Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler May 6-12: The D Train Pursuit of Maggie Kumiko

In Theaters.

Even though Avengers: Age of Ultron has grossed enough money to buy several small countries, the studios are still on the reticent side about going up against it, so there’s only one mainstream release this week — one not aimed at anything remotely like the same audience. On the other hand, we get three — count ’em — art/indie titles of the most diverse kind imaginable. If you’re already Ultron-ed out, don’t despair, the powers that be will get bolder next week — even to the point of tackling the reigning king of the box office head on with Mad Max: Thunder Road, but that’s next week.

But this week we do, as I said, have an interesting array of art/indie fare this week — all of which are reviewed in this week’s Xpress.

 

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First up — alphabetically — is Jarrad Paul and Andrew Mogel’s The D Train — opening Friday at The Carolina. (There is the possibility of an 8 p.m. show on Thursday, but one has yet to be scheduled.) This, for me, is the best of the three — and certainly the week’s big surprise. To say that I was reticent about watching an R rated comedy starring Jack Black and James Marsden would be an understatement of great note. Black is very hit or miss with me — and with more misses than hits. Marsden, on the other hand…let’s just say that it was going to take a lot — a whole lot — to erase the creepy awfulness of Hop. And damned if Marsden didn’t do just that here. This is not your average raunchy-com. In fact — even though it fully earns its R rating — I didn’t find it in the least raunchy. Now, I suspect many will not agree with this. This is, after all, a movie that redefines the “bromance” by taking it to a whole new level. (Think Y Tu Mama Tambien‘s climax and you’ll be in the basic — but far from exact — ballpark.) More, it intelligently, compassionately, and warmly examines the fallout from going to that level. This is going to cause the “ewww” factor to kick in with some, but hopefully not with everyone. (I’d like to believe there’s an audience mature enough for this.) Black is relatively subdued here, and Marsden has never been this good. I strongly recommend this film — but with certain qualifications (for the viewer, not the movie).

 

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Then we have David Zellner’s  Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter — opening Friday at the Fine Arts. This is a film that I was — based on two trailers — fully expecting to love, and the truth is I didn’t love it. In fact, it took me a while to even like it, but I finally did. It stars Rinko Kikuchi, who will, I fear, always be Bang Bang in The Brothers Bloom for me. The truth is she doesn’t talk much more in this film, but the tone is very different. She plays the title character, a lonely young woman working in a Tokyo office whose only friend is a pet rabbit. She becomes convinced that the Coen Brothers’ Fargo is a personal clue for her to the location of the buried case of money depicted in the movie. What starts out as a sad, but harmless delusion escalates into an obsession, and this is where I start having some issues with the film. The film does an excellent job of blurring the line between reality and fantasy and is full of truly haunting images, but … well, read the review.

 

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Finally we have Henry Hobson’s Maggieopening Friday at The Carolina (no indications of the possibility of a Thursday night show). This is an oddity. I can think of no other word for it. It’s a PG-13 rated zombie movie that improbably stars Arnold Schwarzenegger, Abigail Breslin, and Joely Richardson. It gets stranger. This is the world’s first attempt at what might be called a combination of a Disease-of-the-Week movie and an angsty mopey teen one. Ms. Breslin plays the teen — and she has some reason for moping, since she’s been bitten by one of the victims of a zombie plague and is slowly turning into one of the lurchning dead. Der Arnold plays her concerned dad with a measure of screen presence and his usual inability to credibly deliver dialogue. Is it different? Well, yes. And there are some terrific — and touching — scenes, but are they enough? See it and find out for yourself.

 

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On the unknown — but pretty predictable — front we also get Anne Fletcher’s Hot Pursuit — opening for sure at The Carolina and almost certainly at Epic of Hendersonville and Regal Biltmore Grande, while it’s completely up in the air as to whether Carmike or Beaucatcher will get it. (My money’s on Carmike because they’re due to get thrown a bone soon.) Anyway this is one of those odd couple comedies. This time it’s Reese Witherspoon (getting back at us for not winning that Wild Oscar) as a hard-nosed cop charged with protecting an uncooperative witness (Sophia Vergara). Sound familiar? That’s probably because it is. And it’s likely to seem even more so in the perpetually uninspired hands of director Anne Fletcher. I suppose it would be gilding the lily to note that this has yet to be screened by critics.

