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RAY'S PIX: Donner’s ‘Timeline’ is a fun time-travel romp

RAY'S PIX: Donner’s ‘Timeline’ is a fun time-travel romp

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Love old or unusual movies but never know when they’re on? Here are several I recommend.

Timeline (2003): One of the dopiest Michael Crichton thrillers makes for a dopey but fun time-travel romp. Paul Walker stars as a young archaeology student who uses secret cutting-edge technology to travel back in time to retrieve his girlfriend’s father (Billy Connolly) who is stuck in 1500s France. Inconveniently, he and his group (which includes Gerard Butler and Frances O’Connor) land right in the middle of a war between the French and the English. They do their best to fight, run and con their way into various situations to try to save the professor. If this all sounds dumb, it is. But since it was directed by the legendary Richard Donner (Superman, Ladyhawke), it’s quite watchable and fun.

Now streaming on HBO MAX.

Friends With Benefits (2011): Justin Timberlake seems less interested in being a movie star lately, which is a shame because I think he’s really got the chops. He’s fine opposite the talented Mila Kunis in this topical and charming rom-com. They play friends who are both driven, successful professionals who don’t think they have time for a dating life. They decide to add sex to their friendship to see what happens. You will not be shocked to hear that this complicates things. The eye-popping supporting cast includes Emma Stone, Richard Jenkins, Patricia Clarkson, Bryan Greenberg, Woody Harrelson and Andy Samberg.

Now streaming on Netflix.

Bob Roberts (1992): Not only do I love documentaries, but I love a lot of fake documentaries. Here’s one of the best. Tim Robbins wrote, directed and plays the title role in this look at an arch-conservative folk singer who turns his hand to politics and makes a run for the Senate. A bewildering parade of excellent actors pops up along the way, including Helen Hunt, Alan Rickman, Giancarlo Esposito, Ray Wise, Harry Lennix, David Strathairn, James Spader and Pamela Reed. The film is almost 30 years old, and it’s a good reminder that questionable tactics in American politics are nothing new.

Now streaming on Amazon Prime.

Never Trust a Gambler (1951): More confused film noir! Don’t let the lame title put you off. This is a dandy, if confused, little crime romp. It stars the wonderful Dane Clark as an ex-husband trying to dodge a subpoena to appear as a witness in a murder trial. He shows up at the house of his ex-wife (the not particularly talented Cathy O’Donnell) and begs for her help. Why is the film confused? Because it can’t decide (until near the very end) who the main character is: Clark or O’Donnell. There is a terrific turn by the saucy Myrna Dell as the ex-roommate, and you can even catch a quick glimpse of Amanda Blake at the police station. What the film excels at in its short running time is ratcheting up the tension bit by bit.

Now streaming on YouTube.

Trivia Question 892: In what popular film did Justin Timberlake excel playing a real-life person?

Answer to Trivia Question 890: Tom Hanks briefly played filmmaker Georges Méliès in the wonderful HBO miniseries From the Earth to the Moon.

Bryan native Ray Ivey is a writer and movie fan in Hollywood, Calif. He would love to hear from you at You can also visit his blog at

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