Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler Jan. 26-Feb 1: Blue Valentines, Tiny Furniture, Rites and Mechanics

In theaters

There are no mysteries this week—four movies are definitely opening on local screens. Come Friday, one horror movie, The Rite, one action picture, The Mechanic, and two art house films, Blue Valentine and Tiny Furniture will all be festooning our screens with cinematic delights. Well, with cinematic something. The delight part remains to be seen.

Actually, this is one of those weeks where I’ve already seen two of the titles opening (this should be true next week as well)—and as usual, those are the art house ones. My review for Blue Valentine—which opens at The Carolina and the Fine Arts—(interest in which may be goosed thanks to Michelle Williams’ Best Actress Oscar nomination) will be in this week’s Xpress, as will Justin Souther’s review for Tiny Furniture—which opens at The Carolina. (I saw it, but I didn’t review it). That’s all I have to say on the topic—at least for now (he said ominously).

So what are we to make of Simon West’s The Mechanic? Well, it’s a remake of a 1972 Michael Winner picture starring Charles Bronson. This in itself has proved amusing since the mere existence of this new version with Jason Statham has drawn Bronson fans from the four corners in the IMDb to express their great displeasure. (I was surprised to find that there still are Bronson fans. I have not been surprised by their level of literacy.) My personal favorite is a “review” from a really hardcore Bronsonphile (he has awarded 10 out of 10 to nearly every movie Bronson ever made), who almost certainly hasn’t seen the new movie. He and I may end up with that much in common, since it looks like the review will fall to Mr. Souther.

Mikael Hafstrom’s The Rite, on the other hand, belongs to me, even though I’m prepared for it to disappoint. I wasn’t that impressed with Hafstrom’s 1408, but it wasn’t bad. I’ve never seen the Brit TV star Colin O’Donoghue, but I’m favorably inclined toward the rest of the cast—Anthony Hopkins, Alice Braga, Ciaran Hinds, Rutger Hauer, Toby Jones. Oh, sure, Hopkins can easily slip into auto-pilot mode whenever a paycheck is the only motivation, but his presence does add tone to the proceedings. The PG-13 rating is a little worrisome, and the fact that no one at all seems to have been allowed to see this is even more so. All the same, I’ll be there.

Now, as concerns the broader picture, let’s take immediate note of the departure (which slightly surprised me) of Made in Dagenham, which leaves The Carolina. Black Swan leaves the Fine Arts to make room for Blue Valentine, but it hangs on at The Carolina. I’m glad to see that The Way Back did surprisingly well this past weekend and is staying at The Carolina. The King’s Speech and True Grit show no sign of going anywhere—especially after the Oscar noms came out. I Love You, Phillip Morris is sticking around (Carolina) for another week, but it’s on a split bill come Friday, so I wouldn’t expect to be around much longer. Apparently in anticipation of a nomination for Robert Duvall (he didn’t get it), Regal booked Get Low into the Beaucatcher if you missed it on the first go around.

Special Screening

Before getting to the usual stuff, let me point out that there’s a free ActionFest preview screening of Black Death starring Sean Bean, David Warner and Carice van Houten this Friday at 10 p.m. at The Carolina. So how do you get tickets? Well, you toddle on down to Orbit DVD, Harvest Records, TV Eye, Pastimes, or Comic Envy and say the secret password—“ActionFest 2011”—whereupon a pair of tickets will be yours. Only one pair per person, of course, and this is “while supplies last” thing. They should be already, so don’t dawdle.There will be more information on this in the paper.

On the regular front, the Thursday Horror Picture Show has Wes Craven’s A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) this Thursday (funny how that works), Feb. 27, at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. World Cinema is screening Akira Kurosawa’s High and Low (1963) in the Railroad Library at the Phil Mechanic Building. The Night They Raided Minsky’s (1968) is the week’s offering from the Hendersonville Film Society at 2 p.m.on Sun., Jan.30, in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. Since snow killed off the original attempt by the Asheville Film Society to show Preston Sturges’ Unfaithfully Yours (1948) a second attempt is being made to show this on Tue., Feb. 1, (not Feb. 2 as it says in the paper) at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. Let’s hope the weatherpersons are good to us.

On DVD

Well, it won’t be the big title for most people, but for me this week is mostly notable for the very fine Nowhere Boy, which came and went with almost no one noticing at the Beaucatcher. I’m hoping that it gets a little—or even a lot—more attention on DVD. Next in line, for me, is The Girl Who Kicked Hornet’s Nest. While neither it, nor The Girl Who Played with Fire was in the same league as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, it’s still a good movie and a solid climactic entry in the trilogy. RED was fine in the theater, but I can’t say I’m compelled to see it again. Ditto Saw 3D, which is now Saw: The Final Chapter with its extra dimension missing. I didn’t like Secretariat in the theater and I’m leaving the experience there.

Notable TV screenings

Before TCM settles in for its annual “31 Days of Oscar” (which is occasionally blessed by nominees that didn’t win), there are a few titles worth noting.

On Wed., Jan. 26, at 11:30 p.m. they have the not often seen Robert Siodmak noir Phantom Lady (1944). It’s a good deal shy of greatness, but it’s certainly worth a look. Better still, it’s followed (at 1 a.m.) by Rouben Mamoulian’s glorious Love Me Tonight (1932) starring Maurice Chevalier and Jeanette MacDonald. If you missed this gem when the Asheville Film Society ran it a while back, you can gain some small measure of redemption by catching it here.

The Peter Sellers Tribute concludes with Man in a Cocked Hat (1960), Being There (1979), Dr. Stangelove Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), Lolita (1962), and tom thumb (1958)—starting at 8 p.m., Thu. Jan. 27. I admit I adored George Pal’s tom thumb when I was four years old. I am very much no longer four years old and am not getting suckered into seeing it again, but the first four are notable.

