Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler April 11-17: ActionFest Lockout Stooges Raid in the Woods

In Theaters

OK, look: It’s ActionFest weekend —  what more do you really need to know prior to Monday? There are more movies than you can shake a stick at (if you care for that sort of thing) without having to even consider the rather grim prospect of such things as The Three Stooges. And I’ll be taking a sneak peak at that tomorrow. But for now, let’s go ahead and consider the week on the whole.

What we’ve got this week are three movies that come under the heading of more-or-less mainstream fare and one of the more art-title variety. And, yes, as is often the case, I’ve seen the art title. Actually, Justin Souther and I both dragged ourselves into the theater to see a press screening of it at 9 a.m. on Friday. (The fact that he brought food, but didn’t bring me any, is another matter that will be addressed when the next Nicholas Sparks movie comes out.) I refer, of course, to The Raid: Redemption, which opens on Friday at The Carolina. And, no, it’s not just coincidental that an action/art title is opening this weekend. And, yes, it qualifies as both art and action—though part of its art quotient comes from the fact that it has subtitles (as so many quality action movies do).

Considering that The Raid is reviewed in this week’s Xpress, we’ll move right along to the other titles.

The most potentially interesting is The Cabin in the Woods, which comes to us from writer-producer Joss Whedon and director-co-writer Drew Goddard (who wrote Cloverfield). Right now, it’s gotten mostly good reviews and they’re starting to come in from some reliable sources now. And, of course, the Joss Whedon faithful are on high alert to attack anyone who doesn’t show the requisite love for anything with his name attached to it, (The so-called “Rotten Tomatoes community” is already at that stage where you kind of wish the internet had never existed.)  Here’s what we know: It’s about a delibrately cliched meat-on-the-hoof “teens” who go into the woods and run afoul of something nasty, and it’s all tied to a group of scientists who may or may not be controlling the events. We also know that there’s more to it than that. It’s the latest movie that’s going to reinvent horror, or stand it on its head. Maybe. We can find out on Friday — and much as I am not a Whedonite, I admit to more than a little curiosity.

On a somewhat lower end of the anticipation scale there’s Lockout, the latest from French producer Luc Besson, whose days as a filmmaker in his own right — and was taken seriously — seem very long ago. Now, he mostly produces action pictures that are at best enjoyably disposable. At worst, they’re merely disposable. This one looks like a kind of reworking of Escape from New York — more or less — with Guy Pearce as a wrongly convicted man given a chance for a pardon if he rescues the president’s daughter from some maximum security facility in outer space that’s been taken over by the inmates. The trailer looks mildly entertaining — mostly on the strength of Pearce tossing off one-liners and not taking any of this very seriously.

And then, there is The Three Stooges from the Farrelly Brothers. Apart from the idea of seeing Larry David dragged up as a nun called Sister Mary-Mengele, what possible interest is there in this? A long, long time ago, this was supposed to be some kind of Stooges biopic and it had names like Sean Penn, Paul Giamatti and Benicio Del Toro attached to it. Now, it has three Stooge lookalikes from TV attenpting to duplicate — and in some cases update — the old Three Stooges’ schtick that was old by the time Curly was laid low by strokes in the late 1940s. Part of the problem is that the real Stooges were at their best in short movies. Their own late-in-the-day attempts at features (with Joe DeRita taking the Curly part) were pretty dire — and the trailer for this looks worse. Apart from a bit (that goes on way too long) where Larry is apparently castrated by a lobster) audiences I’ve seen the trailer with have sat there in baffled silence. Just imagine that trailer going on for 90 minutes.

We’re not exactly losing anything from the art side of things this week other than The Artist (it had to happen eventually), though ActionFest pre-empts a few things. The Fine Arts, for example, is keeping both Salmon Fishing in the Yemen and We Need to Talk About Kevin, but they’re showing the closing night ActionFest movie on Sunday, which bumps the showing of the 7:20 Kevin. (On Thursday, a showing of Neurotypical will knockout the 7 p.m. showing of Salmon Fishing.) The Carolina is dropping Jeff, Who Loves at Home and Rampart for the weekend, but bringing them back on Monday. I hope that’s clear to you.

Special Screenings

Apart from the (slightly altered) usual screenings, the Asheville Film Society has a special theatrical showing of Brian DePalma’s The Fury (1978) with an introduction and Q&A by the film’s stunt coordinator, Mickey Gilbert on Friday, April 13, at 7:30 p.m. at The Carolina. Tickets are $5 for AFS members, $9.75 for the general public.

There is no Thursday Horror Picture Show this week because of ActionFest. On Friday, April 13, at 8 p.m. World Cinema is screening Luis Buñuel’s Nazarin (1959) in the Railroad Library in the Phil Mechanic Building. The Hendersonville Film Society is showing Jean Negulesco’s Titanic (1953) at 2 p.m. on Sunday, April 15, in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. The Asheville Film Society is running Alexander Hall’s Mae West comedy Goin’ to Town (1935) on Tuesday, April 17, at 8 p.m.  in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. More on all titles in the Xpress and expanded information in the online edition.

On DVD

It’s a fairly slack week on DVD, it seems, with the only notable (loosely speaking) releases being The Iron Lady and The Darkest Hour. Once was enough for me on the first. Never even once satisfied me on the second.

Notable TV Screenings

Another pretty uneventful week on TCM, though it’s worth pointing out that on Monday, April 16, starting at 6 a.m., there’s a run of Chaplin movies — Pay Day (1922), The Kid (1921), A Woman of Paris, and City Lights (1931). That’s worth anybody’s time.

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About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress since December 2000. 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."

8 thoughts on “Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler April 11-17: ActionFest Lockout Stooges Raid in the Woods

  1. Jeremy Dylan

    The most potentially interesting is The Cabin in the Woods, which comes to us from writer-producer Joss Whedon and director-co-writer Drew Goddard (who wrote Cloverfield).

    Somewhat interesting cast too – Bradley Whitford and Richard Jenkins are nothing to sneeze at.

  2. Xanadon't

    Wait, Richard Jenkins is in it? That certainly pads my interest. And in fact I rather liked the last horror film he appeared in, 2008′s The Broken. About the only After Dark Horrorfest release worth a damn, but also just surprisingly good in its own right.

  3. Dionysis

    “…it has three Stooge lookalikes from TV…”

    I don’t think they look anything like the Three Stooges, aside from the hair. And I find it almost offensive that this would even be tried. Again (remember the 2000 Stooges movie…ugh).

  4. Ken Hanke

    Somewhat interesting cast too – Bradley Whitford and Richard Jenkins are nothing to sneeze at.

    I have no idea who the former is and while I like the latter just fine, I’ve never once said, “Hey, let’s go see that new Richard Jenkins movie.” I’m no fan of Joss Whedon and Cloverfield is not an attractive calling card for the other guy. I’m more interested in just seeing if this really is the unique contraption it’s been painted as.

  5. Ken Hanke

    remember the 2000 Stooges movie…ugh

    I was blessedly spared that. I won’t be so lucky this time, since even while admitting that I am slightly mystified by the popularity of the Stooges in general, I am more familiar with them than Justin is.

  6. Jeremy Dylan

    I have no idea who the former is

    This is the part where I spruick his TV credits and you look baffled. He’s best known for being one of the leads in the great American drama committed to celluloid – THE WEST WING. Also great in STUDIO 60 ON THE SUNSET STRIP and THE GOOD GUYS.

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