Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler June 15-21: Mr. Popper’s Green Cave of Forgotten Beaver

In Theaters

 

Warner Bros. is working overtime to convince us that Green Lantern fills some long-felt want this week. Meanwhile, the folks at Fox insist that nothing spells entertainment like Jim Carrey on ice with penguins. In more specialized realms on the locally level, Werner Herzog explores Cave of Forgotten Dreams and Jodie Foster brings Mel Gibson and The Beaver to town. Make of all this what you will, but make of it here—now with added trailer action!

The only film of the four I’ve seen is Cave of Forgotten Dreams—one of the few movies to use 3D as something other than a gimmick. The review appears in this week’s paper. I have a hunch it’s the most likely thing opening that’s of true merit, but that’s merely a hunch—albeit an educated one. Werner Herzog waxing philosophical about ancient man and his connection to the birth of cinema—among other things—is kind of hard to top.

But looking over the rest of the titles alphabetically, we first come to the opening of The Beaver (so to speak). It’s hard to know what to make of this. Despite getting quite a number of positive reviews—it’s at 65 percent on Rotten Tomatoes—the film has failed to attract much of an audience. It may well be that Mel Gibson’s personal escapades have become just too big to ignore for the moviegoing public. Then there’s the story itself. Honestly, the concept of Mel Gibson as a deeply disturbed man (can you say “typecasting?”) who finds some kind of salvation by talking—in a Cockney accent—through a beaver hand-puppet is not the easiest sell. Regardless, it’s in my future and I admit I’m a little curious.

And then, of course, there’s Green Lantern from James Bond/Zorro specialist Martin Campbell. I suppose there are worse ideas than putting Ryan Reynolds in green tights. But there are two stumbling blocks of some note. In the first place, Reynolds has yet to prove that he can carry a movie. In the second, it’s debatable as to just how many Green Lantern fans there are out there. It’s also a little troubling that the still photos look like some weird mix of John Boorman’s Excalibur and a cartoon. We’ll see. Well, some of us will see, since I’m paying the price for fobbing off Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer on Mr. Souther last week, and so am “looking forward” to this week’s other mainstream release.

That other mainstream release is, of course, Mark Waters’ Mr. Popper’s Penguins, which translates the 1938 novel by Richard and Florence Atwater into modern terms involving Jim Carrey. Yes, well. The press release calls it “a contemporary adaptation of the classic book,” which I think is studio-speak for “bears only the vaguest resemblance to the book.” I have no idea if the book is still a big deal in schools, but it was when I was in grade school. I liked it so much that I bought it for myself from one of those Scholastic Book Sales events they had back then. None of this means that I remember the book all that well, but I do know that neither the trailer nor Jim Carrey express any aspect of my memory.

It will come as no surprise that Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris, which did remarkably well, is hanging around this week at The Carolina and the Fine Arts. Also, staying at the Fine Arts is Incendies. 13 Assassins is staying at The Carolina for evening shows only, which suggests it will be leaving next week. On the other hand, Everything Must Go is indeed going, as is Meek’s Cutoff. More disappointing is the fact that Hobo with a Shotgun is leaving after only one week. At least, we had it in town for a week, but it ought to have done better.

Special Screenings

The Hughes Brothers’ From Hell (2001) is this week’s Thursday Horror Picture Show, which as the name suggests is showing Thursday, June 16, at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. World Cinema is showing the first three episodes The Decalogue (1988) at 8 p.m. on Friday, June 17, in the Railroad Library in the Phil Mechanic Building. Marc Forster’s Finding Neverland (2004) is this week’s film from the Hendersonville Film Society at 2 p.m. on Sunday, June 19, in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. Mae West returns to the Asheville Film Society in I’m No Angel (1933) on Tuesday, June 21, at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina.

On DVD

Looking over this week’s crop—Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son, Battle: Los Angeles, Hall Pass, Red Riding Hood—strongly suggests an actual trip to movie in a theater would be a good bet right about now.

Notable TV Screenings

This pretty much comes down to TCM continuing their “Thursday Drive-in Double Features” on Thursday, June 16, starting at 8 p.m. and running all night long. This round we have Attack of the 50 Foot Woman (1958), Village of the Giants (1965), Queen of Outer Space (1958), Mars Needs Women (1968), The Cyclops (1957), The Manster (1962), and The Killer Shews (1959). Every one is a real eye-waterer.

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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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30 thoughts on “Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler June 15-21: Mr. Popper’s Green Cave of Forgotten Beaver

  1. Dionysis

    “it’s debatable as to just how many Green Lantern fans there are out there.”

    A salient point. As a kid, I was big into comics (sure wish I had all of them now), and while I read Green Lantern comics, he was always a kind of second-string superhero, along with Green Arrow, Blackhawk, Aquaman and a few more. I would be surprised if many young people even know of Green Lantern.

