DVD & Blu-ray

UK DVD Releases: Monday 27th October 2008


Iron Man (Paramount): The first summer blockbuster of this year saw another Marvel comic book character getting the big screen treatment. Robert Downey Jnr plays Tony Stark, a billionaire industrialist and arms dealer who changes his war-profiteering ways after being kidnapped in Afghanistan. After building a robotic suit in order to escape he decides to protect the world as Iron Man. Directed by Jon Favreau and co-starring Terence Howard and Gwyneth Paltrow it impressed a lot of critics and audiences with its combination of special effects, witty dialogue and fine performances.

The 2 Disc edition is the one to go for as it comes with a lot of decent extras, which include:

  • I Am Iron Man – seven-part in-depth look at the making of the film.
  • The Invincible Iron Man – extensive explorations of the origins of the character in a six-part featurette.
  • Wired: The Visual Effects of Iron Man.
  • The Actor’s Process (scene rehearsal with cast).
  • Robert Downey Jr. Screen Test.
  • Still Galleries
  • The Onion: ‘Wildly Popular Iron Man Trailer to be Adapted into Full Length Film

This is the first feature film Marvel funded themselves (Paramount were just the distributor) and although The Dark Knight stole a bit of its thunder, this was one of the best comic book adaptations for quite some time. After all his off-screen problems Downey Jnr proved he could shine as a leading man in this kind of film and Favreau got the blend of character, action and humour just right. Another aspect worth praising is the terrific SFX work ILM and the late Stan Winston achieved in creating the Iron Man suit. [Cert 12]

Charley Varrick (Freemantle): Freemantle Home Entertainment have two batches of films arriving on UK Region 2 DVD this month. Although most of them have been out here before on various labels, a few others are making their UK DVD debuts. This is a 1973 crime drama directed by Don Siegel and starring Walter Matthau in the title role. It came two years after Siegel’s Dirty Harry and also stars two actors from that film: Andrew Robinson and John Vernon. Based on the novel ‘The Looters’ by John H. Reese it is an enjoyable slice of 70s crime movie.   

Wim Wenders’ Documentaries (Axiom Films): This five-disc set brings together five of the director’s documentaries on the nature of film and filming that cover three decades of his career. They include:

  • Nick’s Film (Lightning Over Water) (1979): A moving portrait of Hollywood maverick Nicholas Ray. Special features include a Feature-length commentary with Wim Wenders and a ‘Nicholas Ray: Especially For Pierre’ lecture (38 mins).
  • Room 666 (1982): Fifteen directors, including Jean-Luc Godard, Werner Herzog and Steven Spielberg, discuss the future of cinema in Room 666 of a hotel during the 1982 Cannes Film Festival.
  • Tokyo-Ga (1985): The legacy of Japanese master filmmaker Yasujiro Ozu is explored during a journey through contemporary Tokyo. Special features include some deleted scenes. 
  • Notebook on Cities and Clothes (1989): The relationship between fashion and film is examined in an intimate portrait of Japanese designer Yohji Yamamoto. Special features include: Feature-length commentary with Wim Wenders, Deleted scenes with commentary, ‘Yamamoto: 12 Years Later’ featurette. 
  • A Trick of Light (1996): The story of the Skladanowsky brothers, pioneers of early cinema, celebrates a century of cinema. Special features include: Feature-length commentary with Wim Wenders, Deleted scenes. 

Also included in the 5-disc box-set is a 24-page booklet containing essays on each of the films, plus an 8-page booklet containing an exclusive interview with Wim Wenders discussing his documentaries.



