VIDEO / Last-Minute Christmas Choice

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The Independent Culture
FILMS

Toto the Hero (Electric, pounds 16.99). An old man, swapped at birth with the boy next door, dreams of elaborate revenge. Jaco Van Dormael's debut is one of the brightest of recent years, mixing a love story with a mystery thriller to produce a clever comedy that sings along.

Delicatessen (Electric, pounds 19.99, includes short film, pig pin and booklet). Cannibal movie of the year. Shot like a cartoon-strip and almost certainly edited with a meat cleaver, this warped little tale is set in a grim future and bulges with black gags. Good with Christmas pudding.

Dances with Wolves (PolyGram, pounds 12.99; long version, with CD, pounds 19.99). White soldier goes native among American Indians. Hard to know if anyone could (or should) ever make a morally clean Western, but Kevin Costner has a go. Simple it may be, but it's a fine spectacle, unless you happen to be a bison.

The Commitments (Fox, pounds 9.99). The best all-round choice: foul- mouthed but strangely innocent, Alan Parker's story of Dublin soul bristles with spiky characters, and by the end there's no stopping the tunes. They should release it on loop-tape.

The Addams Family (Columbia, pounds 10.99). Cinema update of the television classic. Doesn't go anywhere, but Anjelica Huston has a blissful

time as the queen of cruelty, and the jokes are lively and deathly enough to maintain the pace.

Batman Returns (Warner, pounds 10.99). More crime-cracking in Gotham City. No Jack Nicholson, but plenty of Michelle Pfeiffer in a fur-tight catsuit; no point to the plot, but a great mechanical duck; no clue as to Batman's character, but enough loud bangs to stun the children into silence, which is surely the point.

Edward Scissorhands (Fox, pounds 10.99). This is more like it: Tim Burton, far away from Batman and into a timeless, jokey world of dayglo houses and mad inventors. Johnny Depp is the boy who cuts at he wants to hold, Dianne Wiest his adorable foster mother. The best and oddest new fairy-tale in years. Anthony Lane

FOR CHILDREN

Home Alone (Fox, pounds 10.99). Pay-day for child's play in the third-highest grossing film of all time. Macaulay Culkin, stranded, foils a pair of burglars with his toys. More charming than its sequel. Also being shown on the Movie Channel, Christmas Day, 5-7pm. Tom Donnelly

Cinderella (Disney, pounds 14.99). The usual Disney mixture of sharp and soppy, but somehow it all hangs together. Forget the good guys - wet Cinders and her meaningless prince - and go for the spooky stepmother and galumphing sisters. Beware, children may want to know why kitchen mice work overtime for no fee; have your answer ready. A L

MUSIC

A Starry Night with Simply Red (Warner, pounds 10.99). Soppy title belies upbeat content. Highlights from their excellent, just-ending tour, memorable for Mick Hucknall's soaring notes, flying hair and boundless energy. And they say it'll be four years before the next tour.

Abba Gold (PolyGram, pounds 12.99). Pop from the days when tunes came first. Good to see the real thing, complete with white sateen boiler- suits, among the clones that have sprung up in 1992. There's only one Agnetha Faltskog. Rosanna de Lisle

COMEDY

The Complete Fawlty Towers (BBC, four tapes, pounds 11.99 each; or pounds 29.99 the set at W H Smith). John Cleese's masterclass in controlled anarchy. Worth buying at least one tape just to savour the relish with which Prunella Scales says 'Basil]'

Rowan Atkinson Live (PMI, pounds 12.99). Ol' Rubber Cheeks on stage. You know it's not brand-new because his sidekick is a rather podgy Angus Deayton. But the jokes age well. Jack Hughes

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