First Man (2018)

DAMIEN CHAZELLE Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBB.5.  USA/Japan, 2018.  Universal Pictures, DreamWorks, Perfect World Pictures, Temple Hill Entertainment, Georgia Film, Music & Digital Entertainment Office, Dentsu, Fuji Television Network.  Screenplay by Josh Singer, based on the book by James R. Hansen.  Cinematography by Linus Sandgren.  Produced by Marty Bowen, Damien Chazelle, Wyck Godfrey, Isaac Klausner.  Music by Justin Hurwitz.  Production Design by…

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Deepwater Horizon (2016)

PETER BERG Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBB. Hong Kong/USA, 2016.  Summit Entertainment, Participant Media, Di Bonaventura Pictures, Closest to the Hole Productions, Leverage Entertainment, TIK Film.  Screen Story by Matthew Sand, Screenplay by Matthew Michael Carnahan, Matthew Sand, based on the article by David Barstow, David Rohde, Stephanie Saul.  Cinematography by Enrique Chediak.  Produced by Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Stephen Levinson,…

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Live By Night

BB.5 (out of 5) Ben Affleck returns to the writings of Dennis Lehane, whose novel Gone Baby Gone was his directorial debut nine years earlier.  He stars as a small-time Boston thug whose conflict with a powerful Irish rum runner propels him to become a big-time Florida gangster working for the Italian mob family who want to run the Irish…

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The Program

STEPHEN FREARS Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BB.5.   Stephen Frears applies his elegant style to a biography of Lance Armstrong, following a similar narrative structure to The Queen and Philomena with results that go nowhere near those films.  Armstrong is by now infamous as the cyclist who won the Tour de France seven consecutive times before being disgraced by revelations…

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99 Homes

BBBBB (out of 5) Andrew Garfield is superb as a Florida construction worker who has done his best to keep his family afloat but is in a losing game; legal measures to avoid losing his house have resulted in the bank foreclosing and a real estate agent (Michael Shannon) showing up to take over the…

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Wild

BBB (out of 5) It’s 1995 and Cheryl Strayed is hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, an 1100-mile adventure that has her marching in the hot sun all the way up the California Coast through Oregon and up to the Washington state border, the entire time looking to get her life back on track and earn…

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Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes (2014)

MATT REEVES Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBB.  USA, 2014.  Chernin Entertainment, Ingenious Media, Soho VFX, TSG Entertainment.  Screenplay by Mark Bomback, Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, based on characters created by Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, from the novel La Planete des Singes by Pierre Boulle.  Cinematography by Michael Seresin.  Produced by Peter Chernin, Dylan Clark, Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver.  Music by Michael Giacchino.  Production Design…

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Where The Heart Is

BB (out of 5) Natalie Portman plays a trailer-trash teenager whose boyfriend leaves her stranded at a Wal-Mart, literally barefoot and pregnant. Sleeping in the department store in its off hours, Portman lives there until the night that she goes into labour and is saved by a mysterious stranger who delivers her baby in aisle 6….

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The Campaign

0.5 (out of 5) A clever set-up with endless possibilities for sharp laughs is wasted on immature toilet humour in this brainless comedy. Will Ferrell plays an incumbent congressman whose election looks to be an easy win considering he has run unopposed so very many times. Greedy CEOs look to unseat him in order to promote…

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12 Years A Slave

BBBB (out of 5) A rarely told tale is that of Solomon Northup, a free musician from Saratoga who was hired by two men for a performance gig and then drugged and sold into captivity in the American south, his name changed and his identity wiped out to prevent him getting back to his own…

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Dallas Buyers Club

BBBBB (out of 5) Ron Woodroof (Matthew McConaughey) is a man who does not tread lightly on the pleasures of life.  He works as an electrician but makes extra cash running bets (and outrunning angry betters) at the local rodeo.  When he parties, the drinks and drugs flow freely and he indulges himself in all…

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Walk The Line

BB.5 (out of 5) Every standard cliche from musical biopics of the past has been mined generously for this uninspiring but entertaining biography of The Man In Black, Johnny Cash. Played with impressive monotony by Joaquin Phoenix, Cash goes from poor, farming roots in the south (Ray), through to a career in the Navy (any…

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