Movie Reviews

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Starring: TatIana Samojlova, Aleksey Batalov, Vaseli Merkuryev, Aleksandr Shvorin

The Cranes Are Flying (Letyat zhuravli)

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In Brief: Directed by Mikhail Kalatozov (I Am Cuba), The Cranes Are Flying (1957) is the only Russian film ever to win the coveted Palme D'Or at the Cannes Film Festival — and not without good reason. This postwar melodrama eschews the traditional rigidity of Russian formalist montage techniques in favor of a more free-flowing camera, which perfectly…
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Starring: Charlie Hunnam, Robert Pattinson, Sienna Miller, Tom Holland, Angus Macfadyen, Johann Myers

The Lost City of Z

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The Story: An explorer finds the remains of an ancient civilization while mapping an uncharted river in South America and dedicates the rest of his life to finding the lost city he believes to be hidden in the jungle. The Lowdown: Writer/director James Gray relies on classical cinematic forms in his compelling adaptation of author David Grann's nonfiction best-seller…
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Starring: Pierre Niney, Paula Beer, Ernst Stötzner, Marie Gruber, Johann Von Bülow, Anton von Lucke, Cyrielle Clair, Alice de Lencquesaing

Frantz

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The Story: A mysterious young Frenchman befriends the family of a fallen German soldier following World War I. The Lowdown: Timely social commentary in a weepy melodrama's clothing, François Ozon makes a rare misstep by overreaching in both style and narrative.
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Starring: Chris Evans, McKenna Grace, Jenny Slate, Lindsay Duncan, Octavia Spencer

Gifted

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The Story: A man raising his niece, a promising young math prodigy, is drawn into a contentious legal battle when his mother challenges him for custody of the girl. The Lowdown: A predominantly unobjectionable film, but one whose only gift is a talent for emotional manipulation.
Starring: Vin Diesel, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Charlize Theron, Jason Statham

The Fate of the Furious

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The Story: After their leader is turned into their nemesis by a nefarious hacker, a crew of car-driving outlaws must save him and the world. The Lowdown: The usual nonsense, namely lots of car chases and explosions, all absurdly accomplished, but not very memorable.
Starring: Gael Garcia Bernal, Veronica Echegui, Ashley Grace, Bjorn Hlynur Haraldsson, Jadyn Wong

You’re Killing Me Susana

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The Story: A husband leaves Mexico to track down his wife, who's unexpectedly left him for a writing workshop in Iowa. The Lowdown: Despite some great performances and occasional flashes of insight, this is a generally overlong and unfortunately unlikable portrait of a failing marriage.
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Starring: Guillaume Canet, Guillaume Gallienne, Alice Pol, Deborah Francois, Sabinz Azema

Cezanne and I (Cezanne et moi)

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The Story: Paul Cezanne and Emile Zola share a turbulent friendship that spans decades and involves some of the most famous artists of late 19th-century France. The Lowdown: Watching paint dry may well be more fun, depending on the painter.
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Starring: Vincent Price, Judith Evelyn, Darryl Hickman

The Tingler

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In Brief: Quite possibly the best thing legendary schlockmeister William Castle ever turned out prior to producing Rosemary's Baby — and certainly the best remembered of his films due to its incredible theatrical gimmick (Percepto), The Tingler is an absolute must see for fans of Castle's unique brand of low-budget exploitation horror. Castle's films are generally less notable for their…
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Starring: David Alpay, Charles Aznavour, Eric Bogosian, Brent Carver, Christopher Plummer

Ararat

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In Brief: To commemorate Armenian Genocide Day, World Cinema is showing Atom Egoyan's much misunderstood Ararat (2002), which deals with the Turkish government's 1915 genocide of its Armenian population. This is heady stuff. It's also heavily layered and told in an unusual manner, presenting the story from the perspective of an Armenian filmmaker and linking…
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Starring: Nia Vardolos, Toni Collette, David Duchovny, Stephen Spinella, Ian Gomez, Debbie Reynolds

Connie and Carla

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In Brief: Yes, it’s My Big Fat Greek Drag Queen — even if Connie and Carla might more appropriately be better dubbed Some Like It Hot Meets Victor/Victoria. No matter how you slice it, though, this is yet another vanity project for Nia Vardolos — aided and abetted by producers Rita Wilson and Tom Hanks (who…
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Starring: Harry Shearer, Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, Rob Reiner, Ed Begley Jr, Fred Willard Fran Drescher, Billy Crystal, Dana Carvey, Paul Shaffer, Anjelica Huston

