Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler April 1-7: Furious Wild Tales

wildtalesquad

In Theaters.

 This is a slack week for one reason: No one is dumb enough to go up against the latest entry in the Fast and Furious series. (I have banned the word “franchise” from my lexicon — Radio Shack is a franchise, these are movie series.) OK, so there’s one art title opening locally, but that’s a different animal altogether.

Incredible as it may seem, April 3 appears to have become the official start of the summer movie season. Next stop — St. Patrick’s Day and the Valentine’s Day. Can Twelfth Night be far behind? Perhaps this needs to be rechristened Big Budget Blockbuster Season.

 

DEATH-DO-US-PART

 

But before revving our engines, let’s take a look at that lonely art title braving the exhaust fumes. The film is Damián Szifron’s Oscar-nominated Wild Tales and it opens on Friday at the Fine Arts. I saw the film during awards season (though it’s being considered a 2015 release) and again for the review (the review is in this week’s Xpress), and it’s one of those films that I liked pretty well the first time, but really liked on a second look. It’s easy to think of this collection of six tales from Argentina as kind of Almodóvar Lite — especially since Almodóvar is a producer — but, apart from its wicked, dark humor, it’s not that much like Almodóvar. Well, maybe the final story is, but all in all, the film has a tone all its own. It’s not going to be to every taste — some of the comedy is very dark indeed — but it’s a whole lot of pretty unwholesome fun — if you care for that sort of thing, and I know some of you do.

 

furious 7

 

And then there’s James Wan’s Furious 7, which is expected to pull down between $110 million and $130 million in the first five minutes of its release. (Well, over the weekend anyway.) What began as little more than a glorified B actioner The Fast and the Furious in 2001 has now become one of the biggest cash cows still grazing. The films have gotten, bigger, longer (this one clocks in at 137 minutes), and more preposterous right along. Whether or not that makes them better is a separate issue — and one I can’t address, since I’ve only seen four of the seven. (No, I do not plan on rectifying this.) Of the ones I’ve seen, I think the series peaked as dumb entertainment with Fast Five (2011). This latest has the unfortunate advantage of being the final film of series star Paul Walker, who was killed while this was in production. This will probably only goose the box office — out of a mix of respect and a somewhat ghoulish desire to see how they worked around him and how they ushered him out of the series. Will I see it? That’s up in the air. I may be wrapped up in dealing with the four art titles that are set to open next Friday. At the same time, my wife has this mystifying fondness for Messrs. Diesel and Johnson. I may have no choice in the matter. We shall see.

This week we lose Red Army and Leviathan (no surprises there) — especially since The Carolina is bringing on four screens of Furious 7. In a somewhat unusual move the Fine Arts is dropping It Follows (long story), but The Carolina is most certainly keeping it. The thing that continues to amaze me is that What We Do in the Shadows continues to hold strong as it heads into a fifth week. I don’t begrudge it — it’s a terrific horror comedy — but I am surprised by its longevity.

Special Screenings

 

jc reeler

 

This week the Thursday Horror Picture Show has Fred Walton’s April Fool’s Day (1986) at 8 p.m. on Thu., Apr. 2 in the Theater Six at The Carolina. World Cinema is screening Ken Russell’s TV film Dance of the Seven Veils (1970) on Fri. Apr. 3 at 8 p.m. in the Railroad Library in the Phil Mechanic Building. The Hendersonville Film Society is sitting this week out because of Easter. The Asheville Film Society, on the other hand, is marking Easter — well, a couple days late — with Norman Jewison’s Jesus Christ Superstar (1973) on Tue., Apr. 7 at 8 p.m. in Theater Six at The Carolina. More on all titles in this week’s Xpress — with full reviews in the online edition.

On DVD

There are three choice titles hitting DVD this week — Interstellar (somehow I can’t imagine this except on a theater screen), The Imitation Game, and Wild. Though it didn’t play here and I haven’t seen it, I confess some curiosity about Marc Lawrence’s The Rewrite with Hugh Grant and Marisa Tomei.

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About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress from December 2000 until his death in June 2016. 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."

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61 thoughts on “Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler April 1-7: Furious Wild Tales

  1. Edwin Arnaudin

    (I have banned the word “franchise” from my lexicon — Radio Shack is a franchise, these are movie series.)

