Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler Sept. 29-Oct. 5: Let me in the social network of the animal kingdom

In theaters

As yesterday unfolded, my notions of what was opening on Friday kept being altered. At the time I sent in the list of upcomers, it consisted of Cairo Time, Let Me In, The Social Network and Animal Kingdom. According to every booking sheet I was familiar with at that point, that was it. Next thing I know I’m getting listings with Case 29 added, followed by information about something called Chain Letter—all long after the deadline for the print edition, of course. The late additions are probably negligible, unless you review movies, in which case they’re probably irritants.

The out-of-the-mainstream—in the art-house sense—offerings are limited to Cairo Time, which opens Friday at The Carolina with my review in this week’s Xpress, and Animal Kingdom, which opens Friday at the Fine Arts and which I haven’t seen. I’ll leave Cairo Time for the full review and look instead at Animal Kingdom. Here we have a highly regarded Australian crime thriller without much in the way of recognizable stars, other than Guy Pearce. But it does have 95 positive reviews out of 99 on Rotten Tomatoes—and it’s cited as a truly intense and pretty brutal crime picture. The problem is that movies like this don’t draw locally. We see it time and time again. Remember the last highly praised Aussie crime flick, The Square? It tanked here—and while I don’t know why, I expect the same will happen with this.

The likelihood of unspectacular returns on the art-title front this week is increased by the arrival of two highly anticipated titles—The Social Network and Let Me In—in the mainstream world. The fact that neither of these movies has gotten a negative review so far will also factor in. Of the two, The Social Network is by far the bigger deal. Directed by David Fincher and written by Aaron Sorkin, its pedigree is impressive. The fact that it’s about the founder—or one of them anyway—of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg (played by Jesse Eisenberg), makes it the timeliest title going. The “best film of the year” superlatives keep on coming—and not just from quote whores. Now, I’m not an admirer of David Fincher, but I admit the film intrigues me—not in the least because writer Aaron Sorkin isn’t an admirer or supporter of online as a social experience. That could make this interesting.

Let Me In, of course, is the Americanized remake of the brilliant Swedish horror film Let the Right One In (2008), and while the idea of making it over for people who won’t read subtitles sounds like a dumbing-down, the film apparently isn’t a dumbing-down in the least. It may not even be a redundancy, though I remain skeptical. The idea of an unvarnished remake—that is one that doesn’t try to make the film less disturbing—has a kind of appeal in that it now has a chance to disturb a much broader (and probably more easily disturbed) group of people. That’s even kind of amusing. The fact that the film was directed by Matt Reeves—of Cloverfield (2008) fame—sounded more alarming than it apparently is, since word has it that the Cloverfield style is nowhere to be seen.

And then there’s Case 39—another horror thriller of some sort—starring Renée Zellweger as a social worker who discovers (too late, one assumes) that a case of child abuse she is working on isn’t quite what it seemed. Ian McShane and Bradley Cooper are also on board, but note carefully, this thing played most of the world some time ago and to generally blisteringly bad reviews. It looks more silly than scary, but then this sort of claim—“This is a nasty and morally repulsive film,” from Ruth Hessey of “Movietime” on ABC Radio—certainly piques my interest just a little. Well, enough that I’m not actively dreading the experience—even though releasing it opposite Let Me In sounds like suicide on the part of the studio.

Now, Chain Letter just looks like crap. Believe it or not, the plot appears to be about someone who kills people if they don’t forward his chain letter. Most of the cast members are D-list names from way down the billing order of more well-known movies. Of course, Brad Dourif is in it, but—meaning no disrespect to Brad—when was the last time he said “no” to a script? It appears to have only been picked up locally by the Carmike, which, of course, means by their booking office. That should be a red flag right there, because these are the same people who booked such horror esoterica as Lynch Mob (2009), Malevolence (2004), C Me Dance (2009) and The 13th Alley (2008)—a more motley selection you will not find. Use your own judgment.

Still with us this week is The Extra Man at The Carolina, which is also holding onto Get Low and The Kids Are All Right in the art category. The offbeat Aussie musical Bran Nue Dae, on the other hand, flopped and will be gone after Thursday. Mao’s Last Dancer and The Girl Who Played With Fire are hanging on at the Fine Arts, but Life During Wartime found little life locally and departs after Thursday. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World may have fared poorly elsewhere, but it keeps packing ‘em in at the 10 p.m. show at Asheville Pizza and Brewing—and so is still occupying that spot for another week.

Special screenings this week are an interesting array. The Thursday Horror Picture Show has Horror of Dracula—the 1958 film that established Christopher Lee as Dracula—at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 30, in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away (2001) is this Friday, Oct. 1, at 8 p.m. from World Cinema at Courtyard Gallery in the Phil Mechanic Building. The Hendersonville Film Society is screening Trouble in Paradise (1932) on Sunday, Oct. 3, at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. The Asheville Film Society has Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (1988) at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 5, in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. For more on all these titles, check out this week’s Xpress—full reviews in the online edition only at www.mountainx.com/movies.

