Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler Oct. 5-11: Restless Ides of Real Steel Whistleblowers

In Theaters

The mainstream and art titles are evenly matched this week—two of each. On the mainstream side we have The Ides of March and Real Steel. (There are no prizes for guessing who reviews which this week.) The art titles are The Whistleblower at the Fine Arts and Restless at The Carolina. With any luck, this week will fare better than the lackluster last week when no new movie could crack the top three. Audience lack of interest has rarely been so high—which in some instances was understandable. And, guess what? The special two-week engagements of The Lion King enter their fourth week.

Here’s one of those weeks where I’ve seen both the art titles. That would make for a nice break, I suppose, except that I have a couple of sceenings in the offing that will allow me to say next week that I’ve already seen the two art titles. And I’ll also be able to say that the reviews for them are in the paper—which, of course, is also the case with Restless and The Whistleblower. And, in the main, I’ll let those reviews speak for themselves, but I will go ahead and say that Restless—from which I was expecting not much—turned out to be one of the year’s pleasantest surprises to date.

So that only leaves us with the two mainstream titles to conjecture about.

George Clooney returns to directing with The Ides of March. This is is first directorial effort since Leatherheads three years ago, and while you may be thinking he was waiting for the tepid response to that one to blow over, it’s worth noting that three years have separated all of his films from each other. Now, having said that, it’s also undeniable that “the director of Good Night, and Good Luck” is being played up—and it’s probably not just because this film has more in common with Good Night, and Good Luck thematically. Anyway, this political drama about a supposedly “perfect” candidate (Clooney) and the hero-worshipping aide (Ryan Gosling) who finds out otherwise marks the beginning of the award season titles. Its early position—despite strong early reviews—may have less to do with the film’s quality than with its apparently pessimistic and cynical tone. My own cynicism and pessimism kicked in when I saw the people on the IMDb who had to have the title explained to them.

With the exception of the OK Date Night (2010), reading down director Shawn Levy’s credits is like perusing a career criminal’s rap sheet—Just Married (2003), Cheaper by the Dozen (2003), The Pink Panther (2006) and both Night at the Museum pictures. Since that recalls five pretty unhappy moviegoing experiences for me, I can’t say that this Rock-‘em-Sock-‘em Robots opus called Real Steal sets my heart a-flutter. (And I even briefly had the original 1964 edition of the toy. I say briefly because it broke on Christmas Day and ended up being traded in for a selection of records when the same problem was afflicting the floor models.) Regardless, what we have here has no actual connection to the game/toy, but it some near-future yarn about a neglectful dad (Hugh Jackman), the son he’s trying to make it up to, and the broken-down sparring robot the son believes can become a champion robot boxer. It may involve boxing robots, but it seems to be redefined as an underdog sports drama.

Now, this week we lose Point Blank at The Carolina and the unstoppable Midnight in Paris gets split with Drive there, while Sarah’s Key and Senna keep full sets of shows. The Fine Arts splits The Guard with Sarah’s Key

Special Screenings

Roy Ward Baker’s Quatermass and the Pit (aka: Five Million Years to Earth) is this week’s Thursday Horror Picture Show on Thursday, Oct. 6, at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. Starting a month of Halloweenish fare, World Cinema has Ingmar Bergman’s Hour of the Wolf (1968) at 8 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 7, in the Railroad Library in the Phil Mechanic Building. The Hendersonville Film Society is screening the documentary film D.W. Griffith: The Father of Film on Sunday, Oct. 9, at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. This week’s Asheville Film Society offering is Preston Sturges’ classic comedy The Palm Beach Story (1942) at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 11, in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. More on all of the films—except the Griffith documentary—can be found in this week’s Xpress.

On DVD

Well, this week we can look forward to Scream 4 (it really wasn’t that bad), Fast Five (which I grudgingly admit enjoying) and African Cats (which, if memory serves, Justin Souther did not enjoy, resultig in someone calling him “a bad person”). Otherwise, I’m not spotting anything other than Blu-ray releases of existing titles.

Notable TV screenings

Apart from Murder on the Blackboard (1934)—the sequel to last week’s Penguin Pool Murder (1932)—on Saturday, Oct. 8, at 8 a.m., I’m not seeing anything that out of the ordinary on TCM this week. Even the Monday night line-up of horror titles are shown fairly often.

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.

25 thoughts on “Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler Oct. 5-11: Restless Ides of Real Steel Whistleblowers

  1. Xanadon't

    Just watched Hour of the Wolf for the first time a month or two ago. I’m upset that I won’t be able to attend the Friday screening. Anyone out there not as unfortunate, that possesses an appetite for the lovely side of strange should definitely check it out!

  2. Xanadon't

    Er, well I was about to say it, but then I checked your review and you’ve already got it covered…

    Oh hell, Maude looks really young in Van Sant’s version!

    There, I feel better now. Ha, actually I’m pretty interested in catching this one.

  3. Ken Hanke

    Oh hell, Maude looks really young in Van Sant’s version!

