Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler Oct. 13-19: Art and the very antithesis of art

In theaters

This is one of those tricky weeks where movie titles cropped up—out of nowhere or from Freestyle Releasing, which amounts to about the same thing—after the upcomers were done. As a result, in addition to the three movies I was expecting to open—Never Let Me Go, RED and Jackass 3-D—we also have N-Secure and I Want Your Money. This does not appear to be a blessing. More on that in a bit.

Far and away the most tantalizing title on this week’s agenda is Mark Romanek’s film of Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel Never Let Me Go. The novel was adapted by Alex Garland of 28 Days Later … (2002) and Sunshine (2007) fame. Director Romanek is primarily known for One Hour Photo (2002) and as a director of stylish music videos. What they’ve cooked up from this dystopian sci-fi romance remains to be seen, but it has a solid cast—Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield, Keira Knightley, Charlotte Rampling—and a great-looking trailer. It’s easily the most seriously intended film this week, and the one I’m most interested in seeing. It opens Friday at The Carolina and the Fine Arts.

Whatever else it may be, the cult comic-based RED is not seriously intended. Quite the opposite, in fact, since it’s about a group of retired black ops who go after the people behind an attempt to dispose of them. The title stands for “Retired Extremely Dangerous,” and in this case, the folks so categorized are Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren, John Malkovich and Morgan Freeman. The prospect of Helen Mirren packing serious heat is enough to catch my interest and it’s always nice to see Morgan Freeman play against his avuncular, fatherly or even God-like characters. The trailer is clever and makes the film look suitably fun—even if it’s hardly poised to be great cinema. Here we may have a case where I actually will be satisfied to watch “sh*t blow up neat.”

I know I’d be more than satisfied to see the cast of Jackass 3-D blow up—and the neat part is optional. I palmed the first of these exercises in deterioration off on my then co-critic Marcianne Miller. I took the second bullet myself—I think that was because no one else would do it. It strikes me therefore that it’s Justin Souther’s turn to watch the assembled proof that the Piltdown skull was not a hoax to do stupid, outrageous, dangerous and gross things for the camera. I’m sure that the addition of 3-D will make the experience positively transcendent.

And then we have the interlopers. Now, the booking sheet I saw credited N-Secure to Freestyle Pictures, but I can find no confirmation of that (not that I’d put it past them). It looks for all the world like a low-rent—really low-rent—film-festival entry. It was made by no one you’ve ever heard of and stars people you’ve never heard of.  No one seems to have reviewed it. Even the filmmakers’ friends haven’t shown up on the IMDb to sing its praises. Perhaps the filmmakers have no friends. The blurb from “N-Secure Films,” promises us, “a no holds-barred thrilling drama mixed with murder, mayhem and manipulation among affluent professionals. This film sheds light on a man’s downfall from the pinnacles of success into the depths of his damaged character. His insecurities lead him into a series of troubled romantic relationships and eventually a web of events that include betrayal and murder.” Sounds pretty optimist to me. If you insist on learning more, the Beaucatcher appears to be the only place getting it.

That leaves us with I Want Your Money, which is from Freestyle. Now, Freestyle once got a pretty big movie with The Illusionist back in 2006, and they occasionally pick up overlooked gems like Me and Orson Welles (2009) and My One and Only (2009). More often, they have stuff like The Collector (2009) and Delgo (2008). What they have here is a right-wing “documentary” that appears to be a cash-grab for them and a mid-term elections recruiting film for staunch conservatives. If you want to actually shell out money to watch talking heads discuss the evils of liberals, an animated Ronald Reagan lecture and an animated Barack Obama on the horrors of socialism, have at it. Judging by the film’s trailer, the animation appears to be about on par with the locally produced Paramount Kia commercials. In any case, near as I can tell, the Carmike and The Carolina are slated for this.

Still with us art-wise this week are It’s Kind of a Funny Story at both The Carolina and the Fine Arts, but the the Fine Arts is splitting it with Farewell (which is obviously hanging on there, too) come Friday. Get Low remains for another week at The Carolina, but Cairo Time joins the ranks of the missing come Friday. Worry not. There’s a pretty heavy slate of art—and possibly pretend art—headed our way.

