Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler Sept. 7-13: Art heavy week, confusion heavy schedule

In theaters

Apparently just about everyone in the movie-booking world spent Labor Day roasting weenies—or whatever it is that people who have Labor Day off do—and the result of this is that I’m sitting here trying to put together a “Weekly Reeler” with limited information. I know what’s going on at the Fine Arts and I know what art titles are slated for The Carolina and I know the mainstream titles. I know the Fine Arts is opening The Guard and The Carolina is set to open The Devil’s Double and Terri. The “big” releases are Contagion, Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star and Warrior. But there are gaps.

The gaps come in the form of having no clue about what’s leaving this week—except for Tabloid. That’s being dropped come Friday at the Fine Arts and Another Earth is being split with, yes, Midnight in Paris. I also have no clue as concerns whether or not anyone locally is picking up the self-distributed horror picture Creature—despite the fact that it’s boldly advertised as “opens everywhere September 9.” (I suspect that’s optimistic anyway.) These things may be known later today—or it might take till tomorrow. We’ll see.

You’ll notice—I hope—that there are reviews for The Devil’s Double and Terri in this week’s paper. I’ll note here that both are good and that Terri is a little more than good. I think it’s probably unfortunate that it’s opening the same week as The Guard, because I think that will—to some degree—split the audience for both. And I expect Brendan Gleeson and Don Cheadle are going to prove bigger draws than Jacob Wysocki and John C. Reilly. Here’s hoping it doesn’t get buried.

So that brings us to Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star. I’d really rather pretend this just didn’t exist or take a nap till it blows over, but that seems impractical—though not unenticing. What we have here is a movie starring Adam Sandler hanger-on Nick Swardon. Strike one. It was written by Sandler, Swardson and another Sandler hanger-on, Alan Covert. Strike two. It was directed by yet another Sandler buddyTom Brady, who made The Hot Chick (2002) and The Comebacks (2007) and co-wrote (with Rob Schneider!) The Animal (2001). Strike three. The premise is that Bucky (Swardson) learns that his parents (his father is played by a humiliated Edward Herrmann) were porn stars and decides that this is where his talents must lie, so he heads to L.A. to become a porn star. I tried to fob this off on Justin Souther—based on his claim that Swardson wasn’t so bad in 30 Minutes or Less. Unfortunately, he reminded me that that assessment included the phrase “when he’s away from Sandler.” So I suspect I will take the Victorian mother’s advice and “close my eyes and think of England.”

Well, since Steven Soderbergh is now claiming that he’s not leaving the movies to go all Gauguin on us, but merely taking a sabbatical, Contagion is not one of the wind-down films on his way to a box of paints and retirement. That still leaves us looking toward a big name cast—Marion Cotillard, Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Gwyneth Paltrow (seemingly as “Bird Flu Mary”), Jude Law, Laurence Fishburne—dealing with some new and deadly virus and the panic that comes with it. Soderbergh is said to think of the movie as a horror picture—and yeah, the idea of Gwyneth Paltrow destroying us all is horrific. The largely positive early reviews don’t give us much to go on in the credibility department. I mean, having Pete Hammond gush, “A movie so real it’s frightening—hypochondriacs may collapse from shock,” isn’t likely to impress anyone.

That brings us to John Michael McDonagh’s (brother of Martin McDonagh who gave us In Bruges in 2008) The Guard—a comedy about the teaming of an unorthodox and outspoken Irish police sergeant (Brendan Gleeson) and an uptight and by-the-book FBI agent (Don Cheadle). What we have here then is two appealing stars in a movie with some potential—as well as a good trailer and a 94 percent Rotten Tomatoes rating (99 good reviews vs. six bad ones). This has been high on my list of movies I wanted to see for some time now.

Now we come to Warrior. OK, I like Tom Hardy, Joel Edgerton and Nick Nolte just fine. My qualms about this movie rest squarely on director and co-writer Gavin O’Connor, whose 2008 movie Pride and Glory was—well, I don’t think calling it “awful” overstates the case. Of course, he also made the uplifting sports picture Miracle (2004). Since I’m pretty much allergic to uplifting sports movies, I managed to dodge that one. But I can’t get away from a feeling that this sounds like a cross between the faux grit of Pride and Glory and the uplift of Miracle. Well, since I don’t think I can Svengali Mr. Souther into Bucky Larson, he may be the one to find out.