Another Cinderella Story (Warner)
Dead Space Downfall (Anchor Bay/Manga)
Dirty Sexy Money – Season 1 (Disney)
Fighters / Real Money (2 disc set) (Second Run)
Flood (2 Disc Extended Edition) (Lionsgate)
Fonejacker – Series 2 (4DVD)
Gray Lady Down (Fremantle)
Hell In The Pacific (Fremantle)
House – Series 4 (Universal Playback)
Junior Bonner (Fremantle)
Land Of Plenty (Axiom Films)
Leo (Universal)
Lou Reed’s Berlin (Artificial Eye)
Mad Money (Lionsgate)
My Name Is Earl – Series 3 (Fox)
Never Apologize (Drakes Avenue Pictures)
One Who Set Forth – Wim Wenders’ Early Years (Axiom Films)
The Red Desert (BFI)
Rick And Steve – The Happiest Gay Couple In All The World (4DVD)
Seagal Six Pack Collection (Today You Die/Black Dawn/Flight of Fury/Shadow Man/Attack Force/Pistol Whipped) (Sony)
Sleeping Beauty (50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition) – 2 Disc DVD (Disney)
Snipes Six Pack Collection (7 Seconds/Unstoppable/The Marksman/The Contractor/The Detonator/Hard Luck) (Sony)
Starfish Hotel (4Digital Asia)
Strait Jacket (Manga)
Strip Nude For Your Killer (Shameless)
Van Damme Six Pack Collection (Derailed/The Order/In Hell/Second In Command/Wave Of Death/The Shepherd) (Sony)
XXXholic – Series 1 Part 1 (Manga)


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

> Buy Iron ManCharley Varrick or Wim Wenders’ Documentaries on DVD 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 24th October)

DVD & Blu-ray dvd pick dvd releases

UK DVD Releases: Monday 20th October 2008


Vertigo (50th Anniversary Edition) (Universal): Alfred Hitchcock‘s classic tale of a private investigator (James Stewart) who becomes obsessed with a blonde woman (Kim Novak) returns to DVD, celebrating its 50th anniversary with a two-disc set boasting new extra features.

These include: 

  • Feature Commentary with Associate Producer Herbert Coleman, Restoration Team Robert A. Harris and James C. Katz
  • ‘Obsessed with Vertigo’ – A making of documentary
  • ‘Partners in Crime: Hitchcock’s Collaborators’ – New documentary
  • ‘Hitchcock and the Art of Pure Cinema’ – New featurette
  • The Vertigo Archives
  • Hitchcock/Truffaut Interviews

Although it isn’t quite the masterpiece some critics have claimed, it still is one of Hitchcock’s most interesting films. Not only is it a deceptively dark tale of desire and obsession but it also appears to reflect a lot of Hitchcock’s own personal concerns. The slow pace and haunting tone to the film along with some beautiful production design make it one of his most unusual and durable films. [Cert 15]

Reservoir Dogs (2-Disc Collector’s Edition) (Lionsgate): The stunning debut film of writer-director Quentin Tarantino became an instant cult favourite in 1992 and established him as one of the hottest directors of the 1990s. It followed a group of gangsters, who all refer to one other by colour-coded pseudonyms, and the aftermath of a heist gone wrong. Previously released in the UK by Momentum, Lionsgate have taken over distribution duties and this 2-disc edition appears to match their 2006 15th Anniversary Edition Region 1 release.

The extras include: 

  • Limited edition petrol can steel case with matchbox inlay
  • Collector’s art cards
  • Newly remastered/6.1 DTS-ES audio/5.1 Digital Surround EX audio
  • Pulp Factoid Viewer
  • Playing It Fast and Loose
  • Tipping Guide
  • Commentary with Quentin Tarantino, cast and crew
  • Deleted Scenes
  • The Critics’ Commentary
  • Profiling the Reservoir Dogs
  • Class of ’92 – Sundance interviews
  • Tarantino’s Sundance Institute Film-makers Lab
  • An Introduction to Film Noir – Writers and Film-makers feature
  • Reservoir Dolls
  • Securing the Shot – Location Scouting with Billy Fox
  • Reservoir Dogs style guide
  • Dedications – Tarantino on his influences
  • Interviews with Quentin Tarantino and others
  • K-Billy Super Sounds of the ‘70s

If you don’t already own this seminal film then this is a very solid package. [Cert 18]  

Eraserhead (Scanbox): Director David Lynch made his feature length debut with this surreal story of a retired printer (Jack Nance) stuck in dark, urban landscape. Lynch has supervised a brand new transfer, overseeing the painstaking process of cleaning, restoring and remastering the film frame-by-frame. It still remains a classic cult film and as Lynch once said, a ‘dream of dark and troubling things’. The extras include an interview with David Lynch about the making of the film. [Cert 18]



