Hidden Agenda (1990)

KEN LOACH Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBB.  United Kingdom, 1990.  Hemdale, Initial.  Screenplay by Jim Allen.  Cinematography by Clive Tickner.  Produced by Eric Fellner.  Music by Stewart Copeland.  Production Design by Martin Johnson.  Costume Design by Daphne Dare.  Film Editing by Jonathan Morris.  Cannes Film Festival 1990.  Toronto International Film Festival 1990.   A lawyer (Brad Dourif) and a former documentary filmmaker (Frances McDormand) are investigating allegations of…

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Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead

BB (out of 5) Tom Stoppard’s delightful play has lost much of its wit and energy in its transformation to the big screen. It centers around Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, two minor characters in Shakespeare’s Hamlet whose fate is quickly done away with by the Prince of Denmark’s swift skills of survival. In this story, however, Hamlet…

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The Field

BBBB (out of 5) Exceptional drama based on the play by John B. Keane, and Jim Sheridan’s follow-up to his Oscar-winning My Left Foot. Richard Harris is superb as “Bull” McCabe, whose family has been farming a gorgeous, grassy field for generations, its lustrous green colour the result of their lugging seaweed from the ocean and…

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The Hot Spot

BBB.5 (out of 5) Enjoyable throwback to the good old days of noir filmmaking features a story that could be described as shallow James Ellroy.  Don Johnson plays a sexy drifter who wanders into a dusty Texas town and gets a job working for a used car salesman. His intention is to pull off a major…

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Daddy Nostalgia (Daddy Nostalgie) (These Foolish Things)

BERTRAND TAVERNIER Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBB.5.   Absolutely lovely film by Bertrand Tavernier that will not be for all tastes, but those who wish to see something laid back and pleasant should watch it. Dirk Bogarde, in his last film role, plays an aging father who has just begun his recovery from a serious operation….

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Ay, Carmela!

BBB (out of 5) The Spanish Civil War is in full swing and two travelling theatrical performers (Carmen Maura, Andrés Pajares) have to constantly play their cards right to survive the political situation they find themselves in (mostly by quashing their pro-Republican views). When they accidentally wander into enemy territory without realizing it, they are…

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The Garden (1990)

BB.5 (out of 5) This confusing film is strictly for diehard fans of Derek Jarman.  Less a movie and more a moving artistic collage (like many of his films), it incorporates themes of religion, sexuality and fame to make a visually striking though unfocused piece of work. Some of the scenes focus on a modern-day…

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Reversal Of Fortune

BBBB.5 (out of 5) This excellent film details the case of Sunny von Bulow (Glenn Close), a wealthy New York aristocrat who went into a coma after an excessive dose of insulin administered by her husband.  Said Claus von Bulow (Jeremy Irons), an old European name possibly hiding a nefarious fortune hunter, is convicted of attempted murder…

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The Nasty Girl (Das Schreckliche Madchen)

BBBBB (out of 5) Fantastic film that works as an intellectual mystery. A high school student (Lena Stolze) decides to do a research project on the small town she lives in, focusing on the town’s participation in World War II when the country was under Nazi control. What she discovers are deep, dark secrets that…

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The Grifters (1990)

STEPHEN FREARS Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBBB.  USA, 1990.  Cineplex-Odeon Films.  Screenplay by Donald E. Westlake, based on the novel by Jim Thompson.  Cinematography by Oliver Stapleton.  Produced by Robert A. Harris, Jim Painter, Martin Scorsese.  Music by Elmer Bernstein.  Production Design by Dennis Gassner.  Costume Design by Richard Hornung.  Film Editing by Mick Audsley.  Academy Awards 1990.  Golden Globe Awards 1990.   Superb gangster film is…

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Life Is Sweet

BBBB (out of 5) Fans of Mike Leigh’s brilliant Secrets And Lies should definitely check out this less impressive but still excellent examination of a working-class British family. Mom Alison Steadman (Mrs. Leigh in real life at the time) is trying to keep it together and maybe even inspire the rest of her family to…

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Ju Dou

BBBB.5 (out of 5) Li Gong is excellent as a beautiful young woman who is married to a handicapped, infertile owner of a rural dye mill. When she falls in love with her husband’s nephew, she conceives a child with him and raises it as her husband’s. This fantastic character drama is highlighted by stunning…

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