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DVD & Blu-ray

UK DVD Releases: Monday 18th May 2009

Including Frost/Nixon and Defiance.

UK DVD Releases 18-05-09

DVD PICKS

Frost/Nixon (Universal): When I first saw Peter Morgan’s stage playabout David Frost’s famous interviews with Richard Nixon in 1977, I remember wondering what a film adaptation might look like. 

Although the hiring of Ron Howard to direct might have raised some eyebrows, to his credit he not only kept the two lead actors from the production (Michael Sheen as Frost and Frank Langella as Nixon) but also managed preserve the essential drama at the heart of the story and keep as faithful to it as possible.

For those of you unfamiliar with the background, Peter Morgan (who has become an expert in dramatising modern history scripting The Queen and The Last King of Scotland) created a play which explored the tensions behind Frost pursuing and then conducting Nixon’s first TV interviews since resigning in disgrace over the Watergate scandal.

What makes it so absorbing is the clash of two very different characters who for different reasons had a lot at stake: Frost was desperate to re-establish himself in America, whilst Nixon was keen to rebuild his shattered political reputation. Technically, both lead performances are superb and after two years on stage together the chemistry between Sheen and Langella is magnetic.

The supporting cast is very solid with Rebecca Hall, Toby Jones, Matthew Macfadyen, Kevin Bacon, Oliver Platt and Sam Rockwell all making fine contributions in key roles. Perhaps the most striking aspect of the film is how it manages to be both a fascinating slice of history garnished with some fine period design yet also finds a way of commenting on the current concerns about US politics.

It also poses a fascinating question: will President Bush ever come out with the same anguished mea culpa that Nixon delivered in these interviews?

Given that it didn’t perform as well as it might have done at the box office, it is definitely worth checking out on DVD if you missed it earlier in the year.

Extras on the regular DVD include:

  • 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • English and Hungarian DD5.1 Surround
  • English SDH, Arabic, Danish, Finnish, Hungarian, Icelandic, Norwegian and Swedish subtitles
  • Deleted Scenes
  • The Making of Frost/Nixon – Take an in-depth look at all aspects of the production and discover the lengths it took to recreate this historic event for the big screen.
  • The Real Interview – Footage from the actual interview and how it compares to the way it was reenacted for the film
  • The Nixon Library – Discover the materials that have been preserved for public viewing in the Richard Nixon Library, ranging from the “Nixon Tapes” to footage of Nixon visiting China
  • Feature Commentary with Director Ron Howard

The Blu-ray Disc has a few extra features:

  • BD-50 Dual Layer
  • 1080P Widescreen
  • English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
  • German and Spanish 5.1 DTS Surround
  • English SDH, German and Spanish subtitles
  • U-Control, Picture in Picture, BD Live, My Scenes
  • Nixon Chronicles – Use this branching feature to see clips from the original interview event side by side with the shot-by-shot recreations from the movie
  • Discovering Secrets: The People and Places Behind the Story (13mins) – Director Ron Howard, producer Brian Grazer and the entire production team discuss the many “secrets” of the era that were uncovered as they researched the project
  • Deleted Scenes
  • The Making of Frost/Nixon (22mins) – Take an in-depth look at all aspects of the production and discover the lengths it took to recreate this historic event for the big screen.
  • The Real Interview – Footage from the actual interview and how it compares to the way it was reenacted for the film
  • The Nixon Library – Discover the materials that have been preserved for public viewing in the Richard Nixon Library, ranging from the “Nixon Tapes” to footage of Nixon visiting China
  • Feature Commentary with Director Ron Howard

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Defiance (Momentum): Set in the eastern regions of occupied Poland during World War II this is an adaptation of Nechama Tec’s book ‘Defiance: The Bielski Partisans‘, which was based on the true story of the Bielski partisans. 

Directed by Ed Zwick, it stars Daniel CraigLiev SchreiberJamie Belland George MacKay as four brothers from Poland who escape from the Nazis and fight back to rescue fellow Jews.

Although the expected Oscar buzz for this film failed to materialize, it is a well made and admirable piece of work. Commercial prospects will be helped by a marketing campaign that has emphasised Daniel Craig (aka James Bond) and the action aspects of the film.

The extras on the regular DVD and Blu-ray Disc include:

  • Director’s Commentary
  • Return to the Forest: The Making of Defiance (26mins)
  • BD Exclusive: Scoring Defiance (7mins)
  • BD Exclusive: Children of the Otriad (13mins)
  • BD Exclusive: Bielski Partisan Photo Gallery (as photographed by director Edward Zwick)

Listen to our interview with Daniel Craig, Liev Schreiber and Ed Zwick on Defiance * 

ALSO OUT

Adventurer – The Complete Series (Network)
Black Blood Brothers: Complete Series (Manga)
Bride Wars (Fox)
Dear Diary (Arrow Films)
ER Season 14 (Warner)
How To Be (Network)
Shameless – Series 6 (4DVD)
The Grudge 3 (Icon)
The Inbetweeners Series 2 (4DVD)
The Machine Girl (Cine Asia)
The Main Chance – Series 1 (Network)
Underworld: Rise of the Lycans (EIV)

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