Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler January 13-19: Norm of Benghazi Ride Along — and Farewell to Major Tom

In Theaters.

 And you thought last week was bad? At least last week you got the expansions of Carol and The Revenant. This week — No such luck. In fact, no luck at all. It is so exceedingly grim that…well, you’ve certainly noticed by now that the featured image is from a movie made 40 years ago. This is in part a statement on how I feel about the floor sweepings the studios have sent our way.

Of course, the featured image is also to mark the passing of David Bowie — and to note that the Asheville Film Society will be running The Man Who Fell to Earth on Tuesday, Feb. 2 in his honor. It is certainly the least that can be done. Then again, Bowie was much more than an actor and he was certainly more than any one movie, though I would argue that this is the movie that could only exist as it does because he’s in it — like it was the role he was born to play. Not to minimize the contribution of filmmaker Nicolas Roeg, but this is a movie that belongs as much to its star as its director.




I realized yesterday that my first exposure to David Bowie was him performing “Foot Stompin'” on The Dick Cavett Show. I was more perplexed than anything at the time. A musician friend of mine tried to interest me, but I was at first reluctant. (I should note that said friend has since become very proper and upright and talks about his Second Ammendment rights more than Bowie — and yet I will always think of him scandalizing an audience singing Bowie’s “Sweet Thing” and wearing my wife’s lamb-skin boa. Time has changed him, I guess.) But my conversion to Bowie was accidental and on my own and completely left to chance — and the vagaries of owning an MG. I had no radio in that car (I was too cool, I had an 8-track!) so I only heard new music on the radio when the MG was broken, which was rather often. I happened to be driving my mother’s car when “Young Americans” came out. It was a defining moment. I bought the album that day and soon added earlier albums to my collection. That means it was March of 1975 and that also means there was no way I was missing The Man Who Fell to Earth when it hit theaters the next year. Anyway, here’s a chance to see it and pay a little tribute to its unique star.

Now, about these new movies…




First up is Michael Bay’s 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi — opening Friday (and yeah Thursday evening) at The Carolina, Carmike 10, Epic of Hendersonville, Regal Biltmore Grande. This is Michael Bay in…serious (well) mode. By this, I merely mean that the “secret soldiers” are probably not Transformers. Then again… I feel sure things will explode and much firepower will be unleashed. And for an unconscionable 144 minutes. The book it is taken from is apparently very deliberately not political. Presumably, the film will follow suit. This, soberingly enough, is the week’s weightiest offering.




Then there is the animated Norm of the North — opening at The Carolina and Epic of Hendersonville (the only confirmed venues) on Friday (no Thu. evening shows). What is this? Well, obviously it’s kiddie fodder and apparently pretty low-rent kiddie fodder at that. Look, it’s star voice actor is Rob Schneider. What more needs be said? It has something to do with the title character — and some lemmings — being displaced from the Arctic and ending up in New York. Yes, Bill Nighy is in the voice cast, but I doubt that’s sufficient reason to see it.




Finally we get the inevitable (and wittily titled) Ride Along 2 — opening Friday (and Thu. evening) at Carmike10, The Carolina, Epic of Hendersonville, and Regal Biltmore Grande. Last year’s Ride Along was trounced by critics and, of course, made a ton of money. So we have the same director (Tim Story) and the same stars (Ice Cube and Kevin Hart) for, one imagines, more of the same. Having not seen the first one, I fear I would be unable to follow the sequel — meaning it is Justin’s lot in life.

Now, this week is odd in that the Fine Arts is dropping The Danish Girl, but is bringing Trumbo back to town to play on a split (1:20, 7:20) with Youth (4:20, Fri-Sat Late show at 9:50). The Carolina is splitting Youth (11:05, 4:15, 9:30) with The Danish Girl (1:40, 6:55). Carol holds steady at both theaters.

Special Screenings




The Thursday Horror Picture Show running Bela Lugosi (with the East Side Kids) in Phil Rosen’s Spooks Run Wild (1941) at 8 p.m. on Thu., Jan. 14 in Theater Six at The Carolina. World Cinema is still off this week. The Hendersonville Film Society is screening George Stevens’ Shane (1953) on Sun., Jan. 17 at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. The Asheville Film Society is showing Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, and Grace Kelly in Charles Walters’ High Society (1956) on Tue., Jan. 19 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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32 thoughts on “Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler January 13-19: Norm of Benghazi Ride Along — and Farewell to Major Tom

  1. Edwin Arnaudin

    The charming Meet the Patels is now Netflix Streaming. Star/co-director Ravi Patel is also a lot of fun in the fourth episode of Aziz Ansari’s superb Netflix comedy series Master of None.

