Movie Reviews

Starring: George Clooney, Shailene Woodley, Amara Miller, Nick Krause, Patricia Hastie

The Descendants

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The Story: A Hawaiian real-estate lawyer faces his wife's impending death, two daughters he doesn't understand and a large circle of dissolute relatives bent on selling the family land. The Lowdown: A relatably human comedy-drama that is both surprisingly funny and moving, cemented by a terrific performance from George Clooney.
Starring: Werner Herzog, Michael Perry, Jason Burkett, Jeremy Richardson, Kristen Willis

Into the Abyss

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The Story: Eccentric director Werner Herzog documents a prisoner on death row, and the terrible crime he and a friend once committed. The Lowdown: An emotionally draining look at not only the death penalty, but at the people -- criminals, victims, police officers -- who get entangled in death and violence.
Starring: Rhys Ifans, Vanessa Redgrave, Sebastian Armesto, Rafe Spall, David Thewlis, Jamie Campbell Bower, Joely Richardson

Anonymous

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The Story: The supposed "dirt" on who "really" wrote Shakespeare's play -- with numerous liberties. The Lowdown: Utterly absurd revisionist nonsense that is very nearly as entertaining as it is ridiculous -- and that's saying something.
Starring: Jean-Louis Trintignant, Françoise Fabian, Marie-Christine Barrault, Antoine Vitez

My Night at Maud’s

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Classic World Cinema by Courtyard Gallery will present My Night at Maud's at 8 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 2, at Phil Mechanic Studios, 109 Roberts St., River Arts District (upstairs in the Railroad Library). Info: 273-3332, www.ashevillecourtyard.com
Starring: Ben Kingsley, Asa Butterfield, Chloë Grace Moretz, Sacha Baron Cohen, Helen McCrory, Christopher Lee, Jude Law

Hugo

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The Story: The story of 12-year-old Hugo Cabret, who lives inside the walls of a train station in 1930s Paris -- his adventures, his efforts to rebuild an automaton and the discoveries all this leads to. The Lowdown: An almost impossibly great movie that is by turns funny, touching and profound. This goes beyond being…
Starring: Charles Laughton, Richard Arlen, Bela Lugosi, Leila Hyams, Kathleen Burke

Island of Lost Souls

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The Thursday Horror Picture Show will screen Island of Lost Souls on Thursday, Dec. 1, at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge of The Carolina Asheville and will be hosted by Xpress movie critics Ken Hanke and Justin Souther.
Starring: Michael Caine, Ralph Richardson, John Mills, Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, Peter Sellers

The Wrong Box

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The Asheville Film Society will screen The Wrong Box on Tuesday, Dec. 6, at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge of The Carolina Asheville and will be hosted by Xpress movie critics Ken Hanke and Justin Souther. Hanke is the artistic director of the A.F.S.
Starring: Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Kiefer Sutherland, Alexander Skarsgård, Charlotte Rampling, John Hurt

Melancholia

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The Story: The end of the world -- and the effects of its approach on a small group of the fabulously wealthy. The Lowdown: Dark, strange and somehow terrible, but also compelling and a masterful, powerful film.
Starring: (Voices) James McAvoy, Hugh Laurie, Bill Nighy, Jim Broadbent, Imelda Staunton

Arthur Christmas

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The Story: When a child is missed at Christmas, Santa's younger son, Arthur, teams up with Grandsanta to get her present to her. The Lowdown: A wholly pleasant and pleasing outburst of family-friendly seasonal fare that's both winning and funny.
Starring: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Billy Burke, Gil Birmingham, Peter Facinelli

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn—Part 1

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The Story: The wedding of the century between Edward and Bella quickly turns into a nightmare when Bella gets pregnant with a baby that threatens her life. Drama ensues. The Lowdown: Much more stylish than the previous Twilight films, making it more interesting as filmmaking. As drama, however, it's more of the same -- only…
Starring: Gary Cooper, Madeleine Carroll, Akim Tamiroff, Dudley Digges, Porter Hall

The General Died at Dawn

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The Asheville Film Society will screen The General Died at Dawn Tuesday, Nov. 29, at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge of The Carolina Asheville and will be hosted by Xpress movie critics Ken Hanke and Justin Souther.
Starring: Jeff Morrow, Mara Corday, Morris Ankrum, Louis Merrill, Edgar Barrier

The Giant Claw

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The Thursday Horror Picture Show will screen The Giant Claw on Thursday, Nov. 24, at 8 p.m. in the Cinema Lounge of The Carolina Asheville and will be hosted by Xpress movie critics Ken Hanke and Justin Souther.
Starring: Elizabeth Olsen, John Hawkes, Sarah Paulson, Hugh Dancy, Louisa Krause

Martha Marcy May Marlene

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The Story: The story of a young woman who attempts to get away from a cult and reclaim her life for herself. The Lowdown: Highly acclaimed quasi-thriller that didn't work for this reviewer, but has impressed an awful lot of folks.
Starring: Anton Yelchin, Felicity Jones, Jennifer Lawrence, Charlie Bewley, Alex Kingston, Oliver Muirhead

Like Crazy

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The Story: Anatomy of a romance separated by a continent, an ocean and perhaps a mindset. The Lowdown: A lot of this movie either doesn't work or is too mired in a filmmaking style, but there's an agreeable and altogether human aspect that very much comes through.
Starring: (voices) Elijah Wood, Pink, Robin WIlliams, Ava Acres, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon

Happy Feet Two

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The Story: A runaway iceberg traps a city of emperor penguins. The Lowdown: Gorgeous-looking computer animation can’t make up for a plot severely lacking in cohesion.
Starring: (Narrators) Steve Martin, Itzhak Perlman, Quincy Jones, Bette Midler, James Earl Jones

Fantasia 2000

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The Hendersonville Film Society will show Fantasia 2000 at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 27, in the Smoky Mountain Theater at Lake Pointe Landing Retirement Community (behind Epic Cinemas), 333 Thompson St., Hendersonville.
Starring: Magda Vásáryová, Josef Kemr, Nada Hejna, Jaroslav Moucka, Frantisek Velecký

Marketa Lazarová

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Classic World Cinema by Courtyard Gallery will present Marketa Lazarova at 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 18 at Phil Mechanic Studios, 109 Roberts St., River Arts District, upstairs in the Railroad Library). Info: 273-3332, www.ashevillecourtyard.com
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Armie Hammer, Naomi Watts, Judi Dench, Josh Lucas

J. Edgar

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The Story: The private and public story of FBI director J. Edgar Hoover. The Lowdown: A close-to-great film blessed with terrific central performances -- and one that manages to tackle potentially lurid material with tact and understanding.
Starring: Antonio Banderas, Elena Anaya, Marisa Paredes, Jan Cornet, Roberto Álamo, Blanca Suárez

The Skin I Live In

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The Story: An obsessed plastic surgeon works in secret on a captive patient to perfect a synthetic skin. The Lowdown: Pure Almodóvar, but very dark Almodóvar. It's as rich or richer in the delights of cinema for its own sake as anything you'll see this year, but it's apt to disturb some viewers in its…