Escape From L.A.

BB.5 (out of 5) John Carpenter returns to his early eighties cult classic with virtually the same plot on a higher budget. Kurt Russell is in fine form (especially his hair) in his second outing as Snake Plissken, the renegade called upon to help the government when yet another major city that has become a sequestered…

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The Phantom

BB (out of 5) A shady New York City gangster (Treat Williams) is looking to gain possession of three skulls with mystical powers that will give him reign over the world.  Thankfully, there’s a superhero in the jungles of a fictional island nation who dresses entirely in purple tights (because that’s how you blend in to the…

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Carla’s Song (1996)

KEN LOACH Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBB.5.  United Kingdom/Spain/Germany, 1996.  Alta Films, Channel Four Films, Degeto Film, Filmstiftung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Institute of Culture, Parallax Pictures, Road Movies Dritte Produktionen, Television Espanola, The Glasgow Film Fund, Tornasol Films.  Screenplay by Paul Laverty.  Cinematography by Barry Ackroyd.  Produced by Sally Hibbin.  Music by George Fenton.  Production Design by Martin Johnson.  Costume Design by Daphne Dare, Lena…

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The Typewriter, The Rifle & The Movie Camera

BBBB (out of 5) Adam Simon teams up with Tim Robbins to investigate the life and work of the great Samuel Fuller, a landmark American filmmaker who has never quite found a home in the popular cultural memory of classic Hollywood. Fuller was a newspaper man who served in World War II before turning his…

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Fire

BBB.5 (out of 5) A household is crowded with loneliness and frustration as two brothers run their businesses downstairs while, upstairs, their neglected wives take care of their aging mother-in-law and each other.  Sita has just become wife to Jatin, her head full of movie romance before her reality is destroyed by the realization that…

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Drifting Clouds (Kauas Pilvet Karkaavat)

BBBB (out of 5) Kati Outinen and Kari Väänänen play a couple whose luck never seems to be very good; at the same time that he loses his job as a tram driver, the restaurant where she is head waiter closes due to outstanding debts and puts them both out of work.  They attempt over and over…

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The Spitfire Grill

BB (out of 5) Sappy small town drama about an ex-convict (Alison Elliott) with a heart of gold who interrupts the lives of two women (Ellen Burstyn, Marcia Gay Harden) living in a rural Maine community. Elliott gets a job working at Burstyn’s diner and begins to turn the local attitudes upside down while bonding…

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Jane Eyre (1996)

BBB (out of 5) Strongly acted adaptation of Charlotte Bronte’s milestone novel covers vast dramatic territory but fails to scratch beneath the surface. At the heart of it is a pitch perfect performance by Charlotte Gainsbourg as the titular heroine, who goes from being raised in a coldhearted orphanage (the young Jane is played by Anna…

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The First Wives Club

BBBB (out of 5) Serious alterations have been made to Olivia Goldsmith’s original novel, but it’s possible that even devoted readers will still enjoy it. Bette Midler, Goldie Hawn and Diane Keaton are in peak form as three middle-aged women who are abandoned by their husbands (Dan Hedaya, Victor Garber, Stephen Collins respectively) for women much younger than…

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Courage Under Fire

BB (out of 5) Pointlessly empty drama that really should have been excellent considering its story: based on real events, it tells the tale of a United States soldier (Denzel Washington) investigating the case of a woman (Meg Ryan) who might receive a posthumous Medal of Honour for her service in the Gulf War. Washington…

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Broken Arrow (1996)

BBB.5 (out of 5) This exciting adventure stars Christian Slater and John Travolta as bomber pilots whose flying mission goes awry and the top-secret weapons they are carrying go missing. Or do they? It seems Travolta might not be the good guy we all thought he was, and having been passed over for a recent job advance…

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Phenomenon

B (out of 5) John Travolta plays a sweet simpleton living in a rural farming community who goes idiot savant when magical powers begin to overcome him and affect the lives of those living near him. After a near-miraculous bolt of lightning touches him, Travolta can move objects with his mind, learn languages at lightning-bolt speed…

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