Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler Nov. 10-16: Lions and aliens and runaway trains, oh my

In theaters

From a serious moviegoing standpoint, the big titles opening this week are ones I’ve already seen: Four Lions and Inside Job. You’ll find reviews of both in this week’s Xpress (they were among the films I reviewed over the weekend from hell—10 movies in three days). Conviction, Morning Glory, Skyline and Unstoppable are also coming to town. That means six films will be vying for your moviegoing attention—not to mention your hard-earned spondulicks.

I’m hard-pressed to imagine that the last four films mentioned—with Conviction as a long-shot possibility—are going to be in the same league as Four Lions and Inside Job, but we can’t ignore their presence, I guess. When I think of a reason that we can’t, I’ll tell you. Four Lions (opening at The Carolina) and Inside Job (opening at the Fine Arts) are remarkable films—for very different reasons—but beyond that, I’ll say nothing more about them here.

Since it appears first thanks to an incomprehensible Wednesday opening date, let’s look at Morning Glory. First off, we might wonder just what Roger Michell (Venus) is doing helming this very processed-cheese-food-looking movie. We won’t get an answer, but we might wonder all the same. Rachel McAdams plays the producer of a morning TV news show. Diane Keaton and Harrison Ford play the show’s embattled anchors. The ever-bland Patrick Wilson seems to be on hand to provide some kind of love interest for McAdams. The trailer looks harmless and predictable. The few critics with a degree of clout who have weighed in have been underwhelmed. This will pop up at The Carolina, Epic of Hendersonville, Regal Biltmore Grande and United Artists Beaucatcher.

On the borderline of art/indie we have Tony Goldwyn’s Conviction, which opens more reasonably (as do all the other titles) on Friday at The Carolina. It’s based on the true story of Betty Anne Waters (Hilary Swank), the working mother who put herself through law school in order to fight the wrongful conviction of her brother Kenny (Sam Rockwell) for murder. Please note the phrase “based on the true story”—a detail that seems to escape a lot of folks. I admit I’m not wild about Swank as a rule, but I like Rockwell and the supporting cast is solid (Minnie Driver, Juliette Lewis, Melissa Leo). I’m more worried about directorial lightweight Tony Goldwyn (The Last Kiss) and the shamelessly manipulative Oscar-bait trailer. But I’m in the give-it-a-chance camp at this point.

And then there’s Tony Scott’s Unstoppable—and it probably will be. This runaway train epic is designed to warm the hearts of demographic researchers everywhere. It has cross-over stars with Denzel Washington and Chris Pine. It has a trailer that promises scads of action and snappy one-liners. It has that viewer-friendly PG-13 rating. From a popcorn-movie and bankability standpoint, what’s not to love? Probably nothing. It has the typical heavily manipulated image look associated with Tony Scott, which is a little worn-out by now. And the trailer is so over-the-top in preposterous plot devices that it never fails to make me laugh. With this kind of movie, that’s not necessarily a downside. Opens Friday at Carmike 10, The Carolina, Epic of Hendersonville and Regal Biltmore Grande.

Speaking of trailers that make me laugh, there’s also Skyline from Colin and Greg Strause—or “The Brothers Strause” as they call themselves. These boys are better known for their effects work than for their direction. Last time at bat as filmmakers they came up with the pretty execrable Alien vs. Predator: Requiem (2007), which had the distinction of being brought out for Christmas of all things. Well, we’re getting close to Thanksgiving, which might be appropriate for Skyline. The sci-fi opus appears to be about vacuum cleaners from outer space that go around Hoovering up humankind (see photo at the right) for reasons the film will perhaps explain. This one wanders into The Carolina, Epic of Hendersonville, Regal Biltmore Grande and United Arists Beaucatcher on Friday.

