A Hard Day’s Night

In Brief: So, I was trying to show Tim Burton's Ed Wood  to commemorate both the one-year anniversary of Ken Hanke's death and the recent passing of Martin Landau, since it was not only Ken's favorite Burton movie (and bear in mind, Ken wrote a book on the guy) but also Landau's only Oscar win — but anyone who read this…
Starring: Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Holly Hunter, Ray Romano, Anupani Euler, Zienobia Sfiroff, Adeel Akhtar, Bo Burnham, Aidy Bryant, Kurt Braunohler

The Big Sick

The Story: A Pakistani comedian falls for an American grad student and predictably fouls things up, but when his love interest winds up in a medically induced coma, the choice between his family and the object of his affections becomes less clear cut than it first appeared. The Lowdown: An old-school rom-com for millennials that's nowhere near as…
Starring: Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson, Steve Zahn, Karin Konoval, Terry Notary, Amiah Miller, Judy Greer, Max Lloyd-Jones, Devyn Dalton

War for the Planet of the Apes

The Story: Caesar's band of simian refugees struggle to peacefully coexist on the outskirts of a decimated human society, until the actions of an unhinged colonel and his renegade band of paramilitary operatives threaten to start an all-out war for the planet of the apes. The Lowdown: About as high-brow as a movie about talking monkeys can…
Starring: Jeremy Irvine, Helena Bonham Carter, Ralph Fiennes, Holliday Grainger, Robbie Coltrane, Ewen Bremner

Great Expectations

In Brief: This latest cinematic attempt at the book is certainly a worthy addition to the world of Dickens on film. It does lack the symbolism (Magwitch as Christ figure) of Stuart Walker’s 1934 film, and the somewhat overblown gothic trappings of David Lean’s 1946 version, but it’s a solid take on the story with some…
Starring: Tom Holland, Michael Keaton, Robert Downey Jr., Marisa Tomei, Jon Favreau, Gwyneth Paltrow, Zendaya, Donald Glover, Jacob Batalon, Laura Harrier, Tony Revolori, Bokeem Woodbine, Tyne Daly

Spider-Man: Homecoming

The Story: Peter Parker struggles with typical teen melodrama, significantly complicated by the efforts of his alter ego to prove his worth as an Avenger by taking down a black-market weapons dealer selling stolen alien technology. The Lowdown: The Spider-Man movie fans deserve, and one hell of a lot of fun. Excelsior!
Starring: Rami Malek, DJ Qualls, Kate Lyn Sheil, Sukha Belle Potter, Toby Huss, Lin Shaye, Mark Kelly, Bruce Bundy, Teresa Yenque, Sandra Ellis Lafferty, Nicholas Pryor

Buster’s Mal Heart

The Story: A dedicated family man's life is thrown into turmoil by a Y2K conspiracy theorist, but nothing about his reality is as straightforward as it appears. The Lowdown: A bizarre and surrealistic character study that weaves an intricate web of black comedy, psychological intrigue and philosophical diegesis while stubbornly refusing the audience any opportunity to take for granted…
Starring: Dick Miller, Barboura Morris, Anthony Carbone, Julian Burton

A Bucket of Blood

In Brief: One of Roger Corman's best pictures and easily my favorite Dick Miller performance, A Bucket of Blood (1959) is an unquestionable cult classic. Few films so successfully blend black comedy and horror, and Corman's characteristic camp serves the subject matter perfectly. Charles B. Griffith's scathing script satirically skewers the beatnik subculture of the…
Starring: Janet Gaynor, George O'Brien, Margaret Livingston, Bodil Rosing, J. Farrell MacDonald

Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans

In Brief: The Asheville Film Society continues a month-long tribute to its founder, the incomparable Ken Hanke, with another of his favorites, a picture he called "the greatest silent film ever made" — F.W. Murnau's 1927 classic, Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans. It's easy to see why Ken held this film in such high regard, and he's…
Starring: Ansel Elgort, Kevin Spacey, Lily James, Jon Bernthal, Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx, Eiza Gonzalez, Flea, Sky Ferreira

Baby Driver

The Story: A good-hearted young getaway driver finds love as he tries to extricate himself from his unwanted life of crime. The Lowdown: A genre mashup that couples technical achievement and formal inventiveness with pure, unbridled fun.
Starring: Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, Elle Fanning, Oona Laurence, Angourie Rice, Addison Reicke, Wayne Peré, Emma Howard

