The Judge

BB (out of 5) Robert Downey Jr. is a high-powered shark of a lawyer who interrupts his life of ruthlessly defending Wall Street crooks when he gets a call that his mother has died.  Going back to his small town means having to face off with his elderly father (Robert Duvall), a judge with whom Downey has not spoken in…

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The Great Santini

BBBB (out of 5) Robert Duvall is a tough Air Force pilot who is brought home from Spain and stationed with his family and four kids in a small town in South Carolina. Frustrated by being overlooked for the promotion he so deserves, Duvall is awkward and harsh with his children, unable to be a…

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Countdown (1967)

BBB (out of 5) Exploitation of the space race about a manned trip to the moon two years before it actually happened.  Unlike a more fun indulgence like Robinson Crusoe On Mars, however, this one aims to be accurate and, likely for its time, achieved as much as was possible.  The story upon which it…

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Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956)

ROBERT WISE Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBB.5.  USA, 1956.  Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.  Screenplay by Ernest Lehman, based on the autobiography of Rocky Graziano with Rowland Barber.  Cinematography by Joseph Ruttenberg.  Produced by Charles Schnee.  Music by Bronislau Kaper.  Production Design by Malcolm Brown, Cedric Gibbons.  Film Editing by Albert Akst.  Academy Awards 1956.   Scintillating biography of Rocky Graziano, a prizefighter who grow up in the rough neighbourhoods of New York…

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A Civil Action

BBB (out of 5) True story of a small law firm that takes on a giant corporation when it is suspected that a tannery has been allowing contaminants into the drinking water of a small town. John Travolta and an excellent William H. Macy are among the good guys who are constantly forced to come up with…

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Phenomenon

B (out of 5) John Travolta plays a sweet simpleton living in a rural farming community who goes idiot savant when magical powers begin to overcome him and affect the lives of those living near him. After a near-miraculous bolt of lightning touches him, Travolta can move objects with his mind, learn languages at lightning-bolt speed…

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The 6th Day

BB (out of 5) Arnold Schwarzenegger looks tired and bored in this lame retread of all the most popular science-fiction movies, mostly his own; plot elements from Total Recall, Terminator 2 and The Running Man are liberally borrowed. This film looks, talks and plays cheap, and the powerful cast (Michael Rapaport, Robert Duvall, Wendy Crewson) does…

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Gone In Sixty Seconds

BB (out of 5) Even by the standards of the adrenaline-heavy Jerry Bruckheimer action films this one still falls very short. Nicolas Cage plays a retired car thief who is suckered back into the business for one night when he has to steal twenty (or was it thirty?) cars to save his brother (Giovanni Ribisi) from…

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Falling Down

BB.5 (out of 5) Michael Douglas is stuck in traffic on a super hot day in L.A. and decides he’s mad as hell and not going to take it anymore. Busting up after an altercation with a Korean store owner who is the victim of Douglas’ ignorant racism, our “hero” then takes to the streets, gets…

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Get Low

BBB.5 (out of 5) An ornery old man living alone in the woods (Robert Duvall) shows up in his dusty little town and announces to the local preacher that he wants to arrange a funeral. Throwing a big wad of money at the parson, he finds himself unable to communicate his desires properly and so…

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Operation Homecoming: Writing The Wartime Experience

BBBB.5 (out of 5) The power of literature to deal with the devastation of war is directly applied to those who experience battle in this incredibly powerful documentary. Soldiers emerging from the Iraq War are given the opportunity to express what they have seen and witnessed thanks to workshops and training by writing professors.  Narrated…

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Thank You For Smoking

BB (out of 5) Aaron Eckhart plays a lobbyist for Big Tobacco whose savvy ability to argue cigarettes to safe passage in a health-conscious America make him a national villain. He courts an ambitious reporter (Katie Holmes) whose idea of ‘off the record’ is skewed to say the least, wins over a cancer patient on the…

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