Movie Reviews

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Starring: Kristen Riter, Matthew Goldsby, Jerry Belson, Joe Flood, The Stick

Student Bodies

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In Brief: The late, great Ken Hanke and I had numerous lengthy and heated debates about the relative merits — or lack thereof, in his opinion — of cult horror parody Student Bodies (1981). This broad farce was the first to lampoon the inherent absurdity of the slasher subgenre when it was still in its infancy, decades before Scream (1996)…
Starring: Sergei Dontsov, Maria Kuznetsova, Leonid Mozgovoy, David Giorgobiani

Russian Ark

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In Brief: Alexander Sokurov’s Russian Ark accomplishes the not inconsiderable feat of being both fascinating and tedious at the same time. Conceptually, the film is brilliant. Technically, it’s a marvel. Dramatically, it’s about as much fun as an evening with an insurance salesman. That said, Russian Ark boasts enough striking imagery — some of it positively haunting…
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Starring: Angela Lansbury, Rock Hudson, Elizabeth Taylor, Kim Novak, Tony Curtis, Edward Fox

The Mirror Crack’d

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In Brief: A diminished budget — and other things — conspire against this attempt at a big-screen Miss Marple movie to accompany successful Hercule Poirot films. It’s not actually bad, it’s just not all that hot. The magnificently catty duels of the divas — Liz Taylor and Kim Novak — are certainly fun, but the…
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Starring: Ivor Novello, Marie Ault, Arthur Chesney, June Tripp, Malcolm Keen

The Lodger

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In Brief: Fresh from his stint in the German film industry, Alfred Hitchcock gave the British movie world a well-needed shot in the arm with The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog (1927) starring the immensely popular Ivor Novello. In so doing, he also gave the world its very first movie that feels like…
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Starring: Brandon Polansky, Samantha Elisofon, Nicky Gottlieb, Will Deaver, Jessica Walter, Tibor Feldman

Keep the Change

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The Story: A man with autism comes out of his shell when he falls in love with a young woman in his autism support group, but their romance is as conflicted and challenging as any other. The Lowdown: A touching and compelling love story rendered all the more laudable for its treatment of adults with autism as human beings…
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Starring: Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn, Mark Rylance, T.J. Miller, Simon Pegg

Ready Player One

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The Story: A boy living in a dystopian future must win a virtual reality video game to save his escapist nostalgia pit from an evil organization that wants to put ads in it. The Lowdown: 140 minutes of computer-animated pop culture name-dropping masquerading as a movie.
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Starring: Zoey Deutch, Kathryn Hahn, Tim Heidecker, Adam Scott, Joey Morgan

Flower

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The Story: A sexually precocious teen turns tricks to bail her deadbeat dad out of jail and then murders someone before falling in love with her stepbrother. The Lowdown: A rose by any other name would be more entertaining. Literally, looking at a rose for two hours would be better than watching this film.
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Starring: Taraji P. Henson, Lyriq Bent, Crystle Stewart, Ajiona Alexus, Antonio Madison

Tyler Perry’s Acrimony

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The Story: Thinking her husband has betrayed her, a woman puts an elaborate plan for revenge into motion. The Lowdown: A movie that gaslights its own characters at the expense of tricking its audience.
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Starring: David A.R. White, John Corbett, Shane Harper, Ted McGinley, Jennifer Taylor

God’s Not Dead: A Light in the Darkness

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The Story: After his church is burned down, a reverend must go to court to secure its remaining on a hostile college campus. The Lowdown: While a bit more measured and professional-looking than previous installments, this third time around is still incredibly inert and dull.
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Starring: Silvana Mangano, Terence Stamp, Massimo Girotti, Anne Wiazemsky, Andrés José Cruz Soublette

Teorema (Theorem)

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In Brief: While this surreal — and sexually charged — drama is certainly nowhere near the most unsettling thing Pier Paolo Pasolini ever made (that would be 1975's Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom), Teorema is high on the Not for Everyone list. It's less that the film is upsetting (though some will find…
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Starring: Margaret Sullavan, James Stewart, Frank Morgan, Joseph Schildkraut, Sara Haden, Felix Bressar

