Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler February 23-March: 1 Triple Eagle Son of Egypt & the World

In Theaters.

Three mainstream titles and two art ones head our way this week. I can’t honestly say it’s the most exciting-looking week I’ve ever seen, but neither is it the worst. I suppose there’s something to be said for a weekend that doesn’t actively make you want to hide behind the sofa till the whole thing blows over.

Last week was, of course notable in that nothing managed to even get near to toppling Deadpool (and this week looks about the same). But on the local front, it was interesting to see that both The Lady in the Van and The Witch were above the national averages. In the case of The Lady in the Van, the difference was remarkable. Once again, Asheville proves itself to be ahead of the curve.




I’ve seen both of this week’s art titles, but — as with last week — I gave the more important title to Scott Douglas, and for the same reason: The belief that he was more in tune with the material than I was. The film in question is László Nemes’ Oscar-nominated Son of Saul — opening Friday at The Carolina. This is a Hungarian film that tells an unusual story of the Holocaust — from the perspective of a Jewish inmate/worker at Auschwitz, who is involved in the disposal of the bodies from the gas chambers. And, yes, it is exactly as devastating and bleak as that sounds. Read Mr. Douglas’ excellent and perceptive review and decide whether or not you’re up to this.




Now, I saw and reviewed Alê Abreu’s also Oscar-nominated Boy & the World — starting Friday at The Carolina. The chances of it snagging the Best Animated Feature Oscar are, I think, non-existent. There’s too much love for Inside Out, and even if you put it up against the other nominees — Anomalisa, Shaun the Sheep Movie, Marnie Was There — I think this Brazilian entry is just too specialized. It’s hand-drawn and told entirely in visuals (there’s some incomprehensible and not subtitled dialogue, but it’s inessential) and is often striking visually. However, it’s more interested in being a take-down of capitalism, consumerism, and modern times in general than it is in telling a story. (I have trouble imagining what a child would even make of it.) Apparently, The Carolina booker sees little traction, since it’s playing matinees only (11:10, 1:30, 3:30).




First up in the mainstream titles is Dexter Fletcher’s (Sunshine on Leith) Eddie the Eagle — starting Friday (with the requisite Thursday evening shows) at The Carolina, Epic of Hendersonville, Regal Biltmore Grande, and UA Beaucatcher. This stars Taron Egerton (who distinguished himself in last year’s Kingsman: The Secret Service), Hugh Jackman, and Christopher Walken. It is, in fact, being promoted as being “from the producers of Kingsman.” This is an old gambit. I remember when Ken Russell’s Valentino was advertised as being “from the people who brought you Rocky.” Well, yes, it’s undeniable that Robert Chartoff and Irwin Winkler produced both movies, but two more dissimilar films would be hard to imagine. This looks to be about the same sort of thing. Yeah, you can find some Kingsman names in the laundry list of producers and associates on Eddie the Eagle. But neither the director, nor the writers. And, seriously, what does an extremely violent, cynical spy comedy really have in common with an “inspired by true events” uplifting sports biopic about an underdog Olympic ski-jumping champion? My guess is not much. Currently, Eddie the Eagle has 11 positive and 4 negative reviews on Rotten Tomatoes — for what that is or isn’t worth.




Then we have Alex Proyas’ Gods of Egypt — starting Friday (with the requisite Thursday evening shows) at The Carolina, Epic of Hendersonville, Regal Biltmore Grande, and UA Beaucatcher (in your choice of 2D or 3D). OK, this is what the studio has to say (mind the hyperbole!), “In this spectacular action-adventure inspired by the classic mythology of Egypt, the survival of mankind hangs in the balance as an unexpected mortal hero Bek (Brenton Thwaites) undertakes a thrilling journey to save the world and rescue his true love. In order to succeed, he must enlist the help of the powerful god Horus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) in an unlikely alliance against Set (Gerard Butler), the merciless god of darkness, who has usurped Egypt’s throne, plunging the once peaceful and prosperous empire into chaos and conflict. As their breathtaking battle against Set and his henchmen takes them into the afterlife and across the heavens, both god and mortal must pass tests of courage and sacrifice if they hope to prevail in the epic final confrontation.” I think that should dispell any belief you may have been having about this having much to do with actual Egyptian mythology. (Think Clash of the Titans with different gods played by different Brits.) In fact, the CGI-heavy trailer makes it look suspiciously like a very noisy superhero movie. Also in the cast are Rufus Sewell, Bryan Brown, and Geoffrey Rush (who looks like he gets to play his role sitting down, since he’s the head god).




