The Family Fang (2015)

JASON BATEMAN Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBB.  USA, 2015.  Aggregate Films, Red Crown Productions, Blossom Films, ML Film Productions, Olympus Pictures, Papagjika Salloway Productions, QED International.  Screenplay by David Lindsay-Abaire, based on the novel by Kevin Wilson.  Cinematography by Ken Seng.  Produced by Jason Bateman, James Garavente, Nicole Kidman, Riva Marker, Per Saari, Daniela Taplin Lundberg, Leslie Urdang, Dean Vanech.  Music by…

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The Jungle Book (2016)

BB.5 (out of 5) Rudyard Kipling’s tales of a boy raised by wolves have been filmed many times, most famously known as the last Disney animated feature supervised by Walt himself. Saying that this is a live-action version of the cartoon is a sketchy prospect, given that bright young Neel Sethi, who is committed and…

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Jersey Boys

BB (out of 5) Clint Eastwood adapts the hit Broadway musical that covers the career of the Four Seasons, from a group of young kids singing under a street lamp to their fame as recording superstars.  John Lloyd Young reprises his stage role as Frankie Valli, the little guy with the golden voice whose unique falsetto…

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Illuminata

BB (out of 5) Too strange to be memorable, this odd mess of a film concerns a nineteenth-century minor theatre group putting on an opera. An A-list cast that includes John Turturro (who also directed), Susan Sarandon, Beverly D’Angelo, Katherine Borowitz (Turturro’s real-life wife) and Aida Turturro  (his sister) are all wonderful, but clearly the script they…

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Blast From The Past

BBBB (out of 5) Brendan Fraser stars as a man raised for thirty-five years in a bomb shelter with his Communist-paranoid parents (Sissy Spacek, Christopher Walken) who mistakenly took an airplane falling on their house to be a nuclear bomb and headed for their underground hideout. Now an adult, Fraser is sent out into the world…

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The Affair Of The Necklace

BBB (out of 5) Hilary Swank‘s faultless performance in this sudsy costume melodrama almost convinces you to forgive all the drawbacks that keep it from being great. She plays a mistreated woman of noble birth in the court of France’s Louis XVI whose land and title were stolen from her as a young girl, and…

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Hairspray (2007)

BBBB (out of 5) A teenager in the 1960s decides to fight racial segregation and is met with serious threats to her future; sounds like an update of Mississippi Burning until you add big hair, rocking tunes and John Travolta in a dress. Newcomer Nikki Blonsky plays the youngster in question, Tracy, in this wonderful…

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The Comfort Of Strangers

BB.5 (out of 5) British travellers in Italy Natasha Richardson and Rupert Everett become the unwitting houseguests of a very strange, wealthy Venetian (Christopher Walken with very tall hair) and his affected wife (Helen Mirren). The two of them think it a nice gesture on the part of the couple until they realize that they can’t leave the…

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America’s Sweethearts

B (out of 5) Flat, boring and completely unsympathetic romantic comedy that wastes the talent of everyone involved. Billy Crystal (who wrote and produced) plays a publicity director at a major Hollywood studio who finds himself wrapped in problems when he is forced to reunite estranged Tom-and-Nicole-like couple Gwen Harrison and Eddie Thomas (Catherine Zeta-Jones,…

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The Milagro Beanfield War

BBB (out of 5) A tiny town in New Mexico which has been perfectly quiet for centuries is suddenly the centre of action when a land developer threatens to turn the place upside down. Wanting to ruin agricultural land that belongs to local bean farmers, the construction baron (Richard Bradford) woos the people of Milagro…

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The Stepford Wives (2004)

BB.5 (out of 5) Updating a novel written in the sixties that was a satiric examination of America’s response to the new feminism might seem as pointless as Guy Ritchie’s modernizing Lina Wertmuller’s socialist drama Swept Away, but sadly the issues dealt with in Ira Levin’s The Stepford Wives are still relevant ones.  Nicole Kidman…

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Kangaroo Jack

B.5 (out of 5) Jerry O’Connell and Anthony Anderson have great chemistry as two best friends who are assigned by O’Connell’s mafia stepfather (Christopher Walken) to go to Australia and deliver a money package to a man there. A roadside prank finds Anderson putting his jacket on a dead kangaroo to take pictures, but the kangaroo is…

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