blu-ray DVD & Blu-ray

UK DVD & Blu-ray Releases: Monday 24th May 2010



Up In The Air (Paramount): One of the most acclaimed films of last year was this comedy-drama about a man (George Clooney) who specialises in firing workers in a smooth and efficient manner because managers have outsourced this difficult process. Addicted to travel, air miles and an open relationship with a fellow traveller (Vera Farmiga), he is alarmed when his boss (Jason Bateman) makes him train a new recruit (Anna Kendrick) who advocates firing people via video-link.

Directed by Jason Reitman, it manages to combine breezy, observational comedy with more serious themes of work and finding love. The script even updates the themes of the book to the current era (one sequence is dated as happening in February 2010) by having recently fired workers essentially play versions of themselves.

Clooney is perfectly cast in the lead role and the supporting cast is generally excellent with Farmiga, Kendrick and Batemen contributing fine work. The technical aspects of the film are first rate across the board; with Dana Glaubetman’s editing worthy of special mention as it helps keep proceedings ticking along beautifully. Compared to Reitman’s previous films, it has the delicious wit of Thank You for Smoking and the unsentimental emotions of Juno, but actually surpasses both in terms of mixing up the light and heavy elements.

The HD transfer is of the high standard you might expect from a contemporary Hollywood studio and although this isn’t the kind of film that is a banquet for the eyes, the Blu-ray looks wonderfully clean and sharp. [Buy it on DVD or Blu-ray]

The special features include the following extras, which are all in high definition:

  • Commentary by writer/director Jason Reitman, director of photography Eric Steelberg and first assistant director Jason Blumenfield
  • Shadowplay: Before The Story
  • Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary by Jason Reitman:
    • To Know Me is To Fly With Me
    • Real People Firing and Irate Employee
    • Thumper and Extended Boat Scene
    • Omaha Montage
    • Spacesuit
    • Do You Live At The Hilton?
    • Nosey Neighbour
    • Natalie In Restroom
    • Natalie Vid-Chats
    • Angry Ryan Checks In
    • Goalquest Invite
    • Maynard Finch Commercial/Kara Calls Ryan
    • Barely Squeaking By / Natalie Calls
  • Trailers
  • “Help Yourself” music video by Sad Brad Smith
  • Storyboards
  • American Airlines Prank

Road to Perdition (20th Century Fox Home Ent.): Sam Mendes made a big splash with American Beauty, his feature film debut which scooped several Oscars in 1999, and his eagerly anticipated follow up in 2002 was this Depression-era crime drama about a hitman (Tom Hanks) who is forced to go on the run with his son (Tyler Hoechlin) after the rest of his family are killed by the wayward son (Daniel Craig) of a mobster (Paul Newman).

Although this wasn’t as well received as his debut film, the technical aspects are excellent with the late Conrad Hall winning a richly deserved Oscar for his cinematography. DreamWorks made the bizarre decision to open it right in the middle of the summer season, meaning its Oscar chances were considerably reduced, but it still stands up well compared to the other films that won that year. [Buy it on Blu-ray]

The extras are as follows:

  • Sam Mendes Feature Introduction (HD)
  • A Cinematic Life: The Art & Influence of Conrad Hall (HD)
  • The Library: A Further Exploration of the World of Road To Perdition
  • Previously released bonus material is presented in standard definition, except as noted:
  • Commentary by director Sam Mendes
  • Deleted Scenes (with optional commentary by Sam Mendes)
  • The Making of Road To Perdition

Capitalism – A Love Story (Paramount Home Entertainment): from Michael Moore examines the effect of corporate dominance on the everyday lives of Americans, especially in the light of the recent global economic meltdown. Although the buzz on this film was mixed when it premiered at Venice and Toronto back in the Autumn, it is a more thoughtful film than some critics have given it credit for. The title is misleading as it’s more of a critique against the winner-takes-all capitalism ushered in by the Reagan administration and how the policies under Clinton and Bush have contributed to the current financial crisis.

