cranky hanke Articles
Genre: Ripe Melodrama
Director: George Abbott
Starring: Tallulah Bankhead, Harvey Stephens, Irving Pichel, Jay Fassett, Ann AndrewsIn Brief: One of stage director George Abbott's early talkie movie dabblings, The Cheat, stars Tallulah Bankhead in Paramount's second remake of Cecil B. DeMille's big 1915 hit film of the same name. This 1931 version is both more outrageus and less so. The "less so" part mostly involves removing the racial aspect of the original, but it's still a deliriously over-the-top slab of high-toned trash about a society woman who gambles away charity money and accepts a "loan" from a rich lecher who wants something other than money in exchange. Wildly silly and very entertaining.
Genre: Hidden Camera Comedy
Director: Jeff Tremaine (Jackass 3D)
Starring: Johnny Knoxville, Jackson Nicoll, Greg Harris, Georgina CatesThe Story: Johnny Knoxville in old-man makeup, pulls pranks on unsuspecting bystanders. The Lowdown: A dumb, molasses-paced hidden-camera flick that tries to be both gross and heartfelt, but really just feels pointless.
Genre: Animated Fanciful Biopic
Director: Vincent Paronnaud, Marjane Satrapi
Starring: (Voices) Chiara Mastroianni, Catherine Deneuve, Danielle Darrieux, Simon Abkarian, Gabrielle Lopes BenitesIn Brief: Pretty amazing film version of Marjane Satrapi's autobiographical comic Persepolis, about an Iranian girl growing up in the shadow of two oppressive regimes. Though playful in tone, it's a narrative that goes much deeper than one might expect.
Genre: Fairy-Tale Horror
Director: Neil Jordan (Interview with the Vampire)
Starring: Sarah Patterson, Angela Lansbury, David Warner, Graham Crowden, Stephen ReaIn Brief: Calling The Company of Wolves (1985) a horror movie does it a disservice. It's not inaccurate, but this magical, allegorical fairy tale — that catapulted its filmmaker to international fame — is considerably more than a horror picture. In fact, it's more art film than horror flick, and some aspects of it are just plain inexplicable and surreal. Whatever you call it, though, it's unique, and it established Jordan as a major fantasist.
Director: Bill Condon (Kinsey
Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch, Daniel Brühl, David Thewlis, Alicia Vikander, Laura LinneyThe Story: The story of Julian Assange and the formation of WikiLeaks. The Lowdown: A decent, surprisingly fair thriller that falters by trying to be too hip.
Director: Mikael Håfström (The Rite)
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jim Caviezel, Faran Tahir, Sam NeillThe Story: A professional escape artist is sent to a secret, illegal prison that’s thought to be impenetrable. The Lowdown: A terminally dumb action picture that makes zero sense, manned by a couple of senior citizens out to prove they’ve still got it. Dreadfully bad.
Genre: Rock Music
Starring: The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Big Star, DeathThe Story: A collection of four music-oriented documentary films. The Lowdown: The second week of The Carolina's mini-festival of music documentaries has something for just about everyone: from The Beatles to the Stones to Aretha Franklin to Big Star to a band improbably called Death.
Director: Kimberly Peirce (Stop Loss)
Starring: Chloë Grace Moretz, Julianne Moore, Gabriella Wilde, Portia Doublebday, Alex Russell, Ansel Elgort, Judy GreerThe Story: A downtrodden, misfit girl with a religious-fanatic mother discovers she has telekinetic powers and uses them to get back at her tormentors. The Lowdown: To paraphrase the 1976 Carrie's ad campaign, if you've got a taste for terror, go rent Brian De Palma's Carrie. This completely unnecessary remake is an insultingly inferior cash-grab.
Director: Peter Duffell
Starring: Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Denholm Elliott, Jon Pertwee, Nyree Dawn Porter, Joss AcklandIn Brief: Quaint is the first word that comes to mind for this mild British horror film by Amicus Productions. To put it in perspective, this is a movie calling itself The House That Dripped Blood, in which we see nary a drop of the red stuff. It's a poky little horror anthology loosely — very loosely — tied to the namesake (albeit rather anemic) house. Fun in its peculiarly reticent way, but not exactly horrific.
Genre: Black Comedy Horror
Director: James Whale
Starring: Boris Karloff, Melvyn Douglas, Ernest Thesiger, Gloria Stuart, Raymond Massey, Lilian Bond, Eva MooreIn Brief: This year's Halloween offering from the Asheville Film Society is James Whale's classic — and long considered lost — The Old Dark House, starring Boris Karloff. Stranded by a rainstorm and landslides, a group of travelers takes refuge with a very peculiar family in an old, dark house. The film is one of the delights of Golden Age horror — as much a black comedy as a horror film when all is said and done. That's not to say there's no menace (oh, there's plenty of that), but it's all underscored with dark and extremely quirky humor. Essential viewing.
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