The Revenant

BBBBB (out of 5) We are immediately sunk into mind-spinning conflict at the beginning of this epic masterpiece, as a group of fur trappers have their camp raided by Arikara men and lose the pelts that were to be their big, early nineteenth century payday. The survivors make their way to the nearest outpost under…

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Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance)

BBBB (out of 5) Alejandro Gonzalez-Inarritu recovers from the bloated mess of Biutiful with a big movie in a small space, an eccentric and deliciously funny look at the mad world of live theatre.  Michael Keaton does a wryly charismatic riff on his own career as a has-been movie star whose success as a film…

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The Monuments Men

BB.5 (out of 5) Nazi Germany is destroying life in Europe and threatening to take over the world, and with America’s entry into the war, George Clooney wants to get involved.  The preservation of human life is the highest priority, but Clooney sees that without the curating of human culture, life is merely survival.  With…

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Thirteen Conversations About One Thing

BBBB (out of 5) On a casual evening in New York, a hotshot lawyer (Matthew McConaughey) celebrates a personal victory at a local bar, having just sent a guilty man to prison. A nearby patron of the establishment (Alan Arkin) has just had a terrible week that has confirmed his doubts about humanity in general….

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The Hunger Games

BBB.5 (out of 5) Deliverance and Westworld are combined for the teen set in this terrific adaptation of the popular novel by Suzanne Collins. It takes place in the chillingly not-so-distant future, where humanity’s crimes against itself have resulted in an authoritative government that chooses to control the need for violent expression in an unusual…

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Go

BBBB (out of 5) Painfully hip and flashy comedy about fast-living twentysomethings who can’t keep themselves out of trouble. Told in a wrap-around trilogy, the story starts with Sarah Polley as an overworked grocery store clerk who tries to break into the big business of drug dealing but ends up biting off more than she can…

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Swingers

BBB.5 (out of 5) Doug Liman broke through the independent scene and made his mark with this swanky comedy that takes place in the world of swing clubs (and was responsible for starting a major trend of a similar ilk around the time of its release). Jon Favreau has moved out to California to reunite with…

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August: Osage County

BBBB (out of 5) The hit Broadway play by Tracy Letts makes its way to the big screen with fully satisfying results.  Meryl Streep lords over the roost of an eccentric (to say the least) Oklahoma family thrown into disarray when her husband (Sam Shepard) walks out of the house and vanishes without a trace.  Almost…

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21 Grams

BBBB.5 (out of 5) This is a powerful tale of love lost and souls redeemed that, like Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s previous feature Amores Perros has complete strangers linked by a tragic car accident.  Naomi Watts plays an ex-drug addict who reformed when she married and had two little daughters, but finds herself spiraling back to her…

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Babel

BBBB (out of 5) It sure is a tough day when being American catches up with you. A random, careless act of violence has repercussions that span the globe when two children in a dusty, Moroccan village decide to test their new rifle by aiming at a tour bus, critically injuring an American tourist (Cate…

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Biutiful

BB.5 (out of 5) Javier Bardem wanders the streets of Barcelona among its most unfortunate inhabitants, scraping together a living selling handbag knockoffs and organizing cheap, illegal labour for Chinese immigrants. He has the ability to communicate with the dead, so he earns a few extra dollars helping grieving family members at funerals feel at peace…

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Contagion (2011)

STEVEN SODERBERGH Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBB.  USA/United Arab Emirates, 2011.  Warner Bros., Participant Media, Imagenation Abu Dhabi FZ, Double Feature Films, Digital Image Associates, Regency Enterprises.  Screenplay by Scott Z. Burns.  Cinematography by Steven Soderbergh.  Produced by Gregory Jacobs, Michael Shamberg, Stacey Sher.  Music by Cliff Martinez.  Production Design by Howard Cummings.  Costume Design by Louise Frogley.  Film Editing by Stephen Mirrione.   A business…

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