Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler March 23-29: Hello, My Name Is Big Fat Batman

In Theaters.

Forget that it was 30 degrees this morning. Never mind what that silly calendar says. (And leave the Groundhog out of this altogether.) According to The Powers That Be in Hollywood, Friday, March 25 is when summer officially begins — at least at the movies, and it seems happen earlier every year.

If nothing else, this week will be less of a crushing disappointment than last week. The “big” releases “underperformed.” Two out of three art titles crashed and burned. It didn’t help that The Bronze — a movie with no name value, no big stars, and a raft of bad (often brutal) reviews — opened locally in every possible theater. (The big winner was the one that crossed the $200 mark for the weekend.) The other film (which only had two shows a day and so was already written off), Creative Control, seems to have proved that there’s no real market for movies about high tech hipsters wanking — or at least a severely limited one. Personally, I can’t mourn either film (they weren’t great), but it was something of a black eye for art films locally.

 

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This week’s art title, Michael Showalter’s Hello, My Name Is Doris — starting Friday at The Carolina and Fine Arts — is certain to have a happier fate. This offbeat romantic comedy about a 60-something woman (Sally Field) falling in love with a 30-something man (Max Greenfield) has all the makings of a crowd-pleaser — especially, with more mature audiences — and it more than delivers on its potential. I’ve watched it twice and pretty much loved it both times. (There’s a lot more to Doris than its concept and it’s more nuanced and complex than it perhaps sounds.) My review is in this week’s Xpress.

 

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That brings us to The First Big Thing of the summer, “visionary director” Zack Snyder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice — starting Friday (with the usual run of Thursday night showings) at Carmike 10, The Carolina, Epic of Hendersonville, Regal Biltmore Grande. I would assume that everybody knows — at least in broad strokes — what this is. The title itself seems to give it away. However, a friend of mine who doesn’t follow pop culture (or perhaps any kind of culture) bumped into the trailer and asked me, “Why are Batman and Superman fighting?” Well, that’s a fair question. It’s also one that I realized doesn’t have an easy answer. Indeed, I was stumped to explain it exactly, and said I’d get back to him after I’d seen it — all two-and-one-half hours of it. Anyway, Ben Affleck is Batman, Henry Cavill is Superman, Amy Adams is Lois Lane, Jesse Eisenberg is Lex Luthor, Diana Lane is Ma Kent, Laurence Fishburne is Perry White, Jeremy Irons is Alfred, Gal Gadot is Wonder Woman — and Zack Snyder is the visionary.

 

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Then there’s Kirk Jones’ My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 — opening Friday (with Thursday night…) at Carmike 10, The Carolina, Epic of Hendersonville, Regal Biltmore Grande. Oh, dear. If you recall, 14 years ago writer-star Nia Vardalos had a freak hit movie when Rita Wilson saw a stage version of My Big Fat Greek Wedding and suggested her husband, Tom Hanks, should produce a film version. It was a huge hit — nearly $250 million gross in the U.S. alone — on a five million dollar investment. Why? I will never know. It looked like a big fat sitcom that wandered into a theater by mistake to me, but people flocked to it — and a few sent me hate mail for thinking it was mediocre. Regardless, it was a fluke. Vardalos’ next starring vehicle, Connie and Carla, was a big fat flop. Things got no better, so what more natural than to see if there was still life in the original concept, which we are told is “an even bigger and Greeker wedding.” The early reviews suggest otherwise. I have no intention of finding out.

This week we lose (no surprises here) The Bronze and Creative Control. The Fine Arts is dropping The Lady in the Van (which is staying at The Carolina) and Where to Invade Next. Plus, Hail Caesar! comes to the end of its nearly two month run at The Carolina.

Special Screenings

 

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The Thursday Horror Picture Show is running Erle C. Kenton’s The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942) at 8 p.m. on Thu., Mar. 24 in Theater Six at The Carolina. World Cinema is screening Luis Buñuel’s Simon of the Desert (1965) at 8 p.m. on Fri., Mar. 25 at Phil Mechanic Studios, 109 Roberts St., River Arts District (upstairs in the Railroad Library). The Hendersonville Film Society is taking Easter Sunday off. The Asheville Film Society has Deanna Durbin in Henry Koster’s First Love (1939) on Tue., Mar. 29 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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35 thoughts on “Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler March 23-29: Hello, My Name Is Big Fat Batman

  1. T.rex

    Finally, after all these years, after all the hype we get to see My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2. (puh dum teesh) All bad jokes aside I have a feeling Bats vs Supes is either going to be outstanding or garbage out standing. (The annoying Jesse Eisenburg really scares me) Either way Thursday is going to be fun. If any of you comic book fans would like to be on the radio, Im doing a preshow for AM880 before the flick starts. Ken, we’d love to have you too if you are game.

    • Ken Hanke

      I’m a little curious about the lack of reviews on Batman v Superman. Yeah, it’s presold, but…

      I’d need more information about the when and where of this preshow before saying anything.

      • T.rex

        Im doing quick “man on the street” stuff. Just one or two questions per person. Short sound bites that will be played on air the following day. I was going to do this at RPX but they said I need permission from home office. Forget them (they dont want free plubicity I guess) so why not do it at the best cinema in town.

        As far as those reviews, they are following the “embargo” I guess. All a bit silly, I dont think its a crime to post a review.

        • Ken Hanke

          Well, you can talk to me Thursday night (I’m assuming this is when you mean), but bear in mind I have a screening that night at 8 p.m.

          This is more than an embargo. My L.A, critic friends have not been able to see the film at all.

      • T.rex

        If you do want to do it I would simply interview you just before your Horror Movie show since the Sneak Preview starts at 9pm.

        • Ken Hanke

          Well, you know where to find me.

          “Sneak Preview” is an interesting name for something that has become the norm.

          • T.rex

            Exactly. I guess Colorado put an end to those midnight shows.

            See you there, friend. Ill make sure to have good questions.

          • Ken Hanke

            Ask me about what makes Snyder “visionary.”

            I think what really put an end to midnight shows is that the studios learned there was more money to be made earlier.

  2. Dino

    Heads up. Your misspelling of Perry White may seem a little suspect since Fishburne’s playing him. Or maybe I’m just a liberal racist for thinking that.

    • Ken Hanke

      Actually, I’ll be persnickity here and note that that’s an honest-to-Clapton typo — not like when people type their for they’re and call it a typo.

  3. Chip Kaufmann

    Once upon a time, Kirk Jones directed WAKING NED DEVINE and NANNY McPHEE.

    • Ken Hanke

      But then there was Everybody’s Fine and What to Expect When You’re Expecting

    • Ken Hanke

      It remains to seen. After an hour talk with the new regional manager, I am cautiously optimistic — cautiously, mind you.

      • NFB

        Better than pessimistic, I guess. I would hope they would not try to fix what isn’t broken, but that’s a lot to ask sometimes.

        • Ken Hanke

          Considering it was aggressive indie/art programming (and, if I may say so, the Film Society) that took the theater from dead last to second place in the market share here, a drastic change would be ill-advised. Going head-to-head with the Biltmore Grande on big ticket mainstream items is doomed to fail.

          • Ken Hanke

            Reassuring only to the extent that we’re expecting a corporation to evidence good judgment. That’s iffy to me, though the one person I’ve dealt with seems reasonable.

          • NFB

            Well, like you say if the current system has brought what was once a major dump of a theater into 2nd place in local market share it would make no sense for them to change much. Then again, like you also say, we are dealing with a corporation.

            Keeping fingers crossed.

    • Me

      If something does happen there is always that new Grail Moviehouse that supposed to be opening soon.

  4. Ken Hanke

    So now the early reviews for Batman V Superman are coming out — and they aren’t pretty. But I admit a lot of the bad reviews are the kind of bad reviews that make more interested in seeing it than I was.

    • luluthebeast

      I was kind of surprised by how many negative reviews I’ve seen, both by reviewers and regular viewers. It’s got me wanting to go see it (having gotten a gift certificate helps). I also wonder if people are finally going to overload on these. HARK! I hear the snow plow. Now that’s nice!

      • Ken Hanke

        Well, I’m more intrigued than I was, but Zack Snyder…well… I will concede he’s at his most interesting when he’s at his craziest, i.e., Watchmen and Sucker Punch. Mind, I said interesting, not good.

  5. Xanadon't

    Remember when droves of fanboys fell into hysterics over the announcement of Affleck as Batman. As though that was likely to be the biggest problem facing this film and not the myriad other things that could easily go wrong, especially with visionary-schmisionary director Snyder at the helm.

      • Ken Hanke

        Remarkably vividly — with a maraschino cherry on top. My greatest hope is that this is just as screwed up as Sucker Punch, but that may be too much to hope for.

  6. Ken Hanke

    In other news, there’s this Aussie oddity on Netflix called The Suicide Theory. It starts out as a weird black comedy and the becomes something that flirts with being remarkable. Chances are you’ll guess its twists, but it’s not your usual fare. I’d rather say no more because I think the less you know, the more interesting it will be.

  7. Ken Hanke

    Slogged through The Ouija Experment. Don’t make my mistake.

    Also watched Aussie “true story” thriller (of sorts) In Her Skin. Yeah, it’s well produced and it has Guy Pearce, Miranda Otto, and Sam Neil in it, but it’s basically a singularly depressing true crime yarn of little point.

    And there was something called Pod. Actually, The Thing in the Basement would be a better title. Ultimately, it’s worth no more than a shrug of the shoulders.

  8. Xanadon't

    I’m curious about The Assassin which just arrived on Netflix streaming. Ken, do I remember you saying you didn’t make it very far along?

    • Ken Hanke

      You are correct. It think I made it 30 minutes — and only stuck it out that long because I wanted to see if there was any reason I could detect for it changing aspect ratios every so often. I gave up. But remember there are those who think it’s the bee’s knees.

  9. Ken Hanke

    House of Last Things…I won’t say it’s good exactly — not in the least because its ending is too easy and too unbelievable — but it’s more interesting than most, and with a few moments of good use of Beethoven and Puccini.

  10. Ken Hanke

    It was inevitable that someone would one day attempt to be the new Brian De Palma and someone has — right down to a faux-Pino Donaggio soundtrack — with Proxy which is currently loitering on Netflix. It’s interesting. too long, and fairly obvious.

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