The Children Act (2017)

RICHARD EYRE Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBB.  United Kingdom, 2017.  Toledo Productions, BBC Films, FilmNation Entertainment.  Screenplay by Ian McEwan, based on his novel.  Cinematography by Andrew Dunn.  Produced by Duncan Kenworthy.  Music by Stephen Warbeck.  Production Design by Peter Francis.  Costume Design by Tessa Phillips.  Film Editing by Dan Farrell.  Toronto International Film Festival 2017.   Emma Thompson plays a judge whose cases mostly involve minors…

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Beauty And The Beast (2017)

BB.5 (out of 5) There’s a moment in the 1991 animated Beauty And The Beast that surpasses all others, an interaction of exceptional subtlety and tension that most live-action features can rarely hope to achieve, let alone animated ones:  the Beast has saved Belle from being eaten by wolves, she is tending to the wounds that he suffered in…

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A Little Chaos

BB.5 (out of 5) Louis XIV (Alan Rickman, who also directed) is moving his court to Versailles to appease France’s nervous aristocracy, turning the former hunting lodge into a glorious palace with a number of building projects including one he commissions of his designer Le Notre (Matthias Schoenaerts).  Unable to complete the project himself, Le…

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Magic Trip: Ken Kesey’s Search For A Kool Place

BBBB (out of 5) The popular conception of the sixties did not begin with the turn of the calendar’s pages, narrator Stanley Tucci tells us, but with a bus trip conducted by Ken Kesey and his band of “Merry Pranksters”.  Kesey, already famous for the publication of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, was feeling…

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The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2

BB.5 (out of 5) The nonsense continues in this conclusion to the trilogy of books by Suzanne Collins, which like many of the adventure sagas aimed at young people ends with far more self-important sobriety than it began with. Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) was informed in the first film that she’s going to have to fight…

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The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1

B (out of 5) The land of Panem is a dire place to be after our heroine Katniss has destroyed the Hunger Games, rendering the country just as humorless as it was before but without all the score keeping. Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) has returned to her home district from which she will grow a new career…

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Spotlight

BBB.5 (out of 5) A new editor takes over the Boston Globe and tells members of “Spotlight”, a team of journalists who do deep work on long research projects, that a story has come up that he thinks they should pursue. A Catholic priest accused of multiple cases of sexual abuse against children in his…

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The Fifth Estate

BB.5 (out of 5) The saga of Julian Assange is given the cinematic treatment by Bill Condon, with Benedict Cumberbatch doing an uncanny riff on the man and an excellent Daniel Brühl as his sidekick, Daniel Berg. The two of them start as journalists with a conscience when their first major project, to reveal the identities of crooked financiers…

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Wild Card

BB (out of 5) William Goldman adapts his novel Heat for the second time, following the Burt Reynolds vehicle made by Dick Richards in 1986. This time the star is Jason Statham as a bodyguard (with a very big office) who keeps high rolling gamblers safe as they drop big cash in Las Vegas casinos. He…

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Muppets Most Wanted

BBB (out of 5) The last film put the loveably fuzzy creatures, originally created from the fertile imagination of Jim Henson, back on top of show biz after years of obscurity, so why not indulge in a sequel!  This time the laughs are plentiful and the nostalgia downplayed as Kermit is thrown into the Siberian…

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The Wind Rises (Kaze Tachinu)

BBBB (out of 5) Animation becomes poetry as Hayao Miyazaki makes what he has announced as his final film into an ode to dreaming itself.  This beautiful romance between both a man and a woman and a boy and his childhood dream tells the true story of Jiro Horikoshi, who adored flight as a child…

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Maid In Manhattan

BB.5 (out of 5) An honest and hardworking hotel chambermaid (Jennifer Lopez) gets the chance to be a princess for a day when she tries on the discarded clothing of a wealthy guest (Natasha Richardson) and accidentally fools a senator (Ralph Fiennes) into thinking that she is a guest at the hotel herself. She doesn’t want…

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