And I want to go ahead and announce that on Friday, Oct. 29, the Asheville Film Society will be showing the complete Metropolis (1927) in one of the theaters at The Carolina. If you don’t know about this, Fritz Lang’s silent film was severely cut for its American release. Only a year or so ago, the missing footage was found in Argentina. It has since been restored and the film put back together as close as possible to the version Berlin audiences saw in 1927. This is truly an historic event. Tickets will go on sale soon. Keep watching for updates.

On DVD

Well, the big title this week is Iron Man 2, but don’t overlook The Killer Inside Me (though you certainly did when it played theatrically) and Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky, which also come out. So, for that matter, does Get Him to the Greek, which I’ve not seen. It’s otherwise a fairly lackluster week unless you’re after Bob Hope in My Favorite Spy (1951), one of the comic’s mid-range works—not great, but certainly watchable.

Notable TV screenings

It’s one of those weeks where you’re on your own, which is to say nothing leaped out at me.

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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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30 thoughts on “Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler Sept. 29-Oct. 5: Let me in the social network of the animal kingdom

  1. Dionysis

    “on Friday, Oct. 29, the Asheville Film Society will be showing the complete Metropolis (1927) in one of the theaters at The Carolina.”

    Hurray! I was hoping to see this announced.

    “The Thursday Horror Picture Show has Horror of Dracula…”

    I’ve seen this film several times over the years, but may trek down to see it again among a crowd. I know you prefer Bela Lugosi’s version, but this film holds a special place for me.

    “This is a nasty and morally repulsive film,” from Ruth Hessey of “Movietime” on ABC Radio.

    Perhaps so, I haven’t seen it. However, if Ruth Hessey (or anyone else for that matter) truly wants “nasty and repulsive” I’ve discovered a film that, hands-down, trumps all other movies for that dubious distinction: ‘Necromantik’ (it makes ‘Salo’ seem like a Bugs Bunny cartoon). I wonder if Orbit DVD dares stock that title?

  2. Ken Hanke

    Hurray! I was hoping to see this announced.

    I was hoping to announce it, too.

    I’ve seen this film several times over the years, but may trek down to see it again among a crowd. I know you prefer Bela Lugosi’s version, but this film holds a special place for me.

    I’m looking forward to seeing it with a crowd, because The Gorgon screening was one of our most enjoyable — entirely due to a good crowd who took it just right.

    Perhaps so, I haven’t seen it. However, if Ruth Hessey (or anyone else for that matter) truly wants “nasty and repulsive” I’ve discovered a film that, hands-down, trumps all other movies for that dubious distinction: ‘Necromantik’ (it makes ‘Salo’ seem like a Bugs Bunny cartoon). I wonder if Orbit DVD dares stock that title?

    I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t…

  3. Steven

    I was under the impression that [i]Never Let Me Go[/i] was getting a release this Friday. The Carolina website says the release is October 1st, though I don’t know how reliable the site is.

  4. The release of a new Aaron Sorkin film is akin to a new Beatles album for me. My interest in a ‘Story of Facebook’ picture went from zero to eleven the minute he signed on.

    I’m somewhat skeptical about LET ME IN, but it does feature the wonderful Chloe Mortez in the cast, not to mention the always reliable Richard Jenkins. Of course, he was also in EAT PRAY UGH so there still may be cause for concern.

  5. I’m somewhat skeptical about LET ME IN, but it does feature the wonderful Chloe Mortez in the cast, not to mention the always reliable Richard Jenkins. Of course, he was also in EAT PRAY UGH so there still may be cause for concern.

    I agree about Jenkins… he might be the deciding factor to see a remake of my favorite film of last decade. Early reviews have been good.

  6. Ken Hanke

    I was under the impression that Never Let Me Go was getting a release this Friday. The Carolina website says the release is October 1st, though I don’t know how reliable the site is.

    They’re working from a tentative booking sheet, I’m working from the actual schedule that came down on Monday. In any case, it’s currently down to open locally on Oct. 15.

  7. Ken Hanke

    The release of a new Aaron Sorkin film

    Except it’s a David Fincher film of an Aaron Sorkin screenplay, which is quite possibly a different thing altogether.

  8. Ken Hanke

    I’m just hopeful it will relaunch Hammer in a meaningful way.

    I never thought it was all that meaningful in the first place.

  9. Me

    TCM must be doing some Terence Malick thing this week i noticed they are playing Days of Heaven and Badlands.

  10. DrSerizawa

    The Americanized version of The Ring wasn’t ruined so there’s always hope for Let Me In. It can be done right, though it is a pretty rare occurrence. On the other hand the trailer for The Social Network looked utterly boring and unappealing and frankly the thought of watching Zuckerberg invent Facebook is less desirable to me than the thought of poking my eyes out with a rusty USB plug.

    Ironically, Horror of Dracula is on TCM Friday evening.

    Yet another version of Metropolis to buy. It’s a conspiracy I tell you!

  11. Ken Hanke

    It should be noted, I suppose, that The Virginity Hit joins the list of titles that will be gone on Friday.

