A down-and-out boxing coach, Darcy (Bob Hoskins), is found by one of his former fighters close to death in a disused railway carriage. Through flashbacks we follow the progress of the former trainer as he revives the local boxing club and tries to give a group of disaffected lads a sense of purpose. While Hoskins' approach sometimes borders on the sentimental, the youths - some professionals and some enlisted from the street - convey their apathy with resounding conviction. The raw black- and-white photography, thoughtful narration and beautifully-composed details transform this well-worn plot into a stylish and often moving work of art. A startling debut for its 25-year-old director, Shane Meadows.
South Park Vols 1 & 2 (15) Warner, retail (pounds 10.99) HHHH
In case you missed the commotion surrounding Trey Parker and Matt Stone's irreverent cartoon, South Park follows the antics of a group of scantily-drawn school children in snow-covered Colorado with a host of celebrities doing voice-overs - Isaac Hayes is a regular as the school chef who advises the kids on the dos and don'ts of "sweet lovin'". The sadistic idiosyncrasies of eight-year-olds are searingly documented - Cartman endures constant raillery regarding his obesity and is subject to anal probes - while the in-jokes include the regular assassination of Kenny. It may fall a little short of the acutely-observed satire of The Simpsons, but these four episodes are worthy of your attention.
Un Air de Famille (15) Tartan, rental HHHH
Henri's wife has just left him, though he fails to elicit any sympathy from his mother as she flutters around his vainglorious brother, Phillippe, who is agonising over a potentially humiliating television appearance. Their sister, Betty, stirs up the disputes with her stinging comments while provoking her lover with talk of a new boyfriend. This witty drama by Cedric Klapisch views its protagonists through steamed- up windows, basement hatches and grubby wine glasses as long-held disputes bubble to the surface. Writers Agnes Jaoui and Jean-Pierre Bacri - who also take two of the lead roles - have made little effort to develop the filmic possibilities, and that simplicity is at the heart of the film's appeal.
A Life Less Ordinary (15) PolyGram, rental, HH
Danny Boyle's well-intentioned romantic comedy is sprawlingly incoherent. Robert (Ewan McGregor) is a cleaner who is made redundant in favour of a robot. When he confronts the boss, events spin out of control and the fat-cat's daughter, Celine (Cameron Diaz), offers herself as a hostage. Meanwhile, a pair of angels (Holly Hunter and Delroy Lindo) are threatened with eternal life on Earth unless they unite Robert and Celine romantically. There is little of the sharp plotting that Boyle mastered in Shallow Grave and Trainspotting. The juxtaposition of dream sequences, a bank robbery, celestial bodies and a silly plasticine animation at the end, fail to make amends for the inconsistent plot.Reuse content