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Starring: Morgana O'Reilly, Rima Te Wiata, Glen-Paul Waru, Ross Harper, Cameron Rhodes

Housebound

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In Brief: The idea that we are in the midst of a kind of horror film renaissance these days is given ample support by this horror comedy from New Zealand by first-time feature writer-director Gerard Johnstone. Housebound (which, typically, is being remade for American consumption by New Line) got almost no release in the U.S. but managed to blow away…
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Starring: Al Pacino, Annette Bening, Jennifer Garner, Bobby Cannavale, Christopher Plummer

Danny Collins

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The Story: An aging rock star receives a letter sent to him by John Lennon in 1971 and decides to turn his life around to become the man he wanted to be. The Lowdown: Bright dialogue and great chemistry between Al Pacino and the rest of the cast raise this fairly predictable comedy-drama to very…
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Starring: Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Daniel Brühl, Natascha McElhone, Miriam Margolyes, David Warner

Ladies in Lavender

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In Brief: Ladies in Lavender (2004) marked the first — and so far only — film to be written and directed by character actor Charles Dance. Why he stopped after this perfectly credible first film is a mystery. It's not like Ladies in Lavender was some huge hit, but for a little film playing in…
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Starring: Richard Bohringer, Helen Mirren, Michael Gambon, Alan Howard, Tim Roth, Ciarán Hinds

The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover

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In Brief: Peter Greenaway’s The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover was the art film of 1990, which is to say that if you saw only one art film that year, this was probably the one you saw. It was daring. It had a hint of scandal attached to its excesses. It was full of nudity, sex,…
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Starring: Nigel Terry, Nicol Williamson, Helen Mirren, Nicholas Clay, Cherie Lunghi, Paul Geoffrey

Excalibur

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In Brief: I remember seeing John Boorman’s Excalibur when it first came out in 1981. I remember being completely blown away by its visual splendor and Boorman’s fascinating attempt to present the Arthurian legend in terms of Wagner opera (which pervades the soundtrack). I also remember the scorn with which the film was received by a number…
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Starring: Ben Stiller, Naomi Watts, Adam Driver, Amanda Seyfried, Adam Horovitz, Maria Dizzia, Charles Grodin

While We’re Young

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The Story: Generation X-ers in midlife crisis mode fall under the spell of millennial hipsters. The Lowdown: Here we have the year's first great film — a sharply penetrating satire on generational foibles and modern life. Writer-director Noah Baumbach pulls of the incredible feat of taking no prisoners without ever being cruel. A must-see.
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Starring: Seymour Bernstein, Andrew Harvey, Michael Kimmelman, Kimball Gallagher, Junko Ichikawa, Marcus Ostermiller

Seymour: An Introduction

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The Story: A loving look in on classical pianist Seymour Bernstein. The Lowdown: A thoroughly charming, warm look at a man who may make you rethink what "greatness" means. If you only see one documentary this year, make it this one.
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Starring: Helen Mirren, Ryan Reynolds, Daniel Brühl, Antje Traue, Katie Holmes, Charles Dance, Elizabeth McGovern, Jonathan Pryce

Woman in Gold

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The Story: Fact-based story of a Holocaust survivor fighting to regain art works stolen from her family by the Nazis. The Lowdown: Solid drama of the cultural-historical kind that simplifies much but gets the essentials right. Occasionally heavy-handed, but it makes a fine vehicle for Helen Mirren and — surprisingly — Ryan Reynolds.
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Starring: Craig Wasson, Melanie Griffith, Gregg Henry, Deborah Shelton, Guy Boyd, Dennis Franz

Body Double

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In Brief: It would be difficult to decide which of Brian De Palma's movies is the most ... well, insane, but Body Double (1984) — his heady mix of Rear Window, Vertigo and De Palma over-the-top crazy — is certainly in the running. While there's no escaping the heavy dose of Hitchcock — and I'm not sure I'd…
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Starring: (Voices) Jim Parsons, Rihanna, Steve Martin, Jennifer Lopez, Matt Jones

