Movie Reviews

Starring: Michael Greer, Marianna Hill, Joy Bang, Anitra Ford, Royal Dano, Elisha Cook Jr.

Messiah of Evil

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In Brief: Have you ever wondered what would happen if the husband-and-wife screenwriting team that penned the scripts for American Graffiti, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and Howard the Duck decided to co-write, produce and direct a movie about cannibalistic ghoul vampires inspired by H.P. Lovecraft and George Romero? Well they did, and…
Starring: Alexander McQueen,Isabella Blow, Gary James McQueen, Detmar Blow, Kate Moss

McQueen

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The Story: A look at the life, work and untimely death of transgressive fashion designer Alexander McQueen. The Lowdown: A deeply personal documentary with a stunning visual aesthetic that will leave even deliberate anti-fashionistas moved and affected.
Starring: Kelly Macdonald, Irrfan Khan, David Denman, Bubba Weiler, Austin Abrams

Puzzle

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The Story: A bored, frustrated housewife discovers that she has an unusual talent for jigsaw puzzles. The Lowdown: A quiet, human movie about desire and fulfillment, full of good performances and fully formed characters.
Starring: Chloë Grace Moretz, Sasha Lane, Forrest Goodluck, John Gallagher Jr., Jennifer Ehle

The Miseducation of Cameron Post

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The Story: A young girl is sent to a Christian conversion camp that seeks to rid her of her same-sex attraction. The Lowdown: A compelling story hamstrung by poor execution and a tendency to sugarcoat its deeply disturbing subject.
Starring: Alex Neustaedter, Becky G, Thomas Jane, Dominic Rains

A-X-L

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The Story: A robot dog soldier escapes its government facility and bonds with two teen outcasts.  The Lowdown: A silly but enjoyable movie that would have felt right at home in the VHS era.
Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Bill Barretta, Joel McHale, Maya Rudolph, Leslie David Baker, Elizabeth Banks

The Happytime Murders

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The Story: In a world in which puppets and humans coexist, a grizzled private investigator teams up with his ex-partner to solve a series of violent murders. The Lowdown: Almost unfathomably dumb, undeniably offensive and more fun than it has any right to be.
Starring: Nadine Labaki, Yasmine Al Masri, Gisele Aouad, Sihame Haddad, Joanna Moukarzel

Caramel

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In Brief: Few things could seem so incongruous as writer/director/star Nadine Labaki's 2008 feature debut Caramel, not because of its relatively standard plot surrounding a group of women who patronize a beauty parlor, but because this light romantic dramedy is set in previously war-torn Beirut. Labaki avoids dealing with the religious and political turmoil that engulfed much of Lebanon…
Starring: Marsha Hunt, William Prince, Frank McHugh, Martha O'Driscoll

Carnegie Hall

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In Brief: The Hendersonville Film Society celebrates National Classical Music Month with a September run of classical-music-themed films. This week the society is bringing back Edgar G. Ulmer’s Carnegie Hall (1947), about which Xpress movie critic Ken Hanke wrote a few years ago: “The silly story — one of those pop music vs. classical music tales — is…
Starring: Andrew Solomon, Amy Allnutt, Jack Allnutt, Harry Burdick, Jason Kingsley

Far From the Tree

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The Story: An exploration of parents with children who are vastly different from themselves. The Lowdown: An emotionally mature, complex and tender look at family.  
Starring: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Johannes Haukur Johannesson, Natassia Malthe

Alpha

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The Story:  Somewhere in Europe, circa 18,000 B.C., a young hunter-gatherer must find his way home with the help of an unlikely friend — the first wolf to enter into a symbiotic relationship with humans. The Lowdown: This loosely structured story of the domestication of Canis lupus is a visually spectacular adventure tale that, while clearly geared toward younger…
Starring: Masaharu Fukuyama, Kôji Yakusho, Shinnosuke Mitsushima

