Movie Reviews

Starring: Matt Damon, Scarlett Johansson, Thomas Haden Church, Colin Ford, Maggie Elizabeth Jones

We Bought a Zoo


The Story: A widower buys a rundown zoo for himself and his two children. Life lessons, possible romance and animal business ensues. The Lowdown: Harmless, likable, utterly inoffensive and probably forgettable.
Starring: Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, Christopher Plummer, Stellan Skarsgård, Steven Berkoff, Robin Wright

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo


The Story: A disgraced journalist takes a job for a wealthy industrialist to solve a 40-year-old mystery. The Lowdown: Physically darker than the 2010 Swedish film adaptation of the book, but not darker in content. Still very effective — and certainly easier on subtitle resistant audiences.
Starring: Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall, Danny Lloyd, Scatman Crothers, Barry Nelson, Philip Stone

The Shining


The Thursday Horror Picture Show will screen The Shining on Thursday, Dec. 29, at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge of The Carolina Asheville and will be hosted by Xpress movie critics Ken Hanke and Justin Souther.
Starring: Vivian Pickles, Peter Bowles, Alexei Jawdokimov / Max Adrian, Christopher Gable, Maureen Pryor

Isadora Duncan, the Biggest Dancer in the World / Song of Summer: Frederick Delius


The Asheville Film Society will screen Isadora and Song of Summer on Tuesday, Jan. 3, at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge of The Carolina Asheville and will be hosted by Xpress movie critics Ken Hanke and Justin Souther. Hanke is the artistic director of the A.F.S.
Starring: Michelle Williams, Eddie Redmayne, Kenneth Branagh, Julia Ormond, Emma Watson, Judi Dench

My Week with Marilyn


The Story: Fact-based look at the brief relationship between Marilyn Monroe and a young man working for Laurence Olivier Productions on The Prince and the Showgirl. The Lowdown: A charming, sweet memoir about not just one man's experiences with the legendary actress, but an examination of the woman and her appeal, anchored to a wonderful performance by Michelle Williams.
Starring: Jason Lee, David Cross, Jenny Slate, Justin Long (voice), Matthew Gray Gubler (voice)

Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked


The Story: Alvin and his rodent pals get stranded on a tropical island with a lone inhabitant, while Dave and the mercenary Ian search for them. The Lowdown: Stupifying in its stupidity, this sloppy mess is perhaps the worst film of the year.
Starring: Daniel Craig, Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis, Simon Pegg, Cary Elwes, Nick Frost, Toby Jones

The Adventures of Tintin


The Story: Boy reporter Tintin and the frequently intoxicated Captain Haddock go on a search for the lost treasure of Haddock's ancestor, Sir Francis Haddock. The Lowdown: It's beautifully crafted -- if you don't mind motion-capture animation -- and blessed with technical wizardry and visual invention, but dramatically, there's not much here.
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Jude Law, Noomi Rapace, Jared Harris, Stephen Fry, Rachel McAdams

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows


The Story: Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson square off against the "Napoleon of Crime," Professor Moriarty. The Lowdown: An even stronger-than-hoped-for follow-up to the 2009 Sherlock Holmes. Fast, funny, entertaining and more in tune with the stories and legacy of Holmes than may appear on the surface.
Starring: Lionel Barrymore, Maureen O'Sullivan, Frank Lawton, Rafaela Ottiano, Robert Greig

The Devil-Doll


The Thursday Horror Picture Show will screen The Devil-Doll on Thursday, Dec. 22, at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge of The Carolina Asheville and will be hosted by Xpress movie critics Ken Hanke and Justin Souther.
Starring: W.C. Fields, Jack Oakie, Lyda Roberti/W.C. Fields, Alison Skipworth, Baby Leroy

Million Dollar Legs/Tillie and Gus


The Asheville Film Society will screen Million Dollar Legs and Tillie and Gus on Tuesday, Dec. 27, at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge of The Carolina Asheville and will be hosted by Xpress movie critics Ken Hanke and Justin Souther. Hanke is the artistic director of the A.F.S.
Starring: Charlize Theron, Patton Oswalt, Patrick Wilson, Elizabeth Reaser, Collette Wolfe, Jill Eikenberry

Young Adult


The Story: A writer of teen fiction goes to her hometown to rekindle her high-school romance -- regardless of the fact that the object of her affection is married and has just had a child. The Lowdown: A hardcore comedy-drama about a woman sliding more and more out of control and into self-delusion and alcohol. Often funny, sometimes brilliantly insightful, but always uncomfortable.
Starring: Hilary Swank, Katherine Heigl, Ashton Kutcher, Jon Bon Jovi, Robert De Niro

New Year’s Eve


The Story: A romantic ensemble piece centering around the denizens of New York City on New Year’s Eve. The Lowdown: A laborious exercise in middle-of-the-road romantic comedy.
Starring: Jonah Hill, Max Records, Sam Rockwell, Ari Graynor, J.B. Smoove

The Sitter


The Story: A lazy babysitter and the kids he’s watching get entangled in a series of misadventures when a crazed drug dealer decides he wants them dead. The Lowdown: An agreeable cast and a plot that’s more amusing than outright funny makes for a harmless homage to '80s teen flicks.
Starring: Elizabeth Berridge, Shawn Carson, Kevin Conway, Herb Robins, Wayne Doba, William Finley, Sylvia Miles

The Funhouse


The Thursday Horror Picture Show will screen The Funhouse Thursday, Dec. 15, at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge of The Carolina Asheville and will be hosted by Xpress movie critics Ken Hanke and Justin Souther.
Starring: Michael Shannon, Jessica Chastain, Tova Stewart, Shea Whigham, Kathy Baker

Take Shelter


The Story: A man's life starts to fall apart when he begins having troubling visions that are either actual warnings or the onset of mental illness. The Lowdown: A disturbing -- and rather depressing -- film that works more than it doesn't, and which can be read in several different ways.
Starring: Cillian Murphy, Liam Neeson, Ruth Negga, Stephen Rea, Gavin Friday, Brendan Gleeson

Breakfast on Pluto


The Asheville Film Society will screen Breakfast on Pluto on Tuesday, Dec. 13, at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge of The Carolina Asheville and will be hosted by Xpress movie critics Ken Hanke and Justin Souther. Hanke is the artistic director of the A.F.S.
Starring: Václav Neckár, Josef Somr, Vlastimil Brodský, Vladimír Valenta, Jitka Bendová

Closely Watched Trains


Classic World Cinema by Courtyard Gallery will present Closely Watched Trains at 8 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 9, at Phil Mechanic Studios, 109 Roberts St., River Arts District (upstairs in the Railroad Library). Info: 273-3332, www.ashevillecourtyard.com
Starring: Lon Chaney Jr., Ilona Massey, Patric Knowles, Bela Lugosi, Maria Ouspenskaya, Lionel Atwill

Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man


The Thursday Horror Picture Show will screen Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man on Thursday, Dec. 8, at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge of The Carolina Asheville and will be hosted by Xpress movie critics Ken Hanke and Justin Souther.