The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018)

ETHAN COEN, JOEL COEN Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.  USA, 2018.  Annapurna Pictures, Annapurna Television, Mike Zoss Productions.  Screenplay by Joel Coen, Ethan Coen, segment All Gold Canyon based on a story by Jack London, segment The Gal Who Got Rattled inspired by a story by Stewart Edward White.  Cinematography by Bruno Delbonnel.  Produced by Ethan Coen, Joel Coen,…

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Twixt

B (out of 5) Francis Ford Coppola dips into the vampire genre with unwatchable results.  A terrible Val Kilmer plays a writer on the decline who finds himself in a dusty little town during a book tour, his tomes on witch hunts still maintaining some potency with readers.  Ornery old Bruce Dern approaches and informs him of…

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Mystery Men

BBB (out of 5) A group of bumbling losers who want to be superheroes get their big chance when Champion City’s actual crime-fighting hero Captain Amazing (Greg Kinnear) is kidnapped by the evil Casanova Frankenstein (Geoffrey Rush) and held hostage. Stealing production design elements from Blade Runner and camera movements from Tim Burton, director Kinka…

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Domino

BB (out of 5) Keira Knightley gets tough in this biopic of Hollywood progeny-gone-bad Domino Harvey, daughter of British movie star Laurence Harvey. After losing her father at a young age, Domino’s mother (Jacqueline Bisset) moves them to Beverly Hills where she marries well and raises her daughter in the ‘90210′ crowd (actually the movie plays…

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The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus

BB (out of 5) Good luck figuring out what is going on here. A magical travelling show appears in the middle of London whose painted backdrops, once entered, take a person to alternate worlds. We learn eventually that the titular mystical old man who runs the spectacle (Christopher Plummer) is hundreds of years old after…

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Coffee And Cigarettes

BB.5 (out of 5) Familiar faces are assembled and given the opportunity to do some riffing in this film experiment by Jim Jarmusch. Each segment has two or three characters (mostly celebrities playing fictional versions of themselves) meeting over the titular indulgence and conversing on random cares of life, with a few themes repeating themselves over…

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Night On Earth

BB (out of 5) From Jim Jarmusch comes this comedy about cab drivers all over the world. Four stories are told: an L.A. taxi driver (Winona Ryder) who picks up a few life lessons while driving Gena Rowlands home from the airport; a driver from the Ivory Coast (Isaach De Bankolé) working in Paris endures the…

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Down By Law

BBBB.5 (out of 5) John Lurie plays a New Orleans pimp who is set up by a rival and thrown in jail for something he didn’t do. Tom Waits is an unemployed disc jockey who is pulled aside for drunk driving and his car is found to possess a dead body that he didn’t put there….

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The Outsiders

BB (out of 5) Whatever has made S.E. Hinton’s novella such a hit with juveniles for generations is nowhere to be found in this shallow adaptation by Francis Ford Coppola. Teens in a small Oklahoma town are divided into two categories: the Greasers, or poor kids whose fashionable jeans and slicked up hair mark them…

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Bram Stoker’s Dracula

BBBB (out of 5) Exciting, inventive retelling of the vampire legend is marred only by a couple of amateurish performances. Francis Ford Coppola uses ground-level visual effects in the style of Georges Melies and Jean Cocteau (particularly from Beauty And The Beast) in filming a romanticized version of the Bram Stoker novel. That no-account Count…

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The Cotton Club

BBBB (out of 5) Only a filmmaker of Francis Ford Coppola’s skill could make such a mess of a film into something so enjoyable. The weakly plotted screenplay intends to tell of two sets of brothers, one white (Richard Gere, Nicolas Cage) and one black (Gregory Hines, Maurice Hines), though the story really focuses on…

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Streetwise

BBBB.5 (out of 5) Heartbreaking documentary that follows the lives of various kids living on the streets of Seattle.  Drugs, prostitution and crime are the everyday norms of these surprisingly camera-ready, charismatic youths, who are sadly aged way beyond their years by their experiences. Director Martin Bell somehow gets deep into their lives and captures…

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