blu-ray DVD & Blu-ray

Blu-ray: Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans

Werner Herzog’s brilliantly surreal remake (or is it?) of Abel Ferrara’s 1992 film is relocated to New Orleans where a corrupt, drug addled cop (Nicolas Cage) finds himself involved with a drug dealer (Alvin “Xzibit” Joiner) who is suspected of murdering a family of African immigrants.

On top of this he struggles to keep his life in check, which includes his prostitute girlfriend (Eva Mendes); his hot-headed partner (Val Kilmer); a local bookie (Brad Dourif) and all manner of surreal visions.

This sounds like it could be the premise of a conventional crime movie and there are elements of William Finkelstein’s script that bear the hallmarks of the traditional cop procedural. But filtered through the lens of Herzog, we have something different altogether.

As the story progresses Cage’s character takes gargantuan amounts of drugs (coke, heroin, crack), shakes down clubbers and then screws their girlfriends in front of them, runs up huge debts, threatens old age pensioners and does all this wearing an oversize suit with a funny looking revolver.

But this only scratches the surface, as Herzog adds some wildly surreal touches involving iguanas and alligators shot in extreme hand held close-up, whacky interludes involving dogs, horny traffic cops and hilariously over the top dialogue delivered by Cage in a couple of different accents (my favourite lines being “‘Shoot him again! His soul is still dancing!” and “to the break of DAWNNNN!!!!”).

Strange, out of control and defiantly off its head, it seems destined for cult status: appealing to cinephiles and late night stoner audiences.

When I first saw it last year I was unsure if it was a crazy joke or surreal genius. Having seen it again I’m sure it is the latter.

Not only does Herzog filter the material through his own unique mind, but Cage arguably gives his greatest performance in years, which is wild and out of control in all the best ways.

The Blu-ray transfer is crisp and sharp – in many ways a better experience than the print I originally saw it on – and in HD one can really appreciate the visual mood created by Herzog and his regular DOP Peter Zeitlinger.

The extras include interviews with the cast and key crew as well as a substantial 30 minute making of featurette which goes behind certain sequences, interviewing the key talent.

Most of it consists of Herzog setting up shots, discussing his creative process and we also get some interesting contributions from the cast and crew.

In years people will wonder how one of Europe’s greatest arthouse directors ended up making a film with Nicolas Cage in New Orleans, but they will be grateful for what is a unusually memorable collaboration.

> Buy Bad Lieutenant Port of Call New Orleans on Blu-ray and DVD
> Bad Lieutenant Port of Call New Orleans at IMDb

blu-ray DVD & Blu-ray News

Apocalypse Now on Blu-ray

Details have been announced for the Blu-ray release of Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now in two different versions on October 19th.

Although this is the US release date, a UK and worldwide release should be confirmed relatively soon.

The epic about a US army captain (Martin Sheen) sent to assassinate a rogue colonel gone native deep in the jungle (Marlon Brando) is one of the great films of the 1970s and a vivid depiction of the insanity of the Vietnam War.

There will be a regular 2-disc set and a more comprehensive Full Disclosure edition which includes George Hickenlooper’s memorable making of documentary Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse (1991), which will also be in 1080p.

The package will include the original 1979 theatrical cut and the extended Apocalypse Now Redux version (released back in 2001) and both will be presented in the original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1.

For previous DVD releases cinematographer Vittorio Storaro made the curious decision to modify it to 2.00:1 (the Univisium format), which he thinks should be a universal ratio for all films.

But now audiences will be able to see the film in high definition as well as in its original theatrical aspect ratio for the first time.

