Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler Feb. 16-22: What a drag

In theaters

Thank Clapton for the appearance of Barney’s Version (starts Friday at Fine Arts) this week, because the remaining local openers are not exactly an enthralling prospect. In fact, it’s the sort of selection that causes it to look like this might just be the weekend to look into those mahjong lessons you’ve been putting off for far too long.

Once again, I find myself in the position of having already seen Barney’s Version (the review is in this week’s paper), leaving me with the prospect of Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son, I Am Number Four and Unknown. I suppose we might as well examine this trio.

It’s been five years since Martin Lawrence foisted one of these “Big Momma” movies on us. Oh, I’m not saying he hasn’t been busy bringing us … entertainment of a similar kind, but I had been lulled into a sense of now dashed hopefulness that he’d retired the fat suit and drag act. Alas, no. So he’s back with presumably more of the same. (No sense letting Tyler Perry corner the market, right?) This time he’s upped the ante by getting Brandon T. Jackson (a much more likable performer than Lawrence) to drag himself up, too. There’s some kind of a plot involving the two of them going undercover at a girls’ school to investigate a murder. Didn’t Abbott and Costello do something like this in 1945?

Then we have I Am Number Four. Now, being a confirmed fan of The Prisoner (the real one, not that thing with Jim “Jesus” Caviezel), I can’t hear that title without thinking, “You are Number Six.” However, this appears to be some sci-fi contrivance involving mutant teens with special powers (our hero appears to have flashlights in the palms of his hands) who are being systematically killed off by number. The whole thing is designed to a star out of someone named Alex Pettyfer, who at this point is probably best known for being in the trailer for the constantly postponed and and ghastly looking Beastly (they now swear it’s coming out next month). His PR claims that his family is very close to Channing Tatum’s family, which is very believable.

Bringing up the rear is Unknown, which looks to be another in the peculiar run of movies that cast Liam Neeson as an action star. This round Neeson awakes from a coma only to find that his wife (January Jones) has no idea who he is and Aidan Quinn is now claiming to be him. Is he nuts or is there some eerie conspiracy at work? Well, if it’s not the latter, there’s probably no plot, so I’m guessing it’s a conspiracy. Director Jaume Collet-Serra was the man behind Orphan (2009) and House of Wax (2005). That may tell you something.

Now, all is not bleak, since aside from Barney’s Version, The King’s Speech is still at The Carolina and the Fine Arts. The Carolina is also holding onto The Illusionist (which underperformed and oughtn’t have) and Another Year—though they’re being split, meaning that this week is probably your last chance to catch them. And you really should. Blue Valentine departs both The Carolina and the Fine Arts come Friday, but Biutiful is at The Carolina for another week. True Grit is still around at most venues that had it, but it’s definitely losing traction. After nearly two months, that’s not surprising.

Special Screenings

This week’s Thursday Horror Picture Show offers twice the Mummy action with a double feature of The Mummy’s Hand (1940) and its sequel The Mummy’s Tomb (1942) on Thursday, Feb. 17, at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. World Cinema has Bela Tarr’s Werckmeister Harmonies (2000) at 8 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 18, in the Railroad Library in the Phil Mechanic Building. This week’s Hendersonville Film Society title is King of Masks (1996) at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 20, in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. The Asheville Film Society is screening Stephen Daldry’s The Hours (2002) at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 22, in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. In addition to these usual weekly screenings, there’s also a free showing of Departures (2009) as part of the Foreign Film Festival sponsored by Hendersonville Sister Cities, Inc.  The program begins at 7:30 p.m. in Patton Auditorium at Blue Ridge Community College. See this week’s Xpress for more on these offerings.

On DVD

I’d say Woody Allen’s You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger is the best bet this week. No, it’s not Allen at his very best, but it’s Allen in “very good” mode, which beats a lot of people at their best. Waiting for Superman is very good in the realm of documentaries—and here’s a chance to see what you think about its peculiar snub in the Oscar noms. Then there’s Unstoppable. I didn’t see it, but whatever value it has would seem to have been better appreciated on the big screen.

Notable TV Screenings

It’s still “31 Days of Oscar” on TCM. That means you’re still on your own.

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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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10 thoughts on “Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler Feb. 16-22: What a drag

  1. A couple more titles of note. The big week for dvds is next week.

    BBC is releasing the superb TOP GEAR seasons 14 and 15. There is an inferior American remake of course.

    The much requested DR. WHO CHRISTMAS CAROL is out with the new doctor.

    For blu-ray fanatics there is NETWORK and LAST TANGO IN PARIS, just in time to barely miss Valentine’s Day.

  2. Ken Hanke

    For blu-ray fanatics there is NETWORK and LAST TANGO IN PARIS, just in time to barely miss Valentine’s Day.

    Are you suggesting the latter would’ve been good for buttering up your significant other?

  3. The much requested DR. WHO CHRISTMAS CAROL is out with the new doctor.
    And well worth watching. Matt Smith and Michael Gambon play off each other wonderfully, and it’s another cracking Steven Moffat teleplay.

  4. Are you suggesting the latter would’ve been good for buttering up your significant other?

    You not mentioning the first makes me mad as hell.

  5. DrSerizawa

    Let me guess. The Plot-O-Matic demands that the villain in “Four” is either another mutant teen seeking to dominate the world, a govt conspiracy or an eeeeevil rich corporation (but not a rich movie corporation like Dreamworks, naturally).

    I suspect I’ve seen it before albeit with a bit different CGI template.

  6. Ken Hanke

    Let me guess. The Plot-O-Matic demands that the villain in “Four” is either another mutant teen seeking to dominate the world, a govt conspiracy or an eeeeevil rich corporation (but not a rich movie corporation like Dreamworks, naturally).

    Well, in my experience all corporations are evil, but thst to one side, I’ll let you know after I sit through it tomorrow.

  7. Ken Hanke

    That would be me. I couldn’t in all good — or even middling — conscience give Justin that the week after having him Bieberized.

  8. Ken Hanke

    And it wasn’t pretty. Even with Justin popping into the theater to see if I was surviving, it was pretty grisly.

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