  12. TCM must be doing some Terence Malick thing this week i noticed they are playing Days of Heaven and Badlands.

    THIN RED LINE came out on Criterion this week. Another beautiful job by them.

  13. Ken Hanke

    The Americanized version of The Ring wasn’t ruined so there’s always hope for Let Me In.

    Actually, The Ring strikes me as that rarest of things — an Americanized remake that’s actually superior to the original. I am not expecting that with Let Me In, but I’m hopeful it’s at least an honorable attempt.

    On the other hand the trailer for The Social Network looked utterly boring and unappealing and frankly the thought of watching Zuckerberg invent Facebook is less desirable to me than the thought of poking my eyes out with a rusty USB plug.

    I can’t say the idea sounds terrific, but I’m curious sbout what’s been done with it. It’s up to 42 reviews and still not a bad one (of course, Armond White hasn’t weighed in yet), which is interesting. I admit I’d feel better if someone (not Armond White) would not be ga-ga over it.

    Ironically, Horror of Dracula is on TCM Friday evening.

    Yeah, but we’ll trump ’em with size and audience vibe. (Anyway, one of our best attended films was Blue Velvet — three days after TCM ran it.) What I’m really looking forward to is hopefully getting the response we had with The Gorgon. That is a very pleasant memory.

    Yet another version of Metropolis to buy. It’s a conspiracy I tell you!

    I know it seems that way, but this should be truly special.

  14. Ken Hanke

    Update of notable worth

    It turns out that The Carolina will be doing free screenings of the original Let the Right One In in the Cinema Lounge at 12:00 (noon), 2:30, 5:00 and 7:40. The screenings are spaced to allow anyone wanting to make a double-header out of it to be able to see the original and then be able to make the next showing of Let Me In (and remember, Asheville Film Society Members get $1.00 their tickets by showing their membership card).

  15. Justin Souther

    Actually, The Ring strikes me as that rarest of things—an Americanized remake that’s actually superior to the original.

    I’m probably wrong here, but didn’t The Ring start the recent trend of Americanized remakes? At least as far as horror movies go? Off the top of my head I can’t think of anything around that time the precedes it. At the very least I’d think it popularized it. Though I guess what the studios don’t understand is that The Ring wasn’t popular because it was a J-horror remake, but because it was actually good.

  16. Ken Hanke

    I’m probably wrong here, but didn’t The Ring start the recent trend of Americanized remakes? At least as far as horror movies go? Off the top of my head I can’t think of anything around that time the precedes it.

    Neither can I but I could be missing something.

    Though I guess what the studios don’t understand is that The Ring wasn’t popular because it was a J-horror remake, but because it was actually good.

    That seems to be easily lost on studios.

  17. DrSerizawa

    I’m probably wrong here, but didn’t The Ring start the recent trend of Americanized remakes?

    Probably. But what I’m sure it DID do is open the floodgates for crappy Japanese movies. Prior to that it seemed that mainly the better Japanese productions were released here but since The Ring we get all the crap like Ju-on2, Ju-on3, One Missed Call…2…3…4.

    The Japanese are capable of making movies every bit as dumb, tasteless and boring as Lionsgate or Asylum and now they export them all here.

  18. Ken Hanke

    The Japanese are capable of making movies every bit as dumb, tasteless and boring as Lionsgate or Asylum and now they export them all here.

    That’s undeniable. Come to think of it I thought the American Pulse was better than the Japanese one (which a J-horror fantatic insisted I watch), but it still wasn’t very good.

  19. J Drew

    I’ve seen the new Metropolis with the found footage. It is very, very good.

  20. I’ve seen the new Metropolis with the found footage. It is very, very good.

    Well, if ONE thing was going to pull me away from Moogfest… Actually, there’s probably more than one.

  21. Ken Hanke

    Well, if ONE thing was going to pull me away from Moogfest…

    You mean you’re actually going to come to something again? We haven’t seen you in ages.

  22. You mean you’re actually going to come to something again? We haven’t seen you in ages

    Summer is over, so the kids are back on their school schedule. I’ve been working at the stores more as well.

  23. Me

    I saw a commercial that said every Friday night on TCM in October is going to be horror films.

  24. MalcomWagon

    Nice tips. I’ve seen the new Metropolis with the found footage. It is very, very good.

  25. Me

    I just noticed Chris Morris’s Four Lions is coming to Carolina Cinemas in November.

  26. zack behm

    Hey ken, my name is zack behm. I understand your a busy man and this might seem weird but i have bin fallowing you for years. Is there anyway i can send you my review of The Social Network. Being a critic is a field i would like to explore in the next few years so any criticisms you have about my review, and how i can make it better would be great.

    i am also the boyfriend of Emily B. who worked at Carmike under you. She suggested i try to get in touch. shes the girl that had the big curly hair

  27. Ken Hanke

    I’m getting requests for Gasper Noe’s ENTER THE VOID. Any chance for a local run?

    It’s IFC so it’s possible. Both The Carolina and the Fine Arts play IFC, but it’s also VOD and that impacts the box office, making it less desirable for booking. I haven’t seen it on any booking sheets, though. I’ll ask.

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