Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler June 1-7: Me Before Popstar Lobster Turtles

In Theaters.

Last week boasted such titles as Love & Friendship, High-Rise and A Bigger Splash. So far as I know all of these are still playing this week. (Update: A Bigger Splash is being dropped on Friday.) This is something you will do well to remember as we move forward. Oh, there’s one worthy art title, but the three mainstream titles…oh, Sweet Merciful King of Glory, do they look grim.

I am happy to see — as we slide into the half-way mark — that 2016 is shaping up as a much more exciting movie year than 2015 so far as I’m concerned. We’ve already had enough good films that I could come up with a respectable Ten Best list without stretching too much. Better yet, at least four of those stand a good chance of being on the top half of the final list. It’s going to take some doing to dethrone High-Rise, Love & Friendhip, Sing Street, and Miles Ahead. Don’t misunderstand, 2015 was a good year, but 2016 has already excited me in ways that 2015 only did once. This is a good thing.

 

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The sole art title opening this week is Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Lobster — starting Friday at Carolina Cinemark and Fine Arts Theatre. I caught this at a press screening on Saturday morning, so the review is in this week’s Xpress. I liked it — or maybe appreciated it — a good bit, but I wasn’t quite blown away by it. However, any movie in which a schlubby Colin Farrell has 45 days to find a partner or be transformed into a lobster (his choice of animal) is worth a look. It’s darkly funny and offers a very pointed critique of the obsession over pairing off, as well as an absurdist vision of the things we do to connect with others.

And here they come…

 

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First up is theatre director Thea Sharrok’s feature directorial debut Me Before You — starting Friday (with requisite Thursday evening shows for those who can’t wait) at Carolina Cinemark, Epic of Hendersonville, Regal Biltmore Grande, UA Beaucatcher. What is it? Well, it’s based on a book by Jojo Moyes, who also wrote the screenplay. I am told the book was a best-seller. I won’t dispute. It appears to be all about the romance between a nurse/caregiver (Emilia Clarke) and her quadriplegic charge (Sam Claflin). Since the film is being called a “weepie” by the few critics who have reviewed it, I feel we may assume this doesn’t end well. I am hoping to never know. The not-really-stars in the leads do not entice me, nor does the story. The fact that it’s British soap doesn’t either. With that in mind, there are worse looking fates.

 

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Speaking of worse looking fates, we have Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone’s Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping — apparently this arrives on Friday (with Thursday, etc.) at Carmike 10, Carolina Cinemark, Epic of Hendersonville, Regal Biltmore Grande. I am assuming that the title is meant to be humorous. That doesn’t keep it from being in the running for Worst Title Ever. It gets worse. (Watch the trailer and you’ll see what I mean.) It stars Andy Samberg as an idiot rock star. It is predicated on the idea — of which I have never been convinced — that Samberg is funny. It is R rated, which means pointlessly raunchy comedy. The MPAA tells us that the R is for “some graphic nudity, language throughout, sexual content and drug use.” The concept of the words “graphic nudity” and “Andy Samberg” is worrisome. Universal assures us that Messrs. Samberg, Schaffer, and Taccone (aka The Lonely Island) are “musical digital-shorts superstars.” This seems to be connected to SNL. Another selling point is that it’s from producer Judd Apatow. In its favor? At 86 minutes it is much shorter than the other mainstream releases.

 

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If the words “from producer Judd Apatow” don’t fill you with glee, how about “from producer Michael Bay?” Those words festoon Dave Green’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows — doing the Friday/Thursday evening thing as Carolina Cinemark, Epic of Hendersonville, Regal Biltmore Grande, UA Beaucatcher. Now here’s the thing — apart from trailers and merchandising — I have never encounter these anthropomorphic martial arts mutated reptiles. When they first appeared I was 33 and my daughter was 11. I was too old and she was just not interested. Now we’re both too old and not interested. I also think it’s too late in the game for me to undertake them now, though I’m starting to feel like the reviewing chores this week might involve drawing straws. The only possible point of curiosity here is Tyler Perry as a mad scientist.

This week we lose Sing Street (still doing well at the Fine Arts, but space is a premium), The Man Who Knew Infinity (also Fine Arts), A Bigger Splash (Carolina Cinemark) and The Meddler (barely at Carolina Cinemark last week, and leaving this week). Hanging in at both theaters — and healthy — is Love & Friendship, while High-Rise (one of the year’s best films) gets a second week at Grail Moviehouse. See it. I am guessing (the Monday holiday makes this guess-work) A Bigger Splash is lasting another week at Carolina Cinemark, but it might well be on a split bill.

Special Screenings

 

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This week the Thursday Horror Picture Show shows the Bela Lugosi classic cheesefest The Devil Bat (1940) on June 2 at 7:30 p.m.at the Grail Moviehouse (45 S. French Broad Ave.). World Cinema is showing Max Ophuls’ La Ronde (1950) at 8 p.m. on Fri., June 3 at Phil Mechanic Studios, 109 Roberts St., River Arts District (upstairs in the Railroad Library). The Hendersonville Film Society is running Irwin Winkler’s Cole Porter biopic De-Lovely (2004) Sunday, June 5, at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing Retirement  Community (behind Epic Cinemas), 333 Thompson St., Hendersonville. The Asheville Film Society is screening Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell in Howard Hawks’ screwball comedy classic His Girl Friday (1940) on Tuesday June 7 at 7:30 p.m. at the Grail Moviehouse — note new time and new location. More on all titles in this week’s Xpress and in the online edition.

