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DVD & Blu-ray

UK DVD Releases: Monday 13th July 2009

Including Religulous, Mad Men Season 2, The Young Victoria and Genova

DVD Picks 13-07-09

DVD PICKS

Religulous (Momentum): A smart and frequently hilarious documentary directed by Larry Charles in which US comedian Bill Maher explores the subject of religion.

Travelling to numerous religious places, such as Jerusalem, the Vatican and Salt Lake City, where they interview believers from a variety of backgrounds and groups including a former member of Jews for JesusChristiansMuslims, former Mormons and Hasidic Jews.

For some strange reason there are no DVD extras on the UK DVD, even though there are a few on the Region 1 DVD release.

* Listen to my interview with director Larry Charles about the film *

Mad Men Season 2 (Lionsgate): The second season of the best show currently on television continues to explore the fictional Sterling Cooper advertising agency on New York City’s Madison Avenue during the early 1960s.

The story lines still centre around creative director Don Draper (Jon Hamm) and the people in his work and personal life.

With the action now moving to 1962, notable plot lines in the second season include more revelations about Don’s personal life and big changes at Sterling Cooper.

After the first season proved a huge critical hit, it won numerous awards including three Golden Globes, a BAFTA and six Emmys and became only the second cable series ever to win the Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series.

US cable network AMC deserve a credit deal of credit for green lighting the show and when an HBO exec like Richard Plepler says: “Mad Men is a magnificent show, and the only problem with it is it’s not on HBO”, you know that the quality must be high.

The level of writing, direction, acting and production design is as good as anything you can currently see on TV or at the cinema.

The true genius of the show, created by Matthew Wiener, is that it manages to put a modern slant on the past by going beyond the period detail into something genuinely absorbing and profound.

The regular DVD has episodes are spread across three-discs presented in anamorphic widescreen with English DD5.1 Surround audio.

Extras include:

  • Those Who Think Young: Audio Commentary by Matthew Weiner
  • The Gold Violin: Audio Commentary by Matthew Weiner and Elisabeth Moss
  • Six Month Leave: Audio Commentary by Jon Hamm, John Slattery and Joel Murray
  • The Inheritance: Audio Commentary by Jon Hamm, January Jones and Vincent Kartheiser
  • “Birth of an Independent Woman, Part 1 and Part 2” – from housewives to working women, this featurette examines the rise of female independence in the Mad Men era
  • “An Era of Style” – featurette explores the fashion of the 1960’s and its lasting influence on designers today

On the Blu-ray Disc there are a few more extras, with a lot more audio commentaries:

  • For Those Who Think Young: Audio Commentary by Matthew Weiner
  • For Those Who Think Young: Audio Commentary by Jon Hamm and January Jones
  • Flight 1: Audio Commentary by Matthew Weiner and Jon Hamm
  • Flight 1: Audio Commentary by Lisa Albert and Vincent Kartheiser
  • The Benefactor: Audio Commentary by Matthew Weiner and Elisabeth Moss
  • The Benefactor: Audio Commentary by Lesli Linka Glatter, Melinda McGraw and Rich Sommer
  • Three Sundays: Audio Commentary by Matthew Weiner and Marie and Andre Jacques
  • Three Sundays: Audio Commentary by Elisabeth Moss and Colin Hanks
  • The New Girl: Audio Commentary by Jennifer Getzinger and Robin Veith
  • The New Girl: Audio Commentary by Jon Hamm, Elisabeth Moss and Melinda McGraw
  • Maidenform: Audio Commentary by Matthew Weiner and Robin Veith
  • Maidenform: Audio Commentary by Phil Abraham and Mark Moses
  • The Gold Violin: Audio Commentary by Matthew Weiner and Elisabeth Moss
  • The Gold Violin: Audio Commentary by Bob Levinson, Josh Weltman and Bryan Batt
  • A Night To Remember: Audio Commentary by Matthew Weiner and Robin Veith
  • A Night To Remember: Audio Commentary by Lesli Linka Glatter and January Jones
  • Six Month Leave: Audio Commentary by Matthew Weiner and Mike Uppendahl
  • Six Month Leave: Audio Commentary by Jon Hamm, John Slattery and Joel Murray
  • The Inheritance: Audio Commentary by Matthew Weiner and Lisa Albert
  • The Inheritance: Audio Commentary by Jon Hamm, January Jones and Vincent Kartheiser
  • The Jet Set: Audio Commentary by Matthew Weiner, Phil Abraham and David Carbonara
  • The Jet Set: Audio Commentary by Scott Hornbacher, Dan Bishop and Amy Wells
  • The Mountain King: Audio Commentary by Matthew Weiner and Blake McCormick
  • The Mountain King: Audio Commentary by Robin Veith, Christina Hendricks and Robert Morse
  • Meditations in an Emergency: Audio Commentary by Matthew Weiner and January Jones
  • Meditations in an Emergency: Audio Commentary by Kater Gordon, Elisabeth Moss and Vincent Kartheiser
  • “Birth of an Independent Woman, Part 1 and Part 2” – from housewives to working women, this featurette examines the rise of female independence in the Mad Men era
  • “An Era of Style” – featurette explores the fashion of the 1960’s and its lasting influence on designers today
  • ”Time Capsule” – interactive featurettes paying homage to historical events of the 1960’s and the daring generation that lived through them

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The Young Victoria (Momentum):  A period piece about the early years of Queen Victoria stars Emily Blunt in the title role and Rupert Friend as Prince Albert.

There are also supporting performances from Paul Bettany (as Prime Minister Lord Melbourne) and Miranda Richardson as Victoria’s mother, the Duchess of Kent.

Although it might look like a conventional costume drama, the level of acting is very strong and the unlikely combination of Graham KingMartin Scorsese and Sarah, Duchess of York as producers (an unlikely trio, to say the least), screenwriter Julian Fellowes (a shrewd observer of England’s social layers) and director Jean-Marc Vallée is a winning one.

All of them have combined to make a much more substantial film than may have been expected which explores part of Victoria’s reign not really seen on screen before, namely the problems of her accession to the throne and her early relationship with Albert.

Extras include:

  • Deleted Scenes
  • Making of The Young Victoria
  • The Coronation & The Wedding: Behind the scenes look at the production
  • Lavish History: Look at the costumes and locations

* Listen to my interview with Emily Blunt and Rupert Friend about The Young Victoria *

Genova (Metrodome): Directed by the prolific Michael Winterbottom, this drama is the story of two American girls and their British father (Colin Firth) who move to Italy after their mother dies.

Co-starring Catherine Keener and Hope Davis, it was filmed in the titular city of Genoa (Genova in Italian) during the summer of 2007.

DVD extras include:

  • Bringing Genova to Life: the journey from story to screen
  • Shooting Genova: on location with the cast and crew
  • Original Score: Melissa Parmenter’s acclaimed complete score

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ALSO OUT

Anti-Clock (BFI)
Driven to Kill (Optimum)
Duplicity (Universal)
Fight Night (E1 Entertainment)
Hotel Babylon Series 3 (2Entertain)
How Not To Live Your Life (2Entertain)
In Sickness and In Health Series 4 (2Entertain)
Living With Monkeys – Tales From The Treetops (2Entertain)
Separation (BFI)
Table for Three (Anchor Bay)
The Burrowers (Lionsgate)
The Last Patrol (Anchor Bay)
The Other Side of the Underneath (BFI)
Three Kingdoms: Resurrection Of The Dragon (Icon)
Torchwood: Children of Earth (2Entertain)

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