Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler January 27-February 2: Finest Fifty Shades of Nominated Panda

In Theaters.

 You know things are looking grim when the most promising mainstream release of the week is the third film in an animated series. OK, we do get the Oscar nominated short films, so that’s something, but we are clearly still in the winter of our discontent — again. Next week promises to be more interesting. Honest.

Judging by the reviews sent to me by Scott Douglas (see this week’s paper) there were indeed far worse things than being snowed in — and they were all infesting the barely open theaters. Mr. Douglas had the grave misfortune of being the only one who could make it to the movies. Really this was the worst weekend for theaters in the 15 years I’ve followed Asheville theaters. I don’t think a single theater was open on Friday — other than the Fine Arts, which managed a couple of matinees — and some weren’t open on Saturday. The grosses were…dismal. That said, I don’t think anyone missed much by not going to the movies.




The brightest spot this week comes in the form of The 2016 Oscar Nominated Animated Short Films and The 2016 Oscar Nominated Live Action Short Films starting Friday at The Carolina. These are all reviewed in this week’s paper. What I had not known until late yesterday is that they’re also showing The 2016 Oscar Nominated Documentary Short Films. Those never seem to draw many viewers, and they’re only being shown once a day (at 1:55) and only on Fri, Sat, Sun, Wed. They are not reviewed. As generally seems to be the case, the live action shorts (playing Fri, Sat, Sun, Wed 5:20, 9:30,  Mon-Tue 1:00, 5:20, 9:30) are much stronger than the animated shorts (playing Fri, Sat, Sun, Wed 11:05, 7:35, Mon-Tue 11:05, 3:15, 7:35). This doesn’t mean that there aren’t a couple of good animated shorts — Bear Story is pretty darn fantastic — but they are definitely a mixed bag.




If further proof was needed that this is January, we have Fifty Shades of Black — starting Friday (with Thursday evening shows) at The Carolina, Epic of Hendersonville, Regal Biltmore Grande, UA Beaucatcher. What is this? Well, it’s from the writers, director, and star of the A Haunted House movies. Yes, it’s the reteaming of Marlon Wayans (co-writer and star), Rick Alvarez (co-writer), and Michael Tiddes (director) — not a consummation for which anyone was devoutly wishing. But this time — instead of spoofing dumb horror movies — they’re spoofing Fifty Shades of Grey. The only thing I can see that’s possibly in its favor is that it’s shorter than our next offering.




Alphabetically speaking our next film is The Finest Hours — starting Friday (with Thursday evening shows) at The Carolina, Co-ed of Brevard, Epic of Hendersonville, Regal Biltmore Grande, UA Beaucatcher. Here we have a “based on a true story” affair from the nothing-if-not-erratic Craig Gillespie. (How do you work out a filmography that the God-awful Mr. Woodcock to the engagingly odd Lars and the Real Girl to the OK Fright Night remake to the gooey Million Dollar Arm? I can’t.) We are told: “Casey Sherman and Michael J. Tougias’ book detailing a daring 1952 Coast Guard rescue off the New England seaboard comes to the screen in this Disney film produced by Jim Whitaker .” Fine, I guess. When I first saw the TV trailer for this, I thought it was a promo for a TV special. I still think it looks like one. And the presence of Chris Pine, Casey Affleck, and Eric Bana doesn’t make it any more enticing, nor does the prospect of seeing it in 3D. It currently has only five reviews on Rotten Tomatoes — the single positive one is from Kam Williams, who seems to be giving Pete Hammond a run for his money in the…er quote business.




Finally we have Kung Fu Panda 3 — starting Friday (no Thursday shows) at The Carolina, Epic of Hendersonville, Regal Biltmore Grande, UA Beaucatcher. This is also in your choice of 3D or 2D. Sure, you know pretty much exactly what this is, but the first two series entries were surprisingly good and the early word on this suggests this one is, too. The blurb from Fox reads: “When Po’s long-lost panda father suddenly reappears, the reunited duo travels to a secret panda paradise to meet scores of hilarious new panda characters. But when the supernatural villain Kai begins to sweep across China defeating all the kung fu masters, Po must do the impossible-learn to train a village full of his fun-loving, clumsy brethren to become the ultimate band of Kung Fu Pandas!” The voice cast once again includes Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Dustin Hoffman, Jackie Chan, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu, David Cross, and James Hong. Is it going to be great? Well, probably not, but when you look at the last few weeks…

This week we lose just about all those titles that were brought back because of the Oscar nominations — Room Bridge of Spies, Spotlight, Brooklyn. The only hanger-on is Trumbo (4:20, Late show Fri-Sat 9:50) at the Fine Arts. Carol remains on splits at The Carolina (1:35, 9:50) and the Fine Arts (1:20, 7:20). The Big Short is now on a split (10:45, 4:20, 7:05) at The Carolina. No word on other theaters yet, but The Hateful Eight is leaving The Carolina.