Finally, we have John Hillcoat’s Triple 9 — starting Friday (with the requisite Thursday evening shows) at Carmike 10, The Carolina, Epic of Hendersonville, and Regal Biltmore Grande. Though this has mixed reviews — 19 good, 11 bad — it’s easily the most interesting looking of the mainstream offerings and boasts the most interesting cast: Casey Affleck, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Anthony Mackie, Woody Harrelson and Kate Winslet. Open Road says, “a crew of dirty cops is blackmailed by the Russian mob to execute a virtually impossible heist and the only way to pull it off is to manufacture a 999, police code for ‘officer down.’ Their plan is turned upside down when the unsuspecting rookie they set up to die foils the attack, triggering a breakneck action-packed finale tangled with double-crosses, greed and revenge.” I guess we’ll see.

This week we lose 45 Years and seemingly The Big Short. The Carolina is dropping Where to Invade Next, but the Fine Arts is keeping a full set of shows. It is worth noting that Flatrock Cinema is bringing in Youth for one week starting Friday.

Special Screenings




The Thursday Horror Picture Show is running Stuart Walker’s classic Werewolf of London (1935) at 8 p.m. on Thu., Feb. 25 in Theater Six at The Carolina. World Cinema is screening Federico Fellini’s Fellini Satyricon (1969) at 8 p.m. on Fri., Feb. 26 at Phil Mechanic Studios, 109 Roberts St., River Arts District (upstairs in the Railroad Library). The Hendersonville Film Society is showing John Huston’s Moby Dick (1956) on Sun., Feb. 28 at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. The Asheville Film Society has Pedro Almodóvar’s What Have I Done to Deserve This? (1984) on Tue., Mar. 1 at 8 p.m. in Theater Six at The Carolina. More on all titles in this week’s Xpress and in the online edition.

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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49 thoughts on “Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler February 23-March: 1 Triple Eagle Son of Egypt & the World

  1. Edwin Arnaudin

    The Vinyl pilot is basically a bonus two-hour Scorsese film, similar in tone and style to The Wolf of Wall Street though not quite as good overall. There wasn’t too much of a quality drop-off when he passed the reins to Allen Coulter for Ep.2, so I’ll stick with it.

  2. Me

    He is talking about this Ken.

    This was my most anticipated new show so far this year, but I was really let down. A show coming from Scorsese and Jagger I really expected more. The music is all over the place not just 1973 and they get a lot of details wrong. If your going to do a period drama in a post Mad Men TV world, you’re going to have to get every minute detail of the era right. Edwin did you see Richard Hell’s review?

    • Edwin Arnaudin

      I don’t agree with the post-Mad Men details “requirement.” That’s awfully limiting and encourages unimaginative results.

      Mr. Hell doesn’t like Wolf of Wall Street and thinks Get On Up is “pretty great,” so it’s understandable he and I disagree on Vinyl.

      • Ken Hanke

        Mad Men itself was awfully limiting — at least what I saw of it.

  3. Ken Hanke

    The Hellraiser Experience or “I Won’t Get Those 11 Hours Back”

    Truth is, I was never a huge fan of the original film — though I got a laserdisc of it as part of my payment for writing liner notes for Crimes of Passion — and have mixed feelings about Clive Barker. (Too often he seems like Stephen King with a Brit accent and a greater emphasis on buggery.) When I first saw the promos for the original I thought, “Great. I was waiting for a movie about a haunted Rubik’s Cube.” I freely admit the results were better than I expected. Now, today…

    Hellraiser still kind of works. It — and its immediate successor — still suffers from the insistence on pretending that the action is taking place in the US and dubbing American accents on the cast. Both films also suffer from the fact that the effects work that looked so swell in the late ’80s and early ’90s doesn’t much impress today. That said, it’s still atmospheric and mighty gooey.

    Hellbound: Hellraiser II is unique in that it’s the only one I saw in the theater. In a lot of ways, I think it’s better than the original. It is certainly more ambitious — and that’s also its problem. The effects just do not hold up and the process work looks incredibly grainy. Still, I give it high marks for effort. The “American” setting is even more ludicrous with that obviously British hospital ward. I still think Claire Higgins in her white gauze bandages looks like Grace Jones.

    Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth most certainly is. And yet it may not be the worst, but it’s a very near thing. It doesn’t help that the version on Netflix is a pan-and-scan that looks like it was copied from VHS. It also doesn’t help that High Point and Greensboro, NC are dubious stand-ins for NYC. (Look quick and you can spot Cheerwine machines in a couple shots.) The story is more limited (especially after Hellbound), the effects are cheesier, and…well, it’s not very good. Production design on “The Boiler Room” night club is the best thing.

    Hellraiser: Bloodline is where it gets silly…sillier. The missed a great bet by not calling it Pinhead in Space. Yes, that’s where it takes place — at least its framing story. The film actually has three stories — all featuring Bruce Ramsay. He’s the guy who made the cube, a present day decendent, and a guy in the future who has perfect the method for destroying Pinhead and his pals. It’s dumb, but watchable — and you get an early performance from Adam Scott (looking as rodential as ever) as the mad sadist’s assistant. If you want the history of the puzzle box, look no further.

    Hellraiser: Inferno is a tepid — albeit gorey — mess, probably because it was made from a script that wasn’t meant to be a part of the series, but had Pinhead and the Hellraiser angle shoehorned in. It’s watchable, but nothing more — and it’s not in the least memorable. This is where the series becomes straight-to-video, but the films were still submitted to the MPAA for ratings. Why? I have no idea. Charles Band used to do the same thing.

    Hellraiser: Hellseeker is another screenplay that was retrofitted to become a Hellraiser movie. It’s more interesting than its immediate predecessor, though it’s never hard to guess where its twisty plot is going — once you realize you’re being lied to. Since that plot is the best thing about the movie, I’ll say no more, in case you’re curious.

    Hellraiser: Deader, despite that moronic title (which makes since in context), is a vast improvement over everything since Hellbound. This is not saying all that much, mind you. Again, this is a remonkeyed script, but it works better with its story of tabloid reporter going to Bucharest (playing itself for a change) to investigate a strange cult where people kill themselves only to be brought back to life by their leader. The atmosphere is effective and incredibly seedy and unwholesome. (One doubts the Romanian tourism board liked it much.)

    Hellraiser: Hellworld is the last of the films I’ve seen. Hellraiser: Revelations isn’t on Netflix… and really if a script was so bad that Doug Bradley (Pinhead) refused it, what more do you need? Again, this was made out of a non-series script, but the tailoring is a better fit. Also, we’re back in Romania (playing the US this time). Bonuses include Lance Henriksen and an early role for Henry Cavill. Also, this is the meta Hellraiser movie. It exists in a world where Hellraiser is a popular — and naturally dangerous — online game. Is it good? Not really, but this different approach is interesting.

    • Xanadon't

      It’s precisely this kind of in-depth investigative reporting that keeps me reading Mountain Xpress. I was just gonna ask you to rank the Cenobites from least to most gnarly but you’ve gone above and beyond. Nice catch on the Cheerwine machine! Oh… I’ll try these again… maybe in October… of some year.

          • Ken Hanke

            This is so. They are also generally more interesting — even after they lose Christopher Walken, but his loss changes the tone.

        • Me

          Have you seen the horror movie streaming on Netflix called PontyPool? Sounds interesting, I’m thinking about checking it out.

  4. Edwin Arnaudin

    I’m tempted to watch Joe Swanberg’s Digging for Fire (now on Amazon Prime) because of Sam Rockwell, but it’s Swanberg and I suspect Rockwell is only onscreen for a scene or two.

    • Xanadon't

      I’ve had Happy Christmas collecting dust in my Netflix list for a while now. But I thought Drinking Buddies was watchable enough. Though I think any movie centered around craft beer and Olivia Wilde in a tank top is likely to take that effect with me. I’m curious.

  5. Xanadon't

    Oh, and speaking of rodential Adam Scott, had someone around here warned against The Overnight? Because I feel like that either should’ve happened or I should’ve paid closer attention.

  6. Ken Hanke

    In the realm of the truly unfortunate what should pop up on Netflix but, yep, Hellraiser: Revelations — the script that was so bad that even Doug Bradley turned it down. And was he smart! And he could not have known that this would be Hellraiser Meets Found-Footage and the Shaky-Cam. Irredeemable on every level.

    • Xanadon't

      Ah, now you see my Upflix App didn’t tell me this or I’d’ve gladly delivered you the good news. It must have been really terrible if even my iphone didn’t deem it worth mention.

  7. Reeves Singleton

    I made the extremely poor decision of watching The Den on Netflix. On the one hand, it’s a better Unfriended. On the other hand, being a better Unfriended is like being a prime cut of low grade horse meat.

