Swingers (15), Fox, rental, 26 January

Doug Liman's sparkling directorial debut follows a few beleaguered days in the life of wannabe actor Mike (an excellent performance from the film's writer, Jon Favreau) who, having left his girlfriend for Hollywood, receives lessons in love from his equally aspiring friends. Revolving around Mike's social inadequacy, the film follows their rakish efforts to "be money" (be cool) and seduce "pretty babies" (attractive women) in a series of ghastly LA bars. This quest for notoriety is also seen in their stuttering careers - Charles (Alex Desert) cannot tell his parents that he failed to get a part in Deep Space Nine, while Trent pursues a job as a theme- park Goofy. In turns despondent and optimistic, Swingers forms a warm, witty and observant portrait of young hopefuls with the odds stacked against them. HHHH

A Further Gesture (15), Film Four, rental 26 January

The ever morose Stephen Rea plays Sean Dowd, an IRA terrorist who escapes from a Belfast prison and tries to build a new life for himself in New York. After meeting a pretty Latino girl (Rosana Pastor) and her heavily moustached brother, Dowd finds himself embroiled in a ludicrous plot to assassinate a Guatemalan gangster. After a promising opening sequence, Robert Dornhelm's film soon slides into that old "he killed my father" routine. Although it professes to be about terrorism, the political pasts of its protagonists are never revealed and their morality is never explored. What remains is an extremely sketchy plot. HH

Michael (PG), Columbia, retail pounds 14.99, 26 January

A saccharine comedy from Nora Ephron with John Travolta as the beer-bellied seraph. Jaded journalist Frank Quinlan (John Hurt) has no interest in women until he receives a letter from an elderly lady who claims to be living with an angel. Dorothy (Andie MacDowell), an alleged "angel expert", is sent to assist Frank with his investigation. Travolta's irreverent rendering makes the film watchable as he reveals some less-than-angelic habits - slurping his cornflakes, scratching his testicles and slouching about in his underwear - though the burgeoning romance between Dorothy and Frank is too sickly for words. HH