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DVD & Blu-ray

DVD Releases: Monday 25th August 2008

DVD PICKS

The Band’s Visit (Sony): A highly accomplished directorial debut from Israeli director by Eran Kolirin about an Egyptian band (the Alexandria Ceremonial Police Orchestra) who travel to Israel to play at an Arab cultural center, only to find themselves lost in the wrong town. Although tensions in the Middle East can lead to polemical or naive filmmaking, this beautifully crafted tale manages to avoid the usual pitfalls. The restrained humour, inventive visuals and strong but subtle performances put the conflict between Arabs and Israelis into a more involving and human perspective.

Vampyr (Eureka/Masters of Cinema): A welcome re-release for this classic vampire film which was directed in 1932 by Danish director Carl Theodor Dreyer. The story – partly inspired by Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla – involves as traveller (Julian West) who arrives at an inn in the countryside only to find something very strange going on with the inhabitants. Notable for its hypnotic mood, it also contains some indelible images, such as a character out of snyc with his own shadow, a memorable death in a flour mill, a funeral procession shot from inside the coffin and rooms that gets darker when the doors are opened. There are some wonderful extras on this disc including an 80-page booklet, deleted scenes, two documentaries and a highly informative commentary from director Guillermo Del Toro, who is a huge fan of the film.

Still Life (BFI): This 2006 Chinese film, directed by Jia Zhangke, surprisingly scooped the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival that year. Shot in the village of Fengjie, a small town on the Yangtze River, it tells the story of two people in search of their spouses in the shadow of the Three Gorges Dam. It contains some striking imagery, such as a building being fired into space and a tightrope walker attempting a mid-air crossing. A slowly paced but rewarding look at life in modern China, with renewed topicality given the recent Olympic Games in Beijing.

The Satyajit Ray Collection – Volume 1 (Artificial Eye): A welcome DVD release for Satyajit Ray – one of India’s greatest directors. This first collection contains three of his films: Mahanagar (The Big City) a 1963 film about a young woman who finds independence in her work, but is nonetheless constrained by traditional patriarchal attitudes; Charulata (The Lonely Wife) is his 1964 film (often regraded as his finest) about an upper-class Bengali couple in the late 19th century, who struggle to live up to their own lofty ideals. Nayak (The Hero), made in 1966, takes place almost entirely on a train and explores the entertainment industry, but also how society perceives the images it creates.

ALSO OUT

Asterix at the Olympic Games (Pathe): Another live-action version of the famous French cartoon character with Clovis Cornillac as the diminutive Gaul and Gerard Depardieu as his trusty friend Obelix. Here they travel to Greece and the Olympic Games, in aid of fellow Gaul Alafolix (Stephane Rousseau) who is trying to woo the Greek Princess Irina.

Awake (Icon): Hayden Christensen, Jessica Alba and Terence Howard star in this thriller about anaesthesia and corruption.

Buso Renkin – Volume 1 (Manga): Based on the popular manga series written and illustrated by Nobuhiro Watsuki (the man behind ‘Rurouni Kenshin’), Buso Renkin is an anime series mixing comedy, drama, fantasy and romance. Volume 1 is a 3-disc set which includes the first 13 episodes of the 26-episode series. Episodes feature Japanese and English 2.0 audio and optional English subtitles.

Doctor Who: The War Machines (2 Entertain): A four part Doctor Who adventure, originally screened in 1966 as part of the show’s third season, sees the First Doctor (William Hartnell) and companion Dodo (Jackie Lane) travel to Swinging Sixties London, where they do battle with supercomputer WOTAN and his army of robots.

Judex + Nuits Rouges – Two Films by Georges Franju (Eureka/Masters of Cinema): Eureka re-release this double bill of Georges Franju films as part of their Masters of Cinema Series. Franju was co-founder of the Cinémathèque Française and famous for directing Eyes Without A Face. Both of these films were homages to the silent serials of Louis Feuillade and were even co-written in collaboration with Feuillade’s grandson, Jacques Champreux.

La Belle et la bête (BFI): Jean Cocteau’s version of Beauty and the Beast – Mme Leprince de Beaumont’s eighteenth-century fairy tale – stars Josette Day as Beauty and Jean Marais as the Beast. Although previously re-released in 2001, this is a restored version of the original film for Studio Canal in association with Sky Arts.