I’ve never been all that on German filmmaker G.W. Pabst (his name got bandied around a lot in Inglourious Basterds last year), but I’m prepared to give him another chance with three movies —Pandora’s Box (1929), The 3 Penny Opera (1931), A Modern Hero (1934)—that start at midnight Sunday (into Monday) Jan. 30, and run all night. I’m particularly curious about his one-shot American film that concludes the set.

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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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23 thoughts on “Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler Jan. 26-Feb 1: Blue Valentines, Tiny Furniture, Rites and Mechanics

  1. Me

    Im hoping i can check out Blue Valentine this weekend.

    Im really excited to see how they use that great Numero Group Eccentric Soul song “You and Me”. If im remembering right all the stuff Grizzly Bear did for the score is just old material but used as instrumentals, which is a bummer i was hoping for some new material.

  2. Lot out on dvd this week…

    Gasper Noe’s ENTER THE VOID is a drug film for mainly 20 year olds. It’s LONG, 2 1/2 hours, but worth it if you have the patience.

    The Greek DOGTOOTH is one of the freshest, craziest, funniest and most depraved movies I have seen in quite awhile. And I make it a habit to watch crazy, funny and depraved films.

    I usually shy away from biopics, but SEX DRUGS AND ROCK AND ROLL is worth a look. The story of Ian Dury is aptly played by Andy Serkis, who was Gollum in the LORD OF THE RINGS TRILOGY.

    I also got in Springsteen’s DARKNESS AT THE EDGE OF TOWN, if anyone wants to see the dvds without spending $100.

  3. Ken Hanke

    Well, now that Robert Duvall didn’t get a nomination, it seems that Regal pulled Get Low from the Beaucatcher and is bringing Inside Job. Whatever.

  4. DrSerizawa

    I saw the original Mechanic back in the 70s at the buck flicks. (3 flicks for a buck at the Galaxy.) Amusingly, it ran with two blaxploitation flicks. It was a nicely done low key little thriller, I thought, but not something that would lend itself to repeat viewings. I imagine that the remake will probably be the same basic plot except with a lot of CGI “stunts”, cut-action car “chases” and 55 gallon drums of naptha exploding everywhere. I think I’ll pass until a boring winter’s day with Netflix.

    No, I’m not a “Bronson Fan” though I find the later Deathwish movies to be good unintentional comedies. Just about everything about those movies was wrong.

  5. Ken Hanke

    I think I’ll pass until a boring winter’s day with Netflix.

    It’s not like I said I was going to go see it either.

  6. Chip Kaufmann

    I would be very surprised if the new MECHANIC keeps the original’s punchline which was one of the best things about it.

  7. Ken Hanke

    I would be very surprised if the new MECHANIC keeps the original’s punchline which was one of the best things about it.

    Much as I like Winner, I can go without the Bronson pictures.

  8. Chip Kaufmann

    After CHATO’S LAND and THE MECHANIC (the first two), I agree with you.

  9. Me

    I wish Dogstooth and Enter The Void would have played here in Asheville, especially Enter The Void, it would be something to see it on the big screen.

  10. Ken Hanke

    After CHATO’S LAND and THE MECHANIC (the first two), I agree with you.

    Well, somebody keeps putting the TV in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina on AMC (All Moose Channel) and as a result I saw part of one of the later Death Wish pictures up there and it was pretty darn funny.

  11. I wish Dogstooth and Enter The Void would have played here in Asheville, especially Enter The Void, it would be something to see it on the big screen.

    If there’s any movie that could sell blu-ray players, it’s ENTER THE VOID. Wow.

    I can’t stop thinking about DOGTOOTH and I’m going to give it a rare second viewing soon. Can’t wait to talk to others about it.

  12. Ken Hanke

    I can’t stop thinking about DOGTOOTH and I’m going to give it a rare second viewing soon. Can’t wait to talk to others about it.

    Well, since it’s gotten an Oscar nom, I suppose I need to see it.

  13. Well, since it’s gotten an Oscar nom, I suppose I need to see it.

    I still haven’t seen FORREST GUMP, TITANIC or DANCES WITH WOLVES.

  14. Mike

    Nowhere Boy was really great. I’m kind of annoyed I didn’t make the effort to catch it at the Beaucatcher.

  15. Ken Hanke

    I still haven’t seen FORREST GUMP, TITANIC or DANCES WITH WOLVES.

    You weren’t doing a radio show then.

  16. Ken Hanke

    Nowhere Boy was really great. I’m kind of annoyed I didn’t make the effort to catch it at the Beaucatcher

    I’m still kind of mystified why it didn’t get booked into a theater where it might have had a chance.

  17. DrSerizawa

    At the rate the old Death Wish flicks were going I figured that Bronson would be using tanks in DW5 and nuclear armed B52s in DW6.

    On the other hand since I have a free weekend unexpectedly and since SWMBO is going snowshoeing with her friends I’m going to check out The Rite on Sunday. Wish me luck.

  18. Ken Hanke

    I’m going to check out The Rite on Sunday. Wish me luck.

    Just remember — I did not actually recommend such an undertaking.

  19. Tomislav Hadeon Perun

    I’m looking forward to that upcoming film about King George VI learning to conquer his speech impediment and insecurities under the guidance of a cannabis-obsessed Mexican standup comedian.

  20. Sean Williams

    I’m looking forward to that upcoming film about King George VI learning to conquer his speech impediment and insecurities under the guidance of a cannabis-obsessed Mexican standup comedian.

    Surely he’s thinking of…

    The King’s Cheech.

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