Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler Sept. 8-14: One documentary, a biopic and some zombies

In theaters

This week is a little up in the air. Three movies—Restrepo, Mao’s Last Dancer and Resident Evil: Afterlife 3-D—are definitely opening. A fourth—a low-budget indie sex comedy called The Virginity Hit—is listed as opening in wide release, but it has yet to show up on any booking lists that have come my way from local theaters. So if anyone is hanging by a thread just dying to know if The Virginity Hit is really opening this week, check back.

Actually, this week is kind of a non-starter for me, since I’ve already seen Restrepo and Mao’s Last Dancer—the reviews for which will be in this week’s Xpress come Wednesday. I feel pretty safe in saying that—even without 3-D—they are both better bargains for your moviegoing buck than Resident Evil: Afterlife 3-D. Restrepo—which opens Friday at The Carolina—is everything you may have heard as concerns being an immersion into the war in Afghanistan. It’s also perhaps the most wholly objective documentary I’ve ever seen—completely deserving of that 96 percent approval rating it has on Rotten Tomatoes. Mao’s Last Dancer—opening Friday at the Fine Arts—is a relative lightweight, but it’s a pleasing entertainment that will almost certainly qualify as a crowd-pleaser for those who take a chance on it.

What really is there to be said about Resident Evil: Afterlife 3-D? Let’s face facts here—with or without its 3-D coating—this is going to be more of the same of what we got from the first three movies in the series. It’s Milla Jovovich vs. the evil Umbrella Corporation and the lurching zombies they created. This is a series that seemed to hit its peak with zombified Great Danes in its first outing. The only burning question is just exactly how much of Ms. Jovovich’s anatomy will be on display in this chapter—and I’m sure that is a question of note with certain members of the movie’s demographic.

I have no clue what the demographic is for the possibly opening The Virginity Hit. I’m guessing it’s meant to appeal to more or less the same crowd that thinks the mumblecore movement was a good idea. The trailer looks mildly interesting at best. I guess we will find out—or maybe we won’t.

Still with us is The Girl Who Played With Fire at the Fine Arts, which is dropping The Kids Are All Right to make room for Mao’s Last Dancer on Friday. The Kids Are All Right, Get Low and Winter’s Bone are sticking around The Carolina for at least another week, but Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky will be history come Friday. I don’t yet know if Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is departing the Beaucatcher on Friday (thank you, Labor Day), but I do know that it’s taking the 10 p.m. slot at Asheville Pizza & Brewing Company.

In the realm of the special screenings, the Thursday Horror Picture show has Jacques Tourneur’s The Comedy of Terrors (1963) with Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, Boris Karloff and Basil Rathbone at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 9, in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. World Cinema is screening the documentary Man on Wire (2008) at 8 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 10, at the Courtyard Gallery in the Phil Mechnaic Studios building. The Montford Park Players have their monthly Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) at 11 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 11, at The Carolina Asheville. Dreamchild (1985) is this week’s offering from the Hendersonville Film Society at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 12, in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing in Hendersonville. F.W. Murnau’s masterpiece Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927) is the feature from the Asheville Film Society at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 14 at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge at The Carolina. For more on all these (except Rocky Horror) check this week’s Xpress—and for even more, check out the online versions of those reviews at www.mountainx.com/movies.

On DVD

The new mainstrem releases are not terribly exciting this week. I managed to avoid Killers and MacGruber in theaters and can think of no compelling reason to rectify that via DVD. Considering how long Solitary Man played locally, I’d be surprised if there are that many interested parties who haven’t seen it, but it’s easily the highlight of mainstream new titles hitting the shelves this week.

This, of course, is the week that proves or disproves co-critic Justin Souther’s prediction that I will hold out buying a Blu-ray player just as long as it takes for Ken Russell’s Tommy to come out. Well, now it’s here and I haven’t done anything about it yet. Having just seen the theatrical digital restoration on the big screen twice in the past week or thereabouts, I might be able to stave this purchase off a little longer, but after reading Bill Gibron’s review of the DVD yesterday, it’s not going to be easy. We’ll see.