Anaconda 3: Offspring (Sony)
Casino Royale (3-Disc Deluxe Edition) (Sony)
CBeebies: Bedtime (BBC)
Dear Ladies – Series 2 (Acorn Media)
Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who! (Fox)
Killer Of Sheep (BFI)
My Brother’s Wedding (BFI)
Orphee (BFI)
Family Guy – Peter Griffin – Best Bits Exposed (Fox)
Shaun The Sheep – Abracadabra (2 Entertain)
Sisters (Sony)
Solstice (Icon)
That Mitchell And Webb Look – Series 2 (Fremantle)
The Benny Goodman Story (Eureka)
The Clouded Yellow (Eureka)
The Horses Mouth (Eureka)
The Short Films of David Lynch (Scanbox)
The Unit – Season 3 (Fox)
Tortured (Sony)
Triangle (Manga)
Vanessa (Severin Films)
Wanted (Universal)


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

> Buy VertigoReservoir Dogs or Eraserhead on DVD 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 17th October)

DVD & Blu-ray

UK DVD Releases: Monday 6th October 2008


In Search of a Midnight Kiss (Contender): This low budget US indie film is proof that sometime low key gems from outside the studio system can find an audience. Directed by Alex Holdridge it follows a young 29-year old man (Scoot McNairy), recently moved to LA, who faces New Year’s Eve alone. When his best friend (Brian McGuire) persuades him into posting a personal ad on Craigslist. It leads him to a young woman (Sara Simmonds) desperate to be with the ‘right’ man as the New Year kicks in and explores the connection between this unlikely couple. Since it premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2007 this has become a real festival favourite around the world and even got a limited run at UK cinemas earlier this year. 

John Carpenter: The Collection (Optimum): A lavish box set of the films of John Carpenter which includes some of his very best films: Assault on Precinct 13 (1976), Halloween (1978), The Fog (1980), Escape from New York (1981), The Thing (1982), Prince of Darkness (1987) and  (1988). Although his career has tailed off quite badly in the last 20 years his best work is smart and splendidly entertaining. Although Halloween and The Thing are now famous horror films, this set gives new viewers a chance to check out gems like Assault on Precinct 13, a low budget cult classic and They Live, his 1988 film about the greed and deception of the Regan era which is now more relevant than ever. You can get it on Amazon UK for just £39.98, which even in these credit crunch times is a bargain.



A Secret (Arrow): Writer-director Claude Miller’s adaptation of Philippe Grimbert’s novel, stars Cécile De France, Patrick Bruel, Ludivine Sagnier, Julie Depardieu and Mathieu Amalric in the story of a 15-year-old boy who unearths a family secret.

Assault on Precinct 13 – Special Edition (Optimum): This John Carpenter cult classic from 1976 about an LA police station under siege from gangs is being re-released by Optimum.  (See above for the Carpenter box set) 

Battlestar Galactica – Season 4 (Universal): While technically Season 4 of the re-imagined sci-fi series has been split into two parts for broadcast (with the second batch of episodes yet to air) the first part consisting of 10 episodes is being released here on UK DVD as Season 4.

Bullet Boy (Verve Pictures): A re-release for the London set drama from director Saul Dibb, starring Ashley Walters as a young man caught up in London criminal gang. (Note the appalling cover art for this title)

Buso Renkin – Volume 2 (Manga): Based on the popular manga series written and illustrated by Nobuhiro Watsuki, this action-adventure anime series mixes comedy, drama, fantasy and romance. 

Code 46 (Verve Pictures): Michael Winterbottom’s overlooked sci-fi drama with Tim Robbins and Samantha Morton set in a future where travel is restricted and thoughts and emotions can be controlled by drugs. 

Criminal Justice (Acorn Media): Originally screened on BBC1 in July over five consecutive nights, this drama centres around Ben Coulter (Ben Whishaw) a normal 21 year old who, after one crazy night finds his life changed forever. This two-disc set includes all five hour-long episodes.

Days of Darkness (Revolver): The debut directorial feature from British ex-pat Jake Kennedy (Fangoria: Blood Drive II), is a gory hybrid of alien bodysnatcher movie and traditional zombie film. The plot involves a group of people – mysteriously unaffected by a killer extraterrestrial bug that has infected humanity – holed up in a remote compound under siege from a horde of undead human flesh-eaters intent on feeding on the last of the living.

Death Note – Volume 3 (Manga): Based on the best-selling manga by writer Tsugumi Ohba and illustrator Takeshi Obata (Hikaru no Go), the supernatural thriller Death Note tells the story of Light Yagami, a high school student who suddenly finds himself holding the power of life and death in his hands in the form of the Death Note.

