il grido
Starring: Steve Cochran, Alida Valli, Betsy Blair, Gabriella Pallotta, Dorian Gray, Lynn Shaw

Il Grido

In Brief: As it turned out, Il Grido (1957) marked the end of Michelangelo Antonioni's neorealist period. When he returned in 1960 with L'Avventura, he had pretty completely transformed himself into the introspective, artier, more impenetrable filmmaker we think of as Antonioni. It is perhaps not surprising since that was the same year that Fellini…
Starring: Lionel Atwill, Gloria Stuart, Paul Lukas, Edward Arnold, Onslow Stevens, William Janney, Robert Barrat

Secret of the Blue Room

In Brief: Though Kurt Neumann's Secret of the Blue Room was a hardy — and well-loved — staple of the old Shock Theater TV package, it's really more of an old dark house mystery than an outright horror film. (That's only reasonable, I suppose, since it's partly made on redressed sets from James Whale's 1932 The Old Dark…
Starring: Tommy Lee Jones, Hilary Swank, Grace Gummer, Miranda Otto, Sonja Richter, John Lithgow, James Spader, Meryl Streep

The Homesman

The Story:  A self-sufficient frontier woman and the claim-jumper whose life she saves undertake transporting three dangerously unbalanced women back east. The Lowdown: A beautifully made and acted revisionist western — leavened with dark humor — that proves to be one of the year's most compelling films.
Starring: Bob Hope, Marilyn Maxwell, Lloyd Nolan, Jane Darwell, William Frawley, Fred Clark

The Lemon Drop Kid

In Brief: It's become something of a Christmas staple now, but The Lemon Drop Kid was originally not well-received. Why? Well, it's a Christmas movie that came out in April — and it was all Bob Hope's fault. When he saw the finished film — intended for Christmas 1950 — he thought it was weak and needed…
Starring: Johannes Kuhnke, Lisa Loven Kongsli, Clara Wettergren, Vincent Wettergren, Kristofer Hivju, Fanny Metelius

Force Majeure

The Story: Marital drama about what happens in the wake of a threat where the husband shows himself to be less than his wife assumed. The Lowdown: The critics are mostly agreed that this Swedish drama about marital discord and patriarchal dysfunction is great stuff — Sweden has chosen it as its Oscar entry. Maybe…
Starring: Makhouredia Gueye, Ynousse N'Diaye, Isseu Niang, Serigne N'Diayes, Serigne Sow


In Brief: Ousmane Sembene’s Mandabi (The Money Order) (1968) is the sort of movie that is much prized by folks suffering from cultural inferiority complexes and by those who dote on the esoteric for its own sake. It’s a movie from Senegal — and is apparently notable for being shot in Wolof (the common language)…
Starring: Gregg Palmer, Allison Hayes, Autumn Russell, Joel Ashley, Morris Ankrum, Marjorie Eaton

Zombies of Mora Tau

In Brief: Before the arrival of George Romero’s reinvention of the zombie movie with Night of the Living Dead (1968), schlockmeister Edward L. Cahn’s Zombies of Mora Tau — made for even schlockier producer Sam Katzman — was pretty much the foundation of the zombie sub-genre for an entire generation of horror fans. Oh, it…
Penguins-of-Madagascar-Movie (1)
Starring: (Voices) Tom McGrath, Chris Miller, Christopher Knights, Conrad Vernon, John Malkovich, Benedict Cumberbatch, Werner Herzog

Penguins of Madagascar

The Story: The Madagascar penguins get a movie of their own in which they match wits with a villainous octopus. The Lowdown: Breakneck paced, filled with rapid-fire gags and wordplay that are impossible to keep up with and blessed with a pleasing lunacy, Penguins of Madagascar mostly works but goes on a little too long.
Starring: Monty Woolley, Ida Lupino, Cornel Wilde, Sara Allgood, Melville Cooper, J. Edward Bromberg

Life Begins at Eight-Thirty

In Brief: The Asheville Film Society eases into the Christmas season with Life Begins at Eight-Thirty — a film I’m pretty sure most of you have never heard of. It’s something I bumped into about 45 years ago on a long-defunct TV station that kept going by booking generally obscure movies and 1950s TV shows.…
Starring: George Arliss, Maureen O'Sullivan, Edward Arnold, Cesar Romero, Douglass Dumbrille

Cardinal Richelieu

In Brief: George Arliss — in his final Hollywood movie — takes on Cardinal Richelieu, and the results are more or less what you expect. In his version of Cardinal Richelieu (1935), the old boy is just as wily as the real one, but he's now become the wily hero of the story. In other…
Starring: Homayoun Ershadi, Abdolrahman Bagheri, Afshin Khorshid Bakhtiari, Mir Hossein Noori

Taste of Cherry

In Brief: Some movies are leisurely paced. Some are deliberately paced. Still others are glacially paced. They all are on the slow side — in varying degrees. Depending on where you land in it, Abbas Kiarostami's Taste of Cherry (1997) covers all the bases of slowness. And yet, I have to admit that it held…
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Donald Sutherland, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Julianne Moore

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1

The Story: The first half of the final chapter in The Hunger Games series finds the rebels preparing for an all-out war with the government. The Lowdown: More intelligent, more interesting and generally better made than its predecessors, but it's a film that would be hard to even follow for a newcomer.
Starring: Jackie Gleason, Katherine Kath, Diane Gardner, Jacques Marin, Gabrielle Dorziat


In Brief: On the surface, the idea of a movie in which Jackie Gleason plays mute has its appeal. At least he can't bellow every line of dialogue, because ... well, he hasn't any. In practice, however, what we get in Gigot (1962) is a gooey vanity project for Gleason, who seems to think he's…
Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, David Thewlis, Emily Watson, Guy Oliver-Watts, Charlie Cox, Maxine Peake

The Theory of Everything

The Story: Biopic about Stephen Hawking and his wife Jane. The Lowdown: Unabashed crowd-pleaser Oscar bait that works on that level — thanks in large part to the acting — but never really transcends the conventions of the biopic genre.

Cranky Hanke’s Weekly Reeler November 26-December 2: The Theory of Horrible Penguins

In Theaters. One much-anticipated art title is pitted against two mainstream titles that may or may not be that anticipated in search of your Thanksgiving moviegoing dollars. I admit to still being a little mystified by the idea of spending your holidays at the movies. Oh, I understand it in broad strokes — it gives […]

bride monster2
Starring: Bela Lugosi, Tor Johnson, Tony McCoy, Loretta King, Harvey B. Dunn, George Becwar, Dolores Fuller

Bride of the Monster

In Brief:  Though it comes a week early, it can be fairly said that this is the Thursday Horror Picture Show's Thanksgiving turkey, but what an entertaining turkey it is. Saying that Bride of the Monster (1955) is the best movie Ed Wood ever made isn’t exactly showering it with praise, since that’s based on the sliding…
Starring: Matthew Allis

The Day Carl Sandburg Died

In Brief: This is a make-up showing of The Day Carl Sandburg Died, which the Hendersonville Film Society had slated to run some considerable time ago. The film is a scrupulously detailed, reasonably comprehensive and beautifully presented documentary on the great American poet Carl Sandburg from Asheville filmmaker Paul Bonesteel. Whatever you think you know…