Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler March 9-15: Only 10 Perfect Messiah Brothers Yesterday

In Theaters.

Here we have one of those weeks used to more or less just keep things going by plugging in some kind of product to keep us vaguely interested until the Next Big Thing when Batman and Superman punch the crap out of each other on March 25. As a result this week we get four mainstream titles of varying levels of … well, ho-humdom. We also get one art film that sneaked in at the last minute, but I’ll get to that in a minute.

Last week had one bright — very bright — spot thanks to Zootopia, which was much better than its trailer had led me to expect. But otherwise it was a week that ranged from the mediocre to things to terrible to contemplate. Of course, there were the holdovers with The Lady in the Van still going strong (well over the national average) at both The Carolina and the Fine Arts. At the same time Hail Caesar! (despite generating hate mail and negative comments) seems to have taken root at The Carolina and Where to Invade Next has found a niche at the Fine Arts.

 

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This week’s sole new art title is Isao Takahata’s Studio Ghibli production Only Yesterday — opening Friday at The Carolina. This is the sort of movie that would normally be accompanied with a review in this week’s Xpress, but it didn’t show up on the radar till late Monday afternoon, so it opens without benefit of review. And that is a great pity, because this film is truly something special, and would have been ushered in with a full five star review. I was able to see it last night — in its brand new (splendidly done) English language version with Star Wars’ Daisy Ridley providing the adult (and narration) voice of the main character and Dev Patel doing the voice of male lead. It is altogether remarkable — an animated film for adults and older children. Oh, there’s little in it that could be offensive for younger viewers, but it’s a movie that requires a little life experience to work. The premise is a 27-year-old woman (Ridley) looking back on her life as she tries to find her place in the world. The film effortlessly moves between time frames in a cross-referencing manner that you might find with triggered memories. It’s touching and funny and very, very real. Plus, the film’s pastoral scenes have a strangely soothing, pastoral quality. The oddity is that Only Yesterday is actually from 1991 and is only now making its way to the U.S. Even without seeing this week’s other openings, I have no qualms saying that the best new film this week is 25 years old. But, hey, all movies are new till you’ve seen them. Oh, and if you go — and you should — sit through the credits. If you don’t you’ll miss the ending of the story.

 

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To go from the sublime to the rest of this week we come to 10 Cloverfield Lane — opening Friday (with the ubiquitous Thursday evening shows) at Carmike 10, The Carolina, Epic of Hendersonville, Regal Biltmore Grande. This is the apparently anticipated (by someone) follow-up to 2008’s Cloverfield (which I thought was rubbish), but it is not (they say) a sequel. The trailer — such as it is — suggests that this new one is at least not found-footage shaky-cam stuff. Then again, the trailer tells us little and there’s a lot of secrecy surrounding the whole thing. We know that it stars Mary Elizabeth Winstead and John Goodman. We know that they are holed in a bunker with seemingly endless food, a jukebox, and puzzles. We know that there’s something nasty outside…well, we sort of know that. The whole promo is based on what we don’t know. One thing we do know is that it either hasn’t been screened for critics or that there’s an amazingly effective embargo on their reviews.

 

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Next we have Louis Leterrier’s (The Transporter) The Brothers Grimsby — opening Friday (with Thursday evening, etc.) at The Carolina, Epic of Hendersonville, Regal Biltmore Grande, UA Beaucatcher. This is the latest affront to good taste and cinematic artistry from Sacha Baron Cohen. It’s some kind of spy/action comedy (R rated variety) that finds Cohen as a “dimwitted English football hooligan” who becomes involved with his MI6 agent brother (Mark Strong) in a plot about preventing a terrorist attack. Now, this has its share of reviews — mostly from the UK — and they range from “wholeheartedly and proudly stupid, silly, grotesque, outlandish, vulgar, and over-the-top” to “A soul-crushing experience.” The first of those, by the way, is from a good review. The MPAA promises “strong crude sexual content, graphic nudity, violence, language, and some drug use” — all in 83 minutes. Sounds like a winner.