The Shop Around the Corner

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In Brief: While it may not be the best film he ever made, Ernst Lubitsch's The Shop Around the Corner (1940) is a prime example of the "Lubitsch Touch." A light, occasionally frivolous romantic comedy that gave James Stewart one of his most iconic early roles, Lubitsch's sense of story and characterization are second to none even if…
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Starring: Aleksandr Antonov, Vladimir Barsky, Grigori Aleksandrov, Ivan Bobrov

Battleship Potemkin

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In Brief: It wasn't that long ago that Sergei Eisenstein's Battleship Potemkin — then known mostly as Potemkin — was in the top five of nearly all lists of the greatest films ever made. While the 1925 Soviet film seems to have been downgraded in recent years, it remains an essential of cinematic literacy, one of…
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Starring: Claire Foy, Joshua Leonard, Jay Pharoah, Juno Temple, Aimee Mullins, Amy Irving

Unsane

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The Story: A young woman involuntarily committed to a psychiatric facility is convinced that a violent stalker has infiltrated the staff to torment her, but her assertions are disregarded as the ravings of a lunatic. The Lowdown: A Sam Fuller sendup shot on a cellphone, Soderbergh’s latest is a shockingly effective piece of pulp exploitation cinema.
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Starring: John Boyega, Scott Eastwood, Rinko Kikuchi, Burn Gorman, Charlie Day

Pacific Rim: Uprising

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The Story: Though the Kaiju are gone, intrepid Jaeger pilots face a new threat in the form of drones that are not what they appear to be. The Lowdown: Lacking the passion and playful originality of its predecessor, this sequel is a bloated exercise in redundancy.
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Starring: (voices) James McAvoy, Emily Blunt, Johnny Depp, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Mary J. Blige

Sherlock Gnomes

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The Story: After a series of disappearances in the world of garden ornaments, the world's most famous gnome detective is called in to crack the case. The Lowdown: A drab retread of an animated film that wastes a talented cast.
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Starring: Bella Thorne, Patrick Schwarzenegger, Quinn Shephard, Rob Riggle

Midnight Sun

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The Story: A teenage girl, suffering from a rare condition that makes her deathly allergic to sunlight, meets the boy of her dreams and has to choose between the isolated life she's always known and following her dreams of falling in love. The Lowdown: Like a live-action and weirdly insensitive version of that sun level…
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Starring: Tomoro Taguchi, Kei Fujiwara, Nobu Kanaoka, Renji Ishibashi, Naomasa Musaka, Shinya Tsukamoto

Tetsuo: The Iron Man

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In Brief: The Thursday Horror Picture Show makes its triumphant return this week at The Black Cloud in West Asheville with a film as polarizing as it is traumatic: Shinya Tsukamoto's seminal classic of Japanese cyberpunk body horror, Tetsuo: The Iron Man (1989). Playing something like early Lynch by way of Cronenberg with a dose of Aronofsky on speed,…
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Starring: Anne Parillaud, Jean-Hugues Anglade, Jeanne Moreau, Jean Reno

La Femme Nikita

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In Brief: I'm not one to go in for '90s nostalgia, but thinking back to a time when I didn't have to hear about Donald Trump's illicit affairs with porn stars does have its appeal. The '90s were also a time when I still thought Luc Besson was cool — instead of a talentless, plagiarizing pervert with a thing…
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Starring: Edward G. Robinson, Joan Bennett, Dan Duryea, Margaret Lindsay, Jess Barker

Scarlet Street

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In Brief: A remake of Jean Renoir's La Chienne (1931) — itself based on a play of the same name by Georges de la Fouchardiere, which was based on the book by André Mouezy-Eon — is easily the darkest and most psychologically bleak of Fritz Lang's American output, which, almost by default, places it high…
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Starring: Steve Buscemi, Simon Russell Beale, Rupert Friend, Jason Isaacs, Michael Palin, Jeffrey Tambor

The Death of Stalin

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The Story: Stalin's underlings vie for power in the wake of the dictator's death. The Lowdown: An uncompromisingly dark comedy with a bravura cast that expertly wields farce and satire to elucidate the inadequacies of government in general and totalitarianism in particular.