Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler May 25-31: A double hour of 13 panda assassins with hangovers

In theaters

Last week was pretty much given over to Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. This week is more diverse with two new art titles—13 Assassins (Carolina) and The Double Hour (Fine Arts)—and two mainstream ones—The Hangover Part II (everywhere but Carmike) and Kung Fu Panda (everywhere but Beaucatcher). It’s an interesting array at the very least.

Some of you may have caught Takashi Miike’s 13 Assassins at ActionFest. I didn’t, but Justin Souther did, and told me it was the best thing he’d seen all year. I can’t say that I thought the trailer exactly bore this out, but I caught up with the film over the weekend (review appears in this week’s paper) and damned if he wasn’t right. This is at least close to Seven Samurai territory. I’ve also seen The Double Hour (also reviewed in this week’s Xpress), which is a first-rate mystery thriller with more twists and turns than you can shake a stick at—assuming you’d want to do such a thing.

Those titles open on Friday, but the mainstream movies both open on Thursday—presumably to get as much good as possible out of the Memorial Day weekend. Both are sequels and I wouldn’t be expecting either one to depart very much from the formula that made the originals hits.

I never saw the original The Hangover (2009), but Justin Souther did, and his review did nothing to make me think I should. Now, if I was the suspicious type, I’d think those responsible for the new film—primarily those responsible for the last one—were trying to lure me into seeing the sequel by giving it simian value. And I admit that the prospect of a cigarette smoking money is not without its inducements, but I think this might be better left to Mr. Souther, since he saw the first one, and this looks like more of the same—with a monkey and more expensive location work. I like the stars well enough—Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifiankis, Justin Bartha—but I can’t say I’ve ever forgiven director Todd Phillips for Old School (2003) or School for Scoundrels (2006).

I think my energies might be better spent on Kung Fu Panda 2. I liked the original well enough and most of my reasons for liking it seem to be in place with the sequel. The first film could have made it just on the interplay between Jack Black and Dustin Hoffman, but it had more going for it than that. One of the things in its favor was that it was visually impressive—making this one case where I’m curious to see if 3D mightn’t actually be an enhancement and not just a ticket-price-inflating gimmick.

Making very quick departures this week are The Greatest Movie Ever Sold (perhaps I’m not the only person who sees Morgan Spurlock and wants to throw something) and Bloodworth (both at The Carolina)—neither of which will be more than a memory come Friday. Potiche and Everything Must Go are going to be sharing the upstairs screen at the Fine Arts to make room for The Double Hour. Everything Must Go is keeping a full set of shows at The Carolina, while The Conspirator is amazingly hanging on for another week of almost full shows.

Special Screenings

Owing to the Twin Rivers Media Festival, there’s no movie from World Cinema this week, but check out the article on the festival in this week’s paper or go to twinriversmediafestival.com for more information. This week’s Thursday Horror Picture Show is Dario Argento’s Inferno (1980) on Thursday., May 26, at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. Delbert Mann’s Desire Under the Elms (1958) is the film from the Hendersonville Film Society on Sunday, May 29, at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. The Asheville Film Society is screening Frank Borzage’s 7th Heaven (1927) at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, May 31, in the Cinema Longe at The Carolina. More on all the films can be found in this week’s Xpress.

For more on the Twin Rivers Media Festival go to: http://www.mountainx.com/ae/2011/twin_rivers_media_festival_2011

On DVD

I can honestly think of nothing more absolutely horrifying than the announcement that an extended version of the already 229 minute butt-numbing fiasco known as Gods and Generals (2003), yet this is what I have read. Sweet Jesus! Why? That news is almost enough to make me want to sit through I Am Number Four again. I mean, I didn’t mind it once but once was definitely a gracious plenty and it wasn’t good, it just wasn’t painful. Gnomeo and Juliet—which earned me a nasty letter to the editor of dubious authenticity—wasn’t actually painful either, but as an admirer of garden gnomes and Elton John (1969-1975 era anyway), it was somewhat embarrassing.

