Over tried and tested rom-com formula

Originally a script about a maid and a British prince who fall in love, this project was earmarked for rom-com queen Julia Roberts. Quite wisely she declined the lead role, but producer Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas wouldn’t let it lie. Keen to temper the fairytale element with some grounding in reality, she brought in Working Girl scriptwriter Kevin Wade, Smoke director Wayne Wang and her old pal Jennifer Lopez to play the maid who wants more out of life.

So in this reformed, ‘keeping it real’ for premium takings at the box office version, Lopez plays independent single mother Marisa Ventura. Working as a maid at a luxury Manhattan hotel but with dreams of moving up to middle management, she’s mistaken for a guest at the hotel by rising politician Christopher Marshall (Ralph Fiennes). Much as she wants the romance, she’s scared of losing her job and so begins the ‘will they/won't they get it together' razor’s-edge suspense of the over tried and tested rom-com formula.

More explicitly about two people from different worlds developing understanding and respect for one another than, say, Pretty Woman, Maid in Manhattan also has a strong supporting cast to recommend it, including Stanley Tucci, Bob Hoskins and Natasha Richardson. Lopez, however, has been nominated for the Golden Raspberry Worst Actress award for this film and Enough (she plays a plucky survivor in both), while Ralph Fiennes may well cringe at his performance before laughing all the way to the bank. (Catherine Bromley)

I General release from Fri 7 Mar.

The perils of lethal voyeurism


their conquests on primitive home-Video equipment .

Narrated by a deceased Crane. the darkly amusing Auto Focus is not a prurient 0r voyeuristic romp: the sex here is jOerss. repetitive and intentionally unerotic. Schrader OveremphaSises the central character's tragic descent - grainy film stock. bleached-Out colours. nervy camerawork but Kinnear's performance is perfectly Judged. Suggesting a person with no self- awareness or internal depth. At home neither in mainstream society nor in the hippie c0unterCUlture, his craving for images of sex brings to mind a line from an earlier tale of lethal v0yeurism Peeping Tom: 'All that filming, it's not healthy.’ (Tom Dawson)

This is the stOry of the rise and fall of Bob Crane. the star of 603 American sitcom Hogan '3 Heroes, who ended up being bludgeoned to death with a camera tripod in an Arizona motel room. Director Paul Schrader, no stranger to exploring male dysfunctionality. dispassionately ponrays Crane (Greg Kinnear) as a man whose life is wrecked by his compulsive addiction to sex.

The film's key relationship is between family-man Crane and video technician John Carpenter (Willem Dafoe). who introduces the celebrity entertainer to the joys of Cruising for women in strip joints. and then filming and rewatching the Subsecwent one-night stands with

22 THE LIST 27 Feb—13 Mar 2003

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(15) 108mm 0.

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Inspired by the Jean-Pierre Me . ‘(3 tilri‘. noir classic. Bot; we Flarhbeur. Jordan's latest is part thriller, part buddy movie. part unlikely ro'naiice. With liberal doses of Quirky lris". humour thrown in W good measure. Nick Nolte plays Bob Montagnet. a Franco-American Junkie thief don-.ii a." his luck in the SOthh of France. loowg t"-:"gs. the 'esU‘t s a diluted i>i_>;:ii;:f. for that final some that rill! set it .il: ‘eli the 'ilo'iu"‘t:rita mike. tl‘tit for the rest of his life. Along a rag- the Deter Q' Toaiestti'i 'ig c:>"‘e::,

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This Newcastle’GateShead-set romantic drama might be re-t'tled Our Friends in the North-Me. seeing as its Creative team are the writer iPeter Flannery‘i and director (Simon Ce‘fan Jones) of that teleVision series. Flannery's script introduces two unhappy c0uples. and then has a ma". and a woman fall in love at first sight. The c0urse of such an ill-timed, i.‘ not i”- matched. union does not run smooth'y, Neither does Flanhery and Jones” film. sitting Oh the fence between gritty c0medy dramas SUCh as Brassed Oit and Four 2"./(3(}Uings-Sf,le pretty as :i re" - comedy. Here. glamour and grit oon’t ir-x. Questcr‘aoe. foo :s the beats"; the film's so bland :t might be set anywhere. Chester to exa'Y‘l,'e. But t .20.. :1 tie Hol/yoakes. wouldn't it? (Miles Fieioer‘ I General release from Fri 28 Feb.

Our Friends in the North-lite



(15) 101 min 0

With its inspired pairing of Robert De Niro's neurotic mobster and Bllly Crystal's suburban shrink, 1999's Analyze This was The Sopranos played for laughs. Surprismgly, it worked. combining slick comic patter. beautifully observed parody and knockabout farce. Sadly. director Harold Ramis' belated seguel has little of the earlier film's Wit and noiie of its pizzazz.

The new film picks up with De Niro's Mafia boss, Paul Vitti, in Sing Sing. He has. apparently, had a full-scale nerVOUS breakdown and swmgs between semi-catatonic stupor and manic reiioiticrs c‘ sc'igs frori‘ West Side StOry (Cue feeble mugging from De Niroi. ls me taking? The FBI sift Sure and releases him into the custody of his former pSycnctherapist. Crystal's Ben Sope' (cue crude Culture-clash comedyi. Ben's wife iLisa Kuoroxi. .-iastedi and family are appalled by the presence of their new houseguest. but Ben Rll‘ise.‘ ras .vorse in store as he's dragged into a full-scale underworld xiar Len-leer? Ma" gangs “Cue some lamely exeCUted. thrill-less actioni.

When Analyze This came Out. its parallels with The Sopranos HOMES in its fav0ur. This time arOund. when De Niro‘s iict-sc .visegu, gets a co as a c0n3ultant on a mob-themed TV series. the UCHLE: chi, draws attention to how poor the new mowe is. lJason Best;

I General release from Fri 28 Feb.

Analyze This? That? How 'bout the other?