Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler December 30-January 5: This Is the Way the Year Ends

In Theaters.

 So here we are celebrating the end of the year with exactly one new movie to choose from (not that there aren’t some pretty choice choices already out) — and because it’s from the Weinsteins, they’ve played around with when we’ll get it because…well, they’re the Weinsteins and they can. You may recall that The Hateful Eight in its regular (or commoner) release wasn’t supposed to appear till next week. Then it moved to a Dec. 31 slot — a Thursday opening of all things. And there it stayed till Monday afternoon when it suddenly changed to Wednesday (with showings Tuesday evening). Why? Because it’s the Weinsteins.

With the release of The Hateful Eight we’re just about caught up with 2015’s big movies. We get The Revenant and Carol next week. Anomalisa comes to town later in January and that pretty much eats up the more anticipated 2015 releases. It also means that we’re getting very near the Ten Best lists. I had hoped those would be ready by next week (I think Hateful Eight is the only contender Mr. Souther and I haven’t seen), but the fact that I have been pretty effectively laid low by some kind of respiratory infection, I think we’re looking at the Jan. 13 issue.




So here we have Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight — opening Wed., Dec. 30 (with evening shows Dec. 29) at Carolina Cinemas, Epic of Hendersonville, Regal Biltmore Grande, UA Beaucatcher. Though I have serious issues with the way Tarantino handled this whole thing (more on that in a minute), yes, I’m very interested in this release. If we exempt Death Proof (2007), I’ve liked everything Tarantino’s done from Kill Bill (2003-04) forward. So why wouldn’t I be interested in this? No reason at all — even though I know people (from more metropolitan areas) who hated it, and even though I have gleaned it’s more a violent, bloody, vulgar, talky Agatha Christie drawing room mystery than the epic western its highly-touted 70mm Panavision format suggests. I’m still enthusiastically in, despite the inescapable conclusion that Tarantino is punishing me for not living in a major metropolitan area by withholding the “road show” version. (I don’t care at all that we had to wait an extra week.) I find the whole approach arrogant, but it is Tarantino, so what should I expect? The most amusing thing is that unless the film was being shown in a theater that was actually made for the format, viewers only got an approximation of the effect of 70mm Panavision. Theaters that were quickly converted with 70mm projectors are still not projecting it on a screen made for the format’s extremely narrow — 2.79:1 — ratio. Anyway I’ll be at The Carolina to see the movie for myself — hopefully, in the morning (antibiotics willing).

The only notable loss this week is Brooklyn, which is a real pity since it still did remarkably good business on only two shows a day this past weekend at The Carolina. Screen space is at a premium just now.

Special Screenings




The Thursday Horror Picture Show has that trio of terror, Bela Lugosi, George Zucco, and John Carradine in a newly restored version of William Beaudine’s Voodoo Man (1944) at 8 p.m. on Thu., Dec. 31 in Theater Six at The Carolina. World Cinema is taking New Year’s Day off. The Hendersonville Film Society is screening The Cassandra Crossing (1976) on Sun., Jan. 3 at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. The Asheville Film Society starts the new year with Peter Sellers, Peter O’Toole, and Woody Allen in Clive Donner’s What’s New Pussycat? (1965) on Tue., Jan. 5 at 8 p.m. in Theater Six at The Carolina. More on all titles in this week’s Xpress and in the online edition.


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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 December 30-January 5: This Is the Way the Year Ends

  1. luluthebeast

    I’m looking forward to it but of course I’ll never get Mary to see it. a restored version of VOODOO MAN sounds wonderful as well.

    • Ken Hanke

      Restored may be a little too strong, but it is from a richly detailed, pristine 35mm print, which is very much the same thing.

  2. Jason

    I have loathed tarantino’s last few flix. What’s up with crappy slow paced spaghetti westerns that drag on forever..?.. Even that dumb WW2 one with Brad Pitt; DRAGG! Nothing will be like R DOGS, DUSK, and PULP. His new crap; Just blows

    • Big Al

      Ditto the hate on “Inglorious Basturds”. Innovative film-making became lame self-promotion and gratuitous titillation.

      • Ken Hanke

        What can I say? Opinions vary. I don’t like Reservoir Dogs. You can’t really call From Dusk Till Dawn a Tarantino film (Robert Rodriguez directed it). Pulp Fiction is more memorable for the dialogue and the jigsaw puzzle structure than as filmmaking.

        • Jason

          Perhaps I’m not getting the gist of exactly what you’re critiquing; I just feel his last few spaghetti westerns were like high school plays ( poorly acted and over dramatized) Terribly difficult to sit through. Might you elaborate on what you appreciate about the actual filmmaking ? Was it the Cinematography?

