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The Big Lebowski (18)

Available to rent now

Jeff "the Dude" Lebowski (Jeff Bridges), a befuddled slacker, ought never to have ventured from his second home, the bowling alley. The moment he does, his eponymous millionaire namesake involves the Dude in an attempt to free his kidnapped wife in the Coen brothers' dazzling comic adventure. Before long, LA pornographers and gangs of German nihilists are threatening his life, a situation which the Dude's buddy, the 'Nam-obsessed, borderline psychotic Walter (John Goodman) can only exacerbate.

Is this is an elaborate Coen joke, or a sneaky device to pack in a load of juicy parts? For that is all it would be - a few delicious sketches - were it not for the role of the Dude himself, perfectly filled by Jeff Bridges. In a film of otherwise heartless fun, the Coens actually seem to care about the guy.

The Apostle (12)

available to rent from Fri

When the wrath of eccentric evangelist preacher, Sonny Dewey (Robert Duvall), is brought down upon the head of his ex-wife's new partner in the form of a baseball bat, Sonny skips town and winds up in a Louisiana backwater. The citizens of Bay Boutte have never seen anything like the Apostle E F, as Sonny now calls himself, and fall under his spell.

You keep waiting for Duvall's rambling character study to succumb to one of its sub-plots: Sonny's enduring love for his ex (Farrah Fawcett) and his kids; his burgeoning relationship with a local radio station employee (Miranda Richardson); or the antagonistic presence of a local redneck (Billy Bob Thornton). Instead, Duvall, in his second feature as director, foregoes the predictable plot complications to work wonders and produce a generous, non-judgemental portrait of a seriously unfashionable calling and milieu: a Deep South preacher-man.