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Julie & Julia Review

Ephron reunites with Streep for this slightly overlong and very girly drama based on two true stories, both of which are involving and well-played. The comedy is earthy and real, and the film looks good enough to eat.

In 1949, Julia Child (Streep) is living in Paris with her diplomat husband (Tucci), looking to fill her spare time. She settles on cooking, and after completing Le Cordon Bleu teams up with two chefs (Emond and Carey) to write a French cookbook for the American market. In 2002 New York, Julie Powell (Adams) needs something to distract her from her job dealing with claims resulting from 9/11. With the encouragement of her husband (Messina), she decides to cook all 524 of Child's recipes in one year while blogging about the experience.

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Drive Me Crazy Review

Traffic advisory: Plan alternate box office route to bypass Drive Me Crazy and gridlock of crazed teens. At the screening I attended, it would have been easier to find a share of an Internet IPO stock than an open seat (I doubt the stingiest broker you know could be more ruthless than the giddy girls saving seats for their friends). If this romantic comedy is successful, chalk up another victory for marketing and another loss for pop culture.

A more appropriate title for Drive Me Crazy would be "Highway Through Nebraska" -- the plot is flat, has no turns, and is completely devoid of scenery. At least this boring ride only lasts 90 minutes. In this rehashed tale of teen angst, next door neighbors Nicole Maris (Melissa Joan Hart - Can't Hardly Wait, Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, Clarissa Explains It All) and Chase Hammond (Adrian Grenier - Celebrity, The Adventures of Sebastian Cole) are neighbors with almost nothing in common. She's "in," he's in the alternative crowd. When the star of the basketball team snubs her affection and he gets dumped, they find common ground in a plot to scam everyone into thinking they are an item. If the plan works, they hope their ex-loves will come crawling back. Hmmm, care to take a wild guess what happens?

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Autumn In New York Review

No matter how shrewd, wealthy, or debonair a man can be, in a Hollywood drama, he is always humbled by love. Richard Gere is no exception to this rule, and for the second time in a year, he is typecast in yet another implausible romantic lead. Why even bother establishing his character? Like always, he's successful, powerful, and sexy, yet unable to curb his womanizing ways. Only this time it's not Julia Roberts as the flamboyant prostitute or eccentric altar ditcher, but a weepy Winona Ryder, who is half his age and happens to be dying of a rare heart disease. Sound like a winner? It isn't.

Autumn in New York, directed by Joan Chen (Xiu Xiu: The Sent Down Girl), is the recycled love story of a man who has it all but nobody to share it with. The tacky promo, "He taught her how to live, she taught him how to love," basically explains the plot in a nutshell. Flourishing Manhattan restaurant owner Will Keane (Gere) sees something in the beauty, wit, and innocence of young Charlotte (Winona Ryder), despite the fact that he dated her deceased mother in the past. On the flip side, Charlotte has merely a year to live and is not afraid to die because she has nothing truly worth living for. The two find sustenance in one another, but as all love stories go, they endure trying times. Winona is either too young or too sick, and he can't control his libido or escape his shady past. So they're meant for one another, but how long can it last?

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After Hours Review

It's one of cinema's greatest freak-outs. The mild-mannered and terminably hapless Paul (Griffin Dunne, in the defining role of his career) encounters Marcy (Rosanna Arquette, ditto) in a coffee shop, reading Tropic of Cancer, naturally. When he gets her number and takes a cab ride to a desolate and rain-drenched SoHo to meet her at her loft, things take a turn for the bizarre -- with Paul finding himself entangled with an intertwined web of people, including an obsessive cocktail waitress (Teri Garr), a suicidal girl, a possibly murderous sculptress (Linda Fiorentino), an unhinged ice cream truck driver (Catherine O'Hara), and a whole host of other characters that represent some of the wackiest nutjobs in cinema. No one else seems to notice it's so bizarre except for Paul: As Dick Miller's diner cook character puts it, when it's after hours, "Different rules apply."

By the end, Paul is on the run from an angry mob who thinks he's a burglar, fleeing in fear for his life. Will he escape? Well, rest assured that After Hours is actually a comedy. It's also one of my favorite Martin Scorsese movies (and a massive departure from his grittier fare), fresh every time you see it and full of little touches that you catch more of with each subsequent viewing. Check out the rows of Aqua Net in Garr's apartment. Or the "tie" she's wearing.

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For Love Of The Game Review

My brother says I shouldn't review sports movies. Because I'm not a sports fan, he says, I can't be objective.

He may have a point, but I don't think For Love of the Game is fundamentally a sports movie. Sure, suit Kevin Costner up in a baseball uniform and you might think you're looking at another Field of Dreams, but For Love of the Game is something we don't see a lot of. Allow me to explain.

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