Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler June 1-7: Those Meek X-Men

In theaters

In the sense of high-profile movies, this is a slack week. All we’re getting is Matthew Vaughn’s X-Men: First Class. That’s perhaps wise, since the box office is already slammed with big money-makers, and going up against anything as anticipated as this X-Men prequel/reboot is a death wish. However, we do have a couple of art titles to consider—Meek’s Cutoff at The Carolina and the documentary Bill Cunningham New York at the Fine Arts.

I’ve seen Kelly Reichardt’s Meek’s Cutoff. The review appears in this week’s paper and I’m hosting a free Asheville Film Society members-only screening on Wednesday, June 1, at 7:30 p.m. at The Carolina. So there’s not much to say about it here, but no one was more surprised than I was when I actually liked the film, since I’m not an admirer of Reichardt or “minimalist” filmmaking.

Bill Cunningham New York, on the other hand, came out of nowhere on me. It’s actually booked for a single week, so if you’re interested, this is a catch-it-quick title. And there would appear to be reason to do that. Were it not for the ubiquitous nay-sayer Armond White, this would have a perfect score of reviews from largely major critics on Rotten Tomatoes. So who is Bill Cunningham? Don’t feel bad if you don’t know. The press notes tell us: “‘We all get dressed for Bill,’ says Vogue editrix Anna Wintour. The ‘Bill’ in question is 80+ New York Times photographer Bill Cunningham. For decades, this Schwinn-riding cultural anthropologist has been obsessively and inventively chronicling fashion trends and high society charity soirées for the Times Style section in his columns On the Street and Evening Hours.” The man himself, however, remains enigmatic—and completely uninterested in the fame of his subjects. He’s simply fascinated by what people wear. Atypically, several of the reviews use the word “love” to describe the reaction to the film.

And then there’s X-Men: First Class. Yeah, sure, X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) kind of—well, sucked. But it was directed by Brett Ratner. That explains so very much. Matthew Vaughn is something else again. His movies have all been at least worthwhile—and often a good deal more than that. I’ll freely concede that the fact that prequels and origin stories are often no great shakes, but I’m willing to give this one a try—not in the least because it seems to have tied itself in with some actual and interesting history. The cast is generally solid, too. So maybe … My essential problem—potential problem—is that the trailer tends to strike me as amusing when it goes into CGI shape-shifting mode. We’ll see.

To make way for Bill Cunningham, the Fine Arts is dropping Potiche and Everything Must Go, but is holding onto The Double Hour for another week, but that should be all. The Carolina is finally losing the mystifyingly popular I Am, as well as Jane Eyre, Everything Must Go and The Conspirator. 13 Assassins did surprisingly well, so it’s also hanging around. Bear in mind, though, that Hobo with a Shotgun opens next week, as does—tentatively at least—Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris (also tentatively at Fine Arts).

Special Screenings

As noted above, there’s a members-only screening of Meek’s Cutoff for Asheville Film Society members Wednesday, June 1, at 7:30 p.m. If you’re not a member, $10 will make you one. And considering that that’s only 25 cents more than an evening ticket and that a membership gets you—among other things—a dollar off admission to any and all movies at The Carolina, you’ll be 75 cents to the good next time you go to a regular movie.

This week’s Thursday Horror Picture Show is Son of Frankenstein (1939) at 8 p.m. on Thursday, June 2, in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. Hiroshima, Mon Amour (1959) is the offering from World Cinema on Friday, June 3, at 8 p.m. in the Railroad Library of the Phil Mechanic Building. The Hendersonville Film Society has John Huston’s The Kremlin Letter (1970) at 2 p.m. on Sunday, June 5, in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. The Asheville Film Society is showing The Magic Christian (1969) on Tuesday, June 7, at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. More on all these in this week’s Xpress (with a particularly loquacious piece on Son of Frankenstein in the online edition).

On DVD

Alright! This is something like it! Drive Angry comes to DVD this week. It won’t be like seeing it in 3D in the theater, but still—just be sure you watch it with like-minded friends. There’s also Biutiful, but I can tell you now, it’s a lot less fun. Otherwise, perhaps Mr. Marc can fill in the gaps.

Notable TV screenings

On Wednesday, June 1, at 6 a.m., TCM has the very odd—though not really all that good—Secrets of the French Police (1932), but it’s only 58 minutes, which is short enough for the curio value of seeing Gregory Ratoff as a mad genius hypnotist type who turns his victims into statues. This is followed by two pretty darn terrific Lee Tracy comedies, The Hal Naked Truth (1932) and, better yet, The Nuisance (1933).

