Movie Reviews

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Starring: Alexander Skarsgard, Christoph Waltz, Margot Robbie, Samuel L. Jackson, Djimon Hounsou

The Legend of Tarzan

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The Story: Tarzan, supposed King of the Jungle turned aristocrat, returns to Africa only to find himself and his wife lured into a deadly trap. The Lowdown: A mature and stylish adventure film that suffers from being a bit too straight-faced and an inability to match its tone to its pulpy source.
the corpse vanishes
Starring: Bela Lugosi,Luana Walters, Tristram Coffin, Elizabeth Russell, Minerva Urcal, Angelo Rossitto

The Corpse Vanishes

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In Brief: Wallace Fox’s The Corpse Vanishes (1942) is the fourth of Lugosi’s Monogram Nine — and if nothing else, it’s hands down the nastiest of the lot. (It’s only competition is the same year’s Bowery at Midnight, which was also made by Mr. Fox.) Here we find Lugosi as Dr. Lorenz — mad scientist…
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Starring: Brian De Palma

De Palma

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The Story: A comprehensive retrospective of director Brian De Palma’s 50-year career in film, as recounted by De Palma himself. The Lowdown: More love letter than bio-doc, De Palma is required viewing for both devoted fans of the filmmaker’s work and anyone interested in the last half-century of film history.
meet john doe-imdb
Starring: Gary Cooper, Barbara Stanwyck, Edward Arnold, Walter Brennan, James Gleason

Meet John Doe

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The great Frank Capra’s most ambitious and disturbing film, Meet John Doe is possibly more relevant today than when it first appeared in 1941. The idea of a completely media-fabricated celebrity — raised almost to the level of deity and used as a tool for political gain — probably seemed pretty fantastic then. Of all…
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Starring: Elizabeth Mitchell, Frank Grillo, Betty Gabriel, Mykelti Williamson, Joseph Julian Soria, Edwin Hodge

The Purge: Election Year

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The Story: The premise from the first two installments of the Purge franchise — that all crime is permitted for a 12-hour period each year — remains unchanged, only the context is different. This time … it’s political! The Lowdown: Yet another disposable horror film courtesy of Blumhouse. If you enjoyed the first two films,…
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Starring: Paul Dano, Daniel Radcliffe, Mary Elizabeth Winstead

Swiss Army Man

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The Story: A man stranded on a desert island has lost the desire to live until a corpse washes ashore and provides him with the tools he needs to survive and, most importantly, the will to do so. The Lowdown: One of the damnedest things I’ve ever seen, Swiss Army Man is a surprisingly warm-hearted and…
house
Starring: Louis Hayward, Lee Bowman, Jane Wyatt, Dorothy Patrick, Ann Shoemaker, Jody Gilbert

House by the River

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In Brief: One of Fritz Lang's lesser-known films, House by the River (1950) was in fact often referred to as a "lost film." The fact seems to have been more prosaic than that. There was simply no interest in it because it was considered to be physically too dark to be watched on TV, especially…
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Starring: Glenda Jackson, Stratford Johns, Imogen Millais-Scott, Nickolas Grace, Douglas Hodge

Salome’s Last Dance

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In Brief: At an early point in Ken Russell’s Salome’s Last Dance (1988), Oscar Wilde (Nickolas Grace) is surprised to see an amateur production of his banned play Salome interrupted by a photographer taking a flash picture of the proceedings. The photographer is none other than Russell himself, who is playing a visiting dignitary in the show, prompting Wilde…
zombies
Starring: Dick Purcell, Joan Woodbury, Mantan Moreland, Henry Victor, John Archer, Madame Sul-Te-Wan

King of the Zombies

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In Brief: The story goes that King of the Zombies was written and designed with Bela Lugosi in mind for the villainous Dr. Sangre. It certainly has all the earmarks of a Lugosi role — a creepy foreigner with a zombie-like wife (Patricia Stacey), a sinister, isolated castle, equally sinister servants and a small squad of zombies. Instead,…
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Starring: Elle Fanning, Jena Malone, Karl Glusman, Bella Heathcote, Keanu Reeves

The Neon Demon

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The Story: A young model moves to Los Angeles and finds herself the center of attention, some of which is more dangerous than others. The Lowdown: A dull, pretentious and shallow examination of high fashion.
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Starring: Liam Hemsworth, Jeff Goldblum, Jessie T. Usher, Bill Pullman, Maika Monroe

