The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018)

ETHAN COEN, JOEL COEN Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.  USA, 2018.  Annapurna Pictures, Annapurna Television, Mike Zoss Productions.  Screenplay by Joel Coen, Ethan Coen, segment All Gold Canyon based on a story by Jack London, segment The Gal Who Got Rattled inspired by a story by Stewart Edward White.  Cinematography by Bruno Delbonnel.  Produced by Ethan Coen, Joel Coen,…

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Julia (2008)

BB.5 (out of 5) Julia (Tilda Swinton) is a party girl who has never quite caught on to the idea of a responsible life. Partying all night, random sex partners and too much booze may have been glamorous twenty years ago, but now that she’s pushing forty she is merely a self-destructive addict. Her AA…

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I Love Trouble

BBB (out of 5) Julia Roberts  is obviously having a gas in this mild-mannered romantic comedy, in which she and Nick Nolte play competing reporters for different newspapers who end up working the same case involving a mysterious train accident. Most of the key action scenes are done in a humorous style to up the romance…

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Rush Hour 2

BB.5 (out of 5) Hilarious but quite useless sequel to Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker‘s 1997 blockbuster is so unimpressive because of how similar it is to its predecessor. This time Chan and Tucker are in Hong Kong battling evildoers who have bombed the American embassy and are involved in a counterfeiting operation. Ziyi Zhang is stunning…

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The Contender

BBBB (out of 5) Joan Allen is fantastic as a woman chosen to take over for the late Vice-President, then plunged into controversy when a story surfaces that she once participated in a gang-bang in college that someone happened to photograph. Refusing to play the dirty games some politicians play, she offers no comment on the…

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Barney’s Version

BBB (out of 5) Barney Panofsky (Paul Giamatti) marries a crazy artist (Rachelle Lefevre) in Rome, later a mouthy, rich Montreal Jewish girl (Minnie Driver) and, following the divorce, finally settles down with the love of his life (Rosamund Pike), a woman he met at his second wedding. This adaptation of Mordecai Richler’s final novel…

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True Romance

BB (out of 5) Quentin Tarantino wrote the screenplay for this excessively violent road picture directed by Tony Scott. Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette are excellent as lovers on the lam who are trying to outrun the police and the mob, while also hoping to maintain the delicious intensity of their relationship. There are some fun moments,…

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The Singing Detective

B.5 (out of 5) Dennis Potter’s immensely popular British television series finds its way to the Hollywood silver screen with tragically weak results. Robert Downey Jr. couldn’t be better in the lead role, a modern writer with psoriasis so bad it has crippled him in a hospital bed (the makeup effects on Downey’s skin are unappealingly…

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Nixon

BB.5 (out of 5) Oliver Stone, who previously directed the marvelous JFK, fails to invest this biography of president Richard Nixon’s troubled political career with the same amount of paranoid energy and enthusiasm. This dry, talky film goes listlessly from one meeting to another until finally climaxing with the Watergate scandal and then regressing back…

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Wall Street

BBB.5 (out of 5) If for nothing else, this film acts as an excellent time capsule of Reagan-era corporate greed, significantly different from nineties corporate greed because later tycoons wouldn’t decorate their apartments in such tacky, trendy styles.  Charlie Sheen gives a painfully weak performance as a desperate, low-level stock broker who longs to swim in…

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Dick

BBB (out of 5) In this very funny teen comedy, the possibility is explored that Deep Throat, the mysterious caller who tipped Washington Post journalists Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward to the secrets behind the Watergate scandal, was actually two teenage girls phoning in a prank. The best part is, the clever screenplay makes it…

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Partner(s)

BB.5 (out of 5) Lawyer Jay Harrington moves in with his gay best friend after breaking up with yet another girlfriend, and they are mistaken for a couple by a neighbour down the hall.  This has ramifications when that neighbour turns out to be the daughter of a client whose case is make-or-break for Harrington’s law…

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