Departing theaters this week are The Tillman Story (yes, already) at the Fine Arts, and both Heartbreaker and Catfish at The Carolina. Waiting for Superman is staying at the Fine Arts for another week (I expect it to get bumped for The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Next next Friday). You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger is sticking around The Carolina one more week, but with Hornet’s Nest, Tamara Drewe, The Next Three Days and Harry Potter slated to open next Friday, I suspect this is the final week. Worth noting is the fact that Asheville Pizza and Brewing has picked up The Kids Are All Right for their 7 p.m. slot this coming week. Also, very worth noting is the fact that Nowhere Boy—which opened to no fanfare at all last week—has managed a second week at the Beaucatcher. Read my review in this week’s Xpress.

Special screenings

Special event
Though Conviction is opening there on Friday, The Carolina has a special screening of the film at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 13. That showing will be introduced by Christine Mumma, executive director of the N.C. Center on Actual Innocence. The center investigates innocence claims and works to free the wrongly imprisoned, in coordination with the N.C. Law School Innocence Projects. At 9:30 p.m., there will be a separately ticketed reception ($10, with all proceeds going to the N.C. Center on Actual Innocence) with wine and snacks for Mumma in the Cinema Lounge. Most recently, Mumma served as co-counsel representing Gregory Taylor in his historic exoneration by the N.C. Innocence Inquiry Commission. Taylor served 17 years in prison for a murder he did not commit.

Potluck Cinema
Every third Thursday of the month (meaning Nov. 18 this month), bring your favorite side, entrée or dessert and break bread with the local community. The World Cinema folks provide dinnerware, beverages and seating. Following dinner, enjoy a collection of award-winning films, including animation, documentaries and dramas from Courtyard Gallery’s Twin Rivers Media Festival collection. The event takes place in the upstairs library of the Phil Mechanic Studios building in the River Arts District. This month’s films are: Transrexia, Lychee Thieves, Dinner Table and the feature film Fix (www.mountainx.com/movies/review/fix). Potluck dinner at 6:30 pm; films start at 7 p.m.

The regular slate of special screenings begins with the Thursday Horror Picture Show screening of F.W. Murnau’s Nosferatu (1922) at 8 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 11, in the Cinema Lounge of The Carolina on Hendersonville Road. World Cinema has the Danish film The Celebration (1998) at 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 12, at the Courtyard Gallery in the Phil Mechanic building. Young Sherlock Holmes is this week’s offering from the Hendersonville Film Society at 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 14, in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. The Asheville Film Society is showing E. Elias Merhige’s Shadow of the Vampire (2001) in the Cinema Lounge of The Carolina at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 16.

On DVD

For me, the big title this week is Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, a film that badly underperformed—and undeservedly so—in theaters that might well find a more congenial atmosphere on DVD. At least I hope it will. Also out are Charlie St. Cloud (once was enough), Ramona and Beezus (not seeing it at all was sufficient for me) and Grown Ups (see previous parenthetical.)

Notable TV screenings

It’s a kind of lackluster week on TCM. Good stuff on occasion, but little out of the ordinary. Murder on a Honeymoon (1935)—which is also on today (Tuesday, Nov. 9) at 5 p.m.—shows up at 7 a.m. on Sunday, Nov. 14. And for those who missed it when the AFS ran it, F.W. Murnau’s Sunrise (1927) is on at 9 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 15. All in all, though, we’re looking at the usual suspects this round.

SHARE
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."

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

19 thoughts on “Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler Nov. 10-16: Lions and aliens and runaway trains, oh my

  1. I’d consider a nearly half-day Edna May Oliver salute (with two Wheeler and Woolsey entries as well as the three Withers) to be fairly out of the ordinary. I frantically e-mailed a friend to TIVO/tape for me (I so long to see the Withers flicks) but no reply yet so I’m not too sanguine.

  2. Dread P. Roberts

    You know, despite no shortage of theatrical quantity coming out the last couple of weeks, I’m assuming the majority of people are really just waiting in anticipation for the big one next week. Other than a desire to see Nowhere Boy, I’m certainly waiting for next week.

    For me, the big title this week is Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, a film that badly underperformed—and undeservedly so—in theaters that might well find a more congenial atmosphere on DVD. At least I hope it will.

