Film: Video watch

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Deconstructing Harry (18) Available to rent from Monday

YOU CAN forgive Woody Allen anything when he turns out films as gloriously witty as this. Over the course of a few days, middle-aged author Harry Block (Woody Allen) finds that his life, from which he takes particularly literal inspiration, is collapsing into his writing: an ex-lover is less than happy that their adulterous relationship is but thinly disguised in his latest best-seller; a literary groupie, whom Block realises he loves, announces her imminent marriage to a friend of his; the university which expelled him now wishes to honour Block for his work.

Few know better than Allen art's perilous reflections of life and, in owning up to those dangers here, he brings a delicious comic energy to Block's identity crisis and the film's self-reflexive structure. Allen cuts dizzyingly back and forth between Block's current excuse for a life and dramatisations of his heavily autobiographical fiction. The result is the funniest video of the year and a dazzling retort to those who think plundering one's personal life is an artistic cop-out.

She's So Lovely (15) Available to rent now

TRY AS it might to remind us of his late father's human insight, Nick Cassavetes's disjointed drama burns itself out too quickly to prove much of a testament. A passionate but doomed marriage between Eddy (Sean Penn) and Maureen (Robin Wright Penn) hits the buffers when the latter has her husband put away for his own good. Ten years later Eddy is freed, only to find that Maureen has kids and a new husband (John Travolta).

The script's treatment of Maureen's first marriage is far superior to its wildly erratic depiction of her second. Cassavetes Jnr seems to have realised this but instead of trying to repair the balance appears to pin his hopes to the opening 45 minutes in which, amidst filthy New York apartment blocks and grotty bars, Cassavetes gives the Penns their naturalistic heads. It's indulgent stuff, but far more confidently handled than the denouement in the suburbs a decade later.

Here, the tone veers awkwardly between domestic comedy and hip sleaziness. Harry Dean Stanton's laconic presence calms things down a bit - but not enough.

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