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APphoto_Film Review If I Stay
Starring: Chloë Grace Moretz, Mireille Enos, Jamie Blackley, Joshua Leonard, Liana Liberato, Stacy Keach

If I Stay

The Story: A teenage girl with a promising future is in a car wreck with her family, and her out-of-body self has to decide whether to live or not. The Lowdown: Shamelessly manipulative assault on the tear ducts that will work for the excessively sentimental and, possibly, fans of the YA novel from which it's adapted.
Starring: Mickey Rourke, Josh Brolin, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Rosario Dawson, Eva Green, Jessica Alba, Powers Boothe

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

The Story: Both a sequel and a prequel to the 2005 cult hit. The Lowdown: Not as fresh as the first film, but it's still good unwholesome fun (not for the easily offended) — and it's one terrific-looking movie in the bargain.
Starring: Jim Caviezel, Michael Chiklis, Laura Dern, Alexander Ludwig, Clancy Brown

When the Game Stands Tall

The Story: A high school football coach — burdened with an over-decade-long winning streak — must learn how to motivate his players and bond with his family. The Lowdown: A dull, preachy, troublesome film that’s dramatically inert and purely predictable from a storytelling standpoint.

Special Screenings This Week

Starring: John Barrymore, Bebe Daniels, Doris Kenyon, Isabel Jewell, Melvyn Douglas, Onslow Stevens

Counsellor at Law

In Brief: In one of his finest performances, John Barrymore is cast against type as a Jewish lawyer who has risen from poverty to the top of the legal profession in William Wyler's film of the popular Elmer Rice play, Counsellor at Law (1933). (It was the first film of which Wyler was proud.) The drama centers on Barrymore's carefully built world crashing down when a case from his past threatens to destroy his career, and his less than supportive (and plainly anti-Semitic) wife (Doris Kenyon) opts not to stand by him, but to run off with a younger, more socially acceptable man (Melvyn Douglas). By turns sarcastically funny and heart-wrenchingly tragic, it's a triumph for both star and director. The Asheville Film Society will screen Counsellor at Law Tuesday, Sept. 2, at 8 p.m. in Theater Six at The Carolina Asheville and will be hosted by Xpress movie critics Ken Hanke and Justin Souther.
Starring: Dustin Hoffman, Tom Cruise, Valeria Golino, Gerald R. Molen, Jack Murdock

Rain Man

In Brief: Festooned with Oscars (including Best Picture), phenomenally popular 26 years ago and undeniably well-made, Barry Levinson's Rain Man (1988) is nonetheless a shamelessly manipulative work, and not one I'd want to visit too often. The story is basically an odd couple buddy road trip — except the buddies (Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise) are estranged brothers, and one of them (Hoffman) is an autistic savant. The only reason for the relationship is that Cruise (always best at playing unlikable) is hoping to get control of the $3 million his father has left in trust for his newfound brother. Your mileage with this will depend a lot on your taste for such stories. The Hendersonville Film Society will show Rain Man Sunday, Aug. 31, at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing Retirement Community (behind Epic Cinemas), 333 Thompson St., Hendersonville.
Starring: Liv Ullmann, Max von Sydow, Sigge Fürst, Gunnar Björnstrand, Birgitta Valberg


In Brief: While Ingmar Bergman's Shame (1968) is an undeniably powerful work, it's also one of the director's most unrelentingly grim works — and with Bergman, that's saying a lot. In other words, approach with a bit of caution, and don't expect a lot of laughs. It's also not a wholly accessible work. Much that happens — including the source of the tension between the couple at its center — is never explained. In essence, we're watching the disintegration of two human beings caught in their own problems and a war they don't understand. Classic World Cinema by Courtyard Gallery will present Shame Friday, Aug. 29, at 8 p.m. at Phil Mechanic Studios, 109 Roberts St., River Arts District (upstairs in the Railroad Library).  Info: 273-3332,
Starring: Nastassja Kinski, Leigh Lawson, Peter Firth, Rosemary Martin, Sylvia Coleridge


In Brief: Nominated for six Oscars (winning three), Roman Polanski's Tess (1979) just might be the director's best film — certainly, it's his most beautiful and lyrical. Dedicated to his late wife, Sharon Tate, the film is also possibly his most deeply personal work. Adapted — pretty faithfully — from Thomas Hardy's 1891 novel Tess of the d'Urbervilles, the film recounts the tragic life of Tess Durbeyfield (Nastassja Kinski), whose life is marked for all time when she is seduced (raped might be nearer the mark) by a wealthy man. It's at once a strongly romantic work and one that is critical of the way women were treated at the time. An altogether compelling and deeply moving film — and quite possibly the most gorgeously photographed movie of all time. The Asheville Film Society is showing Tess Wednesday, Aug. 27, at 7:30 p.m. at The Carolina Asheville as part of the Budget Big Screen series. Admission is $6 for AFS members and $8 for the general public.
Starring: Herb Evers, Virginia Leith, Anthony La Penna, Adele Lamont

The Brain That Wouldn’t Die

In Brief: It's directed by someone you've never heard of. It stars people you've never heard of. It was promoted with "Alive ... without a body ... fed by an unspeakable horror from hell!" And it's absolutely indefensible as anything other than no-budget cheese that is wildly entertaining for all the wrong reasons. This, after all, is the story of a mad scientist whose fiancée is killed in a car wreck. He responds in the only reasonable way — keeping her head alive in what looks suspiciously like a darkroom tray in his basement lab, right next to the closet where he keeps an ill-tempered failed experiment. His plan, of course, is to find a new body for his beloved — so he goes cruising strippers to find one. A movie of great charm. The Thursday Horror Picture Show will screen The Brain That Wouldn't Die Thursday, Aug. 28, at 8 p.m. in Theater Six  at The Carolina Asheville and will be hosted by Xpress movie critics Ken Hanke and Justin Souther.