    If a series grows to be more profitable than Radio Shack, does it therefore become a franchise?

    • Ken Hanke

      No. Until it leases its brand and product out to independent retailers, it ain’t a franchise. Franchise is a misapplied term that somehow gained traction — you know, like “based off.”

      • DrSerizawa

        My favorite corruption of the language is the substitution of “gender” for “sex”.

        • Ken Hanke

          “Based off” remains my particular peeve — it’s the one I won’t let slide. (No one would say that “pissed on” and “pissed off” mean the same thing.) Well, it and “called out” being used to mean “called in.” (You “call out” when you step off a cliff. You “call in” to tell them you won’t be at work because you stepped off a cliff.) There seems to be a belief that all prepositions are interchangeable.

          • DrSerizawa

            A popular corruption out here is “unthaw”. It makes me laugh every time. “I’m going to unthaw the turkey”. To do that you would have to freeze it, thaw it and then freeze it again.

  2. Ken Hanke

    Though I have deliberately not revealed — and don’t intend on revealing — the nature of the opening sequence of Wild Tales, I am not surprised to learn that the largest cinema chain in the UK and the British Film Institute have added a disclaimer to the film about this sequence being possibly disturbing to some viewers because of its resemblance to a recent real-life tragedy.

  3. Xanadon't

    I know. They ought to have gone with Booze Swillin’ Wolf Sherrif.

    • Ken Hanke

      I found it an okay way to kill 75 minutes (at least it doesn’t overstay its welcome) — apart from the music — but I won’t remember it a few months from now. Yes, I did make a dash for it to check it out. Do you have any idea how hard it is to come up with 51 horror movies a year for the THPS?

    • DrSerizawa

      I liked it. I thought “Drink ‘n Shoot” pretty clever. But it tickled me early on when the cop’s gun goes sliding under his car. Good thing it was short though. Michael Bay could learn a lot by watching this movie. Ten times the entertainment for 0.1% of his budget.

      • Ken Hanke

        I certainly will not argue with that last. I’m trying to think of a Michael Bay movie I liked…no.

          • Ken Hanke

            No, and despite suggestions, I’m just not in a hurry to.

          • Edwin Arnaudin

            I understand the hesitation. I went in with rock-bottom expectations but emerged convinced that it’s his masterpiece.

          • DrSerizawa

            I’m not sure how good a Michael Bay movie would have to be to qualify as his masterpiece. Something on the order of It The Terror From Beyond Space perhaps?

          • Ken Hanke

            But what exactly does it take to be his masterpiece? The bar is pretty darn low. I’ve seen Tyler Perry movies I liked better than anything by Bay that I’ve seen.

          • Edwin Arnaudin

            I hear you both. I like The Rock and think The Island has some Logan’s Run appeal. Pain & Gain is like a hyper self-aware version of his usual action fare…and I wouldn’t say his other films are self-aware in the least.

          • Ken Hanke

            Well, I’ve never seen The Rock, but I thought The Island was awful. Maybe I’d like it better if I had even a scintilla of fondness for Logan’s Run — probably not.

          • Edwin Arnaudin

            I liked that The Island at least tried to say something instead of simply blowing things up.

          • Edwin Arnaudin

            I just saw it once. I believe the concept was of an existential nature?

          • Ken Hanke

            I reviewed it. I am not watching it again to see if it’s the Michael Bay version of exploding existentialism.

          • Me

            Didn’t they put The Rock on Criterion, what was up with that?

          • Ken Hanke

            When will people stop buying into the idea that a movie is “great” just because it’s on Criterion? There are quite a few Criterion titles I wouldn’t let in my house.

          • Edwin Arnaudin

            My understanding is that The Rock and *gulp* Armageddon were put on Criterion for their technical and effects achievements.

          • Me

            My issue with Criterion is that they’re getting almost as bad as theses record companies and their box sets, releasing the same things over and over.

          • Ken Hanke

            I’d rather see 9 reissues of The Palm Beach Story than one release of Tiny Furniture or Jeanne Dielman. The truth is a lot of their stuff needs reissuing. Some of their releases weren’t done very well — despite their glowing reputation. Many weren’t even anamorphic. Their release of The Scarlet Empress was grainier than hell. The barebones (like I can’t live without an essay by Robin Wood?) DVD from Great Britain looks 50 times better. And any older (pre-1953) film they want to re-issue on Blu-ray is aces with me, because it will be pillar-boxed and widescreen TVs can’t distort it and stretch it into a shape it was never meant to be.

