Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler July 8-14: Gallows Selfless Amy Minions

In Theaters.

So Der Arnold couldn’t take down either dinosaurs or animated emotions. I’m not sure what that tells us, but I feel certain it tells us something. Possibly it tells us that…no, that can’t be it…I mean Jurassic World takes a supposedly beloved series, puts a newish spin on it, and draws crowds. I suppose we can blame it on the possibility that nostalgia for Arnold isn’t what it used to be, but who really knows?

I am informed — by people who get paid far more than I ever will — that those little fellows who look like cheese puffs and speak in gibberish will not only overtake Arnold, but the dinosaurs, and the animated emotions, too. It also appears that the other contenders barely have a chance. We live in perilous times. Three new mainstream movies, one art title, and only one big winner.

 

Amy Winehouse

 

The one art title is that rarest of rare things — a documentary that people have already proved they’ll go see. Even in major markets this is not business as usual. That is Asif Kapadia’s Amy — opening Friday at The Carolina and the Fine Arts. (There may be a Thu. evening show at The Carolina, but I can’t confirm that.) I freely admit that when I was told I had to be at The Carolina before 9 a.m. on Saturday to catch a press screening of a 128 minute documentary on Amy Winehouse, I was not amused. I never followed her career, never bought an album, and, in fact, was unsure I’d ever heard her. To me, she was a tabloid news item with scary hair and a riot of seemingly random tattoos. I won’t say I emerged from the screening as a fan, and I didn’t run home and order her albums. But I did emerge with a degree of respect and admiration for her talent — and with a sense of a human being. The very fact that I didn’t lose interest over a running time of that length is in itself amazing. The film definitely draws you into her story and her artistry with an immediacy that is unusual for a documentary. If you’re a fan, it’s clearly a must-see, and if you’re even curious it’s a good bet for you.

 

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That brings us to The Gallows — by which I mean the movie called The Gallows and not the structure. This opens on Friday (and, yes, Thursday evening) at The Carolina, Regal Biltmore Grande, UA Beaucatcher, and probably Epic of Hendersonville (that is not confirmed at this point). This is one of those unseen by anyone who’s talking things of the low, low budget variety from Blumhouse Pictures. It is also of the you’ve never heard of the filmmakers or the cast stripe. It has something to do with some ghostly spirit exacting revenge on some high school kids, which means you’ve almost certainly seen it all before. That doesn’t mean it won’t make a buck, especially since it went for the R rating. At least it has the decency to only be 81 minutes long — though let’s be honest, 81 minutes can seem awfully long.

 

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And then there’s the great yellow hope — Minions, opening Friday at Carmike 10, The Carolina, Co-ed of Brevard, Epic of Hendersonville, and Regal Biltmore Grande (all have Thursday evening shows, too). There was never any chance that the Minions — those henchman who faithfully, if ineptly, helped Gru in the Despicable Me movies — wouldn’t get their own film. But this is a little smarter than such previous spin-offs like Puss ‘n Boots and the Madagascar Penguins in that they haven’t waited too long. The premise is that this is the story of what the Minions were doing before they teamed up with Gru. Early word is mostly positive (and mostly British). As I noted in the print edition, the most encouraging thing I’ve read is from Luke Y. Thompson (who I know personally and trust, even though our interests diverge a lot) on the Topless Robot review site where he called it “a gleefully anarchic and just plain fun cartoon that’s refreshing to enjoy in a world where Disney thinks it has to try and make you cry every time.” (Full review: http://www.toplessrobot.com/2015/06/tr_review_the_minions_mirthful_money-making_machin.php ) Certainly, the voice cast is interesting — Sandra Bullock, Jon Hamm, Michael Keaton, Allison Janney, Steve Coogan, Jennifer Saunders (as Queen Elizabeth no less), Geoffrey Rush, Steve Carell (of course).

 

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Finally, we have Tarsem Singh’s Self/less — opening on Friday at Carmike 10, Carolina Cinemas, Regal Biltmore Grande (with Thursday evening shows). (It may also be at Epic.) The prognosticators have this set to flop. I’m mildly intrigued because I really liked Tarsem Singh’s The Fall (2006), and kind of liked The Cell (2000) and Mirror Mirror (2012). It’s all about dying Ben Kingsley being put into (supposedly artificially-created) Ryan Reynolds — only to find out he hasn’t quite gotten what he bargained for. People say it rips of Seconds (1966), but it sounds more like a whole-body variant on The Hands of Orlac — except it turns into an action picture. In Variety, Scott Foundas wrote, “Minus the extravagant, Ken Russell-ish flourishes of his earlier The Cell and The Fall, Singh feels very much like a director-for-hire here.” This is not encouraging, but I’ll give it a shot.

This week the Fine Arts drops The Overnight, while The Carolina ditches both A Little Chaos (which wasn’t played out) and Far from the Madding Crowd (which was), and cuts Love & Mercy to three shows (1:35, 6:55, 9:35).

Special Screenings

 

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The Thursday Horror Picture Show has Christopher Lee in Freddie Francis’ Dracula Has Risen from the Grave (1968) at 8 p.m. on Thu., July 9 in Theater Six at The Carolina. World Cinema is showing Satyajit Ray’s Aparajito (1957) on Fri., July 10 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 Mary Pickford in Marshall Neilan’s Stella Maris (1918) on Sun., July 12 at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. The Asheville Film Society is running Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943) on Tue., July 14 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

The biggie this week is Woman in Gold (assuming there’s anyone left who hasn’t seen it). Plus, there’s the underseen ’71 and the documentaries Merchants of Doubt and Deli Man.

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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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17 thoughts on “Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler July 8-14: Gallows Selfless Amy Minions

  1. Edwin Arnaudin

    Sam Rockwell alert on Netflix Streaming with something called Loitering With Intent. I haven’t seen it, but reports indicate that it’s like The Way, Way Back‘s “well, at least S.R. was in it” x10 in the “pretty much everything else is lousy” department.

    • Ken Hanke

      You’re not making me want to rush right over and watch it.

          • Me

            You fooled me once with The Way Way back, wont get fooled again.

          • Edwin Arnaudin

            “You”? I don’t believe either of us were that wild about it outside of Rockwell’s performance.

          • Edwin Arnaudin

            Perhaps he’s referencing George W. Bush’s “Fool me once” quote.

          • Ken Hanke

            He seems disinclined to tell us which of us snookered him into The Way Way Back (I’m suspecting you) or whether he’s channeling Pete Townshend.

          • Ken Hanke

            It never really occurred to me that anything I said had the slightest hint of a trace of a soupcon of influence on him.

          • Me

            It was a reference to George W. Bush’s misreading of the quote and Ken, I’m fine with The Who. I dont even remember commenting on Edwin’s review, but to answer your question, the film probably wouldn’t have been as good without Rockwell.

  2. Edwin Arnaudin

    Serena is Netflix Streaming. Now you too may see that it’s not as horrible as advertised (but still not very good)!

    • Ken Hanke

      Approach it as overheated pop trash and you’ll like it better.

  3. Ken Hanke

    Finally caught up with De Palma’s much-maligned Passion on Netflix. I suspect it’s better if you haven’t seen the French original, Love Crime. For the most part, it’s the same story — but with some De Palma twists, and of course, the De-Palma-esque slickness and stylistic flourishes. It’s not bad, but it’s hardly essential. Well, it’s kind of essential if you’re the kind of person who smiles the moment De Palma brings out the split-screen.

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