There are some sequences that drag a little, but for the most part it is a thought provoking examination of how we’ve got to where we are as a society. Strangely, it could actually win Moore audiences amongst the right-wing Teabaggers as well as his core liberal audience, as his criticisms of the TARP scheme chime in with theirs. [Buy it on DVD]

The extras on the DVD feature a lot of material that didn’t make the theatrical cut, including:

  • Sorry, House-Flippers and Banks: You’re Toast In Flint, MI
  • Congressman Cummings Dares to Speak the Unspeakable
  • NY Times Pulitzer Prize Winner Chris Hedges on the Killing Machine Known as Capitalism
  • The Rich Don’t Go to Heaven (There’s a Special Place Reserved for Them!)
  • What if, Just if, We Had Listened to Jimmy Carter in 1979?
  • The Omnivore’s Dilemma? It’s Capitalism
  • Commie Taxi Drivers: “You Talkin’ To Me?”, in Wisconsin
  • How to Run the Place Where You Work
  • The Socialist Bank of… North Dakota?
  • The Bank Kicks Them Out, Max Kicks Them Back In


St. Trinians 2 – The Legend Of Fritton’s Gold (EIV) [DVD / Blu-ray]
Did You Hear About The Morgans? (Sony Pictures Home Ent.) [DVD / Blu-ray]
Precious (Lionsgate) [DVD / Blu-ray]
Armageddon (Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment) [Blu-ray]
City of the Living Dead (Arrow) [DVD / Blu-ray]
Anesthetize (KSCOPE) [DVD + Blu-ray]
Heartless (Lionsgate) [DVD / Blu-ray]
S.N.U.B (Isis) [DVD]

> The Best DVD and Blu-ray releases of 2009
> UK cinema releases for Friday 21st May including Prince of Persia and Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans

blu-ray DVD & Blu-ray

Psycho on Blu-ray

Universal have announced a “meticulously restored” version of Psycho to be released on Blu-ray this August.

It will be the second major Hitchcock film to get a high-definition release – after Warner Bros’ splendid North By Northwest Blu-ray – this will be a 50th Anniversary Edition that comes in a regular and steelbook version.

The sound has been fully remastered with a new 5.1 mix, whilst the mono audio track will also be available for viewers who want to experience the film in its original form.

It will also feature the following extras:

  • Psycho Sound: A never-before-seen piece that looks at the re-mastering process required to create a 5.1 mix from the original mono elements using Audionamix technology.
  • The Shower Scene: A look at the impact of music on the infamous “shower scene.”
  • The Making of Psycho: A feature-length documentary on Hitchcock’s most shocking film.
  • In the Master’s Shadow – Hitchcock’s Legacy: Hollywood filmmakers discuss Hitchcock’s influence and why his movies continue to thrill audiences.
  • Hitchcock/Truffaut Interviews: Excerpts from a 1962 audio interview with Alfred Hitchcock.
  • Audio Commentary: Feature-length audio commentary with Stephen Rebello (Author of “Alfred Hitchcock and the making of Psycho”)
  • Newsreel Footage: The Release of Psycho: Vintage newsreel on the unique policy Alfred Hitchcock insisted upon for the release of the film.
  • The Shower Scene: Storyboards by Saul Bass: Original storyboard design.
  • Production Notes: An essay on the making of the film.
  • The Psycho Archives: Gallery of on-set photo stills from the film’s production.
  • Posters And Psycho Ads: Gallery of original posters and ads from the theatrical campaign.
  • Lobby Cards: A gallery of promotional lobby cards from the film’s theatrical campaign.
  • Behind-The-Scenes Photographs: Rare photos showing the cast and crew at work.
  • Theatrical Trailer: Original promotional trailer from the film’s theatrical campaign.
  • Re-Release Trailers: Promotional trailer created for the re-release of the film.

> Psycho at the IMDb
> Pre-order the Psycho Blu-ray at Amazon UK

blu-ray DVD & Blu-ray

UK DVD & Blu-ray Releases: Monday 17th May 2010



Minority Report (20th Century Fox Home Ent.): Steven Spielberg’s 2002 sci-fi thriller arrives on Blu-ray and has already garnered high praise for the quality of the transfer and extras. Adapted from Philip K Dick’s short story, it is set in Washington, 2054 where crime can be predicted by a specialised police unit using advanced technology and three psychics. When the head of the ‘Precrime’ unit (Tom Cruise) is shocked to see himself as a future murderer, he goes on the run and tries to figure out a murder he is going to commit.

