Movie Reviews

birth of a nation revolution
Starring: Nate Parker, Armie Hammer, Jackie Earl Hayley, Aunjanue Ellis, Penelope Ann Miller.

The Birth of a Nation

The Story: Literate-slave-turned-preacher Nat Turner orchestrates a violent uprising against Virginia slave masters in 1831. The Lowdown: While the subject matter still reverberates today, the director’s attempt at artistry often detracts from the story’s otherwise powerful narrative.
Starring: Zach Galifianakis, Kate McKinnon, Kristen Wiig, Owen Wilson, Jason Sudeikis, Leslie Jones


The Story: A group of inept criminals pulls off one of the largest cash heists in U.S. history, but their rampant idiocy leads to their inevitable capture. The Lowdown: A comedy that works more often than it doesn't, Masterminds isn't (quite) as dumb as it looks.
Starring: Eva Green, Asa Butterfield, Samuel L. Jackson, Chris O'Dowd, Judi Dench, Terrence Stamp

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

The Story: A young boy is drawn into a mysterious world of children with unique abilities and must help them defeat a monstrous threat. The Lowdown: A remarkable adaptation of an unremarkable story, Tim Burton's latest fails to break free of its trite young-adult source material.
Starring: Olivia Colman, Paul Thornley, Nick Holder, Clare Burt, Michael Shaeffer, Tom Hardy

London Road

The Story: A bucolic British suburb struggles to recover after a serial killer starts stalking its streets. The Lowdown: An inventive but ultimately incoherent musical that tinkers with the form in profoundly interesting ways, London Road is a bit too clever for its own good.
Starring: Max Schreck, Gustav von Wangenheim, Greta Schröder / Julian West, Maurice Schutz, Rena Mandel

Nosferatu / Vampyr

In Brief: As the Asheville Film Society/Thursday Horror Picture Show continues its month-long celebration of the horror genre, it's time for the first of three double features: F.W. Murnau's Nosferatu and Carl Theodor Dryer's Vampyr. Murnau's Nosferatu, called by Ken Hanke "the stuff legends and nightmares and lawsuits are made of," is one of the earliest vampire films…
Starring: Laura La Plante, Creighton Hale, Forrest Stanley, Tully Marshall, Gertrude Astor, Flora Finch, Arthur Edmund Carewe

The Cat and the Canary

In Brief: The classic tale of relatives gathering at an old mansion for a late-night reading of the will — one of those documents with an alternate heir that is little short of an invitation to drive the real heir (or heiress in this case) insane in order to usurp the inheritance. Still shuddery, with…
Annex - Laughton, Charles (Sign of the Cross, The)_01
Starring: Charles Laughton, Claudette Colbert, Fredric March, Elissa Landi, Ian Keith

The Sign of the Cross

In Brief: DeMille's pre-code Romans vs. Christians epic incensed censors and studio heads alike, and while his take on the subject matter is still pretty salacious, it probably didn't warrant the outcry it received (you never actually see Claudette Colbert's nipples in the milk bath, despite what some historians will tell you). Still, it's DeMille doing…
Starring: Mathieu Amalric, Edouard Baer, Maria de Medeiros, Golshifteh Farahani, Isabella Rossellini

Chicken with PLUMS

In Brief: World Cinema is bringing back Chicken with Plums, a film that didn't get the attention it should have when it was released a few years ago. Playful, gorgeous to look at, cinematically brilliant and finally heartbreakingly sad, Vincent Paronnaud and Marjane Satrapi's 2011 film is one of those movies that ought to have…
Starring: Itay Tiran, Tomasz Schuchardt, Andrzej Grabowski, Adam Woronowicz, Wlodzimierz Press, Tomasz Zietek, Katarzyna Gniewkowska, Agnieszka Zulewska


The Story: A young man is possessed by a wrathful spirit at his wedding. The Lowdown: Equally unsettling and thought-provoking, Polish director Marcin Wrona's final film is an exceptional masterpiece of genre cinema.
Starring: James Carville, Jeff Sandefer, Gene Nichol, Wallace Hall, George M. Cohen, Bill Powers

Starving the Beast

The Story: A carefully considered examination of the political and economic pressures confronting America's system of publicly funded higher education. The Lowdown: Documentarian Steve Mims deftly dissects a difficult debate, laying bare the mechanisms threatening a cornerstone of our society. A must-see doc for anyone interested in education.
Starring: Laura Albert, Bruce Benderson, Dennis Cooper, Savannah Knoop

Author: The JT Leroy Story

The Story: The tale of author JT Leroy, the creation and pseudonym of writer Laura Albert, from his creation to his rise to the ranks of celebrity. The Lowdown: An often unfocused and wandering doc that details an interesting story but, because of its one-sided nature, doesn't feel like it truly gets down to the truth.
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Starring: Andy Samburg, Katie Crown, Kelsey Grammer, Jennifer Aniston, Ty Burrell, Danny Trejo, Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele.


