Movie Reviews

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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.
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Starring: Royalty Hightower, Alexis Neblett, Inayah Rodgers, Da'Sean Minor, Antonio A.B. Grant Jr., Lauren Gibson

The Fits

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The Story: A young girl finds her world opening up when she becomes a member of a dance group at a community center. The Lowdown: Virtually impossible to synopsize and not even easy to describe. Let me just say that this is a rather special movie.
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Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Amy Ryan, Danielle Nicolet, Aaron Paul

Central Intelligence

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The Story: After reuniting with a long-lost high school buddy, a straitlaced accountant finds himself tied up in an unexpected game of espionage. The Lowdown: A generally harmless, sometimes amusing comedy thanks to its leads, but with little else memorable to offer beyond its run-of-the-mill buddy cop trappings.
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Starring: Patrick Wilson, Vera Farmiga, Madison Wolfe, Frances O'Connor, Lauren Esposito, Simon McBurney, Simon Delaney

The Conjuring 2

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The Story: "Psychic investigators" Ed and Lorraine Warren are called in on a case of demonic possession in England. The Lowdown: A considerable improvement over its predecessor, this one is genuinely unsettling and atmospheric — even knowing that the story is utter hogwash. While deploring the glorification of the Warrens, I can't deny that James…
SAVING MR. BANKS
Starring: Emma Thompson, Tom Hanks, Colin Farrell, Ruth Wilson, Paul Giamatti, Bradley Whitford, B.J. Novak, Jason Schwartzman

Saving Mr. Banks

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In Brief: For their Father's Day selection , the Hendersonville Film Society has settled on the ... interesting, but defensible, choice of the 2013 movie Saving Mr. Banks. In order to enjoy this movie, it’s necessary to realize only that the principal characters truly did exist. Walt Disney did indeed woo P.L. Travers for years to…
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Starring: Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn, Walter Matthau, James Coburn, George Kennedy

Charade

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In Brief: Often spoken of as “the best Alfred Hithcock movie Hitchcock never made,” the truth is that Stanley Donen’s Charade is much better as sophisticated, sexy entertainment than anything Hitchcock himself was making in the 1960s. In fact, by 1963, Hitch would never make anything that was this much pure fun again. This is old-style Hollywood moviemaking, complete…
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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 sealed the deal. It’s not hard…
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Starring: Travis Fimmel, Paula Patton, Dominic Cooper, Ruth Negga, Ben Foster, Toby Kebbell, Clancy Brown, Daniel Wu, Ben Schnetzer, Robert Kazinsky

Warcraft

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The Story: Fleeing a dying homeworld, an army of Orcs led by a corrupt mage invade the peaceful realm of Azeroth and seek to conquer its human (and Elf, and Dwarf) inhabitants. The Lowdown: More an instruction manual than a film, Warcraft is likely to disappoint and frustrate both long-time fans of the games and…
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Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Daniel Radcliffe, Morgan Freeman, Woody Harrelson

Now You See Me 2

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The Story: After resurfacing, magician troupe The Four Horseman must battle wits with a tech genius. The Lowdown: A needlessly convoluted and nonsensical sequel that’s occasionally entertaining, mostly in unintentional ways.
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Starring: Colin Firth, Jude Law, Nicole Kidman, Laura Linney, Guy Pearce, Dominic West

Genius

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The Story: A film centered on the relationship between Thomas Wolfe and his editor, Maxwell Perkins. The Lowdown: Highly polished, poetically minded biographical film that captures something of the essence of the author-editor relationship and the genius of both of its subjects. Few films have such a literary aura as this.
invaders
Starring: Helena Carter, Arthur Franz, Jimmy Hunt, Leif Erickson, Hillary Brooke

Invaders from Mars

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In Brief: William Cameron Menzies’ Invaders from Mars has the unusual distinction of being one of the silliest and most threadbare 1950s science fiction movies and, at the same time, being one of the best. And it’s quite possibly one of maybe two or three that are actually effectively scary. The film was responsible for thousands — if…