Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler April 13-19: Win Win with Certified Copy of The Conspirator

In theaters

It’s a busy and possibly—in some cases at least—worthwhile weekend at the movies. We have two mainstream titles—Scream 4 and Rio—three art titles—Certified Copy (Carolina), The Conspirator (Carolina), and Win Win (Fine Arts)—one hard-to-classify title—Atlas Shrugged. If nothing else it’s diverse.

I was supposed to have seen Certified Copy already, but the fates—and maybe Fed-Ex—were against me. As a result, the only of the titles you’ll find reviewed in this week’s paper is Robert Redford’s historical drama The Conspirator and you can read about that later today—or now if you’re coming to this late. So let’s take a peek at how the rest of it might appear to stack up.

Alphabetically, the first is obviously Atlas Shrugged. More properly, it’s part one of Atlas Shrugged, since Ayn Rand’s controversial shelf-groaner of a book has been theoretically broken down into three movies. I say “theoretically” because only the one entry has been made. The next two films (Atlas Shrugged Again? Atlas Keep on Shruggin’?) are only likely to be made if this one bears box office fruit. I’ll pause here to say two things—yes, I have read the book (and The Fountainhead come to that) and, no, I am not in sympathy with Ms. Rand’s philosophy. I’ll also say that I don’t honestly believe that she’d be very pleased with her book being given the bargain-basement treatment of no stars and a no-name director (who also plays John Galt), especially since the whole thing was thrown together by the producer so the movie would go into production before he lost the rights to the book. What staunch atheist Rand would make of it being handled by a distributor best known for the pro-creationism film Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed (2008), I shudder to think.

Certified Copy has all the earmarks of being a very worthwhile film. It marks the first film made by Abbas Kiarostami outside of his native Iran. The only of Kiarostami’s films I’ve seen is the excellent Close Up but it’s certainly enough to make me want to see this new one. Then again, anything with Juliette Binoche is probably worth a single viewing at the very least. Here she’s paired with opera star William Shimell, who plays a British writer on the authenticity of art. He’s on a book tour in Tuscany where he meets Binoche, who offers to show him around the countryside. When the duo are mistaken for husband and wife at an inn, they decide to play along. But as things progress it becomes increasingly unclear as to whether they might actually be a married couple. In other words, it appears to be surprisingly playful, lightweight work from the generally serious filmmaker—which might be a relief to him.

While the early reviews—largely from Australia and the UK where the film is already out—for Rio are generally positive, I have to say I find the trailer grating in the extreme. But then I’ve never cared for the Ice Age movies, which are by the same people who made this animated kid flick, so that may have something to do with it. (I’ve never reviewed one, nor have I made it all the way through any of the Ice Age pictures.) Also, it’s worth noting that a lot of these positive reviews are positive mostly in the “children should like it” sense. Anyway, it’s about a macaw named Blu (voiced by Jesse Eisenberg), who turns out to be only one of two of his kind known to exist, so he’s parceled off to Rio for parrot conjugality with the other, Jewel (voiced by Anne Hathaway). Of course, he’s a nerd of a bird, who can’t even fly. And naturally that becomes more than a personal embarrassment when he and Jewel are stolen and have to escape. Justin Souther can tell you how it is later.

Wes Craven is very hit or miss with me—and mostly miss, I fear—though his A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) is an indisputable classic and The People Under the Stairs (1991) is criminally undervalued. For that matter, I found last year’s My Soul to Take too loopy to dislike. His Scream films, on the other hand, have tended to leave me very cold. When he revealed in an audio commentary on the original that one of the murders happened solely because it had been awhile since there’d been any carnage, it merely strengthened my feeling that the series was the height of cynicism. What will Scream 4 be? Well, I’m curious to find out—even if I can’t get the cameo from Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (2001) out of my head (“Jesus, Wes, you aren’t even trying anymore!”). In fact, I might be disappointed when “Ghostface” doesn’t turn out to be an orangutan in Scream 4.

