Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler July 1-7: Me and Earl and Magic Mike Terminator Overnight

In Theaters.

 The big question on everyone’s mind — or so I’m told — is whether or not Der Arnold can take down those dinosaurs that have been ruling box office for three weeks. (There’s a gag in there somewhere, but I’m far too polite to use it — and too near Der Arnold’s age to be comfortable with it.) It will be somehow amusing if male semi-strippers manage to take all of them down. Personally, my interests lies elsewhere.

This, by the way, is one of those weeks where most things open on Wednesday — nothing says July 4th like an Austrian body-builder-actor playing a robot — but to confuse the issue, one of the art/indie titles just had to open on Friday. (I understand the distributor is to blame.)

 

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As is often the case, I’ve seen and reviewed the art titles. First up — both alphabetically and in terms of quality — is Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s Me and Earl and the Dying Girl — opening Wednesday at The Carolina and Fine Arts Theatre. In all honesty, this was a film I was not looking forward to and had expected not to like. In a way that’s true, since I’m close enough to having loved it as makes no difference. It’s clever, inventive, witty, and moving — without ever becoming gooey. It’s the story of a high school outsider (Thomas Mann) who spends most of his time making knock-off goofs of films he likes with his only close friend, Earl (RJ Cyler) — except that he is so afraid of emotional intimacy that he refuses to call Earl a friend. Instead, Earl is his co-worker. Things change when his domineering mother (Connie Britton) forces him to visit a classmate (Olivia Cooke) who has just been diagnosed with leukemia. It’s the kind of story that could have gone wrong in so many ways, but here they miraculously don’t. Check out the review — and definitely check out the film, too.

 

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The other art title is that pesky Friday opener, Patrick Brice’s The Overnight — at the Fine Arts. OK, I’ve watched this thing twice and I still don’t quite know what to make of it. This tale of “innocents” from Seattle falling in with sophisticated LA residents is marketed as a comedy, but I rarely found it funny. I did find it interesting, but I think that’s more in the attempt than the execution. At least it’s not a total cop-out and may be even less of one depending on how you read the ending. I’m not recommending it, but neither am I not recommending it. Read the review and see if you think you’d be interested.

 

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And then there’s the mainstream stuff — starting with Magic Mike XXLopening tonight (Tuesday) at Carmike 10, The Carolina, Epic of Hendersonville, and Regal Biltmore Grande. Most of the male strippers are back, especially Channing Tatum. (The chances of this even existing without him are slim.) Steven Soderbergh has turned over the directorial reins to his assistant director Gregory Jacobs — but since Soderbergh photographed, edited, and acted as executive producer, he was certainly involved. I never saw the first film, but I confess to being somewhat amused by critics (especially, the ones who insist on telling us that male strippers hold no appeal for them) who criticize the movie for pandering to women who want to see beefy boys strut their stuff onstage. Fine, but…did they not see the poster? What did they think this was?

 

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Finally, we come to Alan Taylor’s (Thor: The Dark World) Terminator Genisys — opening tonight at The Carolina, Epic of Hendersonville, Regal Biltmore Grande, and UA Beaucatcher. Personally, I find the idea of the offscreen battle between Schwarzenegger and Jurassic World far more interesting than another Terminator movie — with or without Der Arnold. I understand this plays fast and loose with the series’ basic mythology, but I’m not sure I’d notice. I can’t imagine it won’t be better than Terminator Salvation (2009). Certainly it can’t be as drab and dreary…can it?

This week The Carolina is dropping Dope — as is the Biltmore Grande, but it’s staying at the UA Beaucatcher, which makes no sense (except on a dearth of product basis), since it has performed much worse there than anywhere else. The Carolina is keeping Escobar for one show (1:55) a day, and splitting A Little Chaos (1:50, 4:25, 7:05) with Far from the Madding Crowd (11:10, 9:45). The Fine Arts is splitting I’ll See You in My Dreams (1:20, 4:20) with Love & Mercy (7:20), but this is only for Wed. and Thu. They drop them altogether come Friday. (Both titles are holding at The Carolina.)

Special Screenings

 

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The Thursday Horror Picture Show has Ken Russell’s The Lair of the White Worm (1988) at 8 p.m. on Thu., July 2 in Theater Six at The Carolina. World Cinema is showing Ingmar Bergman’s The Passion of Anna (1969) on Fri., July 3 at 8 p.m. at Phil Mechanic Studios, 109 Roberts St., River Arts District (upstairs in the Railroad Library). The Hendersonville Film Society is screening Peter H. Hunt’s 1776 (2005) on Sun., July 5 at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. The Asheville Film Society kicks off its July calendar with Ken Russell’s rarely seen first feature French Dressing (1964) on Tue., July 7 at 8 p.m. in Theater Six at The Carolina. More on all in this week’s Xpress — with complete reviews in the online edition.

On DVD

On the plus side of the ledger this week we have We’re Young and Danny Collins. On the so-so side is Kumiko the Treasure Hunter. But then we also have Get Hard and The Gunman.

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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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33 thoughts on “Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler July 1-7: Me and Earl and Magic Mike Terminator Overnight

  1. Edwin Arnaudin

    but since Soderbergh photographed, edited, and acted as executive producer, he was certainly involved.

