Movie Reviews

chef
Starring: Jon Favreau, John Leguizamo, Sofía Vergara, Emjay Anthony, Bobby Cannavale, Oliver Platt, Dustin Hoffman, Scarlett Johansson, Robert Downey Jr.

Chef

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In Brief: Up front, I thought Jon Favreau's Chef was a thoroughly mediocre movie when it descended on us last year to play in what seemed like perpetuity. I cut it some slack at the time because it was at least pleasant. It still had a transparent — almost nonexistent — story, mostly flat dialogue…
ShesBeautifulWhenAngryDoc
Starring: Susan Brownmiller, Kate Millett, Ellen Willis, Rita Mae Brown

She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry

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The Story: Documentary detailing the origins of the women's movement. The Lowdown: Entertaining, informative and often disturbing film that effectively blends the activist and historical documentary with surprising balance.
Die Schlemmerorgie
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 kind: tailored…
night2
Starring: Dana Andrews, Peggy Cummins, Niall MacGinnis, Athene Seyler, Maurice Denham

Night of the Demon (Curse 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. Not only were…
Maggie-1
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Abigail Breslin, Joely Richardson, Douglas M. Griffin, J. D. Evermore, Rachel Whitman Groves, Jodie Moore, Bryce Romero

Maggie

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The Story: A man takes his zombie-infected daughter home to take care of her before her inevitable "turning." The Lowdown: A not entirely successful attempt to turn the zombie movie into a kind of teen angst weeper. It's unusual and it sometimes works, but not enough to give it a solid recommendation.
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Starring: Rinko Kikuchi, Nobuyuki Katsube, Shirley Venard, David Zellner, Nathan Zellner

Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter

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The Story: A Japanese office worker becomes obsessed with finding the buried money from the movie Fargo. The Lowdown: This is a good — but not entirely likable — film that might have been great but isn't quite, owing to a central character who becomes increasingly unsympathetic. Certainly worth a look, though.
D-Train Movie
Starring: Jack Black, James Marsden, Kathryn Hahn, Jeffrey Tambor, Mike White, Russell Posner, Henry Zebrowski

The D Train

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The Story: One of the least popular members of the class of '94 decides to turn that around by getting the most popular — and seemingly successful — classmate to come to the 20-year reunion. The Lowdown: A very different movie than you think, this is a warm, generous, kindhearted film that dares to go…
1280x1280
Starring: David "Ziggy" Gruber, Jerry Stiller, Fyvush Finkel, Cantor Jack Mendelson, Gene & Pam Gruber, Mary McCaughey Gruber

Deli Man

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In Brief: The 2015 Asheville Jewish Film Festival starts on Thursday, May 7, at the Fine Arts Theatre with its opening-night film and reception at 6 p.m. (all tickets include both and are $22; the film alone plays again on Friday, May 8, at 1 p.m. with tickets at $8.50). This year's opening film is…
Fields-W_C_-You-Cant-Cheat-an-Honest-Man_01
Starring: W.C. Fields, Edgar Bergen, Charlie McCarthy, Constance Moore, Thurston Hall

You Can’t Cheat an Honest Man

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In Brief: Despite certain shortcomings — at least when compared with his more nuanced performances at Paramount — You Can't Cheat an Honest Man presents W.C. Fields in the guise of his screen persona most people think of. This is the Fields of legend and of caricature. It's actually the Fields born of radio —…
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Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Elizabeth Olsen

Avengers: Age of Ultron

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The Story: The latest entry in the Marvel Comics series. The Lowdown: It's too big. It's too frenzied. It's too full of characters it can't contain. Mostly, it's just too much everything. It's not bad — it will please a lot of people — but it provides a lot less fun than The Avengers did.
THE AGE OF ADALINE
Starring: Blake Lively, Michiel Huisman, Harrison Ford, Ellen Burstyn, Kathy Baker, Amanda Crew

The Age of Adaline

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The Story: A woman who — through a freak accident — has been 29 for nearly 80 years falls in love with a man of about 30. The Lowdown: It has a solid romantic fantasy premise and excellent performances from the supporting cast, but the central romance itself is tepid and barely involving. It's by…
cloud-of-sils-mariab
Starring: Juliette Binoche, Kristen Stewart, Chloë Grace Moretz, Lars Eidinger, Johnny Flynn, Angela Winkler, Hanns Zischler

