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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The Revenant

BBBBB (out of 5) We are immediately sunk into mind-spinning conflict at the beginning of this epic masterpiece, as a group of fur trappers have their camp raided by Arikara men and lose the pelts that were to be their big, early nineteenth century payday. The survivors make their way to the nearest outpost under…

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Zoolander

BBB (out of 5) Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson couldn’t be funnier in this one-joke film that will guarantee some worthwhile chuckles. They play dimwitted male supermodels who are being brainwashed, Manchurian Candidate-style, by a syndicate of fashion powermongers who want to assassinate a third world prime minister intent on abolishing the child labor that produces their…

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Breakfast Of Champions

B.5 (out of 5) Raucously noisy adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut’s popular novel that has Bruce Willis giving an excellent performance in what is otherwise a really brutal mess. He plays a car salesman whose world starts coming apart when he finds the pressures of his life are just getting to be too much. Barbara Hershey is wasted…

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Inception (2010)

CHRISTOPHER NOLAN Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BB.5.  USA/United Kingdom, 2010.  Warner Bros., Legendary Entertainment, Syncopy.  Screenplay by Christopher Nolan.  Cinematography by Wally Pfister.  Produced by Christopher Nolan, Kanjiro Sakura, Yoshikuni Taki, Emma Thomas.  Music by Hans Zimmer.  Production Design by Guy Hendrix Dyas.  Costume Design by Jeffrey Kurland.  Film Editing by Lee Smith.  Academy Awards 2010.  Golden Globe Awards 2010.   Leonardo DiCaprio works in the highly odd…

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Brick

BB.5 (out of 5) An excellent screenplay and some wonderfully strange characters are undermined by shoddy direction in this teen film noir. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a high-schooler who investigates the disappearance of his ex-girlfriend, plunging him into the underworld of thugs and femme fatales that leads to a drug-dealing “kingpin” (Lukas Haas) who holds many of…

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Lincoln (2012)

STEVEN SPIELBERG Bil’s rating (out of 5):   BBBB.  USA, 2012.  DreamWorks, Twentieth Century Fox, Reliance Entertainment, Participant Media, Dune Entertainment, Amblin Entertainment, The Kennedy/Marshall Company, Walt Disney Pictures.  Screenplay by Tony Kushner, based on the book by Doris Kearns Goodwin.  Cinematography by Janusz Kaminski.  Produced by Kathleen Kennedy, Steven Spielberg.  Music by John Williams.  Production Design by Rick Carter.  Costume Design by…

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Testament

BBBBB (out of 5) 1983 saw two films made about the dangers of nuclear power, and this exceptional work is by far the superior over Mike Nichols’s Silkwood.  Jane Alexander is excellent as a California soccer mom whose world turns inside out when a nuclear power plant explodes and the country is ravaged entirely by radiation…

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Witness (1985)

PETER WEIR Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBB.5.  USA, 1985.  Paramount Pictures, Edward S. Feldman Production.  Story by William Kelley, Pamela Wallace, Earl W. Wallace, Screenplay by William Kelley, Earl W. Wallace.  Cinematography by John Seale.  Produced by Edward S. Feldman.  Music by Maurice Jarre.  Production Design by Stan Jolley.  Costume Design by Dallas D. Dornan, Shari Feldman.  Film Editing by Thom Noble.  Academy Awards 1985.  Golden Globe…

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Music Box

BBB (out of 5) Jessica Lange is riveting as a lawyer whose Czech-born father (Armin Mueller-Stahl) emigrated to America before she was born. Her father’s heretofore unknown past comes slamming in her face when he is accused of war crimes as a Nazi during World War II. Now defending him in court, Lange goes on a…

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Rambling Rose

BBBB.5 (out of 5) Gorgeous, touching film about a Southern family in the 1930s whose lives are disrupted by the arrival of Rose (Laura Dern), a so-called “loose” woman with a real heart of gold.  Dern is perfectly cast in the delightful title role, and her real-life mother Diane Ladd is brilliant as the matriarch…

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Boys

BBB (out of 5) One of Winona Ryder‘s very best performances is in this creepy modern spin on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. She plays a mysterious drifter who crash lands into the life of a prep schooler (an excellent Lukas Haas) and proceeds to fascinate both him and his friends while staying in…

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