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DVD & Blu-ray Picks: July 2015

> DVD & Blu-ray Picks for June 2015
> The Best DVD and Blu-rays of 2014

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DVD & Blu-ray

The Best DVD and Blu-ray Releases of 2010

Here are my picks of the DVD and Blu-ray released in 2010, which include Dr. Strangelove, Pierrot Le Fou, The White Ribbon, Dr. Zhivago, The Last Emperor, A Prophet, Picnic at Hanging Rock, Psycho, The Third Man, Se7en, The Exorcist, Carlos and Inception.

Just click on the film title to read the original reviews and the links on the side to buy them.

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NOTABLE IMPORTS

N.B. As I’m based in the UK, all of these DVDs are UK titles (apart from the imports) but if you live in a different region of the world check out Play.com or your local Amazon site and they should have an equivalent version of the film.

> Browse more DVD Releases at Amazon UK and Play
> Browse all the cinema releases of 2010
> The Best DVD and Blu-ray releases of 2009

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DVD & Blu-ray

UK DVD & Blu-ray Releases: Monday 13th September 2010

DVD & BLU-RAY PICKS

The Third Man (Optimum Home Entertainment): One of the genuine landmarks of cinema, a tale of a writer (Joseph Cotten) visiting an elusive friend (Orson Welles) in post-war Vienna. It featured a bewildering array of talent behind and in front of the camera: Carol Reed directed from a script by Graham Greene, whilst Alexander Korda and David O’Selznick co-produced and aside from Welles and Cotten the cast features Trevor Howard and Allida Valli.

Famous for its iconic set pieces – light illuminating a doorway, a dialogue on a enormous ferris wheel, a chase through the sewers and two funerals, it also has one of the most distinctive scores courtesy of Anton Karas’ zither. It also won the Palme D’Or at Cannes and the Oscar for Best Cinematography. [Buy it on Blu-ray] *Read our longer review here*

Breathless (1960): Perhaps the iconic film of the French New Wave, this tale of a small time crook (Jean-Paul Belmondo) who goes on the run after stealing a car and shooting a cop, sees him end up in Paris with an American girlfriend (Jean Seberg).

With its loose narrative, location shooting, improvised dialogue, jump cuts, deliberately mismatched shots and literary references, it remains a landmark film. It gave French and European cinema a much needed shot of inspiration when it first came out in 1960, with audiences and critics responding to its energy and artistic verve. N.B. The Special Edition DVD release also comes out the same day as the Blu-ray but has slightly different extras. [Buy it on Blu-ray / Buy the 50th Anniversary DVD]

The Graduate (1967): One of the iconic films of the late 1960s saw Dustin Hoffman play the eponymous graduate, a recent university graduate drifting aimlessly in life, who is seduced by an older woman, Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft), only to fall in love with her daughter (Katharine Ross).

Director Mike Nichols struck a chord with a younger generation of audiences by using techniques borrowed from the French New Wave to craft a witty tale of youthful alienation. Odd angles and unconventional editing were combined with a sharp script by Buck Henry and Calder Willingham (adapted from from Charles Webb’s novel) and the result was a huge hit, launching Hoffman’s career and also boosting Simon and Garfunkel whose music features heavily on the soundtrack. [Buy it on Blu-ray]

Extra features include:

  • Region A & B
  • English, French and German 2.0 DTS-HD MA
  • English; French, Spanish, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish and Japanese subtitles
  • Audio Commentary with Prof. Koebner, film historian (new to UK)
  • About The Music (7’55) – analysis of music by Prof.Koebner & Helga La Motte-Haber, music professor & author (new to UK) (SD)
  • Analysis of the Seduction Scene (12’10) (new to UK) (SD)
  • Trailer (1’48) (SD)
  • The Graduate at 25 (22’21) (SD)
  • Interview with Charles Webb (20’07) (SD)
  • The Graduate: Looking Back (12.56) (SD)
  • The Music in the Film – 4 tracks: The Sound of Silence, April Come She Will, Scarborough Fair, Mrs. Robinson as they appear in the film (HD)
  • Booklet Essay by Marc Webb, writer / director – Marc Webb is the writer/director of 500 Days of Summer and the director of the forthcoming Spider-man reboot

Le Cercle Rouge (1970): A stylish French crime drama about two criminals (Alain Delon and Gian-Maria Volonté) who join forces with a corrupt ex-cop (Yves Montand) for a tricky heist becomes something much deeper in the hands of director Jean-Pierre Melville.

