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blu-ray DVD & Blu-ray

UK DVD & Blu-ray Releases: Monday 8th February 2010

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DVD & BLU-RAY PICKS

Adventureland (Walt Disney): Director Greg Mottola followed up Superbad (2007) with this marvellous coming-of-age comedy set in the summer of 1987 about a recent college grad (Jesse Eisenberg) who takes a nowhere job at a local amusement park, where he falls in love and learns a few life lessons.

Superbly made and acted it features some terrific performances from Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Ryan Reynolds (seriously) and Bill Hader.¬†Although it didn’t make a huge amount of money at cinemas, it was one of the best films of last year and will almost certainly become a cult favourite in the future.

Plus, it has a memorable use of Falco’s ‘Amadeus‘ and the line “status obsessed witch” is one of the killer movie phrases in recent memory.

Extras include:

  • Deleted Scenes
  • Just My Life: The Making Of Adventureland
  • Feature Commentary — With Writer/Director Greg Mottola And Actor Jesse Eisenberg
  • A Satiric “How To” On Inflicting Unexpected Pain

* Buy Adventureland on DVD or Blu-ray from Amazon UK *

Mystic River (Warner): A release on Blu-ray for Clint Eastwood‘s 2003 adaptation of the Dennis Lehane novel, which is set in Boston and deals with three childhood friends (Sean Penn, Tim Robbins and Kevin Bacon) who are reunited after one of their daughters gets killed.

A powerful and well acted drama, it features fine supporting performances from Laura Linney, Marcia Gay Harden and Laurence Fishburne. Tastefully shot (by Tom Stern) and edited (by Joel Cox), it bears all the hallmarks of Eastwood’s classy dramas over the last decade and won Sean Penn and Tim Robbins Oscars for their performances.

Gary Tooze of DVD Beaver has posted some screen shots of the Blu-ray and is impressed with the transfer and the overall package, saying:

“…contrast and colors leap ahead. …this looks very good and occasionally even impressive with some desirable depth. Dependant on your system – the superiority is moderate to heavy over the previous SD-DVDs”

This includes all the extras from the R1 DVD release that were never included on the UK R2 DVD.

  • Commentary by Tim Robbins and Kevin Bacon
  • Dennis Lehane Tours the Boston Neighborhood Setting of His Novel in Mystic River: Beneath the Surface
  • Featurette Mystic River: From Page to Screen
  • The Charlie Rose Show Interviews with Clint Eastwood, Tim Robbins and Kevin Bacon
  • Theatrical Trailers

* Buy Mystic River on Blu-ray from Amazon UK *

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Paper Heart (Anchor Bay): A¬†new film starring¬†Charlyne Yi and¬†Michael Cera as fictionalized versions of themselves in a ‚Äúhybrid documentary‚ÄĚ about love.¬†Directed by¬†Nicholas Jasenovec, it also features Yi travelling across America asking various people about their experiences of love.

Extras include:

  • Paper Heart Uncut
  • “The Making of Paper Heart‚ÄĚ
  • Live musical performances by Charlyne Yi
  • ‚ÄúHeaven‚ÄĚ music video by Charlyne Yi and Michael Cera
  • Love interviews with the comedians
  • Deleted scenes
  • Trailer

* Buy Paper Heart on DVD or Blu-ray from Amazon UK *

ALSO OUT

Blue Dragon Complete Series 1 (Manga) [Buy it on DVD]
Couples Retreat (Universal) [Buy it on DVD | Buy it on Blu-ray]
Death Note Relight: Visions of a God (Manga) [Buy it on DVD]
I Love You, Beth Cooper (Fox) [Buy it on DVD]
In the Electric Mist (High Fliers) [Buy it on DVD | Buy it on Blu-ray]
Kamikaze Girls (Special Edition) (Third Window Films) [Buy it on DVD | Buy it on Blu-ray]
Lala Pipo (Third Window Films) [Buy it on DVD]
Long Weekend (2008) (Showbox) [Buy it on DVD]
The Time Traveler’s Wife (EIV) [Buy it on DVD | Buy it on Blu-ray]
The Ugly Truth (Sony) [Buy it on DVD | Buy it on Blu-ray]
The Unit Season 4 (Fox) [Buy it on DVD]

> The Best DVD and Blu-ray releases of 2009
> UK cinema releases for Friday 5th February including Invictus and Astro Boy

Categories
blu-ray DVD & Blu-ray Lists

The Best DVD & Blu-ray Releases of 2009

Best of DVD and Blu-ray 2009

DVD and Blu-ray releases have effectively gone on holiday until the last week of the month so here is my list of the best UK releases of 2009.

*N.B. Some of these titles were already available on DVD but got a Blu-ray release this year *

JANUARY

DVD and Blu-ray Picks January 2009

Standard Operating Procedure (Sony) [Buy on DVD or Blu-ray]
Recount (HBO) [Buy on DVD]
Ashes of Time Redux (Artificial Eye) [Buy on DVD or Blu-ray]
The Fall (Momentum) [Buy on DVD or Blu-ray]
The Wong Kar-wai Collection (Artificial Eye) [Buy on DVD]

FEBRUARY

DVD and Blu-ray February 2009

Gomorrah (Optimum) [Buy on DVD or Blu-ray]
I’ve Loved You So Long (Lionsgate) [Buy on DVD or Blu-ray]
7-49UP (Network) [Buy on DVD]
Amadeus – Director’s Cut (Warner) [Buy on DVD or Blu-ray]
One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (Warner) [Buy on DVD or Blu-ray]
Being There (Warner) [Buy on DVD or Blu-ray]
Hunger (Pathe) [Buy on DVD or Blu-ray Import]
The Visitor
(Unanimous Pictures) [Buy on DVD]

MARCH

DVD and Blu-ray March 2009

A History of Violence (EIV) [Buy on DVD or Blu-ray]
L.A. Confidential – Special Edition (Warner) [Buy on DVD or Blu-ray]
Not Quite Hollywood (Optimum) [Buy on DVD]
Waltz with Bashir (Artificial Eye) [Buy on DVD or Blu-ray]

APRIL

DVD Blu-ray April 2009

The Bela Tarr Collection (Artificial Eye) [Buy on DVD]
The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (Optimum) [Buy on DVD or Blu-ray]
The Red Riding Trilogy (Optimum) [Buy on DVD]
Dean Spanley (Icon) [Buy on DVD]

MAY

DVD and Blu-ray May 2009

Fargo (MGM) [Buy on DVD or Blu-ray]
Silence of the Lambs (MGM) [Buy on DVD or Blu-ray]
Mad Men Season 1 (Lionsgate) [Buy on DVD or Blu-ray]
Frost/Nixon (Universal) [Buy on DVD or Blu-ray]

JUNE

DVD and Blu-ray June 2009

Slumdog Millionaire (Pathe) [Buy on DVD or Blu-ray]
A Christmas Tale (New Wave Films) [Buy on DVD or Blu-ray Import]
Milk (Momentum) [Buy on DVD or Blu-ray]
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (Warner) [Buy on DVD or Blu-ray]
Anvil! The Story of Anvil (Universal) [Buy on DVD or Blu-ray]
Blackadder Remastered ‚Äď Ultimate Edition (2 Entertain) [Buy on DVD]
Bolt (Disney) [Buy on DVD or Blu-ray]
The Class (Artificial Eye) [Buy on DVD or Blu-ray Import]
Woodstock 3 Days of Peace & Music (Warner Bros) [Buy on DVD or Blu-ray]
Che (Optimum) [Buy on DVD or Blu-ray]
Gran Torino (Warner) [Buy on DVD or Blu-ray]

JULY

DVD and Blu-ray July 2009

Mad Men Season 2 (Lionsgate) [Buy on DVD or Blu-ray]
Religulous (Momentum) [Buy on DVD]
Brick (Optimum) [Buy on DVD or Blu-ray]
Elephant (Optimum) [Buy on DVD or Blu-ray]
The Pianist (Optimum) [Buy on DVD or Blu-ray]
Il Divo (Artificial Eye) [Buy on DVD or Blu-ray Import]

AUGUST

DVD and Blu-ray August 2009

Children of Men (Universal) [Buy on DVD or Blu-ray]
Winstanley (BFI) [Buy on DVD or Blu-ray]
Two Lovers (Lionsgate) [Buy on DVD or Blu-ray]
La Haine (Optimum) [Buy on DVD or Blu-ray]
In The Loop (Optimum) [Buy on DVD or Blu-ray]
Encounters at the End of the World (Revolver) [Buy on DVD or Blu-ray]
The Battle of Algiers – Special Edition (Argent Films) [Buy on DVD]

