The Queen of Spain (La reina de España) (2016)

FERNANDO TRUEBA Bil’s rating (out of 5): B.5.  Spain, 2016.  Atresmedia Cine, Atresmedia, Crea SGR, Fernando Trueba Producciones Cinematográficas, Instituto de la Cinematografía y de las Artes Audiovisuales, Movistar+, The Queen Picture.  Screenplay by Fernando Trueba.  Cinematography by José Luis Alcaine.  Produced by Anne Deluz, Mercedes Gamero, Cristina Huete, Mikel Lejarza.  Music by Zbigniew Preisner.  Production Design by Juan Pedro de Gaspar. …

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Murder on the Orient Express (2017)

KENNETH BRANAGH Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBB.  Twentieth Century Fox, Genre Films, Kinberg Genre, The Mark Gordon Company, Scott Free Productions, Latina Pictures, The Estate of Agatha Christie.  Malta/USA, 2017.  Screenplay by Michael Green, based on the novel by Agatha Christie.  Cinematography by Haris Zambarloukos.  Produced by Kenneth Branagh, Mark Gordon, Judy Hofflund, Simon Kinberg, Michael Schaefer, Ridley Scott.  Music by Patrick Doyle.  Production…

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Twice Born

BB (out of 5) The ineptitude of Sergio Castellitto to make movies about women without despising them is even more painfully felt here than it was in Don’t Move, particularly given the grossly melodramatic nature of the screenplay and the abysmal lack of chemistry between the leads.  Penelope Cruz is fantastic as a middle-aged Italian woman…

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Woman On Top

BBB.5 (out of 5) Whimsical romantic comedy that, even at its worst, is leagues ahead of director Fina Torres’ last faltering attempt at capturing the colourful culture of her native South America, Celestial Clockwork. Penelope Cruz couldn’t be more perfectly cast as Isabella, a Brazilian housewife so beautiful and charming that even the flowers in the…

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Belle Epoque

BBB (out of 5) An army deserter happens upon a farm that houses a man and his four daughters. Immediately offering him shelter, the old man has no idea what trouble he is inviting by introducing this young buck to four girls who have too little exposure to the male element. One by one the…

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All The Pretty Horses

BBBB (out of 5) Hauntingly beautiful adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s celebrated novel. Finding himself without a home after his Hollywood-bound mother sells the family’s Texas ranch, Matt Damon travels down to Mexico with best friend Henry Thomas to find work and a place to stay. The vistas are gorgeous and the poetry that is created by Thornton’s…

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Noel

B (out of 5) Chazz Palminteri directs an abysmally manipulative and forgettable ensemble comedy about lonely people looking for love on Christmas. Susan Sarandon has been left alone by tragic circumstances and has only her near-comatose mother for company; she makes friends with the family member of a patient in another room before wandering the city…

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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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Manolete (Blood & Passion) (A Matador’s Mistress) (The Passion Within)

BB.5 (out of 5) Weak attempt at a film biopic of famous bullfighter Manuel Sanchez, starring a miscast Adrien Brody as the torero and Penelope Cruz as the woman blamed for his downfall. Nationally famous for his skills at taking out his four-legged opponents in the ring, Manolete is bewitched by Lupe (Cruz) and begins to romance…

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Jamon Jamon

BB (out of 5) Boring sex comedy from Spain, about a local rich boy who falls in love with a prostitute’s daughter. It’s essentially a starring vehicle for its Iberian stars, Penelope Cruz as the heroine and Javier Bardem as a wannabe matador who also catches her eye. Stefania Sandrelli has an excellent supporting role as the wealthy…

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Captain Corelli’s Mandolin

BB.5 (out of 5) Simplistic adaptation of Louis De Bernieres’ novel about romance between enemies on an occupied Greek island in World War II, with lives against the backdrop of oppression reduced to constant close-ups of two Hollywood stars making eyes at each other. As Pelagia, the film’s main heroine, Penelope Cruz does an adequate job,…

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Sex And The City 2

BB (out of 5) The girls are back and, quite frankly, they’re beating a dead horse: it’s not so much that it’s a terrible movie, it’s just the wrong movie. A cheesy karaoke number in the middle of the virtually non-existent plotline makes you realize that this film is actually more an adaptation of The…

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