Retail dvd (entertainment in video, widescreen)

Like A Rat Out Of Hell

Crispin Glover scintillates in otherwise unremarkable horror remake

Menace II Society

Along with Boyz N The Hood, this marks the film world's awakening to a dark period of gang violence in early-'90s LA. The story of Caine Lawson (Tyrin Turner), a young black man looking to escape the daily treadmill of bloodshed, isn't particularly original, but the Hughes brothers pull few punches. It's not a pretty sight, but the film now stands as a curious period piece.

Hairspray

John Waters' first 'mainstream' film from 1988 was to be the last bow for underground star Divine, on epic form as the mother of the rebellious Tracy Turnblad (Ricki Lake, making her debut), who becomes a dance star on a teen TV show circa 1962 before transforming into a beatnik civil rights activist. Also featuring extraordinary cameos from Pia Zadora, Debbie Harry and Sonny Bono, this is an utter delight.

What’s Eating Gilbert Grape

The definitive American indie-lite film from '93, made by a pre-schmaltz Lasse Hallström and starring a young Leonardo DiCaprio, this has an affecting warmth and wit. Like an anti-David Lynch movie, it sells smalltown Americana, via Johnny Depp's harried protagonist, as a confused, idiosyncratic but always humane place. John C Reilly and Crispin Glover provide heavyweight back-up.

Monster’s Ball

An immaculate, determinedly unsentimental Marc Forster film, with breathtakingly honest performances from Halle Berry and, especially, Billy Bob Thornton. Death Row prison guard Thornton's family are traditionally racist; Berry's husband (Sean "Puffy" Combs) is executed. In a pit of despair, an unlikely, colour-blind love blooms between the two. One of 2002's best. DVD EXTRAS: Extra footage, cast and film-makers commentaries, isolated soundtrack. Rating Star

John Q

This'll be the one Denzel didn't win the Oscar for. His factory-worker Everyman holds up a hospital when the nasty insurance company won't help his dying son. Shades of Dog Day Afternoon, but an astounding cast (Robert Duvall, James Woods, Ray Liotta) can't stop director Nick (son of John) Cassavetes from descending into trite, teary sentimentality.
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