The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018)

ETHAN COEN, JOEL COEN Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.  USA, 2018.  Annapurna Pictures, Annapurna Television, Mike Zoss Productions.  Screenplay by Joel Coen, Ethan Coen, segment All Gold Canyon based on a story by Jack London, segment The Gal Who Got Rattled inspired by a story by Stewart Edward White.  Cinematography by Bruno Delbonnel.  Produced by Ethan Coen, Joel Coen,…

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Hoosiers

BBBB.5 (out of 5) Gene Hackman plays a basketball coach with a dubious past who shows up in the tiny Indiana town of Hickory to coach a team whose school has less than a hundred students.  He gets a bit of attitude from his players at first, but that’s nothing compared with the resistance he gets…

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The Gift

BBB (out of 5) Cate Blanchett is excellent as a medium in a small town who has terrifying visions of the town’s recent murder victim (Katie Holmes) and is given clues as to the body’s whereabouts. She tries to tell authorities what she’s seen, but they’re very hard to convince. Keanu Reeves is ineffective as the evil…

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A Simple Plan

BBBB.5 (out of 5) Superb thriller that takes an examination of human greed to its most terrifying extreme.  Bill Paxton and Billy Bob Thornton are brothers who, along with pal Brent Briscoe, discover a few million dollars stashed away in a stranded plane that crashed in the woods near their small town. They decide to hide the…

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Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey

BBBB (out of 5) This sequel to the 1989 hit comedy actually manages to strike a few more comedic chords than its predecessor. One wouldn’t think that the no-brainer original would be worth repeating, but the story has actually been improved and the main characters are still as much fun.  Keanu Reeves and Alex Winter are once…

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Basic Instinct

BB.5 (out of 5) Sharon Stone is so fantastic she makes a trashy film almost respectable, playing a femme fatale mystery writer who is the prime suspect when a rock star is murdered in bed with an ice pick. Michael Douglas plays the cop investigating the crime who can’t resist when he becomes sexually involved with…

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The Untouchables

BBBB.5 (out of 5) This adaptation of the Elliot Ness co-authored novel (the inspiration for a popular television series of the sixties) is a taut and exciting thriller in the best sense of the genre. Kevin Costner plays straight-arrow Ness, the federal agent who has made it his personal mission to bring down the gangland antics…

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Chain Reaction

BB.5 (out of 5) Routine thriller makes for pleasant and brainless viewing.  Keanu Reeves stars as a nuclear fission expert who, along with his scientific research team, stumbles on the ability to create cold fusion and free the world from the crippling costs of natural resource-depleting energy. Trouble is, the big guys upstairs are afraid…

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Above The Law

BBB (out of 5) Ex-fight choreographer Steven Seagal’s first starring role was the movie that started it all (depending on your tastes that’s either a good or bad thing). In this simple, enjoyable cop thriller, he plays a former CIA operative in Vietnam and martial arts trainee in Japan who now works the vice squad…

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Primary Colors

BBBBB (out of 5) Based on the tell-all book by “Anonymous” (actually Joe Klein), Elaine May’s excellent script fictionalizes the Clintons’ primary race towards the Oval Office. Presidential candidate Jack Stanton (John Travolta) is a womanizing manipulator who is still capable of being a great leader and worthy of admiration no matter what his personal…

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The Long Walk Home

BBBB (out of 5) Following the announcement of the black boycott of public transport in 1955, a Montgomery, Alabama maid (Whoopi Goldberg) decides that she too will walk to work every single day, even though it wears her out and makes her late. This activism creates a new awareness in the mother (Sissy Spacek) of…

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Novocaine

BB.5 (out of 5) A by-the-book dentist (Steve Martin, who excels in a non-comedic role) finds his life turned upside down when a quirky patient (Helena Bonham Carter) makes a move on him while in the dentist chair. Martin wants to indulge himself in the pleasure but his fidelity to his gorgeous fiance and assistant…

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