DVD & Blu-ray

UK DVD Releases: Monday 30th March 2009

UK DVD Picks 30-03-09


Waltz With Bashir (Artificial Eye): One of the most remarkable films to be released in the last year deals with the memory of Israeli soldiers involved in the invasion of Lebanon in the early 1980s and the 1982 Sabra and Shatila massacre

Directed by Ari Folman, it examines his own experiences on that mission and the struggle to remember what happened when he interviews various army colleagues from the time.

The strange title is taken from a scene with one of Folman’s interviewees, who remembers taking a machine gun and dancing an ‘insane waltz’ amid enemy fire, with posters of Bashir Gemayel lining the walls behind him.

Gemayel was the Lebanese president who whose assassination helped trigger the massacre. The most unusual and startling aspect of the film is that it is animated, an unconventional approach for what is essentially a documentary.

Although very different in theme and tone to Creature Comforts it appears to adopt the same device in which real conversations are animated and stylised. 

A hugely ambitious film, it took four years to complete and is and international co-production between IsraelGermany and France.

Back in May it premiered to huge acclaim at Cannes and was one of the front runners to win the Palme d’Or. Much of that praise was richly deserved because this is an arresting and highly original film.

It deserves particular credit for taking a highly politicised and contentious event and yet somehow makes a wider point about the futility of war whose relevance is not just confined to the cauldron of the Middle East.

Another aspect which makes this story so intriguing is that the Israeli troops were not guilty of the massacre itself, but of standing by and letting Lebanese miltia murder Palestinian refugees. 

It is the memory of, or rather the inability to remember, this event that lies at the core of the story. Has Folman unconsciously blocked out the memory? Does guilt cloud any rational perspective? 

The raw power of the source material is enhanced by some extraordinary imagery, with a remarkable and inventive use of colour for certain sections, especially those involving the sea.

Added to this is Folman’s narration which has an almost hypnotic effect when set alongside the visuals, almost as if the audience is experiencing a dream whilst watching the film itself. 

The film won 6 Israeli Film Academy awards (including Best Picture) and was nominated for Best Foreign Film at the Oscars.

It might seem like a strange film to make about such a serious subject but it’s surreal approach only makes the horrors of war seem all too real.  

The DVD and Blu-ray discs include the following extras:


  • 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Interview with director Ari Folman
  • Theatrical Trailers

Blu-ray Disc

  • 1080P 1.78:1 Widescreen
  • Dolby Digital 5.1 & DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Interview with director Ari Folman
  • ‘Making of’ documentary (70minutes)
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Theatrical Trailers

* Listen to our interview with director Ari Folman here *

Not Quite Hollywood (Optimum): A highly entertaining documentary exploring the world of Australian exploitation cinema that began in the early 1970s. 

Directed by Mark Hartley it shows how a new generation of maverick filmmakers capitalised on the relaxing of censorship laws to create wilder films on smaller budgets.

Whilst more refined directors like Peter Weir achieved worldwide acclaim with films like Picnic At Hanging Rock, more maverick directors and actors created a crazier breed of exploitation movie. 

The film explores how films like Alvin PurpleBarry McKenzie Holds His OwnDead-End Drive InLong WeekendMad MaxThe Man from Hong KongPatrickRazorbackRoadgamesStork and Turkey Shoot all contributed to a new era of Aussie cinema.  

Extras on the disc inlcude:

  • 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • English DD5.1 Surround
  • Commentary with writer/director Mark Hartley and Oxploitation auteurs
  • Ozploitation panel at MIFF
  • Quentin Tarantino speaks with Brian Trenchard-Smith
  • UK Exclusive Interview with Mark Hartley
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Original ozploitation trailers

* Listen to our interview with Mark Hartley here

Blindness (Pathe): The film adaptation of the 1995 novel by José Saramago explores a society suffering an epidemic of blindness.

Directed by Fernando Meirelles it stars Julianne MooreMark Ruffalo , Danny Glover and Gael Garcia Bernal as a group of people struggling to survive amidst the chaos that ensues.

Whilst at times the film may be too bleak for some viewers, it is a much better film that its mixed reception at Cannes last year might have believe, with fine performances from the leads and some excellent visuals.

The extras include:

  • ‘A Vision of Blindness’ – 50 minute making of documentary
  • Deleted scenes with director’s introduction
  • Theatrical trailer

* Listen to our interview with Fernando Meirelles about the film here *



10 Days to War (2 Entertain)
A Time To Love and A Time To Die (Masters of Cinema)
Blood on the Sun (Network)
Body of Lies (Warner)
Changeling (Universal)
Derek (BFI)
Dexter – Season 2 (Paramount)
Driftwood (Anchor Bay)
Flawless (Metrodome)
Flesh and Fury (Eureka)
Free Agents (C4 DVD)
Henry Poole is Here (Sony)
Lakeview Terrace (Sony)
Manhunt (Metrodome)
Mistresses – Series 2 (2 Entertain)
Muriel ou le Temps d’un retour (Eureka)
My Best Friend’s Girl (Lionsgate)
Nighthawks / Strip Jack Naked (BFI)
Of Time and the City (BFI)
Patti Smith Dream of Life (BFI)
Rivals (Optimum)
Salaam Bombay (Arrow)
Splinter (Icon)
The Express (Universal)
The Secret Life of Bees (Fox)
The Trail of the Lonesome Pine (Eureka)
The Wild Geese – Special Edition (Arrow)
Unnatural Causes (Sony)


