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Starring: Shirley MacLaine, Amanda Seyfried, Anne Heche, AnnJewel Lee Dixon, Thomas Sadoski, Tom Everett Scott, Philip Baker Hall.

The Last Word

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The Story: After an accidental overdose (or possible suicide attempt), a retired ad exec whose life was defined by ambition and isolation enlists a young obituary writer to help rectify her reputation in the hopes of earning a write-up that will cement her legacy. The Lowdown: An uneven film that suffers from poor writing and direction in spite…
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Starring: John Gallagher Jr., Tony Goldwyn, Adria Arjona, John C. McGinley, Josh Brener, Michael Rooker, Sean Gunn, Melonie Diaz

The Belko Experiment

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The Story: A group of office workers is locked in a building and forced to murder each other in order to escape. The Lowdown: A proficient piece of gory genre filmmaking that doesn't dazzle but never bores.
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Starring: Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Kevin Kline, Josh Gad, Ewan McGregor, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Audra McDonald, Ian McKellen, Emma Thompson, Stanley Tucci.

Beauty and the Beast

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The Story: An intelligent and independent woman in a provincial French village is imprisoned by the monstrous inhabitant of a spooky castle, but she finds there's more to him than meets the eye. The Lowdown: A faithful adaptation of the 1991 animated classic that is defined by its technological accomplishments but runs longer than it needs to and…
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Starring: Alejandro Jodorowsky, Horatio Salinas, Zamira Saunders, Juan Ferrara, Adriana Page

The Holy Mountain

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In Brief: The Asheville Film Society's Budget Big Screen series makes its triumphant return with one of the strangest (and best, in my opinion) films ever made – Alejandro Jodorowsky's magnum opus, The Holy Mountain. The Chilean-born writer-director-actor had come to the attention of John Lennon and Yoko Ono when his previous film, El Topo, played at the Elgin Theater…
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Starring: Gaspard Schlatter, Sixtine Murat, Paulin Jaccoud, Michel Vuillermoz, Raul Ribera, Estelle Hennard, Elliot Sanchez, Lou Wick, Brigitte Rosset, Monica Budde, Adrien Barazzone, Véronique Montel

My Life as a Zucchini (Ma vie de courgette)

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The Story: A young orphan overcomes trauma with the help of his surrogate family. The Lowdown: A rare children's film that respects its target audience's intelligence, dealing with mature themes in an accessible way and offering hope while avoiding saccharinity.
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Starring: Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, John Goodman, Brie Larson, John C. Reilly, Jing Tian, Toby Kebbell, John Ortiz, Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell

Kong: Skull Island

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The Story: A group of scientists and a military escort explore a mysterious uncharted island in the South Pacific in the final days of the Vietnam War. The title should give you some indication of what they find. The Lowdown: A fun, if not overwhelmingly thought provoking, giant monster film that promises bigger (pun intended) things on the…
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Starring: Jim Broadbent, Charlotte Rampling, Harriet Walter, Michelle Dockery, Matthew Goode, Emily Mortimer, James Wilby, Edward Holcroft, Billy Howle, Freya Mavor, Joe Alwyn

The Sense of an Ending

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The Story: A curmudgeon must reexamine his long-held assumptions when confronted with a tangible reminder of his first romance and its involvement in the tragic death of a close friend. The Lowdown: An interesting concept underserved by a truncated narrative and a relatively unlikeable protagonist — but largely redeemed by excellent performances from Jim Broadbent and Charlotte Rampling.
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Starring: Harriet Andersson Kari Sylwan Ingrid Thulin Liv Ullmann Erland Josephson Henning Moritzen

Cries and Whispers

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In Brief: As with many of Ingmar Bergman's late-period works, Cries and Whispers was a divisive film on its release in 1972, and might still be just as divisive today. Also indicative of Bergman's auteurial signature is the film's incomparable conflation of beauty and brutality, and this may well be one of the most difficult Bergman films to watch.…
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Starring: Robert Mitchum, Charlotte Rampling, John Ireland, Sylvia Miles, Jack O'Halloran, Anthony Zerbe

Farewell, My Lovely

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In Brief: One of my favorite Robert Mitchum performances, and one of the best ever portrayals of Raymond Chandler's character Philip Marlowe, Dick Richards' 1973 Farewell, My Lovely holds its own against the best nostalgia noir of the '70s, Chinatown included. Marlowe is the role Mitchum was born to play, and even in his late 50s he fits the bill…
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Starring: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen, Stephen Merchant, Lloyd Holbrook

Logan

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The Story: In 2029, a worse-for-wear Wolverine is confronted with a twelve-year-old daughter created from his genetic material, and must help her evade dangerous pursuers on her way to sanctuary in Canada. The Lowdown: Logan has always been the best there is at what he does, and now there's finally a film that does him justice.
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Starring: Léonie Souchaud, Fantine Harduin, Juliane Lepoureau, Ryan Brodie, Anaïs Meiringer, Lou Lambrecht, Igor Van Dessel, Malonn Levana, Lucien Khoury, Cécile de France, Stéphane de Groodt