 

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Then there’s Billie Woodruff’s (Beauty Shop) The Perfect Match — which appears to be exclusively at Regal Biltmore Grande starting Friday (with Thursday evening…yeah, yeah). This is a movie devoid of promotion and apparently interest. (No one on Rotten Tomatoes even wants to “Guess the Tomato Meter.”) It’s some sort of romantic comedy and is described thus: “Charlie is a playboy who’s convinced that relationships are dead even though his sister, a therapist, tries to tell him otherwise. His best friends bet him that if he sticks to one woman for one month, he’s bound to fall in love. Charlie takes the bet because he believes that he’s immune to love…that is until he crosses paths with the beautiful and mysterious Eva. Turning on his irresistible charm, Charlie coaxes Eva into a casual affair but soon finds out that Eva has turned the tables on him. Now Charlie is questioning whether he may actually want more than just a one night stand.” Charlie is played by Terrence Jenkins and Eva is played by Cassie Ventura — neither of which I’ve ever heard of.

 

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Finally, we encounter Cyrus Nowrateh’s (The Stoning of Soraya M.) The Young Messiah — opening Friday (with Thursday evening, yadda yadda) at The Carolina, Epic of Hendersonville, Regal Biltmore Grande, UA Beaucatcher. This might be called Jesus: The Early Years, since that’s what it is. (Maybe we should think of it as the prequel to Risen.) It’s based on a novel by Anne Rice (who knows a thing or two about resurrections, I guess) called Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt. The trailer looks like standard picture book stuff that takes place in a world where most ancient peoples sound suspiciously English — some possibly even RADA graduates. It has not been screened for critics.

This week we lose Son of Saul and the one week re-release of the Oscar-winning Spotlight comes to a close.

Special Screenings

 

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The Thursday Horror Picture Show is running Lambert Hillyer’s Dracula’s Daughter (1936) at 8 p.m. on Thu., Mar. 10 in Theater Six at The Carolina. World Cinema is screening Robert Bresson’s Au Hasard Balthazar (1966) at 8 p.m. on Fri., Mar. 11 at Phil Mechanic Studios, 109 Roberts St., River Arts District (upstairs in the Railroad Library). The Hendersonville Film Society is showing Alan Rickman in Randall Miller’s Bottle Shock (2008) on Sun., Mar. 13 at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. The Asheville Film Society has Greta Garbo in Rouben Mamoulian’s Queen Christina (1933) on Tue., Mar. 15 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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46 thoughts on “Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler March 9-15: Only 10 Perfect Messiah Brothers Yesterday

  1. Reeves Singleton

    We’re actually getting Only Yesterday? That makes my week.

    • Ken Hanke

      We are actually getting it and I think it’s pretty darn wonderful, but it takes a while to hook you.

      • Reeves Singleton

        I feel like that assessment is pretty applicable to all of Takahata’s work, or at least to three that I’ve seen (Grave of the Fireflies, My Neighbors the Yamadas, and Tale of the Princess Kaguya). What’s interesting is how different all of those are despite obviously being the product of the same intensely human sensibility.

        • Edwin Arnaudin

          You could pause pretty much any moment of it and turn it into a beautiful, frameable picture that I’d be glad to have on my walls, but Tale of the Princess Kaguya never hooked me.

        • Ken Hanke

          The interesting thing is I truly disliked Grave of the Fireflies.

  2. Steven

    Oh, and if you go — and you should — sit through the credits. If you don’t you’ll miss the ending of the story.

    Indeed, and arguably the film’s most hard-hitting moment.

    I’ve seen it twice, both times were (unfortunately) on my computer. It may be my favorite Ghibli. Anxious to finally see it on the big screen.

    • Ken Hanke

      If it isn’t my favorite, it’s close to it, but…it hasn’t been 24 hours since I saw it and I really ought to let it settle a bit.

  3. Ken Hanke

    Meanwhile…

    “Further Adventures in Netflix Debauchery”

    Yes, it’s like a fever or some kind of sickness. Sure, I’ve detoured into the realm of actual good movies like Unforgiven and The Velvet Goldmine, but my primary aim seems to be more like The Velveeta Goldmine. To prove this, I offer in evidence…

    The Crow. Okay, this was a combination of wanting to see just how far Alex Proyas had fallen with Gods of Egypt and simply catching up with something that has a cult following. (How much of that is due to the untimely death of its likable star is unanswerable.) I think I would have been much more impressed if I’d seen it 20+ years ago. It is very much of its time and so is the style. I didn’t dislike it, but neither do I expect to feel the desire to see it again.

