COMEDY DRAMA ABOUT A BOY (12) 101 min on.
Like the previous Nick Hornby adaptation, High Fidelity, About A Boy hits upon a winning combination of British and American talent. But where that earlier novel was exported to the US (along with director Stephen Frears) care of co- producer/co-writer/star John Cusack, About A Boy imports Stateside ﬁlmmaking brothers Chris and Paul Weitz (American Pie) to work with a cast headed by quintessential Brit Hugh Grant.
That said, Grant breaks free of his posh fop screen persona, a pleasing phenomena first witnessed with his cad in Bridget Jones ’5 Diary. Here Grant plays another womanising Londoner, Will Freeman, a layabout who runs his life in direct opposition to Jon Bon Jovi’s motto: ‘No man is an island’. Supporting a loafer’s life of telly, booze and birds with wealth from his late father, Freeman (geddit?) thinks of himself as ‘lbiza’. Then he hits on a single mother and finds a whole new world of women out there. But Will’s efforts to bed young mothers put him in contact with Marcus (Nicholas Hoult), the young son of suicidally depressed mum Fiona (Toni Collette) who changes the wastrel’s life.
THE BUSINESS OF STRANGERS
(15) 83 min .0.
The Busmess Of Strangers isn't as clever as it thinks it is. That said. it's got a fabulous actor fronting it: Stockard Channing. she who was the cool bad girl Rizzo in Grease. Her character in the new film COuIdn't be further removed from the catty bitch who found herself knocked up by a
greasy delinquent. Or maybe not.
Channing's Julie Styron is a workaholic businesswoman who finds both herself and her career stranded in an airport motel when her plane is cancelled and she discovers some assOCiates back at head office are scheming to backstab her. But Julie's fortunes take a turn for the better when she is promoted instead of being sacked. Shortly thereafter she is reacquainted with the likewise stranded Paula Murphy (Julia Styles). the assistant Julie sacked only hours before.
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Winning combination of British and American talent
Age difference aside, Will and Marcus couldn’t be more different: Where Will is trendy, Marcus is dressed by his Earth Mother mother in deeply unfashionable hippie/ethnic garb. Where Will listens to rap music, Marcus sings, badly, at the piano. But where Will cares only about himself and accepts his life holds no meaning, Marcus loves his mother whose well-being means everything to the boy.
Although somewhat eccentric and an outcast at school, Marcus is also a smart kid. And so he hits upon the idea of curing his mother’s
depression by setting her up with Will. That’s doesn’t work, but in the process man and boy become friends, initially to Will’s horror, then surprise and then . . . well you can figure it out.
Peter Hedges does a nice job of transferring Hornby’s already cinema drama-friendly novel to the screen, while the Weitz brothers keep things bright and breezy and not too cliched. But top honours go to the cast, in particular Grant and Hoult who spend the film swapping places as the titular character. (Miles Fielder)
I General release from Fri 26 Apr.
(15) 100 min .0000
The women make up and start celebrating Julie's promotion. but at some pOInt during the ensumg partying.
Paula recognises a man (Fred Welleri who she says raped her friend at college. The rapist turns out to be a corporate headhunter of Julie's acquaintance. and. outraged. the women decide to exact some revenge.
So far so fascinating. The build-up to this. the first of a number of revelations is well-handled by writer-director Patrick Stettner. As is Julie and Paula's toying With their Victim. But the film fails to deliver its initial promise. and the final twist is UlldGI‘JI/IIOIITIIHQ. Still, the cast. particularly Channing, play this dark thriller perfectly. (Miles Fielder)
I Selected release from Fri 3 May
28 THE LIST 1/? Au 2' Mil. Z’U'Ci'
Fails to deliver its initial promise
Waking Life looks stunning. Director Richard Linklater has used a 'rotoscoping' technique to create this animated picture. This involved filming the actors on digital camera and then tracing over the images using a team of animators to make the movie look like a cinematic graphic novel. The animation is pivotal to the question posed by the central character, Mitch Kramer (the same character that Wiley Wiggins plays in Linklater's slacker film Dazed And Confused): what exactly is life?
Kramer cannot wake from a reCurring dream. In this dream he meets characters ranging from philosophy professors to taxi drivers. who tell him exactly what life is about. The answers came from a range of sowces: biological, metaphysical. existential and plain old bullshit. The reality of his dream is challenged when it is revealed that Kramer may already be dead and living out the final six minutes of his life — the SIX minutes of brain actiVity that takes place after your body has ceased functioning. If this is so. the dream is real (ie memory).
As Kramer revisit moments from his own life, Linklater includes numerous characters from his previous films. such as Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy reprising their roles from Before Sunrise. All this adds to the surreal quality of this wonderfully innovative film. Animation, thesis. questions! (Kaleeni Aftab)
I Selected release from Fri 3 May.
THRILLER ROADKILL (15) 96 min «on
Ah Joy. a mom: With no artistic pretensions nor inflated budgetary requirements to screw up a Wicked idea. here executed With smart script. performances and direction. Pretty college boy LeWis (Paul Walker) is driVing from Colorado to New Jersey With his girl Venna (Leelee Sobieski). En route. they pick up Walker's wayward brother Fuller (Steve Zahn). After Lewis makes like a girl on the CB and chats up a truck driver. they then pick up a homicidal maniac With sixteen big ole' wheels.
Wicked idea, smartly executed
You can't help laughing as Lewrs does a southern belle Candy Queen. although at this point you're already expecting bad things to follow. And when the kids find another of the psycho ti'ucker's Victims With his lower Jaw ripped off his face. you know bad times are a' coming.
Bad times. of course. equals fun. Fun. that is. if you find taut. tense driVing suspense fun. Although the scenario owes much to Steven Spielberg's early teIeVision movie Duel. director John Dahl (Who's no stranger to thrillers With The Last Seduction and Red Rock West) and his writers Clay Tan/er and Jeffrey Abrams keep things on course. Only Sobieski is somewhat superfluous to the plot. but the always \IVEtICIlEtNt-B Zahn and the elsewhere bland Walker put in a couple of fine perform;inces. (Miles I'l(?|(I(}l‘i I General release from [ll (“ti Apr.