Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler May 27-June 2: Aloha Salt of San Andreas Wrecking Crew

In Theaters.

On the one hand, there’s probably nothing bigger than Dwayne Johnson and an earthquake, but on the other hand, this week — like last week — is a little shy on the really high call summer items. The next one of those isn’t due till June 12. This is only the Sort of Next Big Thing, I guess.

The truly unfortunate thing about this week is that there are indeed two good — even very good — movies opening, but they both have the hard luck of being documentaries. And you know what that usually means.

 

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The better of the two — though they’re so different that comparing them is pointless — is Denny Tedesco’s The Wrecking Crew, which is opening this Friday at The Carolina. Actually, this one stands a fair chance of drawing a crowd, since it’s about the session musicians collectively known as the Wrecking Crew. The name — depending on the circles you knock around in — may mean little to you. But the singers and even groups they helped to achieve their sound certainly will — the Beach Boys, the Byrds, the Monkees, Sonny and Cher, Nancy Sinatra, etc. The result is a delightful and song-filled history of a little explored aspect of 1960s and 70s pop and rock music. It’s pretty much an essential for anyone who cares about the music of that era. The review is in this week’s paper.

 

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Almost as good (and also reviewed in this week’s Xpress) is Wim Wenders’ and Juliano Ribeiro Salgado’s The Salt of the Earth — starting Friday at Fine Arts. This is a film that functions virtually as biography of photographer Sebastião Salgado. That he’s the father of co-director Salgado gives the film an unusually personal look at its subject — but not, I think, an unbalanced one. If nothing else it respectfully and generously reproduces the elder Salgado’s incredible photographs. I have a minor quibble with the film on a stylistic point (addressed in the review), but all in all I highly recommend this film.

 

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At the top (alphabetically) of the mainstream releases is Cameron Crowe’s Aloha — opening Friday (and Thursday evening) at The Carolina, Epic of Hendersonville, Regal Biltmore Grande, UA Beaucatcher. It has some impressive names in its cast — Bradley Cooper, Emma Stone, Rachel McAdams, Bill Murray, Alec Baldwin (and, alas, Danny McBride) — but it’s also the latest bid by Cameron Crowe to reclaim his status a filmmaker to reckon with. And let’s face it, Crowe hasn’t really been that since Almost Famous — 15 years ago. Vanilla Sky (2001) wasn’t bad, but it was a huge step down, while Elizabethtown (2005) could charitably be called a disaster — something not corrected by the innoccuous We Bought a Zoo (2011). The probability that this is the film that will mark his recovery seems pretty slim, especially since it hasn’t been shown to critics and is predicted to be easily beaten at the box office by our other mainstream release.

 

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The projected big winner is Brad Peyton’s San Andreas — starting Friday (and, yes, Thursday evening) at Carmike 10, The Carolina, Epic of Hendersonville, Regal Biltmore Grande. If director Peyton’s name means nothing to you, that may mean you’ve never been subjected to Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore (2010) or Journey 2: The Mysterious Island (2012), and for this may you be truly thankful. Of course, if you haven’t seen the latter, you missed Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson doing the “pec pop of love,” and since this movie re-teams Messrs. Peyton and Johnson that may have been a useful experience — or fair warning. Here the duo seem to be entering Roland Emmerich territory — or maybe Mark Robson territory, since he made the Big Budget Disaster Movie Earthquake was back in 1974. This appears to be much the same thing — only with “The Rock” instead of Charlton Heston, more elaborate noise, and the miracle of CGI effects. Face it, you know exactly what you’re getting into here.

This week we the Fine Arts is dropping both Ex Machina and She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry. The Carolina is axing Good Kill (which undeservedly tanked) and, worse, 5 to 7. Ex Machina and Woman in Gold are being split, which likely means this will be their last week.

