Categories
DVD & Blu-ray

UK DVD Releases: Monday 13th July 2009

DVD Picks 13-07-09

DVD PICKS

Religulous (Momentum): A smart and frequently hilarious documentary directed by Larry Charles in which US comedian Bill Maher explores the subject of religion.

Travelling to numerous religious places, such as Jerusalem, the Vatican and Salt Lake City, where they interview believers from a variety of backgrounds and groups including a former member of Jews for JesusChristiansMuslims, former Mormons and Hasidic Jews.

For some strange reason there are no DVD extras on the UK DVD, even though there are a few on the Region 1 DVD release.

* Listen to my interview with director Larry Charles about the film *

Mad Men Season 2 (Lionsgate): The second season of the best show currently on television continues to explore the fictional Sterling Cooper advertising agency on New York City’s Madison Avenue during the early 1960s.

The story lines still centre around creative director Don Draper (Jon Hamm) and the people in his work and personal life.

With the action now moving to 1962, notable plot lines in the second season include more revelations about Don’s personal life and big changes at Sterling Cooper.

After the first season proved a huge critical hit, it won numerous awards including three Golden Globes, a BAFTA and six Emmys and became only the second cable series ever to win the Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series.

US cable network AMC deserve a credit deal of credit for green lighting the show and when an HBO exec like Richard Plepler says: “Mad Men is a magnificent show, and the only problem with it is it’s not on HBO”, you know that the quality must be high.

The level of writing, direction, acting and production design is as good as anything you can currently see on TV or at the cinema.

The true genius of the show, created by Matthew Wiener, is that it manages to put a modern slant on the past by going beyond the period detail into something genuinely absorbing and profound.

The regular DVD has episodes are spread across three-discs presented in anamorphic widescreen with English DD5.1 Surround audio.

Extras include:

  • Those Who Think Young: Audio Commentary by Matthew Weiner
  • The Gold Violin: Audio Commentary by Matthew Weiner and Elisabeth Moss
  • Six Month Leave: Audio Commentary by Jon Hamm, John Slattery and Joel Murray
  • The Inheritance: Audio Commentary by Jon Hamm, January Jones and Vincent Kartheiser
  • “Birth of an Independent Woman, Part 1 and Part 2” – from housewives to working women, this featurette examines the rise of female independence in the Mad Men era
  • “An Era of Style” – featurette explores the fashion of the 1960’s and its lasting influence on designers today

On the Blu-ray Disc there are a few more extras, with a lot more audio commentaries:

  • For Those Who Think Young: Audio Commentary by Matthew Weiner
  • For Those Who Think Young: Audio Commentary by Jon Hamm and January Jones
  • Flight 1: Audio Commentary by Matthew Weiner and Jon Hamm
  • Flight 1: Audio Commentary by Lisa Albert and Vincent Kartheiser
  • The Benefactor: Audio Commentary by Matthew Weiner and Elisabeth Moss
  • The Benefactor: Audio Commentary by Lesli Linka Glatter, Melinda McGraw and Rich Sommer
  • Three Sundays: Audio Commentary by Matthew Weiner and Marie and Andre Jacques
  • Three Sundays: Audio Commentary by Elisabeth Moss and Colin Hanks
  • The New Girl: Audio Commentary by Jennifer Getzinger and Robin Veith
  • The New Girl: Audio Commentary by Jon Hamm, Elisabeth Moss and Melinda McGraw
  • Maidenform: Audio Commentary by Matthew Weiner and Robin Veith
  • Maidenform: Audio Commentary by Phil Abraham and Mark Moses
  • The Gold Violin: Audio Commentary by Matthew Weiner and Elisabeth Moss
  • The Gold Violin: Audio Commentary by Bob Levinson, Josh Weltman and Bryan Batt
  • A Night To Remember: Audio Commentary by Matthew Weiner and Robin Veith
  • A Night To Remember: Audio Commentary by Lesli Linka Glatter and January Jones
  • Six Month Leave: Audio Commentary by Matthew Weiner and Mike Uppendahl
  • Six Month Leave: Audio Commentary by Jon Hamm, John Slattery and Joel Murray
  • The Inheritance: Audio Commentary by Matthew Weiner and Lisa Albert
  • The Inheritance: Audio Commentary by Jon Hamm, January Jones and Vincent Kartheiser
  • The Jet Set: Audio Commentary by Matthew Weiner, Phil Abraham and David Carbonara
  • The Jet Set: Audio Commentary by Scott Hornbacher, Dan Bishop and Amy Wells
  • The Mountain King: Audio Commentary by Matthew Weiner and Blake McCormick
  • The Mountain King: Audio Commentary by Robin Veith, Christina Hendricks and Robert Morse
  • Meditations in an Emergency: Audio Commentary by Matthew Weiner and January Jones
  • Meditations in an Emergency: Audio Commentary by Kater Gordon, Elisabeth Moss and Vincent Kartheiser
  • “Birth of an Independent Woman, Part 1 and Part 2” – from housewives to working women, this featurette examines the rise of female independence in the Mad Men era
  • “An Era of Style” – featurette explores the fashion of the 1960’s and its lasting influence on designers today
  • ”Time Capsule” – interactive featurettes paying homage to historical events of the 1960’s and the daring generation that lived through them

