Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler January 1-7: Post Christmas Deflation

In Theaters

OK, so only one of the Christmas Day openings was worth seeing. That’s still one more than this week promises. There are two bright sides to this. First of all, you can catch up with all the good movies you still haven’t seen. Second, next week, a pretty strong blast of movies you’ve been waiting to see finally make it to the provinces — including one terrific movie you don’t even know you’re waiting on.

I can only assume that there is a market for yet another of those Paranormal Stupidity … er Activity things. Obviously, somebody’s watching them. Despite the fact that they cost about $1.98 to make, they still wouldn’t be bothering with this stuff if it didn’t sell tickets to apparently horror-starved audiences. Now, we’re getting an off-shoot that seemingly ties in to the first film in some convoluted manner. Seems the producers figured out that there’s a sizable Latino market for these movies, so this latest is tailored to that audience. It’s called Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones. Why? I have no idea. Is it a prequel? Is it a spinoff? Is it really something other than Paranormal Activity 5? You can find out on Friday. It alarmed me when these movies started to make me miss the Saw franchise. Now, I’m starting to get nostalgic for the Hostel movies. I fear for my sanity.

So what do we lose to make room for this? Well, The Carolina is dropping Dallas Buyers Club, but the Fine Arts is keeping it and Flat Rock Cinema is picking it up. That said, it’s my guess that this will be its final week. Ditto Philomena and The Book Thief — and possibly Nebraska.

Special Screenings

With the new year, things are getting back to normal, though World Cinema doesn’t return till next Friday. This week the Thursday Horror Picture Show is running Seth Holt’s Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb (1971) at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 2 in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. The Hendersonville Film Society rings in the new year with Alfred Hitchcock’s Rebecca (1940) on Sunday, Jan. 5 at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. The Asheville Film Society opens a two week tribute to Peter O’Toole with Richard Rush’s The Stunt Man (1980) at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 7 in Theater Six at The Carolina. More on all titles in this week’s Xpress — with full reviews in the online edition.


The only thing of note — indeed, the only thing that saw much theatrical life — this week is Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Don John, a movie that had the power to drive several ladies out of the screening I saw. You may take that as a recommendation, if you choose.

Notable TV Screenings

Had I not been trapped in dial-up hell last week at this time, I would have noted that Richard Lester’s first film, the clever and charming It’s Trad, Dad (US title: Ring-a-Ding Rhythm (1962) is on TCM at 12:15 p.m. today, Tuesday, Dec. 31. You may well be surprised how fully formed — well, nearly fully formed — Lester’s style is in this pre-A Hard Day’s Night (1964) film. All the cinematic playfulness is in evidence, but, of course, it lacks the Beatles. Making it even more troublesome for US audiences is the fact that it focuses on pre-Beatle UK performers who were unknown at the time and are still largely unknown here. (Changing the title to — gad — Ring-a-Ding Rhythm did nothing to change the content.) It may still be of note to early readers.

The week is otherwise pretty bare until Monday, Jan. 6 when we get Carol Reed’s The Third Man (1949) at 9:30 p.m. Movies simply don’t get better than this. If you hang around, Jack Conway’s splendid screwball comedy, Libeled Lady (1936), is on at 1 a.m., followed at 3 a.m. by William Dieterle’s glossy romance, Love Letters (1945), which also has the distinction of a screenplay by Ayn Rand (who isn’t peddling her crackpot agenda here). Tuesday morning — starting at 7 a.m. with Frank Capra’s Lady for a Day (1933) — we get a pretty good run of movies, including Capra’s It Happened One Night (1934), John Ford’s The Whole Town’s Talking (1935), and Howard Hawks’ His Girl Friday (1940). No need to change the channel.

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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26 thoughts on “Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler January 1-7: Post Christmas Deflation

  1. Steven

    [b]including one terrific movie you don’t even know you’re waiting on.[/b]

    Hm. Now I have to play the guessing game.

    … [i]The Great Beauty[/i]?

    • Jim Donato

      Excellent! We have watched “This Must Be The Place” twice of late and the first thing I did after seeing it, was to see which other films Sorrentino had in the CV and this one was number one with a bullet.

  2. Ken Hanke

    Not having seen anything else by this director, I can’t tell you whether The Great Beauty is like his other films.

  3. Ken Hanke

    Well, since you brought up This Must Be the Place and since it was on steaming Netflix, I opted to watch it. A very different film, but clearly made by the same man. I kind of understand why it didn’t play here, but I also think it was a great pity. Of course, it was being handled by the Weinsteins, which may also have bearing on why it didn’t play here.