SEPTEMBER

DVD and Blu-ray September 2009

This Is Spinal Tap – Up To 11 Edition (Optimum) [Buy on DVD or Blu-ray]
Beyond the Clouds (Second Sight) [Buy on DVD]
In This World (ICA) [Buy on DVD]
An American Werewolf in London (Universal) [Buy on DVD or Blu-ray]
Belle De Jour (Optimum) [Buy on DVD or Blu-ray]
Ran (Optimum) [Buy on DVD or Blu-ray]
Sunrise (Eureka!) [Buy on DVD or Blu-ray]
The Deer Hunter (Optimum) [Buy on DVD or Blu-ray]
The Elephant Man (Optimum) [Buy on DVD or Blu-ray]
The New World – Extended Cut (EIV) [Buy on DVD or Blu-ray]
The Prisoner: The Complete Series (Network) [Buy on DVD or Blu-ray]

OCTOBER

DVD and Blu-ray October 2009

Synecdoche, New York (Revolver) [Buy on DVD or Blu-ray]
Dawn of the Dead (Arrow) [Buy on DVD or Blu-ray]
Frozen River (Axiom Films) [Buy on DVD or Blu-ray Import]
The Complete Friz Lang Mabuse Boxset (Eureka!) [Buy on DVD]
The Essential Michael Haneke (Artificial Eye) [Buy on DVD]
Wallace & Gromit: The Complete Collection (2 Entertain) [Buy on DVD or Blu-ray]

NOVEMBER

DVD and Blu-ray November 2009

Gone with the Wind – 70th Anniversary Edition (Warner) [Buy on DVD or Blu-ray]
Heat (Warner) [Buy on DVD or Blu-ray]
Fanny and Alexander (Palisades Tartan) [Buy on DVD]
For All Mankind (Eureka/Masters of Cinema) [Buy on DVD or Blu-ray]
Moon (Sony) [Buy on DVD or Blu-ray]
North by Northwest – 50th Anniversary Edition (Warner) [Buy on Blu-ray]
The Terence Davies Collection (BFI) [Buy on DVD]
Fight Club – 10th Anniversary Edition (Fox) [Buy on Blu-ray]
The Wizard of Oz – 70th Anniversary Edition (Warner) [Buy on DVD or Blu-ray]
The Jacques Tati Collection (BFI) [Buy on DVD]

DECEMBER

DVD and Blu-ray December 2009

Inglourious Basterds (Universal) [Buy on DVD or Blu-ray]
Mid-August Lunch (Artificial Eye) [Buy on DVD]
The Hangover (Warner) [Buy on DVD or Blu-ray]
1941 (Universal) [Buy on DVD]
District 9 (Sony) [Buy on DVD or Blu-ray]
The Hurt Locker (Optimum) [Buy on DVD or Blu-ray]

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N.B. As I’m based in the UK, all of these DVDs are UK titles but if you live in a different region of the world check out Play.com or your local Amazon site and they should have an equivalent version of the film.

> Browse more DVD Releases at Amazon UK and Play
> The Bestselling DVDs of 2009 at Amazon UK
> Check the latest DVD prices at DVD Price Check
> Browse all the Cinema releases of 2009

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blu-ray DVD & Blu-ray

UK DVD & Blu-ray Releases: Monday 7th December 2009

UK DVD & Blu-ray Picks 07-12-09

Inglourious Basterds (Universal): Quentin Tarantino‚Äôs latest film is a World War II drama set in Nazi-occupied France starring¬†Brad Pitt,¬†Christophe Waltz,¬†Melanie Laurent,¬†Michael Fassbender and¬†Diane Kruger.¬†[Read the full review here…]

Mid-August Lunch (Artificial Eye): An Italian comedy-drama about a middle aged man (Gianni Di Gregorio, who also directed) who finds himself looking after his mother and several other older women in a small Roman flat. [Read the full review here…]

The Hangover (Warner): One if the surprise hits of the summer was this comedy from director Todd Phillips about three groomsmen (Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms and Zach Galifianakis)¬†who lose their about-to-be-wed buddy (Justin Bartha) in Las Vegas. [Read the full review here…]

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ALSO OUT

American Pie Presents: The Book of Love (Universal) [Buy on DVD]
Bandslam (E1 Entertainment) [Buy on Blu-ray / Buy on DVD]
G.I. JOE: The Rise of Cobra (Paramount) [Buy on Blu-ray / Buy on DVD]
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Warner) [Buy on Blu-ray / Buy on DVD]
Microcosmos (Second Sight) [Buy on Blu-ray / Buy on DVD]
Secondhand Lions (EIV) [Buy on Blu-ray / Buy on DVD]
Shorts (Warner) [Buy on Blu-ray / Buy on DVD]
The Bronx Warriors Trilogy (Shameless)
The Tudors Season 3 (Sony) [Buy on Blu-ray / Buy on DVD]

> Browse more DVD & Blu-ray releases at Amazon UK and Play
> UK cinema releases for Friday 4th December 2009 (including Me and Orson Welles, The Box, The Descent Part 2 and Planet 51)

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blu-ray DVD & Blu-ray

UK DVD & Blu-ray Releases: Monday 23rd November 2009

UK DVD and Blu-ray Picks 23-11-09 / Fight Club / The Sopranos Season 1

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DVD & BLU-RAY PICKS

Fight Club 10th Anniversary Edition (Fox): A Blu-ray only re-release for Fight Club is a 10th Anniversary Edition of the the 1999 film based on the book by Chuck Palahniuk. Directed by David Fincher it stars Edward Norton and Brad Pitt as disaffected males who bond over their disgust at modern consumerism by creating an underground club where men beat each other up. [Read the full review here]

The Sopranos Season 1 (HBO): The first season of the iconic HBO drama starring James Gandolfini as mob boss Tony Soprano gets released on Blu-ray. [Read the full review here]

ALSO OUT

Coco Before Chanel (Optimum) [Buy on DVD / Buy on Blu-ray]
Crossing Over (EIV) [Buy on DVD / Buy on Blu-ray]
Grey’s Anatomy Season 4 (Disney) [Buy on DVD / Buy on Blu-ray]
Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (Fox) [Buy on DVD / Buy on Blu-ray]
Land of the Lost (Universal) [Buy on DVD / Buy on Blu-ray]
Mamma Mia! 2-Disc Special Edition (Universal) [Buy on DVD / Buy on Blu-ray]
My Sister’s Keeper (EIV) [Buy on DVD / Buy on Blu-ray]
Orphan (Optimum) [Buy on DVD / Buy on Blu-ray]
Silent Night, Deadly Night (Arrow Video) [Buy on DVD]
Terminator Salvation (Sony Pictures) [Buy on DVD / Buy on Blu-ray]

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> Check out all the DVD & Blu-ray releases for November 2009
> Browse more DVD & Blu-ray releases at Amazon UK and Play
> Check out the latest UK cinema releases including Twilight: New Moon, A Serious Man and The Informant! (W/C Friday 20th November 2009)

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DVD & Blu-ray

UK DVD Releases: Monday 16th November 2009

DVD Picks 16-11-09

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DVD PICKS

Fanny and Alexander (Palisades Tartan): A re-release for Ingmar Bergman’s classic 1982 film about a young boy named Alexander, his sister Fanny, and their well-to-do family in Uppsala, Sweden. Digitally restored from the original negative and soundtrack this is the three hour theatrical cut. [Read the full review here]

Star Trek (Paramount): The re-boot of the Star Trek franchise by director J.J. Abrams was a big critical and commercial success with a new cast (Chris Pine as Kirk, Zachary Quinto as Spock, Zoe Saldana as Uhura) and a twist which cleverly incorporated old characters whilst paving the way for new stories. [Read the full review here]

ALSO OUT

Collision (4DVD)
Film Noir Classics (BFI)
For All Mankind (Eureka/Masters of Cinema) [See Blu-ray Picks here]
Four Christmases
(EIV)
Love the Beast (Metrodome)
Moon (Sony) [See Blu-ray Picks here]
Soul Power
(Eureka/Masters of Cinema)
The Terence Davies Collection (BFI)
Sunshine Cleaning (Anchor Bay)
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles Season 2 (Warner)
The Complete Lone Wolf & Cub Boxset (Eureka)
Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure (Disney)

> Check out all the DVD & Blu-ray releases for November 2009
> Browse more Blu-ray releases at Amazon UK and Play
> Check out the latest UK cinema releases including 2012, Taking Woodstock and The White Ribbon (W/C Friday 13th November 2009)

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blu-ray DVD & Blu-ray

UK DVD & Blu-ray Releases: Monday 26th October 2009

DVD & Blu-ray Releases 25-10-09

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DVD PICKS

Drag Me To Hell (Lionsgate): A back to basics horror film for director Sam Raimi which is the tale of a woman (Alison Lohman) who falls under an ancient curse when she is forced to evict an elderly woman (Lorna Raver) from her house. She then has only three days to dissuade a dark spirit from stealing her soul before she is dragged to hell for an eternity of unthinkable torment.

