Movie Reviews

Starring: Peter Lorre, Otto Wernicke, Theodor Loos, Ellen Widmann


In Brief: Fritz Lang's first talkie, 1931's M, definitely shows its age in terms of the technical aspects of early sound — though there's no denying it's a big improvement over his final silent, The Woman in the Moon (1929), which I've been working my way through for years. However, it still has the power to grip…
Starring: Giovanni Ribisi, Joely Richardson, Adrian Sparks, Shaun Toub, James Remar, Mariel Hemingway

Papa Hemingway in Cuba

The Story: A young reporter befriends Ernest Hemingway and spends time with him in Cuba shortly before the author’s suicide. The Lowdown: Unadulterated veneration of Hemingway during a stage in his life when he probably didn’t deserve it, Papa contributes nothing novel to the author’s posthumous mythos.
Starring: Moran Rosenblatt, Reymond Amsallem, Elisha Banai, Irit Kaplan, Shlomi Koriat, Tzvi Shissel

Apples from the Desert

In Brief: This week, the Asheville Jewish Film Festival is showing the Israeli drama Apples from the Desert (2014). Moran Rosenblatt stars as Rebecca Abravanel, an only child who is unfulfilled by her strictly Orthodox life in modern Jerusalem, under the patriarchal hand of an unbending father (Shlomi Koriat) and a subservient mother (Reymond Amsallem).…
Starring: Loredana Detto, Sandro Panseri, Mara Revel, Guido Spadea, Tullio Kezich

Il Posto

In Brief: By the time Ermanno Olmi made Il Posto in 1961, the Italian neo-realist movement (born more of circumstance than a desire to change film) was pretty much a thing of the past. His choice of making a film more or less in that style, however, seems more grounded in his work as a documentarian than…
Starring: Anton Yelchin, Imogen Poots, Alia Shawkat, Patrick Stewart, Joe Cole, Callum Turner

Green Room

The Story: Desperate for money, a touring punk band takes an ill-considered gig playing a neo-Nazi compound where they accidentally witness a murder that pits them in a struggle to survive against overwhelming odds. Predictably, most of them do not. The Lowdown: A brutal and relentless film, Green Room is a remarkably well-crafted genre effort…
Starring: Peter Ascoli, Julian Bond, Stephanie Deutsch, Richard J. Powell, Maya Angelou


In Brief: The opening-night film for this year's Fine Arts Asheville Jewish Film Festival is Aviva Kempner's Rosenwald (2015), an appealing film about the Jewish philanthropist Julius Rosenwald. The film is very much of a piece with Kempner's Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg (2009), which had the advertising tagline, "The Most Famous Woman You Never Heard Of." That's exactly…
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Starring: Peter Sellers, Elke Sommer, Herbert Lom, George Sanders, Tracy Reed, Graham Stark

A Shot in the Dark

In Brief: Designed as a follow-up to the original The Pink Panther (1963), A Shot in the Dark (1964) finds Blake Edwards and co-author William Peter Blatty turning to Harry Kurnitz’ play of the same name as a basis for the sequel. Using the play as a springboard gave the film the kind of form and structure that’s…
Starring: Michael Shannon, Kevin Spacey, Alex Pettyfer, Johnny Knoxville

Elvis & Nixon

The Story: Elvis Presley’s aides orchestrate a meeting with President Richard M. Nixon when the King decides he wants to become an undercover hippie-busting federal agent (or, if you believe his wife’s account, was convinced that a federal badge would allow him to carry guns and drugs with impunity while traveling). The Lowdown: Based on…
Starring: Don Cheadle. Ewan McGregor, Michael Stuhlbarg, Emayatzy E. Corinealdi, LaKeith Lee Stanfield

Miles Ahead

The Story: Fantasticated — nearly phantasmagorical — biographical film on jazz great Miles Davis. The Lowdown: A radical — but completely accessible and richly entertaining — approach to the much disdained biopic genre. Propelled by a towering performance by director, co-writer and star Don Cheadle, this is what movies ought to be all about. See…
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Charlize Theron, Jessica Chastain, Emily Blunt, Nick Frost

The Huntsman: Winter’s War

The Story: As two supernatural sisters attempt to take over the Enchanted Forest, a group of daring fighters tries to stop them. The Lowdown: Despite a good cast and some neat visuals, a pointless attempt at forcing a new series on the world, one that simply doesn’t have the verve or story to be of…
Starring: Blake Jenner, Zoey Deutch, Tyler Hoechlin, Glenn Powell, Wyatt Russell, J. Quentin Johnson

Everybody Wants Some!!