And then there’s still the Creature question. Is it or isn’t it? I simply don’t know. Despite a very murky, underlit trailer that promises Sid Haig doing a variation on his Capt. Spaulding schtick, I’m not in the least convinced that it would be such a bad thing if we missed it altogether. This really looks like direct-to-DVD stuff that’s somehow insistent on a theatrical release.

So, what’s leaving this week? Well, I know that Tabloid is leaving. Magic Trip is staying at The Carolina, but I don’t know if it’s a full set of shows yet. I know that Midnight in Paris is sticking around for one show daily at the Fine Arts. Based on what it did over the weekend at The Carolina, I’d guess it’s keeping a full set of shows there. Beyond that, I’m in the dark. I’ll update this as I find out.

Special Screenings

The Thursday Horror Picture Show this week is William Malone’s 1999 remake of House on Haunted Hill and is at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 8—immediately after another amazing (it says so on the box) chapter of Adventures of Captain Marvel (1941) at 7:40 p.m.—in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. World Cinema is screening Andrei Tarkovsky’s The Mirror (1975) at 8 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 9, in the Railroad Library in the Phil Mechanic Building. The Hendersonville Film Society is showing Buster Keaton’s The General (1927) on 2 p.m. on Sunday., Sept. 11, in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. On Tuesday, Sept. 13, at 8 p.m. the Asheville Film Society will show George Stevens’ Astaire-Rogers film Swing Time (1936) in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. More on these (except The General) in this week’s paper.

On DVD

This week sees X-Men: First Class coming out (though not till Friday for some reason). Also out is Hanna. Unless I’m missing something amidst all the TV, straight-to-video and general Girls Gone Wild stuff, that seems to be it. Perhaps Marc will stop by and further enlighten us.

NotableTV screenings

Another one of those weeks where there’s no end of decent stuff, but it’s all the usual decent stuff. If something jumped out at someone, sing out.

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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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41 thoughts on “Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler Sept. 7-13: Art heavy week, confusion heavy schedule

  1. Ken Hanke

    I see attempts are being made to make the new website work so that it doesn’t bitch up the pictures — and it’s definitely an improvement.

  2. DrSerizawa

    I mean, having Pete Hammond gush, “A movie so real it’s frightening—hypochondriacs may collapse from shock,” isn’t likely to impress anyone.

    Am I wrong in detecting a bit of panic amongst some reviewers for the empty theaters this year? I honestly can’t think of a year this bad. Seriously. This year has been bad bad bad. Only TCM has kept me sane… well, as sane as I ever get.

  3. Ken Hanke

    Well, Hammond isn’t a good barometer of that because he’s a notorious quote whore. Also, while the year has been pretty lousy — and attendance has been down — theaters haven’t really been empty. Now, you may detect a bit of panic with me, because it’s September and I’m starting to think that Hobo with a Shotgun might actually end up on my ten best list if things don’t improve.

  4. Orbit DVD

    EVERYTHING MUST GO could be Will Ferrell’s best performance, more a drama with lighter touches than an out and out comedy.

    The television dump is upon us: OFFICE SEA 7, PARKS & REC SEA 3, COMMUNITY SEA 2, FRINGE SEA 3, THE GOOD WIFE SEA 2, PARENTHOOD SEA 2 and NO ORDINARY FAMILY.

  5. Orbit DVD

    Naw, I don’t think it outdistances Stranger Than Fiction.

    That is the better film. EVERYTHING MUST GO is the better performance.

  6. Ken Hanke

    This is getting better looking, but it appears, judging by the counter, that about 100 folks managed to un-look at this article this morning!

  7. Xanadon't

    Your right, it is unfortunate that TERRI and THE GUARD open the same week. My interest in both of them is very high… so you know what? I’m gonna do my damnedest to see them BOTH. Been a somewhat crummy year for movies so far. Sure, Oscar season is still to come, but right now my top ten list is starving.

  8. luluthebeast

    I was watching some reviewer on one of the morning shows, it might have been Robin Meade, I’m not sure, but even though he really liked CONTAGION the problem was that he is a self-admitted germophobic, so that after seeing this he REALLY didn’t want to touch anything!

  9. Ken Hanke

    I’m gonna do my damnedest to see them BOTH.

    That would be my suggestion. They’re both quite worthwhile.

