Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler November 12-18: Beyond the Dumber Rosewater Whiplash

In Theaters.

Definitely a less exciting week than last week. Oh, we get some new movies — one of which I know is good — but nothing like last week’s trio of heavy hitters. For that matter, the mere existence of one of these strikes me as an embarrassment to the entire human race — and possibly some primates.




In a somewhat unusual turn of events, I have seen, but did not review this week’s big art opening, Whiplash, which opens this Friday at The Carolina and the Fine Arts. I specifically did not want to review it because I have developed an aversion to Miles Teller and didn’t think I could give it a fair shake, so I passed it to Justin. But I was curious to see it, so I dutifully tramped to The Carolina to see the press screening last Saturday morning. I’m still not wild about Mr. Teller, but I’m glad I saw the movie. I was a little surprised to find that Mr. Souther and I had a very similar take on the film. While I have some reservations about certain aspects of the film, I mostly liked it — and would recommend it to anyone won’t be offended by the almost non-stop swearing of J.K. Simmons as perhaps the most unlikable character of the year. However, the last 10-15 minutes of the film are such a remarkable outburst of pure filmmaking excitement that I not only recommend it, I’m calling it a must-see.




Everything else is an unknown quantity — and in the case of the first up, Gina Prince-Bythewood’s Beyond the Lights, I’m not even entirely certain if the film is opening here. I know it is not opening at The Carolina, but there’s no news on whether or not it will elsewhere. My suspicion is it will, but even the IMDb is mute on this question. (Then again, the IMDb seems to have mislaid The Carolina altogether.) Anyway, the film is a backstage story — complete with tyrant stage mother (Minnie Driver) — and it stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw, who made an art house splash earlier this year with Belle. Strangely enough, the film has been getting positive reviews. The only naysayer at this point is Chris Cabin from Slant Magazine — and generally, if you want to find a negative review, Slant is the place to go. Bear in mind, this is only from a sampling of nine reviews.




And then there’s Dumb and Dumber To — the very existence of which appalls me as few things have done. Frankly, this attempt to revive the popularity of a 20 year old movie of this kind smacks of desperation from a pair of filmmakers — the Farrelly Brothers — and a pair of performers — Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels — whose careers could use a hit. (I won’t even cut it any slack for having Kathleen Turner play a character named Fraida Felcher.) The only upside is that this one will not send the viewer who went to the ill-advised prequel at the Carmike back in 2003 into an irate rant that “nowhere on that poster does it tell you that Jim Carrey and…that other fellow aren’t in this film.” (I could have shown him a lot of posters that don’t have such a disclaimer.) This time he will have only himself to blame.




Bringing up the rear is Jon Stewart’s Rosewater, which is the sort of film that usually gets a press screening. Why this didn’t, I don’t know. The early reviews for this fact-based writing-directing effort from Stewart have been mostly positive — albeit not gushingly so. It stars Gael Garcia Bernal and is the story of Maziar Bahari a broadcast journalist who was arrested in Iran and interrogated and tortured for 118 days by a man calling himself “Rosewater.” The big question in my mind is what makes Stewart think he’s capable of writing and directing a movie. I mean, he may well be, but I never even knew he was wanting do so. I guess we’ll find out. I know it opens at The Carolina, but I don’t know if it’s opening elsewhere.

Now, this week we do lose some things. Both Dear White People and Pride are leaving the Fine Arts. And while we don’t lose Laggies at The Carolina, it’s been cut to one show a day (3 p.m.), which says it soon will be gone.

Special Screenings




This week the Thursday Horror Picture Show is running Arthur Crabtree’s Fiend Without a Face (1958) — that’s the movie with the ambulatory brain monsters — at 8 p.m. on Thu., Nov. 13 in Theater Six at The Carolina. World Cinema is showing Lina Wertmuller’s The Seduction of Mimi (1972) on Fri., Nov. 14 at 8 p.m. in the Railroad Library in the Phil Mechanic Building. The Hendersonville Film Society has Joyeux Noel (2005) on Sun., Nov. 16 at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. The Asheville Film Society is screening Fritz Lang’s thriller Ministry of Fear (1944) on Tue., Nov. 18 at 8 p.m. in Theater Six at The Carolina. More on all titles in this week’s Xpress — with full reviews in the online edition.


Looks like the big titles this week are Mood Indigo and How to Train Your Dragon 2. And if you really must Let’s Be Cops also comes out.

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 November 12-18: Beyond the Dumber Rosewater Whiplash

  1. Sally Sefton

    The big question in my mind is what makes Stewart think he’s capable of writing and directing a movie. I mean, he may well be, but I never even knew he was wanting do so. I guess we’ll find out.

    I am taken aback by this comment. What prompts anyone to be courageous enough to pursue something new? It does take courage. And thankfully some like Jon Stewart are willing to make that journey away from what is comfortable into something entirely new . I am sure it will be flawed as all first attempts are, but I am grateful that he is bringing this story to us.

    • Ken Hanke

      I figured this would rile you. I’m sorry I have reservations.

  2. Me

    “J.K. Simmons as perhaps the most unlikable character of the year.”

    More than Jason Schwartzman in Listen Up Phillip?

      • Edwin Arnaudin

        I found Jenny Slate in Obvious Child, Nicolas Cage in Joe and *spoiler* the entire cast of Force Majeure to be less likable.

        • Ken Hanke

          That seems a different sort of unlikable. They’re annoying. But thanks — I’d managed to forget about Oblivious Child.

