The American
   Director: Anton Corbijn, Focus Features, Rated MA, 105 mins

Dutch director Anton Corbijn’s adaptation of Martin Booth’s novel titled A Very Private Gentleman could not be described as a fast paced action thriller, and George Clooney’s role does not in any way resemble a Jason Bourne character.
   Instead Clooney (Michael Clayton) plays Jack, a professional assassin who, following an attempt on his life in a snow-filled region of Sweden, hides out in an Italian town awaiting instructions for his next job from his boss, Pavel (Belgian actor Johan Leysen).
   Posing as a photographer, Jack receives his next assignment which is to construct a special weapon for a Belgian assassin named Mathilde (Dutch actress Thekla Reuten).
   In the course of his painstaking work on the weapon Jack strikes up an unusual relationship with the town priest, Father Benedetto (played by Italian stage and screen veteran Paolo Bonacelli) as well as with a local prostitute, Clara (beautifully portrayed by leading Italian actress Violante Placido) whom he ultimately falls in love with - against his boss’s instruction of “No friends”.
   Unfortunately Corbin’s storyline is somewhat disrupted by too much screen time being devoted to Clooney’s meticulous construction of the weapon, not to mention his personal relationship with Clara.
   Corbijn, a music video director, whose previous work included the powerful biography of singer Ian Curtis in Control (2007), delivers a somewhat slow and subdued insight into the life of a lonely assassin who having met the woman he loves now wants out of his business, realising that his days as an older assassin are numbered.
   Even with Clooney’s powerful presence both as an actor and producer, Corbin’s sedate attempt at a 60’s European thriller (in the vein of The Quiller Memorandum) falls somewhat short of offering much action or intrigue-in spite of including a distinguished European cast, an interesting storyline and some scenic settings that capture the beautiful images of the Italian village and countryside.
VIC'S VERDICT:       3 Rubber Stamps

Grown Ups
   Release date: November 2010
   Director: Dennis Dugan, Sony Pictures, Rated PG, 102 mins

Sony’s just-released DVD Grown-Ups has some similarities to Hot Tub Time Machine, especially in the storyline that involves five friends and former team mates who reunite years later to honour the passing of their childhood basketball coach.
   With their wives (Maria Bello, Salma Hayek and Maya Rudolph) and kids in tow they spend the Fourth of July holiday weekend together at the lake house where they celebrated their championship years earlier, picking up where they left off and discovering why growing older doesn't mean growing up.
   Director Dugan teams up again with actor/writer Adam Sandler and together with the rest of the cast of well known comedians (Kevin James, Chris Rock, Rob Schneider and David Spade) portray the five friends whose hilarious antics over the weekend clearly show that they haven’t really grown-up.
   This highly entertaining movie has a number of really funny scenes which will appeal to both older children and the whole family alike and together with a hilarious array of bonus features is one DVD that should be part of a home collection.
VIC'S VERDICT:       4 Rubber Stamps

Toy Story 3
   Release date: November 2010
   Director: Lee Unkrich, Walt Disney Pictures, Rated G, 103 mins

Toy Story 3, the long awaited DVD from Disney/Pixar is finally being released on 17 November 2010.
   The creators of the beloved Toy Story franchise reopen the toy box and reacquaint movie fans with the delightful world of their favourite toy characters in this thoroughly enjoyable movie.
   As Andy (voiced by John Morris) prepares to depart for college, Buzz (voiced by Tim Allen, Woody (Tom Hanks) and the rest of his toys are troubled about their uncertain future.
   Directed by Lee Unkrich, Toy Story 3 is both a comical and lively adventure where the toys are donated to a day care centre arriving in a room full of irreverent and untamed toddlers who can't wait to either bend or tear them apart.
   Besides introducing several new characters, Unkrich’s concept for his production (considered to be the finale to the highly successful Toy Story movies) is simply ingenious - using a children’s playground as a kind of an enclosure complete with a pink teddy bear (voiced by Ned Beatty) playing the warden and the toys planning a big breakout.
   It is hard to believe that it has been 11 years since Toy Story 2 but Unkrich has delivered an excellent successor incorporating bright colours and vivid animationinto his family oriented movie ensuring that it becomes the final chapter to this hallowed animation franchise.
   This is complemented by an amazing array of features that are included in the Disney/Pixar DVD.
   It is therefore no surprise to learn that Toy Story 3 is the Number One animated film of all time and a must in any home DVD collection.
VIC'S VERDICT:       5 Rubber Stamps

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