Movie Reviews

Starring: Jason Robards, Britt Eckland, Norman Wisdom, Forrest Tucker, Harry Andrews, Joseph Wiseman

The Night They Raided Minsky’s

In Brief: The Night They Raided Minsky’s (1968) is a surprisingly pleasant early William Friedkin film that (like any number of movies editor Ralph Rosenblum tried to take credit for “saving”) works far better than so many films trying to depict the 1920s. Oh, the music isn’t exactly period, and the sleaze factor of burlesque is…
Starring: John Wood, Shannon Whisnant, Marian Lytle, Tom Lytle, Peg Wood, Lisa Whisnant

Finders Keepers

The Story: The thoroughly preposterous — but true — story of the battle over possession of an amputated foot. The Lowdown: Every bit as strange as it sounds, the film is at once very funny, yet strangely moving and even tragic.
Starring: Barbara Kent, Glenn Tryon, Fay Holderness, Gusztav Partos, Eddie Phillips, Andy Devine


In Brief: I first read about Paul Fejos’ Lonesome (1928) when I was in high school — a rather long time ago. I don’t remember the book, but I do remember that the film sounded like something I wanted to see, just from the story. I’ve always been drawn to movies with simple stories that are built on…
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ben Kingsley, Charlotte Le Bon, James Badge Dale

The Walk

The Story: A dramatic retelling of Philippe Petit’s 1974 high-wire walk between the twin towers of the World Trade Center. The Lowdown: A glossy, but unnecessary, retread of a story told more effectively (and affectingly) seven years ago.
Starring: Max von Sydow, Birgitta Valberg, Gunnel Lindblom, Birgitta Pettersson

The Virgin Spring

In Brief: Highly regarded, but little loved, Ingmar Bergman's The Virgin Spring (1960) was a title the director himself seems to have had little fondness for. I tend to agree with that. The fact that it was successfully marketed on the exploitation value of its story — rape and revenge — should perhaps tell you…
Starring: Ben Mendelsohn, Ryan Reynolds, Sienna Miller, Robin Weigert, Alfre Woodard, Analeigh Tipton

Mississippi Grind

The Story: Two gamblers team up for a road trip to a big game in New Orleans. The Lowdown: Edging close to greatness, this is a very good — albeit rather sad — character study about friendship, addiction and the hope for redemption — or the next closest thing. The performances of Ben Mendelsohn and…
Starring: Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Kristin Wiig, Jeff Daniels, Michael Peña, Sean Bean, Kate Mara, Donald Glover

The Martian

The Story: Matt Damon as a man stranded on Mars fighting for survival and hoping for a rescue.  The Lowdown: A grandly entertaining film on every level. It's smart, funny, suspenseful, clever and beautifully acted. Is it profound? Not really, but it's such great entertainment that it hardly matters.
Starring: Brandon Adams, Everett McGill, Wendy Robie, A.J. Langer, Ving Rhames, Bill Cobbs, Kelly Jo Minter

The People Under the Stairs

In Brief: The Thursday Horror Picture Show's second film in their tribute to Wes Craven is his often-overlooked and undervalued (and most political) film, The People Under the Stairs (1991). Because of their already-somewhat-outsider — even disreputable — status, it’s not that uncommon to find horror films pretty fearless in what they’ll explore in terms of subtext. Distributors…
Starring: Emily Blunt, Benicio Del Toro, Josh Brolin, Victor Garber, Daniel Kaluuya, Jon Bernthal


The Story: A naive FBI agent is thrust into the corrupt world of the drug wars. The Lowdown: Despite being well-made and well-acted (and all the art house accolades it has received), this is essentially just another violent crime drama straining — and failing — to be a significant statement.
Starring: Malala Yousafzai, Ziauddin Yousafzai, Toor Pekai Yousafzai, Khushal Yousafzai, Atal Yousafzai

He Named Me Malala

The Story: Straightforward, informational documentary on Malala Yousafzai, who survived an assassination attempt by the Taliban in her native Pakistan. The Lowdown: At once solid — as concerns the basic story — and disappointingly insubstantial — as concerns creating a portrait of its famous subject. It's mostly a thumbnail sketch, made reasonably worthwhile by the…
Starring: Robert De Niro, Anne Hathaway, Rene Russo, Anders Holm, Andrew Rannells

