Movie Reviews

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Starring: Jane Jacobs, Robert Moses, Thomas Campanella, Mindy Fullilove, Steven Johnson

Citizen Jane: Battle for the City

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The Story: The life of activist and writer Jane Jacobs and her battles against urban planner Robert Moses. The Lowdown: On the surface, a fairly basic documentary that raises lots of interesting ideas on the purpose of cities and how we approach the places we live in.
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Starring: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, John Cena

The Wall

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The Story: Two U.S. Soldiers in the closing days of the Iraq War face an uphill battle for survival when they're pinned down by a wily sniper. The Lowdown: A study in cinematic minimalism that trades violence for suspense, resulting in a truly unique war movie that feels more like a horror film.
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Starring: Hilary Alexander, Evita Arce, Emelie DecaVita, Rebecka DecaVita, Augie Freeman, Frankie Manning, Norma Miller

Alive and Kicking

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The Story: Proponents of the modern swing dance resurgence discuss the sociological and historical underpinnings of the subculture alongside personal commentary from several dancers currently active in the field. The Lowdown: A warmhearted tribute to a marginalized form of entertainment that reads more like a love letter than a documentary — and one that arrived 20 years too late.
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Starring: Charlie Hunnam, Astrid Bergès-Frisbey, Jude Law, Djimon Hounsou, Eric Bana, Aidan Gillen, Freddie Fox, Craig McGinlay, Tom Wu, Kingsley Ben-Adir, Neil Maskel

King Arthur: The Legend of the Sword

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The Story: A young man raised in a brothel discovers that he's the heir to English throne, but he must defeat his murderous uncle to reclaim his birthright. The Lowdown: A fruitless exercise in franchise building that replaces the archetypal resonance of Arthurian legend with warmed-over fantasy epic tropes.
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Starring: James Freeman

The Last Shaman

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The Story: A twenty-something prep school drop out suffering from sever clinical depression journeys to the Amazon in search of ayahuasca, a hallucinogenic brew he hopes may hold his cure. The Lowdown: A film so blinded by its own misguided sense of self-importance that it does a disservice to its subject while simultaneously failing to adhere to the…
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Starring: Amy Schumer, Goldie Hawn, Ike Barinholtz, Wanda Sykes, Joan Cusack

Snatched

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The Story: After narrowly escaping their kidnappers, a vacationing mother and daughter find themselves lost in Colombia, trying to find their way home. The Lowdown: A tortured premise and hackneyed presentation combine with pretty idiotic comedy to make for one of the year's more obnoxious offerings.
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Starring: Greta Garbo, John Gilbert, Lars Hanson, Barbara Kent, William Orlamond, George Fawcett

Flesh and the Devil

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In Brief: Clarence Brown's 1926 John Gilbert vehicle, adapted from Hermann Sudermann's novel The Undying Past, is the film that made Gretta Garbo a star — and for that, we should all be eternally grateful. Beyond Garbo and her chemistry with Gilbert, there's not much to commend this two-tissue tale of star-crossed romance in pre-WWI Austria, but…
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Starring: Ewan McGregor, Ewen Bremner, Jonny Lee Miller, Kevin McKidd, Kelly Macdonald

Trainspotting

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In Brief: Danny Boyle’s second feature, Trainspotting (1996), finds the burgeoning filmmaker on slightly more typical ground in terms of thematic content — or what we’ve come to think of as more typical — than was afforded by his debut work, Shallow Grave, even while expanding on his experiments with style. Though Trainspotting’s story of Scottish…
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Starring: Anny Ondra, Cyril Ritchard, John Longden, Donald Calthrop, Sara Allgood, Charles Patton, Hannah Jones, Harvey Braban, Phyllis Konstam

Blackmail

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In Brief: Alfred Hitchcock's first talkie may not be the best remembered of his early works, but it certainly deserves more attention than it gets. Blackmail (1929) bears many of the visual and narrative flourishes that would come to define Hitchcock's auteurial signature in later years — from his morbid gallows humor and propensity for cinematic innovation to a…
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Starring: Gemma Arterton, Sam Claflin, Bill Nighy, Helen McCrory, Jack Huston, Richard E. Grant, Rachael Stirling, Henry Goodman, Jeremy Irons, Paul Ritter, Jake Lacy

