Movie Reviews

Starring: Woody Harrelson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Richard Jenkins, Bill Pullman, Jeffrey Donovan


The Story: A recounting of Lyndon B. Johnson's rise to the presidency and the passing of the Civil Rights Act. The Lowdown: A perfectly OK movie that has notions of being something more meaningful, but without the talent behind the camera to accomplish such a thing.
Starring: Kristen Bell, Mila Kunis, Kathryn Hahn, Cheryl Hines, Susan Sarandon, Christine Baranski

A Bad Moms Christmas

The Story: The bad moms (and grandmoms) are back for another round of raucous mayhem, this time while learning how to create the perfect Christmas season for their families. The Lowdown: Every time a cash register rings, a studio executive gets his wings.
Starring: Ake Gronberg, Harriet Andersson, Hasse Ekman, Anders Ek, Gudrun Brost

Sawdust and Tinsel

In Brief: This early Ingmar Bergman film is, as the title suggests, a circus story, but it's every inch a Bergman circus story, which is to say it's hardly a jolly time under the big top. Instead, Sawdust and Tinsel is a drama about sex, betrayal and humiliation. Although Bergman had been directing since 1946,…
Starring: Bryan Cranston, Diane Lane, Helen Mirren, Elle Fanning, Alan Tudyk, Louis C.K., John Goodman, Michael Stuhlbarg


In Brief: Jay Roach’s Trumbo is something of a miracle — in part because it’s from Jay Roach, a man whose directing career previously peaked with the Austin Powers movies. At the very least, there’s nothing in his filmography that suggests he’d be suitable for this. Toss in the fact that, on the surface, it bites…
Starring: Nanook, Nyla, Cunayou, Alle, Allegoo

Nanook of the North

In Brief: While Nanook of the North (1922) has been criticized for filmmaker Robert J. Flaherty's interference with his subjects and admitted staging of scenes, there can be no doubt that the film remains a cornerstone of the documentary genre. Much of what we take for granted in modern nature docs was relatively revolutionary at the time, and Flaherty's…
Starring: Agnes Varda, JR

Faces Places (Visages villages)

The Story: Octogenarian auteur Agnes Varda joins up-and-coming street artist JR on a road trip photographing distinctive faces throughout the French countryside. The Lowdown: A surprisingly moving and enjoyable documentary that only confirms my suspicion the Agnes Varda may be the most charming person on the planet.
Starring: Dina Buno, Scott Levin, Rita Fox


The Story: A documentary about two people with Asperger's syndrome and how this affects their romantic relationship. The Lowdown: While a bit slow and meandering at times, the film has enough moments of true emotional weight to be a fascinating watch.
Starring: Matt Damon, Julianne Moore, Noah Jupe, Glenn Fleshler, Alex Hassell, Gary Basaraba, Oscar Isaac, Leith Burke, Karimah Westbrook


The Story: A murder plot and racial tensions undermine the superficial perfection of a rigidly planned 1950s suburban community.  The Lowdown: Clooney's take on a Coen script is more con than pro — file this one under false advertising.
Starring: Tobin Bell, Matt Passmore, Callum Keith Rennie, Hanna Emily Anderson, Clé Bennett


The Story: Two detectives seek the help of forensic pathologists to investigate a new wave of murders that appear to be the handiwork of the original Jigsaw killer, thought to have died ten years earlier. The Lowdown: Fun and gruesome thought it may be, it's too little too late to save the now eight-deep Saw…
Starring: Eddie Constantine, Anna Karina, Akim Tamiroff, Howard Vernon


In Brief: Jean-Luc Godard's Alphaville (1965) is simply one of the damndest things you're ever likely to see. Godard took a popular noir-ish, pulp fiction detective, Lemmy Caution (Eddie Constantine), and plopped him into a nightmarish sci-fi movie that seems to be part serious, part satire — or possibly one huge practical joke. Is Godard…
Starring: Barry Fitzgerald, Walter Huston, Louis Hayward, June Duprez, Roland Young, Richard Haydn, Mischa Auer

And Then There Were None

In Brief: It’s rare that Agatha Christie’s books have been given a break on the movie screen, but René Clair’s 1945 filming of And Then There Were None definitely did right by Dame Agatha. For that matter, it also did right by its splendid roster of great character actors, and it gave French filmmaker Clair…
Starring: Humphrey Bogart, Jennifer Jones, Gina Lollobrigida, Robert Morley, Peter Lorre, Edward Underdown, Ivor Barnard, Marco Tulli

Beat the Devil

In Brief: As far a cinematic oddities go, John Huston's Beat the Devil (1953) ranks among the strangest. Huston and star Humphrey Bogart were both apparently sick enough of the reputations they built on films like The Maltese Falcon and Treasure of the Sierra Madre that they chose to parody those films with this one, made up as they…
Starring: Josh Brolin, Miles Teller, Jeff Bridges, James Badge Dale, Taylor Kitsh, Jennifer Connelly, Andie MacDowell, Scott Haze, Alex Russell, Ben Hardy, Rachel Singer, Natalie Hall, Geoff Stults, Jake Picking

Only the Brave

The Story: A team of elite firefighters risks it all to save lives and homes when they confront dangerous and unpredictable wildfires. The Lowdown: A fact-based tale of valor and sacrifice that has its heart in the right place even when its story beats are not.
Starring: Gerard Butler, Jim Sturgess, Abbie Cornish, Zazie Beetz, Andy Garcia, Ed Harris, Alexandra Maria Lara


The Story: After the global severe weather safety net malfunctions, threatening to disrupt nature and wipe out life on Earth, its chief engineer must board the space station control room to figure out what went wrong while investigating a larger conspiracy back on Earth. The Lowdown: Standard action movie plotting is watchable but forgettable, with…
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Rebecca Ferguson, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Jonas Karlsson, J.K. Simmons, David Dencik, Val Kilmer, Toby Jones, Chloë Sevigny, James D'Arcy, Michael Yates

The Snowman

The Story: Dysfunctional detective tracks a serial killer targeting mothers, only to find his own family in the killer's crosshairs. The Lowdown: Most films that serve up genre cliches this poorly rehashed at least have the decency to reheat them first.
Starring: Tony Musante, Suzy Kendall, Eva Renzi

The Bird with the Crystal Plumage

In Brief: Giallo master Dario Argento got off to a strong start with his 1970 feature debut, The Bird with the Crystal Plumage. While it's nowhere near as accomplished as his later masterpieces, Bird's graphic violence and salacious subject matter would come to define the Italian horror films of the ensuing decades and set a template for the director's later…
Starring: Nelson Eddy, Susanna Foster, Claude Rains, Edgar Barrier, Leo Carrillo, Fritz Leiber

The Phantom of the Opera

In Brief: Universal's big, splashy Technicolor 1943 remake (made on the same set) of its 1925 hit Phantom of the Opera is often dismissed as "too much opera" and "too little Phantom." There's some truth in that, but it's still a good — and certainly good-looking — thriller with its fair share of jolts. In…
Starring: Jamie Lee Curtis, Donald Pleasence, Nancy Kyes, P.J. Soles, Charles Cyphers, Nick Castle


In Brief: The Asheville Film Society wraps up its October horror slate with one last sadistic scare, and its timing couldn't be more appropriate. On Halloween, we'll be showing John Carpenter's Halloween (1978) — one of Carpenter's best films and one of the creepiest slasher movies of all time. It may not have been the first example…