Diff’rent Strokes – Season 1 (Sony): Diff’rent Strokes tells the story of the Drummonds, a wealthy Manhattan family headed by Mr. Drummond (Conrad Bain), who adopt their former maid’s children following her death. When Willis (Todd Bridges) and Arnold (Gary Coleman) move in with their new family, a comedy of errors begins that would run for eight seasons. 24 episodes are spread across 3 discs with the behind the scenes features.

Entourage – Season 4 (HBO): Loosely based on the personal experiences of executive producer Mark Wahlberg as an up and coming movie star, the fourth season of Entourage opens with a behind-the-scenes documentary look at the filming of Vince’s (Adrian Grenier) new film Medellin on location in Bogota, Colombia.

Felon (Sony): Val Kilmer, Stephen Dorff, Harold Perrineau, Jr. and Sam Shepard star in this prison drama, the story of a family man who is convicted of murder for killing an intruder who enters his home, threatening the lives of his wife and son.

Female Agents (Revolver): A WWII action-drama starring Sophie Marceau, Julie Depardieu, Marie Gillian and Deborah Francois. Directed by Jean-Paul Salome, the film is set in Spring 1944 where grieving Resistance sniper Louis Desfontaine (Marceau) is asked to recruit a team of five to rescue a British agent who has fallen into German hands.

Her Name is Sabine (ICA Films): Directed by Sandrine Bonnaire, this is a very personal portrait of Sandrine’s younger sister Sabine. Combining film footage taken at Sabine’s current care home as well as 25 years of home-movies, Sandrine charts the heartbreaking journey of her sister from a young independent woman with special needs to an adult in need of constant supervision.


I Dream of Jeannie – Season 1 (Sony): Barbara Eden and Larry Hagman star in this 60s TV series about a US astronaut whose life is turned upside down when he crash lands on a remote island and unwittingly releases a beautiful and mischievous genie from a bottle. Returning home, it isn’t long before Jeannie is granting her master’s every wish, turning his life upside down. 30 episodes are spread over 4 discs.

Impact Point (Sony): A pro beach volleyball star encounters a psychotic stalker in this psychological thriller starring Brian Austin Green and former Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Melissa Keller.

King Lear (Metrodome): Recorded in High Definition at Pinewood Studios, the Royal Shakespeare Company’s King Lear stars Ian McKellen and is directed by Trevor Nunn and Chris Hunt. The tragedy is about a headstrong ageing king who decides to divide his kingdom amongst his three daughters, depending on which declares their love the strongest. Cordelia (Romola Garai) is the only daughter to reply truthfully yet Lear disowns her, and so follows one of the most compelling stories of greed, betrayal and blindness to one’s self ever committed to the stage. 

Moonlighting – Season 1 & 2 (Sony): First two seasons of the hit 80s series which combined drama, comedy and wit with a huge amount of sexual tension, starring Cybill Shepherd and Bruce Willis as private detectives who take on quirky cases. 

Reeker 2 (Metrodome): In this horror sequel, a sheriff and his son chase casino robbers, only to find the all of them are being chased by something else.

Spooks – Season 6 (Contender): In its sixth season spy-drama Spooks takes on a new format as it explores one storyline over the course of its 10 episode run.

Takeshi Kitano: Collection (Second Sight): One of Japan’s most well known and all encompassing entertainment personalities, Takeshi Kitano has forged a name for himself as one of his country’s most beloved and internationally renowned directors. This six disc box set comprises of the legendary actor/director’s first six films; Violent Cop, Boiling Point, Sonatine, Getting Any?with A Scene At The Sea and Kids Return making their UK DVD debut.

The Entrance (Entertainment): Directed by Damon Vignale, this is a ‘supernatural and psychological’ chiller ‘inspired’ by true events. 

The Go Master (ICA Films): Tian Zhuanzhuang’s The Go Master is a biopic of Wu Quingyuan, considered by many to be the greatest player ever of the table game Go. Developed in ancient China but finding a new home in post-Meiji Japan, Go’s adherents treated its rules and regulations in a fashion far stricter and more disciplined than that of its Chinese roots.

The Passage (Entertainment): Stephen Dorff stars in this horror from first-time director Mark Heller which is shot entirely on location in Morocco.

