Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler August 4-10: The other movies

In theaters

This is one of those “thank goodness for the other movies” weeks. There are a grand total of two mainstream titles coming to town this week — The Other Guys and StepUp 3D — both of which would come under the heading of “You couldn’t pay me to watch this,” if I hadn’t given up my right to say that by proving that, yeah, you can pay me to sit through just about anything. All right. But I wouldn’t watch either of these for free. So there.

Fortunately, there’s at least one alternative — Neil Jordan’s Ondine, which opens on Friday at the Carolina (and which Asheville Film Society members can see Wednesday at 8 p.m.). That’s fortunate for the rest of you, but I’ve already seen it and the review for it is in this week’s Xpress, so that doesn’t actively help me out that much. In other words, The Other Guys is in my future.

I’m sure there are those who are looking forward to a re-teaming of Will Ferrell and director Adam McKay. This, after all, is the team that brought the world Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004), Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006) and Step Brothers (2008). The first of these I found fitfully amusing. The other two considerably less than that. But the films have their admirers and there’s just no getting around the fact that this almost has to be better than Ferrell’s last opus, Land of the Lost (2009). Then again I’ve had cat-scans that were more enjoyable than Land of the Lost. Perhaps I will be surprised and find myself confronted with a new comedy classic.

The alternative would be Step Up 3D and not only does that look and sound grimmer, but Justin Souther is our resident expert on Step Up movies and I — well, I just don’t feel qualified to come into the series cold like this. It simply wouldn’t be fair to the Step Up movies. Obviously, these stand in need of a knowledgeable viewer who can assess the nuances that connect this one with the last one. (I learned this line of chatter from Mr. Souther, who uses it on me every time a Tyler Perry movie comes out.)

However, in a very odd move — especially considering that it’s slated to open at the Fine Arts on August 27 — The Girl Who Played with Fire, the sequel to the immensely popular The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, is also slated to open this weekend at the Flatrock Cinema in Flatrock. Granted, rumor has it that the sequel isn’t nearly in the same league — different writer and screenwriter — as the first film. But it’s still an alternative to The Other Guys (or in my case, an addition to it).

Of course, there’s still a lot of good stuff hanging around local screens. The Kids Are All Right (review in tomorrow’s paper) did really solid business at both the Carolina and the Fine Arts and is certainly holding at both theaters. Winter’s Bone is sticking around area theaters as well. I Am Love, Solitary Man and (for whatever reason) Cyrus remain ensconced at the Carolina. And, of course, Inception is just about everywhere.

Special screenings this week start on Thursday, Aug. 5 with Night of the Demon (1957) (or Curse of the Demon, if you prefer) at 8 p.m. as this week’s Thursday Horror Picture Show in the Cinema Lounge at the Carolina. This may well be my favorite horror picture ever, so I’m pretty jazzed about this., World Cinema in the Phil Mechanic Building has the documentary The Atomic Cafe (1982) at 8 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 6. Local filmmaker David Kabler’s Wanderlost makes its debut at 9:45 on Friday and Saturday night (Aug. 6 and 7) at the Fine Arts. The Hendersonville Film Society offers Tony Richardson’s The Charge of the LIght Brigade (1968) at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 8 in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Retirement Community in Hendersonville. And Robert Altman’s Short Cuts on Tuesday, Aug. 10 at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at the Carolina. There’s more info on all these in this week’s Xpress — and even more in the online edition.

On DVD

This is a much better week in the DVD realm. Top of the list for me is Roman Polanski’s The Ghost Writer. You may have seen this in the theater — it certainly stuck around long enough — but multiple viewings on this one may pay dividends. I saw it twice theatrically and am certainly getting the DVD. And I’m looking forward to catching up with Kick-Ass, which I managed to miss. I also missed Diary of a Wimpy Kid, but I’m more ambivalent on that. Now, whether or not I want to see A Prophet again, I’m not sure, though I feel like I should. If you didn’t — and judging by the slack attendance, I’d guess that’s most of you — I’d certainly recommend it.

Notable TV screenings

On Wednesday, Aug. 4 at midnight TCM is running Richard Boleslawski’s Raputin and the Empress (1932) as part of a tribute to Ethel Barrymore. The film is notable for several reasons, not the least of which is that it’s the only time all three Barrymore’s — John, Lionel and Ethel — appeared together in a movie. It’s also the film where MGM found themselves being sued over libeling a living person by taking liberties with reality. It didn’t matter that they’d changed the names; it was obvious who the characters were. It cost MGM a pile of settlement money and resulted in that disclaimer that appears to this day where the movie calls itself a “work of fiction” and asserts that any similarity to real folks is “coincidental” (even when it isn’t). Raputin and the Empress is pretty interesting as a movie, too. Ethel is subdued, but the two boys are in their two-fisted prime, especially Lionel as Rasputin. John, however, has his moments, especially in the scene where he murders the “holy father.”

