Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler September 10-16: The Trip to Dolphin Drop

In Theaters.

We are still in the fall doldrums, and once again there is some doubt over just what we’re getting in the mainstream realm, which once again is pretty darn anemic in any case. We are on surer ground on every level in the art world. In fact, if it weren’t for art titles, the current state of cinema would be bleaker than the first week in January.

 

 

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As is often the case, I’ve seen — and reviewed — the two art titles. Both are good, but I give the edge to Michael Winterbottom’s The Trip to Italy (opening Friday at The Carolina), which is the follow-up to The Trip (2011). Like the first film, it stars Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon playing fictionalized versions of themselves, and it focuses on a tour of restaurants — this time, as the name indicates, in Italy. To a large degree your enjoyment of the film can be gauged by how much you liked the last one, since it follows the same basic template — including its stars trying to one-up each other on the quality of their respective celebrity impressions. However, the deep undercurrent of a more serious side, a sense of sadness, and a profound feeling of the realization of mortality on the part of its aging stars that raises the film to an entitrely higher level.

 

 

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The other film, The Drop (opening Friday at The Carolina and Fine Arts), is also of merit — and will probably have broader general appeal. It’s also notable for containing the final performance of James Gandolfini (to whom the film is dedicated). Along with Gandolfini, the film stars Tom Hardy and Noomi Rapace, and mark the English language directorial debut of Michaël R. Roskam, whose Belgian film, Bullhead, made his mark on international film. Moreover, it’s from a screenplay by Dennis Lehane (based on his short story “Animal Rescue”). All this is very impressive — and that might be something of a problem. I was expecting a remarkable film and only got a good one. To some degree, it’s also not really a type of movie I tend to like all that much, so that may play into my reaction. In any case, I recommend you see for yourself.

 

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In the mainstream offerings, the one film we are sure of is Dolphin Tale 2. Yes, everybody of note — Ashley Judd, Morgan Freeman, Nathan Gamble, Cozi Zuehlsorff, Harry Connick, Jr., Kris Kristofferson — is back for round two. So, for that matter, is director Charles Martin Smith. In other words expect more heartwarming, family-friendly, aquarium antics. I will be the first to admit that the first one wasn’t actively painful, but making a second one seems spectacularly unnecessary — possibly a downright affront to common courtesy.

 

No-Good-Deed-384x222

 

I’d say there’s fair chance that No Good Deed is opening somewhere in town. At this point, all I know is that it’s not opening at The Carolina. Much as I like Idris Elba and Taraji P. Henson (who badly needs a good movie again), this looks pretty awful. The fact that it’s from Screen Gems — the bargain arm of Columbia that handles all the stuff they don’t want to put the Torch Lady on — bodes ill. The plot about convict Elba terrorizing housewife Henson doesn’t sound any better.

What do we lose this week? Well, the Fine Arts is dropping Boyhood and Magic in the Moonlight, but both are hanging steady at The Carolina. Mood Indigo, however, is being cut to three shows a day. Everything else is status quo.

Special Screenings

 

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This week the Thursday Horror Picture Show has a vampire double-bill, Frank R. Strayer’s The Vampire Bat (1933) and Sam Newfield’s Dead Men Walk (1943) at 8 p.m. on Thu., Sept. 11 in Theater Six at The Carolina. World Cinema is running Lina Wertmüller’s Ciao, Professore (1992) on Fri., Sept. 12 at 8 p.m.in the Railroad Library in the Phil Mechanic Building. The Hendersonville Film Society is showing Tony Richardson’s Hamlet (1969) at 2 p.m. on Sun., Sept. 14 in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. The Asheville Film Society will screen Whit Stillman’s The Last Days of Disco (1998) on Tue., Sept. 16 at 8 p.m. in Theater Six at The Carolina.

On DVD

The only thing of note this week is Ida, which had a fairly successful run here recently.

Notable TV Screenings

 

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TCM’s Pre-Code festival has a stellar line-up on Fri., Sept. 12, starting at 8 p.m. with Victor Fleming’s Red Dust (1932). It’s followed by Ernst Lubitsch’s Design for Living (1933) at 9:30 p.m., Lubitsch’s Trouble in Paradise (1932) at 11:15 p.m., Rouben Mamoulian’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1932) at 12:45 a.m., Stephen Roberts’ The Story of Temple Drake (1933) at 2:30 a.m., Tod Browning’s Freaks (1932) at 3:45 a.m., and William Dieterle’s Jewel Robbery (1932) at 5 a.m. There’s not a clunker in the lot.

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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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4 thoughts on “Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler September 10-16: The Trip to Dolphin Drop

  1. DrSerizawa

    On another subject entirely. I tried watching a couple of scifi movies on Netflix and noticed that the genre is loaded with even worse garbage than usual. There are a lot of titles that are worse than direct to video and even worse than Asylum/ScFi “Originals”. Namely anything by a few idiots with a computer and a video cam. This crap gets listed along with actual movies and is quite annoying. This is crap even worse than “Blair Idiot Project” or Paranormal Boredom”. The horror genre is loaded with these atrocities too. Aside from a few worthy effort’s like “Troll Hunter”, “Primer” or “Pi” (the mathematical Pi) the rise of video cams has enabled the worst cinema in history. I’m wondering if enacting legislation that would require film cameras would reduce this blight. Sure movie history is loaded with garbage but I’m hard pressed to think of anything as bad as these “filmmakers” armed with only a computer and videocam. If you shoot in 16mm you have to at least rent the camera, buy the film, pay for the processing, hire an editor, actually exercise some care in your blocking etc. You couldn’t do unlimited takes just to “see what happens”. You couldn’t get some friends together by the swimming pool in the backyard at night with a makeup kit, take a bunch of video and then get it loaded on Netflix and write some wild lies about it with some phony critics touting it and get people to view it. You would at least have to pretend to be a professional. It would be hard on film students in school, but too many of those Senior Projects end up being marketed to the unsuspecting as real movies anyhow.

    Rant ends

  2. Ken Hanke

    You probably realize that you came to the wrong person for an argument, If you look at the As Above, So Below, you’ll find my anti-found-footage rant, which is connected to this, since that’s all camcorder stuff. Early in the century — before this stuff crawled out of the lower-end festival circuit — I saw a lot of this submitted to the now defunct Asheville Film Festival. A lot of what is so wrong with it isn’t the cheapness, the poor lighting, the sub-standard sound, but something more basic. The camcorder gave these would-be filmmakers the ability to shoot endlessly with scenes playing out full-length in one deadly take — no shot breakdown, no change of angle, just people spouting pages of awful dialogue and doing it badly. You want to solve this? Well, a basic understanding of the language of film would help, but, more practically, make these people work with a spring-wound movie camera for a while, and limit them to shots than can’t run longer than about 30 seconds. That and having to buy film and pay to have it processed would cool this down real fast.

  3. DrSerizawa

    Yes, but it’s difficult to get many people to take MovieMaking101 seriously when big names like George Lucas make millions with such terrible techniques. See The Prequels, endless scenes of people sitting on couches or standing around.

  4. Ken Hanke

    Just remember there have always been crap movies out there. When you see something you’ve never heard of (esp. of recent vintage) on Netflix Steaming or wherever, consider there’s probably a good reason you never heard of it.

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