Starring: Ralph Fiennes, Felicity Jones, Kristin Scott-Thomas, Tom Hollander, Joanna Scanlan, John Kavanagh

The Invisible Woman


The Story: Biographical film about the relationship between Charles Dickens and his younger mistress. The Lowdown: Complex, heavily layered and textured biographical drama that also serves as a critique of the role of women in Victorian society. The only problem is that its deliberate pace will be off-putting to some.
Starring: Allison Miller, Zach Gilford, Sam Anderson, Roger Payano, Vanessa Ray

Devil’s Due


The Story: Shaky-cam, bargain basement take on the Rosemary's Baby Son o' Satan shtick. The Lowdown: Bottom-of-the-barrel horror shenanigans of the sort only January brings. Spare yourself.

Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler January 22-28: The Invisible Frankenste­in

Slim pickings this week — not that there was much of anything to get excited about last week, but there was more of it. Actually, we get one really good art title this week, but I fear it’s going to be of limited appeal. There is one mainstream(ish) title, too. It is an unknown quantity, but the indications are that this might be a good week to start filling in the blanks of those Oscar contenders you’ve missed.

Cranky Hanke’s Screening Room: Oscar, We Need to Start Seeing Other People

Way back in 1932 filmmaker Josef von Sternberg resigned from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, noting it had “nothing to do with art and even less to do with science.” While it’s likely that this was in part the result of constantly losing potential awards to lesser talents, it was not without its truth. And every year they reinforce his statement by holding the Oscar awards—something that most of us approach with a strange mixture of apathy and addiction. We don’t take them seriously really — especially now that every half-assed, semi-credible organization has awards — but we seem to be compelled to follow them and watch them through some kind of Pavlovian effect.

Starring: Hugh Grant, Amanda Donohoe, Peter Capaldi, Sammi Davis, Catherine Oxenberg, Stratford Johns

The Lair of the White Worm


In Brief: Ken Russell's 1988 horror comedy, The Lair of the White Worm, makes a return appearance at the Thursday Horror Picture Show. While it is one of the filmmaker's lighter works, it's also the Ken Russell picture that turned a lot of younger viewers onto his great films from the 1960s and 70s. It's…
Starring: Lee Tracy, Madge Evans, Frank Morgan, Charles Butterworth, John Miljan

The Nuisance


In Brief: The great Lee Tracy stars in one of his best roles in The Nuisance — a fast-paced, cynical comedy (with doses of drama) about a shrewd (and none-too-honest) ambulance-chasing lawyer who has refined the business of obtaining large settlements for accident claims into a science. The fast-talking Tracy is, of course, the lawyer…
Starring: Jan Vostrcil, Josef Sebanek, Josef Valnoha, Frantisek Debelka, Josef Kolb

The Firemen’s Ball


In Brief: Milos Forman's The Firemen's Ball (1967) created a good bit of stir when it was released in the U.S. late in 1968. It even earned an Oscar nomination (as had his 1966 film The Loves of a Blonde). While it's possible to understand the fuss in an historical context, it may be a…
Starring: George Segal, Alec Guinness, Senta Berger, Max von Sydow, George Sanders

The Quiller Memorandum


In Brief: As soon as there were James Bond movies, there was a response with more seriously intended spy films. The Quiller Memorandum (1966) is one such film, and though it's one of the more obscure ones, it is also one of the better ones. Oh, there are some problems, and Michael Anderson's direction is…

2013 at the movies: For better or worse and sometimes both

Here at last are our picks for the ten best films of the year — and they’re sure to be the cause for much wailing and gnashing of teeth. One notable omission is sure to raise eyebrows and even hackles. I mean everybody is supposed to have 12 Years a Slave on his or her list, right? Here’s the thing (and I think I can speak for Mr. Souther, too), I have the utmost respect and admiration for the film. I think it is brilliant. I am cheering for Chiwetel Ejiofor to win that Best Actor Oscar, and I’ll be cool with it if 12 Years a Slave takes Best Picture. I think it’s a fine film and a powerful one, but something about the film feels just a little at arm’s length and keeps it from engaging me fully on an emotional level. That aside, here are the lists

Starring: Orson Welles, Oja Kodar, Joseph Cotten

F for Fake


In Brief: World Cinema returns this week with Orson Welles' F for Fake (1973), the great filmmaker's last properly completed work. Welles' look at two famous fakes is a playful film — as much a feat of cinematic sleight-of-hand, laced with autobiography as anything else. At the time, Welles thought he'd found a brand new…
Starring: Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Chris Cooper, Ewan McGregor, Margo Martindale, Sam Shepard