Notable TV screenings

This is just not a great week for TCM. I ran through the listings and came up empty-handed. Oh, yes, there’s good stuff, and there are a lot of things I’ll end up watching if I bump into them in passing, but nothing at all that I felt the need to write down. It’s pretty sad when you’re reduced to looking forward to them getting around to running The Bowery Boys Meet the Monsters (1954), which has to be happening pretty soon, but not this week.

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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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14 thoughts on “Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler Sept. 8-14: One documentary, a biopic and some zombies

  1. Ken Hanke

    Mao’s Last Dancer played here while back. It looked like fairly trying stuff from the trailer.

    It’s a nice little movie, though knowing something of your taste, I don’t think you’d like it.

  2. Me

    Do you know if “Its Kind Of A Funny Story” is being released this weekend at the Carolina? The website says it is but it may be another flub. The Fine Arts Theatre has it scheduled but it looks like their release is going to be a ways off.

  3. TonyRo

    Botko and Gurland, the guys that made THE VIRGINITY HIT, made an insane movie a few years back called MAIL ORDER WIFE. It takes the mockumentary genre to another level.

  4. Ken Hanke

    Do you know if “Its Kind Of A Funny Story” is being released this weekend at the Carolina? The website says it is but it may be another flub. The Fine Arts Theatre has it scheduled but it looks like their release is going to be a ways off.

    No, it’s not opening this weekend at either venue. I don’t know who does the website, but it’s apparently not very reliable. If it’s The Carolina or the Fine Arts and I haven’t listed it, then it’s almost certainly not opening that week. They are the theaters that work most closely with us. Not being owned by corporations, they’re actually responsive to and interested in the local community itself.

    The earliest date I’m seeing for Funny Story is Oct. 8. “Art” film is tricky for a number of reasons — not the least of which is print availability. Actually, there’s a long list of factors that play into the booking of these movies and the dates that they’ll come to town, but that’s probably more than you want to know.

  5. Ken Hanke

    Well, looks like we are indeed bereft of The Virginity Hit and that causes me no pain. However, it appears that Rob Reiner’s Flipped has crept into town — which is pretty odd since Asheville is not on the list of cities provided by the firm that handles that studio in the southeast.

  6. Botko and Gurland, the guys that made THE VIRGINITY HIT, made an insane movie a few years back called MAIL ORDER WIFE. It takes the mockumentary genre to another level.

    Really? The Virginity Hit might be worth a look then.

  7. Ken Hanke

    The Virginity Hit might be worth a look then.

    The fastest way to get me to run from a movie is to tell me it’s a mockumentary — possibly even faster than the word “mumblecore,” though they both have the same inherent problem of being a good excuse for lazy, inept filmmaking. In any case, you’ll have to look somewhere outside our area to see it this week, since the claim of its wide opening appears somewhat exaggerated.

  8. TonyRo

    Say what you will Ken, MAIL ORDER WIFE took every idea I had about the genre and turned it on it’s ear. Without trying to jam it down your throat, I really think you should check it out, if only to see a completely different style of mockumentary.

  9. Ken Hanke

    I really think you should check it out, if only to see a completely different style of mockumentary.

    If someone puts it in my hand, I’ll try it.

  10. Justin Souther

    If someone puts it in my hand, I’ll try it.

    Too easy.

  11. Ken Hanke

    Too easy.

    I hate it when he takes the moral high-road. I worry that he’s ill.

  12. Me

    TCM is also playing some Johnny Cash related films Friday Night/Saturday Morning. John Frankenheimer’s 1970 film I Walk The Line staring Gregory Peck and Tuesday Weld and 1961’s Five Minutes To Live, these two films are unavailable on DVD.

  13. TCM is also playing some Johnny Cash related films Friday Night/Saturday Morning. John Frankenheimer’s 1970 film I Walk The Line staring Gregory Peck and Tuesday Weld and 1961’s Five Minutes To Live, these two films are unavailable on DVD.

    We have Five Minutes to Live.

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