Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler March 2-8: Foxtrot Zootopia Has Fallen

In Theaters.

Well, last week proved rather dreary and it’s not at all certain that this week is going to be all that much of an improvement. There are three mainstream titles — one of which is expected to finally dethrone Deadpool — and no art titles (but that’s another story that I’ll explain below).

This week was originally slated to add a quasi-art title at the Fine Arts, but The Lady in the Van and Where to Invade Next did too well to change the bill. I call the film in question (The Wave) quasi-art because honestly it’s a pretty mainstream movie that just happens to be from Norway and has subtitles. I believe it will open next week.

 

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Now since there are no art titles — unless you count The Carolina bringing back Spotlight for two shows a day (12:15 and 10:30 p.m.) on the strength of its Best Picture win — everything coming at us this week is of the unknown quantity kind. First up is Babak Najafi’s London Has Fallen — starting Friday (with the usual Thursday evening stuff) at Carmike 10, The Carolina, Co-ed of Brevard, Epic of Hendersonville, Regal Biltmore Grande. If you can’t guess, this is a sequel to Antoine Fuqua’s appalling 2013 Olympus Has Fallen (or as I think of it A Limp Moose Has Fallen). Since that experiment in proving that H.L. Mencken was right about the American public was successful, we are being rewarded with this. Gerard Butler returns — fresh from his stint as an Egyptian god of apparent Scottish extraction — as U.S. Secret Service agent Mike Banning (also seemingly of Scottish extraction). The amazing thing is that the plot manages to also bring back President Aaron Eckhart, Speaker of the House Morgan Freeman, and Secretary of Defense Melissa Leo — despite its London setting. (No word on whether or not Melissa Leo will get dragged across a floor in her underwear screaming something patriotic this time.) According to Focus Features: “The story begins in London, where the British Prime Minister has passed away under mysterious circumstances. His funeral is a must-attend event for leaders of the western world. However, what starts out as the most protected event on Earth turns into a deadly plot to kill the world’s most powerful leaders, devastate every known landmark in the British capital, and unleash a terrifying vision of the future. Only three people have any hope of stopping it: the President of the United States (Aaron Eckhart), his formidable Secret Service head (Gerard Butler), and an English MI-6 agent who rightly trusts no one.”

 

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Then we have Glenn Ficarra and John Requa’s (the guys who gave us Crazy Stupid Love and I Love You, Philip Morris) Whiskey Tango Foxtrot — opening Friday (with the usual Thursday evening…) at The Carolina, Epic of Hendersonville, Regal Biltmore Grande, UA Beaucatcher. Yes, the title means WTF, but it at least looks like this R rated (for pervasive language, some sexual content, drug use and violent war images) fact-based comedy drama will be more coherent than the 2015 attempt to milk laughs out of the situation in Afghanistan, Rock the Casbah. (That is not a major accomplishment.) Paramount puts it this way: “Tina Fey steps into the well worn shoes of journalist Kim Barker in Paramount Pictures’ adaptation of Barker’s memoir The Taliban Shuffle: Strange Days in Afghanistan and Pakistan, which details her years as a reporter in Pakistan and Afghanistan beginning in 2002.” It also stars Margot Robbie, Billy Bob Thornton, Martin Freeman, and Alfred Molina. Early reviews are…limited, but decidedly mixed.

 

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The week’s big deal is Disney’s CG animated Zootopia — opening Friday (with the usual Thursday blah,blah, blah) at The Carolina, Epic of Hendersonville, Regal Biltmore Grande, UA Beaucatcher. It currently sits with a 100 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. (How seriously I’m taking a reviewer who thinks “definitely” is spelled “definately” is another matter.) Surely by now you’ve seen the trailer with the sloth. It was directed by Byron Howard (Tangled), Rich Moore (Wreck-It Ralph), and Jared Bush (credited with “Creative Leadership” on Big Hero 6). The voice cast includes Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman, Jenny Slate, Bonnie Hunt, Tommy Chong, J.K.Simmons, and Octavia Spencer. Disney’s longish blurb reads as follows: “The modern mammal metropolis of Zootopia is a city like no other. Comprised of habitat neighborhoods like ritzy Sahara Square and frigid Tundratown, it’s a melting pot where animals from every environment live together-a place where no matter what you are, from the biggest elephant to the smallest shrew, you can be anything. But when rookie Officer Judy Hopps (voice of Ginnifer Goodwin) arrives, she discovers that being the first bunny on a police force of big, tough animals isn’t so easy. Determined to prove herself, she jumps at the opportunity to crack a case, even if it means partnering with a fast-talking, scam-artist fox, Nick Wilde (voice of Jason Bateman), to solve the mystery.” In both 2D and 3D flavors.

This week, the only art title casualty on Boy and the World, which is no great surprise. However, Son of Saul — exclusively at The Carolina — is being cut to two shows a day (5:15, 9:15), despite its Oscar win for Best Foreign Language Film.