Special Screenings

 

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This week the Asheville Jewish Film Festival concludes with Dough at 7 p.m. on Wed., May 27 and at 1 p.m. on Thu. May 28 at the Fine Arts Theatre. The Thursday Horror Picture Show has Roman Polanski’s The Tenant (1976) at 8 p.m. on Thu., May 28 in Theater Six at The Carolina. World Cinema is showing Federico Fellini’s Amarcord (1973) on Fri., May 29 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 John Sturges’ Bad Day at Black Rock  (1955) on Sun., May 31 at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. The Asheville Film Society starts its June calendar with Cary Grant and Jean Arthur in Howard Hawks’ Only Angels Have Wings (1939) on Tue., June 2 at 8 p.m. in Theater Six at The Carolina. More on all titles in this week’s paper — with full reviews in the online edition.

On DVD

Well, this week we see the fairly awful Seventh Son and the truly execrable The Loft come to DVD. Have I mentioned — since last week — that Zombeavers is on Netflix Streaming? Well, it’s a lot better than either of these.

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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 May 27-June 2: Aloha Salt of San Andreas Wrecking Crew

  1. Ken Hanke

    So are Mr. Xanadon’t and I the only ones who’ve watched Zombeavers? I find this incredible.

    • Mike

      Nah, I saw it. Just didn’t think as highly of it as you did and declined to comment. I’m interested in hearing what it is about the film that “delivers more than the promise of its title.”

      • Ken Hanke

        Well, it’s in the realm of spoilers, which is why I didn’t say, but….

        While I fully expected zombie beavers (obviously) — even cheesy animatronic and puppet ones — I had no reason to expect to see people turning into human zombie beavers — complete with really cheesy make-up and…beaver tails.

        As for not being as impressed as I was (in a specific way), I’m guessing you haven’t seen Seventh Son or The Loft.

        • Mike

          Haven’t seen either, although I know you hated them both. I imagine you were quite pleased to forget about those with something that doesn’t take itself too seriously. If at all.

          I watch a fair amount of schlock but don’t have much patience for films that are intentionally bad. Zombeavers isn’t as painfully self-aware as something like Sharknado, but it still comes across as an imitation of a “b” movie. I’d much rather watch the product of an incompetent filmmaker who really believed they were making something amazing. Call me mean spirited, but those tend to be way funnier.

          • Ken Hanke

            In many respects I agree with that, but this seems more like nouveau exploitation than an imitation of a “b” picture. Maybe it just suited me. I do maintain that you cannot really make a “cult movie.” It just has to happen.

        • Edwin Arnaudin

          I had no reason to expect to see people turning into human zombie beavers — complete with really cheesy make-up and…beaver tails.

          I always knew the BBC The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe was ahead of its time…

  2. Xanadon't

    There we are. Step forward, the rest of you. There’s no shame. If Ken gets the impression that Zombeavers has remained largely unseen I don’t know that I’d put it past him to screen it.

  3. Ken Hanke

    I mentioned this in the comments on The Wrecking Crew (which, no, is not the Matt Helm spy picture with Dean Martin), but it’s worth remarking here that the somewhat unorthodox Brian Wilson biopic Love & Mercy opens next week, and while it’s not essential that you see The Wrecking Crew to appreciate it, having seen it definitely enhanced my experience with Love & Mercy.

  4. Ken Hanke

    There appears to have been an embargo (successfully enforced) on critics with Aloha, since 76 reviews magically appeared on Rotten Tomatoes this morning — 66 of them negative. Now you know why there was an embargo.

    • donathan_white

      They put the first 8 minutes out online yesterday. The opening credits were cool, but everything after that seemed to make for an awfully boring movie.

      • Ken Hanke

        I admit to being more interested in it after reading critics call it “incomprehensible,” but I very likely won’t see it right away. It fell to Mr. Souther. I was utterly ambivalent about which of the “big” titles to review, and because of that I went with San Andreas, since my wife likes him — or more to the point, she likes his thighs, which, for those who care about such, are not on display in this one.

        • donathan_white

          Sounds like you should have let Mrs. Hanke guest review San Andreas.

