Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler October 23-29: We Are Bad Grandpa Counselors

In Theaters

If you take a look at the Upcomers in the print edition, the week looks pretty crowded, but three of those titles are part of the second edition of The Carolina’s “Music Madness” mini-festival. Not to minimize those – there’s some choice stuff in this second set — but that only leaves us with three full openings: two mainstream and one art title. (There was supposed to be one more, but the distributors changed their minds.)

Before getting down to those, however, let’s take a moment to consider those “Music Madness” documentaries — three of which are local premieres and those three are pretty choice and probably of broader interest than last week’s films. It will be a matter of personal preference as to which of the two showcased titles (those with more than one showtime a day) holds the most appeal. If you’re a hardcore Beatles fan, the answer will be Good Ol’ Freda, a film about The Beatles’ secretary Freda Kelly, who was with the boys from the beginning until after the end. And, yes, there are Beatle songs on the soundtrack. More broad appeal may be found in Muscle Shoals, a documentary about Rick Hall’s FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, which includes such artists as The Stones, Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, Greg Allman, Bono, etc. It’s very generous with the music and offers a terrific look at the legendary studio.

They’re not famous, but don’t sell A Band Called Death short. This film tells the hitherto unknown story of three black kids from Detroit, who might fairly be said to have invented punk rock. This may well be the most fascinating story of any of the selected films. As a bonus, the film’s director, Jeff Howlett, will be in attendance at the first show (at 10:25 p.m. on Fri., Oct. 25) for a Q&A with the audience. (The set is rounded out by a return local screening of Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me.) More detailed information is available in the review of Music Madness No. 2 in this week’s paper.

The one art title this week is an unusual one to say the least. I called it “art house horror” in the review and that’s as close as I can get to a genre, but don’t think I mean that We Are What We Are is in the relatively…genteel realm of horror found in something like Alejandro Amenabar’s The Others (2001). No. While this film is indeed arty in its approach, there is ultimately nothing genteel about it. Its last act is as bloody and shocking as anything you’re likely to find in the most grisly horror picture. I think it’s an utterly fascinating — albeit flawed — work, but it’s definitely not for the timid. But if you’re up to it, I recommend checking it out.

That leaves us with the two mainstream titles…

First up is The Counselor, a film with a fairly impressive pedigree. Its director is Ridley Scott, and while Scott hasn’t been at the top of his game in quite some time, he remains an interesting stylist who is very dependent on the script. Ah, but since the script in this case is from Pulitzer Prize-winning Cormac McCarthy, it’s not unreasonable to expect that it should be a solid screenplay — probably not a very cheerful one, but solid. The cast is noteworthy, too — Michael Fassbender, Penelope Cruz, Brad Pitt, Cameron Diaz and Javier Bardem. That suggests this could be a film of some note. Why then have there been absolutely no reviews for it yet? That may mean nothing, but it gives pause.

Something more than pause accompanies this week’s other wide release: Jackass Presents Bad Grandpa. The name “Jackass” is enough to keep me away if at all possible. This one purports to be a little different from the usual fare under this imprint. It features arch-jackass Johnny Knoxville in his old man character, Irving Zisman, and is built around the concept of him driving his eight-year-old grandson (Jackson Nicoll) across America. The idea is that they will do outrageous and inappropriate things to scandalize “real people” along the way, thereby afford much mirth in the reactions of said “real people.” I found two-and-a-half minutes of trailer painfully unfunny. I can scarcely wait to see how a certain co-critic feels about 92 minutes of it.

This week we lose nothing at all surprising, especially since the music docs and those two Weinstein titles — All the Boys Love Mandy Lane and Concussion — were never intended to play for more than a week. Also departing (and similarly unsurprising) are Escape from Tomorrow and Romeo & Juliet.

Special Screenings

In addition to the usual things, this is the week where the Asheville Film Society’s monthly Budget Big Screen film is playing. This month’s title is Tim Burton’s Edward Scissorhands (1990) — the movie that made Johnny Depp a star and secured Burton’s position as one of the few filmmakers capable of making deeply personal films in mainstream Hollywood. It remains Burton’s favorite of his films (and holds a similar place with composer Danny Elfman). If it’s not my — and it may well be — it is without a doubt in my top three. While the film is notable for its unabashed romanticism and easy fantasy, the thing I have always been struck by is the way in which Burton presents childhood and suburbia. No one had previously tapped into these topics in quite this way. Burton’s love-hate relationship with suburbia outdistances the usual cheap laughs that most films aim for on the topic — and as a result is much more penetrating. Don’t miss this chance to see Edward Scissorhands on the big screen from a brand new, restored DCP. This film plays on Wed., Oct. 23 at 7:30 p.m. at The Carolina. Tickets are $5 for Asheville Film Society members and $7 for the general public, and are already available at the box office.

This week the Thursday Horror Picture Show is running Neil Jordan’s The Company of Wolves (1985) on Thu., Oct. 24 at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. World Cinema is showing Vincent Paronaud and Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis (2007) at 8 p.m. on Fri., Oct. 25 in the Railroad Library in the Phil Mechanic Building. The Hendersonville Film Society is screening Peter Duffell’s The House That Dripped Blood on Sun., Oct. 27 at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. The Asheville Film Society is having its annual Halloween offering with Boris Karloff in James Whale’s The Old Dark House (1932) at 8 p.m. on Tue., Oct. 29 in Theater Six at The Carolina. More on all titles in this week’s paper, with full reviews in the online edition.