  8. Ken Hanke

    Okay…the Prophecy saga…

    The Prophecy — whether or not it’s the best, it’s the one that obviously feels the freshest, since this is where it all starts — and at the time, it seemed very good indeed. It’s also the most ambitious — especially for a movie with an obviously limited budget. (The words “Recorded in Ultra-Stereo” are always a tip-off.) And it has the best cast — Walken, Elias Koteas, Virginia Madseon, Eric Stoltz, Viggo Mortensen, Amanda Plummer. It pretty much holds up, but here’s the catch — Walken’s character arc is developed over the first three films, which makes it rather more interesting. (To a lesser extent, this is also true of the character of the coroner played in all three by Steve Hytner.)

    The Prophecy II — Made for theatrical release and then dumped straight to video, this is a worthy sequel that, as noted, definitely enlarges on Walken’s Gabriel character (his inability to function in the human world is more pronounced here). The cast isn’t as good, but neither is it anything to sneeze at. Certainly nothing about it is disgraceful.

    The Prophecy III: The Ascent. Here’s the deal, this is definitely on the lesser side, but it’s the completion of the Gabriel character — and both that and Walken are excellent. The cast is mostly lower tier, but they’re good. Don’t get excited by the presence of Brad Dourif in the cast, ‘cos he’s barely in the movie.

    The Prophecy: Uprising. And now with Walken gone, the series starts being directed by producer Joel Soisson — and it takes a turn in a slightly different direction and a Bucharest location (just like the Hellraiser movies, which were also produced by Soisson). The cast is decidedly lower. The devil is back — in an expanded, but still ambivalent capacity — but is no longer Vigo Mortensen. Now, he’s John Light and he’s one of the better parts of the film. (Doug Bradley turns up, but not as Pinhead.) Kari Wuhrer is the main character here and in the next film. (In between the two she was in Hellraiser: Deader.) She’s actually pretty good.

    The Prophecy: Forsaken. This is a direct continuation of Uprising and the two almost seem like one film. This one runs a brisk 75 min. and actually works better in close proximity to its predecessor. They’re essentially one story — and it’s not a bad story at all. The bad guy angel this round is played by Candyman himself Tony Todd and is an interesting addition. So is Jason Scott Lee as the villain’s “undead” slave. Aspects of this one are genuinely creepy, too.

    All in all, these rate higher than the Hellraiser movies. With luck, they’ll leave it at this. The next one would — assuming it follows this path — be prohibitively expensive or appallingly cheesy.

  9. Xanadon't

    Sounds far more painless than Hellraiserpalooza and maybe I’ve unfairly ignored this series’ existence. At one point I actually owned a VHS copy of the original, but never watched any further. Once I’ve finished my scramble to catch up with unseen Oscar titles (watched Messy Room last night…sigh) I just may tackle these.

      • Xanadon't

        Let’s just say there isn’t a word in your review that I disagree with, down to the minimal tolerance for screaming five year olds. One can cast fault where they wish.

        • Ken Hanke

          A friend of mine (well, more an acquaintance I’ve only met once) thinks the kid is “adorable.” I had other words in mind.

  10. Xanadon't

    The widely praised documentary The Look of Silence is now Netflix streaming.

    • Ken Hanke

      Unless it’s a documentary about something or someone (you know, Harry Nilsson, Ginger Baker, etc.) I’m interested in, I am content to just stick to the documentaries I have to see over the course of the year.

      • Xanadon't

        Your lack of enthusiasm does not startle me in the slightest.

        • Edwin Arnaudin

          Finding Vivian Maier, a documentary even Ken likes, is now Netflix streaming.

          • Me

            One of my favorite films of last year Heaven Knows What is coming to Netflix sometime in March I believe.

          • Edwin Arnaudin

            I haven’t attempted the screener TWC sent me last November.

          • Ken Hanke

            I have the vague idea that I did try it and decided against early on.

  11. Xanadon't

    The Oscars are almost here and I don’t have a twitter account…

    • Ken Hanke

      Neither do I. I’ll set up a post like I did last year and you’ll be able to comment come 8 p.m.ish.

  12. Big Al

    I read that “Mad Max: Fury Road” has TEN Oscar nominations. Would that make it the Donald Trump (i.e. unexpectedly successful protest candidate) of 2016?

    • Ken Hanke

      No, it makes it one of the two “Attempts to Appeal to a Broader Public” nominations.

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