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The Young Victoria (Momentum):  A period piece about the early years of Queen Victoria stars Emily Blunt in the title role and Rupert Friend as Prince Albert.

There are also supporting performances from Paul Bettany (as Prime Minister Lord Melbourne) and Miranda Richardson as Victoria’s mother, the Duchess of Kent.

Although it might look like a conventional costume drama, the level of acting is very strong and the unlikely combination of Graham KingMartin Scorsese and Sarah, Duchess of York as producers (an unlikely trio, to say the least), screenwriter Julian Fellowes (a shrewd observer of England’s social layers) and director Jean-Marc Vallée is a winning one.

All of them have combined to make a much more substantial film than may have been expected which explores part of Victoria’s reign not really seen on screen before, namely the problems of her accession to the throne and her early relationship with Albert.

Extras include:

  • Deleted Scenes
  • Making of The Young Victoria
  • The Coronation & The Wedding: Behind the scenes look at the production
  • Lavish History: Look at the costumes and locations

* Listen to my interview with Emily Blunt and Rupert Friend about The Young Victoria *

Genova (Metrodome): Directed by the prolific Michael Winterbottom, this drama is the story of two American girls and their British father (Colin Firth) who move to Italy after their mother dies.

Co-starring Catherine Keener and Hope Davis, it was filmed in the titular city of Genoa (Genova in Italian) during the summer of 2007.

DVD extras include:

  • Bringing Genova to Life: the journey from story to screen
  • Shooting Genova: on location with the cast and crew
  • Original Score: Melissa Parmenter’s acclaimed complete score

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ALSO OUT

Anti-Clock (BFI)
Driven to Kill (Optimum)
Duplicity (Universal)
Fight Night (E1 Entertainment)
Hotel Babylon Series 3 (2Entertain)
How Not To Live Your Life (2Entertain)
In Sickness and In Health Series 4 (2Entertain)
Living With Monkeys – Tales From The Treetops (2Entertain)
Separation (BFI)
Table for Three (Anchor Bay)
The Burrowers (Lionsgate)
The Last Patrol (Anchor Bay)
The Other Side of the Underneath (BFI)
Three Kingdoms: Resurrection Of The Dragon (Icon)
Torchwood: Children of Earth (2Entertain)

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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 (W/C Friday 10th July)

Categories
Cinema

UK Cinema Releases: Friday 3rd April 2009

UK Cinema Releases 03-04-09

NATIONAL RELEASES

The Boat That Rocked (Universal): The new film from writer-director Richard Curtis is set on board a pirate radio ship broadcasting to the UK in the 1960s.

 

It stars Philip Seymour HoffmanBill NighyRhys IfansEmma ThompsonNick Frost and Kenneth Branagh and Gemma Arterton.