  4. Xanadon't

    Well I didn’t realize you’d drop everything (“awesome” may have been — no, positively was — a bit strong) but yes the short run time works strongly in its favor. And that makes two of us not lining up to see Smoking Guns if they ever pass through town.

    Anyways, if you’re after modern Werewolves, I imagine either Ginger Snaps or possibly Dog Soldiers would play better to a wider audience. Two very different films, but I can promise that at the very least neither features a prominent human into canine genitalia transformation scene.

    • Ken Hanke

      I’ve never gotten the appeal of either of those. I’d take Wolf Cop first. Of course, I realize I’m only making it harder on myself by trying to find things that I don’t mind sitting through again myself. Right now, I may be a little spoiled, having recently discovered Housebound and The House at the End of Time — both of which are down for this month.

  5. Xanadon't

    More good things coming out of New Zealand, huh? Never heard of that second one. I shall investigate. Also curious about Nurse which just just hit Netflix. Granted that’s simply based on one crimson bathed screen grab and the pinup style artwork.

  6. Ken Hanke

    The House at the End of Time is — of all things — Venezuelan and, near as I can tell, had no release in this country. It is rather remarkable — in a more complex way than one usually encounters.

  7. Ken Hanke

    Well, I was kind of at a loose end, so I watched Nurse — no, I know you didn’t recommend it. I kind of liked it — if that’s the right word for this type of movie. I am hesitant to say much — not in the least because earlier this evening I sat through April Fool’s Day for the second time in a month, and that’s not counting going through it a third time for frame-grabs. I am, therefore, probably easily pleased at the moment. I will say that, yes, it’s one damned good looking movie and pretty stylish. The rest, you can discover for yourself.

    • Xanadon't

      Nurse worked pretty darn well as a slick, sleazy new-school grindhouse type of affair. It opened with a lot of promise and pretty much delivered. I was afraid I’d tire of the lead’s narration but it never became a real issue. And the effects designed specifically for 3D presentation sided on fun rather than annoying. No complaints here.

      • Ken Hanke

        My biggest complaint — that’s a little strong maybe — is that while she’s got an okay body, our villainess looks — in that venerable turn of phrase — “like she was rode hard and put away wet.” Perhaps that was deliberate? Like a nod to the Russ Meyer ladies?

        • Xanadon't

          Now that’s funny. Very well might be a nod to Meyer ladies, though a couple of them were actually pretty. After awhile I simply began seeing Abby as a broke man’s Parker Posey– a discount rack Parker Posey inclined to waltz around in nothing but a bra. But at least our not exactly a knockout villainess commanded her scenes. The oversexed, psychotic, slightly ridiculous cadence and rhythm to her speech and strut made for a character that might have otherwise been pretty forgettable. Plus, I was willing to hand out free passes the moment I realized the lovely Ms. Bowden of Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil is still alive and well and in this movie.

          • Ken Hanke

            I have nothing against the performance. My issue is strictly with the idea that men will flock from the four corners of the room just for a chance to score with this just not drop-dead-gorgeous woman.

  8. Me

    Was planning on seeing It Follows this weekend and I would have rather seen it at Fine Arts, looks like that one would have been a better money maker for them if they kept it around a little longer.

    • Ken Hanke

      Well, it didn’t do well for them, which isn’t that big a surprise, since they’ve never had a really successful run with a horror film.

  9. Xanadon't

    I can’t even remember the last time Fine Arts booked a horror movie. Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark? Surely they’ve brought something else through in the last 4 or 5 years but I can’t think of what it would’ve been.
    I’ll get Nurse watched soon. I found Starry Eyes worthwhile, though maybe not as great as many horror fans out there seem to think.

    • Ken Hanke

      No, they didn’t have Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark. All I can remember are Shadow of the Vampire (a long time ago), Night Watch, and The Host. None of them did well. The were supposed to play The Devil’s Backbone, but backed out. (This was before I learned not to review screeners in the belief that the movie would actually play — and before the website offered a viable home to an unused review.)

