Michael Collins

BBB.5 (out of 5) Beautifully photographed biopic by Neil Jordan about the Irish hero who led fellow IRA members to a harsh battle against his country’s enemies, before being assassinated and reborn a legend who is still discussed by his compatriots to this day.  Liam Neeson makes an excellent Collins, an optimistic youth who became a…

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Sylvia

BB.5 (out of 5) A sad waste of a great opportunity: Gwyneth Paltrow‘s beautiful work as Sylvia Plath, the poet who inspired a half-century of writers to express themselves in the form of confessional poetry, and Daniel Craig‘s solid turn as her unfaithful cipher of a husband Ted Hughes should have been enough to ensure…

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Hilary And Jackie

BBBB.5 (out of 5) Hilary DuPre (Rachel Griffiths) is a brilliant flautist who chooses the life of wife and mother over fame and fortune. Jacqueline DuPre (Emily Watson) is a world-celebrated cellist who feels that she just fell into the role of celebrity player and now can’t get a hold of her own personal life…

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Velvet Goldmine (1998)

TODD HAYNES Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BB.5.  United Kingdom/USA, 1998.  Channel Four Films, Goldwyn Films, Killer Films, Miramax, Newmarket Capital Group, Single Cell Pictures, Zenith Entertainment.  Story by James Lyons, Todd Haynes, Screenplay by Todd Haynes.  Cinematography by Maryse Alberti.  Produced by Christine Vachon.  Music by Carter Burwell, Craig Wedren.  Production Design by Christopher Hobbs.  Costume Design by Sandy Powell.  Film Editing by James…

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Felicia’s Journey

BBBB (out of 5) Elaine Cassidy is excellent in her lead debut as the titular character, a young Irish woman who travels alone to London to find the man who got her pregnant.  In the big city she meets Bob Hoskins, a food industry manager who spends his nights obsessively recreating recipes that his late…

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Caravaggio

BBB.5 (out of 5) One of Derek Jarman’s most enjoyable films is this deeply emotional, artistically rich exploration of the great Renaissance painter. Nigel Terry plays the wildly violent, passionate and emotional artist who is thrashing around on his deathbed and looking back on his experiences in developing as an artist.  His young years (portrayed by Dexter Fletcher)…

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The Last Of England

BBBBB (out of 5) In the oeuvre of Derek Jarman’s experimental works, this fine work of art stands out as a masterpiece. It has no discernible plot, but is a collection of visually poetic images that describe Jarman’s take on Thatcherism and what it has done to England. Using home movie footage, homoerotic imagery and,…

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Wittgenstein

BBB (out of 5) Derek Jarman’s second-to-last film is another film biography of a famous artist, this time focusing on the life and work of twentieth century philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein. Told in a very abstract style with bare sets and opulent costumes (much like Jarman’s previous Edward II), it is narrated by a young Ludwig who…

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Edward II

BB.5 (out of 5) Unique visual sumptuousness aside, this dry adaptation of Christopher Marlowe’s popular play leaves a lot to be desired. Steven Waddington is excellent as the title character, a gay monarch of 12th century England whose passion for life couldn’t make him tough enough to rule the country against the conniving machinations of the…

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The End Of The Affair (1955)

BB (out of 5) And you thought the remake was boring. Edward Dmytryk’s original is pretty much as dreary, shallow and uninteresting as the 1999 Neil Jordan version with Ralph Fiennes and Julianne Moore, but this one also doesn’t have the honest depiction of adultery (i.e. the hot sex) that made the remake at least…

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Mrs. Henderson Presents (2005)

STEPHEN FREARS Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBB.  United Kingdom, 2005.   Pathe Pictures, BBC Films, Future Films, Micro Fusion, The Weinstein Company, UK Film Council, Heyman-Hoskins Productions, Mrs. Henderson Productions Ltd., Pathe Pictures International.  Screenplay by Martin Sherman, idea by David Rose, Kathy Rose,based on the book by Sheila van Damm.  Cinematography by Andrew Dunn.  Produced by Norma Heyman.  Music by George Fenton.  Production…

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Orlando

BBBB (out of 5) Deliciously adapting Virginia Woolf’s groundbreaking fantasy novel, Sally Potter’s feature debut is a feast for all senses. Tilda Swinton, previously known mainly as Derek Jarman’s muse, deservedly broke into the international spotlight with her performance as the title character. Orlando is a sixteenth-century boy who spends his days lounging around and…

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