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DVD & Blu-ray

UK DVD & Blu-ray Releases: Monday 4th April 2011

DVD & BLU-RAY PICKS

The Man Who Fell to Earth (Optimum Home Entertainment): Nicolas Roeg’s 1976 cult sci-fi film is about a mysterious visitor (David Bowie) to earth who tries to get water for his dying planet. [Read our full review] [Buy it on Blu-ray]

The American (Universal Picutres): An enigmatic American (George Clooney) moves to a remote Italian town in order to build a rifle for an assassination. Directed by Anton Corbijn and co-starring Violante Placido and Thekla Reuten. [Read our full review here] [Interview with Violante Placido] [Buy it on Blu-ray or DVD]

Somewhere (Universal Pictures): Sofia Coppola directs this drama about the empty life of a Hollywood star (Stephen Dorff) and his relationship with his young daughter (Elle Fanning). [Buy it on Blu-ray or DVD]

ALSO OUT

2 Fast 2 Furious (Universal Pictures) [Blu-ray / Normal]
Barbarossa – Siege Lord (Metrodome Distribution) [Blu-ray / Normal]
Boudu Saved from Drowning (Park Circus) [Blu-ray / Normal]
Fast and Furious (Universal Pictures) [Blu-ray / Normal]
Fast and Furious Collection (Universal Pictures) [Blu-ray / with Digital Copy – Double Play]
Megamind (DreamWorks Animation) [Blu-ray / Normal]
My Soul to Take (Momentum Pictures) [Blu-ray / Normal]
Outcasts (2 Entertain) [Blu-ray / Normal]
Pirates of the Caribbean Trilogy (Walt Disney) [Blu-ray / Box Set]
Prowl (G2 Pictures) [Blu-ray / Normal]
The Karate Kid (Sony Pictures Home Ent.) [Blu-ray / Normal]
The Wonders Collection With Prof. Brian Cox (2 Entertain) [Blu-ray / Normal]
Wonders of the Universe (2 Entertain) [Blu-ray / Normal]

UK cinema releases for Friday 1st April 2011
> DVD & Blu-ray picks for April 2011
The Best DVD & Blu-ray releases of 2010

Categories
DVD & Blu-ray

DVD & Blu-ray Picks: April 2011

DVD & BLU-RAY PICKS

Here are my picks of the best DVD & Blu-ray releases during April.

Particular highlights include the remastered Blu-ray of Nic Roeg’s cult classic The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976), a Blu-ray of beloved fantasy The Princess Bride (1987) and a re-issue from Eureka of Henri-Georges Clouzot’s classic Les Diaboliques (1955).

APRIL 4th

APRIL 11th

APRIL 18th

APRIL 25th

> Recent UK cinema releases
The Best DVD & Blu-ray releases of 2010
Categories
Interesting Posters

Anatomy of a Movie Poster

One of the most striking film posters this year was for The American, but what made it so distinctive?

When LA-based Mojohouse released the first one sheet for Anton Corbijn’s film, about an enigmatic American lying low in Italy, there was a lot of talk about the retro design.

MUBi listed various films of the 1960s that seemed to be an inspiration for the basic look and feel of the poster:

With its two-color printing, its high-contrast photographs, its monochrome rectangle of color and its billing block within a white frame, it could be a lost object from that era.

Rod Steiger’s The Sergeant (1968) appears to be a particularly strong influence, both in the look and billing of the star.

(Click here for a larger version of the above image)

It is also worth comparing how the lead actor is depicted on the poster: note the similarities between the black and white image of Clooney and Steve McQueen on the poster for Bullitt (1968).

Another trend of the late 1960s they appeared to have picked up on is the placing of a small photo, or drawing, next to the title and credits.

With The American, it is a silhouette of someone getting shot, which also could be a play on The Parallax View (1974), another film involving assassins and paranoia.

Finally, a recent Danish film, Everything Will Be Fine (2010), has a very similar poster: notice the eye, which forms part of an orange backdrop to which a character is running from.

But who influenced who?

> MUBi on The American poster influences
> The American
> More movie poster links at IMP Awards

Categories
Cinema

UK Cinema Releases: Friday 26th November 2010

NATIONAL RELEASES

The American (Universal): Anton Corbijn’s second film as a director is a stylish, existential drama about an enigmatic American hiding out in a remote Italian town. Beginning with a prologue in wintry Sweden, we first see the titular character, Jack (George Clooney), as circumstances force him to relocate to the Abruzzo region in Italy.