On Thursday, June 2, TCM starts its “Drive-in Double Features” at 8 p.m. and keeps going all night with Godzilla (1956), Rodan (1957), Ghidora the Three-Headed Monster (1964), Godzilla vs. Monster Zero (1970), Dinosaurus! (1960), and The Valley of the Gwangi (1969).  Now, really, what more can you want?

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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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34 thoughts on “Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler June 1-7: Those Meek X-Men

  1. Oh yeah, this week is just the beginning of a great summer…

    Also out is TRUE BLOOD SEASON 3. Mickey Rourke dissed this film, the retracted his statement then perhaps re-retracted his feeling on PASSION PLAY. Perhaps because of Megan Fox. The 90s are back. Filmmaker Gregg Araki is also back with a film that is a return to his earlier work with KABOOM. I loved it, but he has always been an acquired taste.

    Only films that I watch are out on blu-ray: CAT O NINE TAILS, ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST and MAN CALLED HORSE. Apparently Netflix feels the same way, because they are not stock two out of the three (par for the course for them and blu-ray). Oh, and for the college kids, a new Noam Chomsky.

  2. Me

    If the reviews are any indication Reichardt just keeps getting better with each film she releases.

  3. If the reviews are any indication Reichardt just keeps getting better with each film she releases.

    Agreed. I thought this one would never make it to any Asheville cinemas.

  4. Ken Hanke

    Good God, if Wendy and Lucy is better than the movie that preceded it, I sure never want to see what the earlier one was.

  5. Ken Hanke

    I haven’t seen it, but I pretty much detested Wendy and Lucy.

  6. DrSerizawa

    I looked over all the TCM Thursday night scifi/horror offerings for June and became a bit worried over how many of those titles I already own. I can’t imagine how I’ve not acquired Attack of the 50 Foot Woman yet though. I need it for an antidote since my son made me sit and watch Skyline with him.

    BTW, I think that qualifies as parental abuse. I need a title to inflict on him in revenge. Perhaps a Rob Schneider title?

  7. Ken Hanke

    I looked over all the TCM Thursday night scifi/horror offerings for June and became a bit worried over how many of those titles I already own.

    Sobering, is it not?

    I need a title to inflict on him in revenge. Perhaps a Rob Schneider title?

    Kinda depends. Do you have to sit through it, too?

  8. Dionysis

    “I need a title to inflict on him in revenge.”

    Consider ‘Mesa of Lost Women’. That is pretty close to psychological torture. Or ‘Missile to the Moon’.

  9. DrSerizawa

    Consider ‘Mesa of Lost Women’.

    Good idea. The guitar score itself should be enough to rend him catatonic.

  10. Ken Hanke

    Why in the world did you dislike Wendy and Lucy?

    Because I find it a dreary, uninteresting, pointless, depressing movie when all is said and done. I still — as I said at the time — think it’s probably the best movie that could be made from the material, but I don’t understand why anybody wanted to make it in the first place.

  11. Me

    Reichardt is one of the best directors out there right now, let alone women directors.

  12. Me

    Its a lot of peoples opinion.

    “Why in the world did you dislike Wendy and Lucy?

    Because I find it a dreary, uninteresting, pointless, depressing movie when all is said and done. I still—as I said at the time—think it’s probably the best movie that could be made from the material, but I don’t understand why anybody wanted to make it in the first place.”

    I don’t see how you were uninterested in a movie that had so much at stake. Most of the time the higher the stakes the better the movie. A girl and her dog, heartless.

  13. Me

    Have you heard a date for Tree of Life? Fine Arts has it on their site. Have you heard anything about Submarine coming to town?

  14. Ken Hanke

    Its a lot of peoples opinion

    And that makes it right? Put it on that basis, and I guarantee you that you can find more people who think, say, Spielberg is one of the greats. That doesn’t prove anything either, but if you’re gonna pull quantity as a barometer…

    A girl and her dog, heartless.

    It’s basically 90 minutes of hard luck to no point I could discern, other than to be 90 minutes of hard luck. This ain’t my idea of entertainment.

    Have you heard a date for Tree of Life?

    Yes.

    Have you heard anything about Submarine coming to town?

    No.

  15. luluthebeast

    In the new X-MEN, a certain character in a bar has the best line. Fassbender and Jones are both smokin while McAvoy plays a really dweeby Charles and they make the Beast look like a Smurf with fangs. Lawrence does a pretty good job with Raven, but look for someone familiar in one of her shifts. I don’t know that it was better than THE LAST STAND; it had both very weak and very strong sections. And don’t bother waiting to the end of the credits, there is no teaser there. It was worth seeing, though.

  16. Ken Hanke

    I’m pretty sure I liked it beter than you did — especially since you’re not sure if it was better than Last Stand. I have no question on that, but then I liked Wolverine better than Last Stand. I also suspect I have less interest in fealty to characters from the comics.