Exploring the moralities of those breaking and enforcing the law, it features excellent performances from the leads, a wonderfully teasing narrative and some brilliantly executed set-pieces. It was heavily cut for its initial US release in 1970, but this id the fully restored version. [Buy it on Blu-ray]

Extra features include:

  • Region B
  • 1080P 1.85:1 Widescreen
  • French, English and German 2.0 DTS-HD MA
  • English, French and German subtitles
  • New or previously unreleased material:
    • Codename Melville Documentary directed by Olivier Bohler (76’35) (SD)
    • Interview with José Giovanni (15’03) (SD)
  • Interview with Rui Nogueira (author of Melville on Melville, produced by the Criterion Collection) (26’11) (SD)
  • Introduction by Ginette Vincendeau (12’30) (SD)
  • Interview with assistant director Bernard Stora (30’45) (SD)
  • Trailer (’45) (HD)
  • Booklet Essay by Ginette Vincendeau, Professor / Author – Ginette Vincendeau is Professor of Film Studies at King’s College London. Among her works on French cinema are Stars and Stardom in French Cinema (2000) and Jean-Pierre Melville, An American in Paris (2003)

Delicatessen (1991): The wonderfully surreal debut of the Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro, set in a post-apocalyptic world where food is scarce, is about an ex-clown (Dominique Pinon) who gets a job in an apartment building and then falls for the daughter of the building’s owner – an imposing and sinister butcher. Below them, down in the sewers, live some rebel vegetarians. [Buy it on Blu-ray]

The extra features include:

  • Region A & B
  • 1080P 1.85:1 Widescreen
  • French, German and Spanish 2.0 DTS-HD MA
  • English, French, Spanish, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish and Japanese subtitles
  • NEW: Main Course Pieces (1h05’28) – brand new retrospective documentary (SD)
  • The Archives of Jean-Pierre Jeunet: actor’s Casting tests (Callbacks) and rehearsals, behind the scenes etc (8’43) (SD)
  • Audio Commentary by Jean-Pierre Jeunet
  • Making Of: Fine Cooker Pork Meats making of/short film by Diane Bertrand (13’30) (SD)
  • Trailer (2’08) (SD)
  • Teasers (1’06) (SD)
  • Booklet Essay by Adam Woodward, Journalist – Adam Woodward has worked as online editor for Little White Lies magazine since 2009 and currently writes for a number of film-related publications, including Playground magazine and Eye For Film.

Mulholland Drive (2001): David Lynch’s neo-noir journey through the dark side of Hollywood is still as fresh, disturbing and trippy as it was when it first came out. The tale of a woman (Laura Elena Harring) who loses her memory in a car accident and the actress (Naomi Watts) who tries to help her out, it weaves a hypnotic spell as it unfolds in wildly unconventional ways.

Featuring all manner of memorable characters including a director, a cowboy and a mysterious singer, it is one of those films which has inspired all manner of theories due to the hallucinogenic games Lynch plays with the audience. [Buy it on Blu-ray]

The extras break down as follows:

  • Region B
  • 1080P 1.85:1 Widescreen
  • English, French and Italian 5.1 DTS-HD MA
  • Italian, French and Dutch subtitles
  • New or previously unreleased material:
    • Angelo Badalamenti: audio interview 10 years on (audio only: 16’30)
    • Back to Mulholland Drive (21’) (new to DVD / blu-ray) (SD)
    • Introduction by Thierry Jousse (10’) (HD)
    • In the Blue Box (27’) – retrospective documentary featuring directors and critics (HD)
  • Interview with Angelo Badalamenti (Music Composer) (16’46) (SD)
  • Interview with Mary Sweeney (Editor and Producer) (6’03) (SD)
  • Making of (23’) (SD)
  • Booklet Essay by Adam Woodward, Journalist

The Pianist (2002): Roman Polanski won the Oscar for Best Director for this World War II drama about Polish pianist Wladyslaw Szpilman, who escaped the Nazi death camps by hiding in the Warsaw ghetto. Played by Adrien Brody (who also won an Oscar for his performance) it is a gruelling tale of survival which features an interesting (and true life) twist.

