CATCH ME IF YOU CAN: Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hanks, Christopher Walken. Director: Steven Spielberg.

You’ve got to hand it to young Leo. If you were looking to overcome a blip in an acting career and relaunch yourself, you’d be hard pressed to do much better than hook up with directing legends such as Scorsese and Spielberg for back-to-back movies in front of the film-going public.

While he got a little lost within the pomp and ambition of Gangs of New York, as well as over-shadowed by Daniel Day-Lewis’ bravura performance as Butcher Bill, DiCaprio is perfect here in a colourful piece of cinematic confectionary based on a true story.

Young conman Frank W. Abagnale worked as a doctor, a lawyer, and as a co-pilot for a major airline company – all before reaching his 21st birthday. As well as a master of deception, Frank (DiCaprio) was also a clever forger, whose skill at check fraud netted him millions of dollars in stolen funds, and made him the youngest man to figure on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list.

Looking more as his fan base remembers him from his Titanic days – slim and smiling rather than the pumped-up scowl of Gangs – DiCaprio takes us smoothly through Abagnale’s character arc, from immature charm through to the pathos of despair, in a well-crafted performance.

Doggedly chasing him through Spielberg’s nostaglic image of 1960s America is Tom Hanks as FBI agent Carl Hanratty. At least for Leo there’s no danger of scene stealing by a co-star here, as Hanks doesn’t really stretch himself at any point, content to rely on screen presence rather than any great insight into the character.

The director makes sure it runs as a bright and fluffy caper. But it’s so frothy that, although fun and lively, it’s also somewhat inconsequential.

THE BANGER SISTERS: Starring Goldie Hawn, Susan Sarandon, Geoffrey Rush. Director: Bob Dolman

Goldie Hawn and Susan Sarandon spark up a great on-screen chemistry as former good-time groupies who used to play a key role in the backstage requirements of every rock group passing through LA.

But now, years later, Sarandon has reinvented herself as a suburban housewife, and is not best pleased to find Hawn standing on her doorway, her fellow sister-in-sin dressed in leather trousers and skimpy top and about to reveal all of her raunchy past.

Will she quickly throw Hawn out on her ear? Or will she rediscover her joy for living, regain the youthful spirit that has been crushed by a life in suburbia and finally prove a match for her spoilt, stroppy teenage daughters, who can’t believe mum has ever been to a gig, never mind been intimate with a succession of rock gods?

Hhmmm. Well, the script is nothing if not predictable, but the two leads really bounce off each other well amid a welter of sarcasm and put-downs.


ABOUT SCHMIDT: Jack Nicholson, Kathy Bates, Dermot Mulroney. Director: Alexander Payne

Jack Nicholson scooped a Golden Globe with this clever character role in a subtle black comedy. Saggy and morose, Warren Schmidt makes Victor Meldrew look the life and soul of a party. After he’s forced into retirement and his wife passes away, Schmidt feels quite lost. So he sets out in his motor home to try and convince his daughter not to marry her fiance.

It takes acting and directing of the highest calibre to draw the humour out of what could be a pathetic loser, which is why we’re in safe hands with Alexander Payne, the man behind the biting Election, as writer/director. He’s got Nicholson to tone down some of those trademark mannerisms, and uncovered a top-rate performance as a result.

I SPY: Starring Owen Wilson, Eddie Murphy, Famke Janssen, Malcolm McDowell. Director: Betty Thomas

Tired Hollywood execs just can’t stop raiding TV’s archives, it seems, bringing us this formulaic team-up movie based on the 60s show that featured Bill Cosby.

Owen Wilson and Eddie Murphy are thrown together as a bumbling American agent and a boxing champ to save the world from Malcom McDowell in an average spy spoof no-brainer.

It’s an OK pairing, but lacks the chemistry of Wilson’s previous team-up with Jackie Chan in Shanghai Noon, in a film that best rates as ‘agreeable:

CHICAGO: Starring Catherine Zeta-Jones, Renee Zellweger, Richard Gere. Director: Rob Marshall.

Showtunes, sleaze, satire and sex – Chicago whisks all these up into a heady mix in an all-star version of the jailhouse musical set in the roaring 20s.

Set in the roaring 20s, nightclub singer Velma Kelley awaits trial for killing her cheating husband and sister. But her celebrity status is threatened by the arrival of Roxie Hart, in prison for shooting her unfaithful lover. Through a series of hot and sweaty, smash-and-grab musical numbers, the girls battle for aquittal and top billing, aided by slimy, charming lawyer Billy Flynn (Richard Gere, looking like he’s having the time of his life).

In our ‘fame at any cost’, celebrity obsessed society, Chicago has never been more relevant. It’s proving a favourite at awards ceremonies, with the showy musical spectacular nominated for 12 Baftas this week. Having already picked up three Golden Globes, it’s consolidating a position as an Oscar front-runner.

Mark Miseldine