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Two-time Oscar winner Hilary Swank squanders her talents in this tepid romantic comedy based on the best-selling book about a young woman coming to terms with the loss of her husband. Love across the supernatural divide may have endured for Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore, but here it is dead on arrival.**


Ang Lee directs this slow-burning adaptation of Eileen Chang's short story Se, Jei, set against the Japanese occupation of Shanghai during the Second World War. A meticulous study of female repression, the film is achingly slow paced. *****

I AM LEGEND (15) In this post-apocalyptic thriller about the last survivor of a manmade catastrophe, virologist Robert Neville (Will Smith) lives in the ruins of the Big Apple seeking a cure for the outbreak. For the first hour Smith's natural charisma holds us spellbound. But once the movie concentrates on the battle between Robert and Alpha Male, it becomes second rate. ***

BALLS OF FURY (12A) Robert Ben Garant serves up more punch-lines that fail to hit their target with this ham-fisted yarn set in the high velocity world of competitive ping-pong (yes, really) with Christopher Walken as the camp villain. It is this year's turkey, stuffed with flimsy, two-dimensional characters and obvious pratfalls. *****

THE KITE RUNNER (12A) Shot on location in the western Chinese desert bordering Afghanistan with child non-actors, and predominantly in the Dari language (one of the two main tongues), the Kite Runner is a deeply moving tale of redemption, which casts a heady spell as it travels back and forth in time between the streets of Kabul and San Francisco Bay. *****


Girls just wanna have fun in Oliver Parker and Barnaby Thompson's revival of the naughty hockey stick-wielding minxes. St Trinian's is frothy and undemanding fun, interspersed with snappily edited montages set to songs by Shampoo, Sophie Ellis Bextor and Girls Aloud. Stars Rupert Everett and Colin Firth. *****
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jan 11, 2008
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