Movie Reviews

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Starring: Matilda Lutz, Alex Roe, Johnny Galecki, Vincent D’Onofrio, Aimee Teegarden, Bonnie Morgan, Chuck Willis, Patrick Walker, Zach Roerig

Rings

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The Story: The demonic-girl-crawls-out-of-a-well video is back to kill more unsuspecting viewers, but this time she has the internet on her side. Also, her biological dad is revealed to have been a creep. Go figure. The Lowdown: An unnecessary sequel to a franchise I'd long considered dead, Rings contributes nothing of value to the mythos and somehow manages…
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Starring: Arch Hall, Jr., Marilyn Manning, Richard Alden, Helen Hovey, Don Russell

The Sadist

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In Brief: I canceled The Sadist in November to make way for a bit of post-election counter-programming, although in retrospect, this might have been almost as appropriate as what I screened instead. We're finally getting back around to this creepy thriller about a madman with his finger on the trigger and a penchant for pushing people…
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Starring: Anton Glanzelius, Melinda Kinnaman, Tomas von Brömssen

My Life as a Dog

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In Brief: Despite the controversy surrounding director Lasse Hallström's most recent film (A Dog's Purpose) and my personal disdain for the practices employed on set, I still have a soft-spot in my heart for My Life as a Dog (1985). The director's first mainstream success outside of Europe — unless you count ABBA: The Movie — My Life as…
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Starring: Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, Cyril Cusack, Michael Hordern, Alan Webb

The Taming of the Shrew

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In Brief: Franco Zeffirelli’s The Taming of the Shrew (1967) wasn’t the first time this Shakespeare play was served up with a famous married couple in the lead roles. No, that honor goes to Sam Taylor’s 1929 version starring Hollywood royalty of that era, Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford. (And whether or not the main…
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Starring: Irene Dunne, Charles Boyer, Maria Ouspenskaya, Lee Bowman, Astrid Allwyn, Maurice Moscovich

Love Affair

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In Brief: In honor of my least favorite holiday (you'll notice I didn't devote a month's worth of programming to this one), the AFS will be screening Leo McCarey's classic romantic comedy, Love Affair, this Valentine's Day. With a script that vacillates between pithy humor and tear-jerking melodrama from Donald Ogden Stewart (The Philadelphia Story) and Delmer Daves…
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Seasons

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The Story: The general history of the natural world, from the end of the last ice age to the present anthropocene, plays out through the biodiversity of a forest ecosystem. The Lowdown: A stunning visual spectacle with no shortage of purpose, this nature doc does more than simply record its subject — it draws the audience into the story.
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Starring: Milla Jovovich, Iain Glen, Ali Larter, Shawn Roberts, Ruby Rose, Eoin Macken

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter

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The Story: Zombie slaying savant Alice returns to tie up loose ends by retrieving an antidote to the virus that has wiped out most of humanity. Like a lost set of car keys, it's been hidden in the same place the whole mess started fifteen years ago (she probably should have looked there first). The Lowdown: More of…
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Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Edgar Ramirez, Bryce Dallas Howard, Macon Blair, Corey Stoll, Toby Kebbell, Bruce Greenwood, Stacy Keach

Gold

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The Story: A gold prospector driven by a dream and a desire for approval gets embroiled in a scandal over a mine that might not be what it seems. The Lowdown: Based loosely on a true story but focused on a fictional character and set 15 years earlier than the events that inspired it, Gold is an amalgamation…
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Starring: Britt Robertson, K.J. Apa, John Ortiz, Dennis Quaid, Juliet Rylance, Luke Kirby, Kirby Howell-Baptiste, Peggy Lipton, Pooch Hall, Josh Gad

A Dog’s Purpose

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The Story: A dog journeys through successive reincarnate lifetimes before being reunited with his original owner. The Lowdown: An emotionally manipulative exercise in heartstring tugging that would have been reprehensible enough even without the recently revealed evidence of alleged animal cruelty on set.
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Starring: Paula E. Sheppard, Linda Miller, Mildred Clinton, Niles McMaster, Jane Lowry, Rudolph Willrich, Michael Hardstark, Alphonso DeNoble, Garry Allen, Louisa Horton, Tom Signorelli, Brooke Shields

Alice, Sweet Alice

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In Brief: Most frequently referenced as the screen debut of a young Brooke Shields, writer-director Alfred Sole's 1976 religiously-themed proto-slasher Alice, Sweet Alice has justifiably built a cult following on the basis of its other merits — namely, a uniquely giallo-esque aesthetic heavily indebted to Hitchcock, Michael Powell's Peeping Tom and Nicolas Roeg's Don't Look Now. The film's heavily atmospheric sense of unrelenting…
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Starring: Jacques Tati, Nathalie Pascaud, Michelle Rolla, Valentine Camax, Louis Perrault

