Movie Reviews

apu
Starring: Karuna Banerjee, Kanu Banerjee, Pinaki Sengupta, Smaron Ghosal

Aparajito (The Unvanquished)

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In Brief: At once poetic and grittily realistic, sophisticated and crude, Aparajito (1957) marks the second film in Satyajit Ray's Apu trilogy. It is similar to the first film in that it feels less like a movie than like spending time in another life and another world. However, Ray learned much in the two years…
131748_ori
Starring: Channing Tatum, Joe Manganiello, Matt Bomer, Kevin Nash, Jada Pinkett Smith

Magic Mike XXL

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The Story: Magic Mike and his crew of male strippers take a road trip from Florida to Myrtle Beach for one last hurrah. The Lowdown: A wonderfully entertaining and disposable piece of entertainment that wants little more than to be a feel-good flick, but its well-drawn characters help make it a little more than that.
blimp
Starring: Roger Livesey, Anton Walbrook, Deborah Kerr, Roland Culver, Harry Welchman, Arthur Wontner

The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp

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In Brief: The original Colonel Blimp was the central figure in a series of British comics — a blowhard caricature of the English "fire-eater" military man. The character presented in Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943) only starts as that caricature (never called Blimp in the film), after…
drachasrisen
Starring: Christopher Lee, Rupert Davies, Veronica Carlson, Barbara Ewing, Barry Andrews

Dracula Has Risen from the Grave

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In Brief: It was inevitable that a series devoted to horror pictures would run a movie to note the death of Christopher Lee. Rather than draw from the list of the more highly regarded of his Hammer horrors, it was decided to go with something just slightly off the beaten path — Dracula Has Risen from the…
TR-16736R
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jason Clarke, Emilia Clarke, Jai Courtney, J.K. Simmons, Byung-hun Lee

Terminator Genisys

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The Story: Kyle Reese is sent back from the future to protect Sarah Connor from the Terminator and to re-write history, only to find out it's already been re-written. The Lowdown: Amazingly silly stuff that mostly gets by by allowing itself to be amazingly silly — at least most of the time. Vaguely set up…
amy
Starring: Amy Winehouse, Yasiin Bey (Mos Def), Mark Ronson, Tony Bennett, Blake Fielder-Civil, Mitch Winehouse

Amy

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The Story: The story of Amy Winehouse as told in archival footage and home videos.  The Lowdown: A powerful, but not always comfortable portrait of a seemingly inevitable tragedy told with uncommon immediacy.
stella
Starring: Mary Pickford, Ida Waterman, Herbert Standing, Conway Tearle, Marcia Manon, Josephince Crowell, Teddy the Sennett Dog, Gustav von Seyffertitz

Stella Maris

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In Brief: On the one hand, Marshall Neilan's Stella Maris is almost exactly what you expect stylistically from a 1918 (actually made in 1917) film — apart from its startling final shot. It's all done with a nailed-down camera, though shrewdly broken down in editing to keep it from feeling static, so that it's also…
1776
Starring: William Daniels, Howard Da Silva, Ken Howard, Donald Madden, John Cullum

1776

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In Brief: High on the list of "For people who like this sort of thing, this is the sort of thing they will like" is Peter H. Hunt's 1776. I freely admit I am not among their number. I watched 1776 once, after years of having avoided it, thanks to a high school classmate who…
passion-of-anna
Starring: Max von Sydow, Liv Ullmann, Bibi Andersson, Erland Josephson

The Passion of Anna

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In Brief: World Cinema is revisiting this frequently overlooked Ingmar Bergman film. The U.S. title, The Passion of Anna, of The Passion (1969) is misleading, since it’s difficult to conclude that the film is really about Anna’s (Liv Ullmann) passion. Perhaps the American distributor simply thought it sounded sexier. In any case, the film is one of…
max_r6_v0112_20150309_16_jd_g_r709_2K.535528.tif
Starring: Carlos (as Max), Thomas Hayden Church, Josh Wiggins, Luke Kleintank, Lauren Graham, Robbie Amell, Mia Xitlali, Dejon LaQuake, Jay Hernandez

Max

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The Story: A military working dog (MWD) returns from Afghanistan after his handler is killed and is adopted by the handler’s family. For no logical reason he then helps thwart a gun-running plot. The Lowdown: A dog of a film that never rises above emotional exploitation, despite excellent canine performances and beautiful WNC filming locations.
french
Starring: James Booth, Roy Kinnear, Marisa Mell, Alita Naughton, Bryan Pringle, Sandor Elès

French Dressing

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In Brief: In honor of Ken Russell's 88th birthday, the Asheville Film Society is screening the filmmaker's rarely seen — never officially released in the U.S. — first feature, French Dressing (1964). Beating the British Film Invasion proper by a few months, this charming little seaside comedy romance is very, very British, but it also underscores…
the-overnight
Starring: Adam Scott, Taylor Schilling, Jason Schwartzman, Judith Godrèche

