Movie Reviews

taste
Starring: Homayoun Ershadi, Abdolrahman Bagheri, Afshin Khorshid Bakhtiari, Mir Hossein Noori

Taste of Cherry


In Brief: Some movies are leisurely paced. Some are deliberately paced. Still others are glacially paced. They all are on the slow side — in varying degrees. Depending on where you land in it, Abbas Kiarostami's Taste of Cherry (1997) covers all the bases of slowness. And yet, I have to admit that it held…
hunger_games_078
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Donald Sutherland, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Julianne Moore

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1


The Story: The first half of the final chapter in The Hunger Games series finds the rebels preparing for an all-out war with the government. The Lowdown: More intelligent, more interesting and generally better made than its predecessors, but it's a film that would be hard to even follow for a newcomer.
gigot
Starring: Jackie Gleason, Katherine Kath, Diane Gardner, Jacques Marin, Gabrielle Dorziat

Gigot


In Brief: On the surface, the idea of a movie in which Jackie Gleason plays mute has its appeal. At least he can't bellow every line of dialogue, because ... well, he hasn't any. In practice, however, what we get in Gigot (1962) is a gooey vanity project for Gleason, who seems to think he's…
theory
Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, David Thewlis, Emily Watson, Guy Oliver-Watts, Charlie Cox, Maxine Peake

The Theory of Everything


The Story: Biopic about Stephen Hawking and his wife Jane. The Lowdown: Unabashed crowd-pleaser Oscar bait that works on that level — thanks in large part to the acting — but never really transcends the conventions of the biopic genre.
bride monster2
Starring: Bela Lugosi, Tor Johnson, Tony McCoy, Loretta King, Harvey B. Dunn, George Becwar, Dolores Fuller

Bride of the Monster


In Brief:  Though it comes a week early, it can be fairly said that this is the Thursday Horror Picture Show's Thanksgiving turkey, but what an entertaining turkey it is. Saying that Bride of the Monster (1955) is the best movie Ed Wood ever made isn’t exactly showering it with praise, since that’s based on the sliding…
Beyond_the_lights_Still
Starring: Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Nate Parker, Minnie Driver, Richard Colson Baker, Danny Glover

Beyond the Lights


The Story: An up-and-coming pop star, struggling with her rise to fame, falls in love with a humble police officer. The Lowdown: A mature, realistic romance that struggles due to a lack of cinematic style and dramatic tension.
sandburg
Starring: Matthew Allis

The Day Carl Sandburg Died


In Brief: This is a make-up showing of The Day Carl Sandburg Died, which the Hendersonville Film Society had slated to run some considerable time ago. The film is a scrupulously detailed, reasonably comprehensive and beautifully presented documentary on the great American poet Carl Sandburg from Asheville filmmaker Paul Bonesteel. Whatever you think you know…
dumb
Starring: Jim Carrey, Jeff Daniels, Kathleen Turner, Rob Riggle, Laurie Holden, Rachel Melvin

Dumb and Dumber To


The Story: Twenty years after the fact, we get the further adventures of Harry and Lloyd. The Lowdown: The “much-anticipated” (they say) sequel to Dumb and Dumber (1994) is a shapeless retread of things that supposedly worked in the first movie. One of the worst films of 2014.
hour
Starring: Max von Sydow, Liv Ullman, Gertrud Fridh, Georg Rydeberg, Erland Josephson

Hour of the Wolf


In Brief: Exempting the multi-director film Stimulantia (1967), Ingmar Bergman’s Hour of the Wolf (1968) follows his equally disturbing Persona (1966) and is stylistically and tonally very similar. Why Hour of the Wolf  is classified as a horror-drama and Persona as a drama is a matter for debate. Both are nightmarish. Both deal (as does…
Citizenfour-Movie
Starring: Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald, Jeremy Scahill, Kevin Bankston, William Binney

Citizenfour


The Story: Activist documentary on whistle-blower Edward Snowden. The Lowdown: Clearly — and unquestioningly — in the pro-Snowden camp, this film lacks balance, which is expected in this type of movie. But it also tries to create urgency with a story where we already know the ending (such as it is). Worthy, but a good…
judge2
Starring: Will Rogers, Tom Brown, Anita Louise, Stepin Fetchit, Henry B. Walthall, David Landau, Hattie McDaniel