There we slowly learn more about him: he makes a rifle for an assassin (Thekla Reuten) under the orders of his handler (Johan Leysen), befriends a priest (Paolo Bonacelli) and falls for a local prostitute (Violante Placido), as he begins to think about changing his life.

Although The American appears to be channelling the minimalist crime dramas of Jean-Pierre Melville (especially Le Samouraï), the form and structure resemble a Sergio Leone western, with its story of a stranger arriving in a new town, extended silences and widescreen cinematography.

As a vehicle for Clooney, this is an unusually European film – despite being a US/UK production – and the slow burn pacing and gradual revelations will probably limit its appeal to a mass audience.

The trailer and TV spots have misleadingly sold it as an action thriller but its respectable opening in the US probably meant the box office ends were justified by the marketing means. [Empire Leicester Square & Nationwide / 15]

* Read our full review of The American here *

Unstoppable (20th Century Fox): Tony Scott’s latest film is stimulating mainstream fare and, after last year’s remake of The Taking of Pelham 123, he has returned with another film involving a train and Denzel Washington.

The setting this time is rural Pennsylvania and, inspired by true events, it deals with two railway engineers (Denzel Washington and Chris Pine) who must stop a runaway train which is loaded with toxic chemicals.

The supporting characters include a plucky yardmaster co-ordinating the rescue (Rosario Dawson); a weakly corporate boss (Kevin Dunn); a visiting safety inspector (Kevin Corrigan); and a persistent railroad welder (Lew Temple).

Like much of Scott’s work, this is a nakedly commercial project executed with considerable technical skill, utilising his stylistic palette: multiple cameras, desiderated images, whip-pans, crash zooms and frenzied editing.

In the wrong hands this could be deeply average and clichéd, but under Scott’s direction there is an invigorating professionalism to the whole film that elevates it above most studio fare. [Vue West End & Nationwide / 12A]

* Read the full review of Unstoppable here *

Machete (Sony Pictures): Based on one of the trailers from the Grindhouse project (the Robert Rodriguez/Quentin Tarantino double bill movie from 2007), this is about a rouge Mexican hit man (Danny Trejo) who seeks revenge after being double crossed and left for dead.

Directed by Ethan Maniquis and Robert Rodriguez, it co-stars Jessica Alba, Michelle Rodriguez and Robert De Niro. The mixed reviews from the US suggest that it might struggle to compete with other films in a crowded weekend at the UK box office. [Nationwide / 18]

London Boulevard (Entertainment): The directorial debut of screenwriter William Monahan (who wrote The Departed) is a crime drama about a man just released from prison (Colin Farrell) who falls for a reclusive young film star (Keira Knightley) and finds himself at odds with a vicious gangster (Ray Winstone).

Early buzz for this is not promising although the presence of heavyweight stars might attract adult audiences eager for a home grown crime film with recognisable stars. [Nationwide / 18]

The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest (Momentum Pictures): The third and final part of the Swedish version of Millennium trilogy sees Lisbeth Salander (Noomi Rapace) hospitalized after meeting her father, and put on trial. Mikael Blomkvist (Michael Nyqvist) tries to prove her innocence whilst uncovering the reasons why she has been targeted by the Swedish authorities.

Directed by Daniel Afredson, the mixed reviews might put off fans of the books in a busy week at the UK box office. The US version is currently filming in Sweden with David Fincher at the helm. [Cineworld Haymarket, Odeon Covent Garden & Nationwide / 15]

ALSO OUT

Waiting For Superman (Paramount/Vantage): A documentary about the failings of America’s education system directed by Davis Guggenheim.

Although it won an audience award at Sundance and is a potential Oscar winner, it has generated considerably less buzz over here, possibly because its subject matter doesn’t resonate outside America. [Curzon Soho & Picturehouse Clapham/ PG]

Leap Year (Axiom Films): Not to be confused with the Amy Adams comedy which came out earlier this year, this study of urban alienation in Mexico is the debut feature from Michael Rowe and earned him the Camera D’Or at Cannes earlier this year. [Key Cities / Axiom Films]

An Ordinary Execution (Arrow Films): Based on his novel of the same name, Marc Dugain’s debut feature is the story of an imagined encounter between the ageing Joseph Stalin (André Dussolier) and a young doctor Anna (Marina Hands) who has healing powers. [Cine Lumiere, Clapham Picturehouse & Nationwide / 12A]