  2. Jim Donato

    I am gobsmacked that a GL film has been made. The character was always third rate from the 40s onward and was only interesting as a right wing political foil on to the radicalized Green Arrow on the seminal late 60s Denny O’Neill run of Green Lantern/Green Arrow.

  3. Dionysis

    “I do feel better about my mental health this week. Killer Shrews is the only Thurs horror movie on TCM that I already have.”

    Since I have all of them except Queen of Outer Space, you are a veritable model of mental fitness in comparison.

  4. Lisa Watters

    In my humble opinion I think Reynolds can carry a film. I liked him a lot in Definitely, Maybe and I think he more than held his own with Sandra Bullock in The Proposal (middling film but good chemistry.) In fact he’s probably the only reason I’ll even contemplate watching it.

  5. Dread P. Roberts

    Is there a special, free screening of Cave of Forgotten Dreams for Asheville Film Society members; or is the email that I received just letting us know that it’s coming out this friday? I assume the latter, but figured it wouldn’t hurt to ask.

  6. Chris Love

    I’m curious why no one has mentioned the special screenings of The Lord of the Rings. Seems like a sweet event. I’m in Iowa for the summer, unfortunately, but if I was in town, I would be at the Carolina tonight and the next 2 Tuesdays. They are showing the extended editions, one night only, one screen only, in celebration (promotion, rather, I reckon) of the release of the trilogy on Blu-Ray.

  7. One of the problems with most comic book super hero movies is that they don’t star Robert Downey, Jr.

    That’s a real issue across the board with much modern cinema. He’s one of the few actors working with honest to goodness movie star charisma. Hopefully Jon Hamm will pick up a film career soon and broaden the field a little.

  8. Ken Hanke

    I think Reynolds can carry a film. I liked him a lot in Definitely, Maybe and I think he more than held his own with Sandra Bullock in The Proposal (middling film but good chemistry.)

    I should have been more specific. It’s not so much a question of whether he’s good enough to carry a film, it’s whether his name is enough to carry one at the box office. Especially one that had a $150 million budget (before advertising). Even leaving anything beyond the base budget, that means the strength of he and the comic book character have to pull in $300 million before the film is in the black.

  9. Ken Hanke

    Since I have all of them except Queen of Outer Space, you are a veritable model of mental fitness in comparison.

    I have Killer Shrews and The Manster. I guess that puts me between you two in terms of mental health.

  10. Ken Hanke

    Is there a special, free screening of Cave of Forgotten Dreams for Asheville Film Society members; or is the email that I received just letting us know that it’s coming out this friday?

    Don’t feel bad. You aren’t the only one confused by the e-mail. It’s just letting you know — it seemed especially pertinent to get the news out there on this, because near as I can tell, it’s only there for 12 days.

  11. Ken Hanke

    I’m curious why no one has mentioned the special screenings of The Lord of the Rings.

    Interesting question. It hasn’t even been part of the listings that I’ve seen. Personally, I think the $12.50 is a little steep, but diehard fans might feel differently.

  12. Ken Hanke

    That’s a real issue across the board with much modern cinema. He’s one of the few actors working with honest to goodness movie star charisma. Hopefully Jon Hamm will pick up a film career soon and broaden the field a little.

    Granted, I’ve never seen Hamm’s TV work, but I just haven’t gotten a movie star charisma vibe from his movie appearances. Maybe the right role in the right movie would change that.

  13. Granted, I’ve never seen Hamm’s TV work, but I just haven’t gotten a movie star charisma vibe from his movie appearances.

    What have you seen him in?

  14. Ken Hanke

    The Day the Earth Stood Still, Howl, Bridesmaids, Sucker Punch, Kissing Jessica Stein, We Were Soldiers.

  15. The Day the Earth Stood Still, Howl, Bridesmaids, Sucker Punch, Kissing Jessica Stein, We Were Soldiers.

    Ok, well I haven’t seen any of those so I can’t judge. THE TOWN is the best part I’ve seen him in cinematically, but still doesn’t come close to showing off his charisma and range like MAD MEN. Think Clooney but darker and more dangerous.

  16. Ken Hanke

    doesn’t come close to showing off his charisma and range like MAD MEN. Think Clooney but darker and more dangerous.

    You won’t agree, but I don’t think TV and movie charisma always work interchangeably. For instance, Patrick Macnee was a great John Steed in The Avengers, but never registered as well in movies. My biggest problem with Hamm, though, is I don’t find him immediately identifiable. When I see him, I either think, “That’s not Aaron Eckhart, is it?” or “I know I’ve seen him before.” Even before I liked Clooney, I knew who he was at a glance.

