Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler July 4-10: To Rome with Amazing Savage Katy Perry

In Theaters

It’s a confusing sort of week in that the studio folks can’t seem to figure out what day movies should open on. Is it Tuesday? Or maybe Thursday? (Thursday??) Or what about plain old Friday like normal people? Well, since boardrooms full of the finest minds in marketing (yes, well…) could not seem reach a conclusion, they decided to go with all three.

What does all this mean to you? Why now you can see if Spider-Man really is amazing as early as Tuesday—or you can spend your Fourth of July with the confused teenager in tights. Then, if such is your bent, you can subject yourself to Katy Perry on Thursday. After that, it’s a normal week. Strangely enough, it’s the stuff coming out on Friday that offers the greatest interest—at least that’s my take on it.

Originally, we were down for two art titles this week, but one of them got moved back to next week. It’s probably just as well. Last week’s opening of Moonrise Kingdom was one of the biggest—if not the biggest—art/indie openings we’ve ever had in Asheville. And this week’s opening of Woody Allen’s To Rome with Love—at The Carolina and the Fine Arts—could well be of similar proportions, if the business it’s been doing elsewhere the past two weeks is any indication.

And once again, I found myself at The Carolina at the unlovely hour of 9:30 a.m. to see To Rome with Love. It was well worth getting up and making the trip. Oh, yes, I know—it doesn’t have the outpouring of critical praise that greeted Midnight in Paris. So what? There’s too much meaningless noise on review aggregation sites anymore to make them of any real use. Plus, I honestly think To Rome with Love is as funny or possibly funnier than Midnight in Paris, thought it may not be quite as charming. The full review is in this week’s paper.

OK, let’s slog our way through things unseen.

The big deal—or at least so Sony hopes—in the mainstream realm is The Amazing Spider-Man, the seemingly somewhat hasty reboot of a series that started 10 years ago. Yes, I know that Spider-Man 3 (2007) was pretty much a moose fellation party (and, so far as I’m concerned, the first two were massively overrated—including by me), but this still feels like rushing things. The new one does boast a good cast and the choice of a director, Marc Webb, whose only previous directorial film was the quirky indie romantic comedy (500) Days of Summer (2009) is an interesting one. In fact, that choice may well pay dividends in the romantic scenes, but otherwise…well, I guess we’ll see. Offhand, I’m guessing that Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone are in the film’s plus column and Rhys Ifans pretty much improves anything he’s in. Then too, this one doesn’t have a villain that looks like he’s wearing a mask made from a 1937 Cord—something that dogged Sam Raimi’s 2002 original. Still, I’m having a hard time becoming all that enthused. Put it this way—I’ll be there, but not on opening day.

On Thursday we get something called Katy Perry: Part of Me. Which part is not specified. I freely admit that I know of Ms. Perry, but apart from her sterling voice performance in The Smurfs, I remain blissfully out of the loop on her. But here she is following in the 3D concert/documentary footsteps of Miley Cyrus, the Jonas Brothers, and Justin Bieber. Paramount informs us that what we have is “A 3D motion picture event movie, Katy Perry: Part of Me is a backstage pass, front row seat and intimate look at the fun, glamorous, heartbreaking, inspiring, crazy, magical, passionate, and honest mad diary of Katy.” (Though what an “honest mad diary” is, I do not know, which may be just as well.) I am reliably informed that Katy Perry is extremely popular. This does not keep me from feeling that the poster for the film looks like some sort “Rock Star Barbie” playset. I have no intention of seeing this if it is humanly possible not to—no, not even with that bizarre bit of the trailer where she sports some sort of lactating bra.