Break Ke Baad (Reliance Big Entertainment): A romantic coming-of-age dramedy directed by Danish Aslam and starring Deepika Padukone and Imran Khan. [Cineworlds Feltham, Ilford, Wandsworth, Woodgreen & Nationwide / PG]

> Find out what films are showing in your area with Google Movies or Find Any Film
All the UK cinema releases for November 2010
UK DVD and Blu-ray Releases for Monday 22nd November 2010

Categories
Cinema Reviews Thoughts

The American

Anton Corbijn’s second film as a director is a stylish, existential drama about an enigmatic American hiding out in a remote Italian town.

Beginning with a prologue in wintry Sweden, we first see the titular character, Jack (George Clooney), as circumstances force him to relocate to the Abruzzo region in Italy.

There we slowly learn more about him: he makes a rifle for an assassin (Thekla Reuten) under the orders of his handler (Johan Leysen), befriends a priest (Paolo Bonacelli) and falls for a local prostitute (Violante Placido), as he begins to think about changing his life.

Although The American appears to be channelling the minimalist crime dramas of Jean-Pierre Melville (especially Le Samouraï), the form and structure resemble a Sergio Leone western, with its story of a stranger arriving in a new town, extended silences and widescreen visuals.

Careful viewers may note that Leone’s Once Upon A Time in The West can be seen on a television in one sequence and that some of his westerns were shot in the same region back in the 1960s.

Despite the crime elements, this is not an action movie and is essentially a suspense drama revolving around Jack’s gradual construction of a gun and his relationships with various characters, who may or may not be trusted.

It is also deliberately ambiguous about various elements: Jack is a gunsmith but could also be a hit man; a group of characters are simply referred to as ‘the Swedes’; and there is the mystery of why the gun is being constructed.

As a vehicle for Clooney, this is an unusually European film – despite being a US/UK production – and the slow burn pacing and gradual revelations will probably limit its appeal to a mass audience.

The trailer and TV spots have misleadingly sold it as an action thriller (Corbijn recently said that he directed the film ‘but not the trailer’) but its respectable opening in the US probably meant the box office ends were justified by the marketing means.

But there is much to appreciate and right from the opening sequence Corbijn and his cinematographer Martin Ruhe, working together again after Control, demonstrate their considerable visual abilities.

The snowy landscapes of Sweden and the misty, old world charms of rural Italy are captured with exquisite clarity and the artful compositions are often stunning.

Rowan Joffe’s screenplay appears to have some key differences with the novel it’s based on (A Very Private Gentleman by Martin Booth), but the sparse dialogue provides a neat fit for Corbijn’s visual approach.

Clooney is in downbeat mode, but like his performances in Michael Clayton and Syriana it plays against his usual charming screen persona and he convincingly conveys the weary solitude of the central character.

The supporting characters tend to fit in to types: the impossibly soulful and glamorous prostitute, the wise old priest and the impatient boss, but the actors who play them are convincing.

Their chemistry with Clooney also works well, be it in the unusually frank sex scenes, chats in the graveyard, gun tests in the forest or sinister conversations in a restaurant.

Another captivating aspect is how the rifle is actually constructed. Corbijn depicts Jack’s handiwork in detail as each part is assembled with a loving care that contrasts with its ultimate use as an instrument of death.

There is also an effective sense of unease that is gradually teased throughout the film, as everyday events gain a sinister edge due to the danger and mistrust involved in the business of killing people.

This atmosphere is enhanced by Herbert Gronemeyer‘s minimal, atmospheric piano-and-percussion score which, like the poster, evokes the tone of similar films from the 1970s.

As with his debut feature, Corbijn has crafted another considered and tasteful film.

Although the cool, European flavour won’t be for everyone, it bodes very well for his future career as a director.

The American opens in the UK on Friday 26th November

> Official site
> The American at the IMDb
> Reviews of The American at Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes
> Interview with Violante Placido about The American

Categories
Cinema Interviews Podcast

Interview: Violante Placido on The American

The American is a new suspense thriller about a mysterious American named Jack (George Clooney) who arrives in a small Italian town after problems with a job in Sweden.