    Been a somewhat crummy year for movies so far. Sure, Oscar season is still to come, but right now my top ten list is starving.

    I know how you feel.

  10. Ken Hanke

    even though he really liked CONTAGION the problem was that he is a self-admitted germophobic, so that after seeing this he REALLY didn’t want to touch anything!

    I’m not germophobic — at least now that I don’t have a job where I handle other folks’ money — but I’d say you’d also have to be pretty suggestible to get that worked up. I just saw it a little while ago — and it’s a good picture, assuming you’re in the mood for this sort of thing — but I haven’t even thought in terms of that kind of paranoia.

  11. Me

    Ken do you know what the deal with Drive opening next week is? Is it opening wide i don’t see it as coming soon at The Carolina?

  12. DrSerizawa

    I’m curious about Red State. It’s out on PPV but the promos say it’s going to be released in theaters. Not that I especially want to see it but over on IMDB Kevin Smith’s sycophants are raving about it like it’s on the level of Citizen Kane instead of direct-to-ppv. Is it getting a release of not?

  13. Ken Hanke

    Is it getting a release of not?

    Smith showed it around with himself in attendance at $50 a pop for a while. The idea that something by such a flat-footed filmmaker as Kevin Smith could be in Citizen Kane league is pretty funny — and that comes from someone who likes (but hardly worships) Smith’s movies as a rule. If it’s going to have any kind of theatrical life, they better work fast since it’s slated to come out on DVD in about a month.

  14. DrSerizawa

    I don’t like or dislike Smith. Most of his movies have been okay. But I don’t think his fanatics do him much service. However RS sounds pretty over-the-top to the point of unintentional self-parody. Maybe I’ll que it on Netflix. Perhaps Mr Smith will achieve some sort of Ed Woodian status.

    Speaking of Ed Wood, it’s funny but this run of “found footage” movies we’ve been seeing since Blair Witch make Ed’s movies look pretty good cinematography-wise. At least he could block and focus a camera. What’s on the screen might be stupid but at least it doesn’t give me a headache.

  15. Ken Hanke

    I don’t think fanatics understand the degree of damage they do to the things they’re fanatical about. Star Wars fans, Trekkies(ers), and Whovians — not to mention hardcare comic book movie fans — hate the objects of their devotion than they can imagine.

    What’s on the screen might be stupid but at least it doesn’t give me a headache.

    And it has the decency to be unintentionally funny instead of just bad.

  16. Me

    xanadont i thinks its been a pretty damn good year for movies and looks like its going to get even better this fall.

  17. Ken Hanke

    I’m having a very hard time coming up with more than a few titles that I’d say mark 2011 as more than just decent and often not even that.

  18. Xanadon't

    “xanadont i thinks its been a pretty damn good year for movies and looks like its going to get even better this fall.”

    (if someone wants to tell me how to “bold” this instead, that’d be great. Silly, I know, but I’m new here, and technology isn’t my thing)

    Well right now THOR is in my top 5. I kind of consider that a bad sign. And three movies in my top 7 or 8 are foreign productions (13 Assassins, Submarine, and Troll Hunter). Now sure I’ve missed a few (Queen to Play comes immediately to mind) but I get out to the theaters fairly often.

    Sounds like you’ve found more to enjoy so far and hope you’re right about fall!

  19. luluthebeast

    CONTAGION was surprisingly dull, I’ve seen more exciting programs about disease on The Discovery Channel and the best acting job was by Dean Winters as Mayhem in the new Allstate commercial!

  20. Ken Hanke

    And in an unusual reversal — here’s a case where I liked something a lot more than you did!

  21. luluthebeast

    Maybe I’m jaded and have seen too many of these things, but I just kept sitting there waiting for something to happen, and it never really did. And except for a couple of by-the-book crowd panic attacks nobody really seemed to get that excited. And the body count wasn’t even that high; what was it, about 26 million? On a percentage basis that’s probably just a third of the number that died in the influenza outbreak around WW I.

  22. Me

    Just off the top of my head Midnight In Paris, Tree of Life, Beginners, The Future, Meeks Cutoff, Terri, Submarine, Project Nim, The Interrupters and thats just in the last 3 months. Also earlier this year there was Blue Valentine, Certified Copy, Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, and Win Win.

    Looks like its going to get even better as the year goes on too.

