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Starring: Annette Bening, Aidan Quinn, Robert Downey Jr., Paul Guilfoyle, Stephen Rea

In Dreams

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In Brief: Neil Jordan's much maligned — and much misunderstood — 1999 horror thriller may be considered over-the-top, but I've always found it more operatic than anything. It's an intense work of intense emotions that are played with that intensity — especially as concerns Annette Bening and Robert Downey Jr. It is also incredibly stylish,…
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Starring: (Voices) Forest Whitaker, Mackenzie Foy, Lauren Bacall, Paul Giamatti, William H. Macy

Ernest & Celestine

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The Story: A young mouse becomes the improbable friend of a very large bear. The Lowdown: A film of immense charm and pleasingly non-gooey sweetness that also carries a solid theme about prejudice and how it's a learned response. It is not, however, preachy and is largely played for clever comedy.
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Starring: Jude Law, Richard E. Grant, Demian Bichir, Kerry Condon, Emilia Clarke, Madalina Ghenea, Jumayn Hunter

Dom Hemingway

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The Story: After 12 years in prison, safecracker Dom Hemingway is out — and in search of everything he feels is owed him. The Lowdown: Unrepentant in its vulgarity, unflinching in its occasional violence, endlessly creative in its use of words and images and blessed with a brilliant performance from Jude Law, Dom Hemingway is…
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Starring: Dolores Costello, George O'Brien, Noah Beery, Louise Fazenda, Gwynn Williams, Paul McCallister, Myrna Loy

Noah’s Ark

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In Brief: A curio and two hybrids in one movie, Michael Curtiz's Noah's Ark (1928) is a fascinating relic of the late silent/early sound era. Like DeMille's 1923 The Ten Commandments, it's only partly a Biblical epic. Most of its first half is a WWI story that serves as a lead-in — and a rather…
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Starring: Jean-Pierre Léaud, Marie-France Pisier, Claude Jade, Dani, Dorothee, Daniel Mesguich

Love on the Run

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In Brief: François Truffaut's sixth and final film of his Antoine Doinel series that began with Truffaut's first film The 400 Blows in 1959 is mostly a pure delight and a fine conclusion to the series. The only problem with Love on the Run (1979), which catches up with the 30-something Antoine for the first…
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Starring: Jared Harris, Sam Claflin, Erin Richards, Rory Fleck-Byrne, Olivia Cooke

The Quiet Ones

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The Story: An unorthodox researcher gets more than he bargained for when he tries to cure a supposedly possessed girl. The Lowdown: It is rich in atmosphere, undeniably creepy and reasonably intelligent, but there's an over-reliance on loud noises where the scares ought to be and a certain amount of cheese along the way.
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Starring: John Gilbert, Renée Adorée, Tom O'Brien, Karl Dane, Hobart Bosworth, Claire McDowell

The Big Parade

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In Brief: The first of the great WWI films and the first film where King Vidor staked his claim as one of the great directors, The Big Parade suffers a bit today by having been eclipsed by other, better WWI films that followed it in short order — not to mention the fact that about…
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Starring: Maciej Stuhr, Ireneusz Czop, Zbigniew Zamachowski, Danuta Szaflarks, Jerzy Radziwilowicz

Aftermath

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In Brief: The Asheville Jewish Film Festival at the Fine Arts closes with a powerful, disturbing film, Aftermath, that might be described as a Holocaust story devoid of both Nazis and Jews. But that's not exactly right. It is, as its title indicates, a story that takes place long after the Holocaust but is still…
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Starring: Pierre Brasseur. Alida Valli, Edith Scob, Juliette Mayniel, François Guérin

Eyes Without a Face (Les Yeux sans Visage)

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In Brief: Georges Franju's Eyes Without a Face (1960) is one of the most highly regarded of all horror films, though I've never been able to completely embrace it myself. Certainly, it's well made, has a certain poetic quality, some iconic imagery and a hypnotic performance from Edith Scob. But the film itself strikes me as essentially a fairly standard…
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Starring: Gérard Depardieu, Nicole Garcia, Roger Pierre, Nelly Borgeaud, Pierre Arditi, Henri Laborit

My American Uncle (Mon Oncle d’Amerique)

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In Brief: World Cinema concludes its monthlong tribute to Alain Resnais with the filmmaker's 1980 film My American Uncle (Mon Oncle d'Amerique), and it's another winner. It takes the intersecting stories of three characters, along with the real evolutionary philospher Henri Laborit, and presents their stories in terms of a sociological/psychological study, based in part…
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Starring: Johnny Depp, Rebecca Hall, Paul Bettany, Cillian Murphy, Kate Mara, Morgan Freeman, Clifton Collins Jr.