    I hope so too. This is probably somewhere on my ton ten list of 2010 thus far – and it’s one of the very few movies that I’ve been looking forward to grabbing as soon as it comes out. Granted, being somewhat of an Edgar Wright fan, I’m probably a bit biased, but this is still wonderful, quirky stuff.

  3. Ken Hanke

    I’d consider a nearly half-day Edna May Oliver salute (with two Wheeler and Woolsey entries as well as the three Withers) to be fairly out of the ordinary.

    Actually, that would have been in last week, but the fact that they’ve been running two of the Withers pictures a few times recently weighed against it. I did note, you’ll note, that Murder on a Honeymoon is on today at 5 p.m. and again on Sunday at 7 a.m.

  4. Ken Hanke

    You know, despite no shortage of theatrical quantity coming out the last couple of weeks, I’m assuming the majority of people are really just waiting in anticipation for the big one next week.

    Oh, you mean Tamara Drewe, right? You know that there’s a free screening of it next Wednesday (Nov. 17) at 8 p.m. for Asheville Film Society members?

    Other than a desire to see Nowhere Boy, I’m certainly waiting for next week.

    Definitely try to catch it this week. I did not expect it to get a second week. I have absolutely nothing against the Beaucatcher, but that was just not the venue for that film.

  5. Yeah, and that’s the one I’m least interested in seeing. I want to see THE PENGUIN POOL MURDER since, in classic films at least, penguin value is up there for me with simian value. Also IMDb *claims* that Gustav Von Seyffertitz doubles as the coroner and the crime lab analyst (unless, more likely, in their clumsy way, they mean the two roles were combined).

    Though the production credits on ON A HONEYMOON are interesting (directed by mildly portly character player Lloyd Corrigan, Robert Benchley on the script team…), the lack of Gus or Edgar Kennedy seem like definite minuses (I see Leo G. Carroll and Willie Best there, but remain uncertain).

  6. On the borderline of art/indie we have Tony Goldwyn’s Conviction
    Based on the trailer, this is set to be the funniest comedy of 2010!

  7. Ken Hanke

    Yeah, and that’s the one I’m least interested in seeing. I want to see THE PENGUIN POOL MURDER since, in classic films at least, penguin value is up there for me with simian value.

    I can kind of understand that.

    Also IMDb *claims* that Gustav Von Seyffertitz doubles as the coroner and the crime lab analyst (unless, more likely, in their clumsy way, they mean the two roles were combined).

    The great GVS plays one character who performs both functions. It is not a dual role, if that’s what you’re thinking.

    Though the production credits on ON A HONEYMOON are interesting (directed by mildly portly character player Lloyd Corrigan, Robert Benchley on the script team…), the lack of Gus or Edgar Kennedy seem like definite minuses (I see Leo G. Carroll and Willie Best there, but remain uncertain).

    You also get Spencer Charters. It’s definitely the least of the three films for me, but I don’t think I’d blame that on Lloyd Corrigan, who was probably as competent as George Archainbaud. I think it’s mostly that the story is weak — and the production code has taken hold.

  8. Ken Hanke

    Based on the trailer, this is set to be the funniest comedy of 2010!

    Then you obviously haven’t seen the trailer for Skyline.

  9. Ken Hanke

    I just can’t believe that “Unstoppable” isn’t called “Training Day 2”.

    I don’t think it’s that classy, which is saying a lot.

  10. [b]The great GVS plays one character who performs both functions. It is not a dual role, if that’s what you’re thinking.[/b]

    Yeah, the inimitably erroneous IMDb has him listed as “Von Donnen / Dr. Max Bloom” (which were the names in the book for the lab tech and ME respectively).

  11. Ken Hanke

    ‘Shameless JD’, that’s what they call me!

    Understandably. Where are this week’s Bastards?

  12. Ken Hanke

    Check your inbox

    It is empty. I looked. I looked behind the sofa, too. Nothing.

  13. Ken Hanke

    Check behind your bust of Leo McCarey.

    Was that you peering through my window the other night?

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.