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DVD & Blu-ray

UK DVD & Blu-ray Releases: Monday 4th April 2011

DVD & BLU-RAY PICKS

The Man Who Fell to Earth (Optimum Home Entertainment): Nicolas Roeg’s 1976 cult sci-fi film is about a mysterious visitor (David Bowie) to earth who tries to get water for his dying planet. [Read our full review] [Buy it on Blu-ray]

The American (Universal Picutres): An enigmatic American (George Clooney) moves to a remote Italian town in order to build a rifle for an assassination. Directed by Anton Corbijn and co-starring Violante Placido and Thekla Reuten. [Read our full review here] [Interview with Violante Placido] [Buy it on Blu-ray or DVD]

Somewhere (Universal Pictures): Sofia Coppola directs this drama about the empty life of a Hollywood star (Stephen Dorff) and his relationship with his young daughter (Elle Fanning). [Buy it on Blu-ray or DVD]

ALSO OUT

2 Fast 2 Furious (Universal Pictures) [Blu-ray / Normal]
Barbarossa – Siege Lord (Metrodome Distribution) [Blu-ray / Normal]
Boudu Saved from Drowning (Park Circus) [Blu-ray / Normal]
Fast and Furious (Universal Pictures) [Blu-ray / Normal]
Fast and Furious Collection (Universal Pictures) [Blu-ray / with Digital Copy – Double Play]
Megamind (DreamWorks Animation) [Blu-ray / Normal]
My Soul to Take (Momentum Pictures) [Blu-ray / Normal]
Outcasts (2 Entertain) [Blu-ray / Normal]
Pirates of the Caribbean Trilogy (Walt Disney) [Blu-ray / Box Set]
Prowl (G2 Pictures) [Blu-ray / Normal]
The Karate Kid (Sony Pictures Home Ent.) [Blu-ray / Normal]
The Wonders Collection With Prof. Brian Cox (2 Entertain) [Blu-ray / Normal]
Wonders of the Universe (2 Entertain) [Blu-ray / Normal]

UK cinema releases for Friday 1st April 2011
> DVD & Blu-ray picks for April 2011
The Best DVD & Blu-ray releases of 2010

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DVD & Blu-ray Interviews Podcast

Interview: Anthony Richmond on Nicolas Roeg

Cinematographer Anthony Richmond worked alongside director Nicolas Roeg on Don’t Look Now (1973) and The Man Who Fell To Earth (1976).

Don’t Look Now is an adaptation of the short story by Daphne du Maurier, and stars Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland as a married couple who travel to Venice only to haunted by the death of their recent daughter.

It recently topped Time Out’s list of the 100 best British films and remains a remarkably atmospheric drama with its brilliant editing, haunting visuals and great use of the wintry Italian locations.

The Man Who Fell To Earth is a cult adaptation of the Walter Tevis novel about a mysterious man (David Bowie) who seemingly arrives from another planet and builds a vast business empire before becoming a recluse.

An unusual and rewarding film, it has aged like a fine wine with an inventive approach to time and enduring exploration of the forces that shape modern society.

Both films are getting re-releases on Blu-ray and I recently spoke to Anthony about his work on what are now seminal films of the 1970s.

You can listen to the interview by clicking here:

[audio:http://filmdetail.receptionmedia.com/Anthony_Richmond_on_Nicolas_Roeg.mp3]

You can also download this interview as a podcast via iTunes by clicking here.

Optimum Home Entertainment release The Man Who Fell To Earth today on Blu-ray and Don’t Look Now is out on June 27th

> Download this interview as an MP3 file
> Buy The Man Who Fell To Earth on Blu-ray and pre-order Don’t Look Now from Amazon UK
> Anthony Richmond at the IMDb
> Nicolas Roeg at Wikipedia
> Review of The Man Who Fell To Earth Blu-ray

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DVD & Blu-ray Reviews

Blu-ray: The Man Who Fell To Earth

Nicolas Roeg‘s stylish sci-fi film looks terrific on the new Blu-ray release from Optimum.

Loosely adapted from the novel by Walter Tevis, it depicts the arrival of enigmatic stranger Thomas Jerome Newton (David Bowie) as he quickly makes a fortune by securing advanced industrial patents with the help of a New York lawyer (Buck Henry).

Retreating to New Mexico he falls in love with a hotel chambermaid (Candy Clark) and recruits a disillusioned chemistry professor (Rip Torn) to build a spaceship so he can save his dying planet.

Director Nicolas Roeg and screenwriter Paul Mayersberg opted for a different brand of sci-fi, with an elliptical story highlighting the emptiness of existence on earth rather than depicting the mysteries of the cosmos.

It baffled a lot of audiences who would soon be thrilled by more mainstream fare such as Star Wars (1977), Alien (1979) and E.T. (1982), but unlike those films, this is much stranger affair that touches upon deeper themes of corporate greed, solitude and the passage of time.

Over the years it has become something of a cult classic and not just for Bowie fans.

