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DVD & Blu-ray Film of the Week

DVD Pick: Once

Once is out now on DVDOne of the most delightful and surprising films to come out last year was Once, the charming tale of the relationship between a Dublin busker (Glen Hansard) and a Czech girl (Marketa Irglova) he meets on the street.

Featuring songs by Hansard and Irglova, it is a music film without being a musical and was a big hit at Sundance back in January 2007.

So much so in fact that Fox Searchlight released it to rave reviews and the film won a lot of fans, including none other than Steven Spielberg who said:

“A little movie called Once gave me enough inspiration to last the rest of the year.”

It recently won an Oscar for Best Original Song with Falling Slowly:

It also provided one of the most memorable moments of Sunday’s ceremony as host Jon Stewart allowed Marketa Irglova to come back on stage to finish her speech:

I spoke with the director John Carney about the film when it got released here back in October, which you can listen to here:

[audio:http://www.filmdetail.com/podcast/get.php?fla=podcast-2007-10-21-28676.MP3]

Once is out now on DVD

> Buy Once on DVD from Amazon UK
> Read reviews for Once at Metacritic
> Download the interview with director John Carney as an MP3 file

Categories
DVD & Blu-ray Film of the Week

DVD Pick: Michael Clayton

Michael Clayton on DVDThis week sees the release of Michael Clayton on DVD in the UK.

Although it got a lot of award nominations and critical praise, this brilliant legal thriller didn’t quite do the box office business it deserved in the US or over here.

Despite the presence of A-lister George Clooney and some fantastic performances from superb supporting cast (including the likes of Tom Wilkinson, Tilda Swinton and Sydney Pollack) I think some people mistook it for some kind of John Grisham-style pot boiler.

In truth, it is a glorious throwback to 70s style conspiracy thrillers like The Parallax View and All the President’s Men, as writer-director Tony Gilroy explores the dark side of corporate America and the moral dilemas of those trapped in that world.

Clooney plays the title character, a fixer at a prestigious New York law firm who is facing a personal and professional crisis.

When one of his bosses (Tom Wilkinson) has an embarrasing breakdown in the middle of a huge class-action lawsuit involving a giant corporation, Michael is sent to sort things out. But he soon discovers that things are not what they seem.

Check out the trailer here:

Also, this interview Clooney did with Charlie Rose is interesting:

> Buy Michael Clayton on DVD from Amazon UK
> IMDb entry for Michael Clayton
> More reviews of Michael Clayton at Metacritic

Categories
Cinema Film of the Week Interviews

John Carney on Once

John Carney - Director of OnceThe new film Once is out at UK cinemas this weekend and I recently spoke to director John Carney about the film.

It is a charming tale of the relationship between a Dublin busker (Glen Hansard) and a Czech girl (Marketa Irglova) he meets on the street.

Featuring a lot of songs by Hansard and Irglova, it is a music film without being a musical and was a big hit at Sundance back in January.

So much so in fact that Fox Searchlight released it and the film won a lot of fans, including none other than Steven Spielberg who said:

“A little movie called Once gave me enough inspiration to last the rest of the year.”

I spoke with John about the making of the film and the success it has enjoyed over the last few months.

Listen to the interview here:

[audio:http://filmdetail.receptionmedia.com/John_Carney_on_Once.MP3]

To download this as a podcast via iTunes just click the image below:


Once
is out now at selected UK cinemas

> Download this interview as an MP3
> Get local showtimes for Once via Google Movies
> Check out reviews of the film at Metacritic

Categories
Cinema Film of the Week

This is England

Shane Meadows again proves that he is one of the most exciting directors working in British cinema with this tale of a skinhead gang in the early 1980s.

This is England posterWhen a young boy named Shaun (Thomas Turgoose) is picked on at school he joins a skinhead gang where he finds friendship and a new sense of identity. As the gang is gradually taken over by more racist members, he starts to learn harsh lessons about his new friends.

Set amidst the backdrop of the Falklands War in the early 1980s, it manages to make some powerful parallels to the present day whilst brilliantly recreating the period itself with a varied, affecting soundtrack and a telling eye for detail.

It also features some truly remarkable performances. In the lead role of Shaun, young Thomas Turgoose gives an impressively mature turn that never slips in to sentimentality. As Combo, Stephen Graham is scarily convincing, giving a brilliantly intense performance as the racist leader of the gang.

A lot of British films get stuck in the dim drawing rooms of Merchant-Ivory or the phoney gangster chic of Guy Ritchie, so it is a joy to see a British filmmaker retain his own voice like this. A deeply moving rites-of-passage story, it also reconfirms Meadows as one of the most accomplished and distinctive directors currently working.

> Visit the official site
> IMDb entry for This is England
> Excellent Shane Meadows fansite with a lot of detail on This is England
> Mark Kermode interviews Shane Meadows for The Culture Show on BBC2
> Buy the wonderful soundtrack at Amazon UK
> Jon Savage with an interesting Sight and Sound article on the film

Categories
Cinema Film of the Week Reviews

Half Nelson

A sharply observed drama about an unlikely friendship is a remarkably assured piece featuring two superb lead performances.

Half Nelson PosterWhen Dan Dunne (Ryan Gosling) an idealistic teacher at an inner-city high school is caught smoking crack by one of his pupils named Drey (Shareeka Epps), they form an unexpected bond that highlights the challenges each face in their lives.

By day Dan is a teacher who likes to inspire his students with his theories about history, whilst by night he indulges in booze and drugs. Drey, meanwhile has her own problems. A typical latchkey kid, she has a brother in jail for drug dealing and one of his associates, Frank (Anthony Mackie), seems keen for her to join the trade.

What is interesting about Half Nelson is that it skilfully avoids the cliches that often afflict films set in a school. Director Ryan Fleck and his co-screenwriter Anna Boden have crafted an subtle but often witty picture that manages to cover a lot of intellectual and emotional ground whilst never slipping in to easy sentimentality or pretentious navel gazing.

The characters are beautifully drawn as their qualities are often juxtaposed against with their more obvious flaws and the performances that bring them to life are terrific. Gosling has rightly received a lot of plaudits for his portrayal of a disillusioned liberal who is struggling to cope with his life, but Epps also deserves equal praise for her unaffected but captivating turn.

The title alludes to a suffocating wrestling move (as well as a great Miles Davis track) and as the story progresses both Dan and Drey have to deal with their own problems. The fact that the film ends up being inspirational and deeply engaging whilst offering no easy conclusions is a tribute to the skill of all those involved in bringing it to the screen.

> Check out the official website
> Read more reviews of Half Nelson at Metacritic
> IMDb entry for Half Nelson
> Get show times for your local cinema
> Listen to Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden discuss the film in the FILMdetail Interview