August: Osage County


The Story: An astonishingly dysfunctional family gathers for the funeral of its patriarch. Personalities clash, tempers flare, secrets are revealed. The Lowdown: Essentially, this is an overheated melodrama, but it's enjoyably performed as dark comedy by a high-profile cast. It's not a great movie, but it's a lot of twisted fun, great dialogue and scenery…
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Scarlett Johansson, Rooney Mara, Olivia Wilde, Matt Letscher

Her


The Story: Mildly futuristic story of a man who falls in love with his sentient computer operating system. The Lowdown: It doesn't all work, and Her is more simplistic than its ambitions to be a profound statement on modern technology would like. But it's more workable than its premise might sound — and there's an…
Starring: Michael Caine, Robert Duvall, Haley Joel Osment, Kyra Sedgwick, Nicky Katt, Josh Lucas

Secondhand Lions


In Brief: It's impossible to deny that Secondhand Lions (2003) is sugary to the point of of needing a diabetic warning. This contrived and manipulative tale of a neglected boy being foisted on a pair of grumpy old uncles who were ignorant of the kid's existence is meant to warm the viewer's heart and invoke…
Starring: Peter O'Toole, Arthur Lowe, Alastair Sim, William Mervyn, Coral Browne, Michael Bryant, Nigel Green

The Ruling Class


In Brief: The second film in the Asheville Film Society's two-part tribute to Peter O'Toole finds the actor in what is probably both his best role and film. Peter Medak's 1972 film version of Peter Barnes' play The Ruling Class — an almost unclassifiable movie in terms of genre — is one of his truly…
Starring: Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan, Justin Timberlake, Adam Driver, John Goodman, Garrett Hedlund

Inside Llewyn Davis


The Story: A week of hard luck in the life of a moderately talented folk singer in the winter of 1961. The Lowdown: The Coen brothers' latest is one of 2013's best films, but while it's bitterly funny, it's also a darkly disturbing film that's likely to alienate some people. It's a remarkable movie with…
Starring: Simone Simon, Kent Smith, Tom Conway, Jane Randolph, Jack Holt

Cat People


In Brief: Make-up showing of the canceled December screening. The first and in some ways the best (certainly it made the most money) of the famous series of nine movies made by producer Val Lewton at RKO in the 1940s, Cat People (1942) offered audiences something a little different in that it suggested more than…

Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler January 15-21: The Nut Recruit Ride Along

I know I promised you something really tasty this week. Actually, I promised it to you two weeks ago. Well, it — The Great Beauty — has been moved back again. (I had nothing to do with this.) Will it open next week? Maybe. And that’s as far as I’m committing myself at this point. In its stead, we do have four movies of the mainstream variety. There’s one pretty fair possibility and three long shots. You may want to consider movies that are still playing — or some of the awards contenders that are making encore appearances.

Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler January 8-14: Her August Survivor Inside Hercules

I promised you a better week and here it is — though it’s shy one title I was expecting. That said, we get five new movies this week, and three of them have merit. One of them has a lot of merit. The other two — well, you can’t have everything. Just remember that this pretty much washes up the 2013 holdovers (apart from the one that didn’t open). And that means it’s probably lean times ahead. Get your movies while the getting’s good.

Starring: Laurence Olivier, Joan Fontaine, Judith Anderson, George Sanders, Nigel Bruce, Reginald Denny

Rebecca


In Brief: Alfred Hitchcock's first American film, Rebecca (1940), is also his only film to win a Best Picture Oscar. That's understandable because it's the least idiosyncratic, most mainstream crowd-pleaser Hitchcock ever made. It's a finely-crafted adaptation of Daphne Du Maurier's novel that was designed — more by producer David O. Selznick than Hitchcock —…
Starring: Peter O'Toole, Steve Railsback, Barbara Hershey, Allen Garfield, Alex Rocco, Charles Bail

The Stunt Man


In Brief: The Asheville Film Society starts 2014 with the first film of a two film-tribute to Peter O'Toole. First up is Richard Rush's The Stunt Man (1980), for which O'Toole received his sixth Best Actor Oscar nomination. Here, O'Toole plays a slightly crazy movie director — a captivating blend of angel and devil whose…
Starring: Ben Stiller, Kristen Wiig, Shirley MacLaine, Kathryn Hahn, Adam Scott, Adrian Martinez, Sean Penn

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty


The Story: James Thurber's short story gets turned into a sprawling nerd-empowerment fantasy in this latest big-screen treatment. The Lowdown: It's good to look at and is certainly well-made, but it all ends up feeling like a vanity project for director-star Ben Stiller. Plus, it's rather boring.