Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler Jan. 12-18: The dilemma of hornets in Dagenham

In theaters

Assuming that you can get out of your house this weekend (something that’s not at all certain with me), there are three new movies opening on Friday: The Green Hornet, Made in Dagenham and The Dilemma. One of these I’ve seen. One of them I’m curious about. One of them makes me think being snowed in might not be so bad.

As this week’s Xpress will prove, the one I’ve already seen is Nigel Cole’s Made in Dagenham, a fact-based drama/comedy starring Sally Hawkins (Happy-Go-Lucky) and Bob Hoskins that opens at The Carolina. I’ll leave you to wait on the review, though I will say it got “Pick of the Week,” which probably tells you absolutely nothing since the competition was Country Strong and Season of the Witch.

Ron Howard’s The Dilemma presents no dilemma whatsoever for me—apart from making sure I don’t have to watch it. Here’s the idea: Vince Vaughn finds out that Winona Ryder is stepping out on husband Kevin James and has to decide whether or not to tell him. This idea is complicated by Ryder threatening to claim Vaughn is cheating on fiancée Jennifer Connelly. Now, the idea that Vaughn and James are paired up with Connelly and Ryder may make you think this is a science-fiction film, but there you would be wrong. This is a romantic comedy, designed to inspire laughter. The trailer suggests otherwise, though I am impressed that in addition to Ron casting dad Rance and little brother Clint in the film as usual, he’s actually gotten them into the previews this time. I believe that’s a first.

OK, The Green Hornet is far from being one of my favorite examples of old-time radio fare (The Shadow it ain’t). Plus, it was made into a TV series in the 1960s, which didn’t do much for me when I was 12. Let’s add to this the facts that I don’t find Seth Rogen a very appealing performer, the trailer looks pretty darn bad, and it’s not been shown to critics. And all that’s overlooking the fact that the damn thing is in 3-D. This looks pretty grim. But the fact that it was directed by Michel Gondry keeps me hoping against all reason that this might actually be good.

Now, aside from these three, all the choice items from Christmas—Black Swan, True Grit, The King’s Speech, I Love You, Phillip Morris—are still with us, so if you can hook up the sled dogs and make your way to the cinema, it’s not like there’s a lack of things to see—or even to see again.

Special screenings

Since we had to cancel tonight’s Asheville Film Society showing of Unfaithfully Yours because of the snow, I’m on the gun-shy side as concerns all the special showings. But for now, at least, we have a full set of screenings this week. Mario Bava’s Black Sunday (1960) is this week’s Thursday Horror Picture Show at 8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 13, in the Cinema Lounge of The Carolina. World Cinema has Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker (1979) at 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 14, at the Courtyard Gallery in the Phil Mechanic Studios building. The Name of the Rose (1986) is this week’s Hendersonville Film Society offering at 2 p.m Sunday, Jan. 16, in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. Mike Leigh’s Topsy-Turvy (1999) is the Asheville Film Society title for Tuesday, Jan. 18, at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina.

On DVD

The big release this week is David Fincher’s The Social Network. If you missed it in the theaters, here’s your chance to find out what all the fuss is about. Of course, we also have Piranha and Alpha and Omega, the latter reminding me that Justin Souther’s birthday is coming up soon. On a somewhat happier note, there’s also the rather charming French romantic comedy Heartbreaker. And in the non-mainstream realm, there’s the inevitable “collector’s edition” of the 1940 serial The Green Hornet. Can’t imagine why that comes out this week.

Notable TV screenings

Of course, tomorrow (Jan. 12) is the continuation of the 24 hours of Laurel and Hardy short films (and a couple features) that starts at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 11.

Thursday finds a selection of Kay Francis movies during the day, starting at 7:15 a.m., with two of her best, Jewel Robbery and One Way Passage (both from 1932). Francis co-stars in each with William Powell. The first is a risqué comedy/romance, while the second is in the running for one of the top 10 romances of all time. That evening is given over to Peter Sellers movies starting at 8 p.m., with Only Two Can Play (1962). It’s followed by The Millionairess (1961), I Love You, Alice B. Toklas (1968), What’s New, Pussycat? (1965), After the Fox (1966) and The Bobo (1967). Are they all great? No, but it’s an interesting collection. If I had to pick one, it’d be What’s New, Pussycat?, which starts at 1:30 a.m.

On Sunday, Jan. 16, at 10:30 a.m., TCM has the Mae West picture I’m No Angel, which horrified the moralists in 1933 and was a key reason for the censorship that clamped down the next year. It’s still a bit surprising as concerns what she got away with. Late that night—so late that it’s really 4 a.m. Monday, Jan. 17—they have Richard Lester’s remarkable How I Won the War (1967) with Michael Crawford and John Lennon.

If you caught the Will Rogers A Connecticut Yankee (1931) a week or so ago, you might give a look-in on the Bing Crosby A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (1949) at 8 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 17. It’s the same story, but tailored for Bing with songs and Technicolor. It’s not bad at all, but I wouldn’t call it one of Crosby’s best.

On Tuesday, Jan. 18, the TCM salute to the Hal Roach studio continues for another 24-hour set starting at 8 p.m. with some curios from Roach’s TV production era: 10 episodes of Screen Directors Playhouse. As the series title indicates, these were TV shows (self-contained) made by established movie directors. I’ve never seen them, but the most interesting are probably “The Silent Partner” (1955) starring Buster Keaton and “The Sword of Villon” (1956) starring Errol Flynn. The TV shows are followed by an eclectic selection of Charley Chase, Taxi Boys, Boy Friends and Thelma Todd-ZaSu Pitts short films. Be on the lookout for the Charley Chase short Public Ghost No. 1 at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan 19. The whole thing is a must-see, if only for the scene where the genially insane Edwin Maxwell demonstrates his invention, the Simplex Fly Exterminator, to Charley. I’ll say no more about it, because it’s too good to spoil.

