Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler November 6-12: How All Is Lost 12 Years About Time

In Theaters

It looks like awards season is upon us, since two of the heaviest hitters are opening this week. There’s also a third art title for our viewing, a sort of mainstream/art hybrid and a big-budget blockbuster that’s already conquered most of the rest of the world. Actually, life looks pretty good this week — cinematically speaking.

The really big opening is Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave (The Carolina and the Fine Arts Theatre). In terms of art titles, there’s very little doubt that this fine — but not exactly comfortable — film will almost certainly take the weekend box office. And it deserves to. Of the three art titles opening — I’ve seen them all — it is hands-down the best. If you read my review in this week’s paper (should be up online at 2 p.m. today, Nov. 5), you’ll see that it just missed greatness for me, but only just barely — and it might cross that line when I see it again. It is a remarkable work in nearly every respect — and, perhaps best of all, it stands a good chance at making Chiwetel Ejiofor a major star. He might even become a household name — even if most people can’t pronounce his name.

Also up is J.C. Chandor’s All Is Lost (also at The Carolina and the Fine Arts)  — the film in which Robert Redford holds the screen entirely alone for 106 minutes. Yes, it’s a kind of stunt picture, but it’s a good one. I do not entirely buy the idea of Redford not saying anything for the bulk of the film (in the same situation, I’d be swearing up a storm), though I realize that the approach makes his one outburst more jarring. That said — and while I admit I can’t imagine seeing it twice — it is a commendable work, and there’s no denying that Redford gives a terrific performance. I’d recommend it in general, but I would call it an essential if you’re a Redford fan. Full review in the paper.

The third art title (opening at The Carolina) is Kevin Macdonald’s How I Live Now. This is good, but it’s something of an oddity in that it’s an R-rated film adapted from a British young adult novel, meaning that a large part of its potential audience is theoretically shut out. (Even supposing they buy tickets to something they can get into, but go to this, that doesn’t enrich the film’s box office.) Actually, it’s a bit of an oddity all the way around — not just because of its story of a slightly futuristic nuclear attack on Great Britain, the subsequent invasion and the attempts of four kids (ranging from late teens to preteen) to survive. The way it’s presented — telling us no more than the kids know — is unusual (it’s also the film’s strength). Worth a look if you can make the time — and since I don’t see it lasting, I’d make the time right away. Again, there’s a full review in the paper.

That brings us to the movies I haven’t seen — at least one of which I have high hopes for.

The one I’m hopeful about is Richard Curtis’ About Time. (I don’t know how widely playing this is, but I know it’s at The Carolina. I expect it to be at others.) This is only Curtis’ third film as a writer-director (his writing credits are extensive), and it’s supposedly his last directing project. (That assertion is carefully couched with a “how I feel at this time” statement.) I have loved both of his other films — Love Actually (2003) and Pirate Radio (2009) — the latter is much better in its original, complete cut as The Boat That Rocked. I expect to at least like this time-travel romantic comedy. The one person I know who’s seen it says that it’s wonderful, but also that it’s hard to explain why it’s good without saying too much. I know it has a lackluster, generic-sounding title, and a poster that only Rachel McAdams’ dentist could love. Plus neither she, nor Domhnall Gleeson (Brendan Gleeson’s son, who made something of a mark in last year’s Anna Karenina) are big draws, though Bill Nighy is always a selling point with discerning viewers. I’ll be there Friday at 11 a.m. myself.

Then we have Thor: The Dark World, which is almost certainly slated to make a fortune (thereby crushing the underperforming Ender’s Game). It’s already pulled down over $100 million in the rest of the world. I liked the original film just fine for what it was. It’s probably the best of the post-X2 Marvel movies. It had class, scope, spectacle, a sense of humor — and a terrific cast. Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins, etc. are all back. Plus, Christopher Eccleston has been added to the mix. The one potential downside is that director Kenneth Branagh is not back. He’s been replaced by TV helmer Alan Taylor. That may not be a bad thing, since part of the trick of being a TV director lies making sure your episodes aren’t markedly out of joint with the others. Plus, his most notable theatrical film, The Emperor’s New Clothes (2001), was an unalloyed delight.