On a more serious note, there’s also Tom McCarthy’s Win Win with a solid cast including Paul Giamatti, Amy Ryan, Bobby Canavale, Jeffrey Tambor, Burt Young, Melanie Lynskey, Margo Martindale, and newcomer Alex Shaffer. You may recall that McCarthy brought us the exceptional The Station Agent (2003) and the only slightly less great The Visitor (2007). His newest film is a quirky comedy about a not too scrupulous lawyer and high school wrestling coach (Giamatti), whose scruples are even less scrupulous when he finds himself up against the wall financially. He sees an out by appointing himself caretaker for a client (Burt Young), putting him in a nursing home and pocketing the man’s money, and this solution works fine until unexpected relatives of his client start showing up. The film has the most laudatory reviews of any film released so far this year. Need I say more?

Quite a few things are making their final bows this week. The bright idea of a PG-13 version of The King’s Speech has folded its tent (tee hee hee). Less fortunately, we see the departure of Cedar Rapids (still at The Carolina through Thursday). Paul never found the audience it ought to have and is gone, but Rango gets a little resuscitation by finding a home at the Beaucatcher come Friday. Of considerably greater note for cineastes everywhere is the release of two Ken Russell films—The Boy Friend (1971) and Savage Messiah (1972)—from Warner Bros. Archive. The latter affords you the opportunity to see what the British press in their typically tasteful way trumpeted with “Reveals Miss Helen Mirren full-frontal in a scene longer than the normal glimpse.” So there.

Special Screenings

William Cameron Menzies’ Invaders from Mars (1953) is this week’s Thursday Horror Picture Show at 8 p.m. on Thursday, April 14, in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. World Cinema is screening Robert Bresson’s Au Hasard Balthazar (1966) on Friday, April 15, at 8 p.m. in the Railroad Library of the Phil Mechanic Building. The Hendersonville Film Society is running Bo Widerberg’s Elvira Madigan (1967) on Sunday, April 17, at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. Preston Strurges’ The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek (1944) is showing in the Lord Auditorium at Pack Library on Tuesday, April 19, at 6 p.m. And the Asheville Film Society has Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Dreamers (2003) on Tuesday, April 19, at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina.

On DVD

This week sees the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, giving you plenty of time to reacquaint yourselves with Part 1 before Part 2 comes out this summer. Otherwise, there’s Country Strong, a movie I managed to avoid in theaters, and which is now a DVD I will also avoid. Of considerably greater interest to cineastes everywhere is the first DVD release of two Ken Russell classics—The Boy Friend (1971) and Savage Messiah (1972)—from Warner Bros. archive. The latter will allow viewers to see for themselves what the typically tasteful British press announced with “Reveals Miss Helen Mirren full-frontal in a scene longer than the normal glimpse!” I do not deny the veracity of that statement, mind you.

Notable TV screenings

It’s a slack week on TCM. By that I mean there are only so many times I can exhort you to watch Love Me Tonight (1932), which has gotten a lot of play recently. However, there’s The Glass Key (1942) at 8 p.m. Thursday, April 14, which isn’t run very often and which offers excellent performances from Alan Ladd, Brian Donlevy and Veronica Lake. If the movie seems familiar, that’s probably because it has pretty much the same plot as the Coen Brothers’ Miller’s Crossing (1990). This is actually the second version of Dashiell Hammett’s novel (be nice if TCM would run the 1935 one). It’s followed by The Guardsman (1931) at 9:45 p.m., a movie of no minor charm and of great historical import—at least in theater terms. This marks the only film appearance of husband-and-wife acting team Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne (for whom the Broadway theater is named), and it’s enough to make their immense theatrical reputation understandable. It’s also—judging from the performances—fuel for the fire of the ongoing debate as to the sexual orientation of its stars.

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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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44 thoughts on “Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler April 13-19: Win Win with Certified Copy of The Conspirator

  1. Me

    You should check out Kiarostami’s A Taste of Cherry.