Judge Priest


In Brief: Will Rogers once called John Ford’s Judge Priest the best movie he ever made. Of course, he was promoting the film when he said that. Whether or not it’s quite true, it’s easily his most controversial — and most problematic for modern viewers. The story — adapted from the writings of American humorist and occasional actor Irvin…
rosewater
Starring: Gael García Bernal, Kim Bodnia, Dimitri Leonidas, Haluk Bilginer, Shohreh Aghdashloo

Rosewater


The Story: Fact-based story of Iranian-born, Canada-based journalist Maziar Bahari’s imprisonment and torture by the government of Iran. The Lowdown: The hook here is that this is the writing-directing debut of Jon Stewart. The results are a mixed bag, with moments of greatness that aren’t enough to make the film itself great. It is, however,…
great
Starring: Charles Chaplin, Paulette Goddard, Jack Oakie, Reginald Gardiner, Henry Daniell, Billy Gilbert

The Great Dictator


In Brief: For their final Budget Big Screen film of 2014 (the free Tuesday and Thursday showings will continue through the winter and the BBS series will return in the spring), the Asheville Film Society is running Charles Chaplin’s first talkie, The Great Dictator (1940). Chaplin held out against talking pictures longer than anyone —…
ministry
Starring: Ray Milland, Marjorie Reynolds, Carl Esmond, Hillary Brooke, Percy Waram, Dan Duryea

Ministry of Fear


In Brief: Fritz Lang’s American films tend to be pretty hit or miss, but this adaptation of Graham Greene’s novel that he made for Paramount is definitely in the hit category. Lang and screenwriter Seton I. Miller have stripped the story of its deeper implications — like a lot of Greene’s work, the novel is drenched in…
joyeux noel
Starring: Diane Krüger, Benno Fürmann, Guillaume Canet, Gary Lewis, Danny Boon, Daniel Brühl

Joyeux Noël


In Brief: Joyeux Noël (2005) is a pretty good movie with something like a great one buried inside it. The trick is getting to that movie. The premise comes from an actual historical event — here, greatly enlarged and romanticized — in WWI where warring soldiers in “no man’s land” called a very unofficial truce…
fiend2
Starring: Marshall Thompson, Kynaston Reeves, Kim Parker, Stanley Maxted, Terence Kilburn

Fiend Without a Face


In Brief: Fiend Without a Face (1958) is mostly known for its ambulatory — and occasionally leaping — “brain monsters” — and with good reason. This English-made — but set in Canada to make it seem more American and more exportable to the States — sci-fi horror thriller is one of the minor gems of 1950s B…
BIG-HERO-6
Starring: (Voices) Scott Adsit, Ryan Potter, Daniel Henney, T.J. Miller, Jamie Chung

Big Hero 6


The Story: A boy, his inflatable robot and his friends track down the person who stole his invention and caused the death of his brother. The Lowdown: Wonderful to look at, blessed with one terrific character and boasting a good deal of honest sentimentality, Big Hero 6 is brought down a notch by a well-worn…
Whiplash-5547.cr2
Starring: Miles Teller, J.K. Simmons, Paul Reiser, Melissa Benoist, Austin Stowell

Whiplash


The Story: A teen with dreams of becoming a great jazz drummer must survive his maniacal music teacher. The Lowdown: While it’s little more than your standard coming-of-age/chase-your-dreams type of drama (with considerably more swearing and jazz), the film is elevated with a perfect, expert climax that alone is worth admission.
interstellar2
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Wes Bentley, Jessica Chastain, Matt Damon, Michael Caine

Interstellar


The Story: The only hope for a dying Earth is the discovery of an inhabitable planet that may — or may not — lie on the other side of a wormhole. The Lowdown: A deeply flawed film that tries to be something more than it can manage, but it’s still an entertaining work of considerable…
mimi
Starring: Giancarlo Giannini, Mariangela Melato, Turi Ferro, Agostina Belli

The Seduction of Mimi


In Brief: Lina Wertmüller was a major force in film for a time, and her work hardly merits the near obscurity it has today. Her sense of comedy might be a little broad, sometimes clunky and a little too predicated on the charm of her usual leading man, Giancarlo Giannini. But her films have drive,…