> Buy Waltz With BashirNot Quite Hollywood and Blindness at Amazon UK
> Browse more DVD Releases at Amazon UK and Play
Check the latest DVD prices at DVD Price Check
Take a look at the current UK cinema releases (W/C Friday 27th March)

Cinema Interviews Podcast

Interview: Fernando Meirelles on Blindness

Blindness is the film adaptation of the 1995 novel by José Saramago about a society suffering an epidemic of blindness.

Directed by Fernando Meirelles it stars Julianne MooreMark Ruffalo , Danny Glover and Gael Garcia Bernal as a group of people struggling to survive amidst the chaos that ensues.

In recent years Fernando has directed such acclaimed films as City of God (2002) and The Constant Gardener (2005) and I recently spoke to him in London about this latest film.

You can listen to the interview here:


Download it as a podcast via iTunes by clicking here.

Watch the trailer here:


Blindness is out at UK cinemas from today

Download this interview as an MP3 file
Fernando Meirelles at the IMDb
Official UK site for Blindness
Find out more about the novel at Wikipedia
Get local showtimes for the film via Google Movies

[Image © Ken Woroner 2008 / Courtesy of Pathe]


Trailer: Blindness

Blindness is released in UK cinemas on Friday 21st November

Cannes Festivals News

Cannes 2008 Reactions: Blindness

The opening film of this year’s festival was Blindness, directed by Fernando Meirelles (City of God, The Constant Gardener) and starring Julianne Moore and Mark Ruffalo.

Based on José Saramago’s 1995 novel it is about an epidemic of blindness in a modern city.

Here is a summary of some of the critical reaction:

Jeffrey Wells of Hollywood Elsewhere is underwhelmed:

I respected Blindness — I certainly agree with what it’s saying — but it didn’t arouse me at all. Opening-night films at big festivals are often underwhelming on this or that level — bland, suckish, so-so.

I’m sorry to be saying what I’m saying as I worshipped Meirelles’ City of God and very much admired The Constant Gardener. But the truth is that Blindness is more than a bit of a flub.

For what it’s worth, the pacing, performances and tech credits are first-rate.

Kirk Honeycutt of The Hollywood Reporter feels lacks an element of surprise:

Blindness is provocative cinema. But it also is predictable cinema: It startles but does not surprise.

An appreciative critical response will be needed stateside for Miramax to market this Brazilian-Canadian-Uruguayan co-production.

Other territories may benefit from the casting of an array of international actors with some boxoffice draw.

Justin Chang of Variety has similarly mixed feelings:

Despite a characteristically strong performance by Julianne Moore as a lone figure who retains her eyesight, bearing sad but heroic witness to the horrors around her, Fernando Meirelles’ slickly crafted drama rarely achieves the visceral force, tragic scope and human resonance of Saramago’s prose.

Despite marquee names, mixed reviews might yield fewer eyes than desired for this international co-production.

Joe Utichi of IGN is also somewhat disappointed:

Ultimately, Blindness is a brave attempt from this ever-versatile director at creating an intelligent, original sci-fi thriller that, sadly, never quite comes together.

James Rocchi of Cinematical is more admiring:

But while Blindness can be faulted for many things, it also has to be respected for its ambition, craft, and effort;

Blindness shows us a world of wide-eyed sightlessness, and it does so through a fierce vision that only occasionally loses focus.

Xan Brooks of The Guardian is also more positive:

Blindness may well be the bleakest curtain raiser in the history of the festival, a nightmarish parable of the apocalypse, directed by the Brazilian film-maker Fernando Meirelles and just as impressive in its way as his career-making City of God.

It’s a devastating bit of work – a cold-eyed portrait of social meltdown that nonetheless shows how catastrophe can bring out the best in people as well as the worst.

I could have done without Danny Glover’s sage, hushed narration over every stray moment of quiet, but otherwise this was pretty much spot-on.

Sukhdev Sandhu of The Daily Telegraph feels the acting is strong, but not enough to redeem the overall film:

As always, it’s impossible to take one’s eyes off Moore who is so adept at playing roles in which her strength seems brittle, almost masochistic.

Alice Braga, a prostitute who is one of the inmates that Moore and Ruffalo befriend, is also a stand-out performer.

They do well to save a film that, in trying so hard to be faithful to the novel, falls prey to tone-deafness.

Did you see Blindness at Cannes? If so, then leave your thoughts below.

> Blindness at the IMDb
> Find out more about the novel at Wikipedia
> Anne Thomspon speaks to director Fernando Meirelles at Variety
> Will Lawrence also has a piece on Mereilles at the Telegraph