    There, I feel better now. Ha, actually I’m pretty interested in catching this one.

    The comparison is hard to avoid, but it really didn’t feel that similar to me once the movie took hold. Maybe the fact that it starts with the Beatles’ “The Two of Us” — which actually makes thematic sense in the Wordsworth sense of “home” (as in “not in utter nakedness, but trailing clouds of glory do we come from God who is our home”) — distracted me. If it had been Cat Stevens (obviously) or if it had just felt like “slap a pop song” on the soundtrack, it might have set me on a different track.

  4. Orbit DVD

    Also out this week Ken is SUBMARINE and BUCK.

    TV shows: BORED TO DEATH S2, LIE TO ME S3, THE LEAGUE S2, and THE PJs.

  5. The idea of a robotic sports drama doesn’t exactly get me all jazzed up, but we only seem to get a Hugh Jackman picture every two or three years, so I’ll be there for this. I wish the son of a bitch wasn’t so talented. He’d probably do more movies then.

  6. Me

    Dont forget probably the most exciting thing on TV this week is Martin Scorsese’s two part George Harrison doc ‘Living in the Material World’ starting tomorrow night on HBO.

  7. Chip Kaufmann

    I thought I’d never live to see the day. Warner Archive Collection has finally issued THE TRAVELING EXECUTIONER (1970). Let’s hear it for the “fields of ambrosia”! Now if NIGHT OF TERROR (1933) would just get released (remastered of course) then I would truly have all that life has to offer.

  8. Me

    Van Zant can be really great but this new one has signs of the worst movie hes made.

  9. Me

    Sorry Van Sant unless that dude from Lynyrd Skynyrd makes films now.

  10. Ken Hanke

    Also out this week Ken is SUBMARINE and BUCK.

    I’ll be buying the first one.

  11. Ken Hanke

    I thought I’d never live to see the day. Warner Archive Collection has finally issued THE TRAVELING EXECUTIONER (1970). Let’s hear it for the “fields of ambrosia”! Now if NIGHT OF TERROR (1933) would just get released (remastered of course) then I would truly have all that life has to offer.

    I saw that The Traveling Executioner was coming from WB Archive. I’m curious, but I’m not sure I’m curious enough to actually buy it. I do not understand the MOD titles Columbia brings out. Black Moon and (ye gods) The Captain Hates the Sea are out, but not Night of Terror or Behind the Mask. I’d buy either one in a heartbeat. I’d shell out for The Menace (1932) and The Ninth Guest (1934), too.

  12. Ken Hanke

    Dont forget probably the most exciting thing on TV this week is Martin Scorsese’s two part George Harrison doc ‘Living in the Material World’ starting tomorrow night on HBO.

    Good Christ, we actually agree on something. Unfortunately, I don’t have HBO, so I guess I’m waiting for the eventual DVD.

  13. Ken Hanke

    this new one has signs of the worst movie hes made.

    I’d be willing to bet money, you’d hate it.

  14. Warner Archives have been slowly moving titles that they had in print to MOD: GET CARTER, DEMON SEED, NIGHTBREED, etc. I hope that it doesn’t take away from their regular release slate.

    Let me know if you want a SUBMARINE. Watched it again this weekend and loved it even more than the first time.

  15. Ken Hanke

    Let me know if you want a SUBMARINE.

    Yes, of course. Are you coming to the press screening on Friday a.m. at 10?

  16. Mantan!! Obviously I approve of your screengrab choice for PALM BEACH STORY (I need to comment on that review’s thread later on) and it reminded me that this is one of the few occasions that I’m aware of where the inimitable Mr. Moreland is the straight man (“Prairie oysters come a la carte.”)

  17. Ken Hanke

    I am so glad that someone recognizes the greatness of Mantan!

  18. Xanadon't

    What, Spider Baby? Where?! Ooo, think I may have another title to add to the ol’ queue for Halloween month!

  19. Ken Hanke

    If you’ve never seen it, you should. It may be the closest Lon Chaney, Jr. ever came to giving an actually good performance.

  20. Xanadon't

    Ha, whoa! No love Lon, huh? Can’t say I’ve seen in him in more than three or four titles. And that includes Spider Baby when I had the pleasure of catching up with that splendidly weird little treat a couple years ago.

    I’ll take your word for it, though I think I remember liking him well enough in The Wolf Man, even if at 7 feet tall he wasn’t too convincing as the Claude Rains character’s son.

  21. Ken Hanke

    On the contrary, I love Junior. I just don’t think he’s a very good actor. Come to the THPS screening this Thursday and see the amazing spectacle of Lon as a college professor in the second feature Weird Woman.

  22. If you’ve never seen it, you should. It may be the closest Lon Chaney, Jr. ever came to giving an actually good performance.

    Plus the song he sings during the opening credits is great!

  23. Ken Hanke

    But don’t be expecting the Sid Haig from his more recent appearances. This is worlds away from his Capt. Spaulding in the Rob Zombie movies. (Some may consider that a plus.)

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.