In Brief: If Werner Herzog is the most idiosyncratic of all filmmakers — and the case can be made — there's a good chance that Heart of Glass (1976) is his most idiosyncratic work. Theoretically, it's the story of a late 18th century village that descends into madness when the foreman of a glassworks dies, taking the secret of how their "ruby glass" is made. But it's also a film about prophesy, about Herzog's childhood, and it's performed by a cast Herzong supposedly hypnotized before takes. There is nothing quite like it. Classic World Cinema by Courtyard Gallery will present Heart of Glass Friday, Aug. 1, at 8 p.m. at Phil Mechanic Studios, 109 Roberts St., River Arts District (upstairs in the Railroad Library). Info: 273-3332, www.ashevillecourtyard.com.
The Story: A struggling actor whose father is dying of cancer tries to keep his life — and family — together. The Lowdown: With a pile of needless quirk, here’s a movie that feels like rudimentary indie filmmaking from a decade ago, only more insufferable and out-of-touch.
The Story: Sword-for-hire Hercules agrees to help rid Thrace of a man trying to dethrone the king. The Lowdown: No, it's not really all that good, but this latest take — revisionist in nature — on Hercules is painless fun. Well-crafted action and a strong supporting cast make a difference.
In Brief: In 1930, Lewis Milestone made a film version of Erich Maria Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front. It was a breakthrough in sound filmmaking and one of the most powerful anti-war films ever made. It was a film that actually added something legendary to its literary source — the business of reaching for the butterfly at the end. It remains one of the world's great films. Unfortunately, that isn't what is being shown here. Instead, this is the reasonably adequate, uninspired, superfluous 1979 TV movie. Pity that. The Hendersonville Film Society will show All Quiet on the Western Front Sunday, Aug. 3, at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing Retirement Community (behind Epic Cinemas), 333 Thompson St., Hendersonville.
In Brief: Rear Window (1954), often cited as Alfred Hitchcock's best and most sophisticated film, is back on the big screen for one night only — Wednesday, July 30 at 7:30 p.m. at The Carolina as this month's Budget Big Screen movie. It's a chance to see the film in all the brilliance of its color detail and to immerse yourself in the world of James Stewart's convalescent photographer who becomes increasingly convinced that the man in the apartment opposite his has murdered his wife. It's as suspenseful and entertaining today as it was 60 years ago when it first appeared. Stewart was never better, Grace Kelly never more elegantly beautiful and Thelma Ritter never funnier. The Asheville Film Society is showing Rear Window Wednesday, July 30, at 7:30 p.m. in at The Carolina Asheville as part of the Budget Big Screen series. Admission is $6 for AFS members and $8 for the general public.
In Brief: Tuesday would have been director James Whale's 125th birthday. It follows as sure as the sun will set and the moon will rise that the Thursday Horror Picture will mark the event with one of Whale's four classic horror films — and they don't come any more classic than his final work in the genre, Bride of Frankenstein (1935). This, after all, stands a good shot at the accolade of greatest horror film of all time, but it's actually much more than that. The Thursday Horror Picture Show will screen Bride of Frankenstein Thursday, July 24 at 8 p.m. in Theater Six at The Carolina Asheville and will be hosted by Xpress movie critics Ken Hanke and Justin Souther.
The Story: Sequel to last year's film about a reconfigured America where one night each year encourages purging the populace of the unemployed and homeless — and anyone else you just don't like. The Lowdown: While no less absurd than its dopey predecessor, this sequel is better made, more exciting and considerably more thought-provoking. It's still not all that good, though.
In Brief: Asheville Film Society favorite William Powell returns in The Ex-Mrs. Bradford (1936), a very enjoyable comedy-mystery from RKO that cashes in on Powell's own Thin Man series over at MGM. (Actually, it beat After the Thin Man into theaters.) Rather than teaming him with Myrna Loy, this film sets Powell up with Jean Arthur (playing his ex-wife of the title). The pair may not be Powell and Loy, but they make for an agreeable screen team in this slick little film. The Asheville Film Society will screen The Ex-Mrs. Bradford Tuesday, July 29 , at 8 p.m. in Theater Six at The Carolina Asheville and will be hosted by Xpress movie critics Ken Hanke and Justin Souther.
The Story: Complex espionage tale involving a refugee, an inheritance and warring factions of counter-terrorist agencies. The Lowdown: More cerebral than exciting, A Man Most Wanted presents an unromantic and penetrating look into the world of modern espionage. It wants to be more than it is, but it's still good and contains a strong performance from Philip Seymour Hoffman.
In Brief: Robert Bresson's symbolic drama Au Hasard Balthazar — the story of the mostly sad life of a donkey named Balthazar — makes a welcome return appearance at World Cinema. Do not think that this is any kind of cute movie with some humanized animal. It is anything but. It may not be quite the masterpiece it's often hailed as, but it's certainly an essential film. Classic World Cinema by Courtyard Gallery will present Au Hasard Balthazar Friday, July 18, at 8 p.m. at Phil Mechanic Studios, 109 Roberts St., River Arts District (upstairs in the Railroad Library). Info: 273-3332, www.ashevillecourtyard.com.