This is Spinal Tap

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In Brief: One of my favorite films of all time is in a delicate position, and only you — the Asheville moviegoing community — can help me save it. Many of you have no doubt seen, or are at least aware, of 1984's This is Spinal Tap, the film that not only launched the cinematic careers…
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Starring: Ewan McGregor, Jonny Lee Miller, Robert Carlyle, Ewen Bremner, Anjela Nedyalkova, Kelly Macdonald, Shirley Henderson, Irvine Welsh

T2 Trainspotting

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The Story: A crew of formerly drug-addled miscreants reunites after two decades of bad blood to take stock of their misspent lives. The Lowdown: A fitting follow-up to an unquestionable classic that may not please the most ardent purists but makes a moving statement on the struggles of maturity and the pitfalls of nostalgia.
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Starring: Aaron Poole, Kathleen Munroe, Ellen Wong, Kenneth Welsh, Evan Stern, Daniel Fathers, Grace Munroe

The Void

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The Story:  A small-town cop stumbles into a world of cosmic monstrosity when he encounters a blood-spattered junkie on the run from a mysterious cult. The Lowdown: A love letter to gore fanatics and one of the best films yet to come out of the current throwback-horror renaissance.
Starring: Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Alan Arkin, Ann-Margaret, Joey King

Going in Style

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The Story: Three elderly men on the verge of losing their pensions decide to rob a bank. The Lowdown: A charming cast makes the film watchable, but drab comedy and a lack of anything to actually say make the rest pretty forgettable.
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Starring: Demi Lovato, Rainn Wilson, Julia Roberts, Mandy Patinkin, Joe Manganiello, Jack McBrayer, Danny Pudi, Michelle Rodriguez, Ellie Kemper, Ariel Winter, Jake Johnson, Meghan Trainor

Smurfs: The Lost Village

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The Story: The all-male Smurfs discover a village populated entirely by female Smurfs. The Lowdown: An entirely unnecessary and largely forgettable film that seeks to address the gender imbalance in the Smurfs universe but doesn't get much further than acknowledging that the franchise had a parity problem in the first place.
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Starring: Abel Ferrara (as Jimmy Laine), Carolyn Marz, Baybi Day, Harry Schultz, D.A. Metrov

The Driller Killer

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In Brief: Director Abel Ferrara (King of New York, Bad Lieutenant) made his feature directorial debut — at least if we're not counting his "adult" work — with this gory 1979 slasher flick. Ferrara also stars as the titular killer, a painter driven to madness by loud neighbors and mounting debts, but as is typically the case with…
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Starring: Toshiro Mifune, Machiko Kyo, Masayuki Mori, Takashi Shimura, Minoru Chiaki

Rashomon

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In Brief: Though he’d made better movies before this one — and would make better ones after it — Rashomon (1950) is the film that put Akira Kurosawa on the map as a major force in international film. The secret probably lies in the picture’s unusual structure, which not only functions as a hook, but…
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Starring: William Powell, Mary Astor, Eugene Pallette, Ralph Morgan, Robert McWade, Robert Barrat

The Kennel Murder Case

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The 1920s and 30s were the high point of a certain kind of detective fiction — the puzzle plot mystery (often featuring an “impossible” locked room murder) built around a gentleman detective. These gentleman detectives were invariably wealthy, spent their spare time studying crime and indulging in the arts. They were well-dressed, well-spoken and invariably…
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Starring: Ryûnosuke Kamiki, Mone Kamishiraishi

Your Name. (Kimi no na wa)

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The Story: Two high school students find themselves transposed into each other's bodies, leading to an unexpected romance — and an even more surprising plot twist. The Lowdown: A work of staggering beauty, both aesthetically and emotionally. Even those with qualms about animation or subtitles should see this film.
Starring: Hiroshi Abe, Yoko Maki, Satomi Kobayashi, Taiyo Yoshizawa

After the Storm

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The Story: A private detective and failed novelist tries to reassemble his tattered family. The Lowdown: A quiet, deliberately paced drama that takes patience but holds rewards in its human insights and gentleness.
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Starring: Roland Møller, Louis Hofmann, Joel Basman, Mikkel Boe Følsgaard, Zoe Zandvliet, Mads Riisom, Peter Oskar Bökelmann

Land of Mine (Under Sandert)

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The Story: A tough sergeant leads a group of young Nazi POWs in an attempt to remove landmines from a stretch of beach on post-World War II Denmark. The Lowdown: A proficient attempt to humanize "The Other" that's more distinguished by its subject matter than its execution.