Recount (HBO): A fascinating drama that chronicles the 2000 United States Presidential Election Bush v. Gore case between Governor of Texas George W. Bush and Vice President Al Gore. Made for HBO, it has all the class and depth that you would expect from their best work. It boasts an impressive cast including: Kevin Spacey (as Gore’s campaign manager Ron Klain); Tom Wilkinson (as James Baker); Denis Leary (as Michael Whouley); John Hurt (as Warren Christopher); Laura Dern (as Katherine Harris) and Ed Begley, Jr. (as David Boies).
Directed by Jay Roach and written by Danny Strong, it manages to avoid the clumsy political stereotypes of this kind of drama and manages to convey the humour and despair of one of the most extraordinary elections in US history.
- The True Inside Story of the 2000 Presidential Election: Washington correspondent Jake Tapper and Recount writer Danny Strong discuss the events that inspired the film
- Audio commentary with director Jay Roach and writer Danny Strong
- A conversation between Kevin Spacey and the real Ron Klain
- A conversation between Bob Balaban and the real Ben Ginsberg
It was screened on More4 just before the US election and more recently on Channel 4, but if you didn’t see it then the DVD is an essential purchase just in time for the inauguration of Barack Obama.
Eden Lake (Optimum): British horror films of late haven’t been very exciting or innovative but this one was something of an exception. Directed by James Watkins, it shows a young couple (Kelly Reilly and Michael Fassbender) on a romantic getaway who get terrorised by a gang of obnoxious kids. Although the setup is a familiar Deliverance-style narrative, the acting and direction are a cut above films of this type and although there is violence, it avoids the tedious horror-porn cliches that have dragged the horror genre down of late.
- 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
- English DD2.0 Stereo and DD5.1 Surround
- English HOH subtitles
- Interviews with James Watkins, Kelly Reilly, Thomas Turgoose, Michael Fassbender and Christian Colson
- Behind the scenes
- Q & A with Director James Watkins
- TV spots
- Theatrical trailer
- Extreme trailer
* Listen to our interview with director James Watkins about the film *
Masada (Universal Playback): Before the age of HBO, the established TV networks did actually invest in decent high-quality made-for-TV dramas. Often these took the form of a miniseries such as Masada, which aired on ABC in April 1981. It was a fictionalized account of the historical siege of the Masada citadel by legions of the Roman Empire in 73 A.D..
The script is based on the novel “The Antagonists” by Ernest Gann. The siege ended when the Roman armies were able to enter the fortress, only to discover the mass suicide by the Jewish defenders when defeat became imminent.
It starred Peter O’Toole as Roman legion commander Lucius Flavius Silva, Peter Strauss as the Jewish commander Elazar ben Ya’ir, and Barbara Carrera as Silva’s Jewish mistress. David Warner, as Pomponius Falco, won an Emmy for his role. O’Toole was nominated for an Emmy Award for his performance and it was his first appearance in an American miniseries.
Despite this being a made for TV drama, the costumes and production design are impressive and the performances are all solid, even if they occasionally slip into the Shakespearean style that seems to affect anything remotely historical doene in the English language.
Extras are limited to say the least but you are getting 6 hours of content, which is pretty good value.
Dallas – Season 10 (Warner)
Dawson’s Weekly (Network)
Doctor Who – The Next Doctor (2 Entertain)
Louis Theroux: The Strange and The Dangerous (2 Entertain)
Scrubs – Season 7 (Disney)
The Galton and Simpson Playhouse (Network)
The Sullivans – On the Brink of War (Fremantle)
X-Cross 2 (4Digital Asia)
You Don’t Mess With The Zohan (Sony)
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> Take a look at the current UK cinema releases (W/C Friday 16th January)