Movie Reviews

Starring: Ethan Hawke, Emma Watson, David Thewlis, Devon Bostick, Aaron Ashmore, Dale Dickey


The Story: A detective investigating a child abuse case uncovers what appears to be a far-reaching Satanic cult. The Lowdown: By no means the disaster (at least artistically) it's been painted as, this is an unusual horror movie — one that critiques and subverts its own genre, and one that seems to alienate a lot of…
Starring: Charlotte Rampling, Tom Courtenay, Geraldine James, Dolly Wells, David Sibley, Sam Alexander

45 Years

The Story: A marriage of 45 years is threatened by the shadows of events that preceded it. The Lowdown: Deliberately paced and relying heavily on the viewer to pick up on nuance, but paying big dividends for those open to it. Charlotte Rampling fully deserves that Oscar nomination, but so did the overlooked Tom Courtenay.
Starring: Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford, Angie Dickinson, Richard Conte, Joey Bishop, Akim Tamiroff

Ocean’s 11

In Brief: Quite the best thing about the 1960 Ocean's 11 is that it formed the basis for Steven Soderbergh's 2001 Ocean's Eleven. That's a statement that's likely to wring the withers of fans of Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack, but the truth is the original movie just plain isn't very good, unless you're…
Starring: W.C. Fields, Kathleen Howard, Jean Rouverol, Julian Madison, Tommy Bupp

It’s a Gift

In Brief: Generally considered — along with The Bank Dick (1940) — the best of W.C. Fields' movies, It's a Gift (1934) presents the Great Man as Harold Bissonette (pronounced Biss-o-nay), the owner of a small grocery store in Wappinger Falls, N.J. His great dream is to own an "orange ranch" in California, something that…
Starring: Chris Pine, Casey Affleck, Ben Foster, Eric Bana, Holliday Grainger

The Finest Hours

The Story: A terrible storm gravely damages a oil tanker and the Coast Guard must risk everything to save the ship’s crew. The Lowdown: Old-fashioned to a fault, structurally flawed and an overwhelmingly schmaltzy rescue/adventure flick that’s occasionally watchable and little else.
Starring: James LeGros, Reggie Bannister, Angus Scrimm, Paua Irvine, Samantha Phillips

Phantasm II

In Brief: In honor of the late Angus Scrimm, best known for playing "The Tall Man" in this series, the Thursday Horror Picture Show is running Don Coscarelli's Phantasm II. This is one of those rare sequels that's as good as — in some ways better than — the original. In fact, the only thing…
Starring: Marlon Wayans, Kali Hawk, Fred Willard, Mike Epps, Affion Crockett, Jane Seymour, Florence Henderson

Fifty Shades of Black

The Story: An attempt at a parody of last year's Fifty Shades of Grey. The Lowdown: So spectacularly unfunny that it makes the movie it's trying to spoof look like a "laff riot." A strong contender for worst of the year. Very strong.
Starring: Natalie Portman, Joel Edgerton, Ewan McGregor, Rodrigo Santoro, Noah Emmerich

Jane Got a Gun

The Story: A young mother must defend her family from a band of outlaws seeking revenge. The Lowdown: Ninety minutes of yawn-inducing melodrama interspersed with eight minutes of “stuff getting blowed up real good” and Natalie Portman being repeatedly victimized.
Starring: (Voices) Jack Black, Bryan Cranston, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, James Hong, J.K. Simmons, Jackie Chan

Kung Fu Panda 3

The Story: Po the Panda must find his inner "chi" to defeat a new threat. The Lowdown: Great to look at and blessed with clever lines and a reasonable amount of warmth, this latest series entry nonetheless shows signs of fatigue before it's over.
Starring: Jenny Agutter, Luc Roeg, David Gulpilil, John Meillon, Robert McDarra