Fanny’s Journey (Le Voyage de Fanny)

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The Story: A group of Jewish children hidden in Vichy France must outrun the encroaching Axis powers in the final days of World War II. The Lowdown: A movingly sentimental portrait of a child's experience of incomprehensible strife, and a great way to start a conversation with kids about the significance of a tragic chapter in world history.
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Starring: Shahab Hoseini, Taraneh Alidoosti, Baba Karimi, Farid Sajjadihosseini, Mina Sadaati, Maral Bani Adam, Mehdi Kooshki

The Salesman

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The Story: A teacher's wife is assaulted, leading him on a dark quest to find the culprit. The Lowdown: Asghar Farhadi continues to mine low-key, personal stories for incredible drama with the help of two outstanding performances from Shahab Hosseini and Taraneh Alidoosti.
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Starring: David Oyelowo, Rosamund Pike, Jack Davenport, Tom Felton, Laura Carmichael, Terry Pheto, Jessica Oyelowo, Arnold Oceng, Anton Lesser, Anastasia Hille, Jack Lowden, Nicholas Lyndhurst, Vusi Kunene, Theo Landey, Abena Ayivor, Charlotte Hope, Donald Molosi.

A United Kingdom

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The Story: An African prince marries an office worker in 1940s London, and their struggle to defend their marriage against overwhelming personal and political opposition has broad-reaching international ramifications. The Lowdown: A rousing story of defiance in the face of bigotry that boasts excellent performances and a moving message.
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Starring: Zoey Deutch, Halston Sage, Logan Miller, Kian Lawley, Elena Kampouris, Nicholas Lea, Jennifer Beals

Before I Fall

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The Story: A high school senior killed in a car accident after she leaves a party must repeat her last day until she presumably learns some sort of karmic lesson. The Lowdown: Combines Hollywood's current affinity for rehashing old ideas and adapting young adult novels into one extraordinarily lazy, low budget package that might appeal only to…
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Starring: Andre Gregory, Julianne Moore, Wallace Shawn

Vanya on 42nd Street

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In Brief: Director Louis Malle's attention to performance is on full dispalay in this thoroughly '90s update of Chekhov's Uncle Vanya, retiming Malle with his My Dinner with Andre stars Wallace Shawn and Andre Gregory for the first time in ten years. It's a remarkable deconstruction of one of Chekhov's most frequently revisited works, with a gutted theatre…
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Starring: Peter Simonischek, Sandra Hüller, Michael Wittenborn, Thomas Loibl, Trystan Pütter, Hadewych Minis, Lucy Russell, Ingrid Bisu, Vlad Ivanov, Victoria Cociaș

Toni Erdmann

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The Story: An aging father tries to reconnect with his uptight adult daughter, whose resistance prompts him to insinuate himself into her life through a series of increasingly strange gestures. The Lowdown: Is it a comedy? Is it a drama? I'm not quite sure — but I can say with absolute certainty that it's great.
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Starring: Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Catherine Keener, Bradley Whitford, Caleb Landry Jones, Stephen Root, Milton "Lil Rel" Howery, Betty Gabriel, Marcus Henderson, Lakeith Stanfield

Get Out

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The Story: A young black man travels to the suburbs to meet his white girlfriend's seemingly well-meaning family, but finds himself ensnared in a racially motivated conspiracy that surpasses even his most grave misgivings. The Lowdown: Incisive and insightful, funny and scary, Jordan Peele's directorial debut is a perfect example of the capacity for broad entertainment to be used as…
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Starring: Luke Wilson, Eddie Izzard, J.K. Simmons, Lewis Black, Kenan Thompson, Mae Whitman, Jorge Garcia, Matt Dillon, Sam Elliott.

Rock Dog

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The Story: A young Tibetan Mastiff trained to defend a sheep village tries to forge his own path as a rock star. The Lowdown: A thoroughly uninspired excuse for a feature that would be far more acceptable as a straight-to-streaming footnote of a film.
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Starring: Jonathan Haze, Jackie Joseph, Mel Welles, Dick Miller, Jack Nicholson, Charles B. Griffith

The Little Shop of Horrors

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In Brief: I may be in the minority when it comes to my views on Roger Corman's The Little Shop of Horrors (1960) — specifically, my assertion that it's a better film than Frank Oz's musical remake or the off-Broadway adaptation that provided its basis. To be clear, it is in no way superior from a technical perspective,…
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Starring: Chishū Ryū, Chieko Higashiyama, Setsuko Hara, So Yamamura, Kyōko Kagawa, Haruko Sugimura

Tokyo Story

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In Brief: Yasujirô Ozu's Tokyo Story (1953) is not only one of the best films of an illustrious career, it's one of the crowning achievements of cinema as an art form. While Ozu may not have the same level of popular recognition as other Japanese filmmakers like Kurosawa, the humanistic sensibilities of his films convey an emotional…