Special Screenings

 

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The Thursday Horror Picture Show is running Brian De Palma’s cult classic Phantom of the Paradise (1974) at 8 p.m. on Thu., Feb. 25 in Theater Six at The Carolina. World Cinema is screening Luis Buñuel’s The Phantom of Liberty (1974) at 8 p.m. on Fri., Mar. 4 at Phil Mechanic Studios, 109 Roberts St., River Arts District (upstairs in the Railroad Library). The Hendersonville Film Society is showing Edward Dmytryk’s Murder, My Sweet (1944) on Sun., Mar. 6 at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. The Asheville Film Society has Josef von Sternberg’s Blonde Venus (1932) on Tue., Mar. 8 at 8 p.m. in Theater Six at The Carolina. 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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36 thoughts on “Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler March 2-8: Foxtrot Zootopia Has Fallen

  1. Ken Hanke

    I have, by the way, been remiss in keeping track of my bouts of Netflix self-flaggelation. But I recall having watched Russell Mulcahy’s Tale of the Mummy, proving desperation had set in. As Mummy movies go, there’s really only one great one (the 1932 film) and a few enjoyable ones (the 1940s Universals). This latest bout of ambulatory bandages is…well, not good. Yes, Christopher Lee shows up — briefly. It’s mostly as dusty as the mummy’s bandages, which, by the way, often move around under their own power. That they look like animated brown packaging tape is not a plus.

    Also saw the Joel Soisson produced, Patrick Lussier directed Dracula II: Ascencsion and Dracula III: Legend. These are supposedly sequels to Dracula 2000, but damned if I see how. Essentially, they’re corny old-school hissing bloodsucker movies with Jason Scott Lee as a Van Helsing character — reconfigured as priest who is himself infected. They aren’t awful in their shot-in-Rumania straight-to-video way. Dracula, by the way, is mostly a side character, but at least he’s played by Rutger Hauer in III (this Dracula changes bodies a la Dr. Who).

    Also frittered away 80-ish minutes on The Shrine — low rent Canadian thing set in Poland about demonic foolishness. Straightforward and silly enough that it’s almost agreeable.

  2. Edwin Arnaudin

    I finally watched Bone Tomahawk on Amazon Prime – and it more than lived up to the hype. It would have been a fun Saturday morning critics screening.

    I’ve also added Don Verdean (the latest from the Napoleon Dynamite team, all of whose films I’ve liked to some degree, including Gentleman Broncos – and this one also has Sam Rockwell) and Jafar Panahi’s Taxi (even though I didn’t much care for his This Is Not a Film) to my Netflix Streaming queue.

      • Edwin Arnaudin

        Based on your recent viewing slate, I think you’ve been pulling 48-hour days.

        • Ken Hanke

          What terrifies me is that I sit through some of this crap. It’s not like I don’t see enough crap in the course of my duties.

          • Edwin Arnaudin

            Well, it’s not as gloriously weird as Napoleon Dynamite, but Don Verdean may be the Hesses’ best film.

          • Ken Hanke

            The degree to which I find that a recommendation is not great.

          • Edwin Arnaudin

            Interpret it as you will and adjust for personal taste, but I like the film.

          • Me

            I noticed Cindy Sherman’s one and only directorial effort Office Killer is on Netflix, have you seen that one yet Ken?

          • Ken Hanke

            I must say I have never heard of it…or her.

          • Ken Hanke

            Well, I still don’t know who Cindy Sherman is or why she is (I guess) a thing, but I watched Office Killer. I guess it seemed fresher and edgier in 1997.

  3. Ken Hanke

    Okay, took a break from the Netflix cheese and watched Unforgiven, especially since someone told me I couldn’t have an opinion about Clint Eastwood unless I’d seen it. (Yes, well…) Yeah, it’s a good movie. Not sure it’s quite great, though. But what truly astonished me was how good Eastwood was in it. His performance actually impressed me more than the film.

    I may revisit The Velvet Goldmine next, since I only saw it once 15 years on VHS. When I fired it up and heard Brian Eno’s “The Needle in the Camel’s Eye,” I was pretty well hooked.

  4. Edwin Arnaudin

    Michael Winterbottom’s excellent 24 Hour Party People, about the Manchester music scene of the ’80s and ’90s, is now on Amazon Prime.

  5. Ken Hanke

    Not 100% sure what I make of it — it’s so filled with cross-references — but The Velvet Goldmine is rather remarkable.

  6. Edwin Arnaudin

    The End Of The Tour and Gattaca are now both on Amazon Prime.

  7. LONDON HAS FALLEN seems like a gift to critics (or the title is, not necessarily the film). The first I knew it existed was this review header: “London Has Fallen and It Can’t Get Up.”

      • Edwin Arnaudin

        It’s in contention, but I’m still going with Fifty Shades of Black.

        • Ken Hanke

          This is a special kind of awful that transcends the normal awful of Fifty Shades of Crap. Tell me, did Jackie Earle Haley ever actually speak during this thing or did he merely sit there looking concerned?

          • Edwin Arnaudin

            JEH gave a quick report when he was introduced, then said, “I can’t watch this” at a, uh, crucial moment.

          • Ken Hanke

            “I can’t watch this” is how I felt about the whole movie.

          • Edwin Arnaudin

            I must have been overly prepared for the racism – it’s certainly there but it didn’t rankle me as much as its predecessor. Mostly I was bored.

          • Ken Hanke

            I could almost buy the idea that it’s too damned dumb and inept to be offensive. Almost.

  8. Me

    If you have Amazon Prime the film The Second Mother, which Ive heard good things about is streaming.

  9. Me

    Has anybody checked out the new Viceland channel that Spike Jonze has some involvement with? Its not just stuff from the Vice website, they are showing blocks of films like Burden of Dreams followed by Fitzcaraldo, and Todd Haynes Velvet Goldmine and Safe.

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