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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The Hunchback Of Notre Dame (1996)

BBB (out of 5) Beautifully animated but overly serious Disney film loosely based on the classic Victor Hugo novel. The Hunchback (voiced by Tom Hulce) is now a lovable, cuddly guy living at the top of a cathedral who offers help to the sexy Esmerelda (Demi Moore) when she inflames the passions of a sexually…

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The Mirror Has Two Faces

BBB (out of 5) Barbra Streisand spends two and a half hours trying to get Jeff Bridges to tell her she’s pretty. Should we care?  Actually, it’s a passable movie, easily enjoyable and lightly charming, but one whose central message is flawed and vain. Streisand plays a dorky Columbia University professor who answers an ad by skirt-chaser…

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The Nutty Professor (1996)

BBBB (out of 5) Eddie Murphy  is brilliant in this hilarious remake of the Jerry Lewis classic. He plays a pleasingly plump university science professor who develops a potion that turns him into a svelt and sexy ladies man named Buddy Love, a man with razor-sharp wit and a talent for winning women over with a…

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James And The Giant Peach

BBBB (out of 5) Excellent film that uses the combination of traditional and computer animation that was featured in Henry Selick’s The Nightmare Before Christmas. Based on the novel by Roald Dahl, the film starts off in live-action mode, showing young James, a boy who is orphaned when a giant rhinoceros comes out of the…

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Eraser (1996)

CHUCK RUSSELL Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBB.5.  USA, 1996.  Kopelson Entertainment, Warner Bros..  Story by Tony Puryear, Walon Green, Michael S. Chernuchin, Screenplay by Tony Puryear, Walon Green.  Cinematography by Adam Greenberg.  Produced by Anne Kopelson, Arnold Kopelson.  Music by Alan Silvestri.  Production Design by Bill Kenney.  Costume Design by Richard Bruno.  Film Editing by Michael Tronick.  Academy Awards 1996. After a business executive in a high-tech weapons company…

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Emma (1996)

DOUGLAS McGRATH Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBB.  United Kingdom/USA, 1996.  Haft Entertainment.  Screenplay by Douglas McGrath, based on the novel by Jane Austen.  Cinematography by Ian Wilson.  Produced by Patrick Cassavetti, Steven Haft.  Music by Rachel Portman.  Production Design by Michael Howells.  Costume Design by Ruth Myers.  Film Editing by Lesley Walker.  Academy Awards 1996.   Excellent adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel has a superior performance by…

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The Preacher’s Wife

BBB.5 (out of 5) Though lazily directed by Penny Marshall, this modern update of The Bishop’s Wife is well worth watching.  Courtney B. Vance plays a severely depressed preacher who is losing his faith in himself and his church, not to mention his integrity now that a successful businessman (Gregory Hines) is offering to buy his…

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William Shakespeare’s Romeo And Juliet

BB.5 (out of 5) Baz Luhrmann applies MTV music-video editing techniques to a classic play and comes out with an over-directed bore that is perked up by its few musical sequences but feels labored the rest of the time. Leonardo DiCaprio makes for a grating Romeo, while Claire Danes is only slightly better as a wide-eyed and…

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Ridicule

BBB (out of 5) French take on Dangerous Liaisons that isn’t nearly as pointed or compelling. Charles Berling plays a newcomer to 18th-century France’s royal court who has no idea how much sharp wit is required to survive his peers. The members of this society value a quick tongue more than they do a quick sword…

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Sleepers

BBBB (out of 5) Four young boys go to juvenile detention for a street prank that gets way out of hand, then suffer through years of sexual abuse from their prison’s supervisor (played with unflinching menace by Kevin Bacon). After being released, they grow up and go their separate ways, two of them becoming criminals,…

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Michael Collins

BBB.5 (out of 5) Beautifully photographed biopic by Neil Jordan about the Irish hero who led fellow IRA members to a harsh battle against his country’s enemies, before being assassinated and reborn a legend who is still discussed by his compatriots to this day.  Liam Neeson makes an excellent Collins, an optimistic youth who became a…

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