    • Edwin Arnaudin

      I found Starry Eyes worthwhile, though maybe not as great as many horror fans out there seem to think.

      You are diligent! I hadn’t heard about it before it was mentioned in a Dissolve article about modern horror scores, but have added it to my queue.

      • Xanadon't

        I watched mostly curious as to how much its story owed to Mulholland Drive. The answer is that it doesn’t really matter. Didn’t see The Quiet Ones and this is the first I’d heard of it. The trailer doesn’t have me in a rush. Nor does the idea of any movie involving exorcisms at this point… Particularly those with a PG-13 rating attached.

        • Ken Hanke

          I thought The Quiet Ones was, at best, okay. That I had to look up my review to recall just what it was may or may not be telling.

    • Edwin Arnaudin

      Did you see The Quiet Ones? I thought it was above average and occasionally more than that, but blew it at the end.

      • Ken Hanke

        Starry Eyed. Bleah. When it isn’t just being boring — while beating you over the head with that God-awful synth score — it tends to confuse the merely repellent with scary.

  10. Xanadon't

    Oh wow, so all of those go quite a ways back. Surely Let the Right One In played, no?

      • Ken Hanke

        No, Let the Right One In played at the Hollywood around the time it was transitioning or getting ready to transition to The Carolina. I’m not sure when the theater actually changed hands. I remember that The Brothers Bloom was the first art title to be press-screened there. That was in June of 2009 — and the theater was in the process of being revamped. I remember it pretty distinctly because I had never seen Theater 10 with the cleaning lights on before — and never realized how badly it needed renovation. Since Let the Right One In was Magnolia (well, Magnet, which is the same thing), I’m guessing Bill had already bought it from Regal. It played around Xmas 2008, which tends to support that.

        • Me

          I think Let The Right One In is the only time I’ve ever seen the big theater here play a foreign language film which was weird.

      • Xanadon't

        Thanks for posting that! Neat to go back and check off what I caught during its run in town and see what played before I moved to AVL in ’07. Also, it’s slightly alarming how many of these titles I’m not familiar with… food for the ol’ Netflix queue.

        Okay, I can’t help it… I must indulge my love for list making. Play along if anyone would like…

  11. Xanadon't

    Top Ten Fine Arts Movies I Wish I Caught in Theaters (to see it on the Big Screen/See with an audience/Just ’cause I love it)
    (all these predate my time in Asheville)
    (and only includes movies I never saw in theaters ANYWHERE)
    (in no particular order)

    Happiness
    Night Watch
    Live Flesh
    MicroCosmos
    Lost Highway
    Girl On the Bridge
    In the Mood for Love
    Pi
    Talk To Her
    Secretary

    Special Screenings I Wish I Saw:

    Touch of Evil
    El Topo
    Spellbound

    How’d I Miss THAT?! (I lived in Asheville at the time… so where was I???)

    The Fall

    • Ken Hanke

      It’s between hard and impossible for me to come up with a good list, because from A Hard Day’s Night (Xmas 2000) to now there aren’t more than a small handful of Fine Arts titles I didn’t see, though not always at the FA, since the arrival of The Carolina, which is more convenient for press screenings. I could look over the previous years. I can say that the very first thing I saw at the FA was Sunset Blvd., which was in re-issue when I arrived here in Aug. 2000.

      The Spellbound in question isn’t the Hitchcock movie, it’s a documentary about a spelling bee. Touch of Evil was probably a full run, not a one-off. The Fall — which the AFS ran as a one-off — actually played for a week after that at the FA.

  12. Ken Hanke

    Heads up! If you haven’t seen What We Do in the Shadows, I’d suggest getting to The Carolina ASAP. It dropped sharply this weekend (4 solid weeks for a horror comedy from NZ ain’t bad), and with three art titles and two mainstream ones opening on Friday, I don’t see it surviving for another week.

    • Ken Hanke

      And my prognostication on the fate of What We Do in the Shadows was sadly correct. And with 7 p.m. shows of Danny Collins, The Longest Ride, Seymour: An Introduction, While We’re Young, and Woman in Gold on Thursday, I’d say your last shot at seeing it is the 3:50 show that day. Of course, you’ve got the rest of today and Tuesday and Wednesday.

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