          • Ken Hanke

            Well, we’re starting at cross purposes, since I don’t find them anything like high school plays or find them poorly acted (in most cases) or overly dramatized. I find the films to be alive in ways that a lot of movies aren’t. I think they’re full-throated, head-on filmmaking — rich and richly detailed. I certainly didn’t find them difficult to sit through — and that’s notable since I am pretty quick to find movies too long. I don’t find them to “DRAGG,” whereas I do find a lot of his earlier films slow and indifferently made. We are, I fear, just going to disagree here. That’s fine. I will warn you that you will almost certainly hate The Hateful Eight, if you thought Basterds and Django dragged.

            As a curiosity, though, what movies this year have you thought were great or even very good?

          • Edwin Arnaudin

            More opinions: I like everything Tarantino did up to Django, but a recent-ish revisit of the suddenly screechy Reservoir Dogs made me not want to watch it again for a long time. The writing and performances of Pulp Fiction long made it my favorite of his, but now I prefer Inglourious Basterds, which I think improves on both those Pulp perks without the benefit of a jumbled timeline, showcases far more exciting filmmaking and makes even better use of music. The Hateful Eight is Top 3 Tarantino for me and, though I suspect I’ll have the same narrative and character issues (nothing of the like is present in his latest film), it’s inspired me to give Django a third try.

          • Ken Hanke

            And Hateful Eight has, I think, the best musical score of any of them

          • Edwin Arnaudin

            I want to say that, other than the occasional RZA instrumental in Kill Bill, it’s the only one of his with an original score.

          • sally sefton

            Being a director of high school plays, I resent your comment. To make such a generalization says a lot about the person making such a comment.
            I work hard to make credible productions that give life to the scripts of some of America’s best playwrights. Some of my actors are now working just out of high school in film.

            I daresay some of my “high school actors” have more talent than those dissing them in forums like this.

          • Me

            Watched the 70mm roadshow version last night, and I can say it’s at least better than Django, but still not one of his best films. Ken, did you ever get around to seeing Jackie Brown?

          • Ken Hanke

            I saw as much of Jackie Brown as I could. After three tries and being bored each time, I gave up. I do not see the appeal.

    • NFB

      Maybe it is just me but most Tarintino movies seem pretty interchangeable to me. Trot our some past their prime 70’s stars, give them a bunch of smug and glib dialogue to recite while they engage in over the top violence and you pretty much have just about any Tarintino movie. That his fan boys are only marginally less obnoxious and obsessive then those of Christopher Nolan and I’m more than ready to take a pass on Tarintino’s last wankfest.

        • Ken Hanke

          I definitely think you will be happier giving a pass to The Hateful Eight, especially since you’ve already decided it’s a “wankfest.”

          • Ken Hanke

            You see, I’m just not onboard with the whole idea of self-indulgent as a viable criticism of art — this presupposes that you think film is art. All art — except for the strictly commercial work-for-hire sort — strikes me as self-indulgent by its very nature. Self-indulgent with a need or desire to communicate.

          • NFB

            Perhaps. But there is self indulgent and there is SELF INDULGENT.

            I realize that I am largely in the minority among film buffs in thinking of that Emperor Tarintino has no clothes and I can live with that. It’s not like I really have much choice in the matter. Just not my cup of tea.

          • Ken Hanke

            Well, no one is forcing anyone to go see his films. I certainly would not call myself a fan, but he has given me a good bit of entertainment. That’s more than I can say for…let’s say Michael Haneke.

          • NFB

            Fair enough although I must say since I have only seen two Michael Haneke films — “Cache” which I liked (but did not love) and “Code Unknown” which I was largely indifferent to — I have little to compare. “Amour” and “The White Ribbon” looked thoroughly unappealing to me so they remain unseen.

            With that in mind, however, I find many the movie of say Patrice Leconte infinitely more entertaining — be it a comedy like “My Best Friend,” or a drama like “The Man on the Train” than anything I’ve seen of the over the top violence and glib scripting of Mr. Tarintino. Give me John Waters over him for entertainment any day. For that matter I find a lot of more overtly commercial fare both more entertaining (not to mention interesting) but then art is a subjective thing, no?

          • Edwin Arnaudin

            I believe that when you refer to Michael Haneke, it’s good form to call him by his proper name: “that huckster Michael Haneke.”

          • Me

            How did the regular theatrical version handle the poison coffee? Did Tarantino use his voiceover like the 70mm version?

