Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler August 12-18: Straight Outta the End of the Tour Cop Car from U.N.C.L.E.

In Theaters.

Now we know that Fantastic Four wasn’t, which I guess surprised someone (you know who you are). Actually, I found last week generally kind of dispiriting — at least till Sunday’s press screening restored my faith in movies. This week…well, we’ll see.

I should explain. I didn’t actually hate last week’s movies (I didn’t see Fantastic Four). Well, I close to hated Ricki and the Flash. I admired much about The Gift and was mostly indifferent to Shaun the Sheep Movie, but nothing excited me — and The Gift is too dark to actually like. It’s more something you might appreciate.

 

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Before getting to the week’s mainstream offerings, let’s start with the Sunday press screening that boosted my sagging cinematic spirits. That was James Ponsoldt’s The End of the Tour — opening Friday at The Carolina and the Fine Arts. This was by no means a sure thing for me. I’m am not familiar with the film’s subject — David Foster Wallace — have mixed feelings about Ponsoldt, and was apprehensive about Jason Segel in a dramatic role. But my misgivings fell away pretty quickly and I found myself completely sucked into this film based on David Lipsky’s interviews with Wallace the last five days of Wallace’s book tour promoting Infinite Jest in 1996. How much I really learned about Wallace is open to question. The film is upfront about the fact that his interview answers are at the very least guarded. But I didn’t care. What held me was the interplay between interviewer and subject — between established literary star and the far-from-established writer doing the interview. Plus, the conversations — honest or not — are fascinating from beginning to end. The review is in this week’s Xpress.

 

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I’d also seen Jon Watts’ Cop Car — opening Friday at The Carolina. Though I didn’t find this story about two 10-year-old boys who “steal” a corrupt sheriff’s (Kevin Bacon) patrol car — while, unbeknownst to them, the sheriff is disposing of a body — entirely successful in its apparent aim to evoke the Coen Brothers, I did find it a nicely nasty throwback to a ’70s drive-in movie. It’s unadorned — there are no more than five actual characters and not many more people even glimpsed — and astonishingly unsentimental. That’s its strength, but it may also be off-putting to some viewers. It’s also reviewed in this week’s paper.

 

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First of the mainstream titles is Guy Ritchie’s big screen take on The Man from U.N.C.L.E — starting Friday (with Thursday evening shows) at Carmike 10, The Carolina, Epic of Hendersonville, and Regal Biltmore Grande. This one is finally getting some reviews — 11 out of 15 positive — but I didn’t care. It’s Guy Ritchie, so I’m there. The fact that it’s actually set in the same era as the old TV series is also a huge plus. (This, for me, is the central problem with James Bond movies still soldiering on.) I watched the show when it was on, but I can’t say I was a big fan (I liked my spy stuff with a British flavor), even though I did go see the so-called features, too. (In reality, these were two part episodes spliced together and released as movies.) But the ’60s vibe and look seem like natural fits for Ritchie’s style — and I’m fine with the cast of Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, Alicia Vikander, Elizabeth Debicki, and, maybe most of all, Hugh Grant in the old Leo G. Carroll role as the head of U.N.C.L.E. In other words, you can find me at the 11:15 show at The Carolina on Friday morning.

 

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Finally, there’s F. Gary Gray’s Straight Outta Compton — also starting Friday (with Thursday evening shows) at Carmike 10, The Carolina, Epic of Hendersonville, and Regal Biltmore Grande. This supposed to be the week’s big winner. The blurb tells us, “In the mid-1980s, the streets of Compton, California, were some of the most dangerous in the country. When five young men translated their experiences growing up into brutally honest music that rebelled against abusive authority, they gave an explosive voice to a silenced generation.” Right now, it has 13 reviews — 12 of which are positive. I suspect the timing of the movie will help it, since it’s unfortunately just as relevant as ever.