The Vanguard (Lionsgate): The Vanguard tells a gruesome, bloody and merciless story where the world is in utter chaos and the future of mankind hangs in the balance. 

Timber Falls (Scanbox): Directed by Tony Giglio (Chaos) and starring Josh Randall, Brianna Brown and Beth Broderick, Timber Falls is a tale of hikers in peril.

Two And A Half Men – Series 4 (Warner): Charlie Sheen stars as an unconventional family man in this hit sitcom about two brothers and a son, as well as the crazy and charismatic women who surround them.

We Dreamed America (Drakes Avenue Pictures): This documentary about the Americana music scene in the UK examines the relationship and ongoing exchange between British and American roots of music. Director Alex Walker looks at the fascination with the most American of genres.

Zombies! Zombies! Zombies! – Zombies vs Strippers (Revolver): Strippers – Dakota (FHM model Jessica Barton), Dallas (Former Mrs. Oahu Lyanna Tumaneng) and Harley (Hollie Winnard from America’s Beauty and the Geek – go up against Zombies in this horror film. 


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

> Buy In Search of a Midnight Kiss or John Carpenter: The Collection on DVD 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 3rd October)

DVD & Blu-ray releases

DVD Releases: Monday 4th August 2008

Here are the UK DVD releases for this week, along with our picks.


The Elephant Man – Special Edition (Optimum): The DVD highlight of the week is this special edition re-release of David Lynch’s superb 1980 period drama about the life of Joseph Merrick (he is named John on the film). Based on the real story of a man so disfigured he was dubbed ‘the Elephant Man’, it explores how he was taken in by a doctor and his struggle to be recognised as a dignified human being in Victorian London. [Read our full review here]

Escape From New York (Optimum): John Carpenter’s smart, dystopian thriller from 1981 gets re-released on regular DVD and Blu-ray. It imagines a futuristic New York where crime has spiralled out of control to the point where Manhattan has been turned into a maximum security prison. When Air Force One crashes over the island, the prison governor (Lee Van Cleef) recruits a notorious criminal named “Snake” Plissken (Kurt Russell) to go in and rescue the leader of the free world. The major snag is that he has less than 24 hours to complete his mission and must survive in a completely lawless and hostile environment. [Read our full review here]

Total Recall (Optimum): Optimum have released a selection of Arnold Schwarzenegger action movies from the 80s and 90s on regular DVD and Blu-ray. The best of these is this 1990 sci-fi adaptation of Philip K Dick‘s story ‘We Can Remember It For You Wholesale‘ directed by Paul Verhoeven, which stars the Teutonic Austrian as a blue collar worker who dreams of Mars. When he visits a company offering him a virtual holiday by implanting memories, it inadvertently unlocks his ‘real’ past as a secret agent and all hell breaks loose as he escapes to the red planet for real. [Read our full review here]


