Movie Reviews

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Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Mel Gibson, Jason Statham, Harrison Ford, Wesley Snipes

The Expendables 3

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The Story: The Expendables go after one of their own, a nefarious villain long thought dead. The Lowdown: A superbly uneven and overtly uninteresting journey into machismo and stuff blowing up.
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Starring: Jean-Pierre Léaud, Claude Jade, Hiroko Berghauer, Barbara Laage

Bed & Board

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In Brief: The next-to-last film in François Truffaut's Antoine Doinel (Jean-Pierre Léaud) series is also probably the least successful of the lot. It is certainly the slightest and most prone to rambling. The freshness of the "New Wave" was long gone by 1970 when Truffaut made Bed & Board, and the attempt to make this film emulate the off-the-cuff feel of the earlier films sometimes seems just plain unfocused. (Vignettes have been replaced by digressions that go nowhere.) But Bed & Board is not without its charms or its place in the series, even though our "hero" on occasion comes across as a self-absorbed jerk. Classic World Cinema by Courtyard Gallery will present Bed & Board Friday, Aug. 22, 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: Peter Cushing, André Morell, Christopher Lee, Marla Landi, Francis de Wolff, Miles Malleson

The Hound of the Baskervilles

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In Brief: The most famous of all Sherlock Holmes stories gets the Hammer horror treatment — not inappropriate for a tale about a hound from hell — and the results are very good indeed. In fact, this 1959 film may well be the best version of The Hound of the Baskervilles. It is certainly the most unnerving version and one of the only films to present Holmes (Peter Cushing) as a twitchy, arrogant drug-addict. The well-known story lends itself nicely to the spooky treatment, it looks terrific and the performances could scarcely be bettered. The Hendersonville Film Society will show The Hound of the Baskervilles Sunday, Aug. 24, at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing Retirement Community (behind Epic Cinemas), 333 Thompson St., Hendersonville.
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Starring: Jeff Bridges, Meryl Streep, Brenton Thwaites, Alexander Skarsgård, Katie Holmes, Odeya Rush

The Giver

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The Story: A young man in a supposedly utopian society is chosen to receive the forbidden real history of the world. The Lowdown: Imperfect, but largely well-done and much more provocative — even disturbing — than the usual YA dysfunctional society sci-fi.
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Starring: Brendan Gleeson, Chris O'Dowd, Kelly Reilly, Aidan Gillen, Dylan Moran, M. Emmet Walsh, Domhnall Gleeson

Calvary

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The Story: An Irish priest is informed (in the confessional) by a parishioner — a victim of sexual abuse by a long dead priest — that he intends to kill the priest to make a statement about the Church. The Lowdown: Part mystery, part black comedy, part tragedy on the nature of faith and redemption, Calvary is a brilliant but deeply disturbing work that's a must-see for those who are up to it.
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Starring: Nastassja Kinski, Leigh Lawson, Peter Firth, Rosemary Martin, Sylvia Coleridge

Tess

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In Brief: Nominated for six Oscars (winning three), Roman Polanski's Tess (1979) just might be the director's best film — certainly, it's his most beautiful and lyrical. Dedicated to his late wife, Sharon Tate, the film is also possibly his most deeply personal work. Adapted — pretty faithfully — from Thomas Hardy's 1891 novel Tess of the d'Urbervilles, the film recounts the tragic life of Tess Durbeyfield (Nastassja Kinski), whose life is marked for all time when she is seduced (raped might be nearer the mark) by a wealthy man. It's at once a strongly romantic work and one that is critical of the way women were treated at the time. An altogether compelling and deeply moving film — and quite possibly the most gorgeously photographed movie of all time. The Asheville Film Society is showing Tess Wednesday, Aug. 27, at 7:30 p.m. at The Carolina Asheville as part of the Budget Big Screen series. Admission is $6 for AFS members and $8 for the general public.
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Starring: Miriam Hopkins, Herbert Marshall, Kay Francis, Edward Everett Horton, Charles Ruggles, C. Aubrey Smith

Trouble in Paradise

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In Brief: If you could uncork a magnum of Mumm Cordon Rouge champagne and turn it into a movie, what you'd get would be a lot like Ernst Lubitsch's Trouble in Paradise (1932). It is the sparkling quintessence of sophisticated comedy and stylish filmmaking. It's a cheekily and cheerfully amoral tale of archthief Gaston Monescu (Herbert Marshall) — "the man who walked into the bank of Monte Carlo and walked out with the bank of Monte Carlo" — and his equally larcenous girlfriend Lily (Miriam Hopkins), who find themselves in the position of possibly fleecing a glamorous rich widow (Kay Francis). Glossy, funny and as nearly perfect as a film can be. The Asheville Film Society will screen Trouble in Paradise Tuesday, Aug. 26, 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: Lon Chaney, Mary Philbin, Norman Kerry, Arthur Edmund Carewe, Gibson Gowland