The gradual destruction of Warsaw provides a haunting backdrop to Szpilman’s story of survival is treated with a powerful blend of intelligence and emotion. Polanski’s own personal experiences during the war no doubt made the film a personal one and the craft, especially Pawel Edelman’s cinematography, is impeccable throughout. [Buy it on Blu-ray]

Extras include:

  • Region B
  • 1080P 1.85:1 Widescreen
  • English, French and Italian 5.1 DTS-HD MA
  • French, Italien, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Norwegian and Swedish subtitles
  • New or previously unreleased material:
    • Interview with Ronald Harwood (20’45) (SD)
    • Interview with Andrzej Szpilman (29’49) (SD)
    • Interview with Daniel Szpilman (2’28) (SD)
  • A Story of Survival: behind the scenes of The Pianist (39’43) (SD)
  • Trailer (1’30) (SD)
  • Booklet Essay by Anwar Brett, journalist – Anwar Brett is a journalist specialising in cinema, who has written for a wide variety of newspapers and magazines over the years, publications such as BAFTA’s Academy magazine, Total Film, Film Review and The South London Press. He is also a freelance interviewer for film and DVD, occasional moderator of audience Q&As and has recently finished his first book on the rarefied theme of films shot in his native county of Dorset.

Dogtooth (Verve Pictures): One of the most startling and original films of the last year was this creepily absorbing tale of a Greek family headed by two parents (Christos Stergioglou and Michelle Valley) who go to extreme lengths to shelter their three children (Aggeliki Papoulia, Mary Tsoni and Christos Passalis) from the outside world.

Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, it examines how the world the parents create is taken by the children as their only reality. Imagine the Big Brother house as designed by Samuel Beckett and you’ll get some idea of the bizarre ways in which language and ideas are subverted for strange, cruel and often deviously funny ends.

Everything is presented with a cool, detached formality: the editing and cinematography are calm, considered and make the increasingly bizarre world of the house seem ordinary, even though it is anything but.

It explores similar territory to The Truman Show (1998), but manages to have its own hypnotic power. In the light of recent kidnap stories in Europe (such as the Fritzl case), it manages to echo contemporary anxieties as well as examining age old themes of power, control and the social forces that shape us.

After winning the Prix Un Certain Regard at Cannes in 2009, it played to considerable and richly deserved acclaim on the festival circuit and remains one of the most startling European films to emerge in years. [Blu-ray / DVD]

ALSO OUT

Date Night (20th Century Fox Home Ent.) [Blu-ray / DVD]
Glee: Complete Season 1 (20th Century Fox Home Ent.) [Blu-ray / DVD]
Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush (BFI) [Blu-ray with DVD]
Hung: Season 1 (Warner Home Video) [Blu-ray / DVD]
Inferno (Arrow Films) [Blu-ray / DVD]
Kandahar Break – Fortress of War (Revolver Entertainment) [Blu-ray / DVD]
Lost: The Complete Seasons 1-6 (Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.) [Blu-ray / Box Set]
Lost: The Complete Sixth Season (Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.) [Blu-ray / Box Set]
Mountain Gorillas (2 Entertain) [Blu-ray / DVD]
Prince of Persia – The Sands of Time (Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.) [Blu-ray / with DVD and Digital Copy]
Unthinkable (E1 Entertainment UK) [Blu-ray / DVD]
Vincere (Artificial Eye) [Blu-ray / DVD]

The DVD and Blu-ray releases for September 2010
The Best DVD and Blu-ray releases of 2009

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DVD & Blu-ray

Blu-ray: The Third Man

The Third Man is one of the most enduring films of the post-war era and has now got a worthy Blu-ray release as part of The Studio Canal Collection.

Set in Vienna just after World War II, the story begins when a writer (Joseph Cotten) visits the city to meet his old friend Harry Lime (Orson Welles), only to be told that he has died.

At Lime’s funeral, Martins meets a British army major (Trevor Howard), Lime’s actress girlfriend (Alida Valli) and slowly begins to discover that Lime was a much more ambiguous character than he realised with with connections to the criminal underworld.

