Career Girls (1997)

MIKE LEIGH Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.  United Kingdom/France, 1997.  Channel Four Films, Thin Man Films, Matrix Films, Channel 4 Television Corporation.  Screenplay by Mike Leigh.   Cinematography by Dick Pope.  Produced by Simon Channing Williams.  Music by Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Tony Remy.  Production Design by Eve Stewart.  Film Editing by Robin Sales. Mike Leigh scores a rare misfire with this drab story…

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Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool (2017)

PAUL McGUIGAN Bil’s rating (out of 5):   BBBB.  United Kingdom, 2017.  Eon Productions, Synchronistic Pictures.  Screenplay by Matt Greenhalgh, based on the memoir by Peter Turner.  Cinematography by Urszula Pontikos.  Produced by Barbara Broccoli, Colin Vaines.  Music by J. Ralph.  Production Design by Eve Stewart.  Costume Design by Annie Crawford.  Film Editing by Nick Emerson.  Toronto International Film Festival 2017.   While appearing on stage in…

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The Danish Girl

BB.5 (out of 5) Einar (Eddie Redmayne) and Gerda (Alicia Vikander) live happily as husband and wife in 1920s Copenhagen, both painters though she lives under the shadow of her more celebrated and respected spouse. Gerda uses Einar as a model when the girl she usually employs is unavailable, creating a whimsical joke that goes the…

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Muppets Most Wanted

BBB (out of 5) The last film put the loveably fuzzy creatures, originally created from the fertile imagination of Jim Henson, back on top of show biz after years of obscurity, so why not indulge in a sequel!  This time the laughs are plentiful and the nostalgia downplayed as Kermit is thrown into the Siberian…

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De-Lovely

BBB (out of 5) It’s post-World War I, and debonair socialite Cole Porter (Kevin Kline) finds himself falling in love with a beautiful woman (Ashley Judd) and marrying her. She is escaping a failed marriage to a brute of a man and is very happy to now be in the arms of an artist whose…

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Fifty Dead Men Walking

BB.5 (out of 5) Martin McGartland (Jim Sturgess) is a thug selling stolen clothing on the streets of Belfast who, along with his ruffian buddy Kevin Zegers, gets recruited into the IRA. A member of the British police (Ben Kingsley) recognizes his gusto attitude and charismatic skill and recruits him to spy on his mates…

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The Good Night

B (out of 5) Abysmal attempt at ensemble drama, starring Martin Freeman as a former pop star now writing jingles who is caught between two women: his devotion to his bitter and unlikable girlfriend (Gwyneth Paltrow, director Jake Paltrow’s sister), and the gorgeous model whom he has just met (Penelope Cruz) and can’t stop dreaming about….

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Nicholas Nickleby (2002)

DOUGLAS McGRATH Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBBB.  United Kingdom/USA, 2002.  United Artists Film Corporation, Hart-Sharp Entertainment, Potboiler Productions.  Screenplay by Douglas McGrath, based on the novel by Charles Dickens.  Cinematography by Dick Pope.  Produced by Simon Channing Williams, John Hart, Jeffrey Sharp.  Music by Rachel Portman.  Production Design by Eve Stewart.  Costume Design by Ruth Myers.  Film Editing by Lesley Walker.  Golden Globe Awards 2002.  …

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Becoming Jane

BB (out of 5) Passable if unnecessary examination of the events that led to Jane Austen’s abandoning any hopes of marriage and living by her writing. Anne Hathaway plays the young authoress, daughter of a clergyman (James Cromwell) whose impoverished situation would be helped quite a bit by her marrying well. She is proposed to by…

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The Hole

BBB (out of 5) Thora Birch puts on a convincing British accent for this crafty little thriller, about a group of teenagers who decide to duck their private school’s weekend field trip by hiding out in an abandoned World War II bunker, telling their school that they’re going home (while their parents think they’re on…

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Saving Grace

BB.5 (out of 5) One-joke comedy that benefits from the brilliant performance by its beautiful star Brenda Blethyn.  She plays the widow of a seemingly rich man who after death leaves her without a penny in the bank and nothing to protect her from losing her beautiful country home. The solution is easy, of course:…

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Vera Drake

BBBBB (out of 5) A regular 1950s housewife in working-class London, Vera Drake (Imelda Staunton) goes about her job as charwoman for various wealthy houses in London, fitting in domestic duties for ailing friends as well as taking care of her aging mother before going home to do all her duties for her loving husband…

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