    TCM is playing Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles late Sunday night early Monday morning.

  2. The latter affords you the opportunity to see what the British press in their typically tasteful way trumpeted with “Reveals Miss Helen Mirren full-frontal in a scene longer than the normal glimpse.” So there.

    I’d love this to be screened in a double bill with THE QUEEN – I imagine their might be some interesting reactions in those turning up for the latter.

  3. Ken Hanke

    You should check out Kiarostami’s A Taste of Cherry.

    That I might do at some point.

    TCM is playing Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles late Sunday night early Monday morning.

    Despite the fact that almost everyone waxes ecstatic over this, I have yet to find any compelling reason why I really want to watch three hours and 20 minutes of minimalist cinema, most of which appears to be taken up with watching a woman do housework.

  4. Ken Hanke

    I’d love this to be screened in a double bill with THE QUEEN – I imagine their might be some interesting reactions in those turning up for the latter.

    Oh, I think The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover needs to be included for maximum effect.

  5. I happened to come across a “Doogie Howser” rerun of all things, and I have no idea what movie they were referring to, but the comic relief sidekick tries to get him to go to a movie with four words: “Helen Mirren nude scene.” Not that I discount that as an attraction, but I had no idea that such appreciation was quite as widespread, at least to the makers and/or target audience of “Doogie Howser.”

    [b]In fact, I might be disappointed when “Ghostface” doesn’t turn out to be an orangutan in Scream 4.[b/]

    The possibility of [i]Scream 4[/i] having shades of Poe (Freudians take note, I initially typed that as “pie”) strikes me as giving Craven more credit than he deserves. Mr. Ken also (probably intentionally) reminded me of the famous reveal in the final “Prisoner” episode.

  6. And I boldly went where I did not intend to go (serves me right for being out of practice in both posting and coding on these boards).

  7. Ken Hanke

    happened to come across a “Doogie Howser” rerun of all things, and I have no idea what movie they were referring to, but the comic relief sidekick tries to get him to go to a movie with four words: “Helen Mirren nude scene.”

    My guess — based on the time frame — is Cook, Thief. Plus, it’s probably the most famous. Now, how they planned on getting into an NC-17 film (and the actual draw of that on Neil Patrick Harris) is another question altogether.

    The possibility of Scream 4 having shades of Poe (Freudians take note, I initially typed that as “pie”) strikes me as giving Craven more credit than he deserves.

    I think that might shortchange Craven’s actual intelligence (despite the frequent onscreen evidence to the contrary), but in this case, it’d be more Kevin Smith than Poe. Now, the idea that Kevin Smith would cite Poe…well…

    serves me right for being out of practice in both posting and coding on these boards

    Well, get in practice then.

  8. I was questioning less Craven’s intelligence and level of literacy than the likelihood it would translate in cinematic terms in such a vehicle as [i]Scream 4[/i]. And whenever possible, I generally try to avoid thinking about Kevin Smith at all.

  9. Ken Hanke

    I was questioning less Craven’s intelligence and level of literacy than the likelihood it would translate in cinematic terms in such a vehicle as Scream 4.

    Oh, as far as this goes, you’re probably right. I can’t say I’m expecting much from this. Maybe I’ll be wrong.

    And whenever possible, I generally try to avoid thinking about Kevin Smith at all.

    I don’t entirely disagree with that concept, but it was Smith who came up with Ghostface revealed as an orangutan in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.

  10. I had no idea that such appreciation was quite as widespread, at least to the makers and/or target audience of “Doogie Howser.”

    The appeal of Dame Helen crosses all cultural and chronological boundaries.

  11. I haven’t seen the film yet. I’ll place any potential concessions to Smith on reserve, depending on the performance of the orangutan in question. And great, now you have me thinking of [i]Dunston Checks In[/i].

  12. DrSerizawa

    Scream 4, please God, no. I could barely stand Scream 1. It’s doubly destestable to me because it ushered in the age of “self aware” horror where apparently just making references to other horror movies no matter how non-sequitur makes the movie “hip”.