  • Aces: Iron Eagle III (Optimum): The third part of the series of films about a young fighter pilot that came out in the same year as the more successful of Top Gun.
  • Cliffhanger (Optimum): A Blu-Ray release for this surprisingly satisfying 1993 action film with Slyvester Stallone battling it out with a bunch of crooks on a mountain.
  • First Blood (Optimum): A Blu-Ray release for the first of the Rambo series – probably the best of the lot as it has a darker and more serious vibe, exploring a drifting Vietnam veteran (Sylvester Stallone) who is hunted by the police in Washington State.
  • Rambo: First Blood Part II (Optimum): A Blu-ray release for the 2nd of the Rambo films, which despite it’s confusing title was the most successful. A balls-to-the-wall 80s action film with Rambo (Sylvester Stallone) going back to Asia to get POWs missing in action from Vietnam. Efficiently done, even if the climactic speech is unintentionally hilarious.
  • Rambo III (Optimum): The 3rd Rambo film also gets the Blu-ray treatment and this is perhaps the most fascinating as the plot – set in 1988 – involves Rambo allying with freedom fighters in Afghanistan against the Russian invaders. These allies would of course go on to destroy the World Trade Centre spark global warfare, but as Stallone told me earlier this year ‘who knew?’.
  • Flash Gordon (Optimum): Mike Hodges’ 1980 film version of the famous comic book character gets a DVD release and although its just too campy and dated it does have its moments notably Brian Blessed‘s immortal cry of ‘Gordon’s Alive!’.
  • Hell’s Ground (TLA Releasing): A release for this ‘Danger After Dark’ title which is notable for being Pakistan’s “first-ever splatter flick” about zombies attacking teenagers in a remote location.
  • How She Move (Paramount): The current craze for dance themed movies continues with the release of this film about a young woman’s battle to escape her crime-filled neighbourhood through step-dancing.
  • Iron Eagle II (Optimum): The 1989 sequel to Iron Eagle, which saw a Perestroika-style team-up between US and Soviet forces in order to combat an unnamed Middle Eastern country.
  • Lupin the Third: Secret of Mamo (Manga): A release for this Manga film – the first of five animated features based on the popular Lupin the Third manga character created by ‘Monkey Punch’ (aka manga writer and illustrator Kazuhiko Kato).
  • Raw Deal (Optimum): A pedestrian Schwarzenegger vehicle from 1986 in which he plays a cop taking on the mob. The highlights were probably the tag line “NOBODY gives him a raw deal….” and the scene where he shoots someone and then pours sweets over them – indications that this probably wasn’t Arnold’s finest hour.
  • Red Heat (Optimum): One indication that the Cold War was coming to an end was that Russians started becoming allies in movies rather than villains. This 1988 action film saw Arnold Schwarzenegger play a Russian cop who comes to Chicago to hunt down a vicious fellow countryman (Ed O’Ross). James Belushi starred as the mismatched cop he must team up with, whilst Walter Hill directed.
  • Red Sonja (Optimum): A re-release for for this sword and sorcery action film in which Arnold Schwarzenegger took on more of a supporting role (despite the then recent success of the Conan films) and Bridgitte Nielsen took centre stage as a mystical warrior. Rose McGowan will soon star in a remake.
  • Space Adventure Cobra (Manga): Based on the comic books by Buichi Terasawa, this feature has been described as ‘an animated space opera packed with unfeasibly pneumatic heroines, psychedelic drug-inspired imagery, cracking cosmic combat sequences, a Darth Vader-like villain and a retro-styled, wise-cracking hero for whom saving the universe is about as taxing as a walk in the park’. Well that’s alright then.
  • Stargate- Special Edition (Optimum): The 1994 action film from director Roland Emmerich gets a regular DVD and Blu-ray re-release. Despite spawning a seemingly never-ending TV spin off, the action and effects hold up reasonably well in this tale of marines and a scientist finding a portal to another world.
  • The Arnold Schwarzenegger Collection (Optimum): A DVD box set of all the recent Schwarzenegger films re-released by Optimum in one handy package which includes: Total Recall, Raw Deal, Red Heat and Red Sonja.
  • The Fog (1979): A Blu-ray release for the John Carpenter original rather than the ropey 2005 remake. Be warned though that there are no extras on this disc, so only get it if you are dying to see it in HD.
  • Trouble in Mind (Nouveaux): A re-release for this 1985 neo-crime drama directed by Alan Rudolph and starring Kris Kristofferson, Keith Carradine, Lori Singer, Genevieve Bujold, Joe Morton and Divine.
  • Vantage Point (Sony): A regular DVD and Blu-ray release for this thriller about an assassination in Spain on the US president, seen from multiple perspectives. Directed by Pete Travis, it stars Dennis Quaid, Matthew Fox, Forest Whitaker, Sigourney Weaver, Édgar Ramírez and William Hurt.

If you have any questions about this week’s DVD releases or any upcoming titles then just email me

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> 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

DVD & Blu-ray Essential Films

DVD Pick: There Will Be Blood

There Will Be Blood was one of the finest films of last year – a bold and mesmerising drama charting the rise of an oil man in the early years of the 20th century.

Daniel Day Lewis won the Best Actor Oscar for his stunning central performance – the driven and obsessive Daniel Plainview, who starts off as a silver miner before slowly establishing himself as a hugely successful oil prospector.

For writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson it was yet another marvellous addition to his already dazzling filmography (which now includes Hard Eight, Boogie Nights, Magnolia and Punch-Drunk Love).

But this was an unusual departure for him – unlike his last three films it is away from his usual San Fernando Valley setting, eschews most of his favourite actors (such as John C Reilly, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Julianne Moore) and has a haunting, other-worldly feel to it.

