A critical guide to the week's videos

Some Mother's Son (15) Columbia TriStar, rental 11 June. Perhaps not the most expensive or bombastic, but certainly the best of the recent spate of IRA dramas. Sensitively directed by Terry George and co-written by Jim Sheridan (who arguably set this modern mini-genre on its way with In the Name of the Father), the film eschews the myth-making of Michael Collins or the brutal internecine politics of Nothing Personal and instead examines the way the Troubles impact on the families of IRA members, involuntarily implicated in the relentless human suffering of political protest. Set at the time of the 1981 hunger strike, the film follows Cathleen Quigley (a strong and sympathetic performance by Helen Mirren) whose son Gerard is arrested after a shoot-out with British soldiers. In prison, Gerard joins the IRA inmates' struggle to be recognised as prisoners of war rather than terrorists, following cell-mate Bobby Sands into the hunger strike which claimed the lives of 10 prisoners. Caught between her mistrust of the IRA and love for her son, Cathleen forms a convincingly human and ambiguous perspective from which to explore the protest.

The First Wives Club (PG) CIC Video, rental 13 June.

This flimsy divorcee revenge fantasy takes as its premise the old adage that hell hath no fury like a Bette Midler scorned. Starring Midler, Goldie Hawn and Diane Keaton, the film is obviously Hollywood's idea of the ideal vehicle for middle-aged leading ladies (something Hawn's 50-something actress handily underlines by observing the three ages of Hollywood actress: "babe, district attorney and Driving Miss Daisy"). Had the satire been sharper, the movie might have been better. As it is, the stars' combined calibre is squandered in vulgar revels which effect a trial separation between the words "comedy" and "funny".

From Dusk Til Dawn (18) Buena Vista, retail pounds 14.99 9 June. Hyper-violent Gecko brothers Tarantino and George Clooney head for Mexico after a bloody crime spree, kidnap priest Harvey Keitel and his daughter Juliette Lewis and wind up in the Titty Twister, a strip joint with a fine line in monstrously sexy babes. Conceived as a homage to splatter B-movies, this is less cult fiction than juvenile delinquency on a grand and toe-curlingly embarrassing scale.

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