Movie Reviews

Starring: Gregory Walcott, Mona McKinnon, Tor Johnson, Dudley Manlove, Bela Lugosi

Plan 9 From Outer Space

It's good to see Asheville getting a dose of the peculiar delights of Ed Wood-style cinema. And those delights don't come any more peculiar than Plan 9 from Outer Space. It may be the most enjoyable bad film of all time. Wood had no money, no credentials and, worst of all, no talent, but he didn't…
DETOUR, Ann Savage, Tom Neal, 1945, lamppost
Starring: Tom Neal, Ann Savage, Claudia Drake


Some have called Edgar G. Ulmer’s Detour (1945) the ultimate example of film noir. While I wouldn’t necessarily go that far, it is unquestionably a tour de force and a nigh-unassailable classic of the genre. A Poverty Row cheapie shot in six days on a practically nonexistent budget, Detour bears all the hallmarks of classic film…
Starring: Keiji Sada, Yoshiko Kuga, Chishû Ryû, Kuniko Miyake, Haruko Sugimura

Good Morning

In Brief: OK, I’m not a huge fan of Yasujirô Ozu. I recognize his place in world cinema, but I’ve never warmed to his work on a personal level, I don’t care for his restrained style, and I don’t accept the idea that everything he made was of great importance. (If you’re an Ozu completist,…
Starring: Jim Caviezel, Guy Pearce, Dagmara Dominiczyk, Richard Harris, Luis Guzman

The Count of Monte Cristo

Kevin Reynolds' The Count of Monte Cristo (2002) is such a gloriously old-fashioned, swashbuckling adventure movie that it makes one wonder if we've been blaming the wrong Kevin for the cinematic atrocities that are Waterworld and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. The combination of Reynolds and the memory of the dreary attempt at putting Dumas…
Starring: Haruka Ayase, Masami Nagasawa, Kaho, Suzu Hirose

Our Little Sister

The Story: After the death of their estranged father, three sisters invite their young (and previously unknown) half sister to live with them. The Lowdown: A charming, quiet movie that's beautifully shot and wonderfully acted, about family history and coming to terms with the past.
Starring: William Genovese, Shannon Beeby, Kitty Genovese

The Witness

The Story: 50 years after the horrific murder of his sister, a man reexamines everything he thought he knew about the tragic event.  The Lowdown: Equally as frustrating as it is compelling, The Witness is a brutal examination of loss, memory, and the social contract that inextricably binds together total strangers.
Starring: Tika Sumpter, Parker Sawyers, Vanessa Bell Calloway

Southside with You

The Story: Future President Barack Obama and Future First Lady Michelle (née Robinson) go on their first date. The Lowdown: A toothless exercise in premature mythologization, Southside is likely to feel contrived to all but the most ardent Obama fans.
Starring: Jack Huston, Morgan Freeman, Toby Kebbell, Nazanin Boniadi, Haluk Bilginer, Rodrigo Santoro

Ben Hur

The Story: A Jewish prince in Roman-occupied Jerusalem seeks revenge after he is betrayed by his adoptive brother, but his heart is softened by encounters with Jesus Christ. The Lowdown: Failing to function on both cinematic and evangelistic levels, Ben Hur is a disappointing and redundant take on a story that's been told often — and better.
Starring: (voices) Art Parkinson, Charlize Theron, Matthew McConaughey, Ralph Fiennes, Rooney Mara

Kubo and the Two Strings

The Story: A young boy sets off on an epic adventure to retrieve a mystical set of armor and stop an evil force. The Lowdown: A visually accomplished animated flick that's a bit too straitlaced and lacking in fun.
Miles Teller and Jonah Hill in 'War Dogs.' Courtesy: Green Hat Films.
Starring: Miles Teller, Jonah Hill, Ana de Armas, Kevin Pollak, Bradley Cooper

War Dogs

The Story:  Miami Beach bros in their early 20s make millions exploiting military contracts with shady business partners during the Iraq War. The Lowdown: Miles Teller is almost ready to be a leading man. But, like much of this film, he falls short of his grown-up goal.
Starring: Anna Gunn, James Purefoy, Sarah Megan Thomas, Alysia Reiner, Samuel Roukin