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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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18 thoughts on “Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler June 1-7: Me Before Popstar Lobster Turtles

  1. Big Al

    I thought 2015 was dismal. Which films would you say made it “good”? I can only think of two off the top of my head, four if you count the Jewish Film Festival.

    Word on da street (yo) is that the Carolina Asheville, having been assimiliated into the Cinemark collective, is going to drop most art titles. Any inside dope? Also, will they keep the Sofa Cinemas, or will those also be restored to more commercially viable theater seating? Oh, I almost forgot…Sir (in my logo golf shirt).

    “British soap”, maybe, but I would watch Emilia Clark read from the phone book for 2 hours.

    • Ken Hanke

      YOUTH
      CLOUDS OF SILS MARIA
      THE HATEFUL EIGHT
      MISTRESS AMERICA
      TRUMBO
      MR. HOLMES
      ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL
      FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD
      WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS
      SPOTLIGHT
      LOVE & MERCY
      BROOKLYN
      DOPE
      I can go on…

      I don’t know from word on the street, but I see no sign of Cinemark curtailing art titles. It would be incredibly stupid, since LOVE & FRIENDSHIP was one of their biggest grossers this past weekend. They’re opening THE LOBSTER this week…there’s something tentative for next week. The sofa cinemas are slated for the axe. Everything will be (eventually) converted to those recliners on display in the lobby. Those actually lose seating capacity. Collective? More like a corporatocrocy.

      • Big Al

        I ditto you on 5 of those titles. The two I immediately came up with were “Clouds…” and “Ant Man”, the ONLY superhero film so far that I rank better than “OK” (I kinda wish they would leave it out of the whole “Marvels/Avengers universe gaggle). “Mistress America” was awesome at the time, but for some reason it did not stick in my mind. Also “Mr Holmes”, “..Madding Crowd” and “Brooklyn”. The new “Star Wars” was decent. With the three JFF titles (I counted “Deli Man” and the one about the Pilots in 1948, but I forgot about “Dough”), that makes only 10 times in a year that I felt a film worthy enough to drag me out of the house (or away from a play house), so for me, still dismal. The current crop has me debating on which film to see on which night so I will not miss one. Good times are back.

        I have not seen the new seats, but any recliner design (with cup holders?) sounds like a sensible compromise between the usual theater seating and the oh-so-luxurious sofa seats. As far as losing capacity, how often does any theater fill up after the opening weekend? Having given the devil his due, I still miss the old way. We have more than enough stuffy corporate theater in Asheville, and I say this as one of those “get of my lawn” guys who very few would call “progressive”.

        Does the Carolina give you, in your role as a film critic, the data on what films are grossing, or is it on a public domain somewhere?

        • NFB

          “Does the Carolina give you, in your role as a film critic, the data on what films are grossing, or is it on a public domain somewhere?”

          I’m curious about this as well.

          I’ve been breathing a sigh of relief this far that they continue to have some art/indie movies playing but still nervous given that it hasn’t been too long since Cinemark took over. Very, very sorry to hear about losing the sofa cinemas but admit I’ve never noticed any recliners in the lobby.

          • Ken Hanke

            The overall grosses are available at http://www.boxofficemojo.com/ — now individual theater grosses come from a subscription service called Rentrak. I am not a subscriber, but I know people who are.

            Personally, I hated the sofa cinemas, but now that I carry my own seat with me, the point is moot. Don’t know if the sample recliners are still in the lobby, but they were.

            What the future holds we shall see.

          • NFB

            I’ll miss the sofas but as long as there is leg room with the new seating I’ll be fine. I could never go to that theater when it was the Hollywood because there was no leg room and I had to sit with my knees in my lap. The downstairs at the Fine Arts was almost as bad (although I have not been to the FA in a while so don’t know if that has changed). The upstairs at the FA was like the gold standard of theater seating with leg room.

          • Edwin Arnaudin

            The recliners are pretty snazzy. There are two of them over next to the sitting area on the wall halfway across the lobby.

          • Ken Hanke

            Call me crazy, but the idea of recliners as theater seats appalls me.

          • Big Al

            Leg room does not concern me as much as elbow room. This is not much of an issue at most modern theaters which have adopted seats with two dedicated armrests each. My only gripe with the Fine Arts Theater is that their seats still have shared arm rests, but since they very seldom fill up, it is not much of an issue.

  2. Ken Hanke

    I erred in guessing. It seems that Carolina Cinemark is indeed dropping A Bigger Splash after one week — meaning you have to see it today or tomorrow if you want to catch it. I knew it shouldn’t have opened without a review.

    • Big Al

      But it is coming to the Fine Arts Theater soon, isn’t it? Or will they drop a film that doesn’t do well elsewhere?

      • Ken Hanke

        The Fine Arts rarely (if ever) picks up a film. They already passed in this one once. So…you have today to see it.

        • Big Al

          It is on their web site as “coming soon”, although I have seen them advertise films that they never showed.

          • Ken Hanke

            At one point it was coming soon. I think the website needs updating.

  3. Big Al

    I saw the recliners at the Carolina Cinemark tonight. They are snazzy. I also noticed that the current seats have shared armrests, so anything that fixes that is OK with me.

    I also got charged the Senior ticket price. I am 47. I don’t whether to be grateful or insulted.

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