In Brief: The Hendersonville Film Society ran John Ford's The Searchers (1956) about seven years ago, so it's certainly high time the movie showed back up on local screens. While I've never been convinced it's quite the masterpiece it's been hailed as — in part because of its influence on George Lucas and Star Wars making it better known than many of Ford's films — it is undeniably a fascinating work, and one that deepens with increased understanding of Ford's overall filmography. The Hendersonville Film Society will show The Searchers Sunday, July 27, at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing Retirement Community (behind Epic Cinemas), 333 Thompson St., Hendersonville.
In Brief: Paul Bonesteel's 2002 documentary The Mystery of George Masa — originally shown on PBS in 2003 — tells the story of the enigmatic Japanese conservationist and photographer Masahar Iizuka (locally known as George Masa). Using a mix of interviews, tasteful dramatic recreations, archival photos and a ton of reasearch, Bonesteel paints as complete a portrait of Masa as we're likely to ever have. Local filmmaker Paul Bonesteel will speak and show his documentary film The Mystery of George Masa on Monday, July 28, as a fundraiser for the Environmental and Conservation Organization (ECO). The showing will be in the McIntosh Room of the Blue Ridge Conference Hall, 180 West Campus Drive, at Blue Ridge Community College in Flat Rock at 6 p.m.
The Story: A racing champion crop duster goes to fire and rescue school. The Lowdown: Even by the none-too-exacting standards of kiddie fare these days, this is just dire. It isn't funny. It isn't exciting. It ought to have gone straight-to-DVD — assuming it had to go anywhere.
In Brief: When local musician Hank Bones couldn't get a stage production of his musical The Quitters, he decided to make a film of it. Cheerfully admitting that he had no experience with film, he dived straight into the project — on a $9,000 budget — and with the help of friends and local actors managed to come up with the film at hand. Interestingly, rather than just present it as a photographed play, Bones shot it more like a movie. As filmmaking it's not exactly remarkable, but it does nicely convey the sense of the show, showcasing the play's clever songs and its gentle satire and is certainly fun. Wedge Brewery will show The Quitters on Saturday, July 26. Films start 15 minutes after sundown.
The Story: A seemingly completely inappropriate actress goes out of her way to convince a writer-director that she should star in his new play. The Lowdown: Brilliant, bold filmmaking from a great filmmaker, who proves that at 80, he can still be at the top of his game. It's funny and perceptive and maybe a little terrifying — and just a great, great movie.
The Story: A married couple accidentally lets their raunchy sex tape escape into the outside world. The Lowdown: A flatly directed, wholly unfunny R-rated comedy that’s devoid of edge, laughs or even titillation.
The Story: A jilted singer-songwriter and a washed-up record producer team up to produce an album on their own. The Lowdown: A mostly pleasant but deeply flawed little film that gets by on its stars and a sense of generosity.
The Story: With humanity nearly wiped out by disease and supersmart apes living in the wilderness, human survivors and their intelligent simian counterparts attempt to build an uneasy alliance. The Lowdown: Deceptively goofy and far too self-important, the attempt to be a thoughtful, intelligent spectacle isn’t enough to give a free pass to what amounts to little less than the usual special effects-heavy summer blockbuster.
In Brief: Wedge Brewery holds their annual showing of Asheville's own Thunder Road, the 1958 moonshine-running and fast-cars classic — well, a classic of this kind of backwoods-action melodrama. Wedge Brewery will show Thunder Road on Saturday, July 19. Films start 15 minutes after sundown.
In Brief: This is the last of the original series of Godzilla movies — starting with Gojira (Godzilla) in 1954 and ending in 1975 with this — and it's one that does much to right the mistakes of the 1970s entries. Bringing back the director who started it all, Ishiro Honda, and composer Akira Ifukube was a masterstroke. Bear in mind, we are talking about men in rubber suits playing giant monsters causing havoc and having smackdowns. This is not weighty stuff, but for the type of movie it is, this is what you're looking for. The Thursday Horror Picture Show will screen Terror of Mechagodzilla Thursday, July 17 at 8 p.m. in Theater Six at The Carolina Asheville and will be hosted by Xpress movie critics Ken Hanke and Justin Souther.
In Brief: Jean-Luc Godard's Alphaville (1965) is simply one of the damndest things you're ever likely to see. Godard took a popular noir-ish, pulp fiction detective, Lemmy Caution (Eddie Constantine) and plopped him into a nightmarish sci-fi movie that seems to be part serious, part satire — or possibly one huge practical joke. Is Godard serious or not? Good luck reaching a conclusion on that, but it's kind of fun to try. And that may well be the point. Classic World Cinema by Courtyard Gallery will present Alphaville Friday, July 18, at 8 p.m. at Phil Mechanic Studios, 109 Roberts St., River Arts District (upstairs in the Railroad Library). Info: 273-3332, www.ashevillecourtyard.com.