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The Independent Culture
THE STICKY FINGERS OF TIME (15)

Hilary Brougher's modest, micro-budgeted sci-fi mystery, though not entirely successful, is an interesting oddity among US indies. Tucker, a science fiction novelist in 1950s New York, is transported to 1997 and meets a woman who has a copy of the novel Tucker has started writing (the film suggests that radiation exposure and H-bomb experiments may be behind this time warp). On the whole, the film is impressively shot and designed, while Brougher, a first-time writer-director, handles her screenplay's time-travel and existential conundrums - bordering on the pretentious - with just the right balance of whimsy and conviction.

AT FIRST SIGHT (12)

Mira Sorvino plays a New York architect who falls for a blind, kindly, hunky spa worker (Val Kilmer) and urges him to try restorative eye surgery. This weepie is based on an Oliver Sacks case, and it follows the same narrative arc - miracle recovery, traumatic adjustment, wellness, relapse, last-minute uplift. Irwin Winkler handles this checklist with catatonic gracelessness, weighting scenes with lead-ballast epiphanies (you don't always see with your eyes; even the sighted can live in darkness). Earnest and embarrassing performances only compound the constipated TV movie tone and the humdrum cinematography.

NOTTING HILL (15)

Julia Roberts plays Anna Scott - big Hollywood star - and Hugh Grant is divorce bookshop owner William. Writer Richard Curtis packs the duo's predictable on-off romance with cloying set-ups. Grant relies on exaggerated social clumsiness - a tendency that grows uglier by the day.

DENNIS LIM

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