          • Ken Hanke

            Without having seen the roadshow print, it’s hard to say if it’s exactly the same, but, yes, it sounds the same.

          • Me

            So without the intermission he just out of the blue uses voice over in the middle of the film, that would have been weird.

          • Ken Hanke

            There’s a long fade to black where the intermission would be. Didn’t seem odd to me.

    • T.rex

      Jackie Brown is his best but Hateful 8 might top it. Its really great, everyone.

        • Ken Hanke

          Hard to compare, since a.) I haven’t made it through Jackie Brown (it bored the living Jesus out of me), and b.) Tarantino only did part of Four Rooms (and the weakest part).

          • T.rex

            If anyone is looking for a really REALLY bad Tarantino experience, look no further than DESTINY TURNS ON THE RADIO. He did not direct this but wowzers is his acting in this “unique”. if you have not heard of it consider yourself lucky.

          • Ken Hanke

            It has little bearing, since it is not his film. If you want really bad, see Death Proof. When even a T. Rex song can’t help your movie…

  3. jason

    This year Ex machina, MAD MAX, sicario, martian, welcome to me,; to name a few

    • Ken Hanke

      I liked Ex Machina, Mad Max, The Martian — but I didn’t think them great. (Ex Machina comes closest.) You realize, of course, that at the end of the day, these are all just opinions.

    • Ken Hanke

      I don’t know if you’re local, but we don’t get Anomalisa on Jan. 8, I understand. Next week we get Carol, The Revenant, and something called The Forest.

    • Edwin Arnaudin

      I recommend lowering your expectations with Anomalisa…but you like Welcome to Me, so you might consider Kaufman’s latest a masterpiece.

    • Steven

      Kaufman’s latest is his best since Adaptation, and this is coming from someone that loves Synecdoche. The trailer does kind of misrepresent it, however.

  4. Reeves Singleton

    Yeah, I really dug The Hateful Eight, too. For me, I’m not sure it beats Inglorious Basterds as favorite Tarantino film, but it comes close, and it’s forced an alteration to what I thought was a pretty locked in “best of” list. I guess it’s possible that any of those three incoming releases could change things, but I doubt it. I certainly don’t expect anything on the level of the late pleasures that Mr. Turner and Inherent Vice offered as the major holdovers of 2014.

    On an unrelated note, uh, I’m guessing it’s not that likely at all that Asheville’s going to see that Chimes at Midnight restoration, is it?

    • Ken Hanke

      Yeah, Hateful Eight is causing me some Best of shuffling — and I think (based on one viewing and only a day ago) that it’s my no. 1 Tarantino (not my no. 1 picture of the year, mind). Of course, the question of holdovers into 2016 gets fuzzy for me, since I’ve usually seen the titles in question. The only “big” awards releases I can think of that haven’t played here yet are Carol, The Revenant, and Anomalisa. The first two open next Friday. The other sometime later in January. Maybe I’m forgetting something. I kind of think Legend is dead in the water and I don’t know what the story is on Slow West (which I pretty much loved — or close to it).

      I think it very unlikely that anyone is going to book Chimes at Midnight for a full week’s run. The AFS might do it as a one-off for a Wednesday Budget Big Screen showing — once we’re past the possibility (ha) of snow. I don ‘t know who’s handling it — probably a boutique label like Rialto or Park Circus, which means it’ll be obscenely priced.

      • Reeves Singleton

        Slow West might have been the year’s most pleasant surprise for me (at least aside from finally being able to see The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet). I went in to it having no idea at all of what to expect, and I ended up loving every second of it.

          • Edwin Arnaudin

            Slow West is streaming for free on Amazon Prime (and available on DVD). Glad to hear I correctly predicted you liking it. I’d say a local release opportunity has come and gone – it had a limited one in May.

      • Ken Hanke

        I just saw that Chimes at Midnight is being handled by Janus, which means it may not be obscenely priced.

  5. Steven

    We get The Revenant and Carol next week. Anomalisa comes to town later in January and that pretty much eats up the more anticipated 2015 releases

    Well, there’s still 45 Years and The Assassin. I can’t imagine you’d be very taken with the former, however. The latter probably isn’t your cup of tea, either.

    • Ken Hanke

      45 Years is a little too kitchen sink for me. The Assassin I gave up on after 30 min. By then I was mostly curious to see if there was ever an apparent reason for the shifting formats, but not enough to plod on.

  6. Steven

    Just a head’s up: Muriel, or the Time of Return is playing on TCM at 3:30 AM. Anxious to finally see this.

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