The Beguiled

The Story: The repressed students and staff at a Christian girls school in the Civil War South find their restraint tested by the arrival of a seductive Union deserter. The Lowdown: A stylish and alluring remake from writer/director Sofia Coppola that loses the salacious impact of its source material by attempting to modernize the original's odious sexual politics.
Quiz Show (1994)Directed by Robert RedfordShown: Ralph Fiennes
Starring: Ralph Fiennes, John Turturro, Rob Morrow, Paul Scofield, Mira Sorvino, Hank Azaria

Quiz Show

In Brief: In the age of alleged Russian election tampering and WikiLeaks, the quiz show corruption at the heart of Robert Redford's 1994 Best Picture nominee seems almost quaint. At the time, Quiz Show was a scathing indictment of the dark underbelly of the entertainment industry, a valid proxy for 1950s American capitalism writ large. While excellent performances from…
Starring: Peter O'Toole, Arthur Lowe, Alastair Sim, William Mervyn, Coral Browne, Michael Bryant, Nigel Green

The Ruling Class

In Brief: Last week marked the one-year anniversary of the death of my illustrious predecessor and Asheville Film Society founder, the late, great Ken Hanke. In an admittedly humble attempt to honor his memory, the AFS will be screening some of Ken's favorite films throughout July, starting with what he referred to as "one of those…
Starring: Lily James, Jai Courtney, Christopher Plummer, Janet McTeer, Ben Daniels, Eddie Marsan, Anton Lesser, Mark Dexter, Kris Cuppens

The Exception

The Story: A disgraced Nazi officer assigned to protect exiled Kaiser Wilhelm II in the early days of World War II encounters romance and intrigue when he meets a beautiful house servant with a secret. The Lowdown: An engaging quasi-thriller hamstrung by a contrived and misguided central romance.
Starring: Sam Elliott, Laura Prepon, Nick Offerman, Krysten Ritter, Katharine Ross, Ali Wong, Cameron Esposito, Patrika Darbo

The Hero

The Story: A washed-up Western actor negotiates a new romance amid attempts to resurrect his flagging career and reconcile with his estranged family after a cancer diagnosis forces him to confront his impending mortality. The Lowdown: A predictably stellar turn from Sam Elliot can't save this exercise in septuagenarian navel-gazing from being torn uncomfortably between comedy and melodrama.
Starring: Suki Waterhouse, Jason Momoa, Keanu Reeves, Jayda Fink, Yolonda Ross, Corey Roberts, Louie Lopez, Giovanni Ribisi, Jim Carrey, Diego Luna

The Bad Batch

The Story: A young woman exiled to a post-apocalyptic wasteland navigates a minefield of cannibals and cult leaders as her quest for vengeance takes an unexpected turn when she comes between a warlord father and his young daughter. The Lowdown: A visually engaging but conceptually challenged stab at grindhouse greatness from a promising writer/director that…
Starring: Jeanette MacDonald, Nelson Eddy, Frank Morgan, Elsa Lanchester, Akim Tamiroff

Naughty Marietta

In Brief: Ah sweet mystery of life, I wish you'd stayed lost. It's hard to imagine a film more thoroughly outside my proverbial wheelhouse than W.S. Van Dyke's 1935 adaptation of Victor Herbert's 1910 operetta Naughty Marietta. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against opera in the traditional sense — schmaltzy movie melodramas with extensive musical components,…
Starring: Dave Johns, Hayley Squires, Dylan McKiernan, Briana Shann, Kate Rutter, Sharon Percy, Kema Sikazwe

I, Daniel Blake

The Story: An aging British carpenter must navigate a never-ending maze of ludicrous obstruction when a heart attack forces him to turn to his nation's failing social safety net for survival. The Lowdown: A tragi-comic humanist parable that aptly demonstrates director Ken Loach's continuing capacity to devastate audiences with a smile on his face.
Starring: Salma Hayek, John Lithgow, Connie Britton, Chloë Sevigny, Jay Duplass, Amy Landecker, David Warshofsky, John Early

Beatriz at Dinner

The Story: A sensitive massage therapist confronts racism, class warfare and a man who represents the imperialistic capitalism that destroyed her native Mexican village when she's stranded at a client's business dinner. The Lowdown: Despite a bleak worldview and half-baked climax, Salma Hayek's performance alone deserves your attention.
Starring: Naomi Watts, Jaeden Lieberher, Jacob Tremblay, Sarah Silverman, Dean Norris, Lee Pace, Maddie Ziegler, Tonya Pinkins, Bobby Moynihan

The Book of Henry

The Story: A gifted 11-year-old struggles to support his single mother and younger brother until the discovery of a classmate's abuse at the hands of her stepfather gives him a larger problem to solve. The Lowdown: It's the brilliant-tween-dramedy-cancer-molestation-murder-thriller you never knew you needed (because you probably don't).