Starring: Kevin Kline, Ashley Judd, Jonathan Pryce, Kevin McNally, Allan Corduner, Sandra Nelson


In Brief: When De-Lovely came out in late summer 2004, I compared it to Peter Bogdanovich's At Long Last Love (1975) in the sense of it being another grand folly inspired by the music of Cole Porter. That remains true, though Bogdanovich fares better in that he wasn't making a biopic and has more style…
Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irons, Sienna Miller, Luke Evans, Elisabeth Moss, James Purefoy


The Story: Life in a modern (circa 1975) luxury high-rise as a vision of a microcosm dystopia. The Lowdown: Brutal, darkly funny, nightmarish, disturbing. Maybe going in knowing that about High-Rise will fortify you for the experience — at least you've been warned. One of the most startlingly original films of the year.
Starring: Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, Léa Seydoux, Ben Whishaw, John C. Reilly, Olivia Colman. Jessica Barden

The Lobster

The Story: People in the near future are forced to find a suitable partner or to be transformed into an animal. The Lowdown: With an unsettling, if fairly absurd, premise, this is one of the strangest films of the year. It defies easy classification. In fact, despite its dark comedy, nothing about the film is easy…
Starring: Bela Lugosi, Suzanne Kaaren, Dave O'Brien, Guy Usher, Donald Kerr, Yolande Donlan

The Devil Bat

In Brief: The Devil Bat (1940) marks the only time that Bela Lugosi worked for PRC Pictures. Whether once was enough (Lugosi had worked, and would work, at worse places) or whether his deal with Sam Katzman over at Monogram precluded further films is unknown. PRC was the lowest of the "real" studios, but it had…
Starring: Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell, Ralph Bellamy, Gene Lockhart, Ernest Truex, John Qualen

His Girl Friday

In Brief:  If you’ve never seen His Girl Friday (1940), this is definitely one of the greats from the “golden age” of movies — and it’s a film that still holds the record for the fastest dialogue in the history of movies. That crackling, witty banter is delivered by people who know exactly how to do…
Starring: Anton Walbrook, Simone Signoret, Simone Simon, Danielle Darrieux, Fernand Gravey, Isa Miranda

La Ronde

In Brief: The films — the world — of Max Ophuls are certainly of a piece, in a similar tone of voice. All of them could be summed up with the same phrase used by the narrator (Anton Walbrook) of La Ronde (1950) when he explains that the story is set in 1900 Vienna: "I…
Starring: Tod Slaughter, Marjorie Taylor, John Warwick, Leonard Henry, Robert Adair, Wallace Evennett

The Face at the Window

In Brief: The classic barnstorming melodrama The Face at the Window (1939) makes for what is probably the best of Tod Slaughter's horror output. Who is Tod Slaughter? He was England's answer to both Karloff and Lugosi — an enjoyably shameless ham who positively reveled in both his transparent, mustache-twirling villainy and his unabashed lechery. There was…
Starring: Nicole Kidman, Hugh Jackman, Brandon Walters, David Wenham, Bryan Brown, David Gulpilil


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…
Starring: Russell Crowe, Ryan Gosling, Angourie Rice, Matt Bomer, Margaret Qualley, Yaya DaCosta, Kim Basinger

The Nice Guys

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

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…
Starring: William Powell, Carole Lombard, Eugene Pallette, Alice Brady, Gail Patrick, Jean Dixon, Mischa Auer, Alan Dinehart

My Man Godfrey

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)…
Starring: Magda Vásáryová, Josef Kemr, Nada Hejna, Jaroslav Moucka, Frantisek Velecký

Marketa Lazarová

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…
Starring: George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Jack O'Connell, Dominic West, Caitriona Balfe, Giancarlo Esposito, Christopher Denham

Money Monster

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.
Starring: Abel Salazar, Ariadna Welter, Germán Robles, David Silva, Luis Aragón

The Brainiac (El Barón del Terror)

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…
Starring: Diana Ross, Billy Dee Williams, Richard Pryor, James T. Callahan, Sid Melton, Virginia Capers

Lady Sings the Blues

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…
Starring: Michael Solomonov

In Search of Israeli Cuisine

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…
Starring: Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu, Gene Bervoets, Johanna ter Steege, Gwen Eckhaus

The Vanishing

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…
Starring: Susan Sarandon, Rose Byrne, J.K. Simmons, Jerrod Carmichael, Cecily Strong, Lucy Punch, Michael McKean

The Meddler

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.