LUCK (season 1), MA15+, HBO
EVERYTHING'S in a name: this fictional series is about horse racing. It was cancelled in its second season after a third horse died during the making of the show.
The program's pedigree is impeccable: produced by David Milch (Deadwood) and Michael Mann (Ali) and starring Dustin Hoffman, Dennis Farina, Nick Nolte and a handful of other familiar faces.
There's a lot going on, most of it with criminal overtones.
The racing scenes, at Santa Ana in the Los Angeles area, are a key part of the show.
But characters almost seem like caricatures at times. And the show doesn't flow easily, lost in what the makers think we should know and heavily laden with slang terminology about racing and crime.
It came with high expectations, but didn't reach them.
- Jim Kellar
GAME CHANGE, M, HBO, 113mins
THE chemistry of Woody Harrelson, Ed Harris and Julianne Moore makes this dramatic representation of Sarah Palin stepping into the national spotlight riveting.
Even though we know where the story goes, to have it broken down, piece by piece, moment by torrid moment, makes for exceptional drama. Moore doesn't miss a trick as Palin; she looks and sounds so much like the real thing. Harrelson plays the role of key political adviser Steve Schmidt, the guy who made the call to bring Palin on board. His reaction to realising that the risky choice was a bad one plays out over the final days of the 2008 US presidential campaign in agonising detail. Ed Harris as Republican presidential candidate John McCain is just as interesting- a good guy looking at the big picture who sees his dream slip away.
The movie is based on part of a bestselling book by the same title, and provides an uncanny insight into a major political blunder.
- Jim Kellar
TED (MA), Universal, 106 minutes
THIS is a comedy of male arrested development, in which Mark Wahlberg plays a low-key thirty-something Peter Pan and spends most of his time hanging out with his best friend from childhood — a teddy bear who miraculously acquired the gift of speech one Christmas many years ago.
Wahlberg's character, John, has a remarkably understanding girlfriend, Lori (Mila Kunis), whose endless tolerance makes her seem almost as much of a fantasy figure as a talking toy. But she is running out of patience and delivers an ultimatum: it's her or the teddy.
Seth MacFarlane, creator of Family Guy, co-wrote and directed this movie, his live-action feature debut; he also provides the voice of the bear. Ted might be crass and boorish, but he's also John's intimate buddy.
It's a "boy who never grew up" tale that doesn't break any comic new ground.
- Philippa Hawker
WINNERS of Go Back To Where You Came From DVDs are: Meagan Hay, Hamilton; Lyn Murdoch, Beresfield; Rebecca Barnes, Raymond Terrace; Nicole Guyder, Bolton Point; Louise Waugh, Kitchener.