Movie Reviews

The Orphanage

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The Story: A woman returns to the orphanage of her early childhood, only to find her son disappearing and the past closing in around her. The Lowdown: A beautifully crafted ghost story that also functions as a horror film and a psychological thriller.

The Savages

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The Story: A brother and sister find themselves in charge of their father, whose health and self-sufficiency are failing. The Lowdown: A sometimes bleak, but often funny and rewarding look at family and its responsibility that's well worth a look.

First Sunday

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The Story: Two small-time thieves decide to rob a church. Things become complicated when they learn that the money has already been stolen. The Lowdown: A comedy with a religious message that is refreshingly void of heavy-handedness, but never works due to lazy, muddled plotting and a distinct lack of laughs.

The Bucket List

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The Story: Two terminally ill men set out to fulfill a list of things to do before they die. The Lowdown: Terminally contrived and fraudulent, Rob Reiner's The Bucket List never rises above its trite carpe diem bromides.

Black Book

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The Hendersonville Film Society will show Black Book at 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 11, in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing Retirement Community, 333 Thompson St., Hendersonville. (From Asheville, take I-26 to U.S. 64 West, turn right at the third light onto Thompson Street. Follow to the Lake Point Landing entrance and park in the lot on the left.)

Atonement

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The Story: A young girl's lie sets the stage for this period drama about doomed lovers. The Lowdown: A beautifully crafted, intelligent film that somehow misses being as emotionally powerful as it needs to be to cross the line into greatness.

The Great Debaters

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The Story: Set during the 1930s, the film shows the struggles of an all-black debate team as they attempt to break racial boundaries and take on the Harvard debate team. The Lowdown: Your normal, run-of-the-mill uplifting sports flick -- except featuring debate instead of athletics -- which occasionally shows glimmers of attempting something more, but ends up being too constricted by its genre expectations.

A Cottage on Dartmoor

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The Hendersonville Film Society will show A Cottage on Dartmoor at 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 6, in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing Retirement Community, 333 Thompson St., Hendersonville. (From Asheville, take I-26 to U.S. 64 West, turn right at the third light onto Thompson Street. Follow to the Lake Point Landing entrance and park in the lot on the left.)