Movie Reviews

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Starring: Dane DeHaan, Jason Isaacs, Mia Goth, Ivo Nandi

A Cure for Wellness

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The Story: An ambitious and corrupt young financial professional is tasked with retrieving his firm's CEO from a remote medical institution in the picturesque Swiss Alps, but things are far stranger than they first seem. The Lowdown: Visually interesting, if highly derivative, genre catch-all that overstays its welcome.
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Starring: Charlie Day, Ice Cube, Tracy Morgan, Jillian Bell, Dean Norris, Christina Hendricks, Kumail Nanjiani, Dennis Haysbert

Fist Fight

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The Story: A beleaguered English teacher, already locked in a fight for his job, is challenged to a more literal fight when he fails to cover for a hotheaded coworker. The Lowdown: Stupid fun anchored by a decent performance from Charlie Day.
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Starring: Matt Damon, Jing Tian, Pedro Pascal, Willem Dafoe, Andy Lau, Zhang Hanyu, Eddie Peng, Lu Han, Lin Gengxin, Junkai Wang, Zheng Kai, Cheney Chen, Xuan Huang, Yu Xintian, Liu Qiong

The Great Wall

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The Story: Two European mercenaries stumble upon the secret behind the Great Wall of China's true purpose — defense against subterranean (or maybe extraterrestrial, who cares?) man-eating dino-dog monsters. The Lowdown: The Great Wall may not be the worst, but it certainly ranks among the laziest and most exploitative.
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Starring: Joseph Cotten, Rosalba Neri, Paul Muller

Lady Frankenstein

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In Brief: Joseph Cotten must have had some seriously bad karma to earn his late career descent into schlock — case in point, Lady Frankenstein. The former Citizen Kane and Shadow of a Doubt actor plays Baron Frankenstein in this 1971 pseudo-feminist Italian sequel to the classic tale, the same year as his turn in The Abominable Dr. Phibes and…
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Starring: Anna Karina, Claude Brasseur, Sami Frey

Band of Outsiders (Bande à Part)

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In Brief: Perhaps not as frequently screened as Jean-Luc Godard staples like Breathless, Band of Outsiders is essential viewing in full for those who are only familiar with its oft-homaged dance sequence or its famed Louvre footrace. Intended to be more commercial than the previous year's Contempt, Godard's notable quip, ''All you need to make a movie is a girl and…
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Starring: Yves Montand, Daniel Auteuil, Emmanuelle Béart, Hippolyte Girardot, Margarita Lozano

Manon of the Spring

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In Brief: Manon of the Spring (1986) is the sequel — or more properly, second part — of Jean de Florette (1986), which the Hendersonville Film Society showed last week. In essence, this film tells the rest of the story — what happens after Jean de Florette (Gérard Depardieu) dies. The film takes place 10 years later with Jean’s…
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Starring: Clara Bow, Charles "Buddy" Rogers, Richard Arlen, El Brendel, Roscoe Karns, Gary Cooper

Wings

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In Brief: William A. Wellman's Wings (1927) won the very first Oscar for best picture — and unlike many Oscar winners since then, it was a deserved honor. It's also one of those rare Oscar winners that holds up to this day. First of all, it's truly an epic, but it's an epic grounded in…
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Starring: James Baldwin, Samuel L. Jackson (narrator)

I Am Not Your Negro

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The Story: Writer and activist James Baldwin's unfinished book Remember This House examines racial inequality in America through the lens of martyred civil rights leaders Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. The Lowdown: Director Raoul Peck delivers a powerful documentary that does justice, not only to Baldwin, but also to civil rights issues that are just as relevant today…
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Starring: Adam Driver, Golshifteh Farahani, Nellie, Chasten Harmon, Barry Shabaka Henley, William Jackson Harper, Rizwan Manji

Paterson

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The Story: A  bus driver and aspiring poet leads a quiet existence in Paterson, New Jersey. The Lowdown: Much more engaging and impactful than its modest premise would suggest, another masterwork from writer-director Jim Jarmusch.
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Starring: Will Arnett, Ralph Fiennes, Rosario Dawson, Zach Galifianakis, Jenny Slate, Michael Cera, Mariah Carey, Billy Dee Williams, Héctor Elizondo, Eddie Izzard

