Besides a taste for designer heels, Maggie (Cameron Diaz) and Rose (Toni Collette) are sisters who share little in common. It’s a familiar set-up, with frumpy older sis playing mum to her footloose younger sibling – and there are no surprises in the casting – yet this offers something more than your average chick flick. Director Curtis Hanson (LA Confidential, 8 Mile) shows a surprising sensitivity to the oestrogen-fuelled conflict, nimbly balancing drama with moments of wicked humour. Collette turns in a reliably solid performance, while Diaz brings unexpected depth and warmth to a character whose transgressions include spitefully seducing her sister’s boyfriend. Even so, the film belongs to Shirley MacLaine, who plays the sisters’ long-lost grandmother with grit and an intriguing vulnerability. Credit should also go to screenwriter Susannah Grant for fleshing out an otherwise lightweight novel by Jennifer Weiner.
When “M” says to James Bond, “I think you’re a sexist, misogynist dinosaur, a relic of the Cold War”, who can disagree? To ram home the point, “M” is played by a woman (Judi Dench) and a key scene is set in a Russian park that is now a dumping ground for statues of redundant communist heroes. However, Pierce Brosnan, on his first mission as 007, quickly established himself as the best Bond since Sean Connery and makes a fetish out of the old-fashioned values of loyalty and patriotism. The villain is not immediately evident – the mysterious Janus – but director Martin Campbell does provide a stunning chase between car and tank through the streets of St Petersburg. There are also splendid Bond girls, including Izabella Scorupco and feisty Famke Janssen, who kills by crushing her victims between her thighs.
An apparently perfect family moves into an affluent American neighbourhood brandishing the latest status-symbol goods in this glossy yet subtle black comedy. With their fancy clothes, golf gear, jewellery, watches and cars, the Joneses seem to possess all the luxury items that suburban family members crave. Demi Moore and David Duchovny’s chemistry is fluid and believable as the couple who couldn’t be more beautiful and in love, while Gary Cole effectively portrays the misled neighbour whose plight brings home the consequences of their actions. Without revealing its big twist, this is a high-concept message movie that delivers its strong warning against consumer culture and personal debt in a light-handed manner. The result is a seamless debut feature for Derrick Borte as writer, director and producer.
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