Although maybe not quite matching up to the early reviews and buzz, this is still an effective and pleasingly old fashioned horror which relies on old-school creepy suspense rather than the sadistic butchery that has become all too prevalent in the genre.

Available on DVD and Blu-ray Disc, the following features on each format are as follows:

DVD

  • Theatrical Cut
  • 2.40:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • English DD5.1 Surround
  • English HOH subtitles
  • Production Diaries:
  • The Bloody Nose
  • Inside the Psychic World
  • Makeup Effects
  • Alison in the Mud
  • Wirework
  • Nightmare
  • Justin Long Profile
  • The Parking Lot Fight
  • The Goat
  • Set Tour: The Great Room, Puzzle Car, Dragging Her To Hell

Blu-ray Disc

  • Theatrical Cut & Version you couldn‚Äôt see in cinemas
  • 1080P 2.40:1 Widescreen
  • English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
  • English HOH subtitles
  • Production Diaries
  • Interviews with Sam Raimi, Alison Lohman and Justin Long (BD Exclusive)

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True Blood Season 1 (HBO): The first season of HBO’s acclaimed vampire series from¬†creator and executive producer Alan Ball (writer of American Beauty and Six Feet Under). Set in rural Louisiana it explores the lives of vampires who have emerged from their coffins and no longer need humans for their fix of blood.

Based on The Southern Vampire Mystery Series books by Charlaine Harris, it focuses on Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin), a telepathic waitress who comes across the 173-year old Bill Compton (Steven Moyer) Рa vampire with whom she forms an immediate connection.

Available on DVD and Blu-ray Disc, the features on each format are outlined below.

DVD Extras

  • Audio commentary on the episode “Strange Love” by executive producer/series creator Alan Ball
  • Audio commentary on the episode “The First Taste” by cast member Anna Paquin and director Scott Winant
  • Audio commentary on the episode ‚ÄúEscape from Dragon House‚ÄĚ by writer Brian Buckner and director Michael Lehmann
  • Audio commentary on the episode ‚ÄúSparks Fly Out‚ÄĚ by cast member Stephen Moyer and director Dan Minahan
  • Audio commentary on the episode ‚ÄúBurning House of Love‚ÄĚ by director Marcos Siega

Blu-ray Extras – All of the above plus:

  • Enhanced Viewing Mode ‚Äď BD-J Feature including PiP, text-based facts and maps
  • Season Index
  • Episodic Previews
  • Episodic Recaps

ALSO OUT

Asian Horror – Essential Collection (Palisades Tartan)
Bleach Series 4 Part 1 (Manga)
Blood Rain (Palisades Tartan)
Bones Season 4 (Fox)
Clive Barker’s Book of Blood (Lionsgate)
Cyborg She (4Digital Asia)
District 13: Ultimatum (Momentum)
Fired Up! (Sony)
Ghost in the Shell 2.0 (Manga)
Ip Man (Showbox)
Korean Horror – Essential Collection (Palisades Tartan)
Last of the Summer Wine Series 15 & 16 (Universal Playback)
Lost Season 5 (Disney)
Monsters Vs. Aliens (Paramount)
Most Haunted Series 11 (Universal Playback)
Naruto Unleashed Series 6 (Manga)
Naruto Unleashed Series 7 Part 2 (Manga)
Obsessed (Sony)
Playing Away (BFI)
Shirin (BFI)
The Hills Run Red (Warner)
Trick ‘R Treat (Warner)
Young Rebel Souls (BFI)

> 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 23rd October)

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blu-ray DVD & Blu-ray

UK DVD & Blu-ray Releases: Monday 12th October 2009

UK DVD & Blu-ray Releases 12-10-09

DVD & BLU-RAY PICKS

Coraline (Universal): Based on the book by Neil Gaiman, this stop-motion animation written and directed by Henry Selick follows an adventurous girl named Coraline who finds another world that is a strangely idealized version of her frustrating home, but has sinister secrets.

* Listen to our interview with Henry Selick about Coraline *

Available on 1-Disc DVD (£19.99 RRP), 2-Disc Limited Edition DVD (£19.99 RRP) and Blu-ray Disc (£24.99 RRP), the 2-Disc DVD and Blu-ray Disc release will include both the 2-D and 3-D version of the main feature and 4 pairs of 3-D glasses. Got that? Phew.

Features on all of the different versions are as follows:

1-Disc DVD – Includes the 2-D version of the main feature and the following extras:
Deleted Scenes
The Making of Coraline
Feature Commentary with Director Henry Selick and Composer Bruno Coulais

2-Disc Limited Edition DVD – As above plus a second disc with the 3-D version of the main feature and 4 pairs of 3-D glasses.

Blu-ray Disc РIncludes both the 2-D and 3-D versions of the main feature plus 4 pairs of 3-D glasses. Features include:

  • 2-D and 3-D Presentations
  • 1080P 1.85:1 Widescreen
  • English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
  • French, Italian, German, Spanish and Dutch 5.1 Dolby Digital
  • English SDH, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Korean, Swedish, Danish, Finnish, Dutch, Greek and Traditional Chinese subtitles
  • U Control – Picture in Picture (2-D Feature Only)
  • U Control – Tours and Voice Sessions (2-D Feature Only)
  • U Control – Picture in Picture Animatic (2-D Feature Only)
  • Deleted Scenes
  • The Making of Coraline – Director and screenwriter Henry Selick hosts this behind the scenes feature about how this hand-crafted, stop-motion animated film was made
  • BD Exclusive: Voicing the Characters – Coraline‚Äôs acclaimed cast and filmmaker Henry Selick talk about their experiences working on the film, including defining the perfect voice for their characters
  • BD Exclusive: Creepy Coraline – Director and screenwriter Henry Selick and Coraline author Neil Gaiman take fans deeper into the darker intricacies of Coraline‚Äôs alternative worlds
  • Feature Commentary with Director Henry Selick and Composer Bruno Coulais

Looking For Eric (Icon): The unlikely pairing of French footballer Eric Cantona and English director Ken Loach is the tale of a Manchester postman (Steve Evets) undergoing a midlife crisis. When his idol Cantona appears to him in a series of visions, he manages to inspire him with his distinctive brand of philosophy.

Although much of the publicity surrounding the film focused on ‚ÄėKing Eric‚Äô, the two real stars are Steve Evets and Stephanie Bishop who deliver excellent performances.¬†It also features the hallmarks of Loach‚Äôs best work: sensitive treatment of social issues; well rounded characters with believable flaws; and a lack of cheap sentiment.

The script by Paul Laverty deserves a lot of credit for working in social issues (gun crime, football ownership) alongside some of Cantona’s reflections on life and existence in a way that isn’t forced or cheesy. Whilst some of the reactions at the Cannes film festival were correct in observing that it is lighter than usual for a Loach film, that is no bad thing as it contains some marvellous feel good scenes (especially the climax).

Available on Blu-ray Disc (£24.99 RRP) and 2-Disc DVD (£19.99 RRP), extras include:

  • Audio Commentary
  • United We Stand Documentary
  • Extended Meditation Scene
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Happy Ending Short Film
  • Music Video
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Director‚Äôs Shorts

Synecdoche, New York (Revolver):¬†Charlie Kaufman‘s directorial debut¬†(pronounced ‚ÄúSyn-ECK-duh-kee‚ÄĚ)¬†is so Kaufman-esque that it takes his ideas to another level of strangeness.¬†The story centres around theatre director Caden Cotard (Philip Seymour Hoffman) who starts to re-evaluate life after his health and marriage start to break down.¬†He receives a grant to do something artistically adventurous and decides to stage an enormously ambitious production inside a giant warehouse.