  23. Ken Hanke

    Maybe I’m jaded and have seen too many of these things

    Maybe. I was entertained, it held my interest, and, against expectations, I didn’t find it depressing.

  24. Ken Hanke

    (if someone wants to tell me how to “bold” this instead, that’d be great. Silly, I know, but I’m new here, and technology isn’t my thing)

    Well, as it stands now (who knows how things will wind up with the “new-and-improved” website?), you put a b inside <> at the beginning of what you want bold and follow it with /b inside another <> to make it stop.

  25. luluthebeast

    [b]I didn’t find it depressing[/b]

    I did, but then I was rooting for the virus, or at least a better movie. I’ve seen Damon, along with some of the others, do much better jobs.

  26. Ken Hanke

    Just off the top of my head Midnight In Paris, Tree of Life, Beginners, The Future, Meeks Cutoff, Terri, Submarine, Project Nim, The Interrupters and thats just in the last 3 months. Also earlier this year there was Blue Valentine, Certified Copy, Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, and Win Win

    Of those, the only ones I see being in my 10 best are:

    Midnight in Paris
    Submarine
    and maybe Win Win and Terri — assuming desperation for titles sets in. Both are good, but neither strike me as “best of” material — at least for me. I’d add 13 Assassins and probably The Guard to my list.

    I haven’t seen The Interrupters or Uncle Boonmee. The others won’t be on my list — and technically Blue Valentine is last year anyway from my perspective. I wasn’t that impressed by the others and one of them I actively detested, while having to admit that it wasn’t a bad (though it was by no means remarkable) movie.

  27. Ken Hanke

    I did, but then I was rooting for the virus, or at least a better movie. I’ve seen Damon, along with some of the others, do much better jobs.

    I usually despise end-of-the-world type things because they depress me. I don’t expect great acting in this kind of movie. It’s patterned on and played like a smarter Irwin Allen disaster movie. That’s all it’s meant to be. Think of it in terms of The Towering Inferno or The Swarm. It ain’t Oscar-bait or an acting showcase. But whatever else it is, it has probably my favorite line of the year so far. Hint: Elliott Gould delivers it.

  28. luluthebeast

    If you’re referring to the blogging line, I agree, it was the only line that got any response from the half-filled theater. And I’m sure I’ve said this, but I love movies where Mother Nature kicks our asses, we deserve it. And I expect over the top acting; give me Henry Silva and Sonny Chiba any day!

  29. Ken Hanke

    If you’re referring to the blogging line

    I am.

    And I’m sure I’ve said this, but I love movies where Mother Nature kicks our asses, we deserve it.

    I don’t. I merely find them depressing.

    And I expect over the top acting; give me Henry Silva and Sonny Chiba any day!

    There’s a difference between over-the-top and bad, but these people aren’t doing either. They’re just efficiently carrying out two-dimensional types, which is what the movie needed.

  30. Ken Hanke

    Aside: Even with the improvement efforts, I really do not like the new website.

  31. DrSerizawa

    Ah the halcyon days of Irwin Allen. How exciting those films were at the time. Seeing all those big name actors bite the dust. And a few months later we were further entertained by Mad Magazine spoofs like The Towering Sterno and Mirthquake which were more intelligent than the movies. (Not hard to do). And his later production became especially unintentionally hilarious like “The Swarm”. I’m afraid that the newer disaster flicks are just bad and boring. I might sit down and watch Earthquake again on a rainy Sunday but Daylight or The Happening never.

  32. Ken Hanke

    Earthquake? I’ll pass on that, too. Maybe Towering Inferno or even The Swarm, but I don’t think I could make it through Earthquake again.

  33. Xanadon't

    Well, as it stands now (who knows how things will wind up with the “new-and-improved” website?), you put a b inside <> at the beginning of what you want bold and follow it with /b inside another <> to make it stop.

    Thanks so much!

  34. Ken Hanke

    Well, you appear to have mastered it. You can make italics the same way, but substitute an i for the b.

  35. luluthebeast

    Rats! I missed it. I just checked Box Office Mojo and it seems CREATURE has already been yanked.

  36. Ken Hanke

    Rats! I missed it. I just checked Box Office Mojo and it seems CREATURE has already been yanked.

    Considering it posted the lowest ever opening weekend gross for a fairly large (ca. 1500 theaters) release, my guess is they’ve also all changed their names.

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