A quick glance at some of the key talents involved with The Third Man is illuminating: Welles and Cotton had worked together on Citizen Kane (1941), Alexander Korda and David O Selznick were two of the most influential producers of that era, director Carol Reed was coming off Odd Man Out (1947) and The Fallen Idol (1948) and the screenplay was written by novelist Graham Greene.

In addition to this glittering line up of talent, we can also note Anton Karas, who provided the indelible zither score, and Robert Krasker, who won an Oscar for his atmospheric cinematography.

The film managed to capture the weary mood and shifting moralities of post-war Europe.

Vienna proved to be a memorable backdrop, with key locations including an elm-lined cemetery, the iconic Ferris wheel and the underground sewers.

In Harry Lime, it also gave us one of great villains in cinema.

Welles is magnetic in the role and although he only has a handful of scenes, his presence dominates the film.

Aside from the marvellous technique and fine performances, it also has a unique power and intelligence courtesy of Greene’s script.

It ponders some of the great moral questions of the twentieth century, most memorably in the Ferris wheel sequence, but does so on a way that is engrossing, funny and ultimately moving.

Reed imbues everything with a sublime melancholy that underscores the personal and political impact of World War II.

A film that repays repeated viewings, it contains many delights ranging from amusing supporting turns by Bernard Lee and Wilfred Hyde-White, a famous scene involving a cat in a darkened doorway and one of the finest closing shots in the history of cinema.

The extras on the disc are generous, the best of which is the 89-minute documentary ‘Shadowing The Third Man’, which revisits the original locations and explores the film in considerable depth, revealing the tensions behind the scenes and why the film continues to resonate with audiences.

Narrated by John Hurt, it also features key contributions from Guy Hamilton (the Assistant Director, who would go on to direct Goldfinger) and Angela Allen (2nd Unit Continuity) as they reminisce about their time working on the production.

The audio commentary also features Simon Callow (author of the best biography of Orson Welles) with Hamilton and Allen as they provide further insights on various sequences in the film, along with more anecdotes on the production.

Also of note is some new supplementary material actually shot in HD, which includes an interactive tour of Vienna, which features locations from the film.

Here are the technical details of the disc, alongside the extras in full:

  • Region B
  • 1080P 1.33:1
  • English, French and German DTS-HD MA 2.0 (mono)
  • German, French, Spanish and Dutch subtitles
  • New or previously unreleased material:
  • Guardian NFT Interview with Joseph Cotten (audio only: 47’13)
  • Guardian NFT Interview with Graham Greene (audio only: 8’05)
  • Audio Commentary by Guy Hamilton (Assistant Director), Angela Allen (2nd Unit Continuity) & Simon Callow (audio only: 1’44)
  • 2 x original trailers (1’46 mins & 2’19) (HD)
  • Stills gallery (2’24) (HD)
  • Interview and performance by zither player Cornelia Mayer (4’44) (HD)
  • The Third Man Interactive Vienna Tour (49’50) (HD)
  • The Third Man on the Radio (an episode of The Lives of Harry Lime: Ticket to Tangiers (1951) written by and performed by Orson Welles) (audio only: 28’45)
  • Shadowing The Third Man –retrospective documentary (1hr29) (SD)
  • US alternative prologue by Joseph Cotton (1’20) (SD)
  • Booklet Essay by Charles Drazin, film historian / biographer – Charles Drazin is a film historian and biographer. His books include Korda: Britain’s Only Movie Mogul, The Finest Years: British Cinema of the 1940s and In Search of The Third Man. He lectures on the cinema at Queen Mary, University of London.

The Third Man is out on Blu-ray on September 13th from Optimum Releasing

> Buy The Third Man on Blu-ray from Amazon UK
> The Third Man at the IMDb
> Find out more about The Third Man at Wikipedia

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DVD & Blu-ray News

The Studio Canal Collection on Blu-ray

The latest batch of Blu-rays from The Studio Canal Collection, released on September 13th, feature The Third Man, Breathless, The Graduate, Delicatessen, Mulholland Drive and The Pianist.

For any self-respecting film fan these are nearly all essential purchases which range from milestones in post-war cinema to more modern classics.

All these titles are in 1080p, feature DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks and come with new cover art and liner notes and are released on September 13th.

