New Movie Releases

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Starring: Denzel Washington, Marton Csokas, Chloë Grace Moretz, David Harbour, Johnny Skourtis

The Equalizer

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The Story: A home improvement store employee with a mysterious past takes on the Russian mob. The Lowdown: An incredibly uneven movie that oscillates between goofy, vaguely competent and out-and-out dumb, while managing to at least be a mildly entertaining distraction.

Special Screenings This Week

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Starring: Sidney Toler, Sheila Ryan, Sen Yung, Ethel Griffies / Sidney Toler, Douglas Dumbrille, Sen Yung, Ethel Griffies

Dead Men Tell / Castle in the Desert

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In Brief: It's a double feature of Charlie Chan mysteries from the final days of the series at 20th Century Fox, and unlike most last films in a series, the Fox Chans went out on a high note — thanks in no small part to the stylishly atmospheric direction of former painter Harry Lachman. (Lachman himself was only a few movies away from retiring.) Both films star Sidney Toler, who had succeeded Warner Oland as the famous detective in 1938 upon Oland's death, and both find him helped or hindered by Sen Yung as "No. 2 son" Jimmy Chan. The first, Dead Men Tell (1941), is the more atmospheric of the two, but the second — and final film in the series — Castle in the Desert (1942) is probably the better mystery. Both are compact — running a minute or two over an hour — fast paced, slickly made fun. Perfect examples of the artistry of the studio system. The Asheville Film Society will screen Dead Men Tell and Castle in the Desert Tuesday, Oct. 7, at 8 p.m. in Theater Six at The Carolina Asheville and will be hosted by Xpress movie critics Ken Hanke and Justin Souther.
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Starring: Bela Lugosi, Helen Chandler, David Manners, Edward Van Sloan, Dwight Frye

Dracula

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In Brief: The Thursday Horror Picture Show opens October — the month of Halloween — with Tod Browning's Dracula (1931), the movie from which the first wave of the horror film stems. To call it the horror picture that started it all would not be overstating the case. It set the tone and style for what was to come. Yes, later films smoothed out some of its more awkward moments, and better horror movies would come after it, but that takes nothing away from Dracula's accomplishments, nor does it alter the fact that it's the movie that gave the world Bela Lugosi as Dracula in a performance that is just as strange and compelling today as it ever was. The Thursday Horror Picture Show will screen Dracula Thursday, Oct. 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.
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Starring: (Voices) Doudou Gueye Thiaw, Maimouna N'Diaye, Awa Sene Sarr

Kirikou and the Sorceress

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In Brief: There are modest pleasures to be found in French animator Michel Ocelot's Kirikou and the Sorceress (1998), but viewers who are not especially interested in French animation or African folklore (as filtered through the filmmaker's vision) may find its pleasures a little too modest. The film recounts the story of Kirikou, who is born — actually, he demands to be born — with something like adult mental faculties. He's more than precocious and in infancy sets himself against an evil sorceress who is terrorizing his village.  Classic World Cinema by Courtyard Gallery will present Kirikou and the Sorceress Friday, Oct. 3, at 8 p.m. at Phil Mechanic Studios, 109 Roberts St., River Arts District (upstairs in the Railroad Library).  Info: 273-3332, www.ashevillecourtyard.com
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Starring: Paul Henreid, Lizabeth Scott, André Morell, Mary Mackenzie, John Wood

Stolen Face

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In Brief: Undeniably entertaining, but laughably preposterous lightweight film noir from the pre-horror days of Hammer Films, Stolen Face (1952) is fairly typical of its period. Like many British films of the 1950s, it trades on the presence of a Hollywood star who could longer afford to be too choosy, but whose name still had enough selling power at the box office to make the film exportable to the U.S. With Stolen Face, Hammer had two such stars — Paul Henreid and Lizabeth Scott — to dress up the silly story of a plastic surgeon who transforms a scarred notorious criminal into a dead ringer for the woman he loved and lost. This works about as well as you might suppose and becomes even more complicated when his lost love comes back. Yes, it really is as unlikely as it sounds. The Hendersonville Film Society will show Stolen Face Sunday, Oct. 5, at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing Retirement Community (behind Epic Cinemas), 333 Thompson St., Hendersonville.