DVD & Blu-ray

UK DVD & Blu-ray Releases: Monday 30th August 2010


Four Lions (Optimum): When this project was first announced, it promised to be another taboo-shattering project from Chris Morris, one of the most brilliant satirists of his generation.

After pioneering work in radio (On the Hour) and television (The Day TodayBrass Eye) which lampooned media and politics with diamond-sharp precision, it seemed like a bold and fascinating prospect.

Set in an unnamed northern town, it centres around four disenchanted young men: Omar (Riz Ahmed) is the unofficial leader determined to become a martyr for oppressed Muslims around the world; Waj (Kayvan Novak), a recruit who essnetially does what Omar says; Barry (Nigel Lindsay), a white Islamic convert obsessed with operational detail; and Faisal (Adeel Akhtar), who struggles trying to train crows to fly bombs through windows.

For the most part, the feature directorial debut of Morris is highly impressive. The comedy is rooted in detailed research which gives it an uncomfortable authenticity, whilst also providing some stand out set-pieces.

The performances are excellent, managing to convey the arrogance, ambition and stupidity of extremists, with Riz Ahmed especially good as the ringleader.

As the film moves into its final third, it manages to combine comedy with the more troubling realities of terrorism, which is an impressive juggling act by the filmmakers.

It isn’t as ingenious or as polished as Morris’ previous work, but as satire it manages to process one of the darkest contemporary problems with a rare tact and skill.

Extras include:

  • Deleted scenes
  • Background material: Lost Boys & Interview with Mo Ali
  • Interview with cast from Bradford Film Festival premiere
  • Behind the scenes

> Buy Four Lions on DVD or Blu-ray from Amazon UK

Sherlock (2entertain): Coming just months after a big-budget film about the famous detective, this three part BBC series could have been another excuse to cash in on the fact that Arthur Conan Doyle’s character recently came out of copyright.

Fortunately, this contemporary take on the classic stories is a witty and inspired update and manages to preserve the essence of Holmes while transferring it to modern London.

Co-created by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, Sherlock (Benedict Cumberbatch) is a consultant to the police who helps solve puzzling crimes with the help of a doctor (and ex-soldier) John Watson (Martin Freeman).

Although there were plenty of potential pitfalls, the fast pacing and breezy intelligence make this well above average for what normally appears on prime time British television.

The DVD and Blu-ray features the three episodes “A Study in Pink”, “The Blind Banker” and “The Great Game” and come with the following extras:

  • Audio commentaries: Steven Moffat, Mark Gatiss and Sue Vertue on “A Study in Pink” and Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman and Mark Gatiss on “The Great Game”.
  • The unaired pilot episode, which is a 60-minute version of “A Study in Pink”, directed by Coky Giedroyc.

> Buy Sherlock on DVD or Blu-ray from Amazon UK



Cemetery Junction (Sony Pictures Home Ent.)
City of Life and Death (High Fliers Video Distribution)
Clint Eastwood Collection (20th Century Fox Home Ent.)
Furry Vengeance (E1 Entertainment UK)
Hot Tub Time Machine (20th Century Fox Home Ent.)
Jerusalema (Anchor Bay Entertainment UK)
The Last Seven (Metrodome Distribution)
The Magnificent Seven (MGM Home Entertainment)
When You’re Strange (Universal Pictures)

> The Best DVD and Blu-ray releases of 2009
> UK cinema releases for Friday 27th August 2010 including Scott Pilgrim Vs The World

Cinema Interviews Podcast

Interview: Riz Ahmed and Nigel Lindsay on Four Lions

Four Lions marks the feature film debut of Chris Morris as a director and it is the story of four suicide bombers in a Northern town struggling to plan an attack on the London marathon.

Omar (Riz Ahmed) is disillusioned with how Muslims are treated around the world and determined to lead some kind of attack on the West. His protege is Waj (Kayvan Novak) who is enthralled by the thought of doing something exciting. Meanwhile Barry (Nigel Lindsay) is a white Islamic convert who has issues with Omar, whilst Faisal (Adeel Akhtar) tries to experiment by strapping bombs to crows.

