8:00 PM, 9th November, 2012
In The Watch, Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill and British comedian Richard Ayoade play four regular guys who find their humdrum existence in the suburbs excruciatingly boring. Surrounded by routine and utter ordinariness, they take it upon themselves to inject some excitement into their lives by forming a neighbourhood watch group. At first it's only an excuse to escape their respective families one night a week, but they soon find that being able to perform citizens' arrests, abuse miscreant teenagers and wear cool embroidered jackets definitely has its perks.
Things take a turn for the extra-terrestrial, however, when they accidentally discover that aliens not only exist - they're living right next door! Before they know it, their town has become overrun by aliens posing as ordinary suburbanites, and it's up to the four of them to save their neighbourhood - and the world - from total annihilation.
Hollywood 'Frat Pack' members Stiller, Vaughn and Hill - whose recent comedies have been admittedly pretty hit-or-miss - are at the top of their game here, delivering a hysterical dose of their signature (read: sophomoric) brand of improvisational humour that's a perfect fit for the film's ludicrous plot. Odd-one-out Ayoade doesn't fare too badly either, acquitting himself nicely in his first major Hollywood role. But if seeing four talented comedians fighting aliens isn't your idea of fun, then I'd probably recommend you sit this one out. For everyone else, The Watch is an outrageously rowdy ride you won't want to miss.
9:57 PM, 9th November, 2012
In this long-awaited sophomore feature from the directors of Little Miss Sunshine, Paul Dano plays Calvin, a young novelist who published his much-lauded first book at the age of 19 and is now struggling to produce his second at 29. Taking the advice of his therapist, he begins hammering out a detailed outline for a character in an effort to cure his writer's block. Naming her Ruby Sparks, Calvin is immediately inspired and, before long, smitten. The more he writes about his imaginary muse, the more he falls in love with her, but it's not until she appears in the flesh (Kazan) one morning that he realises just how good a writer he is.
Somehow, Ruby has materialised in the real world believing that she is Calvin's girlfriend - a state of affairs that he is more than happy to accept, once he has recovered from his initial panic attack, and assured himself that others can see her too. Ruby turns out to be exactly as Calvin has written her, and is the perfect girl for him, especially since her actions and moods appear to be dictated by whatever he writes about her.
Much like Calvin's creation, Ruby Sparks is a charming and inventive film that you won't be able to help falling in love with. Despite its fantastical premise, the film is grounded in universal truths that ultimately help it tap into that emotional sweet spot that all romantic films attain to, but few - the beautiful Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind being one other example - ever reach.