Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler June 4-10: Edge of Our Palo Alto Stars

In Theaters.  This is a pretty slack week. We get two mainstream offerings — neither of which is expected to qualify for the latest Next Big Thing — and one art title that probably isn’t poised to set the world on fire. Well, you have to expect this sort of thing even in this fast-paced age of immediate gratification.




As is often the case, I’ve seen the art title, which in this case is Gia Coppola’s Palo Alto, the writing and directing debut of the latest Coppola. She’s Francis’ granddaughter and Sofia’s and Roman’s niece. Her film was adapted from a book of short stories by James Franco (who also appears in the film as a soccer coach with a penchant for teenage girls). It’s exactly the sort of thing I was prepared to hate, and in a lot of ways, I did. It has the usual languid pace, the disaffected upscale teens, the clueless (or worse) adults — in short, all the things you’ve come to expect from coming-of-age yarns. But it also has moments of fragile beauty, suprising subtlety and a final 10 to 15 minutes that are pretty great. I don’t exactly recommend it. At best, I recommend it with reservations. I do, however, recommend keeping an eye on this newest Coppola. She’s got potential, if she can get out from under Aunt Sofia’s influence. The review is on this week’s paper.




On the mainstream front we have Doug Liman’s Edge of Tomorrow, which teams Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt in a sci-fi action picture. The premise of the film has Cruise and Blunt plunged into a battle with aliens — and if they die, they get to go back and make the attempt all over again. Yes, it does sound like Groundhog Day with aliens. The fact is Doug Liman hasn’t had a hit in quite a while. Granted, I liked his Fair Game (2010) when I saw it, but I had to look it up to remember what it was. The IMDb assures us that his dismal turkey Jumper (2008) has become a cult hit, but I’ve seen no evidence of this, and would rather not meet the cult’s adherents. Whether or not this is the hit he needs remains to be seen, but the industry prognosticators who predict these things are expecting the weekend to be taken by its YA competition.




The YA competitor is The Fault in Our Stars, the sophomore effort from a fellow named Josh Boone, whose first effort, Stuck in Love (2012), didn’t make it to the provinces. This one — adapted from the “best-selling” novel by someone named John Green — is getting the wide release treatment. It’s a romance between two young cancer victims, played by Shailene Woodley (carrying an oxygen tank) and Ansel Elgort (with a supposedly prosthetic leg). From this we may fairly deduce that the film’s target is our tear ducts. That said, a synopsis of the book indicates it is perhaps a little more complex than that — maybe.


Now, this week we lose The Railway Man and, unsurprisingly, Locke. I’m truly sorry that Locke didn’t find an audience, but it was inevitable. It is impossible to promote a movie that the viewer has to see in order to be convinced to see. It did, however, do better than I expected — just not enough better to buy it a second week. Otherwise, everything is holding steady. Even The Grand Budapest Hotel is still at The Carolina where it appears to have taken root. (It hits DVD on June 17, but it really should be seen in a theater.) The big surprise of last weekend was the strong showing of Cold in July, which was certainly gratifying, and which guranteed it at least a second week.


Special Screenings


glasskey halfsheet  


This week the Thursday Horror Picture Show is running Werner Herzog’s Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979) at 8 p.m. on Thursday, June 5 in the Cinema Lounge at the Carolina. World Cinema is showing Luis Buñuel’s Nazarin (1959) on Friday, June 6 at 8 p.m. in the Railroad Library in the Phil Mechanic Building. The Hendersonville Film Society has Giuseppe Tornatore’s The Legend of 1900 (1998) at 2 p.m. on Sunday, June 8 in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. The Asheville Film Society is screening Stuart Heisler’s The Glass Key (1942) on Tuesday, June 10 in Theater Six at The Carolina. More on all titles in this week’s Xpress — with full reviews in the online edition. On DVD Another light week, All we’re in for are Lone Survivor, RoboCop, and Son of God. Weeks like this are easy on my bank account.


Notable TV Screenings  




The prime offering on TCM this week is Paul Morrissey’s very odd gangster thriller Mixed Blood (1984) — a quirky and bloody affair starring Marília Pêra as a Menudo-loving, Carmen Miranda-worshipping (“She was the Abraham Lincoln of Brazil — and she knew it”) crime boss named Rita La Punta. There really is nothing quite like it, even in Paul Morrissey movies.

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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2 thoughts on “Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler June 4-10: Edge of Our Palo Alto Stars

  1. Me

    So there is kind of a reason to be excited for a new Coppola director after all.

  2. Ken Hanke

    Excited is too strong. She has potential…if she can go beyond this “Lifestyles of the Overprivileged and Clueless” thing her aunt dotes on.

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