Possibly Spielberg’s best film of the last decade, Minority Report featured a stellar supporting cast (Colin Farrell, Samantha Morton, Max Von Sydow) and a convincingly dystopian view of the future. Like Blade Runner it combines a film noir narrative with a vision of a divided society where technology throws up recurring ethical dilemmas. The production design and distinctive look of the film, especially the visual effects, have made it a favourite in tech circles as the touch screen technology appears to have had an influence on devices (iPhone, iPad) and operating systems (Windows 7) since its release.

The Blu-ray has already got raves for the quality of the transfer. Gary Tooze of DVD beaver has described it as:

“impeccable – representing the film with pin-point authenticity. Achieving the intended appearance so succinctly I’d have to say this image quality is quite perfect – as perfect as I have seen in a while. It appears to look EXACTLY as the film was meant to. If you aren’t keen on the appearance blame the filmmakers not this pristine transfer”

There is actually a second Blu-ray disc featuring a lot of extras in HD as well as the features that were included in the standard 2002 DVD release.

The extras break down like this:

  • The Future According to Steven Spielberg (18-part – 34:03 in HD)
  • Inside the World of Precrime (10:11 in HD)
  • Philip K. Dick, Steven Spielberg and Minority Report (14:19 in HD)
  • Minority Report: Future Realized (6:22 in HD)
  • Minority Report: Props of the Future (9:42)
  • Highlights from Minority Report From the Set (2 pieces): The Hoverpack Sequence (6:06 in HD); The Car Factory Sequence (2:57 in HD)
  • Minority Report: Commercials of the Future (3:55 in HD)
  • Previz Sequences: The Hoverpack Sequence Previz (1:43 in HD); Maglev Chase Previz (2:10 in HD)
  • Previously Released Special Features (duplicated from the last DVD – all in SD)
  • From Story to Screen (19:03 in total): (2 pieces): The Story/The Debate (9:36); The Players (9:27)
  • Deconstructing Minority Report (42:06)
  • The Stunts of Minority Report (26:45)
  • ILM and Minority Report (6-part – 20-minutes in total)
  • Final Report (3:59)
  • Production Concepts / Storyboard Sequences
  • Three Trailers in HD

[Buy Minority Report on Blu-ray]

The Road (Icon Home Entertainment): The film adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s 2006 novel is a haunting tale of survival in a post-apocalyptic world featuring two outstanding lead performances. It depicts the journey of a father (Viggo Mortensen) and son (Kodi Smit-McPhee) across an America which has descended into savagery after an unspecified environmental and social collapse. Part of the story’s raw power is the absence of any explanation as to why the world is collapsing, which shifts the focus on to the central relationship and the day to day struggle to survive.

Given that the story involves suicide, cannibalism and humans acting like savages you have to give credit to director John Hillcoat (who made the gritty Australian western The Proposition in 2005) and screenwriter Joe Penhall (author of the acclaimed play Blue/Orange) for properly translating the horrors and emotions of the novel into a film. It was this authentic rawness that probably meant that it was never going to be a huge box office hit, but there is much to admire here. The visuals look particularly striking: cinematographer Javier Aguirresa opts for a brownish palette to depict the harsh, ash-ridden environment; the art direction and production design also makes very clever use of rural US locations to create a chilling post-apocalyptic world.

Audiences unfamiliar with the novel may be taken aback by how bleak the story is and the film certainly doesn’t pull its punches: roaming gangs of cannibals, potential suicide and houses filled with half alive bodies are just some aspects that will disturb, although the most notorious scene from the book is omitted. Another thing to look out for is the interesting supporting cast, which is filled with excellent performances – most of which are extended cameos – from Charlize Theron, Robert Duvall and Guy Pearce. The soundtrack by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis strikes an appropriately mournful tone with a notable piano motif reminiscent of Arvo Paart.

