Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler Feb. 23-Mar. 1: Can Nicolas Cage drive out of hell on a hall pass?

In theaters

Oh, yes, it’s a slack week at the movies—only two movies are opening. That said—and in full knowledge of the fact that I’m setting myself up for a huge letdown—one of those, Drive Angry 3D, is the first mainstream offering of 2011 I’ve actually been looking forward to. Come on, breathes there a fan of trash cinema who can resist the prospect of Nicolas Cage breaking out of hell in an effort to redeem himself by saving his infant grandchild from serving as the centerpiece of a human sacrifice by a cult? If so, you’re made of sterner stuff than I am.

Drive Angry 3D not only boasts a terminally ridiculous plot, but it has easily the coolest trailer of the year. It tells you plainly—in no uncertain terms—that you’re being offered unadulterated exploitation rubbish that has no desire to be taken for anything else. It’s the kind of movie that you might expect from Patrick Lussier, the director of My Bloody Valentine 3D (2009), a film that threw a ripped off lower jaw at its viewers. (Yeah, it’s also a pretty bad movie of the so-bad-it’s-funny school that just happens to be the most effective 3D movie to come down the pike in terms of lighting and design.) On top of that, it’s got Cage in the kind of role that only Cage would sign up for—whether or not it’s all about staving off bankruptcy. The whole thing promises hot babes, fast cars, gunplay, explosions, supernatural hijinks, gore—in short, everything you could want from a trashy exploitation movie. The question is whether it can really deliver. I don’t know about anybody else, but I’ll be finding out at the first show on Friday.

There’s also this raunch rom-com from the Farrelly Brothers called Hall Pass with Owen Wilson and Jason Sudeikis as the Farrelly equivalent of the Judd Apatow man-boys. The premise finds these overaged frat boys being given a week off from marriage with no consequences. Of course, they’re going to find they’re not the kids they were and they’ve lost the stamina they once knew. My guess is that all this is going to lead to the revelation that they didn’t realize how good they had it. It has all the earmarks of trading on juvenile raunchiness for the sole purpose of selling the same old load of clams the movies have clung to since 1912. Personally, I’m not ready to forgive the Farrellys for The Heartbreak Kid (2007). That means that this one is all yours—and Justin Souther’s, of course.

Owing to the Monday holiday, it’s not entirely clear just what is still staying this week. Oh, sure, The King’s Speech will still be at The Carolina, the Fine Arts, and anyplace else that could get it. I don’t expect that to change right away. Barney’s Version is sticking around the Fine Arts for another week, too. My guess is that The Illusionist will hold on at The Carolina, since it actually did better this past weekend than opening weekend—and that was with being cut to two shows a day. On the other hand, I’m not expecting Another Year to last another week, nor the Oscar shorts. Black Swan and Biutiful, on the other hand, I expect to hold at The Carolina.

Special screenings

Brian De Palma’s Carrie (1976) is this week’s Thursday Horror Picture Show at 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 24, in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. On Friday, Feb. 25, World Cinema has the 2003 Russian film The Return at 8 p.m. in the Railroard Library of the Phil Mechanic Building. Mario Bava’s Danger: Diabolik (1968) is this week’s film from the Hendersonville Film Society at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 27, in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. The Asheville Film Society is screening Josef von Sternberg’s Shanghai Express (1932) at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Mar. 1, in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. Reviews of these films appear in this week’s Xpress—with extended reviews in the online edition.

Also of note, the Asheville Film Society and The Carolina are having an Oscar watching party in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina starting at 7 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 27, and ending after the last award is handed out.

On DVD

Though it seems unlikely that there are those who didn’t catch it when it played here (it was the art hit of the summer locally), the big release this week is Get Low with Robert Duvall and Bill Murray. Well, even if you did see it, you might want to consider seeing it again. Also out is Megamind, which was fine, but not the sort of thing I feel like seeing a second time. Then there’s the highly-regarded Chinese documentary Last Train Home, which didn’t play here. Word is that it’s very well worth a look.

Notable TV screenings

Well, it’s finally wrapping up, but it’s still “31 Days of Oscar” on TCM, and you’re still on your own till that blows over.

