DVD & BLU-RAY PICKS
Coraline (Universal): Based on the book by Neil Gaiman, this stop-motion animation written and directed by Henry Selick follows an adventurous girl named Coraline who finds another world that is a strangely idealized version of her frustrating home, but has sinister secrets.
Available on 1-Disc DVD (£19.99 RRP), 2-Disc Limited Edition DVD (£19.99 RRP) and Blu-ray Disc (£24.99 RRP), the 2-Disc DVD and Blu-ray Disc release will include both the 2-D and 3-D version of the main feature and 4 pairs of 3-D glasses. Got that? Phew.
Features on all of the different versions are as follows:
1-Disc DVD – Includes the 2-D version of the main feature and the following extras:
The Making of Coraline
Feature Commentary with Director Henry Selick and Composer Bruno Coulais
2-Disc Limited Edition DVD – As above plus a second disc with the 3-D version of the main feature and 4 pairs of 3-D glasses.
Blu-ray Disc – Includes both the 2-D and 3-D versions of the main feature plus 4 pairs of 3-D glasses. Features include:
- 2-D and 3-D Presentations
- 1080P 1.85:1 Widescreen
- English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
- French, Italian, German, Spanish and Dutch 5.1 Dolby Digital
- English SDH, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Korean, Swedish, Danish, Finnish, Dutch, Greek and Traditional Chinese subtitles
- U Control – Picture in Picture (2-D Feature Only)
- U Control – Tours and Voice Sessions (2-D Feature Only)
- U Control – Picture in Picture Animatic (2-D Feature Only)
- Deleted Scenes
- The Making of Coraline – Director and screenwriter Henry Selick hosts this behind the scenes feature about how this hand-crafted, stop-motion animated film was made
- BD Exclusive: Voicing the Characters – Coraline’s acclaimed cast and filmmaker Henry Selick talk about their experiences working on the film, including defining the perfect voice for their characters
- BD Exclusive: Creepy Coraline – Director and screenwriter Henry Selick and Coraline author Neil Gaiman take fans deeper into the darker intricacies of Coraline’s alternative worlds
- Feature Commentary with Director Henry Selick and Composer Bruno Coulais
Looking For Eric (Icon): The unlikely pairing of French footballer Eric Cantona and English director Ken Loach is the tale of a Manchester postman (Steve Evets) undergoing a midlife crisis. When his idol Cantona appears to him in a series of visions, he manages to inspire him with his distinctive brand of philosophy.
Although much of the publicity surrounding the film focused on ‘King Eric’, the two real stars are Steve Evets and Stephanie Bishop who deliver excellent performances. It also features the hallmarks of Loach’s best work: sensitive treatment of social issues; well rounded characters with believable flaws; and a lack of cheap sentiment.
The script by Paul Laverty deserves a lot of credit for working in social issues (gun crime, football ownership) alongside some of Cantona’s reflections on life and existence in a way that isn’t forced or cheesy. Whilst some of the reactions at the Cannes film festival were correct in observing that it is lighter than usual for a Loach film, that is no bad thing as it contains some marvellous feel good scenes (especially the climax).
- Audio Commentary
- United We Stand Documentary
- Extended Meditation Scene
- Deleted Scenes
- Happy Ending Short Film
- Music Video
- Deleted Scenes
- Director’s Shorts
Synecdoche, New York (Revolver): Charlie Kaufman‘s directorial debut (pronounced “Syn-ECK-duh-kee”) is so Kaufman-esque that it takes his ideas to another level of strangeness. The story centres around theatre director Caden Cotard (Philip Seymour Hoffman) who starts to re-evaluate life after his health and marriage start to break down. He receives a grant to do something artistically adventurous and decides to stage an enormously ambitious production inside a giant warehouse.
What follows is a strange and often baffling movie, complete with the kind of motifs that are peppered throughout Kaufman’s scripts: someone lives in a house oblivious to the fact that it is permanently on fire; a theatrical venue the size of several aircraft hangars is casually described as a place where Shakespeare is performed; and visitors to an art gallery view microscopic paintings with special goggles.
But despite the oddities and the Chinese-box narrative, this is a film overflowing with invention and ideas. It explores the big issues of life and death but also examines the nature of art and performance – a lot of the film, once it goes inside the warehouse, is a mind-boggling meditation on our lives as a performance.
Imagine The Truman Show rewritten by Samuel Beckett and directed by Luis Buñuel and you’ll get some idea of what Kaufman is aiming for here. I found a lot of the humour very funny, but the comic sensibility behind the jokes is dry and something of an acquired taste. Much of the film hinges on Seymour Hoffman’s outstanding central performance in which he conveys the vulnerability and determination of a man obsessed with doing something worthwhile before he dies.
The makeup for the characters supervised by Mike Marino is also first rate, creating a believable ageing process whilst the sets are also excellent, even if some of the CGI isn’t always 100% convincing. The supporting cast is also impressive: Catherine Keener, Michelle Williams, Samantha Morton, Emily Watson, Hope Davis, Tom Noonan and Dianne Weist all contribute fine performances and fit nicely into the overall tone of the piece. Although the world Kaufman creates will alienate some viewers, it slowly becomes a haunting meditation on how humans age and die.
- Infectious Diseases In Cattle: Bloggers’ Roundtable
- The Story of Caden Cotard
- Script Factory Interview with Charlie Kaufman
- Charlie Kaufman Animations
- In & Around Synecdoche, New York
12 Rounds (Fox)
B-Girl (Anchor Bay)
Cherry Blossoms (Dogwoof)
Claymore Volumes 5 & 6 (Manga)
Hell Ride (Warner)
Heroes Season 3 (Universal Playback)
Momma’s Man (Diffusion Pictures)
Smallville Season 8 (Warner)
Spooks Season 7 (E1 Entertainment)
Two and a Half Men Season 6 (Warner)