Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler December 9-15: In the Heart of Macbeth

In Theaters.

Another light week — one mainstream title and one art title. Come to think of it that’s a step up from last week. But all this is, of course, merely filler — marking time till next week when the movie the entire world is waiting for comes to town. I refer, of course, to Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip.

In a way, I’m benefitting from this, since this is also the week that members of the Southeastern Film Critics Association (familiarly called SEFCA) votes on the Ten Best films of the year, along with various other aspects of the year in film. As a result, I’m playing catch-up on some titles and bitching about the fact that we’re having to vote without having seen The Revenant and The Hateful Eight. It’s the penalty of living in the provinces — and the arrogance of certain filmmakers who punish us for it. (Yes, I am looking at you, Tarantino.) I’m also nursing a cold, but that’s a completely separate issue — and a pretty unpleasant one.




This week’s art title is Justin Kurzel’s Macbeth — opening Friday at The Carolina. Yes, I’ve seen this and, yes, the review will be in this week’s paper. This is a Macbeth for which I have mixed feelings. It most assuredly has not entered into the exalted realm of Orson Welles’ 1948 version, nor of Roman Polanski’s 1971 take on the material. That’s not to say that it isn’t worthwhile, but I don’t agree with some of the choices the filmmaker has made in paring the text and adding to the action — and I really don’t agree with Michael Fassbender’s approach to the dialogue. But I did like Marion Cotillard’s Lady Macbeth, and I found the film — and its very bleak approach — constantly intriguing, and sometimes breathtaking in its striking imagery.




The other offering is Ron Howard’s In the Heart of the Sea — opening Friday (with the usual Thursday evening, etc.) at The Carolina, Epic of Hendersonville, Regal Biltmore Grande, UA Beaucatcher. This fact-based tale of the events that led Herman Melville (Ben Whishaw) to write Moby Dick was supposed to come out last spring. Then it got shunted to summer. Now, it’s finally here — on a suicide run that will come smack up against Star Wars next week and probably kill whatever chance it had. It certainly has a decent cast — Whishaw, Chris Hemsworth, Brendan Gleeson, Cillian Murphy — but early word is not strong. Even the critics who have liked the film have called it old-fashioned. (Not necessarily a bad thing.) Those who haven’t liked it have called it much worse. On the one hand, it seems a natural for our age, being a kind of Moby Dick origins story. On the other, how much interest is there in a whaling movie these days? We shall see.

This week the status quo is maintained on all the art titles. I would expect major changes in the next couple of weeks. In other words, now is the time to see Trumbo (Carolina), Spotlight (Carolina, Fine Arts), and Brooklyn (Carolina, Fine Arts).

Special Screenings




This week the Thursday Horror Picture Show has with Claude Rains in James Whale’s The Invisible Man (1933) on Thu., Dec. 10 at 8 p.m. in Theater Six at The Carolina. World Cinema is showing Jean-Luc Godard’s Alphaville (1965) on Fri., Dec. 11 at 8 p.m. at Phil Mechanic Studios, 109 Roberts St., River Arts District (upstairs in the Railroad Library). The Asheville Film Society continues its seasonal Richard Curtis’ Love Actually (2003) on Tue., Dec. 15 at 8 p.m. in Theater Six at The Carolina. More on all titles in this week’s Xpress and in the online edition.


This week we’re looking at Ant-Man, Minions, and The Transporter Refueled. I’d go with Ant-Man.

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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22 thoughts on “Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler December 9-15: In the Heart of Macbeth

  1. Edwin Arnaudin

    Phoenix, the year’s best foreign language film, is now Netflix streaming. It belongs atop everyone’s queue.

    • Ken Hanke

      This is so. I find it interesting that two of this year’s best forgeign films — Youth and Clouds of Sils Maria — are in English.

    • Me

      I was going to mention that one too, also Tangerine, Best of Enemies, Matthew Shepard Is a Friend of Mine, Call Me Lucky, and Felt are all streaming on Netflix. Chriraq, A Poem Is a Naked Person, Goodnight Mommy, Gabriel, and Christmas Again are all available to rent or stream on Amazon as well.

  2. T.rex

    Are you voting for Spotlight? Its got the pic from the New York and Los Angeles critics. Rightfully so.

    • Ken Hanke

      For no. one? No. And that’s all I will say — except aren’t you a few pictures shy of knowing whether it’s the “best” of the year?

      • T.rex

        True, there are still great ones coming (The Revenant, Danish Girl, Big Short) but I would not be surprised if Spotlight stays on top. It is too bad Knight of Cups got pushed to March. I am very excited for that one too.

        • Ken Hanke

          I would call neither The Danish Girl, nor The Big Short great — and I’ve seen them (in the case of Danish Girl, twice). I have not seen The Revenant. Now, Youth, on the other hand… Have you seen Trumbo, and if not, why not? Did you see Clouds of Sils Maria? Mistress America, Mr. Holmes, Brooklyn, Far from the Madding Crowd?

          But bear in mind, when you talk about critic groups, you’re talking consensus. That’s like choosing a movie because of its Rotten Tomatoes rating. I feel pretty sure that Spotlight will win a lot of critic groups — and they could certainly do worse.

          • T.rex

            Saw most of those, I loved Mr Holmes and Trumbo. Overall its been a pretty good year. I forgot to mention Concussion, acting wise that looks pretty good and you know Im there if its got Albert Brooks. I am guessing you are not holding your breath for that one. ha ha.

          • Me

            I’ve, seen Youth I had a feeling you were going to love it.

          • Ken Hanke

            Any movie that channels 8 1/2 and Mahler is getting off on the right foot.

  3. Ken Hanke

    Those in search of the truly, deeply strange should be on the lookout for Guy Maddin’s The Forbidden Room. I seriously doubt it will play here, but it’s worth keeping an eye out for. Even for Maddin, this is extremely bizarre.

    • Me

      I’ve been keeping an eye on streaming for it, I figured it wouldn’t play in Asheville. I’ve only seen The Saddest Music in the World and Brand Upon the Brain!, and that was a long time ago . I still need to catch up with My Winnipeg.

      • Ken Hanke

        I watched a bunch of his stuff a couple years ago — and it mostly seems like one long fever dream to me at this point.

  4. Edwin Arnaudin

    While not all that notable on a filmmaking level, “David O. Russell’s” Accidental Love is hilarious in an absurdist, I Heart Huckabees way that occasionally borders on Coen-esque.

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