What follows is a strange and often baffling movie, complete with the kind of motifs that are peppered throughout Kaufman’s scripts: someone lives in a house oblivious to the fact that it is permanently on fire; a theatrical venue the size of several aircraft hangars is casually described as a place where Shakespeare is performed; and visitors to an art gallery view microscopic paintings with special goggles.

But despite the oddities and the Chinese-box narrative, this is a film overflowing with invention and ideas. It explores the big issues of life and death but also examines the nature of art and performance Рa lot of the film, once it goes inside the warehouse, is a mind-boggling meditation on our lives as a performance.

Imagine The Truman Show rewritten by Samuel Beckett and directed by Luis Bu√Īuel and you‚Äôll get some idea of what Kaufman is aiming for here.¬†I found a lot of the humour very funny, but the comic sensibility behind the jokes is dry and something of an acquired taste.¬†Much of the film hinges on Seymour Hoffman‚Äôs outstanding central performance in which he conveys the vulnerability and determination of a man obsessed with doing something worthwhile before he dies.

The makeup for the characters supervised by Mike Marino is also first rate, creating a believable ageing process whilst the sets are also excellent, even if some of the CGI isn’t always 100% convincing. The supporting cast is also impressive: Catherine Keener, Michelle Williams, Samantha Morton, Emily Watson, Hope Davis, Tom Noonan and Dianne Weist all contribute fine performances and fit nicely into the overall tone of the piece. Although the world Kaufman creates will alienate some viewers, it slowly becomes a haunting meditation on how humans age and die.

Revolver Entertainment are releasing it, priced at £19.99 RRP on DVD and £24.99 RRP on Blu-ray Disc.

Extras include:

  • Infectious Diseases In Cattle: Bloggers’ Roundtable
  • The Story of Caden Cotard
  • Script Factory Interview with Charlie Kaufman
  • Charlie Kaufman Animations
  • In & Around Synecdoche, New York

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ALSO OUT

12 Rounds (Fox)
B-Girl (Anchor Bay)
Cherry Blossoms (Dogwoof)
Claymore Volumes 5 & 6 (Manga)
Doghouse (Sony)
Hell Ride (Warner)
Heroes Season 3 (Universal Playback)
Inside (Momentum)
Momma’s Man (Diffusion Pictures)
Skin (ICA)
Smallville Season 8 (Warner)
Spooks Season 7 (E1 Entertainment)
Two and a Half Men Season 6 (Warner)

> 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 9th October)

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blu-ray DVD & Blu-ray

UK DVD & Blu-ray Releases: Monday 5th October 2009

DVD & Blu-ray Releases 05-10-09

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DVD & BLU-RAY PICKS

Katyn (Artificial Eye): A drama based on the true story of Polish army officers massacred by the Russia secret police in the KatyŇĄ forest during World War II, it was Poland’s nominee for Best Foreign Film at the Oscars earlier this year.

Directed by Andrzej Wajda, it stars Artur Zmijewski, Andrzej Chyra and explores the continuing struggle over the memory of the event as well as the Russian cover up that prevented Poles from commemorating those that had been killed.

Available on DVD, although there hasn’t been a Blu-ray announced yet, the extras include an interview with the director and a making of featurette.¬†Unlike some editions of the film Artificial Eye have presented this in the proper aspect ratio of 2:35.

Beaufort (Trinity): Although already out on regular DVD, the Blu-ray release of this 2007 drama is just coming out now.

It was Israel’s entry for the 2007 Oscars and is about an IDF unit stationed at the Beaufort post in Southern Lebanon during the South Lebanon conflict, and their commander, Liraz Librati, who was the last commander of the Beaufort castle before the Israeli withdrawal in 2000.

Directed by Joseph Cedar, it was co-written by Cedar and Ron Leshem, and based on Leshem’s novel of the same name. Ironically filming finished in 2006, just before the Second Lebanon conflict broke out that summer.

The new Blu-ray is playable in all regions and the transfer is presented at 1.85:1 rather than the theatrical 2.35:1 aspect ratio and the audio has both 2.0 and 5.1 DTS HD Audio Master mixes (the DVD release only had a Dolby Digital 2.0 track).

The extras include:

  • A Making of Featurette (23:42): This has interviews, footage of the sets being built and some scenes being shot.
  • Deleted Scenes (16:41): A couple of which are extended scenes, which fill out the characters a bit more.
  • Trailers: There is a short trailer (1:24) and a long trailer (2:09) for the film.

Time Bandits (Optimum): Terry Gilliam‘s 1981 fantasy film, which he¬†co-wrote with Michael Palin, tells the story of a group of dwarves who leave their jobs with ‘The Supreme Being’ for a life of crime with a map they‚Äôve stolen from their workplace.

The map holds the secrets to time-holes in the fabric of creation, allowing the holders to go forward and back as they please. One such journey lands them in the bedroom of a young boy Kevin (Craig Warnock), who joins them on their journey.

The supporting cast includes Ian Holm, John Cleese, Sean Connery, David Warner and Ralph Richardson.

Priced at £15.99 RRP on DVD and £19.99 RRP on Blu-ray Disc, extras include:

  • New and exclusive interview with Terry Gilliam
  • Trailer
  • Scrapbook

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ALSO OUT

Big Fat Important Movie (Anchor Bay)
Blind Dating (Universal)
House – Season 5 (Universal Playback)
Inside (Momentum)
Jack Said (Optimum)
My Name is Earl Season 2 (Fox)
Red Baron (Showbox)
Rogue (Icon)
sleep furiously (New Wave Films)
Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun Li (Optimum)
Surviving Evil (Kaleidoscope)
The Uninvited (aka “4 Inyong Shiktak”) (Palisades Tartan)

> 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 2nd October)

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blu-ray DVD & Blu-ray

UK DVD & Blu-ray Releases: Monday 14th September 2009

DVD and Blu-ray 14-09-09

DVD & BLU-RAY PICKS

Beyond the Clouds (Second Sight): Near the end of his professional career in 1995, Michelangelo Antonioni embarked on this co-project with Wim Wenders, an erotic drama based on his own short stories, which includes four tales linked by a director (John Malkovich) in search of his next picture.

Taking place in Ferrara, Portofino, Aix en Provence and Paris, each story features a woman at the centre of the story and the cast features Sophie Marceau, Irene Jacob, Fanny Ardant, Jean Reno, Vincent Perez, Peter Weller, Marcello Mastroianni and Jeanne Moreau.

Included on this release is ‚ÄėTo Make A Film Is To Be Alive‚Äô a 52 minute documentary and an audio essay by Seymour Chatman (author of Antonioni: The Complete Films), along with a with production stills gallery.

Although not in the same league as Antonioni’s very best work, it is a fascinating project with some marvellous visuals, aided by an¬†evocative¬†score featuring memorable contributions from¬†Brian Eno and U2 (aka Passengers).

Is Anybody There? (Optimum):¬†Set in a sleepy British seaside town in the 1980s, this drama tells the story of a morbid, bookish 10-year-old boy Edward (Bill Milner) who becomes increasingly obsessed with the afterlives of the residents of the old peoples‚Äô home which his parents run, until he is distracted by the arrival of ‘The Amazing’ Clarence (Michael Caine), an anarchic retired magician and grieving widower who is determined to age disgracefully.

Available on DVD and Blu-ray, the extras include:

  • Interview with Michael Caine
  • Interview with John Crowley
  • Interview with Bill Milner
  • Interview with Ann-Marie Duff
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • TV Spots

Leon (Optimum): The Blu-ray release for Luc Besson‘s 1994 thriller is part of a bunch of releases for the French director. Given the lacklustre quality of his recent output, it is worth revisiting this sharply written tale of a French hitman (Jean Reno) in New York befriending a young girl (Natalie Portman), whose family have been killed by corrupt cops (led by a splendidly nutty Gary Oldman).

Although the HD transfer has got mixed to negative reviews, the quality of the film makes it worth buying as it probably won’t get a re-release for a while.