The Overnight

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The Story: A couple newly arrived in L.A. accept a dinner invitation from someone who very well may have ulterior motives. The Lowdown: Though marketed as a comedy, The Overnight isn't all that funny. It's, in fact, better at being disconcerting. While not without its strong points, the film is too meandering and vague in…
lair
Starring: Hugh Grant, Amanda Donohoe, Peter Capaldi, Sammi Davis, Catherine Oxenberg, Stratford Johns

The Lair of the White Worm

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In Brief: July 3 would have been Ken Russell's 88th birthday and, to mark the event, Russell's 1988 horror comedy, The Lair of the White Worm, makes a return appearance at the Thursday Horror Picture Show. While it's one of the filmmaker's lighter works, it's also the Ken Russell picture that turned a lot of younger…
me and
Starring: Thomas Mann, RJ Cyler, Olivia Cooke, Nick Offerman, Connie Britton, Molly Shannon, Jon Bernthal, Katherine C. Hughes

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

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The Story: A social misfit high-schooler is forced by his mother to befriend a girl in his class who's been diagnosed with leukemia. The Lowdown: It may sound like dreary, doomed romance teenage goo, but this smart, stylish film is anything but that. Rather, it's one of the delights of 2015. A must-see for discerning…
ted-8
Starring: Seth MacFarlane, Mark Wahlberg, Amanda Seyfried, Jessica Barth, Giovanni Ribisi

Ted 2

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The Story: The lethargic, crass, mysteriously anthropomorphic teddy bear Ted returns, this time fighting the law to be recognized as a human being. The Lowdown: Everything terrible about the original Ted —  the casual bigotry, the simple-minded pop culture references — but within the framework of an even lazier piece of filmmaking.
night-monster-bela-lugosi-1942-everett
Starring: Bela Lugosi, Lionel Atwill, Leif Erickson, Irene Hervey, Ralph Morgan, Don Porter, Nils Asther, Fay Helm, Doris Lloyd

Night Monster

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In Brief: Ford Beebe’s economically-minded Night Monster (1942) not only uses the sets from The Wolf Man (1941), but also pilfers the Wolf Man’s feet for its nocturnal monster. It is, in any case, quite the best movie Beebe ever made. In fact, it’s hard to understand why Beebe — a specialist in serials and cowboy movies —…
escobar-paradise-lost02
Starring: Benicio Del Toro, Josh Hutcherson, Brady Corbet, Claudia Traisac, Carlos Bardem, Ana Giradot

Escobar: Paradise Lost

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The Story: Fictionalized thriller about an innocent who is corrupted and betrayed by a real life character. The Lowdown: Note well that this is not a biopic on Pablo Escobar; it's a thriller crafted around Escobar. On that basis, it mostly works — at least once it gets going — and Benicio Del Toro is…
Kate-Winslet-rose_3247837k
Starring: Kate Winslet, Matthias Schoenaerts, Alan Rickman, Stanley Tucci, Helen McCrory, Jennifer Ehle

A Little Chaos

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The Story: A female landscape designer lands a position at Versailles constructing an outdoor ballroom for Louis XIV. The Lowdown: Stylish direction, a great cast, a plum role for Kate Winslet and numerous delights overcome the somewhat fragmented construction of this (loosely) historical romance.
pixar-s-inside-out
Starring: (Voices) Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Richard Kind, Bill Hader, Lewis Black, Mindy Kaling, Kaitlyn Dias

Inside Out

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The Story: When a young girl's central memories are lost, it falls to two of her basic emotional components to find them. The Lowdown: A mix of the brilliant and the basic — a film that truly soars when it works, but doesn't quite work all of the time.
manwhoplayedgod2
Starring: George Arliss, Violet Heming, Bette Davis, Andre Luguet, Louise Closser Hale, Ivan Simpson, Oscar Apfel

The Man Who Played God

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In Brief: Touted as "A modern drama from real life," The Man Who Played God (1932) is actually a remake of George Arliss' 1922 silent version (now lost) of  a 1914 play. It is, however, one of that great actor's best films. It's also the movie where Arliss brought Bette Davis to Warner Bros. — at the suggestion…
bewitched15
Starring: Nicole Kidman, Will Ferrell, Shirley MacLaine, Michael Caine, Jason Schwartzman, Kristin Chenoweth

Bewitched

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In Brief: The film version of Bewitched (2005) is a bullet I had dodged until now. (This is not the sort of movie I am apt to seek out unless I have to.) The truth is — the movie is not good, but neither is it (in a strictly relative sense) bad. It has a…