DVD & Blu-ray

UK DVD Releases: Monday 16th March 2009

UK DVD Releases 16-03-09


W. (Lionsgate): Oliver Stone’s quickly assembled biopic of George W Bush is a much more accomplished and thoughtful film than some UK reviews would have had you believes.

Starring Josh Brolin as Bush, it explores his life in flashback through the lens of the Iraq War in 2002-2004.

An impressive cast includes Elizabeth Banks (Laura Bush), James Cromwell (George H. W. Bush), Ellen Burstyn (Barbara Bush), Richard Dreyfuss (Dick Cheney), Thandie Newton (Condoleezza Rice) and Toby Jones (Karl Rove) and the performances are generally very good, especially Brolin in what is a very tough role.

The script by Stanley Weiser and Stone does a fine job at compressing Bush’s life through the lens of it’s defining episode.

The film deserves credit for attempting to get inside the head of the maligned president and not just indulging in a blunt hatchet job.

However, the tepid box office reaction suggested that the the nuances of the film got lost amongst liberal haters and the conservative champions and those in the middle just trying to forget him.

The plan for the film (independently financed with Chinese, German and Australian money) was for a timely release around the recent election.

But the election race itself overshadowed it by being more exciting than any script writer could have imagined, whilst Bush himself was consigned to the shadows for his final year in office by the likes of Barack Obama, Joe the Plumper, Sarah Palin and Tina Fey.

Extras on the DVD and Blu-ray disc include:

  • Audio Commentary with director Oliver Stone
  • Dangerous Dynasty: The Bush Presidency
  • No Stranger to Controversy: Oliver Stone’s George W. Bush
  • Deleted Scenes With Commentary by Director Oliver Stone

Elegy (Entertainment In Video): The latest adaptation of a Philip Roth novel hits the big screen with Ben Kingsley playing a cultural critic afraid of committing to a relationship with a younger woman (Penélope Cruz).

Although Roth has often been poorly served on the big screen, the choice of Isabel Coixet to direct proved an inspired one as she coaxes out fine performances from an impressive cast that also includes Dennis HopperPatricia ClarksonPeter Sarsgaard and Debbie Harry

It didn’t do huge business at the box office but definitely deserves a look on DVD if you missed it at cinemas.

The only extras on the DVD are ‘Soundbites’ and ‘B-Roll footage’.  

Easy Virtue (Pathe): A social comedy based on Noel Coward’s play of the same name which was itself  made into a silent movie by Alfred Hitchcock in 1928.

This version has been reshaped by director by Stephan Elliott as a much frothier concoction and stars Jessica Biel as an American socialite who marries a young Englishman (Ben Barnes) in the South of France before going to England to meet his stiff, upper-crust parents (Colin Firth, and Kristin Scott Thomas).

Whilst the setup might sound very familiar, the end result is actually a much more energetic affair with more laughs than you might expect.

Biel in particular, impresses in her most substantial role to date and Elliott wisely doesn’t take things too seriously but at the same time also gets in some nice digs at the joyless nature of the British upper classes.

Extras include: 

  • Making of Documentary
  • Director’s Commentary
  • Photo Gallery
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Outtakes
  • Jessica Biel Music Video (TBC)

* Listen to our interview with Stephan Elliot & Colin Firth about Easy Virtue *



4:30 (Peccadillo Pictures)
88 Minutes (Warner)
A Mind To Kill – Complete Series 1 (Network)
After… (Optimum)
Baby Mama (Universal)
Billy Connolly: Journey to the Edge of the World (Universal)
Brothers & Sisters – Season 2 (Disney)
Doctor Who: Attack of the Cybermen (2 Entertain)
Dolphins (Sony)
Eagle Eye (Paramount)
Espionage – The Complete Series (Network)
How To Lose Friends and Alienate People (Paramount)
Lady in White – Director’s Cut (Optimum)
Marple: The Collection (ITV DVD)
Minder (Fremantle)
Minder: The Complete Series (Fremantle)
Pride and Prejudice – Special Edition (2 Entertain)
Private Practice – Season 1 (Disney)
Smother (Optimum)
Sophie Scholl – Special Edition (ICA)
Space Buddies (Disney)
Strawberry and Chocolate (Mr. Bongo Films)
The Antichrist (Optimum)
The Duchess (Pathe)
The IT Crowd – Series 3 (2 Entertain)
The Oblong Box (Optimum)
The Rage (Anchor Bay)
The Women (EIV)
Thérèse Raquin (Optimum)
Vacancy (Sony)
War, Inc. (Lionsgate)
Woman Times Seven (Optimum)
Yangtse Incident (Optimum)

> Buy W.Elegy and Easy Virtue at Amazon UK
> Browse more DVD Releases at Amazon UK and Play
Check the latest DVD prices at DVD Price Check
> Take a look at the current UK cinema releases (W/C Friday 13th March)

London Film Festival

LFF 2008: Day 8

 W. press screening

Today was the day of the European premiere of W., the new Oliver Stone film about President George W. Bush.

It screened as the Times Gala at the Odeon Leicester Square, The (London) Times of course being the sponsor of the London film festival.

