Rental and retail dvd & video (warner home video, widescreen)

Something’s Gotta Give

Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton prompt begrudging smiles in this long, over-elaborate rom-com which tells the ageing intended audience what it wants to hear: you can still get laid at 60. It helps if you're Jack, here an incorrigible Lothario servicing Amanda Peet until he picks on someone his own age, her mum (Keaton, Oscar-nominated). Keanu Reeves and Fran McDormand make with the filler plot and chuckles.

Message In A Battle

Superior sword-slashing spectacular with powerful performances

Dreamcatcher

Oh dear. This blue-chip Stephen King adaptation (written by William Goldman, directed by Lawrence Kasdan) starts well but then transforms into an unwatchable mess. One of those terrible movies you just have to see to figure out where it went wrong. Highlights: fine ensemble work from Thomas Jane, Damian Lewis, Jason Lee and Timothy Olyphant. Lowlight: Morgan Freeman's worst ever screen performance.

Matchstick Men

Beautifully played, smartly directed low-key change of pace from Ridley Scott. Nic Cage plays a neurotic compulsive-obsessive grifter who has to deal with the unexpected arrival of his teenage daughter (Alison Lohman) as he and his partner (Sam Rockwell) prepare to pull off an elaborate con. It failed to ignite at the box office, but is well worth catching now.

Whale Rider

A contemporary coming-of-ager about a fiery 12-year-old Maori girl (Keisha Castle-Hughes) and her bid for the hyper-masculine tribal throne, Whale Rider is full of apposite Disney pluck, yet simultaneously shot through with a worthy, odd and inexorably cloying adoration of the mystical juju in Maori tradition.

Basic

Don't expect John McTiernan's blustery military thriller to deliver the same buzzing chemistry between John Travolta and Samuel L Jackson as Pulp Fiction. The two stars barely even meet as Travolta's bad-ass investigator puzzles out the mystery of Jackson's missing Ranger instructor via a series of twist-heavy flashbacks. McTiernan delivers balls-out action, but he's a total hack, mauling all the subtlety out of a potentially intriguing yarn.

The Matrix Reloaded

Taking apart their original monster hit, piecemeal, including smart cod-philosophy, brain-teasing story-twists, set-piece kung fu spectaculars and final-reel resurrections, and then reassembling it with a much bigger budget and a greater dollop of hubris, the Wachowski brothers here prove that limitless resources plus final cut can be a volatile mix.

Analyze That

A rather contrived sequel to 1999's Billy Crystal/Robert De Niro buddy comedy (Analyze This), Analyze That nonetheless has enough sporadic wit and infectious Hope/Crosby chemistry to justify its existence. Here De Niro's neurotic mobster is released from prison into the protective custody of Crystal's wisecracking shrink (don't ask). Cue some 'fish out of water' shenanigans, a Sopranos parody, and a grand heist finale.

The Rules Of Attraction

Prompting both genuflections at its breakneck brilliance and gasps at its gung-ho grisliness, Roger Avary's comeback has been a startling opinion-divider. Fans of the Bret Easton Ellis novel will relish the former Tarantino sidekick's fidelity to the blank immorality of the prose, yet the movie bursts with visual ideas. James Van Der Beek is fearlessly irredeemable as Sean Bateman (younger brother of the American Psycho), flailing across campus, gobbling up narcotics, rock'n'roll (it has a great soundtrack), girls, boys, suicides, whatever.

City By The Sea

Inexplicably coolly reviewed, this Michael Caton-Jones thriller boasts Robert De Niro's best performance in years. As a New York detective estranged from his son, he's distraught when his boy (James Franco) is prime suspect in a case he's breaking. Frances McDormand's excellent as Bob's girlfriend; Long island is a lost Atlantis. A fine film. DVD EXTRAS: Commentaries by writer and producer, Caton-Jones short Mark Of A Murderer.Rating Star
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