Whilst waiting for orders, he befriends a local priest (Paolo Bonacelli) and falls for for a local prostitute named Clara (Violante Placido), whilst taking on a new assignment to construct a new rifle for a professional assassin (Thekla Reuten).

Directed by Anton Corbijn, the film is a stylish, existential drama that harks back to the films of Jean-Pierre Melville, Michelangelo Antonioni and Sergio Leone.

I recently spoke with Violante Placido about her role the film and what it was like working with Corbijn and Clooney in the Abruzzo region of Italy.

You can listen to the interview here:

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

You can also listen to this interview as a podcast via iTunes or by downloading the MP3.

The American is out at UK cinemas from Friday 26th November

> Violante Placido at the IMDb
> Official site for The American

Categories
Cinema

UK Cinema Releases: November 2010

FRIDAY 5th NOVEMBER

Another Year (12A) / Momentum Pictures [Cineworld Haymarket, Curzon Soho, Everyman, Screen On Baker St. & N’wide]
Due Date (15) / Warner Bros. [Nationwide]
Fit / Peccadillo Pictures [Shortwave, Tricycle & Key Cities]
Golmaal 3 (Eros) [C’Worlds Feltham, Ilford, Wood Green, Vue Acton & Key Cities]
Jackass 3D (18) / Paramount [Vue West End & Nationwide]
Let Me In (12A) / Paramount/Icon [Odeon West End & Nationwide]
Mammoth (15) / Soda Pictures [Odeon Panton Street & Key Cities]
Red & White (Kaleidoscope Entertainment) [Key Cities]

FRIDAY 12th NOVEMBER

Aftershock / Metrodome Distribution [Apollo Piccadilly Circus]
brilliantlove / Soda Pictures [Curzon Renoir & Key Cities]
A Day In the Life – Four Portraits Of Post-War Britain (U) / bfi Distribution [BFI Southbank & Key Cities]
The Edge Of Dreaming / Cinefile
Into Eternity / Dogwoof [ICA Cinema & Key Cities]
My Afternoons With Margueritte (15) / Picturehouse Entertainment [Cine Lumiere, Curzon Mayfair, Everyman, Gate & Nationwide]
Skyline / Paramount/Momentum [Cineworld Shaftesbury Ave., Vue West End & Nationwide]
We Are What We Are (15) / Artificial Eye [Curzon Soho, Odeon Covent Gdn., Screen On The Green, Vue Islington & Nationwide]
You Again (U) / Walt Disney [Empire Leicester Square & Nationwide]

FRIDAY 19th NOVEMBER

Adrift (12A) / Revolver Entertainment [Key Cities]
Broken Sun (15) / Metrodome Distribution [Selected Key Cities]
Chico And Rita (15) / CinemaNX [Picurehouse Clapham, Gate, Greenwich, Ritzy & Key Cities]
Dream Home (18) / Network Releasing [Cineworld Shaftesbury Ave., Showcase Newham, Vue Shepherds Bush & Key Cities]
Fathers Of Girls / Soda Pictures [Empire Leicester Square, Genesis Mile End & Key Cities]
Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part I (12A) / Warner Bros. [Empire Leicester Square, Vue West End & Nationwide]
Peeping Tom: 50th Anniversary (15) / Optimum Releasing [Curzon Mayfair & Key Cities]
Robinson In Ruins (U) / bfi Distribution [BFI Southbank & Key Cities]
Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (12A) / New Wave Films [Key Cities]

FRIDAY 26th NOVEMBER

Unstoppable (12A) / 20th Century Fox [Vue West End & Nationwide]
The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest (15) / Momentum Pictures
The American (15) / Universal [Empire Leicester Square & Nationwide]
Break Ke Baad / Reliance Big Entertainment [Cineworlds Feltham, Ilford, Wandsworth, Woodgreen & Nationwide]
Leap Year / Axiom Films [Key Cities]
London Boulevard / Entertainment [Nationwide]
Machete (18) / Sony Pictures [Nationwide]
An Ordinary Execution / Arrow Films [Cine Lumiere, Clapham Picturehouse & Nationwide]
The Scar Crow (18) / Metrodome Distribution [Selected Key Cities]
Tere Ishq Nachaya / Eros [Cineworlds Feltham, Ilford, Wood Green & Key Cities]
Waiting For Superman (PG) / Paramount/Vantage [Curzon Soho & Picturehouse Clapham]

> Get local cinema listings at Google Movies
> UK Cinema Releases for 2010