Esther Kahn

BB.5 (out of 5) The title character is one of five children of a poor Jewish family in London, an absent-minded girl who is transfixed by what she sees on the stage when she and her siblings go to the theatre and watch from up in “the gods”. After winning a small part as a maid…

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Spotlight

BBB.5 (out of 5) A new editor takes over the Boston Globe and tells members of “Spotlight”, a team of journalists who do deep work on long research projects, that a story has come up that he thinks they should pursue. A Catholic priest accused of multiple cases of sexual abuse against children in his…

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The Hobbit: The Battle Of the Five Armies

BB.5 (out of 5) More bloated mayhem from the imagination of J.R.R. Tolkien as yet another trilogy comes to a close. The film opens with the messiness of Smaug setting Laketown on fire, which strands a group of humans and leaves them without homes, while in the distance Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) becomes ill with…

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Maps To The Stars

BB.5 (out of 5) In David Cronenberg’s Hollywood, incest is not just a way of doing business but a reality at home as well.  A child star (Evan Bird) with a drug problem, a therapist (John Cusack) who physically shakes insecurities out of his celeb clients, an emotionally unstable actress (Julianne Moore) who is trying…

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Rosewater

BB (out of 5) Iranian-born journalist Maziar Bahari (Gael Garcia Bernal) leaves his pregnant wife in London to visit his home country and cover the controversial 2009 democratic elections that saw incumbent Ahmadinejad’s established reign under threat. Insistent that he will only be gone for a few days and that his wife need not worry…

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Dogma

BB.5 (out of 5) Kevin Smith stepped into unnecessary controversy when he released this spoof on Catholicism, one which isn’t in any way offensive to anybody smart enough to view it with an open mind. Ben Affleck and Matt Damon play two angels who have problems with the authority from upstairs, finding a loophole in…

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The Cell

B (out of 5) What promised to be a fiercely imaginative thriller is a tepid serial killer yarn that badly imitates the mechanics of every other film of its kind, then spices it up with eye-popping graphics. Jennifer Lopez plays a child psychologist who has been engineering a new technology that allows her to enter the…

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The Last Mimzy

BB.5 (out of 5) Two little children playing on the beach near their family’s vacation home are delighted when a mysterious box appears in the sand and turns out to be full of wonderful toys. The objects inside include a bunch of rocks, a strange futuristic generator, and a stuffed rabbit that turns out to…

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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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She-Devil

BB.5 (out of 5) This silly comedy is adapted from the novel by Fay Weldon and remade from the 1986 British miniseries. Roseanne Barr is terrific as a mistreated housewife whose social climbing husband (Ed Begley Jr.) leaves her for a sexy romance novelist (Meryl Streep, at her most breathlessly hilarious) who lives in a giant…

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The Client

BBBB (out of 5) The best John Grisham novel adaptation made so far (and most likely ever) is this excellent thriller starring newcomer Brad Renfro as a young Louisiana pre-teen who witnesses a suicide by a prominent big city lawyer. It turns out that the victim in question was the advocate for a known leader of…

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Analyze This

BBB.5 (out of 5) Strong comedy directed by Harold Ramis about a mobster (Robert De Niro) who decides that the best way to overcome his overwhelming feelings of anxiety when performing gangland hits is to consult a psychiatrist (Billy Crystal) and work his feelings out. Eventually, they become friends, and the hilarity from two completely…

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