The extras and technical specs are:

  • Theatrical & Director’s Cut Versions
  • 1080P 2.35:1 Widescreen
  • English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio & 2.0 Stereo LPCM
  • Optional English subtitles (only on Director’s Cut)
  • Jean Reno ‚Äď The Road to Leon
  • 10 year making of retrospective
  • Natalie Portman ‚Äď Starting Young
  • Trailer

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ALSO OUT

Angels & Demons (Sony)
Bundy: A Legacy of Evil (Lionsgate)
Crank 2: High Voltage (Lionsgate)
Diary for My Children (Second Run)
Entourage Season 5 (HBO)
Knight Rider (2008) Season 1 (Universal Playback)
La Belle Captive (Second Sight)
Lie to Me Season 1 (Fox)
Massive (2 Entertain)
Sexy Killer (Momentum)
Splinter (Anchor Bay)
That Sinking Feeling (2 Entertain)
The Butterfly Effect 3: Revelations (Icon)
Two Pints of Lager and A Packet of Crisps Series 8 (2 Entertain)

> 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 11th September)

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blu-ray DVD & Blu-ray

UK DVD & Blu-ray Releases: Monday 7th September 2009

UK DVD and Blu-ray Releases 07-09-09

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DVD & BLU-RAY PICKS

This Is Spinal Tap РUp To 11 Edition (Optimum): A re-release for the classic 1984 spoof music documentary which stars Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Harry Shearer as the three members of fictional heavy-metal/hard rock band Spinal Tap.

Directed by Rob Reiner it remains a brilliantly observed look at the¬†pretentious¬†glory of rock and roll and fully justifies it’s hallowed status amongst audiences the world over.

Optimum are releasing three versions in the UK, a 3 DVD box-set (£19.99 RRP), a Blu-ray (£24.99 RRP) and a limited edition Marshall Amp edition (£69.99 RRP).

The Marshall amp edition includes:

  • Limited Edition customised fully working Marshall amp (going up to 11)
  • Numbered speciall amp packaging
  • 7 original art cards
  • 5 Disc Stonehenge digi pack ‚Äď including:
  • Discs 1-3 – DVD content as per the 3-Disc DVD box-set (detailed below)
  • Disc 4: The Blu-ray of ‚ÄėThis Is Spinal Tap‚Äô
  • Disc 5: The Original Soundtrack CD

Extras on the Blu-ray Disc (all on a single-disc with the film) and the 3 DVD box-set include:

Disc 1:

  • Fully re-mastered feature
  • This is Spinal Tap: Up to 11 – Brand new 25th Anniversary Documentary feat. Ricky Gervais, Eddie Izzard, Martin Freeman, Anvil, Serge Pizzorno and more (43 mins)
  • Audio Commentary by the band
  • Menu commentary by the band
  • Go To 11 – Menu animation feature

Disc 2:

  • The Return of Spinal Tap Royal Albert Hall concert (57 mins)
  • 2007 Live Earth footage & Live Earth reunion short film (4 mins 20)
  • National Geographic Stonehenge interviews with Nigel (9 mins 1)
  • Sprinkle some ****in Fairy Dust On It – interview with Reg Presley of The Troggs (6 mins 54)

Disc 3:

  • Outtakes** (1 hr 7 mins)
  • Original Trailers (7 mins)
  • 4 x Music Videos (12 mins 27)
  • TV Spots (1 min 37)
  • Cutting Room Floor Deleted Scenes incl Heavy Metal Memories, Flower People, Cheese Roll trailer
  • EPK featurettes (20 mins 50)
  • Creative Meeting & Bitch School Videos (4 mins 33)

DVD Specs:

  • 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • English DD5.1 Surround
  • English and French DD2.0 Stereo
  • Subtitles (Main Feature): Danish, French, German, Norwegian, Finnish, Swedish
  • Subtitles (Extras & Commentary): French, German

Blu-ray Specs:

  • 1080P 1.85:1 Widescreen
  • English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
  • English and French Stereo LPCM
  • Subtitles (Main Feature): Danish, French, German, Norwegian, Finnish, Swedish
  • Subtitles (Extras & Commentary): French, German

Perhaps the highlight of the new package is the Outtakes which include many scenes which didn’t make the final cut including:

  • Romance, Mystery & Sheer Sex
  • Opening Night Party
  • Promo Spots
  • Derek‚Äôs Out of Circulation
  • Tommy‚Äôs Corruption
  • Backstage
  • Trouble in Memphis
  • Respects to the King
  • On the Air with Spinal Tap
  • Son of St Hubbins
  • Roma ‚Äô79
  • Recording Studio Meltdown
  • Nigel‚Äôs Replacement
  • Tap at The Zoo

Fifty Dead Men Walking (Metrodome): A gripping adaptation of Martin McGartland’s 1997 autobiography, about his time as an informant within the Provisional IRA from 1988 til 1991. It stars Jim Sturgess as McGartland, Ben Kingsley as his British handler and was directed by Kari Scogland.

Although some changes to the actual events reduce the film’s overall impact the performances and direction make this a fairly substantial drama. It isn’t in the same league as ‘Bloody Sunday’ or ‘Hunger’ but remains a compelling portrait of one particular episode within the Troubles.

Available on DVD (£15.99 RRP) and Blu-ray Disc (£19.99 RRP), it contains the following extras:

  • Commentary with Director Kari Skogland
  • On set with ‚ÄėFifty Dead Men Walking‚Äô
  • Exclusive extract from the book ‚ÄėFifty Dead Men Walking‚Äô
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Theatrical Trailer

* Listen to my interview with director Kari Scogland *

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Gladiator (Universal): The Blu-ray release for Ridley Scott’s Oscar-winning Roman epic has arguably been one of the most anticipated releases of the new format.

Russell Crowe stars as Maximus, a Roman general who is betrayed, has his family killed and is sold into to slavery by a corrupt prince, before eventually returning to Rome as a gladiator seeking revenge.

There has been a big debate on various Blu-ray and Hi-def sites about the quality of the transfer used for this release with some suggesting that it is good, whilst others are critical of Paramount (who own the film after acquiring DreamWorks in 2005, even though Universal is releasing it in the UK), accusing them of cutting corners in the process.

However, it is likely to be a big seller, not least because of the wealth of extras, which are as follows.

Tech Details

  • 1080P 2.35:1 Widescreen
  • English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
  • French, Italian, German, Spanish, Portuguese & Latin American Spanish 5.1 DTS Surround
  • Subtitles: English SDH, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Brazilian, Swedish, Danish, Finnish, Dutch, Norwegian, Portuguese, Traditional Chinese, Latin American Spanish

Disc One

  • Theatrical Version (155mins)
  • Audio Commentary by Director Ridley Scott, Cinematographer John Mathieson & Editor Pietro Scalia
  • Deleted Scenes with optional commentary
  • Extended Version (171mins)
  • Introduction by Ridley Scott
  • Audio Commentary by Ridley Scott & Russell Crowe
  • U-Control features on both Theatrical and Extended versions
  • The Scrolls of Knowledge – The original Are You Not Entertained? trivia track newly enhanced allowing viewers to access a series of new behind-the-scenes featurettes exploring key scenes throughout the film
  • Visions from Elysium: Topic Marker – A U-Control feature that allows Disc One Viewers to tag moments of interest throughout the entire film, allowing them to create ‚Äúshopping lists‚ÄĚ of topics to learn more about from the features on Disc Two

Disc Two

  • Visions from Elysium¬†‚Äď A U-Control feature that automatically accesses further content from tagged moments of interest that have been marked by viewers from Disc One
  • Strength and Honour: Creating the World of Gladiator (200 mins.) – The definitive documentary on the origin, production and impact of this Oscar-winning Best Picture
  • Tale of the Scribes: Story Development
  • The Tools of War: Weapons
  • Attire of the Realm: Costume Design
  • The Heat of Battle: Production Journals Germania / Zucchabar / Rome
  • Shadows and Dust: Resurrecting Proximo
  • The Glory of Rome: Visual Effects
  • Echoes in Eternity: Release and Impact
  • Strength and Honour¬†will now include all-new Picture-In-Picture content accessed via U-Control (156mins)
  • Aurelian Archive
  • The Making of Gladiator (25 mins.)
  • Gladiator Games: The Roman Bloodsport (50mins.)
  • Hans Zimmer: Scoring Gladiator (21 mins.)
  • Maximus Uncut: Between the Takes with Russell Crowe (8mins.)
  • My Gladiator Journal by Spencer Treat Clark (Text/Photos) – The personal diary of the young actor who played Lucius, providing a unique and amusing perspective on the creation of an epic film
  • VFX Explorations: Germania & Rome (24 mins.)
  • Image and Design
  • Production Design Featurette and Galleries (10 mins.)
  • Storyboard Demonstration (14 mins.)
  • Multi-Angle Storyboard Comparisons and Galleries (15 mins. x 2 angles)
  • Ridleygram Galleries
  • Costume Design Galleries
  • Photo Galleries
  • Abandoned Sequences & Deleted Scenes
  • Alternate Opening Titles and Featurette (9 mins.)
  • Blood Vision (with optional commentary) (3 mins.)
  • Rhino Fight (with optional commentary) (5 mins.)
  • Choose Your Weapon (1 min.)
  • Treasure Chest (7mins)
  • Trailers (2) & TV Spots (20) (13 mins.)

