VIDEO REVIEWS

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The Independent Culture
The Truman Show (15)

CIC, rental HHHH

Peter Weir's picture continues where Noel's House Party left off. Truman Burbank (a twitchy Jim Carrey) is the average working husband who talks to himself in the mirror, looks at holiday brochures under his desk at work and fantasises about an old college flame. What he doesn't know is that his activities are being broadcast to millions of people in the world's most audacious soap opera. The people that surround Truman are carefully prepared actors and his home town of Seahaven is a giant set in which events are orchestrated by Ed Harris's God figure, Christof. In taking pot-shots at issues of personal paranoia, media saturation and American parochialism, Weir's unsettling movie is a rare treat from Hollywood and a classic of its time.

There's Something About Mary (15)

Fox, rental HHH

This comedy from the writer-director duo Peter and Bobby Farrelly wilfully tramples over the conventions of good taste with gags involving masturbation, genital deformity, the mentally disabled and cruelty to animals. Ben Stiller plays the nerdy Ted who bungles his Prom date with the local beauty, Mary (Cameron Diaz), when he has a hideous accident with his zipper. Thirteen years later, Ted is still agonising over the incident, so he sets out in search of his near-date with the help of Matt Dillon's dodgy private detective. By turns funny and tiresome, the Farrelly Brothers' picture is essentially an average love story - three guys vying for the same girl - that has become notorious by virtue of its smut content.

Majorettes in Space (18)

BFI, rental HHH

Those who thought that the short film was inferior to the feature will be foxed by this inspired bundle by up-and-coming directors, subtitled "Five Gay Tales from France". Highlights include "Summer Dress" and "A Little Death" by young director Francois Ozon. "A Little Death" is the oddly compassionate story of a young artist and his boyfriend who pass the time by photographing one another at the point of sexual climax. As his estranged father lies in hospital, the artist finally bonds with him by taking naked snapshots of him in the throes of death. "A Summer Dress" is a rib-tickling sampler that concerns a teenager bored with his boyfriend's "stupid fag songs". Dialogue is sparse in both films, with Ozon favouring a more expressionist technique.

Sphere (12)

Warner, retail HH

Recycling the plot of myriad sci-fi flicks including Ghostbusters, 2001 and Alien, Barry Levinson's risible special-effects vehicle is based on a novel by Michael Crichton. Dustin Hoffman, Samuel L Jackson and Sharon Stone play a group of scientists who are dispatched to the seabed to investigate a crashed alien spacecraft. They come across a luminescent sphere that forces anyone who passes through it to confront their darkest fears. "Hello, how are you?" it asks its guests. "My name is Jerry." But this is about as far as Jerry's conversation goes, before the scientists suffer bouts of paranoia and start plotting against one another. A feeble script and lacklustre performances make this a weak example of the over-subscribed genre.

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