Fences

BBBB (out of 5) A garbage collector in 1950s Pittsburgh comes home every day to a loving wife and a teenage son, dispensing tough love and harsh wisdom on both while constantly harping on the need to fix the fences around his property’s yard; the fences, it turns out, are both literal and metaphorical, the…

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Searching For Bobby Fischer

BBBB (out of 5) Young Josh Waitzin (Max Pomeranc) feels only passably amused by the activities and sports he enjoys with his friends, until one day in the park with his mother he discovers something captivating: chess. When his parents Fred and Bonnie (Joe Mantegna and Joan Allen) realize he’s something of a prodigy, they immediately…

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Waiting To Exhale

BB (out of 5) This adaptation of Terry McMillan’s bestselling novel is about four women overcoming their relationship problems and understanding the strength of their friendship. The film version is hampered by Forest Whitaker’s incredibly lazy direction that seems to take all of its brilliant and beautiful leads (Angela Bassett, Whitney Houston, Lela Rochon, Loretta…

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A Civil Action

BBB (out of 5) True story of a small law firm that takes on a giant corporation when it is suspected that a tannery has been allowing contaminants into the drinking water of a small town. John Travolta and an excellent William H. Macy are among the good guys who are constantly forced to come up with…

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Of Mice And Men (1992)

BBB.5 (out of 5) Faithful, literate adaptation of the John Steinbeck novel is passionately adapted to the screen by writer-director-star Gary Sinise, pre-Forrest Gump fame. He gives an excellent performance as George, a field hand who travels the country with his simple-minded, physically overbearing friend Lenny (John Malkovich) looking for work in whatever Depression-era field…

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Doubt

BBBB (out of 5) Tradition clashes with modern thinking at a Catholic school run by nuns in 1960s New York City. Priest Philip Seymour Hoffman gives sermons that capture and stir the emotions of his parishioners with their tolerance for scepticism and fluidity in Catholic belief, raising a flag in the mind of the hard-edged,…

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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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Date Night

BB (out of 5) Tina Fey and Steve Carell play a comfortably married New Jersey couple whose life has become completely overrun with work and parenthood, their exciting nights out involving a local eatery and getting home in time for the babysitter. One night, deciding that his overtired self and overworked wife need a real evening on…

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August: Osage County

BBBB (out of 5) The hit Broadway play by Tracy Letts makes its way to the big screen with fully satisfying results.  Meryl Streep lords over the roost of an eccentric (to say the least) Oklahoma family thrown into disarray when her husband (Sam Shepard) walks out of the house and vanishes without a trace.  Almost…

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Center Stage

BB.5 (out of 5) Silly rip-off of Fame that is not helped by bad acting from the leads, an idiotic script or the few uninspired dance scenes.  Amanda Schull plays a naive but excitable young lady who decides to audition for the American Ballet Academy and somehow gets in on her charm (hmmm…). Her school year…

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Marvin’s Room

BBBB (out of 5) Strong adaptation of Scott McPherson’s intimate stage play that is now a beautiful film about rediscovering family. Diane Keaton, in a marvelous performance, plays a woman who has just been diagnosed with leukemia while she is still taking care of her aging aunt (Gwen Verdon) and ailing father (Hume Cronyn). In order to…

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An Unfinished Life

BB.5 (out of 5) Nothing you haven’t seen a million times before; estranged family members who have been thrown apart by tragedy are reunited by circumstances and learn to become a whole from the various broken pieces of their lives.  Jennifer Lopez escapes an abusive boyfriend (Damian Lewis) with her sassy daughter (a remarkable young woman…

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