    I also fear the maker of “Atlas Shrugged” will miss the point entirely that the book was hyperbole and instead take it literally.

  13. Ken Hanke

    The appeal of Dame Helen crosses all cultural and chronological boundaries.

    And sexual orientation if Doogie Howser is to be believed.

  14. Ken Hanke

    And great, now you have me thinking of Dunston Checks In.

    It’s very likely playing on FMC at some point this week.

  15. Ken Hanke

    Scream 4, please God, no. I could barely stand Scream 1. It’s doubly destestable to me because it ushered in the age of “self aware” horror where apparently just making references to other horror movies no matter how non-sequitur makes the movie “hip”.

    To be honest, my major memory of the first one is that it was way, painfully too long and it gave me a headache. I notice with some alarm that this one is nearly two full hours.

    I also fear the maker of “Atlas Shrugged” will miss the point entirely that the book was hyperbole and instead take it literally.

    Most people who like it seem to take it literally — and very, very seriously. Personally, I just think it’s vile, but I doubt that surprises you.

  16. Ok, back from a whirlwind college tour of the triangle.

    For those in Asheville, we carry Warner Archives films (and other studios) and will most definitely be stocking SAVAGE MESSIAH and THE BOYFRIEND.

  17. Ken Hanke

    Ok, back from a whirlwind college tour of the triangle.

    Going back to school?

    will most definitely be stocking SAVAGE MESSIAH and THE BOYFRIEND.

    I think you can pretty much bet that the AFS will be showing them, too.

  18. Ken Hanke

    FMC – Fox Monkey Channel!

    Well, J. Fred Muggs knows, they haven’t been able to make themselves known for anything else.

  19. Ken Hanke

    Besides, they already own the Movietone Newsreels. All those Lew Lehr segments going to waste!

    They probably don’t know they own them. That seems to be true of 90% of their holdings.

  20. Going back to school?

    Orbit’s Daughter is in 2012.

    Soon we will be starting a new ad campaign:

    SEND A CHILD TO COLLEGE, RENT A MOVIE!

  21. Ken Hanke

    SEND A CHILD TO COLLEGE, RENT A MOVIE!

    I’ve seen less promising campaigns.

  22. Ken Hanke

    So did you finally catch up with Black Dynamite?

    No. With fitting in the Harold and Maude screening, reviewing Arthur, Hanna, and The Conspirator, along with the short reviews of Invaders from Mars, The Dreamers, Au Hasard Balthazar, The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek, and Elvira Madigan, I was lucky to work in Hobo with a Shotgun and Super.

  23. Ken Hanke

    Dammit, Ken. I’ll give you a copy of BLACK DYNAMITE and HOUSE next week.

    Okay. Wasn’t there something besides HOUSE you wanted me to see as potential THPS material?

  24. Okay. Wasn’t there something besides HOUSE you wanted me to see as potential THPS material?

    Were we talking about another one? They are coming out so fast now.

    You’ve showed an Argento recently, but there there is a stellar blu-ray of INFERNO out now with DEEP RED coming out next month.

  25. Me

    Dissapointed TCM is not doing a Charlie Chaplin marathon, even Google is celebrating his birthday.

  26. Ken Hanke

    Were we talking about another one?

    Yes, but I have no idea what.

    Actually, I’d been semi-planning on Inferno, but I need to see it again. I recall it being rather fascinatingly awful in that Argento way. What’s the movie — I think it might be from Son o’ Bava — with the people trapped in the movie theater from hell (or to hell)?

  27. Ken Hanke

    Dissapointed TCM is not doing a Charlie Chaplin marathon, even Google is celebrating his birthday.

    While I’m all for a Chaplin marathon at anytime, I’m not clear on why this birthday seems to be being singled out. It’s his 122nd, right? That’s not exactly notable in itself — like a 100th or even a 125th. On the other hand, it’s not exactly like today’s TCM programming wouldn’t have been vastly improved by such a marathon.