Much more interesting—potentially anyway—is the return of Oliver Stone on Friday with Savages. Judging by the trailer and the stills, this is Stone at his Stone-iest—the kind hyper-kinetic, LSD-chrome stuff that recalls such Stone excusions as Natual Born Killers. The plot supports this suspicion. Taylor Kitsch (Lord, does this boy need a hit!) and Aaron Johnson play two guys running a peaceful marijuana farm and living in some kind of menage a trois with Blake Lively (I guess she’s living up to her name, and clearly a long way from those Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants movies). Unfortunately, a Mexican drug cartel—run by no less than Salma Hayek with Benicio Del Toro as her sadistic right-hand henchman—has decided to muscle in. When the duo refuse to play ball, the bad guys kidnap Lively. Presumably, this is where all the violence kicks in. And in the bargain, you get John Travolta as a dirty DEA agent. Even if it turns out to be spectacularly silly, it’s apt to be pretty lively.

So what are we losing? Well, the Fine Arts is dropping The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, but it’s hanging in there at The Carolina. Both theaters are, of course, keeping Moonrise Kingdom. The Carolina is also keeping Bernie and Hysteria, though the latter is being split. (We know what that usually portends.)

Special Screenings

This week’s Thursday Horror Picture Show is Larry Cohen’s The Ambulance (1990) showing at 8 p.m. on Thu., July 5 in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. World Cinema is screening Turtles Can Fly (2004) on Fri., July 6 at 8 p.m. in the Railroad Library in the Phil Mechanic Building. Stuart Rosenburg’s Voyage of the Damned (1976) is this week’s film from the Hendersonville Film Society, showing at 2 p.m. on Sun., July 8 in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. The Asheville Film Society is showing Mitchell Leisen’s Death Takes a Holiday (1934) on Tue., July 10 at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. More on all titles in this week’s Xpress with extended coverage in the online edition.

On DVD

Somewhat astonishingly, there is not one single new title coming out this week that can said to have played locally. Well, God Bless America played at ActionFest, but it unfortunately never saw a regular release here.

Notable TV Screenings

Maybe they aren’t terribly unusual, but they’re worth noting—on Thu., July 5 at 12:15 p.m. TCM is showing William Dieterle’s Portrait of Jennie (1948), and that night at 10 p.m., they have Charles Laughton’s The Night of the Hunter (1955). On Sun., July 8 Lewis Milestone’s silent film The Racket is showing at 12:15 a.m. (early Mon. morning technically). I’ve never seen this, but Milestone’s films from this era are almost always worth a look.

 

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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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27 thoughts on “Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler July 4-10: To Rome with Amazing Savage Katy Perry

  1. Dionysis

    “you can subject yourself to Katy Perry on Thursday.”

    I’d rather subject myself to sharp sticks in the eyes.

  2. Dionysis

    Re: the Spiderman remake…does anyone know if this new Spiderman character will be intregrated into the Marvel ‘universe’? I don’t follow such things closely, but I do recall discussion of some issues (legal, I guess) preventing Spidey from joining up with the other super-hero types in The Avengers.

    Oh, and Toby McGuire seems like a veritable Hercules with charisma to spare compared to this nerdy fellow (that I have never heard of before). I do like Emily Blunt, however, and the special effects will probably be better than the earlier films.

  3. Dionysis

    Sorry, Emma Stone is who I meant, not the British actress. The one who was in ‘Easy A’.

  4. Jeremy Dylan

    Though what an “honest mad diary” is, I do not know, which may be just as well.

    I thought that was a Tyler Perry movie?

    we get Ms. Blunt next week!
    Dinoysis’ confusion is understandable, as Ms. Blunt appears to be in every other movie released this year. Not that I’m complaining. She’s the Bryan Cranston of 2012.

  5. Jeremy Dylan

    Re: the Spiderman remake…does anyone know if this new Spiderman character will be intregrated into the Marvel ‘universe’? I don’t follow such things closely, but I do recall discussion of some issues (legal, I guess) preventing Spidey from joining up with the other super-hero types in The Avengers.

    As the Spiderman film rights are owned by Sony and the rest of the characters by Disney, this is unlikely. Not that this is a bad thing. THE AVENGERS was hardly suffering from too few characters.

