blu-ray DVD & Blu-ray

UK DVD & Blu-ray Releases: Monday 8th March 2010


An Education (E1 Entertainment): Coming of age dramas can often fall prey to cliché or sentimentality but this manages to avoid avoid such pitfalls to become something really special. Based on journalist Lynn Barber‘s memoir of growing up in the early 1960s, it explores the life lessons learnt by a 16 year old girl named Jenny (Carey Mulligan, outstanding in the central role) as she falls for an older man (Peter Sarsgaard) and the glamorous lifestyle he appears to offer her. Skilfully directed by Lone Scherfig from an intelligent and heartfelt script by Nick Hornby, it evokes the charming drabness of the period whilst accurately depicting the emotional minefield that teenage years can be. [Buy on Blu-ray / Buy on DVD]

Bright Star (20th Century Fox Home Ent.): The latest film from director Jane Campion explores the last years of John Keats (Ben Whishaw) and his relationship with Fanny Brawne (Abbie Cornish). Beautifully filmed and acted, it is a surprise that this hasn’t got a UK Blu-ray release given the stunning Vermeer-like cinematography from Greig Fraser. [Buy on DVD]

Toy Story (Walt Disney): The first feature from Pixar finally arrives on the Blu-ray format. The 1995 film directed by John Lasseter had a brilliantly simple concept: what happens to toys when they’re not played with? The main characters it introduced us to were: Cowboy Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks), the favourite toy of a young boy named Andy, who tries to calm his colleagues during a difficult time of year – the birthday – when they may be replaced by newer toys. Along comes the snazzy Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), who mistakenly believes he is a real space ranger and not a toy. What could have been cheesy and overly commercial was instead a magical, innovative landmark in film history. Lasseter and his team won a richly deserved special Oscar “for the development and inspired application of techniques that have made possible the first feature-length computer-animated film”. [Buy on Blu-ray / Buy on DVD]

Toy Story 2 (Walt Disney): The 1999 sequel to Toy Story gets a simultaneous Blu-ray release in preparation for the third film, which is out at cinemas in June. As the only sequel Pixar have done (so far) Toy Story managed to preserve the quality of the original and in certain sequences surpass it. Toy collecting becomes the focus here, as Woody (Tom Hanks) – a rare doll from a popular 60s children’s show – gets kidnapped by a greedy collector and Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) hatches a rescue mission with Andy’s other toys. A massive box office success, the second film demonstrated that Pixar were not only innovators in terms of CG animation but that they had tremendous story telling skills which have continued to delight audiences over the last decade. [Buy on Blu-ray / Buy on DVD]

Afterschool (Network Releasing): A US indie which explores the experiences of a teenage student at an elite East Coast school who accidentally captures on camera the tragic deaths of two female classmates. Their lives become memorialised as part of an audio-visual assignment intended to facilitate the campus-wide healing process, with the technophile Robert eventually overseeing the project, which creates unexpected tensions and unease. An interesting and distinctive debut film from first time director Antonio Campos which explores new and disturbing issues for a generation who have grown up in a world connected by the web. [Buy on DVD]



Julie and Julia (Sony Pictures) [Buy on Blu-ray / Buy on DVD]
Kill Zone (Showbox Media Group) [Buy on Blu-ray / Buy on DVD]
Saw VI (Lionsgate UK) [Buy on Blu-ray / Buy on DVD]
The Great Rift (2 Entertain) [Buy on Blu-ray / Buy on DVD]
200 Motels (Tony Palmer Films) [Buy on DVD]
Amelia (20th Century Fox Home Ent.) [Buy on DVD]
Don’t Worry About Me (Verve Pictures) [Buy on DVD]
Mister Lonely (ICA) [Buy on DVD]
Motherhood (Metrodome Distribution) [Buy on DVD]
Reservoir Dogs (Lionsgate UK) [Buy on Blu-ray / Buy on DVD]
Taking Woodstock (Universal Pictures) [Buy on Blu-ray / Buy on DVD]
The Mentalist: Season 1 (Warner Home Video) [Buy on DVD]
Track 29 (Optimum Home Entertainment) [Buy on DVD]
True Lies (20th Century Fox Home Ent.) [Buy on DVD]

> The Best DVD and Blu-ray releases of 2009
> UK cinema releases for Friday 5th March including Alice in Wonderland, Legion, Chloe, Case 39 and Ondine


UK Cinema Releases: Friday 30th October 2009

UK Cinema Releases 30-10-09



An Education (E1 Entertainment): A coming-of-age story based on Lynn Barber’s memoir about a teenage girl in 1960s suburban London, and how her life changes with the arrival of a playboy nearly twice her age.

Superbly made and acted it is a likely contender for BAFTAs and Oscars. Read my more considered thoughts on the film here. [Curzon Mayfair, Odeon West End & Nationwide / 12A]

9 (Universal): An animated fantasy about a mechanical humanoid rag doll (9) which explains how humanity, in its blind pursuit of science and technology, went to his doom.

