Movie Reviews

Starring: Vin Diesel, Rose Leslie, Elijah Wood, Michael Caine

The Last Witch Hunter

The Story: An 800-year-old witch hunter squares off against an ill-tempered witch queen with rebirth on her mind. The Lowdown: Not good enough to be good, and not quite bad enough to be fun, this is strictly for Vin Diesel diehards.
Starring: Aubrey Peeples, Stefanie Scott, Aurora Perrineau, Hayley Kiyoko, Molly Ringwald

Jem and the Holograms

The Story: A teenage girl finds Internet stardom and heads off to Los Angeles to a music career with her three sisters. The Lowdown: A tedious, innocuous and overlong adaptation of the ‘80s cartoon.
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Seth Rogen, Jeff Daniels, Michael Stuhlbarg, Katherine Waterston, Perla Haney-Jardine

Steve Jobs

The Story: Biopic of Steve Jobs. The Lowdown: Solidly made, largely entertaining, but hardly the groundbreaking work it's been touted as.
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Starring: Chris Sarandon, Cristina Raines, Burgess Meredith, Eli Wallach, Christopher Walken, Ava Gardner

The Sentinel

In Brief: I saw Michael Winner’s The Sentinel (1977) on its opening weekend as part of a daylong bout of movie-going. It was the first film of the day, and I was frankly appalled by it, but it remains the only movie I remember from that outing (apart from a midnight show of Ken Russell’s 1971 film, The Boy Friend).…
Starring: Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Basil Rathbone, Claude Rains, Patric Knowles, Eugene Pallette, Alan Hale, Ian Hunter, Una O'Connor

The Adventures of Robin Hood

In Brief: What is left to be said about The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)? It is — even if mostly by accident — one of the most perfectly cast movies ever made. Every player in it seems to have been born to play his or her role. The production values are top-notch. The score…
Starring: Gaspard Manesse, Raphael Fetjo, Francine Racette, Philippe Morier-Genoud

Au Revoir, les Enfants

In Brief: Generally speaking, Louis Malle’s films are a little too restrained for my taste, but, as with most things, there are exceptions. With Malle, the exception is his semiautobiographical 1987 work, Au Revoir, les Enfants, a film where his restraint is less pronounced than usual. Malle’s approach is perfectly suited to the subject —…
Starring: Deborah Kerr, Megs Jenkins, Peter Wyngarde, Martin Stephens, Pamela Franklin, Michael Redgrave

The Innocents

In Brief: Though highly regarded in some quarters, I have always found Jack Clayton's The Innocents (1961) a well-produced bore with literary pretensions of the stupefyingly trapped-in-amber kind. But I thought it was time to give it another try when this screening popped up. I wish I could say another viewing of this film version…
Starring: Bill Murray, Kate Hudson, Leem Lubany, Fahim Fazli, Arian Moayed, Bruce Willis

Rock the Kasbah

The Story: A meandering series of events that ultimately becomes the tale of a low-rent talent agent getting a young Afghan girl on the show "Afghan Star." The Lowdown: The first half of this Bill Murray vehicle is just not good, but it gives way in its second half to a movie that's very worth seeing to a degree that…
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Starring: Bob Hope, Paulette Goddard, Willie Best, Paul Lukas, Richard Carlson, Anthony Quinn

The Ghost Breakers

In Brief: For their Halloween movie, the Asheville Film Society revisits the Bob Hope horror-comedy The Ghost Breakers, which they showed four years ago. After spending nearly a year trying to figure out what to do with Hope, Paramount had struck gold by putting him in a film version of an “old dark house” stage play with The…
Starring: Nic Bishop, Caleb Castille, Sean Astin, Jon Voight


The Story: An Alabama high school football team struggling through integration finds inspiration through Christianity. The Lowdown: Another corny, schmaltzy and forgettable entry into the world of Christian cinema.
Starring: Mia Wasikowska, Tom Hiddleston, Jessica Chastain, Charlie Hunnam, Jim Beaver