This week we lose True Story and Danny Collins at The Carolina (the latter has been picked up by Flat Rock Cinema). The Fine Arts is splitting Clouds of Sils Maria (1:20, 4:20) with Ex Machina (7:20, Late Show Fri-Sat 9:40).

Special Screenings

 

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Before getting down to the usual suspects, let me remind you that the Jewish Film Festival starts Thu., May 7 at the Fine Arts Theatre with their opening night film Deli Man and reception at 6 p.m. (all tickets include both and are $22; the film only plays again on Fri., May 8 at 1 p.m. with tickets at $8.50).

 

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There’s no Hendersonville Film Society movie on May 10, because of Mother’s Day. This week the Thursday Horror Picture Show has Tourneur’s Night of the Demon (1957) at 8 p.m. on Thu., May 7 in Theater Six at The Carolina. World Cinema is showing Who Is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe (1978) on Fri., May 8 at 8 p.m. at Phil Mechanic Studios, 109 Roberts St., River Arts District (upstairs in the Railroad Library). The Asheville Film Society W.C. Fields in George Marshall’s You Can’t Cheat an Honest Man (1939) on Tue., May 12 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

This week we get Mr. Turner, Selma, and Black or White. Well, the first two are good. And then there’s…Fifty Shades of Grey.

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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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55 thoughts on “Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler May 6-12: The D Train Pursuit of Maggie Kumiko

  1. Ken Hanke

    Okay, I was right about Carmike getting Hot Pursuit, but no update on the other venues.

      • Ken Hanke

        It’s got an almost unknown director, a cast of unknown actors, and sounds about as much fun as a root canal. What about it makes you think it would do pretty well?

        • Edwin Arnaudin

          I got a screener from Tribeca. I’ll check it out eventually – but, no, it doesn’t sound like much of a crowdpleaser.

          • Edwin Arnaudin

            I think we’ve established that that’s my purpose in life.

          • Edwin Arnaudin

            Jury’s out on having porpoises, though. Just seems like a lot of work.

          • Ken Hanke

            I should advise against them. Definitely.

  2. Edwin Arnaudin

    The Cobbler is at Redbox starting today, so I’ll be checking that out tonight or tomorrow.

    • Ken Hanke

      That I will be curious to hear about. Can it possibly the monstrosity it’s been painted as?

      • Edwin Arnaudin

        Considering how much I’ve liked Tom McCarthy’s other films, I’ll be surprised if it’s really that bad. A NYC friend who’s also a McCarthy fan had mostly positive things to report.

          • Edwin Arnaudin

            I watched it. I liked it – kind of a lot.

            This appears to be yet another case of critic groupthink in which a small group of reviewers smell blood early on, then whip their colleagues into believing the same thing to the point that opining outside of the norm is grounds for pariahdom.

          • Ken Hanke

            It’s certainly hard to pretend that the condition you describe doesn’t exist. However, I’m at home in pariahdom, so that doesn’t concern me.

          • Edwin Arnaudin

            As you are well aware, that condition goes the other way, too. Once the snowball of praise starts rolling, who would dare speak out against Under the Skin or Force Majeure when the punishment is being labeled a wacko who “doesn’t get” movies?

          • Ken Hanke

            Yeah, I’m a seasoned campaigner on that one, too.

          • Edwin Arnaudin

            So, yes, I think The Cobbler would have done decent business here. My guess is it would have lasted three weeks at The Carolina.

          • Ken Hanke

            Interesting. At the same time, I’m over guessing what will and won’t play well. I’m always being surprised — sometimes pleasantly, sometimes not.

  3. Ken Hanke

    Worth noting — Asheville Pizza & Brewing is bringing Kingsman: The Secret Service back for the 10 p.m. show.

  4. Edwin Arnaudin

    The Homesman is streaming! The Homesman is streaming!

    Also added today is Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s Palme d’Or winning Winter Sleep. (See critical groupthink note above.) After slogging through Ceylan’s Three Monkeys and Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, if I ever give this one a try I have a feeling that its 3+ hours won’t go by nearly as quickly as The Wolf of Wall Street‘s.