M. Hulot’s Holiday

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In Brief: As a mere boy, I bumped into Jacques Tati’s Mon Oncle on television — and didn’t like it. Many years later, I saw part of his Traffic — and didn’t like it. With that, I wrote off Tati’s work as something just not for me. And it was with that in mind that I faced seeing M. Hulot’s Holiday (from…
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Starring: Chadwick Boseman, Harrison Ford, Nicole Beharie, Christopher Meloni, Alan Tudyk

42: The Jackie Robinson Story

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In Brief: In honor of Black History Month, the Hendersonville Film Society will be revisiting 42: The Jackie Robinson Story. When the film premiered in 2013, it seemed like a missed opportunity to do justice to an important story about a great man — and having recently rewatched Alfred E. Green's 1950 take on the tale starring Robinson…
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Starring: Janet Gaynor, Fredric March, Adolphe Menjou, Lionel Stander, May Robson, Andy Devine

A Star is Born

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In Brief: With all due respect to George Cukor’s 1954 version — and a somewhat grim nod to Frank Pierson’s rock-star variant from 1976 — William A. Wellman’s original 1937 A Star Is Born is the essential Hollywood cautionary tale. It may owe something to Cukor’s 1932 film What Price Hollywood?, but it’s really its own animal. Changing the…
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Starring: Luis Gnecco, Gael García Bernal, Mercedes Morán, Diego Muñoz, Pablo Derqui, Michael Silva, Jaime Vadell, Alfredo Castro, Marcelo Alonso, Francisco Reyes, Alejandro Goic, Emilio Gutiérrez Caba

Neruda

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The Story: Famed Chilean poet and leftist politician Pablo Neruda flees the country, pursued by a relentless police inspector. The Lowdown: A fantastical take on a venerable historic figure, director Pablo Larraín and screenwriter Guillermo Calderón impart an unexpected sense of black humor to a significant subject.
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Starring: James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy, Betty Buckley, Jessica Sula, Haley Lu Richardson

Split

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The Story: An unhinged man with multiple personalities abducts three young girls for a nefarious purpose, the ramifications of which surpass their greatest fears. The Lowdown: Writer-director M. Night Shyamalan has defied the odds, delivering a tightly wound thriller that very nearly redeems his reputation — thanks in no small part to a remarkable performance from James McAvoy.
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Starring: Michael Keaton, Nick Offerman, John Carroll Lynch, Laura Dern, Linda Cardellini, B.J. Novak, Patrick Wilson, Justin Randell Brooke

The Founder

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The Story: A traveling salesman stumbles upon the opportunity of a lifetime when he comes across an inventive new type of restaurant conceived by two hard-working brothers. Their last name is McDonald, and the idea that is stolen from them changes the way the world eats. The Lowdown: A dramatization of Ray Kroc's now-infamous ousting of the actual…
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Starring: Annette Bening, Elle Fanning, Greta Gerwig, Lucas Jade Zumann, Billy Crudup

20th Century Women

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The Story: A middle-aged single mother seeks the help of two younger women in raising her adolescent son against a backdrop of gender turmoil in the late 70s. The Lowdown: Worth watching for its fantastic ensemble cast and a prodigious performance from Annette Bening, but a serious let-down on the story front.
Starring: Vin Diesel, Deepika Padukone, Donnie Yen, Samuel L. Jackson, Kris Wu

xXx: Return of Xander Cage

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The Story: Superspy Xander Cage comes out of retirement to stop a cabal of evil criminals. The Lowdown: A loud, silly and mostly tedious actioner that's (at least) better than its predecessor but isn't helped by a dull performance by lead Vin Diesel.
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Starring: Ivor Novello, Marie Ault, Arthur Chesney, June, Malcolm Keen

The Lodger

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In Brief: Fresh from his stint in the German film industry, Alfred Hitchcock gave the British movie world a well-needed shot in the arm with The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog (1927) starring the immensely popular Ivor Novello. In so doing, he also gave the world its very first movie that feels like what…
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Starring: Michael Redgrave, Margaret Lockwood, Paul Lukas, Dame May Whitty, Cecil Parker

The Lady Vanishes

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In Brief: The Lady Vanishes (1938) is not only one of Hitchcock’s best and most completely entertaining films, but it’s the film that launched Hitch on his Hollywood career. Hollywood had taken notice of him with The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934) and The 39 Steps (1935), but it was The Lady Vanishes that…
Starring: James McAvoy, Keira Knightley, Romola Garai, Vanessa Redgrave

Atonement

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In Brief: When Joe Wright’s sophomore effort Atonement hit Cannes, words like “masterpiece” and phrases like “an instant classic” (what does that mean? add water and stir?) came tumbling forth like oranges from a faulty sack. Being something of a skeptic — and always wary of high-toned dramas that smack of Merchant-Ivory or Masterpiece Theatre —…