The Phantom of the Opera

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In Brief: Yes, it has its problems — an uninspired director, the look of a typically static Hollywood silent, a botched big scene, a bewildering array of different versions — but The Phantom of the Opera (1925) is still the first large-scale American horror film and retains the power to fascinate. Much of this is due to the makeup and performance of Lon Chaney as Erik, the Phantom of the Opera, but don't sell short the sheer size of the production. For anything it doesn't get quite right, it's a film that understands spectacle. Plus, it retains the ability to be exciting — no small feat for a movie that's nearly 90 years old. The Thursday Horror Picture Show will screen The Phantom of the Opera Thursday, Aug. 21, 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: Jake Johnson, Damon Wayans, Jr., Nina Dobrev, Rob Riggle, James D’Arcy

Let’s Be Cops

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The Story: Two bored pals take up pretending to be cops and become entangled in taking down a crew of mobsters. The Lowdown: Meandering, joyless tedium in the form of a buddy cop comedy.
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Starring: Charles Boyer, Barbara Stanwyck, Edward G. Robinson, Dame May Whitty, Thomas Mitchell, Robert Cummings, Betty Field

Flesh and Fantasy

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In Brief: Though shorn of what preview audiences said was its best sequence (Universal clumsily expanded it to a separate feature called Destiny), Julien Duvivier's Flesh and Fantasy (1943) — a follow-up to his 1942 portmanteau film, Tales of Manhattan — still has much to recommend it. The fact that this was made at Universal means this is neither as elaborate, nor star-studded as Fox's Tales of Manhattan, but since Flesh and Fantasy has fantastic elements, it was probably a better fit for Universal. The segments are uneven — the curse of the portmanteau format — but each of the three has merit, and the central one with Edward G. Robinson is a standout. The Hendersonville Film Society will show Flesh and Fantasy Sunday, Aug. 17, at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing Retirement Community (behind Epic Cinemas), 333 Thompson St., Hendersonville.
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Starring: Tom Conway, Frances Dee, James Ellison / Bela Lugosi, Wally Brown, Alan Carney, Anne Jeffreys

I Walked with a Zombie / Zombies on Broadway

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In Brief: Here's a double dose of zombies in a pairing that would likely horrify the makers of I Walked with a Zombie (1943), which is arguably the greatest — and most poetic — zombie movie of all time. Not to take anything away from that film, but, like it or not, Zombies on Broadway (1945) is a wayward — very wayward — sequel, using the same setting, the same Calypso singer (Sir Lancelot) and the same zombie (Darby Jones). Of course, it adds RKO's unasked-for answer to Abbott and Costello (Brown and Carney), Bela Lugosi as a mad scientist and, for good measure, a troublesome capuchin monkey. Whether you consider those last two a bad thing is up to you, but they have little in common with the tone of original. The Thursday Horror Picture Show will screen I Walked with a Zombie and Zombies on Broadway Thursday, Aug. 14, 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: Richard Armitage, Sarah Wayne Callies, Matt Walsh, Max Deacon, Nathan Kress

Into the Storm

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The Story: A rash of tornadoes and a team of storm chasers converge on a small town. Havoc and devastation follow. The Lowdown: Almost amazing in its ineptitude and wheezy plotting, Into the Storm offers lots of CGI destruction, five cents' worth of dialogue and a lot of dullness between the devastation.
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Starring: Loretta Young, Richard Greene, David Niven, C. Aubrey Smith, William Henry, Alan Hale, Berton Churchill

Four Men and a Prayer

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In Brief: A minor — and rarely revived — John Ford film, Four Men and a Prayer (1938) is little more than a studio assignment picture, but it's interesting to see just how personal Ford makes aspects of it. He brings terrific artistry and craftsmanship to what is really a fairly silly globe-trotting romantic mystery that functions mostly as a Loretta Young vehicle and showcase for new Fox star Richard Greene. It's certainly no classic, but it's great fun — and a nice example of Ford's professionalism. Think of it as a kind of vacation before Ford got down to Stagecoach, Young Mr. Lincoln and Drums Along the Mohawk the following year. The Asheville Film Society will screen Four Men and a Prayer Tuesday, Aug. 19, 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: Colin Firth, Emma Stone, Eileen Atkins, Simon McBurney, Marcia Gay Harden, Hamish Linklater, Jacki Weaver