Although it is likely to attracted mixed reviews, the extensive marketing campaign and early opening on April 1st is likely to see it do well, even if probably won’t crack the top spot. [Odeon Leicester Square & Nationwide]

Monsters Vs. Aliens (Paramount): The latest animated film from DreamWorks is about a woman (Reese Witherspoon) who, on her wedding day, is struck by a meteorite which causes her to grow into a giant.

The US government takes her away to a top-secret facility where it has impounded all monsters since the war, who have to save the earth when aliens attack. An impressive supporting cast includes Seth RogenHugh LaurieWill ArnettRainn WilsonKiefer Sutherland and Stephen Colbert.

A big budget effort, which will screen in 3-D on a lot of cinemas, this has already proved a hit in America and is likely to snag the top spot here too, especially given the family audiences around for the Easter holiday. [Vue West End & Nationwide / Cert PG]

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IN SELECTED CINEMAS

Religulous

Religulous (Momentum Pictures): A riotous documentary directed by Larry Charles in which US comedian Bill Maher explores the subject of religion.

Travelling to numerous religious places, such as Jerusalem, the Vatican and Salt Lake City, where they interview believers from a variety of backgrounds and groups including a former member of Jews for JesusChristiansMuslims, former Mormons and Hasidic Jews

 

Hilarious and refreshing, forget the predictable hand-wringing criticisms that it is smug and imbalanced and take it as a Borat-style experiment – albeit one that is as disturbing as it is funny. [Odeon Panton Street & selected Key Cities / Cert 15]

* Listen to our interview with Larry Charles *

I Can’t Think Straight (Enlightenment Films): An Indian romance about a London-based Jordanian woman who fall in love with another woman before her wedding. Directed by Shamim Sarif and starring Lisa Ray and Sheetal Sheth. [Apollo Piccadilly Circus / 12A]

Modern Life (Soda Pictures): A look at several generations of farmers and several farmer families in contemporary France directed by Raymond Depardon. [Gate, Cine Lumiere, Everyman, Renoir & Key Cities / Cert PG]

Waveriders (Element Pictures): A documentary about the unlikely Irish roots of the worldwide surfing phenomenon and Irish/Hawaiian waterman, George Freet. [London & Selected Key Cities / Cert PG]

The World Unseen (Enlightenment Films): Writte and directed by Shamim Sarif, this stars Lisa Ray and Sheetal Sheth as two Indian South African women who fall in love in a racist, sexist, and homophobic society. [Apollo Piccadilly Circus / Cert 12A]

Cherry Blossoms (Dogwoof Pictures): A German film about a married couple (Hannelore Elsner and Elmar Wepper) who decide to to see more of life and visit their son who lives in Japan and Mount Fuji. [ICA Cinema & Selected Key Cities]

> Listen to our interview with Larry Charles about Religulous
Check out our latest DVD picks (W/C Monday 23rd March) 

Categories
Cinema Interviews Podcast

Interview: Larry Charles on Religulous

larry-charles-on-religulous

Larry Charles is the director of Religulous, a new documentary in which US comedian Bill Maher explores the subject of religion.

It sees them travel to numerous religious places, such as Jerusalem, the Vatican and Salt Lake City, where they interview believers from a variety of backgrounds and groups including a former member of Jews for JesusChristiansMuslims, former Mormons and Hasidic Jews.

Previously, he was writer on TV shows such as Seinfeld and Mad About You and more recently has directed episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm and the Borat movie

I spoke with Larry last October at the London Film festival where we discussed Religulous and the ideas behind it.

You can listen here:

[audio:http://filmdetail.receptionmedia.com/Larry_Charles_on_Religulous.mp3]

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

Religulous is out at UK cinemas on Friday 3rd April

> Download this interview as an MP3 file
> Official UK site
> Larry Charles at the
IMDb
> Find out more about world religion at Wikipedia

Categories
Trailers

UK Trailer: Religulous

This is the UK trailer for Religulous, Bill Maher’s documentary about religion. 

It opens here on Friday 3rd April.

> Official UK site
> More about Bill Maher at Wikipedia

Categories
Cinema London Film Festival

LFF 2008: Day 4

Today the London Film Festival saw a gala screening of Religulous, a documentary featuring US comedian Bill Maher that explores the issue of religious faith.