    The Crow: City of Angels. In all honesty, I liked this sequel better than the original. Tim Pope’s direction is calmer and more straightforward than Proyas’ was, which is odd when you realize that the rest of Pope’s work is almost entirely made up of music videos. Nonetheless, he does a good job with this (heavily influenced by Burton’s Batman). But what really appealed to me, I think, was Vincent Perez’s…uh…eccentric performance in the lead role. Anyway, I might not seek it out again, but I’d watch it if I bumped into it. This naturally led to…

    The Crow: Salvation. Again, I liked this better than the original, but this time I think it was the story that sold me, since it offered a new wrinkle — or a very old one (the executed man coming back from the dead to prove his innocence and get vengeance on the real killers) in a new coat of feathers and black leather. Director Bharat Nalluri (who made one of the best modern romantic comedies Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day in 2008) does a fine job with it all and Eric Mabius makes for a nice change of pace hero. (And for those who care, Kirsten Dunst is in it.) Two problems: the budget feels kinda tight (though it looks good for a direct-to-video production), and there’s a growing sameness to the bad guys figuring out how to deal with the situation (even though they’re never very good at it).

    The Crow: Wicked Prayer. Oh, this is so not good. Even the presence of Danny Trejo can’t help this really cheap-looking direct-to-video death knell. Of course, the fact that our hero is now played by Edward Furlong jinxes it — and then there are Tara Reid and Dennis Hopper in “sign the goddamn check” mode. Somehow this mixes in the series’ mythology with Native Americans, Satanism, and goodness knows what else — and yet…yeah, it still leans heavily on the bad guys getting the upper hand by killing the real crow that brings these wronged dead guys back to life with a taste for Alice Cooper face-paint.

    More to come…

    • Xanadon't

      Okay, so I waged a personal boycott against The Crow sequels back when they released and have since then more or less forgotten about their existence. The Crow arrived (at least on video and in my consciousness) at a time when it would’ve been all but impossible for me not to like it– being the avid 13 year old Nine Inch Nails fan, the Cure listening, vaguely dissatisfied introspective quasi-loner that I was. In truth I never loved the movie, but I did love– like, Roger Ebert level love– Proyas’ next effort, Dark City. It easily ranked among my most wholly satisfying and memorable trips to the movies and is probably more responsible for my current love for cinema than any other single film. So… while continuing the series without the original lead who sustained a fatal accident on set was enough to piss me off, the release of Dark City and my admiration for its director renewed my resolve to ignore City of Angels and whatever came after.

      Oh but this was all a long time ago, and your response to the series sparks my curiosity. Despite my youthful grudge, I’m now probably one mere “sick day” away from watching the series front to back.

      • Ken Hanke

        I tried to like Dark City at the time, though I was skeptical (despite my daughter’s enticement that you got to see Rufus Sewell’s ass). Somehow it didn’t grab me. (The same is kind of how I feel now about The Crow.) I am open to seeing it again now, but it ain’t on Netflix and I’m not open enough to like buy it. I think what helps with the Crow films (even the last one) is that they are whole in themselves. There is no replacement for Brandon Lee, merely the crow itself bringing someone back from the dead. (I have no idea how the comics work.)

      • Big Al

        Dark City was very cool.

        I often find myself spontaneously hollering “Shut it down!…. Shut it down…Forrreveahh!!!” (remembering to roll my Rs, of course).

  4. Jay

    The Perfect Match is pretty good for what it is. Cassie and Terrence are pretty well known as well esp in the urban community despite either not being super successful

  5. Edwin Arnaudin

    The Forbidden Room and the 138-minute single-take Victoria are now Netflix Streaming.

    • Ken Hanke

      The former is one wild ride, which I recommend for the adventurous. The latter I am unfamiliar with.

      • Me

        Really excited to check out Victoria, I’ve heard a lot of good things about it and apparently it’s one wild ride too.

        • Ken Hanke

          I think our definitions of wild differ — unless the first 20 minutes are unlike the rest of the movie.

          • Me

            I’ve watched the first half of the movie so far and its fine, but not at all what I was expecting from the reviews I read.