This week we lose Wadjda (that was never expected to be more than a one week run), Inequality for All and Enough Said from the Fine Arts. Enough Said is hanging on at The Carolina, but The Carolina is dropping Muscle Shoals and Ip Man: The Final Fight (no big surprise there).

Special Showings

This Thursday the Thursday Horror Picture Show is running (no fooling, this time) Michele Soavi’s The Sect (1991) at 8 p.m. on Thu., Nov. 7 in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. World Cinema is showing Guillermo del Toro’s The Devil’s Backbone (2001) on Fri., Nov. 8 at 8 p.m. in the Railroad Library in the Phil Mechanic Building. The Hendersonville Film Society has Charles Jarrott’s Mary, Queen of Scots (1971) at 2 p.m. on Sun., Nov. 10 in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. The Asheville Film Society is screening Peter Sellers in Hal Ashby’s Being There (1979) on Tue., Nov. 12 at 8 p.m. in Theater Six at The Carolina. More on all titles in this week’s paper with complete reviews in the online edition.

On DVD

The best things out this week are smaller titles — Renoir, Girl Most Likely, Parkland, with Lovelace bringing up the rear. Also out this week is Brian De Palma’s Passion, which didn’t play here. I suppose we should also note White House Down and (Clapton save us) Grown Ups 2.

Notable TV Screenings

This is not a particularly exciting week, but Lewis Milestone’s The Front Page (1931) is showing at 6:30 a.m. on Fri., Nov. 8, and Leo McCarey’s The Awful Truth (1937) is on at 8 p.m., as part of an otherwise lame set of screwball comedies.

The truly essential Gold Diggers of 1933 — the bulk of the film made by Mervyn LeRoy and the spectacular musical numbers by Busby Berkeley — is TCM’s choice for their “Essentials” show at 8 p.m. on Sat., Nov. 9.

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About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress since December 2000. 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."

38 thoughts on “Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler November 6-12: How All Is Lost 12 Years About Time

  1. Jeremy Dylan

    I am cautiously optimistic toward THOR 2. I enjoyed the fish out of water comedy aspects of the first film and Hemsworth’s engagingly obnoxious performance.

    I would encourage Ashvillains to go and see the remarkable ABOUT TIME, as it seems to need all the help it can get with its US box office.

  2. Ken Hanke

    Which is interesting because we treated Pirate Radio better than the Brits and certainly better than the Brit critics (who I am convinced would eat their young and hate almost everything British).

  3. Me

    I’ve noticed they have scaled back The Story of Film on TCM to just Monday and no replay with the films included on Tuesday. And they are showing it later now in the middle of the night.

  4. Ken Hanke

    I hadn’t noticed because after I missed one altogether I ended up watching it via my wife’s Netflix account. I’m not really surprised, though. First of all, the primary TCM audience is less than not interested in the vibrant film scene of Senegal, etc. I find a lot of it trying in that regard and I’m a lot more adventurous than the people watching Mrs. Miniver for the 900th time (and thinking it’s good, too). Plus, there’s the content. The first clip we get of an R.W. Fassbinder movie in episode 10 is Fassbinder naked walking toward the camera all a-dangle. That’s late night fare for TCM. (When they first went on the air in the ’90s, it would have been cut.)

  5. Jeremy Dylan

    the Brit critics (who I am convinced would eat their young and hate almost everything British).

    They take particular delight for slapping down Curtis for showing insufficient irony.

  6. Ken Hanke

    And too much humanity and painting an “unrealistic” picture of Britain. What they don’t realize is that unrealistic picture is much more appealing than the real thing — and that that unrealistic picture exists under the surface. I grant I like Brit movies better than actually being in Britain for the most part. In much the same way, I’m pretty sure that like Ernst Lubitsch, I’d prefer Paramount Paris to the real thing.

  7. Orbit DVD

    It might be a little bit down the road, but have you seen any local screenings for the Jarmusch vampire flick?

  8. Ken Hanke

    Well, Sony Classics has it, but there’s no announced release date (and from that date it could take forever to get here if it even does).

  9. Big Al

    “I’d prefer Paramount Paris to the real thing.”

    Both great places to VISIT I am sure. I hope so, as I’m off to visit Scotland next Fall.

  10. Jeremy Dylan

    And too much humanity and painting an “unrealistic” picture of Britain.