I went to the press show in the morning and although I had some doubts going in, must confess I really rather liked it.

I’ll post a longer review in a separate post, but one of the most interesting aspects was the reaction of other people who saw it too. 

One person I spoke to afterwards said they were upset Stone didn’t ‘nail Bush’ (quite an image that) and another expressed his surprise that he didn’t know what Stone thought of Bush (?!). 

I suspect it will be a film divides viewers, but not necessarily along the lines one might suspect. 

Added to all this, I had the surreal experience of David Frost sitting right near me just a few minutes before the film started.

In the same cinema just over a week ago I saw a film about him and President Nixon and now I was sitting near him before a film about President Bush.

W. kicked off what was a really busy day in which I also saw Che, The Class and The Wrestler

So by the end of it all I was really, really tired.

> W. at the IMDb
> Reviews of W. at Metacritic
> Find out more about George W. Bush at Wikipedia

Interesting News Technology

W. Mashup Contest

Lionsgate and YouTube have partnered for a W. mashup contest in which users can create and submit their own videos based on the upcoming Oliver Stone film about the 43rd US president.

The director himself explains the contest in this video:

Submissions close on October 17th and you can find out more at the film’s official YouTube channel.

W. opens in the US on October 17th and in the UK on November 7th

> Official site for W.
> Oliver Stone discusses the movie with GQ
> Check out images and on set footage from W.


Latest W. trailer

Although I had serious reservations about anyone making a film about George W. Bush before his presidency had even ended, I’m starting to think that Oliver Stone‘s W. is not only going to deliver the goods but maybe a possible awards contender.

The latest trailer – set to Once in a Lifetime by Talking Heads – does a great job of distilling W’s life and career in under 2 minutes.

If the film delivers on the promise of this spot then it could be something really special.

On a related note, W. is being screened at the London Film Festival on October 23rd and 24th and on Tuesday 28th there is a talk at the BFI Southbank entitled ‘Cinema under George W Bush: Eight Years of Attack and Counter Attack‘.

> Official site for W.
> Oliver Stone discusses the movie with GQ
> Check out images and on set footage from W.

Interesting News

Oliver Stone on W. in GQ

Oliver Stone has given a revealing Q&A interview to Dan Fierman of GQ

It focuses mainly on W. – his upcoming biopic of George W. Bush but branches into other areas.

There are some fairly juicy quotes.

On Bush:

I think that was always the attraction. I always thought of Nixon as like my father. Nixon was like a father to my generation, but it was the behavior of the man that reminded me ofmy father. Bush is my generation. It’s the behavior of me, the culture of me.

On the budget of W. and the casting of Josh Brolin:

And we were turned down by everybody for money, including your Aunt Gertrude. It was humiliating. I make no bones about it. I think this is a great subject. I don’t think I have a bad track record. I needed a star, though, and Josh Brolin was not a star.

Originally I went for Christian Bale. We did some rigorous prosthetic tests and spent a lot of dough—thousands and thousands of dollars—and then Christian said, “I just don’t feel like I can do it.” I met Josh and liked him. He was more rural Americana. But man, he was scared shitless.

On the leaking of the script earlier this year:

That wasn’t a media strategy. That was an outrageous leak by a company called Participant. One of their assistants was trying to make a few bucks, and he sold it, and then it was everywhere.

There were articles everywhere destroying it, historians trashing what we’d done. We didn’t want that. All because of an assistant. Christ.

On the punch up in Shreveport, Louisiana:

The cops came to this bar. They arrested Jeffrey because the bartender had a hair up his ass about this uppity black man from the North. And contrary to reports, he was not drunk. I was there. He was arrested because he had words with the cops.

As for Brolin? It was the first night he had had a couple of drinks the whole time we were shooting. He had been sober for five months for the role, so he let loose a little bit and they got him, too.

On the problems with Warner Bros whilst making Alexander

If I had the guts, I would have done the Sergio Leone three-hour cut for Europe and butchered it for Warner Bros. And I would have taken out the homosexuality, which is what Warners really objected to.

They have told my people that they don’t want to work with me again. I should have just said, “Okay, guys, go for it. Just make your cut.”

And it would have been a much shorter, truncated film, and who knows, it might have made more than $32 million. It might have made fifty-two. Eighty-two. Who knows? You don’t have any idea how big an issue the homosexuality was. Especially when it comes to a military movie.

And on Pinkville, the planned film about the My Lai massacre that UA got cold feet on last year:

We had our locations, we had our actors, we had everything picked out, and it was a very reasonable plan.

Then Bruce Willis walked, and they were thrilled, because that gave them the final excuse to call it, even though we got Nicholas Cage.

That was three weeks before shooting and right before Christmas. Let me remind you, that’s 120 Americans and 500 Thais put out of work right before Christmas.

It was a cruel, heartless decision, and it was probably made because [UA’s] Lions for Lambs was perceived as a mess, a failure, and we were linked to these Iraq movies that weren’t working.

….And I have UA going on and on about “Do the bad guys have to be Americans?”

Read the full Q&A at GQ.

> Oliver Stone at the IMDb
> Check out images and on set footage from W.