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The Independent Culture
Practical Magic (12)

Warner, rental H

A Witches of Eastwick meets The Exorcist, Practical Magic sees Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman as two mismatched sisters raised in a long line of witches and, according to a family curse, hexing on any man unlucky enough to fall in love with them. Dianne West and Stockard Channing are winning as their eccentric aunts, Kidman and Bullock offer few surprises and Aidan Quinn is dispiritingly lethargic as a potential suitor. As if the holes in the plot aren't bad enough, the film cannot decide whether it is out to horrify, amuse or serve as a special effects vehicle.

The Wisdom of Crocodiles (18) Entertainment, rental HH

In his efforts to prove that vampire movies don't have to be tacky, director Po-Chih Leong's stylised picture ends up being too weird to provide any entertainment. Jude Law plays the medical researcher, who cannot live without drinking the blood of women but is in desperate need for human intimacy. He finds himself in the midst of a personal crisis when faced with the prospect of sucking the life out of Elina Lowensohn's structural engineer. While Law is suitably tragic as the lovelorn blood-vampire, the pretentiously surreal script makes it difficult to take events seriously.

The Horse Whisperer (15) Buena Vista, retail HH

Ostensibly, The Horse Whisperer tells the story of a man who heals the psychological wound of a young girl scarred by a riding accident, though actor-director Robert Redford's representation has more similarities to The Taming of the Shrew. Kristin Scott Thomas plays a headstrong magazine editor with more attachment to her mobile phone than her ailing daughter, though after some counselling from Redford's Tom Booker, she is soon acquainted with the kitchen stove and shovels manure with gusto. Redford extols the virtues of country living, yet by the end we are no wiser about horse psychology.

Mad City (15) Warner, retail HH

When a disgruntled museum security guard (John Travolta) takes hostages in an attempt to get his job back, Dustin Hoffman's news hound spots a career opportunity. As the crisis escalates, Hoffman volunteers himself as Travolta's adviser, simultaneously securing himself the exclusive story. Disappointingly, Costa Gavras's critique on the press seems more measured by the change in Hoffman's sidekick than the cack-handed reporting. With the application of a spot of lipstick, she goes from bespectacled cub reporter to suited media bitch. Not bad for two day's work.

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