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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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20 thoughts on “Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler Jan. 12-18: The dilemma of hornets in Dagenham

  1. JonathanBarnard

    But the fact that [The Green Hornet] was directed by Michel Gondry keeps me hoping against all reason that this might actually be good.

    Plus it has the king of Chinese-lannguage pop, Jay Chou (who is Taiwanese, naturally), in the role of Cato. Not that I hear he is a particularly good actor…

  2. Ken Hanke

    Not that I hear he is a particularly good actor…

    I have a long list of folks that never stopped.

  3. I’m interested to see what kind of business MADE IN DAGENHAM does. I’ve heard nothing but good things, and wonder whether the original title WE WANT SEX would’ve helped or hurt it’s box office chances.

  4. Ken Hanke

    Hard to tell. It’s a very likable picture and the fact that it’s only booked into one theater means that word of mouth could make it a modest hit.

  5. Oh C'mon

    Ken, perhaps in hopes of opening your reviews to a younger generation, you could refer to a movie as to whether or not it was “Off the hook good”? The Green Hornet movie sounds like it might just fit the bill, the action film it seems to be.

  6. Ken Hanke

    Ken, perhaps in hopes of opening your reviews to a younger generation, you could refer to a movie as to whether or not it was “Off the hook good”?

    You know, about 10 years ago, I ill-advisedly let this kid who had lost both his job and his place to live come stay with me temporarily. The first time I fixed dinner he informed me, “This sh*t be bangin’.” I said, “What?” He elaborated, “I mean it be off the chain.” I divined that this was some form of compliment. But since that was 10 years ago, it makes me wonder if this apparent “off the hook” variation mightn’t be out of date. Surely, slang has degenerated further than that in this much time. The question of having only the latest jargon needs to be researched.

  7. I’m excited for the apparently month-long set of Peter Sellers films on TCM. I rather liked “After The Fox” (excellent score), and the last half an hour of “The Bobo”. Keeping my fingers crossed they’ll show “The Mouse That Roared”, “Two-way Stretch” and the original “Ladykillers”

  8. Ken Hanke

    I rather liked “After The Fox” (excellent score), and the last half an hour of “The Bobo”. Keeping my fingers crossed they’ll show “The Mouse That Roared”, “Two-way Stretch” and the original “Ladykillers”

    Well, After the Fox and The Bobo (“If you’ve seen one singing blue matador you’ve seen them all”) are on tomorrow night. Two Way Stretch and The Ladykillers were on last week. Mouse That Roared isn’t listed.

  9. davidf

    I love Michel Gondry for a lot more than just eye-candy value, but he’s one of the few directors that I’d venture to see in the theatre for that value alone. I’m hoping that other elements of The Green Hornet manage to surprise me, but I’ll admit that I’m mainly going for the “Cato-vision”. I want to see what Gondry does with 3-D.

  10. Ken Hanke

    I’m hoping that other elements of The Green Hornet manage to surprise me

    That’s what I’m hoping for, though the trailer argues against it. I’m clinging to the belief that maybe it’s just a bad trailer.

  11. The first time I fixed dinner he informed me, “This sh*t be bangin’.” I said, “What?” He elaborated, “I mean it be off the chain.”
    This sounds like a scene out of BREAKING BAD.

  12. Ken Hanke

    This sounds like a scene out of BREAKING BAD

    I can’t say I thought it was breaking good.

  13. I like Gondry, but I don’t think he’s worked with a great script since ETERNAL SUNSHINE. I might give this one a shot in the theater. I need to get the kids out of the house.

  14. Also out is Louis CK’s concert film HILARIOUS. Like KICK ASS, the title of the film describes it as well.

  15. Ken Hanke

    I like Gondry, but I don’t think he’s worked with a great script since ETERNAL SUNSHINE.

    Yes, but I prefer Science of Sleep and Be Kind Rewind to Eternal Sunshine.

  16. Tomislav Hadeon Perun

    Be King Rewind may well be the unrecognized masterpiece of the last decade.

  17. Jim Donato

    On the subject of coming films, I see that Meserine: Public Enemy #1 and Killer Instinct are playing at the Epic in Hendersonville. Both at the same time! Are these slated for any Asheville showings that you know of or do we need to truck down to H’ville?

  18. Me

    TCM is playing the Tin Drum Sunday morning/ Saturday night, also Sundance is re airing Carlos twice on Saturday night.

  19. Ken Hanke

    Be King Rewind may well be the unrecognized masterpiece of the last decade.

    I wouldn’t argue with that.

  20. Ken Hanke

    On the subject of coming films, I see that Meserine: Public Enemy #1 and Killer Instinct are playing at the Epic in Hendersonville. Both at the same time! Are these slated for any Asheville showings that you know of or do we need to truck down to H’ville?

    Not that I know of. In fact, since I don’t get Epic’s listings in time for anything other than the online edition on Friday (which I don’t think has been updated), I didn’t even see the Epic showings listed till late Thursday. My guess is that it won’t come here and that, like most art titles, won’t be at the Epic by this coming Friday.

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