The special features on the Blu-ray include:

  • Special features include:
  • Director’s commentary
  • Deleted and extended scenes
  • The Making of The Road
  • Two theatrical trailers
  • BD-Live
  • movieIQ+sync

[Buy The Road on Blu-ray / Buy it on DVD]


About Last Night (Sony Pictures Home Ent.) [Blu-ray / DVD]
Atonement (Universal Pictures) [Blu-ray / DVD]
Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (Universal Pictures) [Blu-ray / DVD]
Creepshow 2 (Boulevard Entertainment Ltd) [DVD]
Institute Benjamenta (BFI) [Blu-ray & DVD]
Night of the Living Dead (Boulevard Entertainment Ltd) [Blu-ray]
Ninja Assassin (Warner Home Video) [Blu-ray & DVD]
Porcupine Tree: Anesthetize (Kscope) [Blu-ray & DVD]
Pride and Prejudice (Universal Pictures) [Blu-ray]
Privilege (BFI) [Blu-ray / DVD]
Rhythm Is It! (Wienerworld) [Blu-ray]
Sex and Drugs and Rock and Roll (EV) [Blu-ray / DVD]
Sherlock Holmes (Warner Home Video) [Blu-ray / DVD]
Slugs (Boulevard Entertainment Ltd) [DVD]
Spread (Optimum Home Entertainment) [Blu-ray / DVD]
St Elmo’s Fire (Sony Pictures Home Ent.) [Blu-ray]
The Man Who Would Be King (Sony Pictures Home Ent.) [DVD]
The Party’s Over (BFI) [Blu-ray & DVD]
The Pleasure Girls (BFI) [Blu-ray + DVD]
True Blood: Season 2 (Warner Home Video/HBO) [Blu-ray / DVD]
True Blood: Seasons 1 and 2 (Warner Home Video/HBO) [Blu-ray / DVD]
Valhalla Rising (Momentum Pictures) [Blu-ray / DVD]

> The Best DVD and Blu-ray releases of 2009
> UK cinema releases for Friday 14th April including Robin Hood, American: The Bill Hicks Story and Lebanon

blu-ray DVD & Blu-ray

UK DVD & Blu-ray Releases: Monday 10th May 2010



Doctor Zhivago (Warner Home Video): David Lean‘s epic adaptation of Boris Pasternak’s novel explores the impact of the Russian Revolution on several characters: poet and physician Yuri Zhivago (Omar Sharif); his wife Tonya (Geraldine Chaplin), his mistress and true love Lara (Julie Christie), the scheming politician Komarovsky (Rod Steiger); Zhivago’s half-brother Yevgraf (Alec Guinness) and the mysterious Strelnikoff (Tom Courteney).

A sweeping romance told in flashback, it was nominated for 10 Oscars and won 5, though much to Lean’s chagrin it lost Best Picture to The Sound of Music. Full of stunning imagery and sequences, including a frozen dacha, the cavalry charge in Moscow and a battle seen through a pair of spectacles, it is tailor made for the Blu-ray format. Warner Bros appear to have done an amazing job on the transfer and  extras include everything from the previous 2-disc DVD edition, plus a new 40-minute documentary, with the discs coming in a large 50-page digi-book including photos, essays and bios. [Blu-ray / DVD]

Where the Wild Things Are (Warner Home Video): Maurice Sendak’s much loved 1963 children’s book has been expanded to a feature length film about a young boy (Max Records) who ventures to a magical land where he is anointed king by a group of strange creatures. Charming and beautifully filmed, it marks a change of pace for director Spike Jonze, who deserves credit – along with co-screenwriter Dave Eggers – for preserving the spirit and tone of the book.

The casting is excellent. Records is not a typical child actor and has a pleasingly raw charm. The voices of the wild things are superb with James Gandolfini an inspired choice as Carol (the wild thing Max becomes closest to) as it brilliantly plays off his Sopranos persona, highlighting his joy, vulnerability and anger. Chris Cooper, Lauren Ambrose and Paul Dano also chip in with excellent vocal performances, making their characters as varied and complex as they should be. The Australian locations are also beautifully captured by cinematographer Lance Acord. The transfer is good (although a little dark in places) and the extras are solid, featuring an array of amusing videos from the set. [Blu-ray / DVD]

A Scanner Darkly (Warner Home Video): The best adaptation of a Philip K Dick novel since Blade Runner is this 2006 film set in a not-too-distant future where America has lost its “war” on drugs, and an undercover cop (Keanu Reeves) is one of many people hooked on Substance D, which causes its users to develop split personalities, which causes majors problem in trying to track down a notorious drug dealer and figuring out who he really is.

