Movie Reviews

Starring: Taylor Russell, Logan Miller, Tyler Labine, Deborah Ann Woll, Nik Dodani, Jay Ellis

Escape Room

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The Story: Six strangers are thrown together in a twisted take on the strip-mall staple of the escape room, only here the goal isn't team building but survival. The Lowdown: In the wake of bloated awards-season bookings, this creepy cheapie offers up a welcome dose of low-brow escapism.
Starring: Fernando Rey, Delphine Seyrig, Stéphane Audran, Paul Frankeur, Bulle Ogier

The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie

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In Brief: If you’ve never seen a Luis Buñuel film, it’s high time you did, and this 1972 Oscar winner about six middle-class people and their interrupted efforts to have a meal together is a good place to start. The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie is more accessible than some of Buñuel’s work and might just…
Starring: Janet Gaynor, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Roland Young, Billie Burke, Paulette Goddard, Minnie Dupree

The Young in Heart

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In Brief: When The Young in Heart (1938) showed up on the list of January titles for the Hendersonville Film Society, I not only realized I hadn’t seen it, I’d never heard of it — something that seemed unlikely from that year and with that cast. So I was interested to see it and fill in…
Starring: Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Steve Carell, Sam Rockwell, Tyler Perry, Eddie Marsan, Jesse Plemons

Vice

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The Story: Dick Cheney goes from drunken college dropout to master manipulator as he shrewdly usurps the authority of the most powerful position in the free world. The Lowdown:  A divisive film for a divided nation.
Starring: Jennifer Lopez, Vanessa Hudgens, Leah Remini, Treat Williams

Second Act

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The Story: A grocery store manager lands her dream job by faking her resume and credentials. The Lowdown: A typical romantic comedy, only with all the cringe-worthy and annoying elements removed.
Starring: Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, Rebecca Hall, Rob Brydon, Kelly Macdonald, Ralph Fiennes, Lauren Lapkus, Hugh Laurie

Holmes and Watson

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The Story: Sherlock Holmes and John Watson bungle their way through an investigation as they attempt to prevent the assassination of Queen Victoria. The Lowdown: Yes, it's insipid to the point of self-parody — but it's also not as bad as advertised.
Starring: Yves Montand, Daniel Auteuil, Emmanuelle Béart, Hippolyte Girardot, Margarita Lozano

Manon of the Spring

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In Brief: Manon of the Spring (1986) is the sequel — or more properly, second part — of Jean de Florette (1986). In essence, this film tells the rest of the story — what happens after Jean de Florette (Gérard Depardieu) dies. The film takes place 10 years later with Jean’s daughter Manon (Emmanuelle Béart) fully grown, living more…
Starring: Vanessa Redgrave, Glenda Jackson, Patrick McGoohan, Timothy Dalton

Mary, Queen of Scots

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In Brief: Well, it does boast two of the greatest — possibly the greatest — actresses of 1960s and ’70s British film in Vanessa Redgrave and Glenda Jackson, but let's be honest, this is a thoroughly respectable British prestige picture from the folks who brought you the even more respectable Anne of a Thousand Days…
Starring: Lily Franky, Ando Sakura, Matsuoka Mayu, Kirin Kiki, Jyo Kairi, Sasaki Miyu

Shoplifters (Manbiki kazoku)

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The Story: A poor family of miscreants ekes out a modest living through petty theft until their adoption of an abused girl throws their precarious living arrangement into peril. The Lowdown: A remarkable film that's warm but not cloying, political but not polemical — a testament to writer/director Hirokazu Kore-eda's sense of subtlety, and one of the best films…
Starring: Hailee Steinfeld, John Cena, Pamela Adlon, Jorge Lendeborg Jr.