Home

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The Story: A disgraced invading alien and a young earth girl team up to find her relocated mother. The Lowdown: Colorful, dull, unoriginal and often irritating. Strictly for younger children and Rihanna fans.
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Starring: Jay Baker, Pat Barlow, Lloyd Berry, Deborah Foreman

April Fool’s Day

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In Brief: This was a "fan pick" — and one that happened to fall on the right day (or close enough). Apparently, April Fool's Day is well-loved — at least by those who saw it when it came out in 1986 and were at an impressionable age. Even if I had seen it when it…
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Starring: Ted Neely, Carl Anderson, Yvonne Elliman, Barry Dennen, Bob Bingham, Josh Mostel

Jesus Christ Superstar

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In Brief: It's the Asheville Film Society's slightly late Easter offering — Norman Jewison's Jesus Christ Superstar, a film that has kind of fallen by the wayside over the years. I'm not sure why. Most complaints usually center on the casting of Ted Neely as Jesus — despite the fact that man has made a…
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Starring: Erica Rivas, Diego Gentile, Julieta Zylberberg, Rita Cortese, Ricardo Darín, Leonardo Sbaraglia, Walter Donado

Wild Tales

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The Story: Six anarchic, darkly comic tales with the unifying themes of revenge and losing control. The Lowdown: Often hilariously funny satire on human nature at its most extreme — as seen through a collection of stories. Mostly delicious in its anarchy and bleakly amused worldview, though some stories are better than others.
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Starring: Christopher Gable, Judith Paris, Kenneth Colley, Vladek Sheybal, James Mellor, Otto Diamant

Dance of the Seven Veils

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In Brief: Ken Russell's Dance of the Seven Veils (1970) — subtitled A Comic Strip in 7 Episodes on the Life of Richard Strauss — was his final film for the BBC Omnibus program. It was broadcast only once, followed by a hailstorm of controversy (an attempt by Britain's "Watchdog for Morality" Mary Whitehouse to…
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Starring: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Rhys Ifans, Toby Jones, David Dencik, Sean Harris

Serena

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The Story: A corrupt timber baron makes a fatal choice in marrying a mysterious woman with a murky past. The Lowdown: Chock-full of melodrama and outrageous contrivances, there's no way to call Serena good, but it's one fascinating hot mess that's entertainingly trashy.
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Starring: Maika Monroe, Keir Gilchrist, Daniel Zovatto, Lili Sepe, Jake Weary, Olivia Luccardi

It Follows

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The Story: An implacable, nameless monster is passed on like an STD in this original, maybe even brilliant, horror thriller. The Lowdown: Horror fans — and indeed anyone interested in quality independent film — take note, this critically-acclaimed movie is the goods in the world of truly unnerving, but surprisingly nongory, film.
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Starring: Mira Sorvino, Sean Astin, Alexa PenaVega, Delroy Lindo, Ted McGinley, Brian Bosworth, Cybill Shepherd, Lee Majors

Do You Believe?

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The Story: Multistory tale of characters grappling with putting faith into action. The Lowdown: Less hysterical on the topic of religion than its predecessor, God's Not Dead, this is still the same old preaching-to-the-choir stuff — only overstuffed with characters, some better actors but little actual substance.
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Starring: Jon Hall, Leon Errol, John Carradine, Alan Curtis, Evelyn Ankers, Gale Sondergaard

The Invisible Man’s Revenge

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In Brief: Apart from his inevitable encounters with Abbott and Costello, The Invisible Man's Revenge (1944) was the swan song for the Universal "monster" who just never really caught on. James Whale's original The Invisible Man (1933) is one of the key horror classics of all time. The rather tepid, unfocused follow-ups are another matter. The problem seems to…
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Starring: Jason Robards, Richard Jordan, David Selby, Anne Archer, Alec Guinness, M. Emmet Walsh

Raise the Titanic

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In Brief: It's the movie that helped drive Lew Grade — or Sir Lew Grade or Lord Grade (depending on where you are in his career) — from the film business. It's also the movie that kept writer Clive Cussler from allowing any of his novels to be filmed for the next 25 years. (He…