Brassed Off (15) Film Four Distributors, rental, 12 May. The ubiquitous Ewan McGregor stars in this touching story of the decline of a mining community as seen through the eyes of the local colliery band. Full of pathos and humour, the character drama is beautifully handled by the likes of Pete Postlethwaite and Stephen Tompkinson, who puts in a bravura performance full of inner rage. Indeed, it's only the contrived pit-head romance between McGregor and duplicitous brass babe Tara Fitzgerald (above) that fails to ring true.
Strange Days (18) CIC, retail, pounds 13.99, on release. Unfairly dismissed on its cinema release, Kathryn Bigelow's ambitious, millennial meditation on the pleasures and dangers of voyeurism (in effect, cinema itself) certainly deserves a second look. Set in an apocalyptic Los Angeles, the lurid action follows Ralph Fiennes's Lenny Nero through the last two days of the 20th century. Fiennes is a street hustler dealing in the drug de jour - video "playback clips" that allow the user to live vicariously through the digitally preserved experiences of others. A bitterly bleak tech-noir, the movie certainly makes for uncomfortable viewing. Anti- hero Lenny is a far cry from Fiennes's usual romantic heroes (there's a devastating complicity in watching Lenny re-experiencing a rape and murder) and the film investigates issues (race relations, police brutality) that are unusually sombre and complex for a Hollywood thriller. But it is this, along with some spectacular set pieces, which make it worth watching.
Richard III (15) Guild Pathe Cinema, rental, on release. Richard Loncraine's 1930s-styled update of Shakespeare's play, spectacularly shot against London locations. McKellen's leering Richard and his irreverent treatment of the text make for a splendidly cinematic adaptation.Reuse content