Clouds of Sils Maria

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The Story: An aging actress agrees to appear in a revival of the play that launched her career, but playing the older lead character. The Lowdown: The first full five-star movie of 2015. A wholly remarkable and richly layered film examining the thin line between art and life, about change, aging, death and identity, built…
The-Water-Diviner-Gallery-01
Starring: Russell Crowe, Olga Kurylenko, Jai Courtney, Yilmaz Erdogan

The Water Diviner

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The Story: An Australian farmer whose sons died at the Battle of Gallipoli sets out to find their remains. The Lowdown: Actor/director Crowe makes a thoroughly sincere, if ultimately forgettable, feature directing debut.
MBDCIKA EC019
Starring: Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten, Ruth Warrick, Dorothy Comingore, Everett Sloane

Citizen Kane

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In Brief: This year marks the 100th birthday of Orson Welles -- May 6, in fact -- and the Hendersonville Film Society is marking the event with a screening of Welles' masterpiece Citizen Kane (1941). While that might seem the most obvious choice -- almost too obvious -- it really isn't. In fact, this is…
house2
Starring: Ruddy Rodríguez, Rosmel Bustamante, Guillermo García, Gonzalo Cubero, Héctor Mercado

The House at the End of Time

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In Brief: Alejandro Hidalgo's The House at the End of Time (2013) is exhibit B for the case that we are indeed in the midst of a horror film renaissance -- the only question is how much some of the best examples are even being seen. In the case of this Venezuelan movie (supposedly the country's first…
chicken
Starring: Mathieu Amalric, Edouard Baer, Maria de Medeiros, Golshifteh Farahani, Isabella Rossellini

Chicken with Plums

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In Brief: World Cinema is bringing back Chicken with Plums, a film that didn't get the attention it should have when it was released a few years ago. Playful, gorgeous to look at, cinematically brilliant and finally heartbreakingly sad, Vincent Paronnaud and Marjane Satrapi's 2011 film is one of those movies that ought to have played here…
Henry-Fonda-and-Margaret-Sullavan-in-The-Moons-Our-Home-1936
Starring: Margaret Sullavan, Henry Fonda, Charles Butterworth, Beulah Bondi, Henrietta Crosman, Walter Brennan

The Moon’s Our Home

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In Brief: Art imitates -- and attempts to improve upon -- life in William A. Seiter's The Moon's Our Home (1936), one of the least seen and least known of all classic screwball comedies. The reasons for its obscurity are vague, though they may be grounded in copyright issues involving the literary source (a serialized…
jakob-salvati-in-little-boy-movie-4
Starring: Emily Watson, Tom Wilkinson, Michael Rapaport, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Jakob Salvati

Little Boy

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The Story: A young boy in World War II California turns to the Catholic Church for reassurance when his deployed father is captured by the Japanese. The Lowdown: A painfully slow and contrived period piece that attempts to examine the power of faith, with appalling results.
Paul-Blart-Mall-Cop-2
Starring: Kevin James, Raini Rodriguez, Eduardo Verástegui, Neal McDonough, David Henrie

Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2

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The Story: Mall cop Paul Blart returns, clumsily fighting crime in Las Vegas during a convention. The Lowdown: A tired and embarrassing comedy that’s based on a grotesque view of everyday people and a penchant for the cheapest of jokes.
TS_D26-47.CR2
Starring: Jonah Hill, James Franco, Felicity Jones, Ethan Suplee, Robert John Burke

True Story

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The Story: A disgraced journalist has the story of a lifetime fall into his lap when a fugitive accused of murdering his family turns up in Mexico pretending to be him. The Lowdown: A self-serious crime drama that’s impossible to actually take seriously, one that’s too straight-faced and thematically droll.
unfriended2
Starring: Shelley Hennig, Moses Jacob Storm, Renee Olstead, Will Peltz, Jacob Wysocki

Unfriended

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The Story: Some overage teenagers run afoul of a vengeful spirit online. The Lowdown: A strong contender for Worst Movie of 2015. This isn't even bargain-basement horror of the so-bad-it's-funny school. This is so-bad-it's-awful. That said, some have called it brilliant.