RECORDED DELIVERY

Palookaville (15), Fox, rental, 2 March

Quentin Tarantino has a lot to answer for - particularly the string of heist-gone-wrong thrillers currently invading our screens. Thankfully, Palookaville is of the classier variety and forsakes gratuitous gunfire and diamonds for social reality and bagels. Inspired by Italo Calvino's Theft In A Pastry Shop, the opening scene sees three bungling desperados hammering their way into a bakery instead of the next-door jewellery store. They watch hold-up movies for inspiration, and fall apart when a gun is pointed at them. Their problem is that they're just too nice. Sid (William Forsythe) is a shy divorcee, with two rank-breathed mongrels for company, while the beleaguered Jerry (Adam Trese) is a protective husband who gets his wife the sack after punching her boss. The ever-thwarted Russ (Vincent Gallo) might cut it as a criminal if it weren't for his child- like impetuousness. The film's laid-back style makes it engaging viewing while some startling moments of black humour give it an interesting seedy edge. HHH

Mrs Brown (PG), Buena Vista, rental, 3 March

Tackling the relationship between Queen Victoria and her gillie, John Brown, John Madden's film poignantly touches on the issues of bereavement, royal indiscretion and media encroachment with uneasy resonance. But it's not just its topicality that makes Mrs Brown so powerful. Antony Sher's supercilious Disraeli is first-rate, while Judi Dench's fragile, yet stoical Queen - for which she was recently awarded a Golden Globe - makes for a triumphant departure from sitcom and the stage. HHHH

The Full Monty (15) Fox, retail, 2 March, pounds 15.99

On observing the arse-touting antics of the Chippendales, a gaggle of redundant steel-workers turns to stripping to bolster their Giros. Low on self-esteem, they see themselves as equally redundant in the face of their wives who have houses, children and jobs. They even pee standing up. They must now confront their more personal anxieties: penis size, weight and in the case of Gerald, the ex-foreman, controlling his rather obvious excitement in front of 200 shrieking women. Director Peter Cattaneo handles their evolving characters sensitively, sustained by a first-class script riddled with uproarious one-liners. Deserves all the success it has had so far. HHH

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