Independence Day: Resurgence

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The Story: Two decades after thwarting an alien invasion, Earth finds itself in the midst of a surprise attack once again. The Lowdown: A rehash of its predecessor, with shades of interesting ideas, but becomes little more than a big-budget disasterfest with all the trappings and mindlessness this implies.
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Starring: Peter Weller, Judy Davis, Ian Holm, Julian Sands, Roy Scheider

Naked Lunch

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In Brief: Only a madman would attempt to film William S. Burroughs' novel Naked Lunch, and that is perhaps why David Cronenberg didn't make a film of it, instead making a film about Burroughs and the creation of the book. This does not make his 1991 film of Naked Lunch an easy undertaking for the casual…
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Starring: Ewan McGregor, Stellan Skarsgård, Naomie Harris, Damian Harris, Mark Stanley, Jeremy Northam

Our Kind of Traitor

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The Story: A British couple on holiday in Marrakech become involved in espionage and intrigue. The Lowdown: Reasonably cerebral thrills are to be found in this latest transfer of a John le Carré novel to the screen. Solid entertainment with Ewan McGregor and Naomie Harris as appealing leads and Stellan Skarsgård and Damian Harris in…
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Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Mahershala Ali, Keri Russell, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Christopher Berry

Free State of Jones

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The Story: During the Civil War, a poor Mississippi farmer leads a rebellion against the Confederate Army. The Lowdown: A film too aware of its own importance —  and it shows, with its endless speechifying, solemn tone and laborious pacing.
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Starring: Jan Vokes, Brian Vokes, Howard Davies, Angela Davies

Dark Horse

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The Story: Documentary about a real-life uplifting sports tale of an unlikely racehorse. The Lowdown: Sweet without being cloying, crowd-pleasing without being obviously manipulative, this is how this kind of tale ought to be told. See it now before Hollywood decides to remake it.
not of this
Starring: Paul Birch, Beverly Garland, Morgan Jones, Jonathan Haze, William Roerick

Not of This Earth

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In Brief: In 1957, this Roger Corman cheapie played on a double bill with Attack of the Crab Monsters and was advertised as a “Terrorama! Double Horror Sensation!” As with most sci-fi horror pictures of its era, the ad campaign smacks of wishful thinking. Yet, there’s no denying that Not of This Earth (a premise Corman liked so much…
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Starring: Leslie Banks, Edna Best, Peter Lorre, Frank Vosper, Hugh Wakefield

The Man Who Knew Too Much

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In Brief: The Asheville Film Society's first monthly ticketed film, 1934's The Man Who Knew Too Much, is the movie that gained Alfred Hitchcock the attention of the international film world — attention that would increase with The 39 Steps (1935) and The Lady Vanishes (1938), the films that took him to America. It is also a film that…
maraviglioso
Starring: Kasia Smutniak, Riccardo Scamarcio, Jasmine Trinca, Vittoria Puccini, Rosabell Laurenti Sellers

Wondrous Boccaccio

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In Brief: Put bluntly, the Taviani Brothers' Wondrous Boccaccio (2015) isn't. That's not all that surprising since it's from the Taviani Brothers, gained no release in the country and is out on DVD from Film Movement, whose name is synonymous with movies no one else would touch. What you get with this adaptation of Giovanni Boccaccio's…
Port-of-Shadows
Starring: Jean Gabin, Michel Simon, Michèle Morgan, Pierre Brasseur, Édouard Delmont

Port of Shadows

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In Brief: Marcel Carné's Port of Shadows (1938) is — not unjustly — celebrated today as a kind of precursor to film noir, but the truth is that it's more a very French fatalist romance of a kind that can best be called poetic, trashy melodrama. And that is not a put-down by any means.…
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Starring: Anthony Weiner, Huma Abedin, Adam S. Barta, Amit Bagga, Sydney Leathers

Weiner

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The Story: Documentary about Anthony Weiner's doomed bid for redemption by running for mayor of New York City. The Lowdown: Yeah, you almost certainly know how this is going to play out, but that doesn't keep the film from being compelling and even fascinating.
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Starring: (Voices) Ellen DeGeneres, Albert Brooks, Hayden Rolence, Ed O’Neill, Kaitlin Olson, Diane Keaton, Eugene Levy, Ty Burrell, Idris Elba, Dominic West, Sigourney Weaver

Finding Dory

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The Story: Dory, the chronically forgetful comic relief from Finding Nemo, takes center stage in a search for her lost parents. The Lowdown: Exactly what you’d expect, Finding Dory is a slick, expensively produced, four-quadrant Pixar people-pleaser.