  28. DrSerizawa

    What’s the movie—I think it might be from Son o’ Bava—with the people trapped in the movie theater from hell (or to hell)?

    That would be Demons1985 by Lamberto Bava who apparently inherited not one iota of his father’s uneven talent. A fine example of schlockly stylized incoherency if there ever was one.

    Now I did it. I don’t worship at the feet of Mario Bava or Dario Argento, for that matter. I guess that blows my membership in Horror Movie Fandom. Why these two are so over rated it mystifies me.

  29. Ken Hanke

    That would be Demons1985 by Lamberto Bava who apparently inherited not one iota of his father’s uneven talent. A fine example of schlockly stylized incoherency if there ever was one.

    That’s it — and that’s a perfectly fair description of it. Even so, it might play well with a crowd.

    Now I did it. I don’t worship at the feet of Mario Bava or Dario Argento, for that matter. I guess that blows my membership in Horror Movie Fandom. Why these two are so over rated it mystifies me.

    Well, that ship sailed for me a long, long time ago. I can enjoy some Argento on the pure screwiness of the movies — something his admirers like to call “dream logic,” which seems to be code for “incoherent.” Bava, not so much. We ran Black Sunday and the response was tepid, so I’m not anxious to try him again. The response to Argento’s Phenomena was much better, though not necessarily because the audience actually thought it was good in the normal sense of that word.

    My favorite Argento story involves a friend of mine who doesn’t even like the man’s films interviewing him, and finding himself being hugged by the maestro at the conclusion of the interview and being told it was a pleasure to talk to someone who really understood his work. Nothing could have been further from the truth.

  30. DrSerizawa

    Though I think Bava generally made a better movie there’s no doubt that Argento’s insanity can make for a more enjoyable group screening… a series of WTF? moments.

  31. Ken Hanke

    Though I think Bava generally made a better movie there’s no doubt that Argento’s insanity can make for a more enjoyable group screening… a series of WTF? moments.

    I frankly see no evidence that Bava was any better, though I do find him a lot duller. Neither one has a clue about story structure and both rarely seem to bother with much of a climax. But that to one side, it’s hard to stand up against a razor-wielding chimpanzee and a dramatic shot of a car exhaust (both in Phemonena) for crowd-pleasing insanity.

  32. Ken Hanke

    There’s a beautiful blu-ray of VAMPIRE CIRCUS out now by Synapse… perhaps a showing of that one?

    It’s actually on my list of things to consider, but I need to see it. I never have.

  33. Ken Hanke

    There’s a beautiful blu-ray of VAMPIRE CIRCUS out now by Synapse… perhaps a showing of that one?

    It’s actually on my list of things to consider, but I need to see it. I never have.

  34. It’s actually on my list of things to consider, but I need to see it. I never have

    It, along with TWINS OF EVIL and CAPTAIN KRONOS, are my three favorite late-period Hammer films.

  35. Ken Hanke

    It, along with TWINS OF EVIL and CAPTAIN KRONOS, are my three favorite late-period Hammer films.

    I may have Twins of Evil. I do have Captain Kronos, but I have to admit I fell asleep watching it.

  36. Me

    Was planning on seeing Certified Copy sometime in the next week or two, i don’t even see it on the Carolina website now. Whats the deal?

  37. Ken Hanke

    Was planning on seeing Certified Copy sometime in the next week or two, i don’t even see it on the Carolina website now. Whats the deal?

    I can’t answer for their website, but it’s in our listings:

    Certified Copy (NR)
    12:35, 3:05, 5:30, 8:00, 10:30

    And I doubt you’ve got the “next week or two.” It’s there through next Thursday, but unless it picks up a surprising amount, that’s almost certainly going to be it.

  38. Ken Hanke

    So its ending this Thursday or the next?

    I guessing that its last day is going to be Thu., Apr. 28. It’s at least here that long.

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