In Brief: This is a makeup showing for the Jan. 22 screening that fell prey to the snow. Prior to Walkabout (1971) Nicolas Roeg had co-directed (with Donald Cammell) only one film, the astonishing Performance, so a good deal was riding on the cinematographer-turned-filmmaker’s second outing. Could Roeg pull off a solo film? Indeed, he could. In…
Starring: Lauren Cohan, Rupert Evans, Jim Norton, Diana Hardcastle, Ben Robson

The Boy

The Story: An American woman on the run from an abusive ex takes a lucrative nanny position at a creepy estate in the English countryside, only to find that her charge is an inanimate doll. Or is he? He probably is. The Lowdown: A solid psychological horror effort that works more than it doesn’t, even…
Starring: Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, Jack Black, Rufus Sewell

The Holiday

In Brief: Just why this is being run is a concern quite beyond my comprehension. Saying this is the best (read: least obnoxious) film in Nancy Meyers' oeuvre is one of those judgment calls on a par with picking the best Martin and Lewis picture. Any way you look at it you lose. One thing I…
Starring: Franco Interlenghi, Alberto Sordi, Franco Fabrizi, Leopoldo Trieste, Riccardo Fellini, Leonora Ruffo

I Vitelloni

In Brief: Long before Judd Apatow turned the 30-something-man-boy into a cottage industry (in fact, long before Apatow was even born), Federico Fellini made I Vitelloni (1953), which remains probably the best such look at emotionally stunted males. It's a film that has been all but overlooked because of the fame of Fellini's La Strada…
Starring: Robert De Niro, Zac Efron, Zoey Deutch, Aubrey Plaza, Julianne Hough

Dirty Grandpa

The Story: After the death of his wife, an aging Green Beret tries to help his estranged grandson escape a doomed engagement and to bed a girl a third of his age. Not necessarily in that order. The Lowdown: If you are easily offended, this film is likely to enrage you. If not, you might…
Starring: David Bowie, Candy Clark, Rip Torn, Buck Henry, Bernie Casey

The Man Who Fell to Earth

In Brief: To mark the passing of David Bowie, the Asheville Film Society is showing Nicolas Roeg's The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976). Despite the fact that this is every inch a Nicolas Roeg film, it is also a film that is unthinkable with anyone other than Bowie. The film is based on a…
Starring: Richard Garland, Pamela Duncan, Russell Johnson, Leslie Bradley, Mel Welles

Attack of the Crab Monsters

In Brief: Roger Corman's Attack of the Crab Monsters (1957) is a perfect — and perfectly enjoyable — example of the type of movie that was being churned out in the late 1950s. Surprisingly, it's also frequently stylish and has a remarkably well-written screenplay. Bear in mind, however, that we’re talking well-written within the context of movies about…
Starring: Chloë Grace Moretz, Maika Monroe, Nick Robinson, Ron Livingston, Liev Schreiber, Maria Bello

The 5th Wave

The Story: When aliens invade, it’s up to a group of plucky teens (naturally) to save the world. Or screw everything up drastically, apparently the writers decided to leave that plot thread dangling until the sequel. The Lowdown: I’m hoping there’s no sequel.
Starring: Javier Bardem, Natalie Portman, Stellan Skarsgård, Randy Quaid, Jose Luis Gomez, Michael Lonsdale

Goya’s Ghosts

In Brief: Chances are you've never heard of this 2006 release. Then, it's even money that you'll look at the fact that it's from Milos Forman, and that it stars Javier Bardem, Natalie Portman and Stellan Skarsgård, and wonder why you've never heard of Goya's Ghosts. A couple of hours with the film will pretty…
Starring: (Voices of) Rob Schneider, Heather Graham, Ken Jeong, Bill Nighy, Colm Meaney

Norm of the North

The Story: An oddball polar bear sets out to save his Arctic home from gentrification. The Lowdown: Low-end computer animation showcases an even lower quality script that inexplicably conflates tourism with climate change, offering an even more incomprehensible solution: social media and impromptu dance parties.