VIDEO REVIEWS

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The Independent Culture
Arlington Road (15)

Universal, rental HHH

Danger lurks in the pristine suburbs of Mark Pellington's paranoia thriller. Jeff Bridges' college professor is on to it, but he is having difficulty getting his girlfriend and his old FBI cronies to take him seriously. The opening scenes of Arlington Road are probably the most gripping of any this year and Bridges does a fine job of sustaining the tension. Tom Robbins is brilliantly menacing as the suspect neighbour with Joan Cusack as his grinning spouse. However, the plot becomes increasingly less convincing as clever, psychological intricacies are slowly sacrificed in favour of a Hollywood-style finale.

Waking Ned (12)

Fox Pathe, rental HHH

It may be an erroneous portrait of Irish life, but Kirk Jones's black comedy about the catastrophes that can befall lottery winners is hard to dislike. Ned is a salt-of-the-earth resident of Tullamore who suffers a heart attack on the realisation that he has won nearly pounds 7 million. On finding his body, a pair of septuagenarian scallywags (Ian Bannen and David Kelly) dream up an elaborate scheme to collect his winnings and share it out with the whole village. You know they could never get away with it, though their unscrupulous charm wins you over in the end.

There's Something About Mary (15) Fox, DVD retail 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 (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. By turns funny and tiresome, the film is a pretty average love story that has become notorious by virtue of its smut content.

The Last Days of Disco (15)

Warner, retail HHHH

It's the early 1980s and the disco scene is in its death throes. Whit Stillman invites us to observe a group of socialites as they dissect the zeitgeist. A club manager dumps his girlfriends by pretending to be gay, Mackenzie Austin scorns the social set-up that won't allow an adman into a club - while Chloe Sevigny's office clerk allows Kate Beckinsale to run her social life. Sevigny plays the gauche college graduate to perfection while Beckinsale hides her nastiness behind sugary hyperbole. But the real beauty lies in Stillman's detachment: the torpidity of his characters make them all the more compelling.

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