbleheads. Why shouldn’t Terminators not pull the same tricks?

    And where’s the next Alien/Predator money grubber? Oops, spoke too soon once again. Prometheus2 in 2015. Please someone stop the madness!

    I better stop now.

  4. Ken Hanke

    Sarah Polley’s Stories We Tell also releases today. It’s worth checking out, I think.

    I would agree. It’s omission was not intentional.

  5. Ken Hanke

    Pitch Black compared to Chronicles of Riddick is a prime example of how less is more. A better than average (in spite of Vin Diesel) little scifi cheapie was followed by a big brawling incoherent mess. A much reduced budget might make the latest one watchable.

    I’m kind of ambivalent about both of the earlier films. The distressing thing is that I’m gonna end up seeing this one whether I review it or not, because my wife likes Vin Diesel (no, I do not understand why).

  6. Big Al

    Real classy, Doc, calling Trek fans “bubbleheads”.

    I’ll bet you are always the smartest guy in the room wherever you are.

  7. Me

    The are replaying The Story of Film: An Odyssey Wednesday morning along with The Phantom Carriage and Haxan.

  8. Me

    I Declare War and Crystal Fairy are both still available on VOD.

  9. Edwin Arnaudin

    As of this morning, To The Wonder is streaming on Netflix. Now it may be viewed as Malick originally intended: on an iPhone.

  10. Ken Hanke

    Talk about preserving the artistic integrity of the visuals.

    So…have you streamed it yet? Or are you still mulling over A Diesel and His Dog?

  11. Edwin Arnaudin

    There are many things about Atomic Dog to mull over: characters named Riddick and Vakko; hovercraft from Return of the Jedi; the spooky rape threat. I’ll piece it together eventually.

    I’m under the spell of The Wire‘s fourth season right now. In each season, I hit a point where I don’t want to watch anything else and am in that zone right now, but I do plan to stream the Malick at some point this weekend.

  12. Ken Hanke

    There are many things about Atomic Dog to mull over: characters named Riddick and Vakko; hovercraft from Return of the Jedi; the spooky rape threat. I’ll piece it together eventually.

    The spooky rape threat that doesn’t seem to really bother the lady in question (despite her being otherwise Sapphic) since — well, gee — he’s Riddick.

    In each season, I hit a point where I don’t want to watch anything else and am in that zone right now

    Yet another reason I spurn series TV as I would spurn a rabid weasel.

  13. Ken Hanke

    Ken check out this story on The Wire, maybe one day you can get around to checking it out.

    I really don’t think there’s anything there for me. People who know me and watch the show have told me I wouldn’t like it. I lost interest at the phrase “all 60 episodes.” Uh uh.

  14. Jeremy Dylan

    People who know me and watch the show have told me I wouldn’t like it.

    I tend to agree with that.

    Based on the style, tone and sense of humor, I think you would’ve enjoyed BREAKING BAD had it been a movie rather than a series though.

    I don’t expect you ever to sit down and work through the six seasons though.

  15. Ken Hanke

    Based on the style, tone and sense of humor, I think you would’ve enjoyed BREAKING BAD had it been a movie rather than a series though.

    Not if the first two-and-a-half episodes was any barometer.

    I don’t expect you ever to sit down and work through the six seasons though.

    I don’t know that I’d sit through six seasons of anything — even if Ken Russell had done them. (That, of course, cannot be tested.)

  16. Jeremy Dylan

    Not if the first two-and-a-half episodes was any barometer.

    They aren’t in a lot of ways. After the truncated 7 episode first season wrapped, Vince Gilligan (the writer-director-producer who created and runs the show) did a fair bit of retooling, brought in a new DOP and tweaked the show into what it has been since.

    The simplest way to explain it would be that it became a lot more Coen Brothers-y.

  17. Tonberry

    I can understand the major turn off of the first season, but the great thing about ‘Breaking Bad’ is that each season just gets better and better, and I can’t think of any other show that has succeeded in doing so. I believe when all of our existence ends, and some deity is thumbing through a reference binder on the history of mankind, ‘Breaking Bad’ will be listed as the greatest TV drama of all time.

    However, this is not an endorsement you should watch the show Ken.

    Enjoy Season 4 of ‘The Wire’ Edwin, certainly the shows strongest. After, its just way down in the hole.

  18. Ken Hanke

    Each and every one of you could better spend your time catching up on the great movies you’ve yet to see.

  19. Me

    Speaking of tv shows the trailer for that new HBO show with Woody Harrelson and Mathew Mcconaughey looks good.

  20. Me

    Any idea when “In a World” is opening? Thats one ive been looking forward to.

  21. Edwin Arnaudin

    To quote Riddick, I am no longer “balls deep” in Season 4, having completed it Saturday night. I had 5 or 6 episodes left when “Me” asked about my progress and sailed right through them.

    Season 2 may still be my favorite. The dockworkers’ story fit especially well with the cops and drug dealers. Also, Omar has joined Number Six, Don Draper, David Brent, and Walter White as one of my favorite TV characters.

  22. Me

    Nevermind it says on the Fine Arts facebook page that “In A World” starts Friday.

  23. Ken Hanke

    Had you waited a few hours, all would have been revealed. I’m surprised this interests you. It’s not at all the sort of thing I’d think would appeal to you.

  24. Me

    Why do you say that? I’ve been interested since i heard about it, from the festivals.

  25. Me

    Wait a minute Edwin, i didn’t see Tony Soprano on your list. Have you not seen the Sopranos, for shame.

  26. Ken Hanke

    Why do you say that? I’ve been interested since i heard about it, from the festivals

    Because it’s nothing at all like the movies you tend to enthuse over.

  27. Tonberry

    Wait a minute Edwin, I didn’t see Tony Soprano on your list. Have you not seen the Sopranos, for shame.

    No, the real crime is that Al Swearengen is not on the list.

  28. Ken Hanke

    Tell you what — you boys get back to me when any of these characters are proven to have the longevity of Number Six.

  29. Edwin Arnaudin

    I believe I said “my favorite TV characters,” not “the greatest TV characters of all time.”

  30. Ken Hanke

    Oh, you’re gonna pull that one, eh? I concede the point, but I was still thinking of Young Scott’s belief that come the end of the world all that will be left is the cockroach and Breaking Bad.

  31. Me

    As far as Sopranos, I got to be honest Paulie Walnuts is probably my favorite character.

  32. Ken Hanke

    Oh, yes, I really do think you should be honest in such a weighty manner as this. Otherwise, you might imperil your immortal soul.

  33. Me

    Anybody read where Rotten Tomatoes will start reviewing TV Shows?

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