Kedma

BB (out of 5) The title is the name of a ship that brings refugees to a newly forming Israel following the devastation of life for Jews in Europe during World War II.  People barely clinging to survival arrive in a land already overcome with strife, shot at by the English while all around them…

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Sweet Sixteen (2002)

KEN LOACH Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBB.  United Kingdom/Germany/Spain, 2002.  Alta Films, British Broadcasting Corporation, Road Movies Filmproduktion, Scottish Screen, Sixteen Films, Tornasol Films.  Screenplay by Paul Laverty.  Cinematography by Barry Ackroyd.  Produced by Rebecca O’Brien.  Music by George Fenton.  Production Design by Martin Johnson.  Costume Design by Carole K. Millar.  Film Editing by Jonathan Morris.  Cannes Film Festival 2002.  Toronto International Film Festival 2002.   Just shy of…

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Heaven

BB.5 (out of 5) When celebrated filmmaker Krzysztof Kieslowski passed away in 1995, he left behind him a proposed trilogy that began with the screenplay for this film. Tom Tykwer picked up the project in Kieslowski’s absence and directed this probing drama about an Englishwoman living in Italy (Cate Blanchett) who bombs a building in…

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Jet Lag (Decalage Horaire)

BBB (out of 5) The characters are what makes this one really zing, especially since the story is nothing new: two strangers meet in an airport, spend a day together and go off to a new life changed and enriched. Jean Reno is a tired businessman traveling between jobs who crosses paths with a beauty expert…

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Frida

BBBB.5 (out of 5) The life and awe-inspiring work of Mexican painter Frida Kahlo has been a project on the plate of many a celebrity in the last decades: Madonna’s efforts to make the film is credited with bringing widespread awareness of her work to North America in the nineties, while Jennifer Lopez tried to…

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Raising Victor Vargas

BBBB (out of 5) Peter Sollett’s debut feature, based on his short film Five Feet High and Rising, is a heartfelt examination of the life of an inner-city youth and his troubled family. Newcomer Victor Rasuk is excellent as the title character, a misguided young man whose seemingly easy life of hanging with his buddies…

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Russian Ark (Russky Kovcheg)

BBB.5 (out of 5) A feat of technical expertise, this film by Aleksandr Sokurov is a fascinating experiment that was filmed at the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg. Shot in one long, continuous take without interruption, the film goes from room to room in the museum where various aspects of Russian history (Catherine The Great,…

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The Guys

BBB (out of 5) Anthony LaPaglia is called upon to give a eulogy at the funeral of his fellow firefighters who died in the September 11th terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. Feeling the need to get it right, he hires a writer (Sigourney Weaver) to help him shape the piece into what he wants…

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Moonlight Mile

BB (out of 5) After a middle-aged couple (Dustin Hoffman, Susan Sarandon) lose their daughter to murder, they find their lives are at a standstill while they look for something to help them move along. Their daughter’s fiance (Jake Gyllenhaal) is in a similar position, unable to sort out his feelings long enough to decide…

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Secretary

BBB (out of 5) Maggie Gyllenhaal is an intensely self-destructive masochist who is released from a mental institution with a certificate of health that might be a bit too premature for her optimistic mother (Lesley Ann Warren). Making her way out into the world, she gets a job working as a secretary for a sheepish lawyer…

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Phone Booth

BB.5 (out of 5) Colin Farrell plays a self-important, cocky celebrity publicist who acts like he’s a hot shot but is really just a bottom feeder. Thinking the world is completely taken in by his act, he is shocked into a reality check when a pay phone rings and a strange voice tells him that he…

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Auto Focus

BB.5 (out of 5) Paul Schrader has once again delved into the seedier side of life in this marginally successful biopic about Bob Crane (Greg Kinnear), most famous for his leading role on the television series Hogan’s Heroes. What most fans didn’t know about him until after his mysterious murder in the mid-seventies was that…

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