  5. Edwin Arnaudin

    MIDDLE OF NOWHERE, the film Ava DuVernay made before SELMA and which also stars David Oyelowo, is now on Netflix Streaming. Her other feature, 2010’s I WILL FOLLOW, is also on there.

    • Ken Hanke

      I’ll consider them — if i ever get to a free point in viewing…

  6. Xanadon't

    Well then… a couple of documentaries open and it gets pretty quiet around here. For anyone curious, Killer Mermaid, newly streaming, doesn’t compare to Zombeavers.

    • Ken Hanke

      Well then… a couple of documentaries open and it gets pretty quiet around here.

      Funny how that happens.

      • Xanadon't

        Well I didn’t think it quite the ungodly mess some have made it out to be. I warmed to the movie fairly quickly and there’s a good bit to like. Yes, it has problems, most all of them in the second half, and certain aspects dampened my overall enjoyment, but I liked it more than I didn’t. At least one character is painted too broadly, and certain developments come along, if not improbably, just too easily. I think the film intends to be and indeed is funnier than might be commonly acknowledged. Not all the humor works, but I only remember cringing once. A bit messy, sure. Life’s messy. I’m okay with it.

    • Edwin Arnaudin

      What did you think of Elizabethtown and We Bought a Zoo?

      • Xanadon't

        Those are actually the two Cameron Crowe films I haven’t seen. We Bought a Zoo because it just never appealed to me and Elizabethtown because… well I’m not sure. Except I was pretty bad about seeing movies in 2005 and 2006 and just never caught up with it.

        • Ken Hanke

          We Bought a Zoo strikes me as so negligible that it might as well not exist. Elizabethtown is just…well, bad. Really the only Crowe film I think of as solidly good is Almost Famous. I confess to owning Vanilla Sky, but that’s mostly because I came across it for $5 in the Wal-Mart dump-bin, and had a fit of, “Maybe I should watch this again someday.” (That was at least 10 years ago and “someday” has yet to arrive. I saw it twice — not entirely by choice — when it came out, and that still seems enough.) I admit I have never seen Jerry Maguire — the combination of Tom Cruise and being bludgeoned by people saying, “Show me the money,” has pretty much ensured that that won’t change. I’m far more likely to see Aloha.

          • Edwin Arnaudin

            Say Anything and Singles have their moments, but neither have inspired a second viewing for me. It’s been a while since I’ve seen Jerry Maguire, but I remember liking it. Plus, its financial and critical success allowed Crowe to make Almost Famous. I still like Vanilla Sky a great deal and prefer it to Abre los Ojos. Elizabethtown felt so far removed from Crowe’s previous films that when the harmless We Bought a Zoo came around, I counted it as progress – like an athlete recovering from an injury who shows signs of his/her former prowess, and may eventually get back to that level, but is still clearly not at 100%. With Aloha, a major setback has occurred in the rehab process.

          • Ken Hanke

            when the harmless We Bought a Zoo came around, I counted it as progress – like an athlete recovering from an injury who shows signs of his/her former prowess, and may eventually get back to that level, but is still clearly not at 100%.

            Yes, well…

          • Ken Hanke

            Surgically remove Messrs. Cruise and Gooding and lose that line, and I will.

  7. Me

    I think you’re getting too hung up on that line, its 20 years old at this point and its one line in the film, it’s not like they’re saying it every other scene.

    • Ken Hanke

      Even if that was true, it still has Cruise and Gooding. There are better ways to spend two hours.

      • Me

        Yeah, but this was during a period when they were at least in something watchable.

        • Ken Hanke

          That’s what you call an opinion. I have zero interest in seeing a movie about a sports agent with this cast and those catch-phrase lines. When’s the last time you watched Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans or Shanghai Express or Trouble in Paradise or Love Me Tonight?

          • Me

            I guess were in the same boat, because I have no interest in seeing those either.

          • Ken Hanke

            How do you expect to be taken seriously as concerns film? Even your masters at the Dissolve recognize the greatness of those films. At what point do movies become of interest to you?

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