The Story: Anthropomorphic bird species stops delivering babies to become the equivalent of until one of their own must intervene in a boy’s request for a baby brother. The Lowdown:  The non-Pixar animation eschews anything cerebral for physical comedy, but one can only look at goofy cartoon faces for so long before wondering why.
Starring: Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Peter Sarsgaard, Haley Bennett, Vincent D'Onofrio, Ethan Hawke, Byung-hun Lee, Martin Sensmeier, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo

The Magnificent Seven

The Story: A town of simple farmers hire a band of mercenaries to defeat the tyrannical despot hellbent on stealing their land. The Lowdown: A fun (if somewhat frivolous) Western that works more often than it doesn't.
Starring: Danny Fields, Iggy Pop, Tommy Ramone, Alice Cooper, John Cameron Mitchell, Seymour Stein, Jac Holzman, Legs McNeil

Danny Says

The Story: Documentary following unassuming impresario Danny Fields, who changed the face of American music in the '70s. The Lowdown: Brendan Toller's doc shines new light on a man who cast a long shadow, exploring Fields' involvement with the most prominent bands of the late-hippie and early-punk eras.
Starring: Werner Krauss, Conrad Veidt, Lil Dagover, Friedrich Feher

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

In Brief: The Asheville Film Society has scheduled an October celebration of the horror film to coincide with Frank Thompson's month-long lecture series on the genre's history at the Asheville School of Film. We're kicking things off with what arguably constitutes the first "true" horror film, 1920's The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari. While earlier examples of films with…
Starring: Dick Miller, Barboura Morris, Anthony Carbone, Julian Burton

A Bucket of Blood

In Brief: One of Roger Corman's best pictures and easily my favorite Dick Miller performance, A Bucket of Blood (1959) is an unquestionable cult classic. Few films so successfully blend black comedy and horror, and Corman's characteristic camp serves the subject matter perfectly. Charles B. Griffith's scathing script satirically skewers the beatnik subculture of the '60s, but might…
Starring: Gene Wilder, Harrison Ford, Val Bisoglio, George DiCenzo, Leo Fuchs, Beege Barkette

The Frisco Kid

In Brief:  Robert Aldrich’s penultimate film (1979) is an easygoing work of some considerable charm that relies far too much on ethnic humor — mostly Jewish, but not entirely — to sit quite as comfortably as it might like. But the main interest in the film is probably Gene Wilder’s performance, which is interesting simply…
Starring: Malcolm McDowell, David Wood, Richard Warwick, Christine Noonan


In Brief: Lindsay Anderson's landmark film If.... shook up world cinema, made a star of fairly obscure TV actor Malcolm McDowell and set Anderson on the road to creating his famous trilogy (If...., O Lucky Man!, Britannia Hospital). That's a pretty impressive accomplishment, but his tale of the resentment at an English boys school —…
Starring: Renée Zellweger, Emma Thompson, Colin Firth, Patrick Dempsey, Gamma Jones, Jim Broadbent

Bridget Jones’ Baby

The Story: Bridget Jones is back, and this time she's got a baby bump. But who's the dad? The Lowdown: A revisitation of the characters and ideas established 15 years ago in Bridget Jones' Diary, there's nothing particularly new here. For some viewers, this will be enough to warrant the price of admission.
Starring: James Allen McCune, Callie Hernandez, Corbin Reid, Brandon Scott, Wes Robinson, Valorie Curry

Blair Witch

The Story: The brother of one of the documentarians missing since the events of the original The Blair Witch Project recruits several friends to join him on a journey into the woods in which she disappeared. This turns out to be a predictably bad idea. The Lowdown: A pointless followup to a film with few merits beyond being first…
hillsong let hope rise jesus banner
Starring: Hillsong United

Hillsong: Let Hope Rise

The Story:  Australia’s “biggest band you never heard of” prepares for a big Christian pop show at The Forum in Los Angeles. The Lowdown: If you like the music of Hillsong United, you are predisposed to enjoy this bland documentary. If not, you still get to hear about it and its ministry.