The Third Murder

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The Story: A jaded lawyer uncovers a web of conflicting stories and motivations as he tries to keep a convicted murderer — who has confessed to a third killing — off death row. The Lowdown: A decent film were it to come from an average director, but a disappointing miss for acclaimed Japanese auteur Hirokazu Kore-eda.
Starring: Constance Wu, Henry Golding, Michelle Yeoh, Awkwafina, Tan Kheng Hua

Crazy Rich Asians

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The Story: An Asian-American economics professor meets her boyfriend's family only to discover that he has hidden their extravagant wealth from her, leading to conflict with his disapproving mother and competitors vying for his hand. The Lowdown: A film that makes great strides toward mainstream cinematic inclusivity for ethnically diverse casts and crews while rehashing a tired rom-com…
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Iko Uwais, Ronda Rousey, John Malkovich

Mile 22

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The Story: An off-the-books intelligence mission goes wrong when the team, headed by Mark Wahlberg, realizes it doesn't have all the pieces of the puzzle. The Lowdown: Berg's and Wahlberg's worship of the military and hatred of nerds continues.
Starring: Mathieu Amalric, Emmanuelle Seigner, Marie-Josée Croze, Anne Consigny, Max von Sydow

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly

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In Brief: Julian Schnabel’s third film, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (2008), continues his apparent fixation with artists who died in their prime. His first films, Basquiat (1996) and Before Night Falls (2000), were about the graffiti artist-turned-neo-expressionist painter Jean Michel Basquiat (dead of a drug overdose at the age of 27) and Cuban poet and…
Starring: Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush, Helena Bonham Carter, Guy Pearce, Derek Jacobi

The King’s Speech

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In Brief:  An improbable subject becomes a magnificently enjoyable and moving film experience that needs to be seen in director Tom Hooper's The King's Speech (2010), the story of Britain's King George VI and his attempts — with the help of an unorthodox therapist — to overcome his speech impediment to become the wartime voice of his…
Starring: John David Washington, Adam Driver, Laura Harrier, Topher Grace, Michael Buscemi, Harry Belafonte, Alec Baldwin

BlackKklansman

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The Story: A black detective cons his way into the good graces of the KKK with the help of a white frontman, dealing a devastating blow to the white supremacist terror organization. The Lowdown: Spike Lee's best film in years is potentially his most cogent commentary on contemporary race relations, striking both a delicate balance between comedy and drama…
Starring: Vanessa Hudgins, Nina Dobrev, Finn Wolfhard, Adam Pally, Eva Longoria

Dog Days

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The Story: A number of people are brought together by their mutual love of dogs. The Lowdown: Well-meaning, yet fatally overlong, boundlessly cutesy and full of goofy humor that makes for a film that never meshes as a whole piece.
Starring: Joey King, Julia Goldani Telles, Jaz Sinclair, Annalise Basso

Slender Man

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The Story: The Slender Man, summoned from an internet video, abducts and possesses a group of high school friends, forcing them to make a sacrifice that will send him back to the internet. The Lowdown: I actually have no idea what this movie was supposed to be about, but Eighth Grade, Skate Kitchen, and BlacKkKlansman…
Starring: Daniel Auteil, Juliette Binoche, Maurice Benjou, Annie Girardot

Caché

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In Brief: Judging by the reviews I’ve read for Caché, I am supposed to be blown away by its myriad profundities, its mastery of film, its ability to create tension and so on. I’m not. I’m also supposed to have been shocked — shocked — by a scene of brutal daring unlike anything ever encountered in…
Starring: Marlene Dietrich, John Lodge, Sam Jaffe, Louise Dresser

The Scarlet Empress

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In Brief: Josef von Sternberg belongs in the very top ranks of any list of the greatest filmmakers of all time — and nowhere is this more apparent than in his self-described “relentless excursion into style,” The Scarlet Empress. Bearing the improbable credit that the film is “based on a diary of Catherine II” that was…