Video reviews

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The Independent Culture
Taste of Cherry (PG) Artificial Eye, retail, pounds 15.99 HHHH

A middle-aged man scours the suburbs of Tehran for a suitable young victim in the opening scenes of Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami's heartfelt picture. Initial impressions that he is angling for a pick-up are dispelled as we realise that he is looking for someone to help him commit suicide. We watch him ride around talking to people en route and telling likely candidates of his grievous plan. Despite the film's slow pace, it never feels boring. Kiarostami directs deftly and with sympathy, managing to pluck out some of life's touching idiosyncrasies and offering enlightening notions on the value of human existence. Out of this seemingly depressing plot rises one of the most lyrical and life-affirming pictures of the year.

The Wishmaster (18) Columbia, rental H

A coat of stringy mucus covers Wes Craven's tacky horror flick that alights upon the mythology surrounding the Djinn in order to indulge in some gratuitous brain-sucking and dismembering. A nebulous antiquity expert (Tammy Lauren) is lumbered with the task of grappling with the powers of the ancient Djinn, a thousand-year-old genie who tricks people into making murderous wishes. One poor fool wishes that his annual party would go down in history. As a result, his guests are garroted by piano strings, impaled by giant shards of glass and skinned alive. This awful picture will entertain only those with a serious blood lust and serves as a powerful argumemt for the end of these so-called ironic slasher flicks.

Dark City (15) Entertainment, rental HHH

This fantasy thriller from Alex Proyas reveals a netherworld where sunlight is unknown and thousands of Nosferatu look-alikes glide around the streets at night resetting resident's memories and rearranging the architecture. Rufus Sewell becomes privy to their activities after waking up surrounded by corpses. After an experiment gone wrong, he is left in possession of both strange powers and a human mind and he is the only one that realises that the city is in the grip of an alien experiment. A perfectly cast Keifer Sutherland plays a limping madman who only just stops short of yelling "I want to take over the world" while Richard O'Brien's alien dictator is a sight for sore eyes. Unintentionally entertaining.

Spiceworld - The Movie Special Edition (PG) Polygram, retail, pounds 15.99 HHHH

Ginger, Posh, Scary, Sporty and Baby examine their celebrity status with a degree of success in what seems like an extended pop video. Some fare better than others. Sporty (Mel C) proves the most ballsy, Scary (Mel B) the loudest, Baby (Emma Bunton) the most philosophical, while Posh (Victoria Adams) seems completely incapable of stringing a sentence together. They question the nature of their manufactured personae, while cultivating them further. They offer erudite commentary on the paparazzi and Hollywood. Best of all they ridicule their own music. Stephen Fry has a good cameo as a judge who hauls them up in court and chastises them for producing a record that is "by no means as kicking as your last".