    Toby McGuire seems like a veritable Hercules with charisma to spare compared to this nerdy fellow (that I have never heard of before).

    Did you see THE IMAGINARIUM OF DR PARNASSUS? THE SOCIAL NETWORK? NEVER LET ME GO? He had significant parts in all of those. And complaining that the guy playing Spiderman seems nerdy is like complaining that someone playing James Bond is too suave. That’s pretty much the essence of the character.

  6. Ken Hanke

    I rather like Andrew Garfield — at least I liked him in the first and last of those titles, I’ve pretty completely forgotten the middle one. At the same time, I’ve always found Tobey Maguire kinda hard to take, so this seems a step in the right direction to me. The real problem when it comes right down to it is I’m way past the tipping point on comic book movies.

  7. Jeremy Dylan

    The real problem when it comes right down to it is I’m way past the tipping point on comic book movies.

    I’m looking forward to this, but I sympathise, as you’ve been forced to sit through a lot of comic book pictures I’ve avoided.

    However, I’m about up to here with second-rate Christopher Nolan impressions, half of which is based purely on dour trailers I’ve caught in front of other films.

  8. Dionysis

    “complaining that the guy playing Spiderman seems nerdy is like complaining that someone playing James Bond is too suave.”

    Thanks for your opinion, but I will stick to my own. For those of us who formed views of Spiderman via the early comic books, while he was clearly something of a geeky type, but not to the degree this guy seems to be. Toby McGuire was pretty bland, but he looked more like the way Peter Parker was depicted visually.

    And actually, James Bond WAS too suave, at least as essayed by Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan; Daniel Craig is much more on the mark.

  9. Jeremy Dylan

    For those of us who formed views of Spiderman via the early comic books, while he was clearly something of a geeky type, but not to the degree this guy seems to be.

    I don’t know about that. I’ve read a fair chunk of 60s Spiderman stuff and he always seemed pretty nerdy to me – http://comicbooks.bad-dreams.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/05/spiderman-stan-lee-steve-ditko.jpg

    That’s half the concept behind the character – a nerdy weakling who can’t get laid is endowed with super powers and therefore gains confidence and, in this version, Emma Stone.

    Besides which, anecdotal consensus seems to be that Garfield is better looking than Maguire.

  10. Ken Hanke

    Well, they’re both on the goofy-looking side, but Maguire is slightly on the creepy side to me.

  11. Ken Hanke

    If I’m up, I probably will. I have a 9:30 a.m. press screening, though, so it’s up in the air.

  12. Vince Lugo

    I never thought I would see a superhero film that I outright hated (I’ve certainly defended my share of them here), but The (Not So) Amazing Spider-Man is truly terrible. There are brief (very brief) bits here and there that show the filmmakers have indeed read the comics, but they threw out everything that makes Spider-Man, well, Spider-Man. In its place, we have an absolute mess of a film that seems to have been designed to appeal to the people who watch MTV, and if you’ve seen how idiotic MTV’s been lately, that should tell you something. Whether you love them or hate them, Sam Raimi’s films got it right and were an excellent adaptation of the characters and world of the Spider-Man comics. Mark Webb’s film sucks. Stay away. Far, FAR away. You have been warned.

  13. Sean R. Moorhead

    I did! It really says something when a film that was made for pocket change still looks great at 360 pixels.

    But I realize I’m preaching to the choir here, or possibly to the priest.

  14. Ken Hanke

    By the way, they are showing the whole film — complete with funeral fantasy and Mahler’s conversion to Catholicism — aren’t they? I cringe whenever I think about that PBS print.

  15. Sean R. Moorhead

    By the way, they are showing the whole film — complete with funeral fantasy and Mahler’s conversion to Catholicism — aren’t they?

    It’s through the Criterion Collection, so yes, it’s the whole film.

  16. Ken Hanke

    But…is there a Criterion DVD? If so, that sneaked past me.

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