Movie Reviews

those who
Starring: Pascal Greggory, Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi, Charles Berling, Jean-Louis Trintignant

Those Who Love Me Can Take the Train

In Brief: My entire familiarity with Patrice Chéreau prior to seeing Those Who Love Me Can Take the Train (1998) rested on seeing the video presentation of his famous (or infamous, depending on whom you ask) 1976 staging of Richard Wagner’s Ring cycle at Bayreuth. In terms of his talents as a filmmaker this told me nothing, but…
Starring: Carey Mulligan, Matthias Schoenaerts, Michael Sheen, Tom Sturridge, Juno Temple

Far from the Madding Crowd

The Story: A strong-willed woman in rural Victorian England deals with society, changing fortunes and the attentions of three very different men. The Lowdown: Splendid as drama and strong on character — the four leads, Mulligan, Schoenaerts, Sheen and Sturridge, are exceptional — this is one of the year's best films and easily one of…
Starring: Ethan Hawke, January Jones, Bruce Greenwood, Zoë Kravitz, Jake Abel, Peter Coyote (voice)

Good Kill

The Story: A fighter pilot turned drone controller finds himself increasingly questioning the morality of his job. The Lowdown: Strong performances, a trenchant message and brilliant uses of imagery help to overcome a screenplay that leans toward preachiness.
Starring: Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Josh Helman

Mad Max: Fury Road

The Story: Max Rockatansky helps transport some refugee concubines across the desert to a supposedly better land. The Lowdown: While it isn't likely to change your idea of cinema (at least I hope not), isn't worth the hype and has its share of problems, this is one wild — even hallucinatory — ride that's worth…
Starring: Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Hailee Steinfeld, Brittany Snow, Skylar Astin

Pitch Perfect 2

The Story: After an embarrassing performance nearly dooms their a capella group, the women of the Barden Bellas try to win an international competition to restore their good name. The Lowdown: The sequel to an exhaustingly dull, overlong, predictable and generally unfunny movie somehow one-ups its predecessor in all of those categories.
Starring: Bette Davis, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains, Gladys Cooper, Bonita Granville, John Loder

Now, Voyager

In Brief: If you deliberately took every soap-opera trope you could think of, packaged them in the glossiest movie the studio system could manage, threw in doses of culture for Hollywood's notion of intellectuals, filled it with top-notch movie stars and then served the whole with a swooping Max Steiner score (largely built around the…
manhattan murder
Starring: Woody Allen, Diane Keaton, Alan Alda, Anjelica Huston, Jerry Adler

Manhattan Murder Mystery

In Brief: Viewers who attend the showing of Orson Welles' The Lady from Shanghai on May 20 will quickly understand it's being followed  with Woody Allen's Manhattan Murder Mystery, since the two movies are connected. Otherwise, Manhattan Murder Mystery is probably best known as the film that reunited Allen with Diane Keaton, though that wasn't the original idea. That only came about after his…
Starring: John Travolta, Nancy Allen, John Lithgow, Dennis Franz, Peter Boyden

Blow Out

In Brief: Brian De Palma does Antonioni — replacing the damning image from Blowup with an incriminating sound recording (our protagonist is a movie sound effects man rather than a photographer). More aptly, I should say De Palma does Antonioni as one might imagine Antonioni on speed. That's to say that Blow Out (1981) is no slow-paced moody think-piece…
Starring: Kristen Wiig, Linda Cardellini, Wes Bentley, James Marsden, Tim Robbins, Joan Cusack, Jennifer Jason Leigh

Welcome to Me

The Story: A mentally ill woman wins the lottery and decides to host a talk show. The Lowdown: A comedic (?) exploration of psychological disorder that accomplishes nothing further than allowing Kristen Wiig to chew scenery.
Starring: Rita Hayworth, Orson Welles, Everett Sloane, Glenn Anders, Erskine Sanford

The Lady from Shanghai

In Brief: To commemorate Orson Welles' 100th birthday, the Asheville Film Society has booked the new 4K restoration of the filmmaker's 1947 twisty — and twisted — film noir thriller The Lady from Shanghai. Not as well known as some of Welles' works, The Lady from Shanghai is one of his most strikingly visual films…
Starring: Jennifer Connelly, Donald Pleasence, Daria Nicolodi, Federica Mastroianni, Fiore Argento

Phenomena (Creepers)

