This story of a long shot racehorse that became a champion in Depression-era America and raised the spirits of the nation wouldn’t have made it past the first furlong, were it not true. Although Seabiscuit’s story is given the Hollywood glossy treatment, the basis in fact (culled from Laura Hillenbrand’s best-selling book by writer-director Gary Ross)


Though sired from a champ, the lazy, bad- tempered, undersized Seabiscuit was written off by his owner. The horse overcame his mishandling to cross the finishing line first in a series of professional races. The diminutive creature went on to beat the nation’s most impressive racehorse, the towering War Admiral, and by the time Seabiscuit became Horse of the Year in 1938 his races were watched by upwards of 40m Americans.

So much for the horse. This being a Hollywood prestige picture, it’s got to have human interest. That comes in the form of three men whose spirit, like that of the nation, has been crushed by adversity. Charles Howard (played by Jeff Bridges), a millionaire

car salesman, survives the stock market crash of 1929 only to lose his beloved son in -

horrible irony, this - an automobile accident.

Tom Smith (Chris Cooper) is a cowboy put out

to pasture as his frontier world vanishes, and

Johnny ‘Red’ Pollard (Tobey Maguire) is an

orphan of the dustbowl whose efforts to earn a

living as a boxer leave him blind in one eye. The first half of Ross’ film cuts between


With her deathly pallor. saucer eyes and Tefal-shaped forehead. Christina Ricci has certainly grown up to be a striking looking woman. But she's not quite the femme fatale she's expected to be here as Miranda. the titular character in Marc Munden's pathetic excuse of a romantic thriller. ObViously slumming it in a sub-standard Brit-flick to pay for her enormous Kohl bill (SlCl. the frog princess is a\.'./kwardly paired with John Simm. \.-.rhose grey/trig similarity to New Order's Bernard Sumner (cannin exploned in 24 Hour Party People) must be causing him some distress.

Simm plays Frank. a supposedly amusing northern English librarian who wears Hawaiian shirts and speaks his mind in a no nonsense way. Of

26 THE LIST li-‘r 2r" No: 7933

She ain’t gonna get Ricci doing rubbish like this

course. Miranda is not what she seems. and Frank is soon deeply involved in some unrnvolvrng shenanigans involving crooked businessmen. property scams and the like.

All concerned with this lamentable effort should take a long. hard look at themselves. particularly the Film Council which. yet again, pours our public money into the work of a first-time scriptvvrriter (Rob Young) that is so inept and underdeveloped you wouldn't trust him to organise a pre- school nativrty play. John Hurt and Kyle MacLachlan turn up to pocket a few grand from the public purse too. and the whole fiasco is topped wrth a completely irrelevant but tellineg racist sub-plot about the Japanese. A putrid mess. (Eddie Harrison)

I Selected release from Fri l4 Nov.

these sorry lives before bringing the men together as Seabiscuit’s owner, trainer and jockey. It’s a nice narrative strategy. Elsewhere, Still, the leads - horse included - are great, and effective use of archive photography helps place the film in its historical context. That said, the storytelling’s occasionally marred by clunky voice over, employed to ‘smooth’ the

A salute to the little man

passage of time, and Ross isn’t subtle about Seabiscuit’s story as metaphor for the times.

there’s a priceless comic cameo by William H Macy, here playing wacky sports commentator ‘Tick-Tock’ McGlaughlin. (Miles Fielder)

I Out now on general release.


They say that old age brings a return of childish things. Perhaps that explains why Jackie Chan (who turns 50 next year) has stopped making dangerous martial arts movies in favour of churning out increasingly silly films for the younger end of the kiddie market. In The Medal/ion. a formulaic follow-up to The Tuxedo. Chan plays a Hong Kong police detective who Joins up wrth Lee Evans' Interpol agent in Dublin (3) to track a gangster (Julian Sands. struggling to stay awake) who's snaffled the medallion of the title: an ancient Eastern relic that bestows superpowers on the wearer. After being granted the use of its magic. Jackie becomes a medallion man who‘s able to fly through the air and leap tall buildings in a single bound.

All of which. of course. is good for Chan's ailing body. None of his trademark death defying stunts here. just plenty of comptiter-generated effects and the odd bit of slapstick with Evans (a talented comedian who ought to know better).

Fans of martial arts movies will doubtless be excited by the presence of Sammo Hung as fight choreographer and Gordon Chan (Beast Cops) in the director's chair. Yet the disappointment for anyone old enough to remember as far back as Chan's groundbreaking Drunken Master is bitter. It comes to something when the outtakes accompanying the credit reel in a Chan movie aren't full of the star being battered and bruised as stunts go horrendously wrong. but fluffed lines, giggles and general horseplay. (Jamie Russell)

I General release from Fri 74 Nov

A formulaic follow—up to The Tuxedo