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Howards End (PG; Curzon). Merchant-Ivory's third and most successful bite at the Forster apple: a complex tale of class distinction at a time (c 1910) when the old world was in crisis. Three families define the possibilities; the answer, as any fule kno, is 'only connect'. Emma Thompson won an Oscar; Anthony Hopkins also shines. Laurence Earle

The Crying Game (18; PolyGram). Neil Jordan's IRA thriller is only half as good as it's cracked up to be, but what a half. Set in Northern Ireland, with soft-hearted terrorist Stephen Rea ordered to execute soldier Forrest Whitaker, the first 30 minutes are brilliantly played and directed. When the action switches to London, however, the convoluted romance fails to convince. LE

Peter's Friends (15; Entertainment). There's nothing like old mates for opening up old wounds. Kenneth Branagh's include Emma Thompson and Stephen Fry - bumptious arties, who put on plays and airs at university, now reunited at Fry's country pile. It's a British Big Chill, with the frosty wit replaced by something softer and sillier. The friends left college years ago, but their jokes stayed there.