In Brief: Heavy-metal music blares from the sound track — sometimes for no very good reason. Jennifer Connelly gets telepathic with insects. A crazed killer prowls a girls school (named for Richard Wagner — whose name is pronounced incorrectly in the film’s one use of narration) in Switzerland. Gory killings abound. There’s sleepwalking, unsafe buildings just anyone can…
Starring: Pierce Brosnan, Geoffrey Rush, Jamie Lee Curtis, Leonor Varela, Harold Pinter

The Tailor of Panama

In Brief: Never the most prolific of filmmakers (most of his films are separated by two to four years), Boorman had willfully bitten the hand that was feeding him at least twice with Zardoz and Exorcist II: The Heretic by convincing major studios to pour money into what were essentially limited audience “art” films disguised as mainstream productions.…
Starring: Leon Frankel, Gideon Lichtman, George Lichter, Benny Morris, Paul Reubens, Judy Rubenfeld

Above and Beyond

In Brief: The Asheville Jewish Film Festival's film this week is Roberta Grossman's documentary Above and Beyond — a movie about the origins of the Israeli Air Force. Since the film was produced by Steven Spielberg's sister, Nancy, it is — as you may imagine — a slick, top-notch production in every way — up…
Starring: Anton Yelchin, Bérénice Marlohe, Glenn Close, Frank Langella, Lambert Wilson, Olivia Thirlby

5 to 7

The Story: Romantic comedy about a slightly naive 24-year-old man and a married 33-year-old woman. The Lowdown: Witty, charming and poignant, 5 to 7 is something of a minor miracle in today's world — a thoroughly romantic movie that believes in romance and its transformative power. Not to be missed.
Starring: Silvana Mangano, Terence Stamp, Massimo Girotti, Anne Wiazemsky, Andrés José Cruz Soublette

Teorema (Theorem)

In Brief: While this surreal — and sexually charged — drama is certainly nowhere near the most unsettling thing Pier Paolo Pasolini ever made (that would be 1975's Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom), Teorema is high on the Not for Everyone list. It's less that the film is upsetting (though some will find it so) than…
Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Sofía Vergara, John Carroll Lynch, Matthew Del Negro, Robert Kazinsky

Hot Pursuit

The Story: A stick-in-the-mud cop must go on the run with the loud-mouthed wife of a drug boss after their lives are threatened by a cartel leader. The Lowdown: An annoyingly screechy odd-couple road comedy that’s exhausting in its mediocrity.
Starring: Jon Favreau, John Leguizamo, Sofía Vergara, Emjay Anthony, Bobby Cannavale, Oliver Platt, Dustin Hoffman, Scarlett Johansson, Robert Downey Jr.


In Brief: Up front, I thought Jon Favreau's Chef was a thoroughly mediocre movie when it descended on us last year to play in what seemed like perpetuity. I cut it some slack at the time because it was at least pleasant. It still had a transparent — almost nonexistent — story, mostly flat dialogue…
Starring: Susan Brownmiller, Kate Millett, Ellen Willis, Rita Mae Brown

She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry

The Story: Documentary detailing the origins of the women's movement. The Lowdown: Entertaining, informative and often disturbing film that effectively blends the activist and historical documentary with surprising balance.
Die Schlemmerorgie
Starring: George Segal, Jacqueline Bisset, Robert Morley, Jean-Pierre Cassel, Philippe Noiret, Jean Rochefort

Who Is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe?

In Brief: Apart from the enjoyable business of seeing actually pleasant, attractive people in a cleverly written romantic comedy (something we see far too little of these days), Who Is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe? is generally representative of the kind of star comedy that no longer seems to be made. You know the kind: tailored…
Starring: Dana Andrews, Peggy Cummins, Niall MacGinnis, Athene Seyler, Maurice Denham

Night of the Demon (Curse of the Demon)

In Brief: Jacques Tourneur’s Night of the Demon (1957) -- originally released in the U.S. with 12 minutes cut and under the title Curse of the Demon -- is this wonderful oasis in the midst of the general run of bad horror movies from the 1950s. And there’s virtually no reason it should have been. Not only were…
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Abigail Breslin, Joely Richardson, Douglas M. Griffin, J. D. Evermore, Rachel Whitman Groves, Jodie Moore, Bryce Romero


The Story: A man takes his zombie-infected daughter home to take care of her before her inevitable "turning." The Lowdown: A not entirely successful attempt to turn the zombie movie into a kind of teen angst weeper. It's unusual and it sometimes works, but not enough to give it a solid recommendation.