  17. DrSerizawa

    Jon Hamm is a competent actor but the only thing he’s done that was noticeable to me was Mad Men. In that show he’s such a disgusting shyt that “movie star charisma” is the last thing I think of. Admittedly I’ve only watched a few episodes. The idea of regularly following the antics of such an inveterate jerk doesn’t attract me.

  18. luluthebeast

    Reynolds is fine in GL. I thought the movie was a great “B” movie, fun to watch but really generic, nothing really special about it at all, especially with the “evil force” looking a lot like the sand creature from the MUMMY series. I wouldn’t be surprised if MR. POPPER doesn’t pop GL in the butt at the box office.

  19. Ken Hanke

    I wouldn’t be surprised if MR. POPPER doesn’t pop GL in the butt at the box office.

    I haven’t seen — and may well not see — Green Lantern, but I have seen Mr. Popper and it’s not pretty. Never underestimated the appeal of penguins, though.

  20. Vince

    All the critics who hated Green Lantern were obviously expecting too much. I like the GL comics but let’s be honest here: It’s based around a hero whose weakness is the color yellow! I don’t think it would be possible to make a GL film that wasn’t completely ridiculous on some level. However, because I know this going in, I know exactly what to expect and I’ll probably love it. Comic book fans are already piling hate on this one, many of them without having actually seen the film, I’m sure, which just serves to aggravate my irritation with them. There’s a very good reason they have a negative stereotype and it makes me reluctant to admit my fandom in public because I don’t want people lumping me in with them. What’s an intelligent, non-judgemental fan to do?

  21. Ken Hanke

    Comic book fans are already piling hate on this one, many of them without having actually seen the film, I’m sure,

    Actually, most of the ones I’ve seen were piling on the critics who dared not to like it. The critics had seen it, the fanboys had not.

    What’s an intelligent, non-judgemental fan to do?

    Has there ever been a comic book movie you didn’t like?

  22. luluthebeast

    I was a comic book fan and collector, with GL being one of my favorites, but that has nothing to do with my feelings towards the movie. You should always disassociate yourself from the comic or novel and movie. They are made for different reasons by different people. As I said, I thought it was a great “B” movie, but as it was produced as an “A” movie, I didn’t find it so good in that regard, just so-so. If you get too wrapped up in the source material you will come away disappointed. Ray Bradbury is one of my favorite writers, but his work is very difficult to translate to the screen because of his writing style and while I’ve enjoyed some movies based on his work, I have to forget what I read while watching or end up being disappointed.

  23. Vince Lugo

    “Has there ever been a comic book movie you didn’t like?”

    Well, I wasn’t too impressed with Punisher War Zone, but other than that…

    What can I say? I’m in love with the genre. Where I differ from other comic book fans is mostly a matter of perception. They take this stuff really seriously and, for the most part, I don’t. By and large, comic books are not Great Art and I never expect the movies to be. All I want is to be entertained. When a comic book movie trancends the medium and does approach the level of art, like Ang Lee’s Hulk, I just find it all the more remarkable because that very rarely happens. I could make a case for Watchmen as Art, but I know you hated that one, so I won’t bother.

  24. Ken Hanke

    You should always disassociate yourself from the comic or novel and movie.

    That’s probably more true with comics, since the comics themselves are always reinventing themselves.

  25. Ken Hanke

    I could make a case for Watchmen as Art, but I know you hated that one, so I won’t bother.

    I didn’t hate Watchmen. I just didn’t like it very much, though I enjoyed the hell out of the big blue willy making the fanboys nervous. Now, 300 I hated.

  26. luluthebeast

    [b]That’s probably more true with comics, since the comics themselves are always reinventing themselves.[/b]

    Especially now since the big hubbub in fanboy world is that DC is going to re-boot all of it’s titles. And they don’t seem to be happy.

  27. Vince Lugo

    Why shouldn’t they be happy? No one can deny that DC’s continuity is a HUGE mess. Everything they’ve tried doing to fix it has failed utterly and, in fact, that’s the main reason I don’t read DC. Rebooting everything gives folks like me a great opportunity to jump on, no backstory required, and it might even pull in- gasp! -new readers, or even better, kids (the audience comics were originally written for, remember). What in the world is wrong with that?

  28. Mike

    Especially now since the big hubbub in fanboy world is that DC is going to re-boot all of it’s titles. And they don’t seem to be happy.

    The voices of dissent are overreacting. “Re-boots” in the comic medium hold about as much weight as character deaths. Marvel’s been resetting the counter to zero, so to speak, for years now and it hasn’t damaged their brand. IIRC DC’s pulled this trick a few times before themselves, most notably with the Crisis on Infinite Earths story run. It’s a silly gimmick the comic nerds pretend to get up in arms about right before they plop down money for the spate of issue number ones.

    That said, DC might have been better off starting up an ancillary line of “alternate universe” comics, ala the Marvel Ultimates line, if their goal is to attract a new generation of readers.

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