The Weekend Australian - Review - - Film -

Nim’s Is­land ( PG): A rol­lick­ing out­door ad­ven­ture in which Jodie Fos­ter plays a shy au­thor search­ing for one of her ador­ing young read­ers ( Abi­gail Bres­lin), stranded on a re­mote is­land. Shot in Queens­land and based on Wendy Orr’s novel, the film has a naive ex­u­ber­ance that will con­quer reser­va­tions about plot and char­ac­ter. — Evan Wil­liams

Our crit­ics avoid

The Spi­der­wick Chron­i­cles ( PG): An ex­cep­tional cast, in­clud­ing the tal­ented Fred­die High­more, and fine pro­duc­tion val­ues give some dis­tinc­tion to this at­tempt to com­bine a fan­tas­tic sub­ject in­volv­ing fairies and gob­lins with a re­al­is­tic tale of chil­dren whose par­ents have sep­a­rated. The con­den­sa­tion of five short books works well. — David Stratton

Lars and the Real Girl ( PG): In this strangely touch­ing com­edy from USbased Aus­tralian di­rec­tor Craig Gillespie, a loner ( Ryan Gosling) falls in love with a life- sized sex doll and wins the hearts of a small com­mu­nity. A brave idea, with some in­sight and ten­der­ness, but too much rep­e­ti­tion, too many laboured jokes and a weak end­ing. — E. W.

St Trinian’s ( M): Twenty- eight years af­ter the pre­vi­ous St Trinian’s com­edy, the naughty school­girls orig­i­nally in­car­nated by car­toon­ist Ron­ald Searle re­turn to the screen in rea­son­ably good form, with plenty of pop- cul­ture jokes and cheer­ful vul­gar­ity. Ru­pert Everett camps it up in dual roles as the head­mistress and her brother, and Colin Firth is a good straight man. — D. S.

The Se­cret of the Grain ( La Graine et le Mulet) ( M): French di­rec­tor Ab­del­latif Kechiche’s film about the lives of a North African Arab fam­ily in France is dis­tin­guished by Habib Bo­u­fares’s deeply af­fect­ing per­for­mance as a re­trenched dock worker seek­ing a new life in busi­ness. This hu­mane, beau­ti­ful film is marred by long di­gres­sions. — E. W.

Semi- Pro ( M): The fourth of Will Fer­rell’s sports films, this one about a strug­gling bas­ket­ball team try­ing to stay in the ma­jor league in 1976, is not only the least amus­ing, it’s not funny at all, un­less you find a wrestling bear laugh­able. The usu­ally re­li­able Fer­rell has come a crop­per. — D. S.

Global Hay­wire ( M): Car­toon­ist Bruce Petty has writ­ten and di­rected a brave fea­ture- length doc­u­men­tary about eco­nomic glob­al­i­sa­tion and con­cluded that the world is in trou­ble. Many bold and im­por­tant ideas are lost in this la­bo­ri­ous com­bi­na­tion of an­i­ma­tion, live ac­tion and in­ter­views, and it’s a big dis­ap­point­ment from the di­rec­tor of the Os­car- win­ning Leisure ( 1976). — E. W.

How She Move ( M): The plot is as old as the hills but the latest film in the in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar step- danc­ing genre has en­ergy to spare and an ap­peal­ing cast of young play­ers. It’s a pity that in this Cana­dian pro­duc­tion the al­limpor­tant dance se­quences are so slop­pily filmed. — D. S.

Ex­u­ber­ant: Abi­gail Bres­lin in Nim’s Is­land

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