A lot of this mood is created by Jonny Greenwood‘s unusual and innovative score, which was shamefully disqualified for Oscar recognition.

The film also saw Anderson re-team with cinematographer Robert Elswit, who won the Oscar for his remarkable visuals in a particularly strong year.

Technically, the film is quite astonishing with Jack Fisk‘s meticulous production design, David Crank‘s art direction and Dylan Tichenor‘s clever editing all of the highest order.

Revisiting the film again on DVD is interesting, as the bold narrative jolts and intensity subside to deeper feelings about the themes of the film.

Although viewers may have theories on the film tied in with America’s current adventures in the Middle East, Anderson doesn’t deal in clumsy metaphors but instead creates a compelling take on America’s obsession with oil, money and business.

Given how outstanding the actual film is, it is a little disappointing that this 2-disc special edition is lacking a little in features.

For the third time running, Anderson has chosen not to record a commentary. Perhaps he feels it should ‘speak for itself’, but given the excellence of his commentary on the marvellous R1 Boogie Nights DVD his audio absence is still sorely missed.

That said, what is here is still very good. The feature takes up the first disc and the transfer of the film is superb – the colours, lighting and sound are all wonderfully reproduced.

But the extras on the second disc – whilst interesting – are a little sparse given the importance of this film.

They include:

  • The Story Of Petroleum: This vintage featurette (1923-7) from The National Archives was created by the U.S. Bureau of Mines in collaboration with the Sinclair Oil Company as a promotional film. It runs for almost just over 25 minutes and provides some fascinating historical and social context. It shows how early oil pioneers looked for and extracted oil from the ground, as well as providing many useful nuggets of information. A nice touch is that Jonny Greenwood’s score is layered over what is an old silent film, making a stronger connection with Anderson’s feature.
  • ’15 minutes’ slideshow: This is a highly effective 15 minute montage of shots from the film inter-cut with archive images the filmmakers used for their research. It is striking to see how influential these photographs were on the finished visuals – some are almost reproduced shot-for-shot. Again, Jonny Greenwood’s score provides a beautiful counterpoint to the visual mix.
  • Deleted Scenes: The first of the deleted scenes is called ‘Fishing’ and at just over 6 minutes long feels like something Anderson cut out late in the edit process. It show’s how Plainview’s men are badly delayed after their rope breaks and use a process called ‘fishing’ to recover their tools at the bottom of the oil well. There is also a notable exchange with Eli’s father that touches upon the central themes of faith and fathers. The second is a called ‘Haircut/Interrupted Hymn’ which is a strange mix of scenes from the film involving Plainview and H.W.
  • Dailies Gone Wild (Outtake): Taken from the sequence of Plainview and H.W. in the restaurant, it seems to shed a bit of light on Daniel Day Lewis’ acting methods and culminates in one of the lighter moments he had on set with his young co-star.
  • Trailer: The mysterious first teaser trailer was unusual in that PTA cut it and uploaded it on to YouTube without telling the studio, which freaked them out – until they saw all the positive comments left by users of the site (alas Paramount have since pulled it from YouTube). The fuller theatrical trailer reveals more about the plot and does a good job of compressing some of the juicier elements of the film.

Strangely, Buena Vista Home Entertainment (the UK distributor) have gone for a rather odd packaging which consists of folded card.

There Will Be Blood - DVD cover

Although the design is nice, the way the discs slide out like an envelope doesn’t seem too practical in the long term.

Despite that, maybe we can hope for a beefed up special edition somewhere down the line. Until then, this remains an essential purchase for any true film lover.

To conclude, here is PTA discussing the film last September when it had a surprise world premiere at Fantastic Fest in Austin, Texas:

There Will Be Blood is out now on DVD from Buena Vista Home Entertainment

> Buy There Will Be Blood on DVD at Amazon UK
> Official site
> There Will Be Blood at the IMDb
> Check out reviews at Metacritic
> There Will Be Milkshakes – popular viral video and a discussion board
> New York Times interview with Daniel Day Lewis about the film
> AV Club interview with Paul Thomas Anderson about There Will Be Blood
> Extensive article in American Cinematographer magazine on Elswit’s work in There Will Be Blood
> PTA and Day Lewis have a lengthy discussion with Charlie Rose about the film
> An interview with Robert Elswit and production designer Jack Fisk about There Will Be Blood