The Intern

The Story: A bored, lonely retiree gets an internship at a Brooklyn startup. The Lowdown: A wandering, cheesy, maddeningly treacly tale of people feeling good about themselves. Pure pap.
Starring: Heather Langenkamp, Ronee Blakley, John Saxon, Robert Englund, Johnny Depp, Amanda Wyss

A Nightmare on Elm Street

In Brief: The Thursday Horror Picture Show starts its two-film tribute to the late Wes Craven with A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), one of the classics of the modern horror film — and one of those that holds up best. It’s a film of surprising complexity — especially given its subtext about the fallout…
Starring: Jeanne Moreau, Oskar Werner, Henri Serre, Marie Dubois

Jules et Jim

In Brief: Along with Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless (1960), François Truffaut’s Jules et Jim (1962) is probably the essential French New Wave film — and it’s possibly even more essential than Breathless, since it had a greater impact on content. Where Godard’s film was essential in defining the style of the New Wave movement, Truffaut’s defined both style and theme…
Starring: Lorenza Izzo, Ariel Levy, Aaron Burns, Kirby Bliss Blanton, Magda Apanowicz, Daryl Sabara

The Green Inferno

The Story: South American cannibal tribe eats American environmentalists. The Lowdown: Trashy, boring, stupid — and on the fast track to worst movie of 2015.
Starring: Jason Sudeikis, Alison Brie, Amanda Peet, Jason Mantzoukas, Adam Scott

Sleeping with Other People

The Story: Modern romance in classic terms with two characters who decide to be "just friends." The Lowdown: Smart, lively, funny, raunchy, blessed with two terrific leads and a writer-director with real style. The downside? It can't entirely escape its rom-com tendencies.
Starring: Ronald Colman, Jane Wyatt, Edward Everett Horton, John Howard, Thomas Mitchell, Margo

Lost Horizon

In Brief: Even in the early 1970s, when I was in high school and was really keen on Frank Capra because of his then-recent (and none-too-reliable, I later realized) autobiography, The Name Above the Title, I was never as fond of his Lost Horizon (1937) as I was supposed to be. Seeing it on a…
Starring: (Voices) Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, Selena Gomez, Kevin James, Steve Buscemi, David Spade

Hotel Transylvania 2

The Story: Dracula tries to bring out the vampire in his half-human grandson. The Lowdown: If you saw the first film, you know what to expect. It's a largely bland, extremely frantic animated horror comedy aimed at kids and Adam Sandler completists.
man 0f no
Starring: Albert Finney, Brenda Fricker, Rufus Sewell, Michael Gambon, Tara Fitzgerald, David Kelly

A Man of No Importance

In Brief: Suri Krishnamma’s A Man of No Importance (1994) is one of those marvelous little movies that almost no one knows. It came out on VHS and laserdisc and was played frequently on the Sundance Channel back in the 1990s (with the unenticing plot synopsis, “A Dublin bus conductor tries to stage Oscar Wilde’s Salome in 1963”) and…
Starring: Joseph Cotten, Valli, Orson Welles, Trevor Howard, Bernard Lee, Wilfrid Hyde White

The Third Man

In Brief: In keeping with the practice of bringing newly restored classic films to Asheville, the Asheville Film Society has booked the brand new 4K restoration of Carol Reed’s The Third Man (1949) for one show only on Wed., Sept. 30. Judging by the eye-popping quality of these restorations, I fully expect this version to be revelatory…
Starring: Dylan O'Brien, Ki Hong Lee, Kaya Scodelario, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Giancarlo Esposito, Patricia Clarkson. Aidan Gillen

Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials

The Story: Continuation of the events laid out in The Maze Runner.  The Lowdown: Effective, quirky and even downright strange, this sequel overcomes a bumpy start to become a minor delight of the fall season.
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Leslie Bibb, Brooke Shields, Vinnie Jones, Roger Bart

The Midnight Meat Train

In Brief: Apart from having what is perhaps the greatest title ever, it’s quite a treat to see that the film itself not only lives up to that title, but even lives up to the trailer’s claim that director Kitamura is “visionary.” (If I had a nickel for every nonvisionary “visionary” who’s come down the pike…