          • Edwin Arnaudin

            I think that’s the main way “unlikable” registers for me in a negative way – movie-wise, at least.

          • Me

            That film killed me and that ending SPOILER ALERT where they watched Gone With the Wind GTF OUT.

    • Big Al

      Just watching that bitch slap he delivered in the preview made my blood pressure go into low earth orbit. “Dangerous” indeed (per one reviewer).

      • Ken Hanke

        I confess to being unclear on what movie you’re talking about…

          • Big Al

            Yes, Whiplash. J.K. Simmons’ character bitch slaps the young drummer and makes him cry. I am curious to see this film if for no better reason than to understand what motivates a musician (a profession which tends toward the sensitive) would put himself through such abuse. Navy SEALs I could understand, but jazz drummer? This might be enough to get me out of the house. (The last film I was able to drag myself out to see was “Magic in the Moonlight”)

          • Big Al

            Oops, correction: the last film was able to drag myself out of the house to see was “My Old Lady”.

            And it has not been for the dearth of films. I am kicking myself for missing out on several titles this Fall.


  3. Me

    3 new episodes of High Maintenance were released today as well.

    Ken, did you see the Too Many Cooks thing that was going around last week starring Lars Von Trier as a pie?

    • Ken Hanke

      Pretty sure I’d remember any such experience, so I’m going with no.

    • Ken Hanke

      It’s released this Friday. All I have down for when it comes to Asheville is December.

  4. Ken Hanke

    I think that’s the main way “unlikable” registers for me in a negative way – movie-wise, at least.

    But they — trying as they are — aren’t actually malevolent.

  5. Ken Hanke

    That film killed me and that ending SPOILER ALERT where they watched Gone With the Wind GTF OUT.

    Look for it on my Ten Worst list.

    • Edwin Arnaudin

      It may be spearheading my Ten Worst list at the moment. A Haunted House 2 is also in the running, though it may be in a category of its own since it’s not technically a film – just a random collection of sketches that happen to involve the same people.

        • Edwin Arnaudin

          That’s more overrated than bad. There’s a good deal of technical merit there, even if it can only sustain the film for 15-20 minutes.

          Now, Joe on the other hand…that’s a bad movie.

          • Ken Hanke

            Not good, but I don’t think it can match the pure tedium and pretension of Under the Skin.

  6. Edwin Arnaudin

    For me it’s a different kind of tedium and pretension – a less accomplished kind.

    • Ken Hanke

      I will concede that Oblivious Child both bored me and pissed me off, while Under the Skin only bored me and annoyed me.

  7. DrSerizawa

    Stewart used to be funny around the time of Death to Smoochy. Now he’s one of the smarmiest and most arrogant pseudo-newscasters on the air. It’ll be interesting to see if he can come down from the clouds of delusion long enough to make something worthwhile.

    • Ken Hanke

      I don’t mind his “pseudo-newscast” in theory. (All newscasts strike me as pseudo these days.) That’s probably to be expected since politically I pretty much line up with him. My problem lies with the fact that like many comedians he consistently mistakes loud for funny, breaks up at his own jokes, mugs too much, and tends to belabor his points. (That said, I just sat through an audience laughing hysterically at Dumb and Dumber To, so perhaps I don’t understand modern comedy.) His movie is okay, but it quickly loses steam and goes from being good to being solidly in the “perfectly fine” category. I can say no more because I have to review it.

    • sally sefton

      I am thinking there are millions who would have a different opinion regarding Jon Stewart. I am sure if you are conservative Jon’s popularity and clever mind must be an endless source of frustration. When a Time Magazine survey revealed that Daily Show Host Jon Stewart was the most respected journalist in America, the Right Wing went into their usual state of denial, and the rest of us were merely surprised that so many Americans had noticed. He refers to himself as a “political satirist” he consistently demonstrates why Daily Show viewers are among some of the best informed Americans. Where Fox goes out of its way to avoid the facts, Stewart makes sure we understand the facts and later he makes whole episodes making fun of these facts. If you watch Fox of course he might be smarmy because he exposes so much that is so hypocritical about the conservative movement. As for his ability to direct a film and write a script…I guess he might have not have made the year’s best film. But at least he is a truth seeker. And at least he is making an effort to have some integrity in the work he brings to his audience.

      • DrSerizawa

        Er, yes. Vicious smarm is the height of intellect. Partisan hacks are the forefront of independent thought. How could I have been so blind?

        • Ken Hanke

          I’d really rather this didn’t degenerate into a political fight, since this isn’t about the TV show, but about this movie he’s made. I do wonder, however, if Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Glenn Beck are also purveyors of vicious smarm and qualify as partisan hacks?

          • Big Al

            How dare any of you challenge a TIME MAGAZINE SURVEY. Your blasphemy contradicts the TRUE FAITH.


  8. Me

    Have you heard anything about Wetlands coming to Asheville? Whats going on with Inherent Vice? I thought it was supposed to be here “just in time for Christmas.”

    • Ken Hanke

      Until this moment I’d never heard of Wetlands. Let’s see…a German picture being handled by Strand Releasing. I wouldn’t hold my breath, but you never know.

      Inherent Vice is supposed to come out in limited release on Dec. 12, which is in time for Xmas if you live in NY or LA — and maybe Chicago and SF. There may well be a press screening of it here for awards purposes, but the official wide release date is Jan. 9.

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