Manderlay

BB (out of 5) Lars von Trier’s proposed trilogy of observations of American society starts out strong with Dogville but moves on to a much less interesting second chapter (the third has yet to be produced at the time of this review).  Forced to drop out of the project because of conflicting commitments, Nicole Kidman is replaced…

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Oliver Twist (2005)

BBB.5 (out of 5) Roman Polanski follows his Oscar winning The Pianist with the fulfillment of a longtime dream of his, to adapt Dickens’ oft-filmed novel, reuniting with screenwriter Ronald Harwood and cinematographer Pawel Edelman.  Barney Clark is terrific in the titular lead as a woefully treated boy who is raised in an orphanage and workhouse before taking to the streets of London…

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Battle In Heaven (Batalla En El Cielo)

BB (out of 5) A personal driver for a Mexico City army general is sweet on his boss’s daughter, whom he has been looking after since she was a little girl. She likes to spend her days working in a boutique brothel, a secret which he keeps from her family, while he confides in her that he…

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The Masseur (Masahista)

BB.5 (out of 5) Brillante Mendoza investigates the exploitation of Manila’s handsome young men, who earn money in brothels that masquerade as massage parlours. One boy in particular performs his duties amid flashbacks to his father’s funeral, the preparation and rituals juxtaposed with very little subtlety against the images of him rubbing down his clients….

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Mary

BBB.5 (out of 5) Abel Ferrara goes for just the right tone, execution and attitude in this absorbing film, but it’s a shame he doesn’t go as far with its concept as he could have. After completing the filming of a religious epic that bases its presentation of the life of Christ on the recently…

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The Shore

BB (out of 5) This rip-off of Francois Ozon’s Under The Sand is atrociously put together, with a cast of unbelievably awkward actors (except for the two leads), plastic dialogue and meaningless, slow direction by Dionysius Zervos. While vacationing with her grandparents in Atlantic City, a little girl goes missing on the beach and sets…

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Pride & Prejudice (2005)

JOE WRIGHT Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBB.5.  United Kingdom, 2005.  Focus Features, Universal Pictures, StudioCanal, Working Title Films, Scion Films.  Screenplay by Deborah Moggach, based on the novel by Jane Austen.  Cinematography by Roman Osin.  Produced by Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner,Paul Webster.  Music by Dario Marianelli.  Production Design by Sarah Greenwood.  Costume Design by Jacqueline Durran.  Film Editing by Paul Tothill.  Academy Awards 2005.  Golden Globe Awards 2005.  Toronto International Film…

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The House Of Sand (Casa De Areia)

BBB.5 (out of 5) An obsessed man in turn of the century Brazil drags his wife (Fernanda Torres) and aging mother-in-law (Fernanda Montenegro) to the middle of the desert where he builds a house on a sand dune that he has purchased. His workers are scared away by the desolate landscape and nearby community of…

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Transamerica

BBBB (out of 5) Felicity Huffman plays a pre-operative transsexual who learns a week before her operation that she has a teenaged son (Kevin Zegers). She tries to avoid meeting him, but her psychiatrist (a lovely Elizabeth Pena) insists that Huffman cannot be complete physically if she leaves her emotional life hanging in the balance. Huffman…

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One Last Thing…

BB.5 (out of 5) Michael Angarano plays a sixteen year-old boy who is dying of cancer. A local wish-granting foundation has decided to make his dream of going fishing with his favourite football star (Johnny Messner) come true, but he announces at the last minute on television that what he really wants is to spend a…

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Sisters (Hermanas)

BBBB.5 (out of 5) Add this one to the constantly growing list of excellent Argentinian movies that deal with the turbulent history of the country’s military dictatorship in the seventies. Elena is a young married woman who lives in Texas with her soccer player husband and small son. Her sister Natalia, whom she hasn’t seen…

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The Matador

B.5 (out of 5) Great characters and strong performances are wasted by lame direction in this gross misfire. While visiting Mexico to secure an important business deal and get his life back on track, Greg Kinnear meets a mouthy drunk (Pierce Brosnan) in the hotel bar who reveals to him that he is a professional assassin….

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