Directed by Richard Linklater, it was filmed in live-action, and then animated using the same process used in his previous film, “Waking Life”, which perfectly suits the paranoid themes of the book which include the perils of drug abuse the surveillance society. Beacuse this was transfered directly from a digital source, it looks pristine with with terrific detail and depth. The extras are the same as the DVD release, including two insightful featurettes “One Summer in Austin: Filming A Scanner Darkly” (26 mins) and and “The Weight of the Line: Animation Tales” (20 mins), both of which include a lot of video diary footage. The audio commentary from Linklater, Phillip K. Dick’s daughter Isa Dick-Hackett and producer Tommy Pallotta is also very insightful with regard to Dick’s life and work. [Blu-ray / Normal]



44 Inch Chest (Momentum Pictures) [Blu-ray /DVD]
Adoration (Drakes Avenue Pictures) [DVD]
Battlestar Galactica: Seasons 1-5 (Universal/Playback) [Blu-ray / DVD]
Battlestar Galactica: The Plan (Universal/Playback) [Blu-ray / Box Set]
Caligula: Uncut Edition (Arrow Films) [Blu-ray / DVD]
Charlie Chaplin: The Great Dictator (Park Circus) [Blu-ray / DVD]
Charlie Chaplin: The Kid (Park Circus) [Blu-ray / DVD]
Delgo (20th Century Fox Home Ent.) [DVD]
Departures (Arrow Films) [Blu-ray / DVD]
Dorothy (Optimum Home Entertainment) [Blu-ray / DVD]
Eric Rohmer: The Essential Eric Rohmer (Artificial Eye) [DVD]
George Carlin: Collection – Volume 2 (Anchor Bay Entertainment UK)
It’s Complicated (Universal Pictures) [Blu-ray / DVD]
Nowhere Boy (Icon Home Entertainment) [Blu-ray / DVD]
Paul Blart – Mall Cop (Sony Pictures Home Ent.) [Blu-ray / DVD]
The Day of the Jackal (UCA) [DVD]
Toy Story/Toy Story 2 (Walt Disney) [Blu-ray / DVD]

> The Best DVD and Blu-ray releases of 2009
> UK cinema releases for Friday 7th April including A Mightmare on Elm Street, Hot Tub Time Machine and Four Lions

blu-ray Competitions

Competition: Where the Wild Things Are on Blu-ray

We have 3 copies of Where the Wild Things Are to give away on Blu-ray, courtesy of Warner Home Entertainment.

This adaptation of Maurice Sendak’s much loved 1963 children’s book has been expanded to a feature length film and is about a young boy (Max Records) who ventures to a magical land where he is anointed king by a group of strange creatures.

Director Spike Jonze has crafted an ambitious and moving treatment of the book and the result is a magical film – one of my favourites of last year in fact.

The casting is excellent: Records is not a typical child actor, with a raw quality that fits just right whilst the voice cast is every bit as good.

The choice of James Gandolfini to voice Carol (the wild thing Max becomes closest to) was inspired – brilliantly playing off his Sopranos persona, it highlights his joy, vulnerability and anger.

Chris Cooper, Lauren Ambrose and Paul Dano also chip in with excellent vocal performances, making their characters as varied and complex as they should be.

The Australian locations, beautifully captured by cinematographer Lance Acord, also add a visual richness to the film which wouldn’t have been the same if done on green screen soundstages.


Some adults may complain that Jonze has made a children’s film that slants towards to older audiences, but this is exactly what makes the film special.

Instead of sugar coating the story and patronising the viewer, he has (along with co-screenwriter Dave Eggers) treated the source material and cinema audience with the respect they deserve.

To be in with a chance of winning a copy of Where the Wild Things Are on Blu-ray just answer the following question:

Which film starring Catherine Keener did Spike Jonze direct in 1999?

The closing date is Monday 31st May and winners will be notified by email.

Where the Wild Things Are is released on DVD & Blu-ray on Monday 10th May

> Where the Wild Things Are at the IMDb
> Find out more about the book at Wikipedia