Roeg’s trademark editing style and skill behind the camera is evident and DP Tony Richmond captures the beauty of the New Mexico locations.

Although rough around the edges as an actor, Bowie was perfectly cast as the enigmatic Newton and, living like a Howard Hughes-style recluse, he remains distant and ageless whilst bringing a touching sadness to his part.

Incidentally, Bowie was so taken with May Routh’s costumes that he used them on his subsequent tour and stills from the film would be used for the covers of his albums Station to Station (1976) and Low (1977).

The supporting performances are excellent: Henry brings a wistful quality to his lawyer role; Candy Clark makes for an engagingly innocent emotional partner to Bowie; and Rip Torn is good value as the academic who finds himself fascinated by the life opened up by his new boss.

Like much of Roeg’s work it is a film that repays repeated viewing, containing a lot thematic material to chew on beneath its stylish surface.

Momentous events happen in the background: Newton’s company becomes so big that it distorts the US economy and he becomes a major celebrity figure, but the primary focus is always kept on the individuals surrounding him.

Is he an alien Howard Hughes or Charles Foster Kane unhappy with his wealth and power? Do earthly pleasures corrupt him? Is he even an alien at all?

The enigmatic Newton personifies the film: he’s fascinating, mysterious and rewarding once you get to know him.

Part of what makes the film so effective is that we see 1970s America though alien eyes.

The corrupt business and political elites and the addictive qualities of television, alcohol and sex are things that affect the central characters.

Its effectiveness as a social satire lies in the way these themes are allowed to quietly brew in the background and they still have a resonance even today.

This subtlety is also present in the film’s approach to time as the chronological shifts gradually creep up on the viewer.

Like some of the characters, we are left a little disorientated as the years pass by, which is like the ageing process itself.

Modern viewers may note that one of Newton’s inventions is eerily similar to what would eventually become the modern digital camera.

This version is the longer 140 minute cut, with the more explicit – though never gratuitous – sex scenes that censorious US distributors trimmed.

This Blu-ray release is presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and the transfer is excellent.

SPECIAL FEATURES

Whilst not as extensive as the now deleted 2008 Criterion Blu-ray, this version has a substantial amount of extras including:

  • Watching the Alien documentary (24:30): The most substantial feature is this making of documentary which includes interviews with Roeg, executive producer Si Litvinoff, actress Candy Clark, production designer Brian Eatwell, DP Tony Richmond and editor Graeme Clifford. Although Bowie’s absence is disappointing, it covers various interesting aspects of the production such as the all British crew (unusual for a film shot in the US), Bowie’s performance, the costumes, the non-linear style of editing, the use of music (the temp score used during the edit was Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon) and the legacy of the film.
  • Interview with director Nic Roeg (33:27): This lengthy interview sees Roeg discuss various issues related to the film including: how he ‘fell’ into his career in the film industry; the speed of technological change; how he came across the Walter Tevis novel and why the sci-fi genre appealed; the political relevance of the issues in the film and the casting of Bowie.
  • Interview with cinematographer Tony Richmond (21:48): The cinematographer talks about working with Roeg (he also shot Don’t Look Now and Bad Timing), the novel, shooting on location in New Mexico and the influence of the film.
  • Interview with screenwriter Paul Mayersberg (31:33): The writer goes in to some detail about how he got involved in the production; how he kept to the structure of the novel but changed various elements (such as the political subplot); trying to predict the futuristic gadgets Newton develops; the emotional triangle at the heart of the film; the theme of betrayal and playing around with the notion of time.
  • Interview with Candy Clark (27:46): The actress who plays Mary Lou talks about how she got introduced to Roeg by producer Si Litvinoff; the immediate appeal of the script; the physical challenges of the role; the significant differences between the novel and the film; and working with Bowie.
  • Radio interview with Walter Tevis from 1984 (4:08): The author of the novel talks on a New York radio show about his upbringing, how he got into writing, his first novel The Hustler (later made into the film starring Paul Newman) and how he only quit teaching in the late 1970s.
  • Theatrical Trailer (2:18): The original trailer comes in its original aspect ratio and plays up the fact that this was Bowie’s first film role and features a ridiculously heavy voiceover.

The Man Who Fell to Earth is released on Blu-ray by Optimum Home Releasing on Monday 4th April

> Buy The Man Who Fell to Earth on Blu-ray from Amazon UK
> IMDb entry
Criterion Collection essay by Graham Fuller

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DVD & Blu-ray

DVD & Blu-ray Picks: April 2011

DVD & BLU-RAY PICKS

Here are my picks of the best DVD & Blu-ray releases during April.

Particular highlights include the remastered Blu-ray of Nic Roeg’s cult classic The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976), a Blu-ray of beloved fantasy The Princess Bride (1987) and a re-issue from Eureka of Henri-Georges Clouzot’s classic Les Diaboliques (1955).

APRIL 4th

APRIL 11th

APRIL 18th

APRIL 25th

> Recent UK cinema releases
The Best DVD & Blu-ray releases of 2010