  2. Ken Hanke

    By the way, it’s too late to do anything about it now, but the print edition has the Co-ed of Brevard still showing Star Wars, but in another sign that the Force is a-weakening, it turns out that they are opening The Revenant on Friday,

  3. Edwin Arnaudin

    I just learned that Angus Scrimm passed away on Jan. 9.

    • Ken Hanke

      You are behind the times. Does this mean we need to run a Phantasm movie?

      • Edwin Arnaudin

        I know… You have the fortune of the Inner Horror Circle giving you updates every 15 minutes.

        I’m in favor of a Phantasm movie in February.

        • Ken Hanke

          Actually, I just have a different set of FB friends, since it was all over my timeline the day “The Tall Man” died.

          I’ll look in on a Phantasm screening…

          • Ken Hanke

            I went with Phantasm II — mostly because I’m not paying $90 for the first one, which seems to be the going rate.

          • Edwin Arnaudin

            And I’ve only seen the first one, so that plan sounds good to me.

  4. Ken Hanke

    And, no, unless someone out there has an anamorphically-enhanced DVD of Truly, Madly, Deeply they’ll loan us, we probably won’t be doing an Alan Rickman tribute. Unfortunately.

  5. Chip Kaufmann

    I have an anamorphically enhanced copy of AN AWFULLY BIG ADVENTURE. It’s not TMD but it’s not without merit. A friend does have the old 2001 MGM TMD but sadly it’s 1.33:1.

    • Ken Hanke

      No, it’s not without merit, but I don’t remember Awfully Big Adventure as something audiences are likely to care for much. Perhaps I should see it again. There is a later MGM disc of Truly, but I don’t know the specs on it — and it’s a little pricey to just find out.

  6. sally sefton

    On a completely different matter, the Benghazi movie is supposed to be fairly hideous. I am sure it will be used to further bolster the shallow campaigns of some on the right. David Schiller from THE GUARDIAN had this to say.
    “Regardless, Ted Cruz and his fellow candidates will surely try to use this motion picture for their own personal gain for as long as possible. That’s what we do with tragedy in this country, after all. We build a memorial, complete with a gift shop stocked with all the cheaply made junk imaginable. We crank out corny movies based on the true story in the hope that enough people will drag their significant other to the theater to experience the sadness first-hand, with the explicit goal of making a sorry buck off the misery. And we try to score political points whenever possible. That’s the American Way.”

    • Ken Hanke

      The movie isn’t good by any means, but it’s amazingly non-political (while being wildly jingoistic). It’s long, tedious, noisy, and in typical Michael Bay fashion “shit blows up neat.” Will this keep it from being used as an anti-Hillary tool? Probably not.

  7. Edwin Arnaudin

    If you must see its mediocrity yourself, The Overnight is now Netflix Streaming.

    I’m more interested in Richard LaGravenese’s musical The Last Five Years.

    • Ken Hanke

      I advise against The Overnight. I may, however, tackle The Last Five Years, which had escaped my attention. I did, however, watch Some Kind of Beautiful, which was predictable, but not, I thought, without its modest pleasures. (It barely got released back in August, it seems.) I checked the reviews. Apparently, I was supposed to hate it.

      • Edwin Arnaudin

        Rex Reed hated Some Kind of Beautiful – often a good omen. Youth was his #2 worst film of 2015 (behind Steve Jobs, which he appears to loathe because it’s not a standard biopic). Room and The Danish Girl made his Top 10.

        • Ken Hanke

          ‘Nuff said.

          Now, about this Last Five Years thing…after three-and-a-half amazingly undistinguished ersatz B’way show tunes (about 20 minutes), I bailed. I freely admit that Anna Kendrick does less for me every time I see her, but I think she wasn’t my issue so much as the songs. I may tackle it again later. Or not.

          • sally sefton

            The LAST FIVE YEARS works much better onstage than on film. I watched the film for less time than you did, Mr. Hanke. The whole thing was too stagey and lacked the charm it needed to work.
            Many plays are better left on the stage. There are exceptions, most notably the plays of William Shakespeare which are so cinematic in nature that they work very well when the director has a strong vision.

            Anna Kendrick, though well meaning, continually leaves me cold. Her singing is not strong, and I never believe her sincerity when she is not singing. When you have a film or play with only two characters and she is one of them, the piece for me is doomed.

          • Ken Hanke

            And yet that opening shot past the windows and in the window (yeah, Rene Clair did it in 1929, too) had me hoping. But after a few minutes of Ms. Kendrick singing about how the disintegration of this relationship is through no possible fault of her own (she sounds like a stalker in the making) I was losing patience fast. Unless the songs became radically different after the fourth one, I doubt this would ever work for me. It is just a style of music and lyrics that grates on me.

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