The Story: An investment banker tries to save her career, while her boyfriend is secretly (and illegally) trying to sabotage her. The Lowdown: A not-very-thrilling Wall Street thriller with hints of feminism that don't quite come together — and a weak cast that doesn't help things.
Starring: Marcello Mastroianni, Claudia Cardinale, Anouk Aimee, Barbara Steele

8 1/2

One of the undisputed classics of modern international film, 8 1/2 (its title literally meaning that it was Federico Fellini's eight-and-one-halfth film — seven full features and a couple short segments of omnibus films precede it) is the movie where the greatest of all Italian filmmakers moved completely away from traditional realism toward a more personal approach…
Starring: Christopher Lee, Edward Woodward, Britt Ekland, Diane Cilento, Ingrid Pitt, Roy Boyd

The Wicker Man

One of only three films directed by Robin Hardy, much of what makes The Wicker Man (1973) so special can likely be attributed to recently deceased writer Anthony Shaffer, who also wrote Hitchcock's Frenzy and both the stage and screen versions of Sleuth. This film is unquestionably a definitive cult classic, due largely to its low-budget location shooting…
Starring: Dustin Hoffman, Vanessa Redgrave, Timothy Dalton, Helen Morse, Celia Gregory


In Brief: Michael Apted's 1979 film — his conjecture as to what might have happened during the 11-day disappearance in 1926 of mystery novelist Agatha Christie — is one of the overlooked gems of '70s filmmaking. It may not be Apted's best film, but it is almost certainly his most visually sumptuous — thanks in no small…
Starring: Ugo Tognazzi, Michel Serrault, Claire Maurier, Benny Luke

La Cage aux Folles

Based on the hit French stage play by Jean Poiret, La Cage aux Folles became a surprise hit with mainstream American audience when it debuted in 1978, and was for a time the highest grossing foreign-language film in the States. It's easy to see why, as this farcical satire (or is it a satirical farce?) about…
Starring: Chris Pine, Ben Foster, Jeff Bridges, Gil Birmingham, Marin Ireland, Katy Mixon

Hell or High Water

The Story: Two brothers rob branches of the bank that's trying to foreclose on the family farm, but two U.S. Marshals are determined to stop them. The Lowdown: A genre throwback with remarkable depth, Hell will be a strong contender for many best-of lists come year's end.
Starring: Logan Lerman, Sarah Gadon, Tracy Letts, Linda Edmond, Danny Burstein, Ben Rosenfield, Philip Ettinger, Ben Rosenfield, Sue Dahlman


The Story: A gifted young Jewish student from Newark attends a small liberal arts college in Ohio to escape both his overbearing parents and the Korean War, until the attentions of a beautiful but troubled young woman compromise his plans. The Lowdown: An adaptation of Philip Roth's 2008 novel of the same name, Indignation marks a spotty, but ultimately…
Starring: Oakes Fegley, Bryce Dallas Howard, Oona Laurence, Wes Bentley, Karl Urban

Pete’s Dragon

The Story: After a car crash kills his parents, a young boy is taken in by a dragon who lives in the wilderness. The Lowdown: A gentle, sweet, family-centric movie that has some small points of interest, but one that's not very exciting as a whole.
Starring: Seth Rogen, Kristen Wiig, Jonah Hill, Bill Hader, Michael Cera, James Franco, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, Paul Rudd, Nick Kroll, David Krumholtz, Edward Norton, Salma Hayek

Sausage Party

The Story: An anthropomorphic sausage questions his worldview when evidence emerges that things are not what they seem beyond the supermarket doors. The Lowdown: A passable raunch-com attack on modern kids' films that falls short of full-on hilarity.
Starring: Simone Signoret, Véra Clouzot, Paul Meurisse

Les Diaboliques

In Brief: Henri-Georges Clouzot is noted as France’s answer to Hitchcock,  but the argument could be made that he was, at times, even better. Along with Wages of Fear and The Inferno, Clouzot’s mastery of morbidity is at least on par with Hitchcock’s darkest corners. Possibly the director’s best known work, Les Diaboliques (1955) is a gripping…