RECORDED DELIVERY

A critical guide to the week's videos
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The Independent Culture
Home For the Holidays (15) PolyGram, rental 23 Jun. Jodie Foster's second directorial outing is a loquacious but uninvolving exercise in festive family feuding. Extrapolating wildly but none too humorously on the idea that you can pick your friends but you can't choose your family, the film sees Holly Hunter's Claudia returning home to celebrate Thanksgiving with a dysfunctional clan which includes every poorly caricatured relation in the book. Claudia's batty auntie Geraldine Chaplin, chain-smoking mother Anne Bancroft and hyperactive brother Robert Downey Jr (looking as though he's by-passed the pumpkin pie for amphetamines) mug hysterically, and Foster piles on the sentiment but the movie remains as stodgy and unappetising as congealed Christmas pud.

The Crow: City of Angels (18) Buena Vista, rental, on release. Brandon Lee's on-set death ensured a certain amount of notoriety and box office success for The Crow, but this sequel is tragic in an altogether different way.

The Van (15) Fox Guild, rental 16 June. Stephen Frear's slight and sentimental movie is the third and weakest of the screen adaptations from Roddy Doyle's Barrytown trilogy. Following the misadventures of unemployed mates Bimbo (Donal O'Kelly) and Larry (Colm Meaney) as they do up and fall out over a clapped-out chip van, the film somehow contrives to be noisy and soppy in equal measures. Worse still, Doyle's mordant wit is watered down into jolly Oirish stereotypes who chuckle inordinately at their own, very ordinary jokes.

Sleepers (18) (above) PolyGram, rental 16 Jun. In Barry Levinson's relentlessly grim drama, four youngsters are propelled out of Hell's Kitchen and into the sheer hell of a reform school, run by sadistic guard Kevin Bacon. Despite some fine playing by the young leads in the first half, there's precious little else here to enjoy. Watching the boys being interminably raped, beaten and humiliated engenders an uncomfortable feeling somewhere between boredom and voyeurism, while the movie's later transformation into vengeful courtroom drama is confused and lacking in either suspense or catharsis. Nasty, brutish and banal.

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