Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler December 25-January 1:  Short and (Maybe) Sweet

In Theaters

Merry Christmas and welcome to the shortest column ever. Well, it’s not my fault that the studios opted to open everything by Christmas, but it resulted in everything about this week’s releases being in last week’s “Reeler”—and, in some cases, even the reviews have run. In short, there is no news. Whether it is true that no news is good news remains to be seen. But, hey, what there is, you’re getting early.

I’m sure some of you—maybe a lot of you—plan on making your way to a movie on Christmas. I wish you the joy that. Having worked at a theater for 10 years,  it would take a lot to get me to the movies on Christmas. (OK, so a one-time big screen showing of a Ken Russell picture would do it, but that’s not on for this year, so that temptation has been avoided.) I am content to stay home with some old seasonal movies. Anyway, I’ve seen everything I want to see that’s out there—except for Django Unchained, and it will still be there on Dec. 26.

I do find the big Christmas Day releases a kind of curious lot. Apart from Parental Guidance—a film I succesfully whined my way out of reviewing—the screens aren’t exactly overflowing with so-called family friendly fare. You’ve got one R rated romantic comedy, Silver Linings Playbook. It’d be OK for my family, but the youngest member of that is 36. You’ve got one PG-13 rated big budget musical with Les Miserables, but let’s be honest here—no matter how you feel about it, it’s still nearly three hours of hard luck, poverty, death, social injustice, and other fun stuff. And then there’s the R rated Django Unchained—which promises to be nearly three hours of over-the-top violence in the Quentin Tarantino manner. The MPAA promises “strong graphic violence throughout, a vicious fight, language and some nudity.” That may be Christmas catnip for some of us, but not so much for others.

Special Screenings

Once again, the holidays take a bite out of these. The Hendersonville Film Society doesn’t return till Jan. 6, and World Cinema is on a two week hiatus. However, the Thursday Horror Picture Show is running Fernando Mendez’s The Vampire’s Coffin (1958)—the sequel to his 1957 hit El Vampiro—at 8 p.m. on Thu., Dec. 27 in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. The Asheville Film Society kicks off 2013 on Tue., Jan 1 with the Four Marx Brothers in what most consider their best film, Duck Soup (1933) at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. More on these in this week’s paper with extended coverarge in the online edition.


Believe it or not, there actually are some releases this week. The only one of any real concern to us is The Words—a film that died a well-deserved death in theaters.

Notable TV Screenings

Unless you’re in the market for a day of Dr. Kildare movies or Abbott and Costello comedies (I’m not), this is one slack week.

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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7 thoughts on “Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler December 25-January 1:  Short and (Maybe) Sweet

  1. DrSerizawa

    I can’t recall a Xmas with so few “G” releases. That’s flat weird. Especially since “G” flicks generally do so well at Xmas.

  2. Ken Hanke

    The only G release is the re-release of Monsters, Inc. — and it was a dud. Even Disney seems to realize that these retrofitted 3D jobs have run their course. I think they’re committed to one more, but after that there are no further plans for the things.

  3. Orbit DVD

    There’s a Monsters, Inc. sequel coming out next summer. Pure publicity with this 3-D version.

  4. Ken Hanke

    Not with the numbers this thing’s doing. We’re talking pretty dire, but these retrofit things have been losing ground constantly. Remember when this started with Nightmare Before Xmas — and it was such a big deal that they were going to bring it out annually at Halloween? That stopped after the second year. Of course, that first year was the same year they could sucker $30 tickets for that Miley Cyrus 3D thing where she sang the song with the same tune as “Scotty Doesn’t Know.”

  5. Ken Hanke

    I must confess I don’t understand the logic behind this and I don’t have the times, but it seems The Carolina is dropping Hitchcock tomorrow and bringing back Argo and Life of Pi. Personally, I think Hitchcock is better than either one, but no one asked me.

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