Movie Reviews

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Starring: Ben Winchell, Josh Brener, Maria Bello, Andy Garcia, Ana Villafañe

Max Steel

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The Story: Teenager awakens his superpowers and embarks on a quest to find out what happened to his deceased father and the scientific work that killed him. The Lowdown: Predictable, almost humorless superhero movie that is neither super nor heroic.
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Starring: Edith Scob, Pierre Brasseur, Alida Valli

Eyes Without a Face

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In Brief: The Asheville Film Society keeps on creepin' on with our October schedule of historic horror. Next up is Georges Franju's poetic masterpiece of fairy-tale fright, 1960's Eyes Without a Face. A film of almost unparalleled aesthetic beauty (within the genre, at least), this is possibly the best-remembered work of Cinematheque Française co-founder Franju despite being almost…
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Starring: Candace Hilligoss, Frances Feist, Herk Harvey

Carnival of Souls

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In Brief: The Asheville Film Society enters the final week of its month-long horror retrospective with Herk Harvey's under-seen cult classic, Carnival of Souls. This gem of low-budget ingenuity wrings every last drop from its almost laughably minuscule $30,000 budget, creating an intensely eerie atmosphere through its minimalistic style. The film's plot places it squarely on the existential…
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Starring: Al Pacino, Jeremy Irons, Joseph Fiennes

The Merchant of Venice

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In Brief: I was surprised to find that this is the first talkie ever made of The Merchant of Venice, though television — mostly the BBC — has offered it up several times. The reason for the lack of actual films of the play is not hard to fathom, since the inherent anti-Semitism of the subject matter…
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Starring: Pascal Greggory, Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi, Charles Berling, Jean-Louis Trintignant

Those Who Love Me Can Take the Train

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In Brief: My entire familiarity with Patrice Chéreau prior to seeing Those Who Love Me Can Take the Train (1998) rested on seeing the video presentation of his famous (or infamous, depending on whom you ask) 1976 staging of Richard Wagner’s Ring cycle at Bayreuth. In terms of his talents as a filmmaker this told…
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Starring: Maria Mercedes Coroy, Maria Telon, Manuel Antun, Justo Lorenzo, Marvin Coroy, Leo Antun

Ixcanul

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The Story: A young Guatemalan peasant girl is torn between an arranged marriage and her dreams of a life with her lover in America. The Lowdown: A devastating story of youthful ignorance and cultural exploitation, Ixcanul will haunt audiences with its beauty and brutality.
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Starring: Bethany Whitmore, Harrison Feldman, Matthew Whittet, Amber McMahon, Eamon Farren

Girl Asleep

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The Story: An young girl clinging to her childhood is drawn into a bizarre fantasy world when her parents host a party for her fifteenth birthday. The Lowdown: Girl Asleep pulls off a delicate balancing act between fun and poignancy, dealing with a sensitive subject without condescension or cloying sentimentality.
Starring: Connor Jessup, Aaron Abrams, Aliocha Schneider, Joanne Kelly, Sofia Banzhaf

Closet Monster

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The Story: A young gay man struggles with accepting his sexuality in the face of past trauma and an unwelcome family life. The Lowdown: A occasionally fascinating piece of filmmaking that's both flawed in its general execution and lacking a firm emotional center — two things that stunt its impact.
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Starring: Griffin Gluck, Andy Daly, Lauren Graham, Adam Pally, Alexa Nisenson, Rob Riggle.

Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life

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The Story: Artistic teen dealing with the death of his brother rebels against the oppression of his creativity by the principal at his new middle school. The Lowdown: Like the age it attempts to chronicle, this film is too juvenile and immature to fully embrace some of the issues it creates to be considered fully formed.
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Starring: Emily Blunt, Haley Bennett, Rebecca Ferguson, Justin Theroux, Luke Evans, Edgar Ramirez, Laura Prepon, Allison Janney, Lisa Kudrow,

The Girl on the Train

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The Story: A deeply disturbed divorcee fantasizes about the life of a perfect couple she sees on her daily commute, but the disappearance of the young woman she's been watching drags her into the middle of a possible murder mystery. The Lowdown: A tepid take on a best-selling novel, The Girl on the Train hits rote genre notes with passionless execution.
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Starring: Wallace Ford, Harry Earles/Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi

Freaks/The Black Cat

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In Brief: The Asheville Film Society's October reign of terror marches on with our second double feature of the month. First up, we have Tod Browning's 1932 classic Freaks. Browning's most well-known work outside of Dracula and arguably his best (I might make the case for some of his work with Lon Chaney, though few others do), Freaks was derided by…
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Starring: Dana Andrews, Peggy Cummins, Niall MacGinnis, Athene Seyler, Maurice Denham

Night of the Demon

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In Brief: Jacques Tourneur’s Night of the Demon (1957) — originally released in the U.S. with 12 minutes cut and under the title Curse of the Demon — is this wonderful oasis in the midst of the general run of bad horror movies from the 1950s. And there’s virtually no reason it should have been.…
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Starring: Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Dorothy Lamour, Charles Coburn, Anthony Quinn

The Road to Singapore

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In Brief: The first of the Bob Hope/Bing Crosby/Dorothy Lamour "Road to..." films, The Road to Singapore may not be my favorite of the series (or even in my top three, which would be Zanzibar, Morocco and Utopia in no particular order) but all of the constituent pieces were in place for the unassailable greatness that was to come. It was…
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Starring: George Segal, Jacqueline Bisset, Robert Morley, Jean-Pierre Cassel, Philippe Noiret, Jean Rochefort

Who Is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe?

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In Brief: Apart from the enjoyable business of seeing actually pleasant, attractive people in a cleverly written romantic comedy (something we see far too little of these days), Who Is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe? is generally representative of the kind of star comedy that no longer seems to be made. You know the…
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Starring: Margherita Buy, John Turturro, Giulia Lazzarini, Nanni Moretti, Beatrice Mancini

Mia Madre

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The Story: A harried Italian director struggles to balance personal and professional responsibilities, helming a problematic film production as her aging mother nears death. The Lowdown: A densely layered psychological statement with a prevalent sense of humor, Mia Madre is a deeply personal film with broad relatability and appeal.
David Oyelowo is Robert Katende and Madina Nalwanga is Phiona Mutesi in Disney's QUEEN OF KATWE, the vibrant true story of a young girl from the streets of rural Uganda whose world rapidly changes when she is introduced to the game of chess.
Starring: Madina Nalwanga, David Oyelowo, Lupita Nyong'o

Queen of Katwe

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The Story: A young girl from the slums of Uganda discovers a prodigious aptitude for chess that will change her life. The Lowdown: An uplifting family film with little of the cloying sentimentality that designation typically implies, Queen of Katwe is an underdog story that transcends its genre.
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Kurt Russell, Gina Rodriguez, Kate Hudson, John Malkovich

Deepwater Horizon

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The Story: The based-on-actual-events story of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, one of the worst ecological disasters in history. The Lowdown: A commendable film in many respects, especially in its intentions and approach, but one that can't rise above its flimsy characters and disaster-flick DNA.
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Starring: Nate Parker, Armie Hammer, Jackie Earl Hayley, Aunjanue Ellis, Penelope Ann Miller.

The Birth of a Nation

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The Story: Literate-slave-turned-preacher Nat Turner orchestrates a violent uprising against Virginia slave masters in 1831. The Lowdown: While the subject matter still reverberates today, the director’s attempt at artistry often detracts from the story’s otherwise powerful narrative.
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Starring: Zach Galifianakis, Kate McKinnon, Kristen Wiig, Owen Wilson, Jason Sudeikis, Leslie Jones

Masterminds

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The Story: A group of inept criminals pulls off one of the largest cash heists in U.S. history, but their rampant idiocy leads to their inevitable capture. The Lowdown: A comedy that works more often than it doesn't, Masterminds isn't (quite) as dumb as it looks.
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Starring: Eva Green, Asa Butterfield, Samuel L. Jackson, Chris O'Dowd, Judi Dench, Terrence Stamp

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

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The Story: A young boy is drawn into a mysterious world of children with unique abilities and must help them defeat a monstrous threat. The Lowdown: A remarkable adaptation of an unremarkable story, Tim Burton's latest fails to break free of its trite young-adult source material.