This week the Fine Arts drops Infinitely Polar Bear and cuts Mr. Holmes to one show (1:20). The Carolina is losing Dark Places (no shock there) and The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared, which still had some life left in it. But let’s face it, it did far better than anyone expected.

Special Screenings

 

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The Thursday Horror Picture Show has Rex Ingram’s The Magician (1926) at 8 p.m. on Thu., Aug. 14 in Theater Six at The Carolina. World Cinema is showing Federico Fellini’s 8 1/2 (1963) on Fri., Aug. 14 at 8 p.m. at Phil Mechanic Studios, 109 Roberts St., River Arts District (upstairs in the Railroad Library). The Hendersonville Film Society is screening Barry Levinson’s Young Sherlock Holmes (1985) on Sun., Aug. 16 at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. The Asheville Film Society is running Fred Allen (with guest stars Jack Benny, Jerry Colonna, Don Ameche, William Bendix and lots more) in Richard Wallace’s It’s in the Bag! (1945) on Tue., Aug. 18 at 8 p.m. in Theater Six at The Carolina. More on all in this week’s Xpress — with complete reviews in the online edition.

On DVD

This week brings us Unfriended and Hot Pursuit. In short, go to the movies.

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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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23 thoughts on “Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler August 12-18: Straight Outta the End of the Tour Cop Car from U.N.C.L.E.

  1. Edwin Arnaudin

    The “it’s good, but I don’t much want to see it again” Two Days, One Night is now Netflix Streaming.

      • Edwin Arnaudin

        The only other Dardenne brothers film I’ve seen is The Kid with a Bike, and I feel the same way about it.

        • Ken Hanke

          I’d rather see it a second time. You should try The Son

          • Ken Hanke

            I see this sentence appeared in my review of their Lorna’s Silence — ” It’s not a film I’d care to see again any time soon.” I detect a pattern.

  2. T.rex

    Give me Bond movies till the day I die and after. Longest running series and I love it. UNCLE looks fun and Im also glad its kept retro but lets face it, the show was a ripoff of Bond. There were a lot of those back than. I never saw the show, might be good. Compton also looks good, I hate rap music but I can watch a good bio pic of anyone. Walk Hard anyone?

    • Ken Hanke

      I will never understand the allegiance to Bond movies. It is the least unified series ever made. The connection between Dr. No and Skyfall is all but non-existent. Basically, your allegiance here is strictly to nothing more than a brand name. If you never saw The Man from U.N.C.L.E. TV series, you really don’t know that it was a rip-off of James Bond. And if it was, it was Ian Fleming ripping himself off, since he was involved in the development of the show. In any case, the Bond movies may have caused the craze for spy movies, but they neither invented the genre, nor do they own it.

      Walk Hard, anyone?” No.

      • Edwin Arnaudin

        Walk Hard anyone?

        *@&# no…except for the Beatles scene.

      • luluthebeast

        I never really liked the U.N.C.L.E. series, but after reading some reviews, and I do like Ritchie’s movies, so I think I’ll give it a try. They are showing Woody’s movie….at 10:30, so i guess I’ll have to start bitching again.

        Great screen grab by the way.

        • Ken Hanke

          The strange thing is that while Man from U.N.C.L.E. makes for a credible 1960s spy picture, it’s not that much like the TV show.

          • luluthebeast

            Thank God! While I thought it started off a bit slow I thought Ritchie did a wonderful job finishing it up. Tons of James Bond references and i really liked the idea of him using music in some of the fight scenes rather than screams and the actual sound of gunshots. The crowd was roaring during the water chase. Including me.

      • Big Al

        “I will never understand the allegiance to Bond movies.”

        Nor I. I have always been perplexed by the complexity between the stereotype of Bond and the actors who were chosen to play him. By the time I was old enough to watch Bond films, most fans would have chosen Sean Connery as the clear choice for Bond, mostly for his rough, manly charisma. BUT I always felt that the agent whose cover is a suave, effete, playboy fop was best played by actors like Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan, neither of whom could excite the masses like Connery (or me, I will admit). Trying to evolve Bond into a purely serious killer with Timothy Dalton sank like a stone.