After pioneering work in radio (On the Hour, Blue Jam) and TV (The Day Today, Brass Eye) Morris has always had a sharp, satirical eye for how controversial subjects have been presented to the wider public.

With this film he tackles the issue of contemporary religious extremism by focusing on the naive ineptitude he encountered through his research in to the subject.

It might seem counter-intuitive to make light of a subject which continues to have such serious consequences, but as recent events in New York have proved, comic ineptitude can often be a feature of the attacks that don’t work.

In some ways this is a sister film to Armando Ianucci’s In the Loop – whereas that focused on the dark political comedy that lay behind the war on terror, this explores the farcical nature of terrorism on the front line.

I recently spoke with Riz Ahmed and Nigel Lindsay about the film, what it was like working with Morris and why it seems to have touched a nerve at the UK box office.

Listen to the interview by clicking here:


You can download this interview as a podcast via iTunes by clicking here

Four Lions is out now at UK cinemas

Download this interview as an MP3 file
> Riz Ahmed and Nigel Lindsay at the IMDb
Official site
> Find out if Four Lions is playing at a cinema near you via Find Any Film
Search local cinema listings at Google Movies


UK Cinema Releases: Friday 7th May 2010



A Nightmare On Elm Street (Warner Bros.): A remake of Wes Craven‘s 1984 horror film which stars Jackie Earle Haley as Freddy Krueger and Rooney Mara as Nancy Holbrook, loosely based on the character Nancy Thompson. Set in the present day, it sees Freddy stalking the dreams of Nancy and her friends as they discover a dark secret from their past.

Directed by Samuel Bayer, it is yet another 1980s horror film rebooted by Michael Bay (with his producer’s hat on) which is going to get poor reviews but still make enough money to reboot the franchise. [Nationwide / 18]

Furry Vengeance (E1 Entertainment):  A real estate developer (Brendan Fraser) has to supervise a development in a forest and then has to contend with the animals who live there and start to make his life hell.

Directed by Roger Kumble, it was co-produced by Summit Entertainment and Participant Media it looks like an attempt to make a family friendly comedy with an environmental message. It was universally panned in the US and bombed at the box office, so looks unlikely to make waves here. [Empire Leicester Square & Nationwide / PG]

Hot Tub Time Machine (20th Century Fox): The film with the most self-descriptive title since Snakes on a Plane sees four men (John CusackClark DukeRob Corddry and Craig Robinson) travel back in time to 1986 via a hot tub, where they have to remember what they did in order to return to the future.

Directed by Steve Pink, it has its moments – although the best ones are actually in the trailer – but is surprisingly pedestrian for stretches, despite the potential of the concept. Think The Hangover meets Back to the Future, only not as funny or clever as those films. [Vue West End & Nationwide / 15]

The Back-Up Plan (Sony Pictures): A new romantic comedy about a woman (Jennifer Lopez), who decides to have her baby alone in a sperm clinic, before she starts to have second thoughts about a man (Alex O’Loughlin).

Poor reviews and relatively lacklustre US box office probably means that this is likely to appeal only to undiscerning female audiences. [Nationwide / 12A]



Four Lions (Optimum Releasing): The feature film debut of Chris Morris as a director is the story of four suicide bombers in a Northern town struggling to plan an attack on the London marathon.

Based on detailed research into recent terrorist plots, there are some very funny and uncomfortable scenes, although it doesn’t have the polish and sustained brilliance of Morris’ best work on TV and radio. The expected controversy about the difficult subject matter has not really materialised and powered by warm reviews, this could do decent arthouse box office despite the limited presence in multiplexes. [Clapham Picturehouse, Curzon Soho, Odeon Covent Garden & Nationwide / 15]

Cameraman: The Life & Work Of Jack Cardiff (Optimum Releasing): A documentary about famed cinematographer Jack Cardiff, who shot several films including The Red Shoes, The African Queen and Rambo: First Blood Part II. [BFI Southbank & selected key cities]

Just For The Record (Metrodome Distribution): A British mockumentary about the making of  the worst film ever, which seems to be ironic judging by the trailer. Like a lot of recent low-rent British films it stars Danny Dyer, who has been in the headlines this week for all the wrong reasons. [Key Cities / 18]

One Night In Turin (Kaleidoscope Entertainment): A documentary about England’s adventures in the 1990 World Cup, directed by James Erskine from Pete Davies’ book All Played Out. [Empire Leicester Square & Nationwide / 15]

Psych 9 (Galaxy): A serial killer tale set in an old psychiatric institution directed by Andrew Shortell and starring Sara Foster and Cary Elwes.

