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From the Pole to the Equator (PG). Perhaps the single most welcome video release of the past year, this 1986 film was assembled by directors Yervant Gianikian and Angela Ricci Lucchi from the archives of the Italian documentary pioneer Luca Comerio. The original footage - of game hunters, missionaries in Africa, and First World War troops, among other subjects - is, in itself, remarkable. But what makes From the Pole to the Equator truly visionary, and an aesthetic and intellectual triumph, is the manner in which Gianikian and Ricci Lucchi have manipulated Comerio's films. The blotched, streaked early-20th-century film stock has been tinted (in vivid, shifting colours) and step-printed (to create a hypnotic, quasi- slow-motion effect). The result is a psychedelic travelogue of sorts, more gorgeous and purely sensuous than any contemporary big-budget spectacle could hope to be. And beyond that, it's a sobering, often chilling, meditation on human cruelty. Sufficiently distanced from the original images, it never moralises, yet continually calls attention to the imperial aspect of photography. Endlessly fascinating, this is a film that demands, and repays, close attention.

The Devil's Own (15). As woolly-headed as you'd expect of a Hollywood gloss on the Troubles, Alan J Pakula's thriller is the kind of film that signifies its Oirishness with a blast of uileann pipes and thinks nothing of casting Brad Pitt as an IRA gunman. Credible only when mute (and even then, barely), Pitt plays a Belfast terrorist who's taken in by an unsuspecting Irish-American cop (Harrison Ford). Wallowing in familiar moral dilemmas, the movie resorts periodically to earnest cliches. Warning Ford that happy endings are elusive, Pitt notes: "It isn't an American story; it's an Irish one." The same can hardly be said of this film.

Beavis and Butt-head Do America (12). A feature-length movie isn't the most flattering context for MTV's inbred kings of innuendo. For this cash- in showcase, creator Mike Judge has dumped the series' essential premise (lampooning pretentious music videos) and cobbled together an excuse for a plot that's sparked by the theft of Beavis and Butt-head's all-important television set. What follows is a cross-country odyssey that doesn't quite suck, but that's "huh huh, cool" for only about half an hour - ie, for the duration of an average Beavis and Butt-head episode. That said, there are ways in which this qualifies as the most original American road movie in years.

The Fifth Element (PG). In Luc Besson's 23rd-century universe of flying vehicles and Gaultier outfits, good wins out over evil - as does style over substance. Though too long and somewhat clumsy, this sci-fi extravaganza does at least have something approaching a sense of humour. Bruce Willis's cabbie is the nominal hero, but it's Besson's appetite for grotesquerie that's the real star. Both the production design and supporting cast are touched by madness. Gary Oldman's villain, maniacal even by Oldman standards, has the worst hair in film history, and stand-up comic Chris Tucker, as a rabid radio host, makes such an impression you feel he's in need of institutionalisation - or his own movie.

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