    I thought Magic Mike was highly entertaining fluff and since I’m usually more impressed with Soderbergh’s films’ technical merits than many of their other aspects, his involvement in XXL is promising. The absence of McConaughey could be an issue, but I’m curious to see how much Andie MacDowell is featured.

    • Ken Hanke

      Andie is at least mentioned in some of the reviews I’ve seen, which suggests she has more to do than she has had in recent mainmstream films. But it might also be because of critics connecting her to Soderbergh’s Sex, Lies, and Videotape.

  2. Ken Hanke

    I just noticed the “From the studio that brought you Juno and (500) Days of Summer” on the poster. I don’t begrudge anything that promotes Me and Earl, but it’s not like Fox Searchlight actually makes these movies.

  3. T.rex

    Its like 1993 all over again. A rematch of Jurassic Park vs Last Action Hero? Very weird to be excited to see a movie that I know looks horrible. If I wasn’t an Arnold fan I’d pass on this one. Someone needs to fire their marketing department for giving away far too much in the ads. I know all trailers do this now but they went nuts on this one.

    • Ken Hanke

      As someone who is about as from an “Arnold fan” as is humanly possible — though I do love the way his complete lack of acting ability was parlayed into a career on the bizarre notion that his ineptitude was “charming” — I am totally ambivalent about this. But near as I can tell, this plays so fast and loose with what came before it, so not as much may be given away as it seems. I do expect it to be terrible, but can it honestly be worse than Terminator Salivation?

      • T.rex

        Let’s hope not. Although they didn’t bring any good actors to this outside of JK Simmons. I’ve seen bricks with more charisma than Jai Courtney. Look forward to the review.

  4. Me

    Definitely funnier than I expected. It even goes into Spinal Tap territory, and was that a 2001 homage, OK. I had to look at the IMDb characters to see who was supposed to be Van Dyke Parks, because I don’t think they mentioned him by name in the film, at least they gave him and Carol Kaye some throw away lines. I even liked the shot at Phil Spector. It was worth it just to see Paul Giamattiget irate about hamburger all while wearing a pare of zubas. The film left me wandering if Eugene Landy was responsible for that Brian Wilson rap song.

      • Me

        Anytime you have guys arguing in a band or in a studio for that matter, it’s just funny to me. The whole ” is this a pot song” cracked me up, just Mike Love in general was making me laugh.

        • Ken Hanke

          You do realize that guys in a band arguing for comedic purposes predates Spinal Tap?

          • Ken Hanke

            I wouldn’t know, but I presume not. You can see a certain amount of it in A Hard Day’s Night and The Rutles: All You Need Is Cash — and you can see the real thing in Let It Be where it’s not funny (except that Paul and Yoko apparently don’t want you to). You can see it in the Dave Clark Five movie Catch Us If You Can (US: Having a Wild Weekend).

            Then again, I was never as amused by Love & Mercy as you seem to have been. I didn’t — and don’t — think that was the point.

  5. nothing says July 4th like an Austrian body-builder-actor playing a robot
    There are actually no Americans in the principal cast. Emilia Clarke (English), Jason Clarke (Aussie) and Jai Courtney (Aussie), with Matt Smith (English) in a supporting role for good measure. You have to get down to JK Simmons (in a disappointingly small role) before you hit an actual American.

    • Ken Hanke

      I am tempted to say that you have to get down to Simmons to hit an actual actor, though Ms. Clarke was good in Dom Hemingway

  6. T.rex

    Okay, really looking forward to your review on Terminator. If I may borrow a line from Roger Ebert, ” I hated, hated, hated, hated, HATED, HATED, HATEDDDDDDDDD IT!” Arnie is actually one of the good actors in it, I kid you not! We need to deport Jai Courtney back to the Outback and Emilia Clark is the poster child of miscasting.
    Still an Arnie fan.

        • Ken Hanke

          I’m not saying I liked it as such, only that I didn’t hate it. I suspect the difference is that I don’t take the series seriously and have no nostalgia about it.

          • T.rex

            Fair enough. I will save my vile comments to be posted under the review.

    • Edwin Arnaudin

      This was the first time I liked Jai Courtney in a movie.

      • Ken Hanke

        I don’t know that I liked him, but it’s the first time I found him memorable. And I didn’t hate him — or the movie — certainly not seven “hates” worth of Ebertian tantrum. It’s not important enough to hate.

        • T.rex

          Trust me. My hatred was not from nostalgia, it was from bad story telling.

          • Ken Hanke

            I never thought much of the storytelling in the others.

        • Edwin Arnaudin

          I take that back – I think I was OK with him in Unbroken.

          • Ken Hanke

            That kind of speaks to my dismissal of him as unmemorable. You think you were okay with him in that. I don’t remember him from that. Then again, the film was so negligible that I remember little about it — except that it wasn’t very good.

          • Edwin Arnaudin

            I actively remember not liking him in the last Die Hard, The Water Diviner and the two Divergent movies.

          • Ken Hanke

            No one and nothing got out of that Die Hard movie looking good. I don’t recall him sucking harder than anyone else. The others you cite I do not think I’ve encountered.

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