Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler Nov. 30-Dec. 6: The Melancholia week

In Theaters

The title for this week’s rather short “Weeky Reeler” may be taken figuratively—since the week is inevitably and inextricably marked by the passing of the great British filmmaker Ken Russell—but it’s also quite literally true. The only movie opening locally this week is Lars von Trier’s Melancholia, which comes to The Carolina on Friday. Some times may shift around, but it’s otherwise pretty much the same as last week—apart from the arrival of Melancholia and the depature of The Rum Diary. Considering that last week gave us Scorsese’s Hugo, I’m not complaining about a dearth of product. For that matter, Melancholia is nothing to sneeze at.

Once more it turns out that the art title of the week, Melancholia in this case, is something I’ve already seen. And that, of course, means that the review is in this week’s paper and so on. I don’t entirely object to the way this works out. First of all, Melancholia is a special—and specialized—film that might get a better break this way. Second—and maybe even more important to me—this affords viewers a little more leisure to get out there and see Hugo. That’s the most special film of the year—of many years in fact.

None of this gives me any more leisure, mind you, since there are screenings to deal with for movies that open next Friday.

Special Screenings

It’s December, and that means that the Hendersonville Film Society is taking a break. In fact, if I understand correctly, they won’t be back with us till Jan. 8, 2012. The rest of the usual suspects are carrying on, however. The Thursday Horror Picture Show is screening the new-and-improved print of Island of Lost Souls (1932) with Charles Laughton and Bela Lugosi on Thursday, Dec. 1, at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. World Cinema is running Eric Rohmer’s My Night at Maud’s (1969) at 8 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 2, in the Railroad Library in the Phil Mechanic Building. The Asheville Film Society kicks of December with Bryan Forbes’ classic comedy The Wrong Box (1966) on Tuesday, Dec. 6, at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. (Yes, the film is in color, even though the trailer is black and white.) More on all films in this week’s Xpress.

On DVD

Quite a few titles come out way this week. Of the ones I’ve seen, I’d say the most noteworthy are Werner Herzog’s Cave of Forgotten Dreams and One Day. Of course, Cave of Forgotten Dreams won’t be in 3D, but you still get to listen to Herzog fantasize about “albino crocodiles.” Also up are 30 Minutes or Less, Another Earth,The Future, and Our Idiot Brother. Tucker & Dale vs. Evil, which played at ActionFest but was not otherwise shown here, is also coming out. Then—in one of those inexplicable marketing decisions—the sadly overlooked Friends with Benefits and the depressingly over-seen The Smurfs show up on DVD on Friday.

Notable TV Screenings

TCM gets more interesting that is often the case by making December William Powell month. Of course, since Powell was almost entirely a Warner Bros. and MGM man for most of his career—with a little RKO thrown in—a good deal of what’s showing is owned by Turner and shows up fairly regularly. It all starts Thursday, Dec. 1, with Jewel Robbery (1932), The Kennel Murder Case (1933), The Ex-Mrs. Bradford (1937), The Hoodlum Saint (1946), The Emperor’s Candlesticks (1937), Lawyer Man (1933), Rendezvous (1935), and Star of Midnight (1935). If nothing else, catch the first two and Lawyer Man. The others aren’t bad, but those are the really choice ones.

On Friday, Dec. 2, at 10 a.m. the silent Sherlock Holmes (1922) starring John Barrymore as Holmes and the ever-popular Gustav von Seyffertitz as Prof. Moriarty. It’s a pretty flat, style-challenged film thanks to Albert Parker’s direction, but worth it for Barrymore and Seyffertitz.

An unusual offering (I think this may be its first time on TCM) shows up at 8 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 5, with Stuart Walker’s The Mystery of Edwin Drood (1935) with Claude Rains as an opium addict choir master. It’s adapted from Charles Dickens’ final—and unfinished—book. The film offers very little in the way of mystery as concerns who killed Edwin Drood (David Manners), but it’s a stylish thriller—almost qualifying as a Universal horror picture (in fact, it was often shown on TV as one).

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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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