  17. luluthebeast

    I also liked WOLVERINE better than LAST STAND, and I never read the X-MEN much, so I don’t compare the characters to the ones in them, even though there seems to be the usual fanboy discussions going on elsewhere. I do think Michael’s role was a good precursor to Ian’s while James made an ineffectual Charles. I think Rose Byrne is over-rated as well.

  18. Me

    “A girl and her dog, heartless.

    It’s basically 90 minutes of hard luck to no point I could discern, other than to be 90 minutes of hard luck. This ain’t my idea of entertainment.”

    But yet you liked a Serious Man.

    “Have you heard a date for Tree of Life?

    Yes.”

    Well? Dont leave us in suspense. What about Beginners i think i might be looking forward to it more.

  19. Ken Hanke

    James made an ineffectual Charles

    This is not a problem I had.

    I think Rose Byrne is over-rated as well.

    Good heavens, I didn’t know she was even rated.

  20. Me

    Im really looking forward to Beginners probably more so than Tree Of Life, it seems Mike Mills has finally stepped his filmmaking up to the level of his art work he so famous for.

    Ive been hearing reviews that hes stepped into the league of Charlie Kaufmans and Woody Allen with this one.

  21. Ken Hanke

    But yet you liked a Serious Man

    Yes, and if you’d read my whole statement — “90 minutes of hard luck to no point I could discern, other than to be 90 minutes of hard luck” — you’d see the difference. I see the point — and the larger concerns — of the Coens’ film. It also has wit and style, two elements sorely lacking in Wendy and Lucy. You must realize that not everyone can rise to your exalted level of discernment.

    Well? Dont leave us in suspense. What about Beginners i think i might be looking forward to it more.

    Actually, I didn’t, since I answered this as best I could last week. Tree of Life is set to open either on 6/24 or 7/1. Beginners is tentatively down for 7/22.

  22. DrSerizawa

    I think Rose Byrne is over-rated as well.

    And Megan Fox and Rachel Bilson and a hundred other bland actresses. I wonder how much the fanboy phenomenon has to do with the tendency to cast young actresses who have no hint of personality. I’m not saying that a lot of them aren’t basically competent actresses. They don’t embarass themselves for the most part. They just seem to be blah and leave no lasting impression. The worst are the Disney clones. I can’t even name most of them but another example was the generic chick from The Sorcerers Apprentice. Cage’s wig showed more spark. The blogosphere is full of idiots calling these girls the greatest actresses of all time. Do the casting folks pay attention to this? Am I being too harsh here? I haven’t had coffee yet.

  23. luluthebeast

    [b]Do the casting folks pay attention to this? Am I being too harsh here? I haven’t had coffee yet.[/b]

    Not at all, too many of these twits just want a “pretty” face and/or body in the role. And never forget your coffee, it’s our friend!

  24. Ken Hanke

    Okay, I understand disliking Megan Fox, who is a bad bimbette sort of “actress.” I admit I had to look up Rachel Bilson. But I don’t get the antipathy toward Byrne, who was perfectly fine in a string of movies — Sunshine, 28 Weeks Later, Adam, Knowing, Insidious — and nobody got in a dither over her. So she gets cast as the pretty — well, more conventionally pretty than Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph — girl in Bridesmaids, followed by a comic book picture (in which she’s not playing anything like a sex bomb) and suddenly she’s in Megan Foxland? How do you work that out?

  25. luluthebeast

    While I haven’t seen everything Byrne has done, I have just found her rather vacuous in what I have seen her in.

  26. DrSerizawa

    suddenly she’s in Megan Foxland? How do you work that out?

    Okay I’m being too harsh by including Fox. That wasn’t fair.

  27. Ken Hanke

    While I haven’t seen everything Byrne has done, I have just found her rather vacuous in what I have seen her in.

    I wouldn’t call her remarkable, but I haven’t actually seen anyone claim that she is.

  28. DrSerizawa

    I wouldn’t call her remarkable, but I haven’t actually seen anyone claim that she is.

    Well, sir, you apparently haven’t run up against the fanboy blogosphere lately. Which is a good thing.

    I was watching some episodes of a Brit TV show last year while stuck in Montpelier, Idaho. It was called “Being Human”. I noticed that the actors had some charisma and I’m pretty sure none would ever be cast in a US TV show because they weren’t eye candy. This has led me to muse from time to time on the factors that cause US casting people to go for looks over talent. I wonder how much the blogosphere effects these things.

  29. Ken Hanke

    Well, sir, you apparently haven’t run up against the fanboy blogosphere lately.

    Is this for some TV series or other? I don’t see her setting fanboys a flame through her film work — at least prior to this one.

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