Amazon are also offering a Limited Edition Steelbook set.

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ALSO OUT

Are You Being Served Series 8 (2 Entertain)
Butterfly Kiss (Second Sight)
Chan is Missing (Drakes Avenue Pictures)
Doctor Who: The Twin Dilemma (2 Entertain)
Dollhouse Season 1 (Fox)
Dororo (MVM)
Face to Face Box Set (2 Entertain)
Far Cry (High Fliers)
Fermat’s Room (Revolver)
Hamlet 2 (Momentum)
Hannah Montana: The Movie (Disney)
Helen (New Wave Films)
Infestation (Icon)
Louis Theroux Law & Disorder (2 Entertain)
Paul Merton in India (2 Entertain)
The Boat That Rocked (Universal)
The Girl Cut in Two (Artificial Eye)
The Inner Life of Martin Frost (Axiom Films)
The Thirties in Colour (2 Entertain)
The Wonderful World of Albert Khan (2 Entertain)
Time Regained (Second Sight)
Tobruk (High Fliers)
Waveriders (Element Pictures)
Wuthering Heights (ITV DVD)

> 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 4th September)

Categories
DVD & Blu-ray

UK DVD & Blu-ray Releases: Monday 31st August 2009

UK DVD Releases 31-08-09

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DVD & BLU-RAY PICKS

Encounters at the End of the World (Revolver): The latest documentary from Werner Herzog is a remarkable film which sees the German director and cinematographer Peter Zeitlinger go to Antarctica to meet people who live and work there. A fascinating antidote to March of the Penguins, it features some marvellous observations and meditations set alongside some stunning footage of the continent at the bottom of the world.

It is available on DVD and Blu-ray Disc and there is also a larger Herzog boxset Revolver are releasing called Werner Herzog’s Encounters in the Natural World Рa special edition 5-disc box-set available on DVD and Blu-Ray that includes five Herzog films exploring the natural world.

The films included are Encounters at the End of the World and the following:

  • Grizzly Man: The acclaimed portrait of Timothy Treadwell, a charismatic bear enthusiast who lived amongst these powerful predators in remote parts of Alaska for thirteen summers, before succumbing to their ferocious nature.
  • The White Diamond: The visually stunning story of Graham Dorrington‚Äôs quest to fl y a custom-built airship over the rain forest canopies of Guyana, whilst battling to overcome the haunting memories of a similar expedition that ended tragically with the death of his friend.
  • La Soufri√©re: As a volcano is about to erupt on the island of Guadaloupe, all inhabitants fl ee for their lives, apart from one man who refuses to leave and accepts his fate at the hands of nature.
  • The Flying Doctors of East Africa: Herzog‚Äôs stunning portrait of the fl ying doctors service of the African Medicinal Research Foundation, and the people who devote their lives to it.

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The Battle of Algiers (Argent Films):¬†Director Gillo Pontecorvo‘s classic war film is given a new Special Edition release which features a recently conducted 20-minute interview with¬†Saadi Yacef, the film’s co-producer and the real-life Algerian National Liberation Front (FLN) leader on whose memoir the film was based.

Additionally, this version of the film has been completely restored and struck from a completely different (and superior) master to the previous Argent Films DVD release.

With its strikingly realistic depiction of modern warfare and terrorism the film has gone on to become highly influential. So much so that the The Pentagon screened it in 2003 as a useful illustration of the problems faced in Iraq.

Features include:

  • “The Making of The Battle Of Algiers” ‚Äď an exclusive 20-minute interview with director Gillo Pontecorvo
  • “The Real Battle Of Algiers” ‚Äď an exclusive 20-minute interview with Saadi Yacef
  • Extensive Photo Gallery including pictures from the filmmakers’ personal archives
  • Dual audio options (French-Arabic and Italian version created for the Venice Festival) with optional English subtitles

* Listen to my 2007 interview with Saadi Yacef *

The Damned United (Sony):¬†The film adaptation of¬†David Peace‘s¬†bestselling novel¬†about Brian Clough and his turbulent spell¬†as manager of¬†Leeds United sees¬†Michael Sheen in the central role.

Adapted by Peter Morgan and directed Tom Hooper (best known for his TV miniseries work on Longford and John Adams) it lacks the dark, interior qualities that made the book so riveting but features some excellent performances.

Sheen does a fantastic job in the title role, bringing the same kind of charm and authenticity that featured in his previous portrayals of Tony Blair and David Frost. There are also some excellent supporting turns from Colm Meaney as Don Revie and Jim Broadbent as Sam Longson.

DVD Extras

  • 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • English DD5.1 Surround
  • English, English HOH and Hindi subtitles
  • Commentary with Director Tom Hooper, Michael Sheen and Producer Andy Harries
  • Deleted Scenes with Optional Director’s Commentary
  • Cloughisms with Optional Director’s Commentary
  • Perfect Pitch: The Making Of The Damned United
  • Remembering Brian
  • The Changing Game: Football in the Seventies
  • Creating Clough: Michael Sheen Takes on ‘Old Big ‘Ead’

Blu-ray Disc – Coded for all regions (A, B and C), features include:

  • 1080P 1.85:1 Widescreen
  • English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD
  • English Audio Description Track
  • English, English HOH and Hindi subtitles
  • Commentary with Director Tom Hooper, Michael Sheen and Producer Andy Harries
  • Deleted Scenes with Optional Director’s Commentary
  • Cloughisms with Optional Director’s Commentary
  • Perfect Pitch: The Making Of The Damned United
  • Remembering Brian
  • The Changing Game: Football in the Seventies
  • Creating Clough: Michael Sheen Takes on ‘Old Big ‘Ead’

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ALSO OUT

Bergerac Series 9 (2 Entertain)
Damages – Season 2 (Sony)
Dead Snow (E1 Entertainment)
Diary for My Children (Second Run)
Dragonball Evolution (Fox)
Encounters in the Natural World (Revolver)
Footprints (Shameless)
Good (Lionsgate)
Monday Monday – Series 1 (Fremantle)
Murder, She Wrote Season 10 (Universal Playback)
My Own Worst Enemy: The Complete Series (Universal Playback)
Outlander (Momentum)
Shigurui Death Frenzy (Manga)
Smash Cut (Lionsgate)
Traitor (Momentum)

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> Check the latest DVD prices at DVD Price Check
> Take a look at the current UK cinema releases (W/C Friday 28th August)

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blu-ray DVD & Blu-ray

UK DVD & Blu-ray Releases: Monday 24th August 2009

UK DVD Releases 24-08-09

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DVD & BLU-RAY PICKS

In The Loop (Optimum): The directorial debut of¬†Armando Iannucci is a marvellous political satire exploring the the inner mechanics of the ‚Äėspecial relationship‚Äô between London and Washington in the build up to a war in the Middle East.

The plot follows government officials and spin doctors in their behind-the-scenes efforts either to promote the war or prevent it. The cast is excellent with fine performances from Tom Hollander, James Gandolfini, Chris Addison, Peter Capaldi, Anna Chlumsky, Gina McKee, Steve Coogan and David Rasche.

The hilarity of the comedy is only matched by the political savvy of Iannucci’s script which ultimately reveals some sad truths about the craven subservience of Tony Blair’s government to the Bush administration in the build up to the Iraq war.

Extras on the DVD include:

  • Deleted Scenes
  • Audio commentary with cast & director
  • Interview with Gina McKee & Chris Addison
  • Interview with Tom Hollander
  • Interview with Peter Capaldi
  • Interview with director Armando Ianucci
  • Script to Scene Comparison
  • Trailer
  • Webisodes

On Blu-ray the film is presented in 1080P Widescreen with English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, English 2.0 PCM Stereo, English Audio Description and English HOH subtitles (film only). The disc is coded for Region B.

