Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler August 27-September 2: As Above the November Man

In Theaters.

Words of advice: this week watch those movies on your desk you’ve been meaning to get around to, go see Calvary or Magic in the Moonlight or Boyhood (even if you’ve already seen them). Why? Because there are only two movies opening this week — both of the mainstream variety, and both looking pretty sketchy indeed. I’m not sure next week will be any better in the mainstream realm, but at least we’ll get three art titles — at least one of which is really choice, one of which is very pleasant, and one of which I haven’t watched yet. But this week…if you thought last week was on the lame side, read on.




First up,  we have a Wednesday opener? Why is it opening on Wednesday? Clapton knows. I certainly don’t. I guess it’s to get a jump on a lackluster Labor Day weekend — maybe. It’s a movie that no one seems to want and that Relativity Media seems disinclined to promote much. (The blistering early reviews may tell us why.) It’s called The November Man and is based on a spy novel called There Are No Spies by Bill Granger. Pierce Brosnan stars as Peter Devereuax, a retired spy (reasonable), who is forced back into action (less reasonable). Roger Donaldson — who directed Brosnan in Dante’s Peak in 1997 and who hasn’t had a movie with much of a release since The Bank Job in 2008 — directs. Whether it’s any good is an open question. There aren’t enough early reviews to get a real feel, but it’s looking pretty grim.




However, the other new movie option — opening Friday like a normal movie — is the horror opus As Above, So Below, the latest from the Dowdle Brothers, who gave us Quarantine (2008) and the frequently very funny M. Night Shyamalan story Devil (2010). Lining up to buy tickets already, aren’t you? Oh, it gets better. It appears to be yet another found footage thing. The stars are mostly people I’ve apparently seen, but have no memory of. The premise is that these folks are exploring the Paris catacombs and stumble upon the Entrance to Hell — complete with John Milton quote. Friends, this is absolute hooey. I’ve seen Michael Winner’s The Sentinel (1977) and I know for a fact that the Entrance to Hell — complete with John Milton quote — is in an apartment house in Brooklyn. I’m no fool. Sadly, since I usually do the horror movies, I’ll still probably see this subterranean silliness.

With so little opening, we lose absolutely nothing of note.

Special Screenings




Before getting to the usual stuff, I’ll remind you that tomorrow night the Asheville Film Society has its monthly Budget Big Screen movie. This is one of the most exciting –at least for me — films the AFS has ever booked. All movies benefit from being seen on the big screen in the best possible presentation. That — and the quality of the film — has been a governing factor in all Budget Big Screen choices, but Roman Polanski’s Tess may be the one that most demands the big screen. It’s a great film regardless, but so much of what makes it special lies in being immersed in its glorious look and its recreation of a world long past — things that can only be truly appreciated on the big screen. I haven’t seen it that way in 34 years and yet the power and beauty of its images have stayed with me all that time. I can’t wait to re-experience it as it was meant to be seen. Treat yourself to this one. It plays Wed., Aug. 27 at 7:30 p.m. in the biggest theater at The Carolina. Admission is $6 for AFS members and $8 for the general public.




This week the Thursday Horror Picture Show is running Joseph Green’s trash “classic” The Brain That Wouldn’t Die (1962) at 8 p.m. on Thu., Aug. 28 in Theater Six at The Carolina. (Yeah, the movie’s trash, but I’m willing to bet it’s more entertaining than As Above, So Below — and it’s free.)  World Cinema is showing Ingmar Bergman’s Shame (1968) on Fri., Aug. 29 at 8 p.m. in the Railroad Library in the Phil Mechanic Building. The Hendersonville Film Society is playing Barry Levinson’s Rain Man (1988) on Sun., Aug. 31 at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. The Asheville Film Society starts its September calendar with John Barrymore in William Wyler’s Counsellor at Law (1933) on Tue., Sept. 2 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.


The only major release this week is Belle, which was an art house hit here earlier in the year.

Notable TV Screenings




TCM is still doing there “Summer Under the Stars,” meaning we get such peculiar choices as 24 hours of movies starring Arlene Dahl. However, on Fri., Aug. 29, they’ve got Joseph Cotten in Orson Welles’ The Magnificent Ambersons (1942) at 5 p.m, Norman Foster’s Journey Into Fear(1942) 6:45 p.m., William Dieterle’s Portrait of Jennie (1948) at 8 p.m., Carol Reed’s The Third Man (1949) at 12:15 a.m., Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane (1941) at 2:15 a.m., and William Dieterle’s I’ll Be Seeing You (1944) at 4:30 a.m. Now, that’s a line-up.

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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6 thoughts on “Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler August 27-September 2: As Above the November Man

  1. Edwin Arnaudin

    The good news with As Above opening is that we no longer have to see the trailer. The bad news is that the actual movie is now upon us.

  2. Me

    Whit Stillman’s pilot called The Cosmopolitans is now streaming on Amazon for free, did you ever get around to watching his first film?

  3. Edwin Arnaudin

    It is a choice pilot. Hopefully enough people agree and vote in its favor so that we may see the other five episodes he has planned.

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