VIDEO REVIEWS

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The Independent Culture
You've seen it already in Four Weddings and a Funeral. Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy wins girl back by stuttering a lot. Yes, Hugh Grant is back, but this time he's a bookseller in Portobello Road. Once again, the love interest is American, though Julia Roberts is a vast improvement on Andie MacDowell. She plays Anna Scott, a world-famous and grossly overpaid actress (geddit?) longing for a normal life. Notting Hill is your average fairytale romance - Roberts's Lady to Grant's floppy-fringed Tramp - made more interesting by some classy one-liners. Just don't inspect the plot too closely.

Notting Hill (15)

Warner, rental & DVD retail HHHH

Eternity and a Day (PG)

Artificial Eye, rental HHHH

Theo Angelopoulos's meditative picture sees a writer suffering from a terminal disease and taking stock of his life. Memories of his wife become entwined with his efforts to help a young refugee from Albania. He realises that his devotion to this work made him an exile from life and he now seeks to revisit moments in his past via memories. His stooped figure walks seamlessly from his grey present to a sun-drenched past where his family crave his love. As the title suggests, this is a slow-moving film, but there are some deeply affecting scenes that will haunt you after the credits have rolled.

Babe: Pig in the City (U)

Universal, retail HH

If Babe had you snivelling into your handkerchief, Babe: Pig in the City will have you reaching for some pills and a bottle of Scotch. Within minutes, the nice Farmer Hoggett is in traction and his wife is accused of drug-trafficking, bullied by bikers and thrown into jail. Babe, meanwhile, discovers the trials of urban living as he is mauled by a terrier, abused by an orang-utan and threatened with being turned into a pork pie. This dark sequel to Babe doesn't possess half the charm of its predecessor, but it contains brutal truths about man's inhumanity and will hold plenty of appeal for sadists.

Meet Joe Black (12)

Universal, retail H

Under no circumstances meet Joe Black, since he is possibly the most boring man alive. Or dead, for that matter. Otherwise known as the Grim Reaper, Black (Brad Pitt) takes over the body of a young man killed in a car crash. This Dr Death has standards, though. Not only does he choose a bronzed catalogue-man's body, but he inveigles his way into the home of a media tycoon who also happens to have a beautiful daughter, an enviable art collection and house the size of a small town. Even if you can handle the concept of Death falling in love, at three hours long, this film will sap your will to live.

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