Movie Reviews

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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…
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Starring: Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Holly Hunter, Ray Romano, Anupani Euler, Zienobia Sfiroff, Adeel Akhtar, Bo Burnham, Aidy Bryant, Kurt Braunohler

The Big Sick

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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…
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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

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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…
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Starring: Joey King, Ryan Phillippe, Ki Hong Lee, Shannon Purser, Sydney Park, Elisabeth Rohm, Mitchell Slaggert

Wish Upon

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The Story: An unpopular high school girl finds a magic box that will grant her seven wishes, but when dead bodies start piling up she figures out that the box has an agenda of its own. The Lowdown: Bland, aimless and derivative in the extreme, this is a movie you'll swear didn't exist a year…
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Starring: Sergi Lopez, Ivana Baquero, Ariadna Gil, Maribel Verdu, Doug Jones

Pan’s Labyrinth

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In Brief: Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth (2006) is one of the most remarkable films of the 21st century — something I was not prepared for when I first saw it. Even while recognizing del Toro’s talent in his previous films (sometimes more obvious than other times), there was little in his work to prepare…
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Starring: Ernest Borgnine, Betsy Blair, Joe Mantell, Esther Minciotti, Karen Steele, Jerry Paris

Marty

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In Brief: There was a time in the not-too-distant past when leading roles were the exclusive domain of almost supernaturally good-looking people, and while the modern cinema seems hellbent on regressing to that state of affairs, it's important to note that the process of questioning Hollywood's conventional wisdom that your star had to look like Cary…
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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

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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!
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Starring: Aubrey Plaza, Alison Brie, Kate Micucci, Dave Franco, John C. Reilly, Molly Shannon, Nick Offerman, Fred Armisen

The Little Hours

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The Story: In 14th-century Italy, three young nuns drink, swear and party while vying for the attentions of a young man on the run from a nobleman. The Lowdown: A great cast overcomes the limitations of an uneven script to produce the funniest comedy of 2017 so far.
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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

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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…
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Starring: Dick Miller, Barboura Morris, Anthony Carbone, Julian Burton

A Bucket of Blood

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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…
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Starring: José van Dam, Anne Roussel, Philippe Volter, Sylvie Fennec, Patrick Bauchau

The Music Teacher

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In Brief: As impossible as it is not to get the feeling that this nice looking Belgian film was written in an effort to showcase the music it contains, it’s equally impossible not to become at least a little swept up in its decidedly “feel good” story about old musical rivals squaring off through their protégés…
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Starring: Janet Gaynor, George O'Brien, Margaret Livingston, Bodil Rosing, J. Farrell MacDonald

Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans

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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…
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Starring: Ansel Elgort, Kevin Spacey, Lily James, Jon Bernthal, Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx, Eiza Gonzalez, Flea, Sky Ferreira

Baby Driver

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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.
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Starring: Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, Elle Fanning, Oona Laurence, Angourie Rice, Addison Reicke, Wayne Peré, Emma Howard

The Beguiled

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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.
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Starring: Will Ferrell, Amy Poehler, Jason Mantzoukas, Ryan Simpkins, Nick Kroll

The House

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The Story: After realizing they can't afford to send their daughter to college, a married couple decide to risk it all and open an illegal casino in their suburban neighborhood. The Lowdown: A surprisingly watchable comedy, though that's all it really has going for it, with hardly a laugh or a memorable moment to be found.
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Starring: Steve Carell, Kristen Wiig, Trey Parker, Jenny Slate

Despicable Me 3

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The Story: Gru and his long-lost twin brother, Dru, team up, along with the Minions, to stop washed-up '80s TV child star-turned-jewel-thief Balthazar Bratt from destroying Hollywood as revenge for canceling his show. The Lowdown: Box office notwithstanding, this is high in the running for worst children's film of the year so far.
Quiz Show (1994)Directed by Robert RedfordShown: Ralph Fiennes
Starring: Ralph Fiennes, John Turturro, Rob Morrow, Paul Scofield, Mira Sorvino, Hank Azaria

Quiz Show

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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…
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Starring: Peter O'Toole, Arthur Lowe, Alastair Sim, William Mervyn, Coral Browne, Michael Bryant, Nigel Green

The Ruling Class

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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…
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Starring: Joan Blondell, Warren William, Aline MacMahon, Dick Powell, Ruby Keeler, Guy Kibbee

Gold Diggers of 1933

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In Brief: For the follow-up to the wildly successful 42nd Street, Warner Bros. dusted off the basics of one of their first musical successes, the now mostly lost Gold Diggers of Broadway (1929), and gave it a new Depression-era story—along with new songs by Harry Warren and Al Dubin and, of course, four Busby Berkeley production…
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Starring: Cate Blanchett

Manifesto

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The Story: A selection of famous manifestos, turned into monologues and recited by numerous strange characters. The Lowdown: A generally weird little movie that goes far beyond its original conceit.