Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler September 24-30: The Skeleton Equalizer Boxtroll Twins

In Theaters.

It’s a less crowded week, but that may not be a bad thing, since last week suffered for having too much. (In other words movies that ought to have done better got lost in the shuffle.) This round we have two mainstream and two art titles to deal with.




At the top of the list for the art titles — and probably for everything else, too — is Craig Johnson’s The Skeleton Twins (opening Friday at The Carolina and the Fine Arts Theatre). This is one of those rare art titles that has a solid chance at crossing over into mainstream favor, but that’s neither a given, nor does it have any bearing on whether or not you should see it. This is a fine blend of fairly dark comedy and drama — and one that proves that Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig are actually very good actors, and amazingly believable as fraternal twins. I’m not quite sure yet if this is a Ten Best candidate, but it’s certainly in the running as a possibility. And whether it is or not, it belongs on your must-see list. The review is in this week’s paper.




Also reviewed is Jen McGowan’s Kelly & Cal (opening Friday at The Carolina). It’s by no means in the same league as The Skeleton Twins, but it has its pleasures — notably the lead performances by Juliette Lewis and Jonny Weston. I won’t deny that the supporting characters — not the cast, I blame the writing — drag things down on occasion, but when Lewis and Weston hold the screen together — and that’s a lot of the time — it’s pretty special.




In the land of the mainstream, we have The Boxtrolls, the new film from Laika — the concern that gave us Coraline and ParaNorman. Of course, neither the writers, nor directors of those films had a thing to do with this. And while the early critical trashing The Boxtrolls has subsided as more and more reviews come in, there’s a sense — even among the positive reviews — that this one is simply not in the same league. Well, we can find out on Friday. The especially interested can check it out on Thursday night.




Also opening on Friday (with shows on Thursday night) is Antoine Fuqua’s updated, significantly altered big screen version of the old CBS TV series The Equalizer starring Denzel Washington. It’s apparently very violent and some say stylish. Others find it dull and plodding and very violent. Violent, however, seems to be its main claim. I don’t really get the idea that Fuqua is anything but a hack, though he seems to mostly be coasting on the inflated reputation of Training Day from back in 2001. Most of his films since then have been so-so (Shooter) or downright bad (Tears of the Sun, King Arthur, Olympus Has Fallen). I’m not sure why this will be any different.

There are quite a few casualties this week. Last Weekend deservedly takes its leave. So does The Trip to Italy, which really plummeted this past weekend. Magic in the Moonlight — which I think was murdered by being split with The Hundred Foot Journey (also leaving) — is gone. Those are all at The Carolina. The Fine Arts is losing The Drop, but it’s holding for another week at The Carolina. It is also worth noting that Tusk and The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them are being split. Catch them quick.

Special Screenings




This week the Thursday Horror Picture Show has the amazing (not axactly in a good way) Danish giant monster film Reptilicus (1961) at 8 p.m. on Thu., Sept. 25 in Theater Six at The Carolina. World Cinema is showing Francois Truffaut’s Stolen Kisses (1968) on Fri., Sept. 26 at 8 p.m. in the Railroad Library in the Phil Mechanic Building. The Hendersonville Film Society is running Sergey Bondarchuk’s Waterloo (1970) at 2 p.m. on Sun., Sept. 28 in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. The Asheville Film Society closes out its September calendar with Richard Lester’s Help! (1965) on Tue., Sept. 30 at 8 p.m. in Theater Six at The Carolina. More on all titles in this week’s Xpress — with complete reviews in the online edition.


Well, almost no one went to see The Rover when it was in theaters. Maybe DVD will be kinder, but I kind of doubt it. On the other hand, a lot of folks went to see Neighbors for reasons I will never understand. It also hits DVD this week.