Transcendence

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The Story: A dying computer genius has his mind uploaded to a computer so that he can live on beyond death. The Lowdown: An intriguing, nice-looking science fiction film that risks tackling some pretty big issues. It doesn't entirely succeed, but it remains above-average entertainment with something on its mind.
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Starring: John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Wilfrid Brambell, Norm Rossington, John Junkin, Victor Spinetti

A Hard Day’s Night

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In Brief: Richard Lester's landmark film A Hard Day's Night (1964) not only captured a moment in time and propelled The Beatles even further into the realm of icons, but it revolutionized cinema — especially British cinema — and can be said to be the true birth of modern film. Borrowing much of its style…
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Starring: Nicolas Cage, Tye Sheridan, Gary Poulter, Ronnie Gene Blevens, Brian Mays

Joe

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The Story: An ex-con forms an attachment to a troubled 15-year-old boy with an abusive alcoholic father.  The Lowdown: Highly acclaimed in many quarters, Joe feels both disjointed and falsely sentimentalized to me, despite containing a strong performance by Nicolas Cage. A fondness for Southern gothic melodrama is essential.
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Starring: John Maloof, Mary Ellen Mark, Phil Donahue, Vivian Maier, Duffy Levant, Joe Matthews

Finding Vivian Maier

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The Story: Documentary about the work of recently discovered street photographer Vivian Maier, combined with the efforts to track down the story of this enigmatic woman. The Lowdown: Altogether captivating, fascinating and even moving documentary chronicling the work of and trying to understand a mid-20th century street photographer. If you only see one documentary a…
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Starring: Robert Duvall, Blythe Danner, Michael O'Keefe, Lisa Jane Persky, Stan Shaw, Theresa Merritt, David Keith, Paul Mantee

The Great Santini

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In Brief: The Great Santini comes with a long list of critical accolades from the time of its release. How this story of a hard-drinking, abusive Marine colonel and his impact on his family holds up is largely going to be a matter of taste. At best, it contains some strong performances and is competently…
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Starring: Delphine Seyrig, Jean-Pierre Kérien, Nita Klein, Jean-Baptiste Thiérrée, Claude Sainval

Muriel, or The Time of Return

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In Brief: The third film in World Cinema's monthlong tribute to French director Alain Resnais is also Resnais' third feature — the altogether remarkable and frankly mind-blowing Muriel, or The Time of Return (1963). It is also Resnais' first color film. On the surface, it's the story of an man visiting an old love from…
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Starring: Agathe Bonitzer, Mahmud Shalaby, Hiam Abbass. Riff Cohen, Abraham Belaga

A Bottle in the Gaza Sea

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In Brief: The third film from this year's Asheville Jewish Film Festival is a tender and charming epistolary romance between a French Jewish girl (who recently moved to Israel) and a Palestinian boy who finds the girl's message in a bottle that she has her Israeli soldier brother throw into the Gaza Sea. From this note…
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Starring: Irrfan Khan, Nimrat Kaur, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Lillete Dunbey, Nakul Vaid, Shruti Bapna

The Lunchbox

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The Story: When a young wife's special lunch for her husband is mistakenly delivered to another, older man, an increasingly intimate correspondence ensues.  The Lowdown: Charming, quietly funny, elegantly made and sometimes heartbreakingly perceptive, The Lunchbox is one of 2014's must-see films. Stars Irrfan Khan and Nimrat Kaur are marvelous.
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Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy McWilliams, Lynsey Taylor Mackay, Dougie McConnell

Under the Skin

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The Story: A mysterious woman — who is apparently an alien — prowls the Glasgow area in a white van to seduce and dispatch men. The Lowdown: Highly acclaimed as fresh and original, Under the Skin is also slow-moving and on the deliberately impenetrable side. Yes, it's the critical sci-fi sensation of the moment, but…