WESTERN OPEN RANGE (12) 139min .000

After coming a cropper with his post-apocalyptic 1997 epic The Postman, Kevin Costner rides tall in the saddle again as director and star of this magnificent Western. Despite his earlier tumble, Costner shows himself unafraid of tackling a number of the genre’s big themes freedom, justice, loyalty, the cost of violence - in a way that explicitly challenges such classics as High Noon, Shane and The Searchers. Costner’s own character, Charley Waite, is a familiar figure: the former gunman haunted by his violent past. He now roams the Midwest, herding cattle on the open range with veteran cowboy Boss Spearman (played terrifically by Robert Duvall), big-hearted Mose (Abraham Benrubi) and teenage orphan Button (Diego Luna). The men try to steer clear of trouble, but their practice of free grazing brings them into conflict with Michael Gambon’s tyrannical rancher and his thuggish minions. The film’s heroes dictate its rhythm and mood: unhurried, sturdy and laconic. Some may find the movie slow and even, at times, corny, but sympathetic viewers will


Writer-director Tom McCarthy has talked in interviews of The Station Agent being like a contemporary Western, in which a mysterious stranger arrives in a frontier town to galvanise a community. However. McCarthy's central character, l-‘inn (Peter Dinklage). isn't your archetypal gun- slinger: he's a train-obsessed dwarf who has inherited a disused railway depot in rural New Jersey from a former business partner. And now he wants to be left in peace to do up the property. to walk the tracks and to count the trains that still pass through the area. But his solitude is disturbed by two other lonely misfits. an artist Oliiva (Patricia Clarkson). still grieving for the loss of her child, and . garrulous hot—dog salesman Joe (Bobby Cannavale). whose

own father is seriously ill.

You can see why Harvey Weinstein‘s Miramax snapped this indie up it‘s a sensitively acted. gently amusing and carefully crafted film, which won't frighten any horses and never leaves us in much doubt as to its final destination. as unlikely friendships are forged and feelings of isolation

find themselves gripped and moved as the narrative unfolds.

Along the way, Costner’s cowpoke tentatively courts Annette Bening’s spinster, Sue. Can the man scarred by violence be redeemed? Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven gave a bleak answer; Costner is more

overcome. Still, it's unafraid to meander along at its own relaxed tempo. and Dinklage provides an impressively

understated lead performance. (Tom Dawson)

I Selected release from Fri 26 Mar.

30 THE LIST 18 Mar 1 Apr 7004



Gently amusing

Costner tall in the saddle again

hopeful. Don’t imagine this means his vision of the past is rose-tinted. The bloody gunfight that spectacularly climaxes the film, in its fusion of the mundane and the brutal, could not be more grime authentic. (Jason Best)

I General release from Fri 79 Mar.

No raging bull


Meg Ryan's career really was in the toilet before she decided to do some emergency repairs with the recent /n the Cut. This movie has been on the shelf for well over a year. never a sign of top quality entertainment, and features Ryan playing the same feisty golden-hearted role that she made her own in films such as Sleepless in Seattle and You've Got Mail. In the right part no one does this role better, but sadly for Ryan fans Against the Ropes does not provide her with this.

Based on the true story of Jackie Kallon, this is the biopic of the most successful female boxing manager in histOry. who at one time had Tommy ‘the hit man' Hearns as a client. But this is no Raging Bull. In fact. it‘s worse than Rocky 5, as Ryan discovers a raw street fighter and turns him into a world beater and herself into a media whore. Every woman-in-a-man's-world cliche is here committed to celluloid. Based on a true story? Right. This is the boxing movie at its most sentimental and fake. Could be a contender for worst movie of the year. (Kaleem Aftab)

I Selected release from Fri 26 Mar.



(PG) 100min O

Pint-sized teenage spy Cody Banks (Malcolm in the Midd/e's Frankie Muniz) gets a second big screen outing in this feeble sequel to last year's hardly overwhelming action comedy for kids. The new film has the CIA- trained Cody posing as a musical prodigy in order to join an international youth orchestra whose aristocratic sponsor is plotting to unleash a mind control device on world leaders gathering at Buckingham Palace.

The plot gives Cody the chance to pose

A feeble sequel

alongside a variety of familiar landmarks the London Eye hosts a meeting with Cody's CIA boss, while the Tate Modern masquerades as the villains headquarters. And. as you'd expect from Hollywood. there are the usual blunders. wilfully committed Beefeaters outside Buckingham Palace and so on.

It's mildly surprising then to find that the name on the director's chair belongs to Welshman Kevin Allen. maker of Twin Town and The Big Tease. Allen's brother, Keith, of Fat Les fame, pops up as a rogue agent, and there are roles too for S Club 7's Hannah Spearritt. Paul Kaye as a tea- drinking. Q-type boffin, and The Fast S/iow's Mark Williams as a blustering police chief. None of them. though. adds much in the way of wit or excitement to a limp assignment.

(Jason Best) I General release from Fri 26 Mar.