Each title also comes with a lot of extras – some of which are new and exclusive to the Blu-ray versions – but I’ll review those later in individual posts on each title nearer the release date.

The Third Man (1949): One of the genuine landmarks of cinema, a tale of a writer (Joseph Cotten) visiting an elusive friend (Orson Welles) in post-war Vienna. It featured a bewildering array of talent behind and in front of the camera: Carol Reed directed from a script by Graham Greene, whilst Alexander Korda and David O’Selznick co-produced and aside from Welles and Cotten the cast features Trevor Howard and Allida Valli. Famous for its iconic set pieces – light illuminating a doorway, a dialogue on a enormous ferris wheel, a chase through the sewers and two funerals, it also has one of the most distinctive scores courtesy of Anton Karas’ zither. It also won the Palme D’Or at Cannes and the Oscar for Best Cinematography.

Breathless (1960): Perhaps the iconic film of the French New Wave, this tale of a small time crook (Jean-Paul Belmondo) who goes on the run after stealing a car and shooting a cop, sees him end up in Paris with an American girlfriend (Jean Seberg). With its loose narrative, location shooting, improvised dialogue, jump cuts, deliberately mismatched shots and literary references, it remains a landmark film. It gave French and European cinema a much needed shot of inspiration when it first came out in 1960, with audiences and critics responding to its energy and artistic verve. N.B. The Special Edition DVD release also comes out the same day as the Blu-ray.

The Graduate (1967): One of the iconic films of the late 1960s saw Dustin Hoffman play the eponymous graduate, a recent university graduate drifting aimlessly in life, who is seduced by an older woman, Mrs. Robinson (Anne Bancroft), only to fall in love with her daughter (Katharine Ross). Director Mike Nichols struck a chord with a younger generation of audiences by using techniques borrowed from the French New Wave to craft a witty tale of youthful alienation. Odd angles and unconventional editing were combined with a sharp script by Buck Henry and Calder Willingham (adapted from from Charles Webb’s novel) and the result was a huge hit, launching Hoffman’s career and also boosting Simon and Garfunkel whose music features heavily on the soundtrack.

Le Cercle Rouge (1970): A stylish French crime drama about two criminals (Alain Delon and Gian-Maria Volonté) who join forces with a corrupt ex-cop (Yves Montand) for a tricky heist becomes something much deeper in the hands of director Jean-Pierre Melville. Exploring the moralities of those breaking and enforcing the law, it features excellent performances from the leads, a wonderfully teasing narrative and some brilliantly executed set-pieces. It was heavily cut for its initial US release in 1970, but this id the fully restored version.

Delicatessen (1991): The wonderfully surreal debut of the Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro, set in a post-apocalyptic world where food is scarce, is about an ex-clown (Dominique Pinon) who gets a job in an apartment building and then falls for the daughter of the building’s owner – an imposing and sinister butcher. Below them, down in the sewers, live some rebel vegetarians.

Mulholland Drive (2001): David Lynch’s neo-noir journey through the dark side of Hollywood is still as fresh, disturbing and trippy as it was when it first came out. The tale of a woman (Laura Elena Harring) who loses her memory in a car accident and the actress (Naomi Watts) who tries to help her out, it weaves a hypnotic spell as it unfolds in wildly unconventional ways. Featuring all manner of memorable characters including a director, a cowboy and a mysterious singer, it is one of those films which has inspired all manner of theories due to the hallucinogenic games Lynch plays with the audience.

The Pianist (2002): Roman Polanski won the Oscar for Best Director for this World War II drama about Polish pianist Wladyslaw Szpilman, who escaped the Nazi death camps by hiding in the Warsaw ghetto. Played by Adrien Brody (who also won an Oscar for his performance) it is a gruelling tale of survival which features an interesting (and true life) twist. The gradual destruction of Warsaw provides a haunting backdrop to Szpilman’s story of survival is treated with a powerful blend of intelligence and emotion. Polanski’s own personal experiences during the war no doubt made the film a personal one and the craft, especially Pawel Edelman’s cinematography, is impeccable throughout.

Breathless: 50th Anniversary Special Edition is out on DVD and Blu-ray on September 13th

The Studio Canal Collection titles are also out in Blu-ray on September 13th

> Studio Canal Collection
> Best DVD and Blu-ray releases of 2009