On Thursday, Aug. 5, TCM turns the evening over to Woody Strode, which means the evening kicks off at 8 p.m. with one of John Ford’s most interesting—- and least revived — films Sergeant Rutledge (1960) where Strode plays a black man accused of rape and murder. What’s interesting is that it’s the first of several Ford pictures to tackle the issue of race — something that might seem out of keeping with the generally reactionary Ford, and something that attests to the fact that he was a lot more complex than might be casually assumed. It’s followed at 10 p.m. by Sergio Leone’s mammoth Once Upon a Time in the West (1969) — a work that may be the director’s masterpiece.

On Saturday, Aug. 7, they give us a full day and night of Errol Flynn starting at 6 a.m. with Virginia City (1940). The highlights come later with The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) at 6:15 p.m. Is this Flynn’s best film? Maybe. It certainly gets my vote as the best Robin Hood movie ever made and it’s an always welcome film — especially in glorious three-strip Technicolor. And if it isn’t Flynn’s best movie, the other major candidate, The Sea Hawk (1940), is on at 8 p.m. (And this one has Flynn with a pet monkey for Elizabeth I as a bonus.) You can’t go wrong with either, but together they make for one hell of a double feature.

Sunday, Aug. 8 offers us just about the most mixed bag imaginable with 24 hours of Bob Hope. It starts off grim at 6 a.m. with the appalling Bachelor in Paradise (1961). It follows this with A Global Affair (1964), a film that makes Bachelor in Paradise start to look pretty good. By the time they’ve gone through I’ll Take Sweden (1965) and Boy, Did I Get a Wrong Number (1966), Bachelor in Paradise is starting to look like a classic. Fortunately, things take another road come 1:15 p.m. In fact it takes five of them with Road to Singapore (1940), Road to Zanzibar (1941), Road to Utopia (1945), Road to Bali (1952) and Road to Morocco (1942). This is more like it, as are the rarely shown Nothing But the Truth (1941) at 9:30 and Where There’s Life (1947) at 11:15.

Monday, Aug. 9 brings a few choice titles starring Warren Beatty. Take particular note of the rarely shown Mike Nicholls film The Fortune (1975) that was a huge flop at the time, despite teaming Beatty with Jack Nicholson. It has its problems, but it’s also worth a re-evaluation. At 6 p.m. there’s Arthur Penn’s Bonnie and Clyde (1967), about which there’s little left to be said by this point in time. To say it shook up American film 1967 is putting things mildly. At 10:30 p.m. we have Beatty’s own Reds (1981), a long movie (195 minutes) that almost justifies its running time. If you’re up to it. there’s a pretty good thriller, The Parallax View (1974), at 2 a.m. and the notorious Ishtar (1987) at 4 a.m. — a flop that does not need re-evaluation. Trust me, I tried.

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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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31 thoughts on “Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler August 4-10: The other movies

  1. This is one of the better weeks I’ve seen this summer for dvd. Also out is the last season of Heroes, the way ahead of its time Max Headroom, After.Life, an early Kurosawa box set, collections of Errol Flynn and Kim Novak, and more goodies from Roger Corman (Humanoids from the Deep & Piranha).

  2. Barry Summers

    Hey, I loved Talladega Nights and Land of the Lost. So we might have to centipede our way over to see The Other Guys (if I have any say about it, that is – sadly, I’m not driving…).

    Check out this alternate Inception ending:

    http://www.collegehumor.com/video:1939234

  3. Barry Summers

    Forget about Kurosawa, Orbit. Get this After Life, by Hirokazu Kore-Eda. It’s like Albert Brooks’ Defending Your Life, only instead of judgment, the recently departed get to make a movie, the seminal moment they want to take into eternity with them. There’s a crew of filmmakers waiting there to help them, and this movie is about them. C’mon, every film buff should see this movie:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DN9sr5wVkik

  4. The film is notable for several reasons, not the least of which is that it’s the only time all three Barrymore’s — John, Lionel and Ethel — appeared together in a movie.
    Shame they couldn’t get Drew in to complete the set.

  5. Barry Summers

    Shame they couldn’t get Drew in to complete the set.

    Couldn’t get her to keep her shirt on.

  6. Me

    I might check out The Fortune i didnt realize Nicholson and Beatty were in a film together.

  7. Barry Summers

    If only it was pre-code.

    Couldn’t get her to keep her placenta on.

  8. Ken Hanke

    the way ahead of its time Max Headroom

    Elaborate on just what you’re talking about since the name alone offers little specificity.