In the land of special screenings, this week’s Thursday Horror Picture Show is James Whale’s Bride of Frankenstein (1935) on Thursday, Oct. 14, at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. World Cinema has the Japanese ghost story Kwaidan (1964) on Friday, Oct. 15, at 8 p.m. in the Courtyard Gallery in the Phil Mechanic Studios building. Breaker Morant (1980) is this week’s offering from the Hendersonville Film Society on Sunday, Oct. 17, at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. The Asheville Film Society has Bill Condon’s Gods and Monsters (1998) on Tuesday, Oct. 19, at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. And, I should note, the Montford Park Players are doing their Rocky Horror Pictiure Show (1975) thing at 11 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 16, at The Carolina. Also, those wanting to check out Never Let Me Go director Mark Romanek’s other work, his One Hour Photo (2002) and a selection of his music videos will play in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina all weekend.

On DVD

Probably the most interesting—and at least tied for best—title this week is I Am Love, which got an unusually warm reception theatrically here. If you missed it in the theater, here’s a chance to correct that. Both Tilda Swinton and the music are fantastic. There’s also How to Train Your Dragon, which is easily the best animated movie I’ve seen this year. The mildly amusing, but mostly appalling Jonah Hex also comes out. I have no idea why.

Notable TV screenings

There are a few rather unusual things this week from TCM, starting with the very odd 1945 George Marshall comedy Murder, He Says, which finds Fred MacMurray as a pollster who finds himself confronted with a clan of homicidal hillbillies—kind of like one in those inbred cannibal hillbilly movies, only without the cannibalism and with intentional laughs. It plays on on Thursday, Oct. 14, at 10 p.m. Last I knew this cultish title hadn’t made it to DVD, so the chance to catch it should be taken. And, trust me, it’s a lot better than the poster makes it look.

Friday night offers another chunk of Hammer horrors starting at 8 p.m. This week, they appear to have unwrapped The Mummy (1959), Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb (1964), The Mummy’s Shroud (1967) and Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb (1971). I wouldn’t call it exactly Hammer at its best, but then I’m not sure I’ve seen the last two and may take a chance.

There are some other worthy things, of course, but nothing that doesn’t show up with reasonable frequency that I noticed.

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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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15 thoughts on “Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler Oct. 13-19: Art and the very antithesis of art

  1. Dionysis

    “If you want to actually shell out money to watch talking heads discuss the evils of liberals…”

    You know I do.

    “Break Morant (1980) is this week’s offering from the Hendersonville Film Society…”

    Shouldn’t that be ‘Breaker’ Morant?

    “The Mummy’s Shroud (1967) and Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb (1971). I wouldn’t call it exactly Hammer at its best, but then I’m not sure I’ve seen the last two and may take a chance…”

    I hope your expectations aren’t too high. ‘The Mummy’ was (IMO) the only decent one of the four Hammer Mummy films.

  2. Chip Kaufmann

    For my money, BLOOD FROM THE MUMMY’S TOMB is the best of the Hammer Mummy lot. It’s the last one they made and is based on Bram Stoker’s novel JEWEL OF THE SEVEN STARS which was remade as THE AWAKENING with Charlton Heston and Stephanie Zimbalist in 1980. There’s actually no mummy in bandages to speak of but one helluva evil queen whose wounds bleed and who waits to be reborn.

    It was a troubled production with Peter Cushing pulling out after one day’s shooting because of his wife’s final illness (to be replaced by Andrew Keir) and director Seth Holt (TASTE OF FEAR, THE NANNY) dying of complications from hiccups with one week work of shooting left to go (Michael Carreras finished the picture).

    The story is substantial, the acting above average for a late Hammer film, and being 1971, there’s more nudity and a lot more Kensington gore. Besides any movie based on Bram Stoker’s other great work and with the love interest named Tod Browning is just too good to pass up.