Love in a Cold Climate (2 Entertain): A re-release for the BBC TV series based on the novels of Nancy Mitford, the story involves three upper-class young women and their quest for romance just before World War II. Starring Celia Imrie, Alan Bates, Sheila Gish, Anthony Andrews and Frances Barber.

Love is the Devil: Study for a Portrait of Francis Bacon (BFI): A re-release for this 1999 BBC film about the artist Francis Bacon (Derek Jacobi) and his strained relationship with lover muse and George Dyer (a pre-Bond Daniel Craig).

Naruto Unleashed: Series 4 – Part 1 (Manga): An anime series adapted from the best-selling manga created by Masashi Kishimoto, which follows the adventures of a ninja boy in training. This version is released uncut on DVD and spread across three-discs.

Nim’s Island (Universal): Based on the children’s novel by Wendy Orr and directed by the husband and wife team of Mark Levin and Jennifer Flackett, this family adventure film stars Abigail Breslin, Jodie Foster and Gerard Butler.

Origin: Spirits of the Past (Manga): Directed by Keiichi Sugiyama, this is the first full-length animated feature film made by Studio Gonzo – a futuristic sci-fi fairy tale that uses 3-D CGI and traditional 2-D animation styles.

Points and Aspects: The British Transport Films Collection Volume 8 (BFI): The latest volume of digitally re-mastered British Transport Films released by the BFI has 13 films (nearly five hours of footage) that explore a range of subjects that the BTF Unit covered from 1952 to 1974.

Supernatural – Season 3 (Warner Bros): The third season of the US TV series which follows two brothers (played by Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles), who travel across the country investigating paranormal events, many of them based on American urban legends and folklore.

The Chair (DNC Entertainment): A horror film from director Brett Sullivan (who made Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed) stars Alanna Chisholm and Lauren Roy in a tale set in a haunted Victorian house.

The David Lynch Collection (Optimum): Optimum have collected together two of their previous David Lynch releases alongside their recent Special Edition release of The Elephant Man. This set also includes Inland Empire and Mulholland Drive, although they are only the previously available single disc editions.

Who Saw Her Die (Shameless): A giallo (i.e. an Italian slasher movie) film from 1971 directed by Aldo Lado which involves a couple (George Lazenby and Anita Strindberg) investigating the death of their young child.

X-Men – Series 1 (Liberation Entertainment): A DVD release for the popular animated series based on the Marvel comic, which has long been requested by fans of the show.

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

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DVD & Blu-ray dvd releases

DVD Releases: Monday 18th August 2008

DVD PICKS

Persepolis (Optimum): Writer and director Marjane Satrapi (along with co-director Vincent Paronnaud) adapted her own graphic novel about growing up during the Iranian Revolution in 1979. Using a striking animated style, it explores her journey living in a theocratic society until she emigrates at the age of 21. A moving and insightful film, filled with healthy doses of humour, it deservedly won the Jury Prize at Cannes last year and was nominated for Best Animated Film at the Oscars.

Lars and the Real Girl (MGM/Fox): Although the premise of this film might sound odd – a Midwestern loner called Lars buys a sex doll only to treat it as a real person – this actually feels more like an updated Frank Capra movie, with Ryan Gosling playing the introverted title character. There aren’t many laugh out loud moments but there is an amiable charm to the film, which is helped by some fine performances from Gosling, Paul Schneider, Emily Mortimer and Patricia Clarkson. Directed by Craig Gillespie from Nancy Oliver‘s script, which was nominated for an Oscar.

OTHER RELEASES

A Town Called Eureka – Season 2 (Universal Playback): Second season of the fantasy series involving a sheriff (Colin Ferguson) in the small town of Eureka, a place where scientific experiments cause innovation or chaos.

Breathing Room (DNC Entertainment): A psychological thriller involving a woman (Alisa Marshall) who finds herself thrown into a desolate room with thirteen strangers before discovering she is the last contestant in a deadly game.

Chuck – Season 1 (Warner): First season of the NBC show about a computer geek who receives the world’s greatest spy secrets after opening an e-mail from an old college friend who is now a rogue CIA agent.

