Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler July 13-19: Harry Potter and the Queen to Play Beginners

In Theaters

It’s Harry Potter week. What more do you want? Well, the folks at Disney seem to think you want some kind of quasi reboot of Winnie the Pooh, which I guess works for younger children and those who think Harry Potter movies are only a step removed from attending a Satanic mass. Plus, the art film is alive and well with Queen to Play at The Carolina and Beginners at the Fine Arts. Put mildly, I’ve seen less enticing weeks—like last week and the week before. If I never encounter two weeks in a row like that again, I’ll be perfectly cool with that.

In the art film realm, I’ve already seen Queen to Play—and will be seeing at again on Wednesday when I host the Asheville Film Society member screening of it at The Carolina. The review for it will be in this week’s paper, but I’ll go ahead and tell you now that it’s far and away the most charming movie I’ve seen this year. And, yes, it’s in French and, yes, Kevin Kline speaks French in it. And so far as I can tell, it’s perfectly good French, but my high-school level French doesn’t extend very far beyond asking where library is or noting that the snow is beautiful today—and since neither phrase appeared in the film, I’m hardly an expert judge in the matter. Let us simply say that it sounds pretty good to me. You may be relieved to to learn that Jennifer Beals, who is also in the film, says very little and is playing an American.

It’s been six years since Mike Mills brought us Thumbsucker and while I can’t say I’ve been burning up with anticipation for his next film (nothing against Thumbsucker, but it’s not a movie that stayed on the tip of my brain), I’m certainly glad to see a new film from him—especially in the rather grim movie year of 2011. That his new film Beginners stars Christopher Plummer and Ewan McGregor is also a plus. Apparently, the film exists in three different time frames that it moves in and out of as it charts the story of a young man (McGregor) dealing with the death of his father (Plummer)—right on the heels of dealing with the old boy’s revelation that he’s gay—as well as having to tussle with problems of his own. For those living in fear of the fact that the movie has a talking dog, it should be noted that the talking doesn’t appear to be conversational and is conveyed in subtitles.

Then there’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, about which there’s probably not much that needs to be said. It seems hard to believe that the series is 10 years old. It’s even harder to believe that it hasn’t always existed, since it’s become such a touchstone of pop culture. (And, no, I don’t care if you hate the movies and have never seen one—an interesting combination—the pop culture significance is hard to deny.) If I flog my memory, I can recall when I’d never heard of Harry Potter. After all, I got along for 46 years without a Harry Potter movie. When the first one came out, I’d virtually no clue what it was all about. And now we’ve come to the final installment. I have vague notions of watching all the films in order, but with any luck that will pass. (And I’m not sure I have four and five.)

The fear is whether it can live up to expectations. (I clearly remember my feelings about the ending on the original film—“The one thing Harry Potter so desperately needs, it doesn’t have: an impressive climax. It duplicates the book’s ending in such a thoroughly dull and mechanical manner that it’s utterly anticlimactic.”) Right now, the reviews indicate that it will not disappoint. (The only dissenters so far are those people from Australia’s Urban Cinephiles, whose judgment is … dubious.) Now, some have claimed that the reviews are skewed positive because they’re mostly from Great Britain—a claim that betrays a degree of ignorance over the fact that Brits like nothing better than trashing their own. (In terms of a sense of cultural inferiority, the U.K. rivals the U.S.)

If anyone cares—and I confess I don’t—that leaves us with Winnie the Pooh. When I was very young, I liked the books. But I can’t say the movies ever appealed to me. And I most certainly don’t care for the fellow who impersonates Sterling Holloway doing Pooh’s voice. At the same time, I’m sure it will appeal to those who liked the earlier movies.

Leaving town this week is Cave of Forgotten Dreams. Somewhat surprisingly, TrollHunter is hanging on for another week at The Carolina, albeit only at 10:15 p.m. The Tree of Life leaves the Fine Arts, but is staying at The Carolina. The surprise hit Buck is definitely staying for another week at The Carolina as well. The seemingly unstoppable Midnight in Paris is still at both The Carolina and the Fine Arts. Fans of the esoteric may wish to take note that David Lynch’s Eraserhead at 10 p.m. on Thursday, July 21.

Special Screenings

This week the Thursday Horror Picture Show has the Karloff-Lugosi thriller The Invisible Ray (1936) on Thursday, July 14, at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. Andrei Tarkovsky’s Andrei Rublev (1966) is this week’s World Cinema offering at 8 p.m. on Friday, July 15, at 8 p.m. in the Railroad Library in the Phil Mechanic Building. Roger Corman’s The Masque of the Red Death (1964) is presented by the Hendersonville Film Society on Sunday, July 17, at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. Peter Greenaway’s Prospero’s Books (1991) is the film from the Asheville Film Society on Tuesday, July 19, at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina.

It should also be noted that there’s a single showing of Shoals at 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 16, at the Fine Arts Theatre. And, if you’re a member of the Asheville Film Society—and (shameless plug) if you aren’t you ought to be—there’s a free (it’s one of the perks of membership) members only screening of Queen to Play at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 13, in one of the downstairs theaters at The Carolina. More on all titles can be found in this week’s Xpress.

On DVD

There are at least a couple of goodies this week—Insidious, which comes out today, and Rango. which shows up on Friday. It should be noted that Arthur and The Lincoln Lawyer are also on tap.