A Room And A Half (Yume Pictures): A semi-fictional account of Russian poet Josef Brodsky, who was forced into American exile in 1972. [Cine Lumiere, Curzon Mayfair, Everyman, Ritzy & Key Cities / 12A]

Sus (15) (Independent): Drama about the stop and search laws directed by Robert Heath and starring Clint Dyer, Ralph Brown and Rafe Spall [Apollo Piccadilly Circus, Genesis Cinema & selected key cities]

DVD and Blu-ray Picks for Monday 3rd May including The Railway Children and Me and Orson Welles
Get local cinema showtimes for your area via Google Movies

Cinema Thoughts

Four Lions


The feature directorial debut of Chris Morris depicts a group of bungling suicide bombers and alternates slapstick comedy with sombre satire.

When Four Lions was first announced, this promised to be another taboo-shattering project from one of the most brilliant satirists of his generation. After pioneering work in radio (On the Hour) and television (The Day Today, Brass Eye) which lampooned media and politics with diamond-sharp precision, it seemed like a bold and fascinating prospect.

Set in an unnamed northern town, it centres around four disenchanted young men: Omar (Riz Ahmed) is the unofficial leader and determined to become a martyr for oppressed Muslims around the world; Waj (Kayvan Novak) is an impressionable recruit who does what Omar says; Barry (Nigel Lindsay) is a white Islamic convert obsessed with operational detail; and Faisal (Adeel Akhtar) is struggling trying to train crows to fly bombs through windows.

Morris has said that he conducted an enormous amount of research into the subject of Islamic extremism in modern Britain and there are veiled references to the July 7th bombings, the failed attacks of 2007 and other stories of home grown terror since 9/11.

There are many sequences which depict the incompetence of young men trying to cause terror and frequently failing. But perhaps the most interesting thing is how Morris complements their comic idiocy with the shallow despair of front line jihadists trying to find meaning in murder.

The result is an interesting patchwork that falls somewhere between comedy and drama. In terms of Morris’ previous work, it is a long way from the slick ingenuity of The Day Today or Brass Eye and much closer to the creepy discomfort of Jam, the television version of his radio show Blue Jam.

But even these comparisons aren’t exact. If anything, this is a spiritual sibling of In the Loop, another film about the War on Terror, directed by Armando Iannucci who previously worked with Morris on The Day Today.

Although that film focused on the political hypocrisies behind the War on Terror, Four Lions depicts the moral absurdities of the War of Terror.

Where it really hits home is in the relentless focus  on the desperation of suicide bombers as they struggle with the moral and practical dimensions of killing themselves for an ideal.

Comedy often arrives in surprising bursts, often involving surreal touches like processed cheese, rap and a group sing-along to Toploader’s Dancing in the Moonlight.

This hilarity is tempered by more ambiguous scenes involving the strange motives of ‘family men’ who think that it is moral to kill innocent people or are just too confused to even tell the difference.

The acting is of a high standard, especially Riz Ahmed in the main role who gives his character a surprising emotional depth despite the buffonery going on in other sections of the film.

Like In the Loop, the script is undercut with a biting intelligence but is less successful than that film in giving a wider context to the motives of the main characters.

There are scenes in the final third that touch upon the security forces response to terrorism but – without giving too much away – they don’t quite paint the rounded picture Iannucci achieved with his film.

Overall this is ultimately a brave and commendable attempt by Morris to tackle a tricky subject. For the most part it works well, but the film where he unleashes his many talents to full effect probably lies somewhere in the future.

> Official site
> Four Lions at the IMDb
> Find out more about Chris Morris at Wikipedia


Trailer: Four Lions

The first full length trailer for Four Lions, the new comedy about suicide bombers directed by Chris Morris.


> Four Lions at the IMDb
> More about Chris Morris at Wikipedia