Starring: David Alpay, Charles Aznavour, Eric Bogosian, Brent Carver, Christopher Plummer


In Brief: To commemorate Armenian Genocide Day, World Cinema is showing Atom Egoyan's much misunderstood Ararat (2002), which deals with the Turkish government's 1915 genocide of its Armenian population. This is heady stuff. It's also heavily layered and told in an unusual manner, presenting the story from the perspective of an Armenian filmmaker and linking past…
Starring: Domhnall Gleeson, Alicia Vikander, Oscar Isaac, Sonoya Mizuno

Ex Machina

The Story: A young employee of a computer company is brought to the isolated home of his boss to help determine whether or not his employer has really created artificial intelligence. The Lowdown: A coolly brilliant film from writer-turned-director Alex Garland that explores the nature of what it means to be human. Effective as both…
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Starring: Robert Powell, Georgina Hale, Lee Montague, Rosalie Crutchley, Antonia Ellis


In Brief: The Asheville Film Society's Budget Big Screen series returns with Asheville's own Lisi Russell introducing Ken Russell's Mahler — her late husband's brilliant biographical film on composer Gustav Mahler, a film conductor Klaus Tennstedt said was "the best film ever made about music." I'm not about to argue with him. Mahler is from the richest period…
Starring: Fredric March, Evelyn Venable, Sir Guy Standing, Katharine Alexander, Gail Patrick, Kent Taylor, Helen Westley

Death Takes a Holiday

In Brief: More a dark fantasy than an outright horror movie (though it has been claimed by the horror community), Death Takes a Holiday (1934) is the kind of film that could only have been made by Paramount Pictures and could only have been made at the time it was. Mitchell Leisen’s surprisingly complex (especially with its…
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Starring: Orson Welles, Nancy Guild, Akim Tamiroff, Frank Latimore, Valentina Cortese, Margot Grahame

Black Magic

In Brief: Orson Welles has a scene-stealing field day in this rather free adaptation of Alexandre Dumas' Joseph Balsamo, Mémoires d'un Médecin — the story of Cagliostro (née Joseph Balsamo) rechristened Black Magic (1949) and starring Welles as, of course, Cagliostro. And based on the on-screen evidence, Welles stole more than scenes. Venerable Russian character…
Starring: Soran Ebrahim, Avaz Latif, Saddam Hossein Feysal, Hiresh Feysal Rahman

Turtles Can Fly

In Brief: When Turtles Can Fly (2004) first showed here, I wrote: The first thing you notice about Iranian filmmaker Bahman Ghobadi’s Turtles Can Fly is how much more technically accomplished it is than most films we see from this part of the world. The colors are bright and vivid, the images are sharp and detailed, the compositions…
Starring: Jennifer Jones, Joseph Cotten, Ann Richards, Cecil Kellaway, Gladys Cooper, Anita Louise

Love Letters

In Brief: Yes, this is the movie that produced the song of the title — though it only appears as a song in the film in orchestral form. (This was common at this period. The song versions of the famous themes from The Uninvited ("Stella by Starlight") and Laura ("Laura") — both made the previous year — do…
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Starring: Morgana O'Reilly, Rima Te Wiata, Glen-Paul Waru, Ross Harper, Cameron Rhodes


In Brief: The idea that we are in the midst of a kind of horror film renaissance these days is given ample support by this horror comedy from New Zealand by first-time feature writer-director Gerard Johnstone. Housebound (which, typically, is being remade for American consumption by New Line) got almost no release in the U.S. but managed to blow away…
Starring: Al Pacino, Annette Bening, Jennifer Garner, Bobby Cannavale, Christopher Plummer

Danny Collins

The Story: An aging rock star receives a letter sent to him by John Lennon in 1971 and decides to turn his life around to become the man he wanted to be. The Lowdown: Bright dialogue and great chemistry between Al Pacino and the rest of the cast raise this fairly predictable comedy-drama to very…
Starring: Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Daniel Brühl, Natascha McElhone, Miriam Margolyes, David Warner

