Film: Video Watch

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The X Files Movie (15), available to rent now

In which our heroes, Mulder and Scully (David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson) retire to Kent to take an evening course in crop-circle-making.

Not really, more's the pity. But you don't half wish creator, Chris Carter, could have let the director, Rob Bowman, stray from the spooks'n'spaceships formula for the show's big-screen outing.

It's the usual suspects: secret governments and aliens, this time in cahoots with a plan to recolonise the earth. What coherence there is, is down to the residual strength of the TV show's characterisation and its exploitation of millennial conspiracy mania. Bowman, however, departs from the television series in letting rip with the special effects: there's nothing coy about the depiction of parasitic aliens or their vast breeding- stations (both of which are rip-offs of Alien and that ropy Eighties serial, V).

High and Low (12), available to buy, pounds 15.99

You wouldn't have thought Akira Kurosawa would be an Ed McBain fan, but, sure enough, the American writer's novel is the source of this tense detective thriller. A boy is snatched in the grounds of a wealthy industrialist, Kingo Gondo (Toshiro Mifune), but it isn't long before everyone, kidnapper included, realises that it's not Gondo's son but his chauffeur's who's been taken by mistake. Regardless, the kidnapper maintains his demand for a ruinous ransom.

The first hour is given over to Gondo's quandary. He finds it difficult to show the same willingness to meet the kidnapper's demands when it transpires that it's not his own flesh and blood at risk.

Once the plight of the kidnapped child is brought to a head, however, Kurosawa moves from the sweaty theatre of Gondo's sitting-room to the streets of suburban Tokyo. It's a complete change in tone to the first hour or so.

The methodical ingenuity, as well as humanity, of the police sweep you along until an abrupt conclusion brings you up hard against the pitiful desperation of the kidnapper.

Metroland (18), available to rent now

Philip Saville's adaptation of Julian Barnes's novel is studiously crafted and thoroughly dull. It's 1977 and Chris (Christian Bale) doesn't know what panics him most: his mortgage, his marriage, his job or his child.

Bafflingly, Saville seems to think that Chris's dilemma is unexplored cinematic territory and he takes laborious pains to dramatise that old chestnut, responsibility vs desire.

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