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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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14 thoughts on “Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler Feb. 23-Mar. 1: Can Nicolas Cage drive out of hell on a hall pass?

  1. DUE DATE is also out today.

    Dogtooth is still my favorite dvd this year so far, but a close second is the incredible film FISH TANK, released by Criterion and IFC Films. Directed by Andrea Arnold in the vein of Mike Leigh, I was bowled over by the performances of newcomer Katie Jarvis and soon to be huge Michael Fassbender. Do not miss this one (Asheville Film Society hint hint). Criterion was also put out SENSO (beautiful Visconti) and SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS (Lancaster’s best?)

    Two Showtime powerhouses are out – WEEDS SEASON 6 and NURSE JACKIE SEASON 2.

    FINALLY, and I mean finally, many people think THE ROOM is the best worst movie in recent history. Wrong. That dubious honor now goes to BIRDEMIC directed by James Nguyen. I laughed so hard I almost puked. Asheville Film Society?

  2. Jim Donato

    Wow – Criterion’s doing Sweet Smell of Success? It may be time to trade up from the MGM laserdisc. Forget Lancaster. It’s also Tony Curtis’ best – and he co-produced [with Lancaster] that black gem as well. The last time I viewed it, I still felt like a shower! “I love this dirty town!”

  3. Ken Hanke

    DUE DATE is also out today

    I think I was blocking that from my mind, because I knew it at one point.

    As for “hint hinting” the AFS, what you need to be doing is making me see the damned things. You still haven’t foisted House on me and I really need to see Santa Sangre again, especially since it’s on March’s THPS listing.

  4. As for “hint hinting” the AFS, what you need to be doing is making me see the damned things. You still haven’t foisted House on me and I really need to see Santa Sangre again, especially since it’s on March’s THPS listing.

    Alrighty then. I’ll probably be stopping by on Sunday night.

  5. Ken Hanke

    Alrighty then. I’ll probably be stopping by on Sunday night

    It seems inevitable that I’ll be there.

  6. DrSerizawa

    I have to admit that Drive Angry looks promising. I’m kind of surprised Cage would agree to play a grandfather. Maybe they put in a couple of killings of accountants to sweeten the deal for him. Though the thought of Nicolas Cage as a vengeance seeking escapee from hell sounds a bit more like a documentary than fiction. I’m looking forward to seeing both him and his wig.

  7. Ken Hanke

    I’m looking forward to seeing both him and his wig.

    Do you suppose that “new hairpiece” is written into his contracts?

  8. Me

    That new William Burroughs documentary is airing on PBS tonight.

    Orbit i think Dogtooth is the best movie ive seen so far this year.

  9. ending after the last award is handed out.
    Jesus. I hope none of you have early starts the next morning. I try to avoid going to parties that end at 4am on weeknights.

    Actually, it should end at a reasonable time this year. They’ve cut those cringe-worthy self-congratulatory speeches before each award presentation, although apparently there will be some kind of psychedelic animated component to the show this year.

  10. Ken Hanke

    Jesus. I hope none of you have early starts the next morning. I try to avoid going to parties that end at 4am on weeknights

    It better end around midnight. The whole thing is likely to prove tricky for me, since Sunday is my busiest writing day. I’ll be interested to see how this works out with what’s apt to turn out to be a five to six hour chunk being cut out of my day.

  11. Doesn’t Fish Tank come out on Criterion this week?

    Yes. I normally only stock one rental of a Criterion disc, but got multiple copies at both stores for this one.

    Orbit i think Dogtooth is the best movie ive seen so far this year.

    I agree, and FISH TANK comes in a close second. It is a remarkable film that I hope will gain an audience here.

  12. Ken Hanke

    I should note that I guessed wrong and that both Another Year and the Oscar shorts are staying another week (on a split bill) at The Carolina.

  13. It’s also Tony Curtis’ best – and he co-produced [with Lancaster] that black gem as well. The last time I viewed it, I still felt like a shower! “I love this dirty town!”

    It is Curtis’ best as well. He also delivers one of my favorite lines in movie history, “…there’s the shoe… the coat… and the door.”

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