Notable TV Screenings




Continuing their Pre-code series Turner Classic Movies seems to be on a crime spree Friday starting at 8 p.m. with Howard Hawks’ Scarface (1932), Mervyn LeRoy’s Little Caesar (1930) at 9:45 p.m., W.S. Van Dyke’s Penthouse (1933) at 11:15 p.m., Mervyn LeRoy’s Three on a Match (1932) at 1 a.m., John Francis Dillon’s Call Her Savage (1932) at 2:15 a.m., William Wellman’s The Hatchet Man (1932) at 3:45 a.m., and George Archainbaud’s State’s Attorney (1932) at 5 a.m. Those with a taste for oddities should catch The Hatchet Man if only see Edward G. Robinson, Loretta Young, and Dudley Digges playing Chinese characters.

Sunday evening at 8 p.m. TCM has a Whit Stillman double bill — Metropolitan (1990) followed by Barcelona (1994) at 10 p.m. I believe this may be the first time TCM has shown these.

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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28 thoughts on “Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler September 24-30: The Skeleton Equalizer Boxtroll Twins

  1. Edwin Arnaudin

    I am pessimistic than anything in The Equalizer will be as entertaining as Rob Reiner’s rant about the TV show in The Wolf of Wall Street.

    • luluthebeast

      I’m with Reiner. THE EQUALIZER was one of my favorite shows but I simply wouldn’t answer the phone. Woodward’s character was trying to atone for his violent past and this movie sounds the opposite. No thanks. Unless after reading Ken’s review I find I was wrong in my assumption.

  2. Edwin Arnaudin

    As much as I like Training Day and think it holds up, I’m surprised that Fuqua and David Ayer have been able to sustain careers for the past 13 years. I haven’t liked anything of Fuqua’s since then. The Gyllenhaal/Pena camaraderie kept Ayer’s The Watch afloat even when it cheated on its found-footage conceit, but Sabotage is terrible and trailers for Fury don’t exactly have me confident that a good time awaits on Oct. 17.

  3. Ken Hanke

    I’m sorry I have never understood the praise for Training Day.

  4. luluthebeast

    But are you showing the version of REPTILICUS with the musical interlude?

  5. Ken Hanke

    I don’t think that version exists in the US. Nor, the flying scenes. I guess AIP was afraid people might laugh.

    • Jeanette Minor

      The big musical number in Reptilicus is a song called “Tivoli Nights”, it’s part of the American International version. A nd its as much of a “wow” ad anything else in the picture.

  6. Jeanette Minor

    The big musical number in Reptilicus is a song called “Tivoli Nights”, it’s part of the American International version. A nd its as much of a “wow” ad anything else in the picture.

      • Ken Hanke

        Yes, but there’s another song that’s in the Danish prints where the comic relief sings a song about “Reptilicoos” to some schoolchildren in a park. Even though it’s as bad as you imagine, I’d still rather have it than “Tivoli Nights.”

          • luluthebeast

            Yes, it’s sung by Peterson (Dirch Passer) and he really gets into it.

  7. Ken Hanke

    Edwin could answer that. I can’t, though I think the only connection may be the home improvement setting.

  8. Edwin Arnaudin

    I suppose the setting overlaps and possibly murder via tools.

  9. DrSerizawa

    Denzel Washington. Liam Neeson. Talk about a downhill career slide. Sheesh.

    • Ken Hanke

      Apparently, Neeson’s latest is a lot better than what preceded it.

  10. Me

    Ken, you didnt mention it but Whit Stillman is actually going to be presenting those films on TCM.

  11. Ken Hanke

    That may be because it isn’t mentioned in the listings.

    By the way, I have now seen THE DOUBLE. I didn’t hate it, but I was seriously underwhelmed and understand why it was never booked here despite the Magnolia connection at The Carolina.

  12. Edwin Arnaudin

    I agree that it would not have gone over well here. There’s a lot to admire about it, but I’m glad that I waited until it hit Netflix instead of buying a copy or paying for VOD.

  13. Ken Hanke

    I found little to admire. I found it an ugly looking film about people I didn’t care about that thought itself more clever than I did. Bargain basement Brazil shot through a dirty aquarium. I’d have advised against spending money on it because there’s a 99% chance it’ll be in Magnolia’s year-end award screener package.

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