Directed by Shane Acker from his own short film, it features the voices of Elijah Wood, Christopher Plummer, Martin Landau, and John.C Reilly. [Prince Charles Cinema & Nationwide / 12A] (Opened on Weds 28th)

Michael Jackson’s This Is It (Sony Pictures): The film of the 02 concerts that never were from the late popstar, culled from rehearsal footage.

Directed by Kenny Ortega and featuring Michael Jackson. [Nationwide / PG] (Opened Weds 28th)



An American Werewolf In London (Universal): A Halloween re-issue for the 1981 horror film directed by John Landis about two American tourists (David Naughton and Griffin Dunne) who get attacked by a werewolf. [Vue West End & Nationwide]

Citizen Kane (bfi Distribution): A re-issue for the 1941 masterpiece about a media mogul (Orson Welles) and the attempts to explain his dying words. [BFI Southbank & Key Cities / U]

Love Exposure (Third Window Films): Running almost four hours, the new film from cult Japanese director Sion Sono is a tour through any number of genres, styles, plot turns, perversions and emotional states. [ICA Cinema]

Philip Pullman’s The Butterfly Tattoo (Philm Company): A project based on Philip Pullman’s novel of the same name (originally published as The White Mercedes) directed by Phil Hawkins. It used a novel method of financing its production, by selling shares to members of the public. [Selected Key Cities / 12A]

Starsuckers (S2S Distribution): A British documentary exposing the “shams and deceit involved in creating a pernicious celebrity culture”. Directed by Chris Atkins, who made Taking Liberties, it shows the production team planting a variety of celebrity-related stories in the UK media, which some papers reprinted without verification. [Curzon Soho & Key Cities / 12A]

Tales From The Golden Age (Trinity Filmed Ent) : A film composed of 5 unconventional short stories, each one dealing with the late communist period in Romania, told through its urban myths from the perspective of ordinary people. The title refers to the alluded “Golden Age” of the last 15 years of Ceauşescu’s regime. [Apollo Picc Circus, Barbican, Curzon Renoir, Rio Dalston & Key Cities / 12A]

Dead Man Running (Revolver): Another crime film with Tamer Hassan and Danny Dyer with a guest appearance from Curtis ’50 Cent’ Jackson. [Nationwide / 15]

The Horseman (Kaleidoscope Entertainment): A drama about a grieving father and a troubled teenage girl as they drive northbound along the outback roads of Australia. [C’World Shaftesbury Ave., Odeon Panton St., S’Case Newham & Key Cities / 18]

Aladin (Eros): A bollywood version of Aladin, which seems to be spelt differently. [C’Worlds Feltham, Ilford, Shaftesbury Ave., Vue Acton & Key Cities]

> UK cinema releases for October 2009
> DVD & Blu-ray picks for this week including Drag Me to Hell and True Blood Season 1 (W/C Monday 26th October 2009)

Festivals London Film Festival

LFF 2009: An Education

Carey Mulligan in An Education

An Education had a gala screening at the London Film Festival this week and gets released next Friday (October 30th).

I reviewed it in full a couple of weeks ago, so click here to read it.

Cinema Thoughts

An Education

An Education still lounge

Coming of age dramas can often fall prey to cliché or sentimentality but An Education manages to avoid avoid such pitfalls to become something really special.

Based on journalist Lynn Barber‘s memoir of growing up in the early 1960s, it explores the life lessons learnt by a 16 year old girl named Jenny (Carey Mulligan) as she falls for an older man (Peter Sarsgaard) and the glamorous lifestyle he appears to offer her.

Skilfully directed by Lone Scherfig from an intelligent and heartfelt script by Nick Hornby, it evokes the charming drabness of the period whilst accurately depicting the emotional minefield that teenage years can be.

Although similar stories have been told before what makes this one stick out is the quality of the writing and the way in which the principal players really sink their creative teeth into it.

Carey Mulligan is already being tipped as a major star on the basis of her performance here and such hype is largely justified. She has the raw acting presence casting directors kill for and manages to combine deep emotions with an easygoing charm, skilfully moving between the two.

Peter Sarsgaard provides a smooth foil and largely convinces as a smooth talking Englishman, even if his accent sometimes wavers; Alfred Molina and Cara Seymour make amusingly naive parents; and Rosamund Pike hits just the right note as one of Jenny new ‘sophisticated’ friends.

Nearly all the characters are nicely drawn: instead of the one-note stereotypes that often litter British made films, they often have hidden sides that are slowly revealed, faults which are understandable and aren’t solely defined by their class and background.

Two of the minor characters who especially stand out are Olivia Williams as a teacher at Jenny’s school and Emma Thompson as a stern headmistress. Both have limited screen time, but make a considerable impact in roles with hidden depths.