          • Edwin Arnaudin

            You aren’t watching it in one sitting? Cheater.

          • Ken Hanke

            If they could make it one sitting, you should at least watch it that way. Granted, I didn’t, but I saw as much as I wanted to.

          • Me

            Well, it finally kicks in about an hour in, I wish I would have paid attention more closely to Edwin’s post, I didn’t realize it was 138 minutes long.

          • Edwin Arnaudin

            I see where you might have stopped reading that one sentence.

  6. Edwin Arnaudin

    William Monahan’s Mojave, starring Oscar Isaac, Mark Wahlberg, Walton Goggins and Garrett Hedlund, is now on Amazon Prime. I have not seen it, nor Monahan’s London Boulevard, starring Colin Farrell, Keira Knightley, David Thewlis, Ben Chaplin, Ray Winstone and Eddie Marsan, which has been gathering dust in my Netflix Streaming queue.

    • Ken Hanke

      I might tackle London Boulevard just based on the cast…though it’ll cut into me examining the From Dusk to Dawn movies…

      • Big Al

        I saw “From Dusk Til Dawn” at a dollar matinee in Fayetteville full of paratroopers and their dates. When the light beams from the disco ball starting exploding vampires left and right, my buddy started singing “Boogie Night, Make Your Move…!” in a falsetto voice and the entire theater erupted in laughter. Good Times!

        • Ken Hanke

          That may or may not have enhanced the movie for me, but I doubt it would replace the pimp (in full stereotypical pimp regalia) in a Times Square movie house crying out, “Bowlin’ for Dollars!” when Der Arnold rolled the rubber James Earl Jones head down the steps in Conan the Barbarian — easily the best part of the movie.

  7. Ken Hanke

    Okay, London Boulevard is actually pretty good, but it’s ultimately such a downer and to no real point that I could discern.

  8. Ken Hanke

    On Netflix — Ben Palmer’s Man Up with Simon Pegg and Lake Bell. Kind of Richard Curtis Lite, but well worth your while if you like the stars or Richard Curtis.

  9. Ken Hanke

    Horror fans looking for something a little different with a better than usual cast should check out John Suits’ very creepy and stylish The Scribbler on Netflix streaming. It doesn’t quite work simply because it seems movies these days are honor bound to include a smackdown at the climax, but even that is handled a bit differently here.

  10. Me

    Kelly Reichardt’s re released firs film River of Grass is streaming on Fandor.

  11. T.rex

    The trailer for 10 Cloverfield Lane is one of my favorites this year (Money Monster is the other). I love how it explains nothing and leaves you with a mystery and a sense of claustrophobia. The trailer alone is far better than the entire Cloverfield, which was garbage. Useless trivia: In the trailer the two younger actors are holding a VHS copy of another John Goodman movie. Arachnophobia.

    • Ken Hanke

      Well, we know you have an uncanny knack for determining the quality of a movie by 2 1/2 minutes of trailer…though I’d argue that the trailer pretty much spells everything out except for the Cloverfield connection, which isn’t hard to guess.

      • T.rex

        Dont want to beat a dead horse (or bear in this case) but I wasnt wrong about The Revenant trailer. Saw the film three times.

        • Ken Hanke

          From my standpoint, you were wrong. And one viewing was sufficient.

          The question isn’t so much whether you’d beat a dead horse, but if you’d sleep in one.

  12. Ken Hanke

    By the way, Only Yesterday did appallingly bad business. Go see it…now, because it could be gone by Wednesday.

  13. Ken Hanke

    Exactly as I feared, you have tonight and tomorrow to catch Only Yesterday. It’s being replaced on Wednesday by…Miracles from Heaven.

  14. Me

    When is Everybody Wants Some getting a release? It’s been getting pretty rave reviews at SXSW.

    • Ken Hanke

      April 1. I presume it’s wide. Considering how much I dislike Dazed and Confused, my ennui knows no bounds.

  15. Ken Hanke

    A word to the wise — should you be wandering around Netflix and bump into Anucha Boonyawatana’s The Blue Hour, back away slowly. Now you may think, “Hmm gay Thai boys and a haunted pool house…” sounds interesting. It isn’t. It’s tedious and depressing. Yes, the director’s got a great name. I’ll give it that.

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