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Starring: Nicole Kidman, Hugh Jackman, Brandon Walters, David Wenham, Bryan Brown, David Gulpilil

Australia

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In Brief: Baz Luhrmann's follow-up to Moulin Rouge! (2001), Australia (2008), was a hugely expensive flop — big enough that Luhrmann and his friend Nicole Kidman decided maybe it would better if they didn't work together again. The truth is that it's big, a bit dumb, utterly fantasticated and completely romanticized. It’s also kind of…
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Starring: Russell Crowe, Ryan Gosling, Angourie Rice, Matt Bomer, Margaret Qualley, Yaya DaCosta, Kim Basinger

The Nice Guys

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The Story: A mismatched pair of unscrupulous private detectives find themselves embroiled in a dangerous conspiracy in 1977 Los Angeles. The Lowdown: Rude, raunchy, violent and very funny action-comedy-mystery with two great leads and a surprisingly terrific newcomer. Not for the easily offended, however.
Ross McDonnell
Starring: Kate Beckinsale, Chloë Sevigny, Morfydd Clark, Xavier Samuel, Emma Greenwell, Justin Edwards, Tom Bennett, Stephen Fry

Love & Friendship

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The Story: An 18th-century widow must use her wiles to navigate English society of that time — and her wiles are up to the task. The Lowdown: Whit Stillman's take on Jane Austen's Lady Susan is a five-star delight — a deliciously droll one with more than a little bite to it. Funny, clever and oh-so-civilized…
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Starring: William Powell, Carole Lombard, Eugene Pallette, Alice Brady, Gail Patrick, Jean Dixon, Mischa Auer, Alan Dinehart

My Man Godfrey

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In Brief: The Asheville Film Society kicks off its debut at the Grail Moviehouse with Gregory La Cava’s My Man Godfrey (1936), one of the essential “screwball” comedies. It may even be the essential one. From its glossy credits (probably the most striking title design of the decade) onward, it’s a slick, rich-looking production (despite its Depression-era setting)…
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Starring: Magda Vásáryová, Josef Kemr, Nada Hejna, Jaroslav Moucka, Frantisek Velecký

Marketa Lazarová

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In Brief: I have read that, in a 1998 survey of Czech critics, Frantisek Vlácil’s Marketa Lazarová (1967) was voted the greatest Czech film ever made. Setting aside the questions of how many Czech critics there are and just how much competition there is for that accolade (oh, I’ll get mail for that), I have to say…
Money-Monster
Starring: George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Jack O'Connell, Dominic West, Caitriona Balfe, Giancarlo Esposito, Christopher Denham

Money Monster

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The Story: An angry investor who relied on a TV show's stock tips and lost everything takes the show and its host hostage. The Lowdown: Often witty, frequently exciting, but neither as modern nor as important as it seems to think it is. Viewed as entertainment, however, it's worth a look.
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Starring: Abel Salazar, Ariadna Welter, Germán Robles, David Silva, Luis Aragón

The Brainiac (El Barón del Terror)

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In Brief: The Thursday Horror Picture is scheduled to return this week at a new venue, the Grail Moviehouse, and at a new time, 7:30 p.m. The opening feature is that 1962 classic of Mexi-horror, The Brainiac (El Barón del Terror). Often billed as "the most bizarre movie ever," there's no doubt that The Brainiac stands…
lady
Starring: Diana Ross, Billy Dee Williams, Richard Pryor, James T. Callahan, Sid Melton, Virginia Capers

Lady Sings the Blues

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In Brief: For reasons unclear to me now, I didn't see Sidney J. Furie's Lady Sings the Blues when it came out in 1972 and just never bumped into it until this screening came along. I'm glad to have finally seen it, but I doubt I'll watch it a second time. It's pretty much a…
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Starring: Michael Solomonov

In Search of Israeli Cuisine

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In Brief: The Asheville Jewish Film Festival wraps up this year with Roger Sherman's In Search of Israeli Cuisine as their closing night event (see pricing information below). This is a fairly straightforward documentary that does exactly what its title says. It follows Israeli-American celebrity chef Michael Solomonov as he travels around Israeli (there seems to be…
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Starring: Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu, Gene Bervoets, Johanna ter Steege, Gwen Eckhaus

The Vanishing

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In Brief: George Sluizer’s The Vanishing (1988) made such an art house splash when it got to the U.S. in 1991 that Hollywood brought the director over to — you guessed it — remake his film in English with a more American-friendly cast. Also called The Vanishing, it earned tepid box office results and a good deal of…
the-meddler
Starring: Susan Sarandon, Rose Byrne, J.K. Simmons, Jerrod Carmichael, Cecily Strong, Lucy Punch, Michael McKean

The Meddler

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The Story: A widow moves to L.A. to be near her daughter — and to do, on a large scale, what the title suggests. The Lowdown: Susan Sarandon shines in this unassuming, likable and sometimes even surprising comedy that manages to miss nearly every pitfall.
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Starring: Robert Mitchum, Gene Barry, Jacques Aubuchon, James Mitchum, Keely Smith, Sandra Knight

Thunder Road

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In Brief: Tying into the article in last week's Xpress on the making of the film, Thunder Road (1958) is back for one show at the Fine Arts Theatre. The drive-in perennial is locally famous for having been shot around Asheville (with the Asheville area playing the part of Tennessee). But its real claim to…
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Starring: Dev Patel, Jeremy Irons, Toby Jones, Stephen Fry, Jeremy Northam, Devika Bhise

The Man Who Knew Infinity

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The Story: Biographical film on Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan and his friendship with Cambridge professor G.H. Hardy. The Lowdown: Thoroughly standard biopic that doesn't challenge the viewer but is uniformly entertaining, splendidly acted and strikingly intelligent.
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Starring: Hideko Takamine, Masayuki Mori, Reiko Dan, Tatsuya Nakadai

When a Woman Ascends the Stairs

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In Brief: I won’t say that seeing When a Woman Ascends the Stairs (1960) for the first time was a revelatory experience, but it was sufficiently rewarding that I’d like to see more of Mikio Naruse's work (which dates back to 1930). If nothing else, it’s striking to see a filmmaker of that vintage fixated on…
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Starring: Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Lucy Boynton, Mark McKenna, Jack Reynor, Aidan Gillen, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Don Wycherley

Sing Street

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The Story: A 15-year-old Dublin boy decides to form a rock band to impress a slightly older girl. The Lowdown: Good-hearted, charming, winning little movie with doses of genuine magic — and an authentic sense of time and place and youthfulness. It might restore your faith in the musical film. One of the very best…
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Starring: Gary Cooper, Ingrid Bergman, Akim Tamiroff, Katina Paxinou, Arturo de Cordova

For Whom the Bell Tolls

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In Brief: Ernest Hemingway claimed that he wrote the character of Robert Jordan in For Whom the Bell Tolls with Gary Cooper in mind — an interesting turn of events since Hemingway was no fan of A Farewell to Arms (1932), which had starred Cooper. Regardless, I guess we can assume this gives Sam Wood's…
bauer
Starring: Burghart Klaussner, Ronald Zehrfeld, Robert Atzorn, Lilith Stangenberg, Jörg Schüttauf

The People vs. Fritz Bauer

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In Brief: Before you roll your eyes over "yet another movie about Nazi hunters," you should know that this third film in the 2016 Asheville Jewish Film Festival is something very different. The People vs. Fritz Bauer (2015) is a fact-based work about the machinery behind both protecting and capturing Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann. But…