The Story: A cleaning woman at a government facility falls in love with an amphibious humanoid creature. The Lowdown: Maybe the only true fish-out-of-water story ever committed to celluloid, this heart-wrenching love story is also del Toro's most sincere love letter to cinema — and easily among the best work he's ever produced.
The Story: A middle-class suburbanite undergoes a radical shrinking procedure intended to reduce his environmental impact while concurrently increasing his wealth. The Lowdown: A largely unobjectionable satire that falls short of living up to the potential of its high-concept conceit and the talent of its creators.
The Story: Four high schoolers in detention discover an antiquated video game console that magically transports them into an adventure game that they must complete in order to return to the real world. The Lowdown: Occasionally entertaining and only infrequently stupid.
The Story: The "true life" story of P.T. Barnum and the origins of his famous circus. The Lowdown: A gaudy, garrish musical with nary a memorable tune and a flimsy plot.
The Story: The Bellas, all realizing they're only at their best when they're together, reunite for a European USO tour. The Lowdown: A lot more knife fights and exploding yachts than you might expect, plus some bad covers of boring songs, but still a perfectly acceptable way to kill a couple hours.
The Story: Twin brothers hit the road in search of their biological father. The Lowdown: Mama Mia! by way of Due Date, this farcical road trip barrels past the exit for Comedy Town and gets lost in a quiet backwater called Boredom, USA.
The Story: Winston Churchill faces public and political opposition as he guides England into the fight against fascism in the early days of World War II. The Lowdown: A remarkable performance from Gary Oldman counterbalances Joe Wright's ham-fisted direction, redeeming this intimate portrait of a leader facing the gravest of dilemmas.
The Story: Rey trains in the ways of The Force under a reclusive Luke Skywalker as General Leia Organa leads the last vestiges of the Rebel Alliance in a desperate fight against overwhelming opposition. The Lowdown: All the Star Wars action you were hoping for, plus an extra 40 minutes and some Porgs.
The Story: Munro Leaf's classic story of Ferdinand the Bull, who only wants to sit under his favorite tree sniffing the flowers rather than follow the more expected path of becoming a famous fighter. The Lowdown: Loud and raucous while staying gentle and sweet, the film has its heart in the right place and is…
The Story: A failed actress in a loveless marriage finds excitement in a summer fling, something that's complicated with the arrival of her husband's daughter. The Lowdown: An aggressively melodramatic picture that's watchable, but mostly only for Woody Allen die-hards.
The Story: An aspiring actor befriends a scene partner, and the duo move to L.A. to pursue their dreams — until a harsh welcome prompts them to take matters into their own hands. The Lowdown: Based on the true story of the creation of a true cinematic nadir, James Franco has made a very good film…
The Story: A young college student finds herself plagued by mysterious seizures and unexplained phenomena when an attraction to a pretty classmate places both girls in harm's way. The Lowdown: A remarkable twist on horror and coming-of-age stories that refuses to allow its audience the comfort of the conventions expected of those genres.
The Story: Set in the '60s during the time of Vatican II's reforms of the Catholic Church, a young woman surprises her mother by deciding to become a nun. The Lowdown: With a good cast and an interesting eye for composition, what's generally a strong film is brought down a bit by an unfocused plot and…
The Story: The manager of a Florida retirement community enlists the help of a new rival when his criminal past catches up with him, while both seek the attention of a corporate auditor threatening to shut the whole thing down. The Lowdown: Scripts this bad will sometimes seem fun with enough enthusiasm behind or in…
The Asheville Film Society will take a two week holiday break, with no shows scheduled for Dec. 18 or Dec. 25. We will return on Tuesday, Jan. 2 with Victor Sjöström's The Phantom Carriage in our new 7 p.m. time slot at Grail Moviehouse.
The Story: A young Afghan girl must take extraordinary measures to support her family after her father is arrested by the Taliban. The Lowdown: A compelling glimpse into life under a fundamentalist theocracy that offers a depth of cultural awareness and respect for its target audience's intelligence not commonly found in films aimed primarily at children.
The Story: Charles Dickens struggles with writers' block while trying to come up with his next project, ultimately leading to the creation of his classic, "A Christmas Carol." The Lowdown: A much weirder and more interesting film than you might expect, featuring a great supporting cast and beautiful photography capturing a fairy-tale-like 19th-century London.
In Brief: The great Frank Capra’s most ambitious and disturbing film, Meet John Doe is possibly more relevant today than when it first appeared in 1941. The idea of a completely media-fabricated celebrity — raised almost to the level of deity and used as a tool for political gain — probably seemed pretty fantastic then. Of…
The Story: The mother of a murdered child throws her small town into chaos when she rents three billboards on a rural stretch of road to prod the local authorities into prioritizing her daughter's case. The Lowdown: An improbably compelling and complex character study that may be Martin McDonagh's first true must-see movie.
The Story: A young aspiring musician finds himself cast into the land of the dead on a quest to reunite with the spirit of his great-great-grandfather. The Lowdown: A touching story told with remarkable visual flair that imparts important lessons about death and family while exposing kids to Mexican cultural traditions.
The Story: An idealistic lawyer finds his ideals challenged when the death of his law partner forces him into a world of moral turpitude. The Lowdown: A good film that never reaches the heights of which it was capable, tackling important issues without successfully addressing them due to a bloated script and frustrating conclusion.