Diamond Dogs (Sony): Dolph Lundgren – currently stuck in straight-to-DVD hell – stars in this action film about an ex-Special Forces officer hired to lead a band of treasure hunters in order to find a priceless Buddhist artifact.

Get Smart – Season 1 (HBO): Released to coincide with the cinema release of the movie remake starring Steve Carell and Anne Hathaway, the original Get Smart was a 1960s comedy series revolving around the bumbling Washington spy Maxwell Smart (Don Adams). Created by Mel Brooks and Buck Henry it also starred Barbara Feldon as Agent 99, who often saves the day.

Gossip Girl – Season 1 (Warner): From the creators of The O.C., comes this show is based on the book series by Cecily von Ziegesar, follwing the lives of privileged teenagers in Manhattan. The first season starts when students learn from the ‘Gossip Girl’ blog that Serena van der Woodsen (Blake Lively), a formerly notorious party girl, is back in New York.

La Antena (Dogwoof Pictures): The second feature film from Argentinean director Esteban Sapir is a silent black-and-white tale about a world dominated by trashy TV, where even the ability to talk has been snatched from people.

Leatherheads (Universal): George Clooney directs and stars in this 1930s-style screwball comedy about an American Football team struggling to stay afloat in the early days of the sport. Renee Zellweger and John Krasinski co-star.

Meet the Spartans (Fox): Another hastily made spoof from the creative talents that gave us Date Movie and Epic Movie.

Sports Movie (aka The Comebacks) (Fox): A sports movie spoof about an out-of-luck coach (David Koechner) trying to lead his team of fumbling footballers to victory before his long-suffering wife (Melora Hardin) leaves him.

Stargate: Continuum (Fox): Yet another Stargate spin off in which members of SG-1 find themselves returning to a world where history has been dramatically altered.

Stop-Loss (Paramount): After several years in development hell, director Kimberley Pierce (who made Boys Don’t Cry in 1999) returned with this tale of a decorated Iraq war hero (Ryan Phillippe) who returns to Texas, only to find a clause in his army contract will force him back to duty in the Middle East.

The Neverending Story (Warner): A re-release for Wolfgang Petersen’s 1984 fantasy adventure based on the German novel of the same name by Michael Ende

The Sword in the Stone – 45th Anniversary Special Edition (Disney): The animated Disney film based on the novel of the same name gets a re-release .

Unearthed (Icon): The story of an unknown creature stalking an archaeological dig in the middle of a desolate New Mexico town and the inhabitants who must fight it out.

Virgin Territory (Momentum): A straight-to-DVD release for this very loose adaptation of Giovanni Boccaccio‘s The Decameron with Hayden Christensen, Mischa Barton and Tim Roth.

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

(To buy any of the DVDs above just click on the title and you will be redirected to our Amazon affiliate)

> 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 15th August)

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DVD & Blu-ray releases

DVD Releases: Monday 11th August 2008

DVD PICKS

In Bruges (Universal): The tale of two Irish hit men (Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson) who have been ordered to lie low in the Belgian city of Bruges is one of the funniest films to come out this year. Written and directed by Martin McDonagh, who won an Oscar for his short film Six Shooter, this is features some glorious sequences, as well as some fine acting by the two leads with Ralph Fiennes in a key supporting role. [Read our full review here]

My Brother is an Only Child (Revolver): Adapted from the best-selling novel ‘Il Fasciocomunista’, this story of two feuding brothers, set amidst the politically charged Italy of the 60s and 70s, is a highly accomplished and involving film. Written and directed by Danielle Luchetti it stars Elio Germano and Riccardo Scamarcio as the two brothers.

Son of Rambow (Optimum): A charming British comedy about two young boys (Will Poulter and Bill Milner) in the mid-1980s who try to make an ultra low budget sequel to First Blood (the first Rambo movie) using a VHS camera and their own surroundings. Directed by Garth Jennings and also starring Jessica Hynes from Spaced.

[REC] (Contender): A contemporary Spanish horror in which a TV crew cover the night shift of a Barcelona fire station and follow a team as they respond to an event in mysterious apartment building. It plays like a Spanish version of The Blair Witch Project but also has it’s own sense of claustrophobia and tension. Directed by Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza.

ALSO OUT

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

(To buy any of the DVDs above just click on the title and you will be redirected to our Amazon affiliate)

> 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