The extras for the two editions break down like this:


  • Apocalypse Now – 1979 Cut
  • Apocalypse Now Redux
  • “A Conversation with Martin Sheen” interview by Francis Ford Coppola
  • “An Interview with John Milius” interview by Francis Ford Coppola
  • Complete Francis Ford Coppola interview with Roger Ebert at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival
  • Monkey Sampan “lost scene”
  • Additional Scenes
    • “Destruction of the Kurtz Compound” end credits with audio commentary by Francis Ford Coppola
    • “The Hollow Men,” video of Marlon Brando reading T.S. Eliot’s poem
  • Featurettes:
    • The Birth of 5.1 Sound
    • Ghost Helicopter Flyover sound effects demonstration
    • A Million Feet of Film: The Editing of Apocalypse Now
    • The Music of Apocalypse Now
    • Heard Any Good Movies Lately? The Sound Design of Apocalypse Now
    • The Final Mix
    • Apocalypse Then and Now
    • The Color Palette of Apocalypse Now
    • PBR Streetgang
    • The Color Palette of Apocalypse Now
    • The Synthesizer Soundtrack” article by music synthesizer inventor Bob Moog


Like the 2-Film Set above, plus the following:

  • Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse
  • Optional audio commentary with Eleanor and Francis Ford Coppola
  • 48-page collectible printed booklet with special note from Francis Ford Coppola, never-before-seen archives from the set, behind the scenes photos and more
  • John Milius Script Excerpt with Francis Ford Coppola Notes
  • Storyboard Gallery
  • Photo Gallery, including images from photographer Mary Ellen Mark
  • Marketing Archive

[Via IGN UK]

> Apocalypse Now at Wikipedia and IMDb
> Pre-order the Blu-ray of Apocalypse Now at Amazon UK

blu-ray DVD & Blu-ray

UK DVD & Blu-ray Releases: Monday 26th July 2010



Picnic at Hanging Rock (Second Sight): This haunting tale about a group of schoolgirls who go missing whilst on a picnic in 1900 remains of the iconic films in Australian cinema. Its release in 1975 signalled the arrival of Peter Weir as a major director and the hypnotic, lyrical qualities have not diminished since then.

Adapted from the novel by Joan Lindsay, it isn’t actually a true story (even though at times it has the feel of one) but remains a powerful exploration of innocence, time and mystery.

The locations, from the girl’s school to the picnic in the countryside, are beautifully captured by cinematographer Russell Boyd and as the film progresses it becomes a memorable tale of loss and regret.

An important part of the atmosphere is the indelible music which features Gheorghe Zamfir on pan pipe and Marcel Cellier on the organ.

Special features are pretty substantial and include the following:

  • Feature-length documentary: A Dream within a Dream (120 mins)
  • A Recollection: Hanging Rock 1900 – Joan Lindsay interview
  • Hanging Rock and Martindale Hall: Then and Now
  • Short film: The Day of St Valentine (the first screen adaptation of Joan Lindsay’s novel)
  • Audio interviews
  • Stills and poster gallery
  • Scenes deleted for the director’s cut

> Buy Picnic at Hanging Rock on Blu-ray from Amazon UK
> Find out more about the film at Wikipedia and the IMDb

Talking Heads: Stop Making Sense (Palm Pictures): This ground-breaking 1984 concert film featuring Talking Heads directed by Jonathan Demme remains one of the essential rock movies. Filmed over three nights at Hollywood’s Pantages Theater in December 1983, it captured the group as they were touring their album Speaking in Tongues.

What made the film stand out from others in the genre was Demme’s innovative approach to shooting a concert.

With Talking Heads he found a band who were not only interested in stage craft but were also willing to allow him an unusual amount of creative freedom in capturing them live.

The lack of audience shots, unusual lighting choices for each song and the visible presence of the stage crew are just some of the elements which mark this out from the bog standard concert movie.

Front man David Byrne is a charismatic presence throughout and his stage persona was arguably a big influence on lead singers like Michael Stipe and Bono in later years, whilst the energy of the rest of band is just as infectious.

This was Demme’s first documentary and his use of handheld cameras, along with longer-than-usual shots, gives the film a distinctive flavour which chimes in a band who were never a slave to fashions and trends of the early 1980s.