  3. Dionysis

    “…is based on Bram Stoker’s novel JEWEL OF THE SEVEN STARS which was remade as THE AWAKENING with Charlton Heston and Stephanie Zimbalist in 1980.”

    I rank it second behind ‘The Mummy’, but hands-down it is a far better film than ‘The Awakening’. And while it would have been nice to have seen Cushing in the film, Andrew Keir was a solid enough actor. In fact, I liked his version of Quatermass from ‘Quatermass and the Pit’ (a/k/a ‘Five Million Years to Earth’) better than Brian Donlevy’s version in the previous two Quatermass films.

  4. Ken Hanke

    You know I do.

    I at least suspected it.

    Shouldn’t that be ‘Breaker’ Morant?

    It does now. Thanks for catching that.

    I hope your expectations aren’t too high. ‘The Mummy’ was (IMO) the only decent one of the four Hammer Mummy films.

    Actually, while I have a childhood fondness for the 1940s Universal Mummy pictures, the only one I’ve ever seen that I’d actually call good is the 1932 one.

  5. Ken Hanke

    The story is substantial, the acting above average for a late Hammer film, and being 1971, there’s more nudity and a lot more Kensington gore.

    Hammer’s attempts at nudity always seemed kind of forced and silly to me, though I haven’t seen this one. Didn’t you give me your spare R-2 copy of this a while back?

  6. Dionysis

    “the only one I’ve ever seen that I’d actually call good is the 1932 one”

    I like Hammer’s ‘The Mummy’, but have to agree that of all the mummified movies I’ve seen, the original with Boris Karloff remains the best.

  7. Ken Hanke

    I like Hammer’s ‘The Mummy’, but have to agree that of all the mummified movies I’ve seen, the original with Boris Karloff remains the best.

    I don’t like Hammer’s prologue — its ancient Egypt looks cheesy to me — and I cannot imagine the desire to otherwise pretty much remake The Mummy’s Tomb I do find it interesting that it repeats the practice of using Lee more for height and physical presence than anything else.

  8. Dionysis

    “its ancient Egypt looks cheesy to me”

    Yes, it does, I agree. To me, there are a couple of standout scenes that elevate the film to more than it probably objectively deserves, including the cutting out of the tongue and the ending, with Lee sinking in the quicksand.

    And at least he could move a bit faster than cold molasses.

  9. Ken Hanke

    And at least he could move a bit faster than cold molasses.

    I’ve often had people defend the film on the basis that he moves relatively quickly and has a reptilian quality (never quite got that part). I suppose it’s true, but the whole concept is so limited that I’m okay with accepting the ol’ shuffling Kharis whose victims have to back themselves into a corner to get killed.

  10. Me

    Whats the chance of getting Santa Sangre shown at one of the horror showings.

  11. Ken Hanke

    I am soooo ready to see Helen Mirren wield “Ma Deuce”.

    Is that Mussolini’s wife? No…that would be “Duce.”

  12. Ken Hanke

    Whats the chance of getting Santa Sangre shown at one of the horror showings.

    Probably the chance is not very good — unless someone produces a nice anamorphically enhanced DVD for us to show. There is (or was) a Region 2 Anchor Bay and it’s available from sellers through Amazon UK, but I’m not personally inclined to shell out $40-50 for it.

  13. DrSerizawa

    Is that Mussolini’s wife? No…that would be “Duce.”

    That’s military slang for the Browning M2 heavy machine gun that she’s holding in the picture. It was designed to penetrate light armor and shoot down aircraft. Never let a peed-off woman get behind one. I’m going to go see this. I figure I can’t lose in a movie where Helen has a 50 cal machine gun. It’s something I never ever expected to see.

    It’s also close to my prediction that the next wave of movies will be ensembles starring washed-up action stars.

  14. Ken Hanke

    I figure I can’t lose in a movie where Helen has a 50 cal machine gun. It’s something I never ever expected to see.

    It certainly has an appeal. It also fits with the theory that she signed on for Inkheart because she had a scene where she came charging in on horseback.

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