  4. Me

    Oh wow i didn’t realize the director of the The Great Beauty was the same director as This Must Be The Place.

  5. Ken Hanke

    Stylistically similar. Similar in never quite explaining the “plot.” Thematically…maybe. The Great Beauty is kind of La Dolce Vita for our time.

  6. Me

    “The Great Beauty is kind of La Dolce Vita for our time.”

    Ive heard a lot of people describing it that way, doesn’t it even say that in the trailer?

    So The Great Beauty, Her, and Llewyn Davis are all opening next week?

  7. Ken Hanke

    Never having seen the trailer, I can’t say.

    As it stands now, yes, all those are supposed to open next week, along with August: Osage County and Lone Survivor.

  8. Ken Hanke

    The problem is that the website will not allow no pick of the week. It was either that or a mediocre or worse choice.

  9. Ken Hanke

    Well, I don’t know what you mean by “everywhere,” but since they’re already out, they’re expanding. If you want to know if they’re opening where you live, I have no idea. I don’t even have 100% on them both for Asheville. It could change Mon. morning.

  10. Ken Hanke

    Gotta back off on my claims of The Great Beauty opening on Jan. 10. Looks like it’ll be on the 17th. It’s worth waiting for.

  11. Steven


    Maybe you can redeem the delay with your top 10 of the year.

  12. Ken Hanke

    That appears tomorrow. Many may be displeased.

    Actually, this delay is probably a good thing, since La Grande Bellezza won’t get lost in the shuffle.

  13. Big Al

    This year, I found it easier to list my disappointments than my favorites. So many films that I WANTED to love and felt betrayed by.

    Even women are not as cruel as 2013 in film.

    (sniffle, sob)

  14. Big Al

    ACTUALLY…having reviewed my debit register and the list of films at the Fine Arts Theater (I saw 17 of the 34 films they showed, plus 5 at other theaters), I found that ONLY 2 drove me to despair, but one of them was “12 years A Slave” which was among the most recent I saw, and that experience was so egregious that it made me forget how happy I was in the Spring and Summer. Among my favorites were

    1)The Way Way Back
    3)Beautiful Creatures (minority vote, I am sure)
    4)What Maisie Knew ( a HUGE surprise)
    5) In A World


    1) Renoir – Visually delicious. The story was OK too, but who cares? VISUALLY DELICIOUS!

    2) In the House – I normally avoid foreign films like the plague. This one almost made the top 10.

    So it was actually a great year for me (the 1st half, anyway).

    Damn that slave debacle for ruining the ending!

  15. Ken Hanke

    I can understand not being as taken with 12 Years a Slave as most of the world, but it’s hardly a “debacle,” unless you’re in the “slavery wasn’t that bad camp.” Regardless, it’s not the only movie that came out toward the end of the year.

  16. Big Al

    It was a debacle due to my high expectations.

    The lack of a score was especially atrocious considering he was a musician. It certainly would have help bring SOME emotion to a film that, despite addressing such an emotional topic, left me feeling flat and cynical.

    Yes, I DO think the film, like the writings it is based on, unduly exaggerated the horrors of slavery (he was, after all, a career abolitionist). I know we will never agree on this, but I approach history as I presume you approach film, with the context of the greater subject in mind, and based on the multiple narratives of slavery available, we know that his experiences in “12 Years..” (assuming they are not merely exaggerated) were on the extreme end of a broad spectrum.

    And while there were other films that came out after “12 Years…”, none of them made my top 10 list and all were easily forgotten.

    I am glad that I went to the trouble of looking back on the 1st half of the year. It was a truly wonderful time for films for me.

  17. Ken Hanke

    I’m not about to get into your views on slavery, but the movie does have a musical score.

    Films from 2013 that came after 12 Years include About Time, Philomena, American Hustle, The Wolf of Wall Street, Nebraska, Saving Mr. Banks, Dallas Buyers Club, and Great Expectations. You found all those forgetable? And, Inside Llewyn Davis, August: Osage County, Her, and The Great Beauty haven’t opened here yet.

  18. Big Al

    “..the movie does have a musical score.”

    A very limited one. Most of the movie was bathed in silence punctuated by endless cicidas (or whatever those gulf state bugs are).

    “…You found all those forgetable?”

    The only films from that list that I saw were “Philomena”, which was fun, and “Nebraska”, which was interesting but a hair too long. Neither stuck with me enough to make me forget the disappointment of “12 Years..”. I did not get to see “About Time”, which I am sure I would have enjoyed based on the previews and cast alone, maybe enough to forget “12 Years..”

  19. Ken Hanke

    If I could be stopped in my tracks by being disappointed by one movie, I wouldn’t be able to do this job.

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