Their Finest

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The Story: A novice writer is tasked with contributing to a script that becomes a major part of the British government's propaganda efforts at the height of World War II, but unexpected romantic entanglements emerge in the process. The Lowdown: A thoroughly inoffensive — and occasionally alluring — story that sneaks in a powerful message of feminine empowerment.
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Starring: Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Vin Diesel, Bradley Cooper, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Elizabeth Debicki, Sylvester Stallone, Kurt Russell

Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2

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The Story: Star Lord runs into his long-lost father while he and the Guardians are on the run from a group of gold-skinned aristocrats, but the family reunion doesn't go according to plan when the cosmic pater familias is revealed to have a hidden agenda. The Lowdown: A sequel to a highly original film that, while suitably…
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Starring: Richard Gere, Laura Linney, Steve Coogan, Rebecca Hall, Chloë Sevigny

The Dinner

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The Story: Two warring brothers and their respective wives meet over an extravagant dinner to discuss a horrific incident involving their sons. The Lowdown: The Dinner is imbued by all of the pomposity and self-importance of fine dining with none of the taste or sustenance.
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Starring: George Segal, Alec Guinness, Senta Berger, Max von Sydow, George Sanders

The Quiller Memorandum

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In Brief: As soon as there were James Bond movies, there was a response with more seriously intended spy films. The Quiller Memorandum (1966) is one such film, and though it's one of the more obscure ones, it is also one of the better ones. Oh, there are some problems, and Michael Anderson's direction is…
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Starring: René Maria Falconetti, Eugene Silvain, Andre Berley, Maurice Schutz, Michel Simon

The Passion of Joan of Arc

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In Brief: Carl Theodor Dreyer’s silent film about the trial and execution of Joan of Arc is often cited as “one of the best films ever made” — something that too often means you’re about to get cinematic cauliflower (it’s good for you, but you may not much like it). Yet Dreyer’s film remains among the…

Hendersonville Film Society

The Hendersonville Film Society will have its weekly showing on Sunday, May 7, at 2 p.m. in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing Retirement Community, 333 Thompson St., Hendersonville. The title is yet to be determined. Contact the Hendersonville Film Society for more information.

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Starring: Jean-Pierre Léaud, Delphine Seyrig, Claude Jade, Michel Lonsdale

Stolen Kisses

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In Brief: The third film in François Truffaut's Antoine Doinel series, Stolen Kisses (1968) is probably the best after the original, which none of the sequels topped or even equaled. It's lightweight (a curiously insubstantial affair considering the political and cultural turmoil surrounding its making) and somewhat rambling, but very appealing and still embracing something…
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Starring: Emma Watson, Tom Hanks, John Boyega, Ellar Coltrane, Patton Oswalt

The Circle

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The Story: An entry-level employee in a giant tech company starts learning that their intentions might be less than innocent. The Lowdown: A silly drama with touches of satire that has little to say and says it in the most inept ways imaginable.
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Starring: Lee Morgan, Helen Morgan, Wayne Shorter

I Called Him Morgan

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The Story: The life of jazz musician Lee Morgan and his wife, Helen, their marriage and the tragic end to the trumpeter's life. The Lowdown: An affecting documentary that doesn't really push the boundaries of the form but is worth watching for fans of Morgan's music.
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Starring: Anne Hathaway, Jason Sudeikis, Austin Stowell, Tim Blake Nelson, Dan Stevens

Colossal

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The Story: An alcoholic writer returns to her hometown after her boyfriend kicks her out, only to find that her drunken shenanigans are having real-world consequences on the other side of the globe. The Lowdown: A darkly comic story with a serious message at its core that deftly juggles its tonal shifts and disparate genre tropes while…
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Starring: Eric Ruffin, Chloe Levine, Aaron Clifton Moten, Lloyd Kaufman, Larry Fessenden

The Transfiguration

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The Lowdown: An isolated teenager with a tragic past and a vampire obsession begins acting on his murderous fantasies, until an unexpected romantic connection challenges his worldview. The Lowdown: A complex psychological portrait of trauma and violence that will be particularly appealing to devotees of vampire cinema.