Bumblebee

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The Story: In this prequel to the Transformers series, a teenage loner befriends the wounded, stranded Autobot scout Bumblebee in 1987 California. The Lowdown: The smartest, sweetest coming-of-age story of the year that also happens to feature giant alien robots.
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Margot Robbie, Jack Lowden, Joe Alwyn, David Tennant, Guy Pearce

Mary Queen of Scots

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The Story: Mary Stuart returns home from France to reclaim her throne in Scotland, but Elizabeth I of England has other ideas. The Lowdown: An occasionally compelling overview of a fascinating chapter in history, undermined by poor pacing even as it's buoyed by strong lead performances.
Starring: Emily Blunt, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ben Whishaw, Emily Mortimer, Meryl Streep, Colin Firth

Mary Poppins Returns

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The Story: Michael and Jane Banks, now fully grown, call on Mary Poppins to help rescue the family home along with the childhood innocence of the next generation of Bankses. Lowdown: Supercrapifragilisticexpialatrocious.
Starring: Jason Momoa, Amber Heard, Willem Dafoe, Patrick Wilson, Nicole Kidman, Dolph Lundgren

Aquaman

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The Story: Half-human, half-Atlantean Arthur Curry must journey to Atlantis to oust his half brother from the throne and save the surface world from annihilation. The Lowdown: According to the dictionary: Wan (adj.) 1. Pallid; giving the impression of ill health. 2. Lacking in color or vitality. 3. Bearing the characteristics of an overpaid and uninspired director.
Starring: Steve Carell, Leslie Mann, Gwendoline Christie, Diane Kruger

Welcome to Marwen

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The Story: Robert Zemeckis' hyperstylized retelling of Marwencol, the true story of a traumatized artist coming to terms with the assault (and assailants) that changed his life. The Lowdown: An insulting and dehumanizing nightmare that doubles as a truly bizarre look into the director's own creative process.
Starring: Jacques Tati, Nathalie Pascaud, Michelle Rolla, Valentine Camax, Louis Perrault

M. Hulot’s Holiday

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In Brief: As a mere boy, I bumped into Jacques Tati’s Mon Oncle on television — and didn’t like it. Many years later, I saw part of his Traffic — and didn’t like it. With that, I wrote off Tati’s work as something just not for me. And it was with that in mind that…
Starring: Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz, Emma Stone, Nicholas Hoult, Joe Alwyn, Mark Gatiss

The Favourite

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The Story: In the court of Queen Anne, a fallen lady climbs the ranks from scullery maid to royal consort through treachery, cunning and deceit. The Lowdown: In theory, I shouldn't love a hyperstylized two-hour catfight this much — but unless things change drastically in the next two weeks, it's likely to be my favorite film of the…
Starring: Shameik Moore, Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld, Mahershala Ali, Brian Tyree Henry, Lily Tomlin, Nicolas Cage, Liev Schreiber

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

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The Story: When the Kingpin tries to open a gateway between parallel realities, he inadvertently brings together multiple versions of Spider-Man, all determined to thwart his evil plan with the help of their newest colleague, Miles Morales. The Lowdown: The first Spider-Man movie that legitimately captures the feel of the comics is a blast, even if its…
Starring: Yoo Ah-in, Steven Yeun, Jun Jong-seo

Burning (Beoning)

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The Story: A poor but educated young man falls for a girl from his village, only to have her taken from him by a rich playboy who may not be what he appears. The Lowdown: A scintillating slow-burn thriller that barely misses genuine greatness.
Starring: Hera Hilmar, Hugo Weaving, Robert Sheehan, Jihae

Mortal Engines

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The Story: A thousand years in the future, an orphan seeks to avenge the death of her mother while mad scientists in roaming, rolling cities piece together the history of an ancient society. The Lowdown: One of the biggest box office flops of the year is also everything Ready Player One should have been and…
Starring: Willem Dafoe, Rupert Friend, Oscar Isaac, Mads Mikkelsen, Mathieu Amalric, Emmanuelle Seigner

At Eternity’s Gate

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The Story: Troubled painter Vincent Van Gogh leads a turbulent life in the French countryside before his untimely demise. The Lowdown: A broad-strokes look at the painter's life that gambles and fails with a point-of-view gimmick that undermines the work of a strong cast.
Starring: Clint Eastwood, Bradley Cooper, Michael Peña, Taissa Farmiga, Andy Garcia

The Mule

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The Story: An nonagenarian discovers that he's been duped into running drugs for a cartel. The Lowdown: A morally and intellectually flat effort from Clint Eastwood that seems rushed and pasted together.