Shifty (Metrodome): A low budget¬†urban thriller from writer/director Eran Creevy set on the outskirts of London, where it follows themes of friendship and loyalty over the course of 24 hours in the life of a young drug dealer, the charismatic “Shifty”.

is a new British film about a young drug dealer (Riz Ahmed) in a town just outside London who sees his life spiral out of control when his best friend (Daniel Mays) returns home.

Directed by Eran Creevy and co-starring Jason Flemyng and Francesca Annis, it was funded by Film London‘s Microwave scheme and shot in just 18 days.

Available on DVD, Blu-ray Disc and a 2-disc HMV Exclusive DVD, the features are outlined below:

Disc 1 Extras

  • Commentary with Writer/Director Eran Creevy & Riz Ahmed (Shifty)
  • The Making of SHIFTY
  • Behind The Scenes
  • Deleted Scenes
  • ‚ÄėShifty‚Äô soundtrack by MC Riz, Sway & Plan B ‚Äď music video
  • ‚ÄėNumber One‚Äô by Tinchy Stryder Ft. N-Dubz ‚Äď music video (from the producers of Shifty)
  • Eran Creevy‚Äôs commercials
  • Shifty soundtrack sampler
  • Theatrical Trailer

Disc 2 Extras (HMV Exclusive)

  • Over 100 minutes of Extended Interviews with Cast & Crew
  • Riz Ahmed, Sway, Plan B: SHIFTY (Uncut Version)
  • Scene Storyboards ‚Äď See How The Key Scenes Were Brought To Life By The Filmmakers
  • The Complete SHIFTY Script

The Blu-ray has the 1-Disc extras.

*Listen to my interview with Eran Creevy and Daniel Mays*

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ALSO OUT

13: Game of Death (Revolver)
All the Right Noises (BFI)
Delta (ICA)
East of Ipswich (2 Entertain)
From Within (E1 Entertainment)
Herostratus (BFI)
I Love You, Man (Paramount)
Ichi (Manga)
It Ain’t Half Hot Mum Series 7 (2 Entertain)
Man of Violence (aka Moon) (BFI)
Naruto Unleashed Series 7 Part 1 (Manga)
New Tricks Series 5 (Acorn)
Nous ne Vieillirons Pas Ensemble (Eureka/Masters of Cinema)
One Last Thing (Fremantle)
Passe ton bac d’abord (Eureka/Masters of Cinema)
Race to Witch Mountain (Disney)
Three Men in a Boat (2 Entertain)

> 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 21st August)

Categories
DVD & Blu-ray

UK DVD Releases: Monday 10th August 2009

DVD Picks 10-08-09

DVD PICKS

Two Lovers (Lionsgate): A¬†romantic drama film, very loosely based on¬†Dostoevsky‘s¬†“White Nights” which stars¬†Joaquin Phoenix as a troubled young man living in¬†Brighton Beach in New York, who falls in love with two very different women¬†(Gwyneth Paltrow and¬†Vinessa Shaw).

Directed by James Gray, who has made films such as The Yards and We Own the Night, it is a pleasingly old fashioned and charming film with Phoenix excellent in the central role (easily his best since Walk The Line in 2005) and good work from Paltrow and Shaw.

The technical work (notice the lack of sets) and cinematography by¬†Joaquin BacaAsay are all first rate and although it didn’t get the love it deserved at cinemas, it is well worth checking out on DVD.

Available on regular DVD and Blu-ray, the extra features include:

  • English DD5.1 (DVD) / English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio (BD)
  • English HOH subtitles
  • Audio Commentary with Co-Writer and Director James Gray
  • Deleted Scenes

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Californication – Season 2 (Paramount): The second season of this smart Showtime TV series created by Tom Kapinos, sees David Duchovny return as Hank Moody, a novelist in California struggling to cope with writer’s block and his relationships with various women as well as his ex-girlfriend Karen (Natascha McElhone) and daughter Becca (Madeleine Martin).

Whilst not as good as the first season, Duchovny is still very good value in the lead role and for people in the UK who didn’t catch it on Five, it is an amusing and well written series.

Extras include:

  • ‚ÄúCoke, Dick and the First Kick” commentary
  • ‚ÄúHeart, Balls & Swagger” cast interviews & commentary
  • Trivia Factoids
  • Tom Kapinos interview
  • Name That Girl
  • Marcy’s Wax Salon (easter egg)
  • “Caliwood” Bubble Map
  • Cast Bios and Filmographies
  • Stills Gallery

ALSO OUT

17 Again (EIV)
Cradle Will Fall (Momentum)
CSI: New York Season 5 Part 1 (Momentum)
Doctor Who: Black Guardian Trilogy (2 Entertain)
Friday the 13th (2009) (Paramount)
God Man Dog (Terracotta Distribution)
Gossip Girl Season 2 Part 2 (Warner)
Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus (Metrodome)
No. 3 (Third Window Films)
Oasis (Third Window Films)
Paul Blart: Mall Cop (Sony)
Stargate Atlantis Season 5 (Fox)
Streets of Blood (Momentum)
The Fox Family (Terracotta Distribution)
The Kevin Bishop Show (2 Entertain)
The Ramen Girl (Momentum Pictures)
The Ungodly (Metrodome)

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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 7th August)

Categories
DVD & Blu-ray

UK DVD Releases: Monday 27th July 2009

DVD Picks 27-07-09

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DVD PICKS

Il Divo (Artificial Eye): A stunning biopic that explores the extraordinary career of former Italian prime minister Giulio Andreotti.

Spanning the period since the seventh election of Andreotti (brilliantly played by Toni Servillo) as Prime Minister of Italy in 1992, until the trial in which he was accused of collusion with the Mafia.

It was a firm favourite on the festival circuit in the past year and was nominated for the¬†Palme D’Or at the¬†Cannes Film Festival in 2008, where it won the¬†Prix du Jury.

Although at times the action moves so fast that you need a PhD in modern Italian politics, it is brilliantly shot and edited, features a colossal central performance by Servillo and is directed with real panache by Paolo Sorrentino.

Easily one of the best films to be released in the UK this year, it fully deserved all the critical acclaim showered on it.

Extras include:

  • Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Stereo and 5.1
  • English subtitles
  • The making of Il Divo (31mins)
  • Additional interviews with director Paolo Sorrentino (29mins)
  • Special effects featurette (7mins)
  • Deleted Scenes (12mins)
  • Trailer

* Listen to our interview with Paolo Sorrentino about the film *

** Win a copy of Il Divo on DVD here *

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Watchmen (Paramount): The long awaited adaptation of the graphic novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons finally reached cinema screens back in March after 20 years of development hell and legal wranglings and now gets the DVD and Blu-ray treatment.

For those unfamiliar with the story, it explores what happens to a group of superheroes in an alternative 1985 Рa place where Richard Nixon is a 5-term president and the world stands on the brink of nuclear Armageddon.

The plot begins with the vigilante Rorschach (Jackie Earle Haley) investigating the murder of a former hero called the Comedian (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), and he uncovers a wider conspiracy involving his now retired colleagues.

The good news is that director¬†Zack Snyder has been given unprecedented freedom with the notoriously ‘unfilmable’ book after the success of 300.

Visually it is a real treat with some stunning production design and SFX along with some fine performances by Jackie Earle Haley and Billy Crudup.

It runs to 2 hours and 40 minutes, has a sombre tone, keeps much of the heavy flashback material and – even for an 18/R-rated film – contains quite brutal scenes of violence, rape and even full frontal nudity.

Although there is a longer director’s cut still awaiting a UK release on DVD, Paramount have included a decent chunk of extras on the 2-disc DVD and Blu-ray versions.

Here is how the extras break down on the three different discs.

The Single-Disc DVD has 16mins of extras (£19.99 RRP):

  • 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • English DD5.1 Surround
  • English Audio Description
  • English, English HOH, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian and Swedish subtitles (Film & Extras)
  • Mechanics: Technologies of Fantastic World (16:10mins)

The Two-Disc DVD has 110mins of extras (£24.99 RRP) which have the above extras, plus a second disc with the following content:

  • Subtitles: English, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Turkish, Spanish
  • The Phenomenon: The Comic That Changed Comics (27:38mins)
  • Real Superheroes, Real Vigilantes (25:15mins)
  • Video Journals (Webisodes):
  • Minutemen (3:27mins)
  • Sets & Sensibility (3:48mins)
  • Dressing for Success (2:59mins)
  • The Ship Has Eyes (4:12mins)
  • Dave Gibbons (3:16mins)
  • Burn Baby Burn (2:10mins)
  • Shoot To Thrill (3:09mins)
  • Blue Monday (2:55mins)
  • Attention To Detail (2:49mins)
  • Girls Kick Ass (2:59mins)
  • Rorschach‚Äôs Mask (3:39mins)
  • Viral Video: 10 Years Of Dr. Manhattan (1970: NBS Special News Report) (3:05mins)
  • Music Video ‚Äď My Chemical Romance, Desolation Row (3:09mins)

The Blu-ray Disc is a 3-Disc set with all of the extras from the 2-Disc DVD plus a digital copy of the film.