Crimson Peak

The Story: A young woman marries a strange man and discovers that life with him and his sister in the family mansion isn't what she'd hoped for. The Lowdown: Guillermo del Toro's gothic horror, haunted house shocker — perhaps the most visually striking film of the year — is in a class by itself. A…
Starring: Jack Black, Dylan Minnette, Odeya Rush, Ryan Lee, Amy Ryan, Jillian Bell


The Story: The assorted monsters from R.L. Stine's Goosebumps books get loose, causing kid-friendly mayhem. The Lowdown: It's better than you probably think, and children should love it. It looks good, is pleasant enough, but anything more than that — probably not.
Starring: Susanne Wuest, Lukas Schwarz, Elias Schwartz, Hans Escher, Elfriede Schatz, Karl Purker

Goodnight Mommy

The Story: Two children become convinced that their mother — wrapped in bandages following cosmetic surgery — isn't their mother. The Lowdown: Highly regarded on the festival circuit it may be, but this is a slow, unpleasant thriller with the most transparent "twist" of all time.
Starring: Julianne Moore, Ellen Page, Michael Shannon, Steve Carell


The Story: A New Jersey police detective dying from cancer bands together with her domestic partner to fight bureaucratic idiocy for justice, equality and legal recognition of their relationship.  The Lowdown: A capable cast fails to elevate a weak script in this attempt to preach to the choir.
Starring: Tom Hanks, Mark Rylance, Scott Shepherd, Amy Ryan, Alan Alda, Sebastian Koch

Bridge of Spies

The Story: Fact-based story of Cold War politics and espionage. The Lowdown: Solid old-fashioned moviemaking with everything that implies. Sure, it's well-made and it does what it sets out to do, but there's an inescapable sense of ossification.
Starring: Akira Takarada, Momoko Kôchi, Akihiko Hirata, Takashi Shimura, Fuyuki Murakami

Gojira (Godzilla)

In Brief: Perhaps no series in the history of movies ever went to hell as fast as the seemingly endless spawn of Gojira — or Godzilla as it came to be known in the West. Oh, sure, the immediate cheapjack sequel Godzilla Raids Again (1955) — which made it to the U.S. in 1959 as Gigantis the Fire Monster — was at…
Starring: Ellen Burstyn, Linda Blair, Max von Sydow, Jason Miller, Lee J. Cobb

The Exorcist

In Brief: For the Halloween season, the Asheville Film Society has booked — from a new DCP rendering of the movie — William Friedkin's horror classic The Exorcist (1973). Friedkin’s film treatment of William Peter Blatty’s best-selling novel about a young girl possessed by a demon originally seemed more an “event” than a great movie. Its…
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Levi Miller, Garrett Hedlund, Rooney Mara, Adeel Akhtar, Amanda Seyfried


The Story: An attempt at creating an origins story for Peter Pan. The Lowdown: A deeply disappointing film from an incredibly talented filmmaker. It sometimes works. More often, it doesn't. It's mostly watchable, but it's a lot of fuss over not much. Think of it as Peter Pan: The YA Years.
Starring: Oliver Reed, Samantha Eggar, Art Hindle, Henry Beckman, Nuala Fitzgerald, Cindy Hinds

The Brood

In Brief: The Brood (1979) may reasonably be considered the first of David Cronenberg’s mature films. It’s undeniably the first that afforded him the presence of two actual stars — Oliver Reed and Samantha Eggar. It’s also the first that is clearly about more than it seems, which only serves to make its excursions into Cronenbergian…
Starring: Woody Allen, Alan Alda, Martin Landau, Mia Farrow, Anjelica Huston

Crimes and Misdemeanors

In Brief: If Crimes and Misdemeanors isn’t Woody Allen’s best blending of drama and comedy, it’s most certainly in the running (and beats the pants off his 2005 white-bread, wholly dramatic reworking of similar material, Match Point). It may also be the filmmaker’s most intensely Jewish work. Jewishness, of course, is rarely far removed from any Allen film,…