Quite a few titles make their DVD debut this week. Just in time for Halloween is James Wan’s The Conjuring. Also of note are Before Midnight, Only God Forgives. and The Way, Way Back. For that matter, I suppose we should recognize that The Internship is coming out, too.

Notable TV Screenings

Once more, I regret to say that you’re on your own with these.

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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21 thoughts on “Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler October 23-29: We Are Bad Grandpa Counselors

  1. Xanadon't

    I was fairly impressed with Jim Mickel’s Stake Land (2010), so I have high hopes for We Are What We Are. Apparently it’s a remake of sorts of a Mexican horror flick that released 3 years ago and that I’m surprised to have never heard about.

    I found two-and-a-half minutes of trailer painfully unfunny.

    The Jackass Grandpa trailer has been good for concession sales at the Carolina. After the first time I’ve simply refused to sit through it again. Twice now I’ve had to exit the theater and purchase supplemental concessions. I was prepared to live without popcorn the first time, Twizzlers the second occasion. (I know.. a quick round of Mrs. Pac Man would’ve been a cheaper distraction.)

    I’m willing to trade the promise of seeing Penelope Cruz for the unpromising fact that The Counselor hasn’t been screened for critics.

  2. Ken Hanke

    Apparently, the setting and the climax of this We Are What We Are are totally different from the Mexican film. Also, the original apparently has some sort of class structure social commentary, which is absent here.

    I will take The Counselor simply so as not to watch Johnny Knoxville.

  3. Steven

    [b] The cast is noteworthy, too — Michael Fassbender, Penelope Cruz, Brad Pitt, Cameron Diaz and Javier Bardem.[/b]

    You left out Dean Norris. It’s okay, we all make mistakes.

  4. Jeremy Dylan

    I thought by now Ken, you’d have just assumed he’s from The Other Medium.

  5. Ken Hanke

    Yes, I quickly figured he was probably from one of those high-toned soaps.

  6. DrSerizawa

    It sounds like the Beatles have been very thoroughly mined out cinematically when you are reduced to doing a documentary about the clerical help.

    I watched maybe 15 minutes of the original Jackass movie, but I really didn’t like feeling the urge to boil the cast, especially Knoxville, in oil. I’m a bit surprised that no one has beaten the tar out of Knoxville yet. Well, there’s always hope.

    The trailer for The Counselor looked serviceable. I keep up hope that Scott might relive some of his past glory. Not likely here.

    The trailer for Statham’s latest looked like any other cop vs baddie flick. Oh looky, a single dad DEA agent with a daughter brought with him on the job. I wonder what’s going to happen? Dear Clapton, she’s been kidnapped! Will she survive? I’m on the edge of my seat.

  7. Ken Hanke

    It sounds like the Beatles have been very thoroughly mined out cinematically when you are reduced to doing a documentary about the clerical help.

    Well, Freda Kelly was a little more than that. She was there from the very beginning and till after the end. Plus, she ran the fan club and the newsletters and was close with the individual members and their parents. It does offer a pretty interesting inside look. I admit that I find it pretty hard to get too much of the Beatles, though.

    I watched maybe 15 minutes of the original Jackass movie

    I think I saw the second one. I hated it, but I kind of thought it might be useful for thinning the herd as it were.

  8. Edwin Arnaudin

    The question remains whether Bad Grandpa or Her will be Spike Jonze’s greatest contribution to the 2013 cinemascape.

  9. Ken Hanke

    A fair question. I have enough trouble taking Jonze seriously without factoring his Jackass contributions into the equation. You will be delighted to know that so far, Bad Grandpa is getting a warm reception from the critical populace.

    I have a friend who argued with me that I was too hard on the new Carrie, not just because he thought it at least adequately competent (I disagree), but because the audience he saw it with were gasping and screaming or something. (The audience I saw it with were very silent.) I am left to wonder if he would rate Bad Grandpa so generously if he saw it with an audience that was convulsed with laughter. To say that I’m skeptical understates the case.

  10. Steven

    I know it’s too early to tell, but is there any chance that we’ll be getting [i]Blue is the Warmest Color[/i]?

  11. Ken Hanke

    Ostensibly on Nov. 15, but this kind of thing is subject to change.

  12. Me

    I might be wrong, but didn’t Spike Jonze also contribute to Lotier Squad aka “Blackass”?

  13. Me

    An all black skater version of Jackass featuring the rap group Loiter Squad.

  14. Me

    Sisters is on TCM tonight. Looks like next Monday and Tuesday night on TCM is all the classic late 60s early 70s films Badlands, Mccabe and Ms Miller, The Graduate, Mean Streets.

  15. Ken Hanke

    An all black skater version of Jackass featuring the rap group Loiter Squad.

    Perhaps if you hadn’t originally misspelled “Loiter” I could have found them listed. In any case, the credits do not indicate that Mr. Jonze was personally involved in this particular contribution to…er…culture.

    Tuesday night on TCM is all the classic late 60s early 70s films Badlands, Mccabe and Ms Miller, The Graduate, Mean Streets.

    If you think those are “all” the classic fare of that era, you need to see more movies.

  16. Me

    Have you heard anything about the film adaptation of the play Charlie Victor

  17. Ken Hanke

    Until you brought it up, I’d never even heard of it. Near as I can tell, it’s doing the film festival thing and doesn’t have a distributor.

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