13 Going On 30

BBBB (out of 5) It’s 1987, and 13 year-old Jenna Rink is desperate to fit in with the cool kids at school. She even goes as far as alienating her geeky best friend Matt at her birthday party in order to impress ‘in-crowd’ ringleader Lucy. When she’s sprinkled with some birthday wishing dust and announces…

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All The King’s Men (2006)

BB (out of 5) An impressive cast is wasted around a two-hour Oscar speech by Sean Penn, who is impressive but has been given too much free reign to go crazy in this remake of the Robert Rossen 1949 Oscar winner. Penn plays a good ole boy from Louisiana who rises to the top of…

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The Jane Austen Book Club

BBB.5 (out of 5) Six-time wife Kathy Baker attends the funeral of her friend Maria Bello‘s dog and decides she needs to do something to cheer her up. She puts together a six-person book club dedicated to the novels of Jane Austen, assigning each reader one of Austen’s books and giving each member the opportunity to…

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Jennifer Eight

BB.5 (out of 5) As blind-girls-in-peril movies go, Blink is far superior to this mundane thriller. Andy Garcia plays a cop recently relocated to a small town who finds himself partnered up with Lance Henriksen on the hunt for a serial killer. He falls into protecting a visually impaired young woman (Uma Thurman) who might be the madman’s next…

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Saving Mr. Banks

BB.5 (out of 5) When Mary Poppins was released in 1964 it quickly became the most successful box office hit of all time and won five Academy Awards, making a superstar of its lead actress Julie Andrews and entering its musical score into the canon of instantly familiar tunes.  It also spawned a successful Broadway…

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To Gillian On Her 37th Birthday

BBB.5 (out of 5) Touching film about a lonely widower (Peter Gallagher) who can’t stop fantasizing that his late wife (Michelle Pfeiffer, whose husband David E. Kelley adapted the screenplay from Michael Brady’s play) is still having conversations with him long after she has passed away in a boating accident. His neglecting the real world…

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Take Shelter

BBBB (out of 5) Michael Shannon is electrifying as a steadily employed Ohio construction worker who lives the good life with his wife (Jessica Chastain) and daughter but is plagued by unsettling, apocalyptic visions. Night after night he experiences nightmares about Biblical destructions upon the land, and things get hairier when he begins to see omens…

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Last Chance Harvey

BB (out of 5) Dustin Hoffman is barely holding onto his commercial jingle-writing career as he gets off a plane in London to attend the wedding of his estranged daughter (Liane Balaban). Ignored at the pre-party and ceremony, he goes to return to the U.S. to save his job when he finds out he’s been fired…

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The Cider House Rules

BBBB (out of 5) Overrated but touching drama based on the best-selling novel by John Irving (who adapted the screenplay himself). Where other Irving novels have failed miserably on the big screen (The Hotel New Hampshire, The World According To Garp), this one succeeds by not being as self-aware of its quirky nature as the…

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Cold Mountain

BBB (out of 5) During the civil war, a soldier (Jude Law) reads a letter from the woman waiting for him (Nicole Kidman) back home and decides to leave the battlefield and head back towards her. Facing the possibility of being punished as a deserter, Law traverses the harsh climate of the Appalachians, receiving kindness…

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The Right Stuff

BBBBB (out of 5) With the Soviets leading the race into the outer reaches of the universe, the American government puts pressure on its space program to get a crew ready for action, and this epic film covers those awkward first steps into the age of space. It starts from when the group of astronauts…

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Nine Lives

BBB (out of 5) Rodrigo Garcia follows Things You Can Tell Just By Looking At Her with another multifaceted look at the lives of various women. It presents nine scenes in the lives of characters whose relationships with others, themselves or the world are at an impasse: Holly Hunter in a loveless marriage, Amy Brenneman reconnecting with…

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