The Last Samurai

BBB.5 (out of 5) After participating in a number of Civil War battles (many of which helped decimate the populations of natives in North America), an embittered, drunken veteran (Tom Cruise) follows his superior officers to Japan in search of big money. He has been hired by the emperor to train the country’s army in…

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Mission: Impossible II

BBB (out of 5) This time the film is shorter on brains and longer on excitement, making it pretty much just as good as the original but on its own terms. Where the first Tom Cruise adventure was craftier and better at paying tribute to international spy thrillers of the sixties, this time director John…

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Ask The Dust

B.5 (out of 5) Incredibly dreary, uninvolving drama set in Depression-era Hollywood. Colin Farrell plays an Italian-American writer who shows up in L.A. in the hopes of chasing the dream, but finds only a major struggle to pay the rent. When he does start to achieve some success selling his stories, he ends up feeling an…

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Lions For Lambs

BB.5 (out of 5) Three stories play out simultaneously in this highly charged political drama. A university professor (Robert Redford) in California councils a student (Andrew Garfield) about his failing attendance in his political science course. In Washington, a successful journalist (Meryl Streep) is brought in to a one-hour interview with a Republican senator (Tom…

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Suspect Zero

BB.5 (out of 5) A demoted FBI agent (Aaron Eckhart) has just arrived at his new position in New Mexico after a fiasco in Dallas years before that had him apprehending a serial murderer under illegal circumstances. Now hanging his Kirk Douglas chin in shame, he has another case fall into his lap when three…

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Minority Report (2002)

STEVEN SPIELBERG Bil’s rating (out of 5):   BBBB.  USA, 2002.  Twentieth Century Fox, DreamWorks, Cruise/Wagner Productions, Blue Tulip Productions, Ronald Shusett/Gary Goldman, Digital Image Associates.  Screenplay by Scott Frank, Jon Cohen, based on the short story by Philip K. Dick.  Cinematography by Janusz Kaminski.  Produced by Bonnie Curtis, Jan de Bont, Gerald R. Molen, Walter F. Parkes.  Music by John Williams.  Production Design…

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War Of The Worlds (2005)

STEVEN SPIELBERG Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBB.5.  USA, 2005.  Paramount Pictures, DreamWorks, Amblin Entertainment, Cruise/Wagner Productions.  Screenplay by Josh Friedman, David Koepp, based on the novel by H.G. Wells.  Cinematography by Janusz Kaminski.  Produced by Kathleen Kennedy, Colin Wilson.  Music by John Williams.  Production Design by Rick Carter.  Costume Design by Joanna Johnston.  Film Editing by Michael Kahn.  Academy Awards 2005.   Thrilling remake of the Oscar-winning 1953…

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Mission: Impossible

BBBB (out of 5) Brian De Palma has done a great job with bringing the classic sixties television show to a nineties sensibility, and he’s got a veritable movie star like Tom Cruise to pull it off without a hitch. Cruise plays superspy Ethan Hunt, who witnesses his entire team get murdered in front of…

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Elizabethtown

B (out of 5) Cameron Crowe’s successor to the wonderful films Jerry Maguire and Almost Famous is this unmitigated mess that tries to capture the best of both films (basically the quirky romance and kickass soundtrack).  Orlando Bloom plays a designer for a sportswear corporation who loses his company a billion dollars when his innovative design…

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Vanilla Sky

BB.5 (out of 5) Useless remake of Alejandro Amenabar’s terrifying Spanish thriller Open Your Eyes now has Tom Cruise as a rich and handsome young man whose face is disfigured after a jealous woman (Cameron Diaz) with whom he casually trysts from time to time crashes her car and kills herself with him in it. His…

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Shattered Glass (2003)

BILLY RAY Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBB.5.  USA/Canada, 2003.  Cruise/Wagner Productions, Baumgarten Merims Productions, Forest Park Pictures.  Screenplay by Billy Ray, based on an article by Buzz Bissinger.  Cinematography by Mandy Walker.  Produced by Craig Baumgarten, Tove Christensen, Gaye Hirsch, Adam Merims.  Music by Mychael Danna.  Production Design by Francois Seguin.  Costume Design by Renee April.  Film Editing by Jeffrey Ford.  Golden Globe Awards 2003.  Toronto International Film…

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Mission: Impossible III

BBB.5 (out of 5) In 1996, megastar Tom Cruise worked overtime for his audiences, providing us with the slam bang action of Mission: Impossible and giving us a glimpse into his tender soul with his Oscar-nominated (and, no sarcasm here, genuinely impressive) turn in Jerry Maguire. How considerate of him, after eleven years of insane inflation…

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