Movie Reviews

Starring: John Malkovich, Willem Dafoe, Udo Kier, Cary Elwes, Catherine McCormack, Eddie Izzard

Shadow of the Vampire

In Brief: E. Elias Merhige’s Shadow of the Vampire (2001) is a film that offers a very fantasticated story about Murnau (John Malkovich) making Nosferatu in 1922. Shadow has long held a special place for me because it was the first new release I reviewed for the Xpress to earn a full five stars — a rating I see no…
Starring: Karuna Banerjee, Kanu Banerjee, Pinaki Sengupta, Smaron Ghosal

Aparajito (The Unvanquished)

In Brief: At once poetic and grittily realistic, sophisticated and crude, Aparajito (1957) marks the second film in Satyajit Ray's Apu trilogy. It is similar to the first film in that it feels less like a movie than like spending time in another life and another world. However, Ray learned much in the two years…
Starring: Channing Tatum, Joe Manganiello, Matt Bomer, Kevin Nash, Jada Pinkett Smith

Magic Mike XXL

The Story: Magic Mike and his crew of male strippers take a road trip from Florida to Myrtle Beach for one last hurrah. The Lowdown: A wonderfully entertaining and disposable piece of entertainment that wants little more than to be a feel-good flick, but its well-drawn characters help make it a little more than that.
Starring: Roger Livesey, Anton Walbrook, Deborah Kerr, Roland Culver, Harry Welchman, Arthur Wontner

The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp

In Brief: The original Colonel Blimp was the central figure in a series of British comics — a blowhard caricature of the English "fire-eater" military man. The character presented in Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943) only starts as that caricature (never called Blimp in the film), after…
Starring: Christopher Lee, Rupert Davies, Veronica Carlson, Barbara Ewing, Barry Andrews

Dracula Has Risen from the Grave

In Brief: It was inevitable that a series devoted to horror pictures would run a movie to note the death of Christopher Lee. Rather than draw from the list of the more highly regarded of his Hammer horrors, it was decided to go with something just slightly off the beaten path — Dracula Has Risen from the…
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jason Clarke, Emilia Clarke, Jai Courtney, J.K. Simmons, Byung-hun Lee

Terminator Genisys

The Story: Kyle Reese is sent back from the future to protect Sarah Connor from the Terminator and to re-write history, only to find out it's already been re-written. The Lowdown: Amazingly silly stuff that mostly gets by by allowing itself to be amazingly silly — at least most of the time. Vaguely set up…
Starring: Amy Winehouse, Yasiin Bey (Mos Def), Mark Ronson, Tony Bennett, Blake Fielder-Civil, Mitch Winehouse


The Story: The story of Amy Winehouse as told in archival footage and home videos.  The Lowdown: A powerful, but not always comfortable portrait of a seemingly inevitable tragedy told with uncommon immediacy.
Starring: Mary Pickford, Ida Waterman, Herbert Standing, Conway Tearle, Marcia Manon, Josephince Crowell, Teddy the Sennett Dog, Gustav von Seyffertitz

Stella Maris

In Brief: On the one hand, Marshall Neilan's Stella Maris is almost exactly what you expect stylistically from a 1918 (actually made in 1917) film — apart from its startling final shot. It's all done with a nailed-down camera, though shrewdly broken down in editing to keep it from feeling static, so that it's also…
Starring: William Daniels, Howard Da Silva, Ken Howard, Donald Madden, John Cullum


In Brief: High on the list of "For people who like this sort of thing, this is the sort of thing they will like" is Peter H. Hunt's 1776. I freely admit I am not among their number. I watched 1776 once, after years of having avoided it, thanks to a high school classmate who…
Starring: Max von Sydow, Liv Ullmann, Bibi Andersson, Erland Josephson

The Passion of Anna

In Brief: World Cinema is revisiting this frequently overlooked Ingmar Bergman film. The U.S. title, The Passion of Anna, of The Passion (1969) is misleading, since it’s difficult to conclude that the film is really about Anna’s (Liv Ullmann) passion. Perhaps the American distributor simply thought it sounded sexier. In any case, the film is one of…
Starring: Carlos (as Max), Thomas Hayden Church, Josh Wiggins, Luke Kleintank, Lauren Graham, Robbie Amell, Mia Xitlali, Dejon LaQuake, Jay Hernandez


The Story: A military working dog (MWD) returns from Afghanistan after his handler is killed and is adopted by the handler’s family. For no logical reason he then helps thwart a gun-running plot. The Lowdown: A dog of a film that never rises above emotional exploitation, despite excellent canine performances and beautiful WNC filming locations.
Starring: James Booth, Roy Kinnear, Marisa Mell, Alita Naughton, Bryan Pringle, Sandor Elès