Special Screenings




The Thursday Horror Picture Show running Roger Corman’s Attack of the Crab Monsters (1957) at 8 p.m. on Thu., Jan. 28 in Theater Six at The Carolina. World Cinema is showing Federico Fellini’s I Vitelloni (1953) at 8 p.m. on Fri., Jan. 29 at Phil Mechanic Studios, 109 Roberts St., River Arts District (upstairs in the Railroad Library). The Hendersonville Film Society is screening Nancy Meyers’ The Holiday (2006) on Sun., Jan. 31 at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. The Asheville Film Society starts Februay with David Bowie in Nicolas Roeg’s The Man Who Fell To Earth (1976) on Tue., Feb. 2 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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31 thoughts on “Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler January 27-February 2: Finest Fifty Shades of Nominated Panda

  1. Edwin Arnaudin

    A Haunted House movies

    “Movies” is too generous. “Collection of really, really bad skits” is the preferred nomenclature.

  2. Edwin Arnaudin

    I’m curious about this ’80s throwback movie Turbo Kid that’s now Netflix Streaming. Anyone seen it? RT reviews are 37-5 on the positive side – not that that’s always a good sign, but…

    • Ken Hanke

      I have no idea. I did watch Val Kilmer (rarely a good sign) in The Visitor, which Let Us Prey pretty shamelessly ripped off (and improved on).

      • Ken Hanke

        A word to the wise…should you bump into Pernicious on Netflix, just keep moving.

        • Xanadon't

          Truly it’s a noble service you provide. I shall heed your warning.

          • Edwin Arnaudin

            Now, please return the favor and end the Youth silence.

          • Ken Hanke

            I did, however, largely enjoy Turbo Kid — in a minor way. It’s more ’80s R rated drive-in trash than not.

    • Ken Hanke

      You mean 45 Years, I think. We should also be getting the new Coen Bros. film. Not to mention Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and our annual dose of a Nicholas Sparks adaptation. And I’m skeptical of the first of those and trying to forget the last one altogether.

    • Ken Hanke

      Not much. I’ll withhold judgment at this point. Then again, since it’s for Amazon (I think), I may never see it.

  3. Xanadon't

    Now, please return the favor and end the Youth silence.

    I was all set to go see Youth a couple of Mondays back… that is until a dead car battery spoiled my plan. I’m afraid the silence must remain until the DVD release.

    • Ken Hanke

      Honestly, that’s a better answer than I was expecting. I was afraid this might be another Moonrise Kingdom thing…

  4. Ken Hanke

    I suppose I should note that this Jane Got a Gun movie appears to be opening on Friday at Carmike 10 and Regal Biltmore Grande. Assuming anyone is interested.

  5. luluthebeast

    Hopefully I will be seeing THE FINEST HOURS today. I don’t hold out a whole lot of hope for the movie, it being Disneyfied and all, but it was a very real story and I met a couple of the Coasties who were involved in the rescue and I’ve even been on the CG36500 motor lifeboat , but again, it is a Disney movie….

    • Ken Hanke

      I so did not want to see this that I opted to review Fifty Shades of Black. Even without the Disney name, this is just the sort of thing that holds no appeal for me, I’m certain it was better than Fifty Shades, but it’s also 30 minutes longer.

      • Luluthebeast

        Missed it (rats), parking lot jammed! Wasn’t going to TRY and walk that far.

  6. Ken Hanke

    Y’know, it was a full 11 days before I could get down the driveway. And for my pains what do I get? Fifty Shades of Crap and the third entry in an animated series.

  7. Ken Hanke

    One may add The Chosen to Avoid-at-All-Costs Netflix pile (though the film’s monster baby is pretty funny). On the other hand, The Pact and The Pact II are watchable trash — and maybe someone can explain the title to me.

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