The Lego Batman Movie

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The Story: After refusing to acknowledge the depth of his hatred for The Joker, Batman must overcome his isolate tendencies and build relationships in order to thwart an evil plot and save Gotham City. The Lowdown: Combining the frenetic lunacy of The Lego Movie while acknowledging the absurd grittiness of modern superhero movies, The Lego Batman Movie explores long-abandoned facets of…
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Starring: Keanu Reeves, Common, Laurence Fishburne, Riccardo Scamarcio, Ruby Rose, Lance Reddick, Peter Stormare, Bridget Moynahan, Franco Nero, John Leguizamo, Ian McShane.

John Wick: Chapter 2

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The Story: After resolving his blood-feud with the Russian mob (and having related the dog they murdered), John Wick is pulled back in to the assassin's underworld he sought to escape by an outstanding debt to an Italian Mafioso. The Lowdown: Everything you loved about the first John Wick film, but more of it.
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Starring: Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan, Kim Basinger, Luke Grimes, Eloise Mumford, Max Martini, Eric Johnson, Rita Ora, Victor Rasuk

Fifty Shades Darker

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The Story: Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele rekindle their tepid and implausible romance with significantly less kink than originally negotiated in their bizarre contract. The Lowdown: Fifty shades lazier. Fifty shades dumber. Fifty shades duller.
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Starring: Karen Black, Christopher Plummer, Donald Pilon, Jean-Louis Roux, Yvette Brind'amour, Lee Broker

The Pyx

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In Brief: Alternately title The Hooker Cult Murders, Canadian exploitation film The Pyx is most notable from an exemplary star turn from Karen Black (Easy Rider, Family Plot). Originally intended as a starring vehicle for James Mason, the film attempts to capitalize on contemporary cinematic trends established by prostitution themed melodramas such as Klute and occult suspense thrillers like Rosemary's Baby. Black plays a heroin-addicted…
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Starring: Dan Zukovic, Alex Rocco, Bruce Glover, Alex Zahara

Scammerhead

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In Brief: The Twin Rivers Media Festival kicks off with the North Carolina premier of Scammerhead, winner of the Best Narrative Feature award at the 2015 Trenton Film Festival and Best Feature at the 2015 Berkeley Video & Film Festival along with receiving multiple other nominations and awards on the festival circuit. Indie writer-director Dan Zukovic (The Last Big Thing)…
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Starring: Yves Montand, Gérard Depardieu, Daniel Auteil, Elisabeth Depardieu

Jean de Florette

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In Brief: Claude Berri’s Jean de Florette (1986) — adapted by Berri and longtime Roman Polanski collaborator Gérard Brach from Marcel Pagnol’s novel (itself drawn from Pagnol’s 1953 film Manon of the Spring) — is really only half a film, since it is meant to be followed by Berri’s Manon of the Spring. Worry not, however, because the Hendersonville Film…
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Starring: Paul Robeson, Julia Theresa Russell , Mercedes Gilbert, Chester A. Alexander

Body and Soul

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In Brief: In honor of Black History Month, the AFS presents a film from two icons of the Harlem Renaissance and early African-American cinema, Paul Robeson and Oscar Micheaux. Body and Soul (1925) was written, directed, produced and distributed by Micheaux and represents the screen debut of Robeson, who would go on to become a renowned…
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Starring: Natalie Portman, Peter Sarsgaard, Greta Gerwig, Billy Crudup, John Hurt, Richard E. Grant, John Carroll Lynch, Beth Grant, Max Casella, Caspar Phillipson

Jackie

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The Story: Jackie Kennedy struggles to cope with her husband's death and maintain her composure under intensive public scrutiny in the weeks following JFK's assassination. The Lowdown: A moving emotional portrait that sheds new light on the internal landscape of an iconic American figure and the turmoil surrounding a pivotal moment in American history, earning Natalie Portman a…