Period pieces can sometimes be an excuse for cheap nostalgia but one of the clever ideas here is how the dawning of the 1960s is almost used as a metaphor for teenage years themselves, when contemporary music, films and culture feel particularly special.

Scherfig moves things along at a nice pace and perhaps her outside perspective (she’s a Danish director who came to notice with the Dogme95 movement) give the film its passion and energy whilst Hornby’s script throws up a highly pleasing mixture of laughs and emotions.

The period detail of the early 60s is evoked with some sterling contributions from the technical side, notably production designer Andrew McAlpine, costume designer Odile Dicks-Mireaux and cinematographer John de Borman.

There is the occasional misstep, notably a jarring voice over at the close, but for the most part this a rare kind of British film: one that feeds the brain, touches the heart and tickles the funny bone.

It looks highly likely to be an awards season contender (and a virtual shoo-in for the BAFTAs) but it will be interesting to see how it fairs at the box office.

No doubt UK distributor E1 Films can expect very good critical buzz in the UK later this month (presumably aided by a blitz of Carey Mulligan profiles in Sunday newspapers) but the US roll-out will be trickier.

Sony Pictures Classics snagged the US distribution rights at Sundance back in January and they’ll be giving it a platform release although how it will do in the current climate remains an open question.

My guess is that it will do well enough to create the awareness for Oscar season but fingers will be crossed, given how smaller, acclaimed films (such as The Hurt Locker) have not really broken through this year.

An Education opens in the US on October 9th and the UK on October 30th


UK Cinema Releases: October 2009

UK Cinema Releases - October 2009


  • Army Of Crime (15) / Optimum Releasing
  • The Beaches Of Agnes (18) / Artificial Eye
  • Beyond A Reasonable Doubt / Entertainment
  • District 13: Ultimatum (15) / Momentum Pictures
  • I P Man (15) / Showbox Entertainment / ICA Cinema & Key Cities
  • The Invention Of Lying (12A) / Universal
  • Driving Aphrodite (aka My Life In Ruins) (12A) / Warner Bros.
  • Pandorum (15) / Icon
  • Toy Story In 3D (PG) / Walt Disney
  • Vinyan (18) / Revolver Entertainment


  • Zombieland (15) / Sony


  • Up (in 3D) (U) / Walt Disney
  • Creek / (Entertainment)
  • Died Young Stayed Pretty / ICA Films / ICA Cinema & selected Key Cities (from 23 Oct)
  • Goodbye Solo (15) / Axiom Films Apollo Piccadilly Circus, Curzon Renoir & Key Cities
  • Halloween II (18) / Entertainment
  • Katalin Varga (15) / Artificial Eye
  • Le Donk & Scor-Zay-Zee (15) / Verve Pictures
  • Love Happens (12A) / E1 Entertainment
  • The Vanishing Of The Bees / Dogwoof


  • Couples Retreat / Universal


  • The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus (12A) / Lionsgate UK
  • Ong Bak: The Beginning (15) / Revolver Entertainment
  • Pontypool (TBC) / Kaleidoscope Entertainment / Key Cities
  • Thirst (18) / Metrodome
  • Triangle (15) / Icon


  • A Thousand Words / Paramount
  • Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant / Universal
  • Coffin Rock / (High Fliers Films)
  • Colin (18) / Kaleidoscope Entertainment / London & Key Cities
  • The Cove (12A) / Vertigo Films
  • Fantastic Mr Fox (PG)/ 20th Century Fox
  • Freestyle / Revolver Entertainment
  • Johnny Mad Dog (15) / Momentum Pictures
  • Made in Jamaica (15) / Network Releasing
  • The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard (15) / Warner Bros./Pathe


  • 9 (12A) / Universal
  • Michael Jackson’s This is It (TBC) / Sony Pictures


  • An Education / E1 Entertainment
  • Animal House (R/I) / Universal
  • Citizen Kane (U) / bfi Distribution / BFI Southbank & Key Cities
  • Dead Man Running / Revolver Entertainment
  • Love Exposure / Third Window Films
  • Tales From The Golden Age (12A) / Trinity Filmed Ent

Keep a look out every Friday for a breakdown of the weekly releases with more detail on each film.

If you have any questions about this month’s cinema releases or any upcoming titles then just email me or leave a comment below.

> Get local showtimes via Google Movies (just enter your postcode)
> Find out about films showing near you at MyFilms


Trailer: An Education

This is the first full length trailer for An Education, the new film based on Lynn Barber’s memoir, directed by Lone Scherfig from a script by Nick Hornby.

Carey Mulligan stars as Jenny, a teenager who falls for an older man (Peter Sarsgaard) and learns various important lessons in life and love.

It won the Audience Choice and the Cinematography awards at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year.

It opens in the US on October 9th (in limited release) and in the UK on 30th October 2009

> An Education at the IMDb
> Buy Lynn Barber’s book at Amazon UK