      • Edwin Arnaudin

        If you’ve seen any of his films, your level of interest is likely already established.

          • Edwin Arnaudin

            From the evidence thus far, he makes Haneke look like Timur Bekmambetov.

          • Ken Hanke

            I’d have probably gone for Rules of the Game.

          • Me

            I didn’t realize he directed Climates too, wasn’t that one of the films mentioned in Mark Cousins film? I should probably see Climates before I see Winter Sleep.

          • Ken Hanke

            Whenever Mark went off on foreign esoterica, I zoned out.

    • Me

      I liked Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, but I felt like I missed something and didn’t get all the praise for it.

      • Ken Hanke

        Didn’t get all the praise? Look, it’s really long. It’s really slow. It’s in a foreign language and has subtitles. What about that doesn’t guarantee praise.

        • Edwin Arnaudin

          Especially once the Critic-industrial Complex kicks in – and boy did they ever for this one.

          • Ken Hanke

            Because it’s really long, really slow, and not in English. Never underestimate the collective sense of cultural inferiority.

          • Edwin Arnaudin

            And not wanting to look dumb for failing to see its supposed greatness.

    • Me

      I might check out the Homesman I loved The Sunset Limited and thought Three Burials was pretty great too.

      • Ken Hanke

        Haven’t seen Sunset Limited, but I think The Homesman is better than Three Burials.

        By the way, I further addressed Irma Vep in the comments on Clouds of Sils Maria.

        • Edwin Arnaudin

          The Sunset Limited and the M.I.A. Match have a lot in common on the filmmaking side. I prefer the writing in Sunset, but it’s Cormac McCarthy so that’s to be expected.

          • Edwin Arnaudin

            Match was on the Carolina’s schedule for early February and the poster was up in the lobby for almost two months before disappearing. It’s basically a filmed play, but Patrick Stewart is marvelous so I thought it would have an audience.

          • Ken Hanke

            Match was okay and it might have done decent-ish business. I never understand why we bump things like it and insist on crap like Night Moves and Hellion, which nobody goes to see. (Actually, it’s all about taking some losers in order to get the titles you really want, but still…)

          • Edwin Arnaudin

            Match almost certainly would have outperformed the documentaries that have played this year.

          • Ken Hanke

            Hell, at least two of the documentaries out-performed Night Moose and Hellion.

          • Me

            Night Moves the Kelly Reichardt film? I kind of liked that one.

          • Ken Hanke

            Yes. It was hers, which isn’t a shock, considering her work. Similarly, it managed to sucker that which Edwin has aptly termed the Critical Industrial Complex into grovelling at its profundity. It crashed, burned, and vanished.

          • Edwin Arnaudin

            I like Meek’s Cutoff and Wendy and Lucy, but thought Night Moves was mostly crap.

          • Ken Hanke

            Meek was okay, but I have zero desire to see it again (twice was a sufficiency). I pretty much hated Wendy and Lucy and its hard-luck yammering on about a main character I didn’t care about.

          • Edwin Arnaudin

            Much as I like each of them, one viewing has proved sufficient.

          • Ken Hanke

            Bear in mind my second viewing of Meek was because of the AFS screening and was not a choice. The film was also an amazing act of hubris on Reichardt’s part, since it was made to be shown in 1.37:1. That’s fine now with digital projection, but then when digital projection was the exception and not the rule, it meant that most theaters could only show it cropped to 1.85:1.

  5. Big Al

    “Deli Man” was so hilarious I was crying. The other Jewish Film Fest titles looked intriguing, too, especially “Above and Beyond” and “Dough” (I love Jonathon Pryce).

    The JFF seems to have a knack for picking films that, to this non-Jew, are simply great and just happen to be about Jewish culture. I thoroughly enjoyed several films in past fests like “David”, “The Other Son”, and one whose title I cannot remember about an orthodox bride. I kicked myself for missing “Hava Negila (sp?)” and the one about the Jewish and Palestinian teens communicating with bottled messages. The JFF has become one of my annual must-sees.

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