Ladies in Lavender

In Brief: Ladies in Lavender (2004) marked the first — and so far only — film to be written and directed by character actor Charles Dance. Why he stopped after this perfectly credible first film is a mystery. It's not like Ladies in Lavender was some huge hit, but for a little film playing in…
Starring: Richard Bohringer, Helen Mirren, Michael Gambon, Alan Howard, Tim Roth, Ciarán Hinds

The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover

In Brief: Peter Greenaway’s The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover was the art film of 1990, which is to say that if you saw only one art film that year, this was probably the one you saw. It was daring. It had a hint of scandal attached to its excesses. It was full of nudity, sex,…
Starring: Nigel Terry, Nicol Williamson, Helen Mirren, Nicholas Clay, Cherie Lunghi, Paul Geoffrey


In Brief: I remember seeing John Boorman’s Excalibur when it first came out in 1981. I remember being completely blown away by its visual splendor and Boorman’s fascinating attempt to present the Arthurian legend in terms of Wagner opera (which pervades the soundtrack). I also remember the scorn with which the film was received by a number…
Starring: Ben Stiller, Naomi Watts, Adam Driver, Amanda Seyfried, Adam Horovitz, Maria Dizzia, Charles Grodin

While We’re Young

The Story: Generation X-ers in midlife crisis mode fall under the spell of millennial hipsters. The Lowdown: Here we have the year's first great film — a sharply penetrating satire on generational foibles and modern life. Writer-director Noah Baumbach pulls of the incredible feat of taking no prisoners without ever being cruel. A must-see.
Starring: Seymour Bernstein, Andrew Harvey, Michael Kimmelman, Kimball Gallagher, Junko Ichikawa, Marcus Ostermiller

Seymour: An Introduction

The Story: A loving look in on classical pianist Seymour Bernstein. The Lowdown: A thoroughly charming, warm look at a man who may make you rethink what "greatness" means. If you only see one documentary this year, make it this one.
Starring: Helen Mirren, Ryan Reynolds, Daniel Brühl, Antje Traue, Katie Holmes, Charles Dance, Elizabeth McGovern, Jonathan Pryce

Woman in Gold

The Story: Fact-based story of a Holocaust survivor fighting to regain art works stolen from her family by the Nazis. The Lowdown: Solid drama of the cultural-historical kind that simplifies much but gets the essentials right. Occasionally heavy-handed, but it makes a fine vehicle for Helen Mirren and — surprisingly — Ryan Reynolds.
Starring: Craig Wasson, Melanie Griffith, Gregg Henry, Deborah Shelton, Guy Boyd, Dennis Franz

Body Double

In Brief: It would be difficult to decide which of Brian De Palma's movies is the most ... well, insane, but Body Double (1984) — his heady mix of Rear Window, Vertigo and De Palma over-the-top crazy — is certainly in the running. While there's no escaping the heavy dose of Hitchcock — and I'm not sure I'd…
Starring: (Voices) Jim Parsons, Rihanna, Steve Martin, Jennifer Lopez, Matt Jones


The Story: A disgraced invading alien and a young earth girl team up to find her relocated mother. The Lowdown: Colorful, dull, unoriginal and often irritating. Strictly for younger children and Rihanna fans.
Starring: Jay Baker, Pat Barlow, Lloyd Berry, Deborah Foreman

April Fool’s Day

In Brief: This was a "fan pick" — and one that happened to fall on the right day (or close enough). Apparently, April Fool's Day is well-loved — at least by those who saw it when it came out in 1986 and were at an impressionable age. Even if I had seen it when it…
Starring: Ted Neely, Carl Anderson, Yvonne Elliman, Barry Dennen, Bob Bingham, Josh Mostel

Jesus Christ Superstar

In Brief: It's the Asheville Film Society's slightly late Easter offering — Norman Jewison's Jesus Christ Superstar, a film that has kind of fallen by the wayside over the years. I'm not sure why. Most complaints usually center on the casting of Ted Neely as Jesus — despite the fact that man has made a…