French Dressing

In Brief: In honor of Ken Russell's 88th birthday, the Asheville Film Society is screening the filmmaker's rarely seen — never officially released in the U.S. — first feature, French Dressing (1964). Beating the British Film Invasion proper by a few months, this charming little seaside comedy romance is very, very British, but it also underscores…
Starring: Adam Scott, Taylor Schilling, Jason Schwartzman, Judith Godrèche

The Overnight

The Story: A couple newly arrived in L.A. accept a dinner invitation from someone who very well may have ulterior motives. The Lowdown: Though marketed as a comedy, The Overnight isn't all that funny. It's, in fact, better at being disconcerting. While not without its strong points, the film is too meandering and vague in…
Starring: Hugh Grant, Amanda Donohoe, Peter Capaldi, Sammi Davis, Catherine Oxenberg, Stratford Johns

The Lair of the White Worm

In Brief: July 3 would have been Ken Russell's 88th birthday and, to mark the event, Russell's 1988 horror comedy, The Lair of the White Worm, makes a return appearance at the Thursday Horror Picture Show. While it's one of the filmmaker's lighter works, it's also the Ken Russell picture that turned a lot of younger…
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Starring: Thomas Mann, RJ Cyler, Olivia Cooke, Nick Offerman, Connie Britton, Molly Shannon, Jon Bernthal, Katherine C. Hughes

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

The Story: A social misfit high-schooler is forced by his mother to befriend a girl in his class who's been diagnosed with leukemia. The Lowdown: It may sound like dreary, doomed romance teenage goo, but this smart, stylish film is anything but that. Rather, it's one of the delights of 2015. A must-see for discerning…
Starring: Seth MacFarlane, Mark Wahlberg, Amanda Seyfried, Jessica Barth, Giovanni Ribisi

Ted 2

The Story: The lethargic, crass, mysteriously anthropomorphic teddy bear Ted returns, this time fighting the law to be recognized as a human being. The Lowdown: Everything terrible about the original Ted —  the casual bigotry, the simple-minded pop culture references — but within the framework of an even lazier piece of filmmaking.
Starring: Bela Lugosi, Lionel Atwill, Leif Erickson, Irene Hervey, Ralph Morgan, Don Porter, Nils Asther, Fay Helm, Doris Lloyd

Night Monster

In Brief: Ford Beebe’s economically-minded Night Monster (1942) not only uses the sets from The Wolf Man (1941), but also pilfers the Wolf Man’s feet for its nocturnal monster. It is, in any case, quite the best movie Beebe ever made. In fact, it’s hard to understand why Beebe — a specialist in serials and cowboy movies —…
Starring: Benicio Del Toro, Josh Hutcherson, Brady Corbet, Claudia Traisac, Carlos Bardem, Ana Giradot

Escobar: Paradise Lost

The Story: Fictionalized thriller about an innocent who is corrupted and betrayed by a real life character. The Lowdown: Note well that this is not a biopic on Pablo Escobar; it's a thriller crafted around Escobar. On that basis, it mostly works — at least once it gets going — and Benicio Del Toro is…
Starring: Kate Winslet, Matthias Schoenaerts, Alan Rickman, Stanley Tucci, Helen McCrory, Jennifer Ehle

A Little Chaos

The Story: A female landscape designer lands a position at Versailles constructing an outdoor ballroom for Louis XIV. The Lowdown: Stylish direction, a great cast, a plum role for Kate Winslet and numerous delights overcome the somewhat fragmented construction of this (loosely) historical romance.
Starring: (Voices) Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Richard Kind, Bill Hader, Lewis Black, Mindy Kaling, Kaitlyn Dias

Inside Out

The Story: When a young girl's central memories are lost, it falls to two of her basic emotional components to find them. The Lowdown: A mix of the brilliant and the basic — a film that truly soars when it works, but doesn't quite work all of the time.
Starring: George Arliss, Violet Heming, Bette Davis, Andre Luguet, Louise Closser Hale, Ivan Simpson, Oscar Apfel

The Man Who Played God

In Brief: Touted as "A modern drama from real life," The Man Who Played God (1932) is actually a remake of George Arliss' 1922 silent version (now lost) of  a 1914 play. It is, however, one of that great actor's best films. It's also the movie where Arliss brought Bette Davis to Warner Bros. — at the suggestion…