The Blu-ray is being released by Palm Pictures and includes the following bonus features:

  • Previously unreleased 1999 press conference with all four Talking Heads
  • The short film “David Byrne Interview…David Byrne”
  • Versions of “Cities” and “Big Business/I Zimbra” not featured in the original film.

Film fans might note references to Dr. Strangelove and Breathless, theatre buffs may spot the influence of Japanese Noh theatre and R.E.M. fans may notice the influence of this on Tourfilm (1989).

> Buy Stop Making Sense on Blu-ray from Amazon UK
> Find out more about Talking Heads at Wikipedia



2001 Maniacs: Field of Screams (Anchor Bay Entertainment UK) [Blu-ray / DVD]
Cats and Dogs (Warner Home Video) [DVD]
Clash of the Titans (Warner Home Video) [Blu-ray with DVD]
Fantastic Planet (Eureka) [Blu-ray]
Hierro (Optimum Home Entertainment) [Blu-ray / DVD]
Paranoiac (Eureka) [Blu-ray / DVD]
Remember Me (E1 Entertainment UK) [Blu-ray / with DVD]
Shank (Revolver Entertainment) [Blu-ray / DVD]
Sons of the Wind – Bangkok Ninjas (Manga Entertainment) [DVD]
The Bounty Hunter (Sony Pictures Home Ent.) [Blu-ray / DVD]
Vengeance Is Mine (Eureka) [Blu-ray / DVD]

> The Best DVD and Blu-ray releases of 2009
> UK cinema releases for Friday 23rd July 2010 including Toy Story 3

blu-ray DVD & Blu-ray

UK DVD & Blu-ray Releases: Monday 7th June 2010



A Prophet (Optimum Home Entertainment): One of the standout films of last year was this scintillating prison drama about a lowly Arab criminal named Malik (Tahar Rahim) who is drawn into the inner circle of a Corsican mafia group, led by the ruthless César Luciani (Niels Arestrup). After a tough initiation, Malik learns how to read and write, and starts to learn how power works inside and outside the prison.

Directed by Jacques Audiard, it features two outstanding lead performances from Rahim and Arestrup, and quickly established itself as an instant classic, scooping the Grand Prix at Cannes and topping many critic’s end of year polls. Audiard doesn’t shy away from the dark brutalities of prison life, but manages to construct a compelling portrait of how criminal empires are born. An absolute must see. [Blu-ray / DVD]

A Single Man (Icon Home Entertainment): Adapted from Christopher Isherwood’s 1964 novel, it explores a day in the life of a grieving English college professor (Colin Firth) during the early 1960s. A highly impressive directorial debut for fashion designer Tom Ford, it co-stars Julianne Moore, Matthew Goode and Nicholas Hoult.

The stand out element here is a wonderfully nuanced performance from Firth, who was desrvedly nominated for an Oscar, along with some excellent production and costume design. Regrettably, Ford and co-screenwriter David Scearce tinker too much with the source novel (making one major alteration) but there is still much to admire here, not least the fact that Ford largely funded the project himself, which is highly unusual even for the richest filmmakers in Hollywood. [Blu-ray / DVD]

Ponyo (Optimum Home Entertainment): The latest animated film from renowned director Hayao Miyazaki is a story of friendship between a five-year-old boy and a goldfish princess who wants to be human.

Featuring the voices of Matt Damon, Liam Neeson, Cate Blanchett and Tina Fey it loosely adapts Hans Christian Anderson’s The Little Mermaid into a contemporary Japanese setting. Although not quite up to the standards of his finest work, this is still a delight. Stylistically, it is something of a departure with more sparse compositions but the positive vibes, reflected in the bright pastel colors and energy of the film make it a highly pleasurable introduction to Miyazaki’s work for newcomers. [Blu-ray + DVD]

Extras include:

  • Storyboards
  • The Five Genuises Who Created Ponyo – interviews
  • Japanese trailers and TV spots
  • Intro by Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall (3:19)
  • A Conversation with Hayao Miyazaki and John Lasseter (3:30)
  • Behind the Microphone: the Voices of Ponyo (6:01)
  • Creating Ponyo (3:55)
  • Ponyo and Fujimoto(2:56)
  • The Nursery (1:57)
  • Scoring Miyazaki (7:17)
  • The Producer’s Perspective: Telling the Story (2:25)
  • The Locations in Ponyo (9:39)
  • Hayao Miyazaki interview (14.00)
  • Toshio Suzuki interview (29:00)
  • Dubbing Session and interview with Japanese cast 25:00)
  • Music Video of the theme song (3:30)

Spaghetti Western Collection – A Fistful Of Dollars/The Good, The Bad and The Ugly/For A Few Dollars More (20th Century Fox Home Ent.): Sergio Leone’s iconic Western trilogy, which established Clint Eastwood as an international star, is re-released on Blu-ray as part of “Eastwood month”, celebrating his 80th birthday, and features A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More and The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

There has been a lot of debate about the transfer of these classic westerns to Blu-ray – with HD enthusiasts less than happy with the finished result – but the films are enduring enough to make a purchase worthwhile. The plentiful extras from the DVD versions are included with contributions from film historian Christopher Frayling and commentaries on all three films. The featurettes include Clint Eastwood looking back on the making of the trilogy, location comparisons and two solid pieces on Leone himself. [Blu-ray / DVD]

Food Inc. (Dogwoof): A disturbing but enlightening documentary from director Robert Kenner which explores the dark side of America’s food industry and the way in which deregulation has affected what people eat.

Featuring many eye opening sequences featuring chickens, pork chops, soybean seeds, and even tomatoes that won’t go bad, there is a lot here to chew on, both figuratively and literally. Featuring interviews with Eric Schlosser (author of Fast Food Nation) and progressive social entrepreneurs like it is a compelling tale of how food gets to US tables. [DVD]


Absolute Power (Warner Home Video)
Bad Boys (Sony Pictures Home Ent.)
Brothers (Lionsgate UK)
Chris Ryan’s Strike Back (2 Entertain)
Doctor Who – The New Series: 5 – Volume 1 (2 Entertain)
Exam (Sony Pictures Home Ent.)
Heartbreak Ridge (Warner Home Video)
Home (Universal Pictures)
Kelly’s Heroes (Warner Home Video) 
Pacific – The True Stories (Revolver Entertainment)
RoboGeisha (Showbox Media Group)
The Rookie (Warner Home Video) 
The Story of Science (2 Entertain) 
The Wolfman (Universal Pictures) 
Tora! Tora! Tora! (20th Century Fox Home Ent.) 
Where Eagles Dare (Warner Home Video)

The Best DVD and Blu-ray releases of 2009
UK cinema releases for Friday 4th June including She’s Out of My League, 4,3,2,1 and Death at a Funeral

blu-ray News

Donnie Darko on Blu-ray

Cult film Donnie Darko is getting a UK Blu-ray release from Metrodome on July 19th.

It will be a 2-disc version featuring the original feature as well as the expanded director’s cut, and comes with the following extras:

  • Feature commentary with director Richard Kelly
  • Feature commentary with cast & crew
  • Feature commentary with director Richard Kelly and Kevin Smith
  • They made me do it featurette
  • They made me do it too featurette
  • They made me do it art gallery
  • Production Diary – optional commentary by steven poster, director of photography
  • B-roll footage
  • Cast & crew interviews
  • Additional scenes: 20 scenes with optional commentary by richard kelly – deleted & Extended scenes from the original theatrical cut
  • Cunning visions informercials with optional commentary
  • The Philosophy of Time Travel
  • Original tv spots x 5
  • Original theatrical trailer
  • The director’s cut trailer

> Pre-order Donnie Darko from Amazon UK
> Donnie Darko at the IMDb