Widows, children, dogs and selfless acts of bravery prevail in this humourless Seventies-style disaster flick. Dante's Peak is a sleepy, apple- pie town which boasts about being the second most desirable place to live in the USA. It is, therefore, very satisfying when its beloved tourist trap, a dormant volcano, starts billowing sulphurous smoke and a pair of skinny-dipping lovers are boiled alive. The resident volcanologist (Pierce Brosnan) recommends evacuation, but he is ignored until the whole town becomes home to a spectacular firework display and the cosy little homesteads are smothered in ash. The sooner the actors - and these sort of films - are buried, the better.
Marvin's Room (12), Buena Vista, rental,16 Dec
Having devoted the best part of her life to nursing her elderly father, Bessie (Diane Keaton) is diagnosed with leukaemia. Her only hope is a bone-marrow transplant, so she calls on her estranged sister, Lee (Meryl Streep), as a potential donor. Meanwhile, Lee has her own problems with her teenage son (Leonardo Di Caprio), who has recently burned down their house. Encompassing dysfunctional families, mental illness, strokes, chronic back trouble and senility, this film is perpetually awash with tears, though the woe is dissipated by some comic moments from Robert De Niro as a bumbling doctor. An agreeable tear-jerker.
The Fifth Element (PG), Fox, rental, 29 Dec
Luc Besson's sci-fi extravaganza sees Bruce Willis playing a gun-toting space cabbie in the usual quest to prevent evil engulfing the universe. Despite the classy special effects and magnificently extravagant Gaultier costumes, the tension is short-lived due to a distinct lack of plot.
Intimate Relations (15), Fox, rental, 29 Dec
Philip Goodhew's film presents a prickly Ortonesque examination of the provincial world of bed-hopping housewives, twitching curtains and tongue- rolling innuendo. In a role straight out of Steptoe and Son, Julie Walters perfectly captures the underlying sadness in Marjorie Beasley, a landlady known for doing a lot more than her bit for the war effort while entertaining visiting GI's.