        By the time Daniel Craig appeared on the scene , I had completely abandoned any pretense of expecting Bond to be even mildly suave anymore, and have come to expect the same kind of pure killer manliness as I do of Connery’s Bond or Matt Damon’s Jason Bourne. I also felt that the proliferation of gadgets reduced every Bond before Craig into campy cartoon characters, although I found Pierce Brosnan’s Bond to be the best ATTEMPT to mesh the fop with the assassin. Maybe with fewer gadgets and better stories, he may have succeeded.

        I also appreciated “Skyfall”‘s subtle nod to Fleming’s identification of Bond as half-Scottish.

        • Ken Hanke

          I’m not sure what qualifies as being old enough to see Bond pictures. My first Bond picture was From Russia with Love, which came out when I was nine. I’m not sure how we missed Dr. No, since my father was certainly already reading the books. (Perhaps it was a case of “Oh, no, it’s an English movie.”) I caught it later on a double-bill with Goldfinger. Of course, in the pre-MPAA ratings world — unless you were following the Catholic Film Newsletter — you didn’t think much about whether a movie was suitable for children. (Not sure my parents ever did think about that, but by the time of ratings, I was 14 and way beyond being rescued from moral depravity.) In any case, I grew up on them more or less as they came out up through On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. And as a kid, the gadgets were a large part of the appeal. Then again, I’ve considered the whole series campy for as long as I was old enough to know what camp was. Maybe that’s why the 1967 Casino Royale was and is my favorite of the lot — the movie James Bond deserved. (If I had to pick a serious one as best, it’d be OHMSS.)

          Later Bond movies just don’t hold much appeal for me. They feel out of step and out of their time. (See John Boorman’s The Tailor of Panama — with Brosnan as a corrupt and amoral and sexually ambiguous riff on Bond — to see how quaint Bond seems in the modern world.) They ran on a veneer of classiness that most action pictures (which is really what they are) lack — at least up till Daniel Craig. Now, even the idea of classiness has gone. Instead, they’re just big and polished and rather dull to me. But the real point to me is that the newer Bond movies are strictly in name only. There is no connection to the originals left. Hell, even the studio that released them no longer exists — except on some movie theaters that are now owned by Regal.

          • Big Al

            “I’m not sure what qualifies as being old enough to see Bond pictures.”

            The first Bond film I saw on the big screen was Connery’s return in “Never Say Never Again”, which was just a re-make of “Thunderball” and an excuse to get Connery back into the saddle. I think audiences had soured on Roger Moore’s uber-Englishness. At that time, I was more aware of the stereotype of Bond as reflected in other media sources and spoofs like, ironically, “Remington Steel”. I watched most of the previous films on home video and just couldn’t quite “get it”. Then Dalton came along and just confused the issue even more. By the time I had developed a sense of what Bond was SUPPOSED to be (a deadly secret agent posing as a polished jet-setting fop) Pierce Brosnan arrived to play the man he had previously spoofed, but the gadgets and ever more outrageous stunts got in the way of character development. Bond had become a cartoon for children at about the same time that I became an adult wanting a real hero. I guess that is why I prefer the Daniel Craig version. I am sure this will run counter to many Bond purists, but so be it. I have a s little tolerance for them as I do for all of the other purists, i.e. Trekkies, Tolkienites, comic film fanboys, etc. they are like Civil War reenactors who refuse to sew on buttons until they have achieved the proper patina by soaking them in urine. Too much!

          • Ken Hanke

            In short, we have very little common ground on the topic.

  3. Reeves Singleton

    It’s already nearly two pictures in, but it might be worth noting that TCM has got the first seven Marx Brothers movies on slate tonight. Very little beats that for a Friday in.

  4. Edwin Arnaudin

    Ken, two spring 2012 releases that you really like – Being Flynn and Pariah – are now on the non-disc Netflix platform.

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