    Curtis addressed this brilliantly during an interview at a BAFTA event recently:

    “I’m sometime puzzled by the fact that when I write films about people falling in love, they critically taken to be sentimental and unrealistic. And yet, four million people in London are in love tonight. And today, all around the world, hundreds of thousands of people will fall in love.

    When someone writes a film about a soldier going AWOL and breaking into a flat and murdering a young pregnant woman – something which has happened twice in history – that film will be described as searingly realistic.

    I don’t see how that’s true. I was on a beach in Southwell the other day and you along and you see fathers playing with their children, people in love holding hands, older couples having cups of tea with each other. No sign whatsoever of ruthless violence and hatred on that beach.

    Now of course, I know from my work with Comic Relief about the dark heart of the UK, but that’s not the only story and I think stories of joy and love are definitely worth telling. And I’m a beneficiary of that.”

  11. Ken Hanke

    It’s also often mistaken for profundity — as is boring. It’s nasty-medicine-is-good-for-you syndrome. And I don’t say that the unpleasant and grim can’t be important and profound, but it’s not a guarantee of it. I have almost never seen boring justified.

  12. Ken Hanke

    Both great places to VISIT I am sure. I hope so, as I’m off to visit Scotland next Fall.

    I take it you’ve not been to Scotland before, Al? It’s something of a mix to me. I don’t care much for Glasgow — partly because I can rarely make sense out of what is being said. It tends all come out something like, “Aye fookin’ Glasgae ach.” However, if you’ve an interest in architecture it’s worth going to nearby Helensburgh to see Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s Hill House. The more rural parts are nice and Edinburgh is fine — and it has a nice zoo.

  13. Jeremy Dylan

    My travels in the UK are limited to London and Liverpool, both of which I enjoyed immensely.

    I’ve yet to visit Glasgow.

  14. Big Al

    My first time and long overdue. Itenerary includes Edinburgh, Aberdeen and either Isle of Skye or Iona, I forget which. Mostly historical and religious as the tour commemorates the 500th birthday of John Knox. Not sure about “Glesca Toon”, which I understand is a bit rougher than the other towns, as most movies about it seem to indicate (Dear Frankie, My Name is Joe, etc.)

  15. Edwin Arnaudin

    Edinburgh is pleasant and smells like Honey Nut Cheerios. Its castle offers a nice view and the Stirling Castle is also worth visiting.

    One great thing about Glasgow is that its tube system is one of the most user-friendly in the world.

  16. Ken Hanke

    I had a car so its public transport is unknown to me. My main memories involve being taken to a play where I might have understood 1/3 or the dialogue (and bear in mind I’m really conversant with British cinema). That and the fact that the people we were staying with were baffled and annoyed by my desire to shower on a daily basis.

  17. Ken Hanke

    Not sure about “Glesca Toon”, which I understand is a bit rougher than the other towns, as most movies about it seem to indicate (Dear Frankie, My Name is Joe, etc.)

    Well, all towns have rougher areas. I didn’t care much for it, but I didn’t find it especially menacing.

  18. Jeremy Dylan

    That was the only way it would happen. I am not overwhelmed by the image quality vs. a DVD.

    That is my chief concern with it also, along with a general aversion to streaming services.

  19. Ken Hanke

    I just heard about TCM’s on demand website and app.

    Meh. It sounds like it’s going to a lot like Warner Archive (big surprise), and the cable requirement (we have Dish TV) kills it anyway.

  20. Me

    It’s kind of like the HBO app in that way, but i hear they are starting to break away from the cable requirement for theirs. I’ve got Dish too, so it will be nice for times when they play some rarity that i missed.

  21. Ken Hanke

    I remain skeptical. My biggest concern is that it will stream titles that Turner owns, like WB, MGM, and RKO, which is why I say it sounds like Warner Archive. The titles they only license — Columbia, Universal, Paramount (much of which is owned by Universal), Fox, Republic — I’m doubtful will show up. I’d love to be wrong.

  22. Jeremy Dylan

    I’m assuming TCM airs movies commercial free?
    I haven’t watched a move from a television broadcast since I left high school. The pile of DVDs is high enough, not to mention the pile of iTunes purchases.

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