Directed by Larry Charles (who also directed Borat) it is a riotous and frequently hilarious examination of why human beings believe in stories which cannot be proven, ideas that are often cruel and organisations that are usually corrupt.

The end result is a cross between Michael Moore, Borat and Maher’s own HBO show Real Time in that it is a guerilla documentary that poses smart and often humourous questions at why people believe what they believe.

Using the major faiths of Christianity, Judaism and Islam as the foundation of the film, it also visits numerous religious destinations such as Jerusalem, the Vatican and Salt Lake City, interviewing various people connected to them.

I suspect that the reaction to this film will largely depend on whether you are religious or not.

For those who believe in God it will be a blasphemous blast of outrage whilst for those who don’t it will come as a welcome assertion of doubt.

What’s interesting about the film is that although it points out some of the more ludicrous aspects of religious faith (i.e. the talking snake, a guy trapped inside a whale, death sentences for novelists, magic underwear) it is all undercut by a solid base of intelligence.

Maher has clearly done his homework on the various faiths under the microscope and whilst he doesn’t shy away from joking about them, he also poses some serious questions about the nature of belief and it’s effect on the human race.

As Maher has said about the film, the approach isn’t just to knock religious faith but to examine why and how religion has come to affect human beings:

I’m not trying to mandate that people think anything in particular. I’m just suggesting there’s a different way to think. That’s just free speech.

But when it comes to religion, free speech has been off-limits for many years. 

This film is certainly a counterblast to the notion that religion shouldn’t be discussed openly.

But aside from the subject matter, there are many interesting aspects to the film including three that really stood out for me.

The first involves the theological discussions – many of which descend into unintentional hilarity – such as a conversation with a ‘fake’ Jesus at a religious theme park(!) who Maher informs that the resurrection story is a myth that actually predates Christianity.

The second is the clever editing and use of subtitles which contradict their subjects by voicing concerns or offering points the interviewees forgot to mention. 

(One example is the insertion of doubts expressed by the Americans who drafted the US Constitution, such as Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams when someone suggests America is a ‘Christian’ nation.) 

The third is the rough and ready camera style which doesn’t shy away from showing the barebones crew hovering around Maher or the numerous B-roll shots which explain how they filmed where they did and the difficultirs involved.

In some ways this approach mirrors Borat and I’m sure some of the same tactics and inventive legal releases were used in order to get people to speak.

I am almost willing to guarentee that a lot of UK critics (like some of their US counterparts) will be snooty about this film, adopting a Pontius Pilate stance, saying that whilst they agree with Maher’s thrust, they disapprove of his smugness and unfair ‘attack’ on religion.

In some ways this misses the point of the film – it is meant to defalte the pomposity of religion and make us laugh at the numerous absurdities it has spawned.

The target audience here is not people of faith, but rather the agnostic and atheistic. In a sense it highlights the nonsense of religion in order to advocate the sense openly criticising those you disagree with.

Whilst many defenders of faith will say they are under attack from ‘smug atheists’ in the ‘liberal media’, surely the events of this decade have shown has dangerous religion can be in the hands of important global figures.

In a world where the current US president has stated that God shapes his foreign policy, religious fanatics encourage acolytes to fly planes into buildings and people are convinced that the Bible is actual fact, this film that shows us doubts worth believing in.   

Religulous is scheduled to open at UK cinemas in December

> Religulous at the IMDb 
> Find out more about Bill Maher and Larry Charles at Wikipedia  
> Reviews for Religulous at Metacritic

Categories
Cinema Documentaries

Trailer: Religulous

This is the first trailer for Religulous, the new documentary about religion with Bill Maher.

> Check out the official website for the film (which is very funny)
> Bill Maher discussing the film last year with Larry King on CNN
> IMDb entry for Religulous

Categories
Amusing Documentaries News

Bill Maher on the Catholic church

US comedian and talkshow host Bill Maher has a new documentary about religion coming out later this year called Religulous.

His recent monologue about Catholicism on his HBO show Real Time has recently been causing some debate in the US: