Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler May 4-10: Summer’s here and it’s mighty Thor

In theaters

Put bluntly, last week’s releases were pretty darn grim. When the best thing that opened—apart from the art title Of Gods and Men—was an action movie starring Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, and Dwayne Johnson. you know things weren’t looking any too rosy. What of this week? Well, there are two indies—Rubber and I Am (both at The Carolina)—two rom-coms of sorts—Jumping the Broom and Something Borrowed (everywhere but Carmike)—and, of course, Thor (again, everywhere but Carmike). So what of them? What indeed.

I’ve already seen both I Am and Rubber, meaning the reviews will be in this week’s paper. However, it bears remarking at any opportunity that Rubber is one of the damndest things I’ve encountered in some considerable time. Anyone out there who’s interested in movies that are not your average multiplex fare needs to see this one. Even if you end up hating it and think it’s fuller of crap than a Christmas turkey, you need to see it.

But then there are the other three—two of which are probably negligible both as movies and as box office contenders.

Let’s be honest here, is there anything about Jumping the Broom that doesn’t look like it could have easily have been in last year’s abominable Our Family Wedding? It’s really just another culture clash comedy of warring parents of the betrothed. This time it’s an upscale black mother vs. a working-class black mother. That differs from upscale black dad vs. working class (but prosperous) Latino dad only in gender and ethnicity. And something tells me that Jumping the Broom won’t even afford the spectacle of a Viagra-fueled goat pursuing Forest Whitaker with connubiality on its mind. I don’t think the presence of Bishop T.D. Jakes among the producers bodes well for that eventuality. After all, Jakes is the man who passed up the opportunity to have a real hit with Woman Thou Art Loosed (2004) by not dropping that “d” from the title.

I could be charitably minded and note that the director of Something Borrowed, Luke Greenfield, also made the surprisingly decent The Girl Next Door (2004), but it’s hard to overlook the fact that he also made the infamous Rob Schneider “comedy” The Animal (2001). This one’s based on an apparently popular book of the same name, and it stars Ginnifer Goodwin as the perpetually unattached Rachel, who is in love with the fiance (TV actor Colin Egglesfield) of her self-centered best friend Darcy (Kate Hudson). Things get complicated when Rachel sleeps with said fiance. The trailer looks both irritating and predictable, while the smattering of early reviews bear this out. Look, when you can’t get at least one of Australia’s “Urban Cinephiles” (they appear to be Australia’s answer to Pete Hammond) to give your movie a good review, you’re in trouble.

Frankly, no one cares about these movies anyway. This is the week Kenneth Branagh goes comic book on us with Thor, which has already been out in the UK and Australia and which has gotten mostly positive (as opposed to enthusiastic) reviews from those shores—not to mention from the curiously unimpressive array of select US reviewers who’ve weighed in. Those few reviewers who have not liked it are now buried in the backyard by fanboys in need of that 100 percent approval rating to validate their own taste. At this point, I have little opinion. The cast is good (though whether Chris Hemsworth can beat Vincent D’Onofrio’s imaginary Thor in Adventures in Babysitting is another matter). The production values look to be first rate. But the trailer left me at best tepid. I am, however, relieved to see that the originally reported running time of 130 minutes now seems to be only 114.

Departing this week is, unfortunately, Super (Carolina), but I’m not overwhelmingly surprised. You still have a few days to catch it. Also making a very quick exit from The Carolina is Dylan Dog: Dead of Night, but having seen the film, I’m not exactly surprised at this either. It’s hanging on at the Carmike—I suspect less out of choice than lack of options. Jane Eyre is sticking around both The Carolina and the Fine Arts. Win Win is staying at the Fine Arts. The Conspirator and Of Gods and Men are good for another week at The Carolina, but I wouldn’t expect either to stay any longer than that.

Special Screenings

The Hendersonville Film Society isn’t with us this week because of Mother’s Day, but they’ll be back next week. The Thursday Horror Picture Show screens Boris Karloff in the once-lost The Ghoul (1933) in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina on Thursday, May 5, at 8 p.m. World Cinema is showing Nicolas Roeg’s Walkabout (1971) at 8 p.m. Friday, May 6, in the Railroad Library of the Phil Mechanic Building. Marc Forster’s Stranger Than Fiction (2006) in this week’s Asheville Film Society title on Tuesday, May 10, at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. More on all three titles in this week’s Xpress.

