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Draft Day Review


Essentially this year's Moneyball, but set in American football rather than baseball, this fast-paced drama is brightly made with an especially strong cast. But only die-hard fans will be able to drum up much interest in the plot, which is played as if it's the most important thing on earth. This insular approach is seriously alienating for audience members with even the slightest sense of perspective about life. Thankfully, the actors are likeable and entertaining.

It's set over the 12 hours leading up to the NFL draft, when teams select the top players from university teams. In Cleveland, manager Sonny (Kevin Costner) is struggling to hang on to his job, arguing with Coach Penn (Denis Leary) about who should be the first pick. And when he swaps with another team for the top selection, the team owner (Frank Langella) pressures Sonny to take the most highly desired player in the field (Josh Pence). But Sonny has his doubts, and amid backroom dealings and frantic last-minute swaps, he also looks at another promising player (Chadwick Boseman) while making sure the team's current quarterback (Tom Welling) is up to his job. Meanwhile, Sonny and the team's financial manager Ali (Jennifer Garner) are in a secret relationship and have just found out that they're pregnant.

Most of this takes place during phone calls, but director Ivan Reitman manages to make this visually intriguing using whizzy split-screen trickery. And while Garner's character feels utterly irrelevant, like a distraction to the main football plot , she adds the badly needed human interest element, as do two other actresses in smaller roles: Ellen Burstyn and Rosanna Arquette as Sonny's mother and ex-wife, respectively. There are also strong cameos from the likes of Sean Combs as a high-powered agent and Sam Elliot as a sporting veteran. And it's all anchored effortlessly by Costner's affable charm, providing resonance in Sonny's attempt to play a long game while being pushed to make the flashier decisions.

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Hitchcock Review


What could have been an intriguing look at how Alfred Hitchcock created one of his most iconic masterpieces is instead turned into a gently entertaining romp. We may enjoy watching the twists and turns as this troubled project takes shape, but the script simply never breaks the surface or gives its stars any real depth to play with. So in the end, the most engaging thing about the film ends up being the portrayal of Hitchcock's marriage.

The story starts with the 1959 premiere of North by Northwest, a hit that critics dismissed as more of the same from a master resting on his laurels. So Hitchcock (Hopkins) decides to give them something unexpected, and takes his first foray into horror based on the little-known novel Psycho, a fictionalised story about a real serial killer. Working closely with his wife Alma (Mirren) on every aspect of the film, he is in constant conflict with the studio chief (Portnow) and the chief censor (Smith), who both believe the material is too strong. Meanwhile, Alma is tired of him flirting with his leading ladies (Johansson and Biel), so she takes a side job with a writer (Huston) who wants to be more than friends.

Oddly, neither director Gervasi (Anvil) nor writer McLaughlin (Black Swan) seems interested in getting beneath the surface of their central character, so Hitchcock is little more than the jovial caricature we saw in his TV anthology series. Hiding under layers of prosthetic face and body fat, Hopkins is good but never seems to break a sweat in the role. Which leaves Mirren to steal the film as Alma, mainly by departing from reality to create a more intriguing movie character instead. And Collette adds some spice as Hitchcock's assistant. But as the cast of Psycho, Johansson (as Janet Leigh), Biel (Vera Miles) and D'Arcy (Anthony Perkins) are only given small details to define them, which leaves them lurking uninterestingly around the edges.

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Picture - Joe Medjuck and Laurie Deans, , Sunday 18th November 2012

Joe Medjuck and Laurie Deans - Joe Medjuck and Laurie Deans, Sunday 18th November 2012 at the 'Hitchcock' premiere at the Ziegfeld Theater.

No Strings Attached Review

An intelligent script and smart direction help lift this romantic comedy above the fray. It doesn't tell us anything new, and the central gimmick isn't particularly insightful, but the cast keeps the tone sharp and funny.