Notable TV screenings

Since TCM has given over the entire weekend to war movies, there’s not much doing there—unless you like war movies, of course. However, I noted a couple of interesting things on earlier. The Man with Two Faces (1934), 9:30 p.m., Wednesday, May 25, is a movie I don’t know at all. The existence of a 1934 film that I’ve never seen intrigues me from the onset. That it stars Edward G. Robinson and was adapted from a play by George S. Kaufman and Alexander Woolcott makes me know what I’ll be doing on Wednesday night. And it’s followed by The Doorway to Hell (1930) at 11 p.m.—an early gangster film (we’re talking pre-Little Caesar early) that usually gets short shrift. I suspect that has a lot to do with the atypical casting of youthful Lew Ayres as a gangster with James Cagney shunted to a supporting role as Ayres’ duplicitous lawyer. Actually, I think the casting works and I’ve liked the film since I first saw it on TV in a motel room in Fort Lauderdale when I was about 12.

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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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16 thoughts on “Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler May 25-31: A double hour of 13 panda assassins with hangovers

  1. Me

    The Hangover was ok for what it was, Zach Galifiankis’s performance was the only it had going for it.

  2. Ken Hanke

    The Hangover was ok for what it was

    Not having seen it, I have no opinion. You know, since you appear to only post in the movie section, I could get you cleared where your posts show up without having to wait for someone to approve them — if you’d register.

  3. It’s a weak week, but there’s always some gems.

    Samantha Morton makes her directorial debut with THE UNLOVED. Out on our new favorite company, Oscilloscope.

    Two Criterions out on blu-ray and remastered dvd: THE GREAT DICTATOR and SOLARIS.

    One of the best shows on Adult Swim CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL is now out.

    Then there is a screwed up documentary on a screwed up Austin man, TOTAL BADASS. I couldn’t resist the first line, “I took a year off to raise Guinea Pigs and do cocaine.”

  4. Ken Hanke

    Out on our new favorite company, Oscilloscope

    They do handle some nice things, but their promotion of theatrical offerings makes Freestyle’s (who mostly handle not so nice things) look savvy.

  5. Well, I can only imagine how hard it is to get independent films, documentaries and foreign titles in theaters these days.

  6. Ken Hanke

    It’s really not that hard locally. Though, Justin’s quite right, I think, in his assertion that there’s not much point in booking documentaries unless they’re new agey.

  7. I still need to lend you FOLLOWING SEAN… as well as a billion other films.

    I watched the blu-ray of Argento’s DEEP RED last week. That in my opinion is his best film.

  8. Ken Hanke

    Is there no cinema from around the world this week?

    “Owing to the Twin Rivers Media Festival, there’s no movie from World Cinema this week”

  9. davidf

    Have you heard anything about a release date for The Tree of Life?

  10. Ken Hanke

    Have you heard anything about a release date for The Tree of Life?

    Well, it opened on four screens this weekend and averaged $88,000 a theater, which is pretty impressive. (Oddly, however, for so anticipated a movie, the new Woody Allen picture opened in six theaters last weekend and averaged over $99,000 per theater.) I haven’t heard what its expansion rate is yet, but it’s being handled by Fox Searchlight, which means that we’ll probably see it in Asheville in at least two theaters — The Carolina and the Fine Arts. With Brad Pitt in it and depending on how it holds up in expansion, it may also open at the big box corporate venues (which I find unfortunate, since they do not support art film except when something big comes along). I will let you know when I know.

  11. luluthebeast

    Mary wanted to see the monkey, so we went to watch HANGOVER II. The monkey was good, otherwise the movie was the same as the first except with more body parts showing.
    Oh yes, and it was less funny than the first one as well.

  12. davidf

    Thanks.
    I did a little more reading and learned that Search light is planning a wider release (200-300 screens) on July 1st.

  13. Ken Hanke

    Mary wanted to see the monkey, so we went to watch HANGOVER II. The monkey was good

    I agree about the monkey. I saw most of the film (I am not reviewing it), but mostly because there was a about 1 hour 45 minute gap between the end of Kung Fu Panda 2 and the time to settle in for the Thursday Horror Picture Show. I didn’t see the first so I can’t comment on this one’s inferiority. Aside from the monkey, however, it merely came under the heading of “I didn’t mind sitting throught it.”

  14. Ken Hanke

    Search light is planning a wider release (200-300 screens) on July 1st.

    That’s probably wide enough to encompass Asheville.

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