On DVD

I liked Michel Gondry’s The Green Hornet more than a lot of people, but I’m not sure I have any desire to see it again. I know if I do, I won’t bother with the lousy post-production 3D-ified version. I have no dilemma at all about The Dilemma. To watch or not to watch? Not.

Notable TV screenings

I’m not saying it’s exactly good, but Alan Crosland’s Big Boy (1930) is on TCM Wednesday, May 4, at 7:15 a.m. This is the film version of one of Al Jolson’s Broadway shows and it doesn’t show up all that often because, unlike his other movies where he may have a couple of numbers in blackface, here he’s in blackface for the entire film as Gus, the trainer of the titular racehorse. Typically, it’s the white characters who come off the worst in the film, which makes it kind of interesting. All the same, the approach is bound to upset some viewers. At the very end, Jolie comes out of blackface and appears as himself, which complicates things even further when he ends the picture with a joke about being Jewish. It was a very different era.

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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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19 thoughts on “Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler May 4-10: Summer’s here and it’s mighty Thor

  1. Steven

    [b]Marc Forster’s Stranger Than Paradise (2006) [/b]

    I take it you mean [i]Stranger than Fiction[/i].

  2. Me

    TCM played Gates of Heaven Monday and i know you dont do the other cable channels but Hobo With a Shotgun is showing on i think HDNET channel. Im going to check it out otherwise i wouldnt go to a theatre and see it.

  3. Ken Hanke

    I take it you mean Stranger than Fiction

    Uh…yes, and it says that now. (I’m not sure what the point is in having these edited…)

  4. Ken Hanke

    Im going to check it out otherwise i wouldnt go to a theatre and see it.

    Pity. It’s a movie meant for an audience — a late night one.

  5. Ken Hanke

    What he said goes for me, too. Seeing it again wouldn’t hurt either. I got a great deal more out of it the second time, and noticed subtle touches that escaped me on a single viewing.

  6. DrSerizawa

    I’ll probably check out Thor. The trailer looks decent enough. The trailer for the new X-Men flick looks interesting too, though that’s still a way off. Probably couldn’t be worse than X-Men 3.

    That screengrab from The Ghoul makes me sad to realize that most people would never sit through a black and white movie of any sort these days. Look how effective that particular shot is in a way that color couldn’t ever duplicate. It’s a shame that the art of it is being lost.

  7. Ken Hanke

    I’ll probably check out Thor.

    I’ll be there in a little over 12 hours. (I’m just too old for the midnight show.)

    The trailer for the new X-Men flick looks interesting too,

    My problem with the trailer is everytime I see it, my mind fills in the blanks for the “Before he was” stuff. You know, “Before he was Professor X, he was Capt. Picard” and “Before he was Magneto, he was James Whale.”

    most people would never sit through a black and white movie of any sort these days

    I know we’re told that, but more and more I think it’s assumption that’s not backed up by facts. (A lot of it came about when they were trying to sell us why colorization was a good and even necessary thing. Of course, the truth was it was a way of getting a new copyright for the color version and squeezing more years out of a movie before it went PD.) I suppose they’re not “most people,” but I’ve yet to hear or be told about anyone who opted not to come to an AFS or THPS screening based on b/w or color.

  8. Me

    Yes, it would!

    John Lurie > Will Ferrell

    Richard Edson is great too, i didnt even realize until now he was one of the original drummers for Sonic Youth.

  9. Im going to check it out otherwise i wouldnt go to a theatre and see it.

    If you saw this film by yourself I think you will be disappointed. If you saw this film at midnight with 200 other raving cult movie fans, you will have the time of your life.

    At least gather a few buddies and some beer.

  10. DrSerizawa

    I thought Thor was okay. It even got a bit of an applause from the audience in the half-full theater.

  11. Ken Hanke

    STRANGER THAN FICTION is my number one renter of all time.

    And it’s also much better suited to the majority of the AFS crowd. Plus, it ties in to the fact that the new indie Everything Must Go with Will Ferrell opens this coming Friday — and serves as a reminder that Ferrell can do more than just be Will Ferrell.

  12. Ken Hanke

    I thought Thor was okay. It even got a bit of an applause from the audience in the half-full theater.

    That’s probably about where I am on it (I haven’t written the review yet). It may have drawn applause at later showings here — noon shows on a weekday don’t tend to generate that kind enthusiasm. In my case, I was consumed with gloom over the fact that Something Borrowed was a mere 25 minutes away.

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