Geoff Cox’s DVDs: Quartet, Alex Cross

Pauline Collins and Maggie Smith in Quartet
Pauline Collins and Maggie Smith in Quartet
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There’s nothing startling or challenging about Dustin Hoffman’s first film as a director. But QUARTET (12: Momentum) is a delightful romantic comedy drama that’s a treat for viewers and the cast.

And what actors they are, with Maggie Smith, Tom Courtenay, Pauline Collins and Billy Connolly playing the foursome concerned.

Three former opera singers are living reasonably contentedly in a stately retirement home and preparing for their annual concert to mark Verdi’s birthday and raise funds for the place.

Arrangements are turned upside down when diva Jean Horton (Smith) - the final member of a famous quartet to arrive at the home and also the ex-wife of Reggie (Courtenay) - shows up unannounced.

Hoffman placed his actors in roles that fit them well and they rewarded him with fine performances. Collins, whose character suffers from dementia, is good-hearted, Connolly is cheeky, Courtenay is courtly and Smith’s pride hides her feelings and fears.

While the film touches on themes of ageing and the enduring performance of art, its location, Hedsor House in Buckinghamshire, plays a character in its own right, adding splendour to the warmth.

> Tyler Perry takes on the role of homicide detective/forensic psychologist ALEX CROSS (15: Entertainment In Video), the creation of best-selling author James Patterson and already played by Morgan Freeman in two films, Kiss The Girls and Along Came A Spider.

It wasn’t the wisest move as this is a thoroughly ordinary thriller with an incoherent plot, some dumb dialogue and several ham-fisted performances.

The story is set in Detroit and follows Cross as he hunts a sadistic killer who begins to target the cop’s nearest and dearest.

Matthew Fox cuts the mustard as an unhinged baddie and there are some half-decent action scenes, but the movie has little else to offer.

>Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor offer astonishing turns in THE IMPOSSIBLE (12: E One Entertainment), a deeply moving true story following a family’s desperate efforts to survive and reunite in the immediate aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

A married couple and their three boys are caught up in the devastation while on holiday in Thailand and the depiction of the arriving tidal wave and the ravaged landscape it leaves behind is simply terrifying.

But the film doesn’t rely on special effects to generate its power as there are numerous hugely poignant moments, with scenes in which the oldest son helps hospitalised survivors find their loved ones superbly handled.

Partly filmed in Thailand, and with tsunami survivors playing extras, this movie packs a real emotional wallop.

> SHADOW PEOPLE (12: Anchor Bay) is a routine mystery thriller in which a radio talk show host and a US government official investigate a bizarre series of deaths.

When Charlie Crowe (Dallas Roberts) hears about a phenomenon where patients die in their sleep soon after reporting visions of shadowy intruders in their dreams, he’s intrigued. The trail leads back to an experimental sleep study in the 1970s.