Magic in the Moonlight

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The Story:  A stage magician sets out to debunk a young woman he's certain is a phony spiritualist and finds more than he imagined. The Lowdown: A sparkling champagne cocktail of a romantic comedy only Woody Allen could make. It may be lightweight — though perhaps not entirely — but it's a little slice of cinema heaven.
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Starring: Megan Fox, Will Arnett, William Fichtner, Johnny Knoxville, Alan Ritchson

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

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The Story: Four mutated turtles and a plucky journalist try to stop an evil scientist and an even eviler samurai. The Lowdown: Bargain-basement Michael Bay pastiche and a lot of sound and fury make for a noisy, not very fun action flick.

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Starring: Pascal Lamorisse, Georges Sellier, Vladimir Popov, Paul Perley

The Red Balloon

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In Brief: I confess that the charms of The Red Balloon (1956) wore rather thin for me a very long time ago (and the idea that this 34-minute film won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay has always struck me as ridiculous), but this (mostly) gentle fantasy about a little boy (Pascal Lamorisse, the director's son) who is befriended by a balloon is a great favorite with many people. If you've never seen it, you should at least once. Classic World Cinema by Courtyard Gallery will present The Red Balloon Friday, Aug. 15, 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: Helen Mirren, Om Puri, Manish Dayal, Charlotte Le Bon, Amit Shah, Farzana Dua Elahe

The Hundred-Foot Journey

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The Story:  When an Indian family opens a restaurant across the street from a classy French restaurant in a small town in France, trouble — and romance — follows. The Lowdown: A luminous Helen Mirren leads a first-rate cast in this familiar but thoroughly charming and appealing culture-clash, food-centered romantic comedy.
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Starring: Frances McDormand, William H. Macy, Steve Buscemi, Peter Stormare, Kirstin Rudrüd, Harve Presnell

Fargo

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In Brief: This is one of those few Coen Brothers films that I just don't quite get the fuss over. I have no problem with the pitch-black comedy, and I don't especially mind the film's downright cruelty. But the lack of even one character — other than Frances McDormand's Marge (who doesn't enter the film until about the 30-minute mark) — to give a damn about leaves me (at least) with a film that I don't give a damn about. Everybody in the movie is both unpleasant and remarkably stupid. I would never say it's bad, and I'd certainly never try to dissuade anyone from loving it, but I can't claim to be an admirer. Wedge Brewery will show Fargo on Sat., Aug. 16. Films start 15 minutes after sundown. They are shown outside. We have a limited number of chairs, so it's a good idea to pack a folding chair or a blanket, and maybe a jacket because it does get chilly when the sun goes down. El Kimchi has great Mexican/Korean street food for purchase, but no popcorn! So, if popcorn is part of someone's movie experience, they'll need to pack that, too.
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Starring: Chadwick Boseman, Nelsan Ellis, Viola Davis, Dan Aykroyd, Lennie James

Get on Up

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The Story: The life and times of James Brown, from extreme poverty to the height of his fame and beyond. The Lowdown: While its non-linear narrative is interesting as filmmaking, it’s not enough to conceal the numerous biopic pitfalls that drag the film down.
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Starring: Francisco Rabal, José Coronado, Dafne Fernández, Eulàlia Ramon, Maribel Verdú

Goya in Bordeaux

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In Brief: While it's certainly visually striking and avoids being a standard biopic, Carlos Saura's Goya in Bordeaux comes with its own set of problems. First of all, Saura assumes that the viewer knows a lot more about Spanish painter Francisco Goya than is probable. Second, the film — with its transparent scrim walls — often feels like a stage production. Third — and most bothersome — it's all done at a very slow pace that tends to make it all feel like an academic exercise of notable stuffiness. That's too bad, because there are moments of brilliance here, and the performances of Francisco Rabal and Maribel Verdú are worth the film's longueurs.
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Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Lee Pace

Guardians of the Galaxy

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The Story: A mismatched — and pretty ragged — quartet of unlikely heroes may be the only chance to save the universe. The Lowdown: A thoroughly engaging, funny, exciting, even charming sci-fi actioner with an appealing cast that makes for excellent summer movie fare.