The Story: A south Texas college freshman on a baseball scholarship in the early ’80s navigates the interpersonal dynamics of his new team in the days before classes start. The Lowdown: While the premise and plot may harken back to the trivial sex farces of the ’80s, Everybody is imbued with the heart and humor…
Starring: Ice Cube, Cedric the Entertainer, Regina Hall, Sean Patrick Thomas, Eve

Barbershop: The Next Cut

The Story: With their neighborhood falling to pieces, a local barber decides to bring change to his community. The Lowdown: A surprisingly welcome visit from a long (somewhat) forgotten series that’s far from perfect, but gets points for being both entertaining and pertinent (although perhaps a bit pat).
Starring: Helen Mirren, Felicity Jones, Ben Whishaw, Tom Conti, Alan Cumming, Djimon Hounsou, Russell Brand, Alfred Molina

The Tempest

In Brief: There were few movies I was so looking forward to in 2010 than Julie Taymor's version of The Tempest. Unfortunately, it died (at $277,000 on a $20 million budget) long before it penetrated the provinces. Upshot? I, of course, snatched up the DVD as soon as possible. Result? Disappointment, but nowhere near the…
Starring: Kevin Costner, Gary Oldman, Tommy Lee Jones, Ryan Reynolds, Gal Gadot, Jordi Mollà, Michael Pitt


The Story: The CIA implants a murdered agent’s memories into the mind of a brain-damaged convict in the hopes of thwarting a Spanish anarchist’s nebulous scheme to take control of America’s weapons systems. The Lowdown: A cast that should’ve known better is dragged down by a thoroughly terrible script in this criminally stupid potboiler.
Starring: Neel Sethi, (Voices of) Bill Murray, Ben Kingsley, Idris Elba, Lupita Nyong’o, Christopher Walken, Scarlett Johansson, Garry Shandling

The Jungle Book

The Story: A young boy is raised by wolves in the jungle, only to become a pawn in the power struggles of wilderness politics. The Lowdown: The dark, gritty reboot of the 1967 animated film that nobody wanted or needed, The Jungle Book is interesting to look at but lacks the heart of the original…
Starring: Art Garfunkel, Theresa Russell, Harvey Keitel, Denholm Elliott, Daniel Massey, Dana Gillespie, William Hootkins

Bad Timing: A Sensual Obsession

In Brief: It’s hard to imagine now, but when Bad Timing: A Sensual Obsession came out back in 1980, it was a very big deal. The film was the talk of the film publications of the era. Not only was it Nicolas Roeg’s first film since The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976), but it was the film…
Starring: Tom Hanks, Alexander Black, Sarita Choudhury, Ben Whishaw, Tom Skerritt

A Hologram for the King

The Story: A failed American business consultant facing a midlife crisis tries to sell a new teleconferencing technology to the King of Saudi Arabia. The Lowdown:  A surprisingly heartfelt and restrained exploration of some very weighty topics, A Hologram for the King offers an engaging perspective on American exceptionalism in a global sociological context without…
Starring: Leonard Whiting, Olivia Hussey. John McEnery, Milo O'Shea, Pat Heywood, Michael York

Romeo and Juliet

In Brief: If there must be film versions of Mr. Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet — and, since the movies have been churning them out in various forms for 116 years, it seems we must — then Franco Zeffirelli's 1968 version is as good as any and better than most. It should, however, be noted that…
Starring: Lino Ventura, Paul Meurisse, Jean-Pierre Cassel, Simone Signoret. Claude Mann

The Army of Shadows

In Brief: Often called the "godfather of the New Wave" (a title he ultimately rejected), Jean-Pierre Melville is a hit-and-miss acquired taste — something of which The Army of Shadows (1969) is a perfect example. Coming right after his stylistic masterpiece Le Samourai (1967), Shadows is downright ordinary. Oh, it's well-made, well-acted and certainly solid. But…
Starring: Michael Shannon, Joel Edgerton, Kirsten Dunst, Jaeden Liberher, Adam Driver

Midnight Special

The Story: Sci-fi allegory about a child with special powers. The Lowdown: Impressive, immersive tale that is almost equal parts rewarding and enigmatic, working on several levels at once. That it can't quite manage the ending it aims for doesn't matter as much as it might.
Starring: Sharlto Copley, Danila Kozlovsky, Haley Bennett, Tim Roth

Hardcore Henry

The Story: A man’s corpse is resurrected and turned into a cyborg super-soldier by his implausibly attractive scientist wife, after which he kills everyone in his path on a quest to rescue her from the telekinetic albino oligarch that abducted her. Seriously, that’s what this is about. The Lowdown: Ninety minutes of nausea-inducing shaky cam…