Adam (Kutcher) and Emma (Portman) have spent 15 years flirting at the random points where their lives have crossed. Now living in Los Angeles, they meet again and decide what they really need is sex without a relationship. Adam's pals (Bridges and Johnson) are jealous, while Emma's colleague (Lawson) believes he's the right man for her instead. But things start getting complicated when Adam's ex (Lovibond) moves in with his star-writer dad (Kline), and Emma starts thinking about relationships as her sister (Thirlby) gets married.

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Chloe Review

This lush, insinuating remake of the rather muted French film Nathalie (2003) benefits from a much more emotionally charged script and lively, layered performances. It also has director Egoyan's playful skill at exploring images and perceptions.

Catherine (Moore) puts up with the flirtatious personality of her husband David (Neeson) until she gets evidence that he's had an affair. And now she wants details. So she hires high-class hooker Chloe (Seyfried) to seduce him and tell her what happens. "He's not the client," she reminds Chloe, and indeed it's the relationship between the women that turns strangely obsessive. Lines are blurred between who's falling in love with whom, and by the time each person starts to realise what's happening, they're in trouble.

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The Pink Panther (2006) Review

ABC premiered America's Funniest Home Videos in 1989, and the weekly video-clip competition has gone on to become the network's longest-running comedy series. Amazingly, very little has changed since that debut show. Videos rides one predominant joke all the way to the finish line each week - people get hurt on camera, and audiences howl.

The full-contact humor propagated by the program obviously appeals to the masses. The simple formula has worked on Videos for 17 years now. So why, then, am I still surprised when a preview audience sitting through something as moronic as The Pink Panther bursts out laughing when a cyclist crashes into a car door or a senior citizen takes a blunt object to the skull?

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Killing Me Softly Review

Hey, remember when Joseph Fiennes was a big artsy star after Shakespeare in Love? No. Well, neither does he. Today you're more likely to find him in a film like this, a bizarre erotic thriller from Chen Kaige, best known as the director of a variety of Chinese historical epics. Killing Me Softly features Fiennes as a maybe-he's-a-creepy-rapist/maybe-he's-not kinda fellow, and Heather Graham is the woman who falls in love with him at first sight. What develops is a story about a lost mountain expedition (which Fiennes was part of), missing ex-girlfriends, and lots of blind clues (think typewritten letters shoved under the door) that suggest Fiennes is a really bad dude. In the end the film comes across like a kind of cheap knockoff of Basic Instinct, right down to the string-heavy score. Fiennes even has a taste for kinky sex, and as a fearful Graham is tied to the kitchen table she says, "Sometimes I feel like I don't know you." It's pretty campy-silly, but it's surprisingly watchable for some reason, maybe because of the name-brand actors sleazing it in this Skinemax would-be classic. Who knows. Just check out the unrated edition for extra fun.

Road Trip Review

Tom Green might say: Road Trip is the greatest movie of all time.

He'd be right. If you're a 15-year old boy.

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Space Jam Review

As a teenager, when I was rabid New York Knicks fan, I hated Michael Jordan. I hated how smug he was on the court. I hated how he always hit the big shot. I hated his commercials. I hated his Chicago Bulls teammates and his Zen-poseur coach, Phil Jackson. I hated the obnoxious bandwagon fans he created (second only to ignorant, win-happy, tradition oblivious, fair weather Yankee fans), as well as the wannabe playground showboaters he inspired.

That being said, I am probably not the most impartial person to watch Space Jam, the 1996 outing in which Jordan helps the beloved Looney Tunes gang compete in an interplanetary basketball game. However, any die-hard Bulls fan can agree with any Knicks fan on this one fact: Jordan is a terrible actor

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Evolution Review

Here's my candidate for most creative casting of 2001....

In Evolution, you get David Duchovny, (former) star of TV's The X-Files who has failed miserably to cross over to any kind of success in film. Julianne Moore, former independent darling before she started making movies like The Lost World and Hannibal. Orlando Jones, 7-Up pitchman and easily typecast goofball. And Seann William Scott, whose most visible role was as a stoner in Dude, Where's My Car?

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