  9. Ken Hanke

    Hey, I loved Talladega Nights and Land of the Lost.

    Yes, well, I knew the former existed, but you may be the first person I’ve heard liking Land of the Lost. Even most people who think Will Ferrell is funny (I am not in that group) disowned that one.

  10. Ken Hanke

    Shame they couldn’t get Drew in to complete the set.

    I hate to interrupt this unseemly outcropping of Drew Barrymore frivolity (I can name lots of people I like less than her), but you’re leaving several Barrymores out of this if you’re wanting to “complete the set.” And the movie was pre-code.

  11. Ken Hanke

    I might check out The Fortune i didnt realize Nicholson and Beatty were in a film together.

    If nothing else, you will learn a new term for a sanitary napkin, so it may be viewed as educational.

  12. Barry Summers

    If nothing else, you will learn a new term for a sanitary napkin, so it may be viewed as educational.

    Oh, but our Drew Barrymore frivolity was unseemly?
    “Unleash the Bony Finger of Accusation!”

  13. Ken Hanke

    Oh, but our Drew Barrymore frivolity was unseemly?

    It was unseemly only in the sense that I was and am perplexed by the apparent need to denigrate the woman. I’m not wild about her by any means, but I don’t mind her.

  14. Barry Summers

    And Max Headroom really was ahead of it’s time, both in concept (hard-hitting reporter killed while pursuing a story his mediacorp bosses want buried), and in visual effects, which simulated later CGI techniques with relatively simple video tricks. I was a video major in art school when this first came out, and we had arguments over whether the ‘Max’ character was video or computer-generated.

    It’s main value for me was the hard criticism of a world ruled by a murderous corporate media. Pretty meaty stuff for 1987 mainstream sci-fi/comedy, and probably why it got co-opted into frivolous pop-status (Coke commercials, MTV, etc.), and then quietly disappeared.

  15. Barry Summers

    It was unseemly only in the sense that I was and am perplexed by the apparent need to denigrate the woman. I’m not wild about her by any means, but I don’t mind her.

    Sorry, I didn’t mean to denigrate her. I like her too – she’s an original. I just keep thinking of her standing up on top of David Letterman’s desk and flashing him for his birthday. She’s hilarious.

  16. Ken Hanke

    probably why it got co-opted into frivolous pop-status (Coke commercials, MTV, etc.),

    Best VJ ever. So much more lifelike than Martha Quinn.

  17. Larry Cable

    They just don’t make movies like they used to. I feel kind of sorry for Ken having to watch all these subpar flicks. But Ken thanks for sitting through these boring films so the rest of us can choose not to.

  18. Me

    I already know a term for sanitary napkin, since i listen to Nardwar the Human Serviette on WFMU every week.

  19. Ken Hanke

    I already know a term for sanitary napkin, since i listen to Nardwar the Human Serviette on WFMU every week.

    Ah, but do you know this one?

  20. Ken Hanke

    No not yet, guess i will have to wait until Monday.

    After this build-up it’ll probably be a letdown, but it — and the defective snake (you’ll see) — are my main memories of the film at this point. Well, seeing it at USF projected with the incorrect lens is kind of hard to forget, too.

  21. A Vietnam Vet

    Ken, you have the greatest sense of humor. A little snarky at times in an artsy, intellectual kind of way, but snicker doodle nonetheless. I love those old road movies with Hope Crosby and Dorothy Lamour.
    Dotty used to really get me going when I was a youngster in those sarongs of hers. And the boys are F U N N Y!

  22. Me

    Just noticed TCM is doing a mini Ingrid Bergman marathon and they’re going to do Ingrid and Ingmars Autumn Sonata.

  23. TonyRo

    THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE is the same writer (of the novel), but not the same screenwriter. It’s an almost complete diversion from the formula presented in the first book, but it’s still great (especially for fans of Salandar).

    I thought THE OTHER GUYS was pretty amazing, the action movie is a nice venture for McKay and Ferrell and hopefully one they will return to again. Michael Keaton is pretty great in it.

  24. Ken Hanke

    THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE is the same writer (of the novel), but not the same screenwriter.

    That’s actually a mistake in the text. It was supposed to read “different director and screenwriter.”

    I thought THE OTHER GUYS was pretty amazing

    I’d go so far as to say it’s easily the best Will Ferrell movie that isn’t Stranger Than Fiction.

  25. I’d go so far as to say it’s easily the best Will Ferrell movie that isn’t Stranger Than Fiction.
    Better than MELINDA AND MELINDA?

  26. Ken Hanke

    Better than MELINDA AND MELINDA?

    I don’t think of that as “Will Ferrell movie,” but as a film in which Ferrell was miscast.

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