Notable TV Screenings

Yes, it’s one of those weeks on TCM. Oh, there’s some aces things on, sure, but it’s all in the realm of the usual aces things, unless I’ve missed something. Let the TCM listings be your guide.

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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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21 thoughts on “Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler July 13-19: Harry Potter and the Queen to Play Beginners

  1. Jim Donato

    I have to say that upon seeing the appealing trailer for “Beginners” when we saw “L’Amour Fou” if it had been in the Carolina at that time, we would have taken in a double feature that afternoon. Very occasionally, I’ll see a trailer that makes me want to see the film -right now- and this was one such time.

  2. Leaving town this week is Cave of Forgotten Dreams.

    A respectable run for a documentary about ancient French cave paintings.

  3. While I’m looking forward to HP7B with great anticipation, having enjoyed the previous five entries a great deal, I declined to join some friends of mine in attending the midnight opening screening – in costume.

    I find it hard enough to imagine why anyone would want to go to the movies at midnight, let alone the thinking that goes into dressing in costume to sit in a room with the lights off.

  4. Me

    Looking forward to Beginners im hoping Mike Mills film skills have finally matched his art skills.

    Another Year i think is out on DVD this week too.

    Have you heard anything about Asheville getting Miranda July’s The Future another film with a talking dog.

  5. Ken Hanke

    A respectable run for a documentary about ancient French cave paintings.

    It’s a respectable run for just about any documentary.

    I declined to join some friends of mine in attending the midnight opening screening – in costume.

    I know someone who likes to dress up as Snape and his girlfriend dresses up like Hermione and…no, it’s all too terrible to contemplate.

    I find it hard enough to imagine why anyone would want to go to the movies at midnight, let alone the thinking that goes into dressing in costume to sit in a room with the lights off.

    The last part I understand, and at the age of 56 I understand the whole midnight movie thing, but you strike me as far too young to balk at midnight screenings!

  6. Ken Hanke

    Another Year i think is out on DVD this week too.

    I’m pretty sure that happened last month.

    Have you heard anything about Asheville getting Miranda July’s The Future another film with a talking dog.

    Well, it doesn’t come out at all until July 29. At this point, it’s not on anyone’s booking sheet, but that’s not surprising. It’s being handled by Roadside, so it almost certainly will play here at either the Fine Arts or The Carolina. And, uh, I think it’s a cat.

  7. Dionysis

    “I think it’s a cat.”

    Good. Talking cats have been woefully under-represented in movies. The Cheshire Cat from ‘Alice in Wonderland’ hardly made up for the slight.

  8. DrSerizawa

    No Screening Room this week? I miss that.

    Anyone who hasn’t seen The Invisible Ray should do so. It’s much better than it has any right to be. Even the “science” is a bit forgivable because atomic radiation was poorly understood at the time. Karloff and Lugosi… what’s not to like?

    Masque of the Red Death like those other Corman flicks of that era is worth seeing as an example of how much can be done on a small budget, plus most of them are good horror by any standard.

    This will be one of the few times I’m going to the flicks on opening weekend but SWMBO and I have been anticipating the last Potter. Even bought the tickets on line already. I expect the ending to be a letdown so if it isn’t that’ll be a bonus.

  9. Ken Hanke

    Talking cats have been woefully under-represented in movies.

    I agree, but I’m somehow reminded of the bear in Road to Utopia turning to the camera and complaining, “A fine thing — a fish they let talk, me they won’t give one stinking line.”

  10. Ken Hanke

    No Screening Room this week? I miss that.

    There was supposed to be one, but…things happened that intervened. It will return.

    Even the “science” is a bit forgivable because atomic radiation was poorly understood at the time.

    Well, that Rand-McNally globe is a bit much. I keep expecting the studio logo to appear.

    This will be one of the few times I’m going to the flicks on opening weekend but SWMBO and I have been anticipating the last Potter.

    You’re married to Ayesha? Good Lord. Myself, I have a press screening of Submarine at 10 a.m. on Friday, but I’m following it up with Potter at 1 p.m.

  11. Tomislav Hadeon Perun

    I know someone who likes to dress up as Snape and his girlfriend dresses up like Hermione and…no, it’s all too terrible to contemplate.

    Hey, I think I read that fanfiction.

  12. Tomislav Hadeon Perun

    You’re married to Ayesha? Good Lord.

    I’d just like to applaud this Haggard reference.

  13. Ken Hanke

    Hey, I think I read that fanfiction.

    The sad thing is that he may well have turned it into such, or he may have gotten the idea from such.

  14. Ken Hanke

    I’d just like to applaud this Haggard reference.

    A Haggard reference from a haggard critic. It is to be expected.

  15. I’d just like to applaud this Haggard reference.

    Ken has often denied it, but he was once proud to be an Okie from Muskogee.

  16. Ken Hanke

    I deny it again! I’ve never even been to Muskogee. I’m not even sure where it is, but I’m sure I’ve never been wherever that is.

  17. Me

    Are you familiar with Richard Ayoade other work hes a pretty great comedian. Im glad him and Chris Morris(whom hes worked with) are branching out and directing there own stuff.

    Check out Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace and his character in The IT Crowd is pretty good even though the show could be better.

    I noticed The Future and Another Earth are on the Fine Arts schedule im pretty psyched about that.

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