Audio is 5.1 Dolby TrueHD (£29.99 RRP). It also includes 3 additional viral videos:

  • The Keene Act & You (1977: US Public Service Announcement)
  • Who Watches The Watchmen? (1983: Celebrity News Feature)
  • World In Focus (1985: British Late Night Discussion Programme)

All three releases feature the the 163-minute theatrical cut only (155mins on DVD after PAL speed-up).

* Listen to our interview with Dave Gibbons about Watchmen *

ALSO OUT

A Short Stay in Switzerland (Delta Leisure)
Alone in the Dark II (High Fliers)
Blue Dragon Volumes 3 & 4 (Manga)
Bottle Shock (Paramount)
Coffin Joe DVD Box Set (Anchor Bay)
Columbo The Tenth Season – Volume 2 (Universal Playback)
Comrades (BFI)
Diminished Capacity (Paramount)
Embodiment of Evil (Anchor Bay)
Gilmore Girls Season 4 (Warner)
Knock Knock (DNC)
Lab Rats (2Entertain)
On Thin Ice (2Entertain)
Passengers (Lionsgate)
Personal Affairs (2Entertain)
Robot Chicken: Star Wars Episode II (Revolver Entertainment)
Stargate SG-1: Children of the Gods (Fox/MGM)
The Admiral (Metrodome)
The Omid Djalili Show – Series 2 (2Entertain)
Wonder Woman (2009) (Warner Bros)

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UK DVD Releases: Monday 20th July 2009

UK DVD Releases 20-07-09

DVD PICKS

John From Cincinnati (HBO): One of the strangest shows in recent US television is this drama set in the surfing community of Imperial Beach, California which aired on HBO in the summer of 2007.

The brainchild of Deadwood creator David Milch, it deals with a strange young man of mysterious origin and the effect he has on a dysfunctional family of professional surfers.

The story revolves around three generations of surfers: Mitch Yost (Bruce Greenwood), an experienced surfing patriarch whose son, Butchie (Brian Van Holt), was equally promising before he got distracted by fast living and drugs.

Mitch and his wife Cissy (Rebecca De Mornay) look after their grandson Shaun (Greyson Fletcher), another surfing prodigy who Mitch tries to protect from Butchie’s fate and the people trying to latch on to him (such as a surf promoter played by Luke Perry).

Into all of this comes the strange figure of John (Austin Nichols), whose arrival in the community is a catalyst for some strange things.

The show premiered right after the famous (or infamous) Sopranos finale but audience and critical reaction was mixed meaning it only lasted a season before being cancelled.

Although by no means flawless, its strangeness is a virtue as you don’t often see things like this on TV – even from the enlightened halls of HBO.

It doesn’t reach the heights of Milch’s best work on NYPD Blue or Deadwood there is enough of interest to recommend it.

Extras include:

  • Audio Commentary of Episode 1 ‚ÄúHis Visit: Day 1‚ÄĚ with creator David Milch
  • Decoding John: The Making of a Dream Sequence
  • Audio Commentary on Episode 10 ‚ÄúHis Visit Day 9‚ÄĚ with creator David Milch

* Buy the DVD from Amazon UK *

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Cadillac Records (Sony): A biopic written and directed by Darnell Martin that explores the musical era from the early 1940s to the late 1960s, chronicling the life of the influential Chicago-based record-company executive Leonard Chess, and the singers who recorded for Chess Records.

The cast includes Adrien Brody as Chess, Cedric the Entertainer as Willie Dixon, Mos Def as Chuck Berry, Columbus Short as Little Walter, Jeffrey Wright as Muddy Waters, and Beyoncé Knowles as Etta James.

Despite the highly respectable cast and favourable US reviews it didn’t make huge waves on its theatrical release.

However, it has a real for the music of the time and features some fine performances from the likes of Brody, Beyonce and Jeffrey Wright.

Extras on the regular DVD include:

  • 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • English, Catalan and Spanish DD5.1 Surround
  • English Audio Description Track
  • Subtitles: English, English HOH, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Hindi, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish
  • Commentary with Writer/Director Darnell Martin
  • Playing Chess: The Making of Cadillac Records
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Once Upon a Blues: Cadillac Records by Design

Extras on the Blu-ray Disc (Coded for all regions A, B and C), include:

  • 1080P 2.35:1 Widescreen
  • English, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby TrueHD
  • Czech, Hungarian and Polish VO DD5.1 Surround
  • English Audio Description Track
  • Subtitles: English, English HOH, Arabic, Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French (Parisian), Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Icelandic, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese (Portugal), Romanian, Slovak, Slovene, Spanish (Castilian), Swedish, Turkish
  • Commentary with Writer/Director Darnell Martin
  • Playing Chess: The Making of Cadillac Records
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Once Upon a Blues: Cadillac Records by Design
  • BD Exclusive – The Chess Record Player: An interactive playlist feature that allows you to create and share a list of songs featured in the movie

* But it on Blu-ray or DVD from Amazon UK *

Man of Iron (Mr Bongo Films): One of the most acclaimed films ever to come out of Poland, this Oscar nominated and Palme d’or winning drama is director Andrezj Wajda’s final film regarding the Solidarity Movement and its struggles to gain recognition in his native country.

Wajda’s epic follows on from his previous work Man Of Marble and continues the story of Maciej Tomczyk, a young worker involved in the anti-Communist labour movement.

Set in Warsaw during 1980, the story follows Winkel, an alcoholic TV hack sent by the Regime to Gdansk in order to dig up dirt on the shipyard strikes, particularly on Maciek, who has become an inspirational figure in the Union movement following the killing of his father in the December 1970 protests.

Posing as a sympathiser to the cause, Winkel interviews people who know Tomczyk, including his detained wife, in an effort to undermine and destroy the growing support behind the movement.

The film uses actual news footage of the 1968 and 1970 protests and of the later birth of free unions and Solidarity which it interweaves throughout the stories of a son coming to terms with his father, a couple falling in love, a reporter searching for courage and a nation undergoing historic change.

* Buy the DVD from Amazon UK *

N.B. According to the distributor this was released back in June, but Amazon has its release date as today, so go figure.

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ALSO OUT

Casualty 1900s (2Entertain)
Dallas Season 11 (Warner)
Hush (Optimum)
In Plain Sight Season 1 (Universal Playback)
Ladies of Letters (2Entertain)
Marlene (Park Circus)
Requiem for Billy the Kid (Park Circus)
Ross Kemp In Search of Pirates (2Entertain)
Sirens (Arrow Films)
That Mitchell and Webb Look Series 3 (2Entertain)
The Haunting in Connecticut (EIV)
The Secret of Moonacre (Warner)

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> Take a look at the current UK cinema releases (W/C Friday 17th July)

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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 Jesus, Christians, Muslims, 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‚Äôs 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
  • ‚ÄúBirth of an Independent Woman, Part 1 and Part 2‚ÄĚ ‚Äď from housewives to working women, this featurette examines the rise of female independence in the Mad Men era
  • ‚ÄúAn Era of Style‚ÄĚ – featurette explores the fashion of the 1960‚Äôs 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
  • ‚ÄúBirth of an Independent Woman, Part 1 and Part 2‚ÄĚ ‚Äď from housewives to working women, this featurette examines the rise of female independence in the Mad Men era
  • ‚ÄúAn Era of Style‚ÄĚ – featurette explores the fashion of the 1960‚Äôs and its lasting influence on designers today
  • ‚ÄĚTime Capsule‚ÄĚ – 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 King,¬†Martin 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 Vall√©e 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‚Äôs 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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> Take a look at the current UK cinema releases (W/C Friday 10th July)

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UK DVD Releases: Monday 6th July 2009

DVD Picks 06-07-09

DVD PICKS

Doubt (Disney): In 2005, John Patrick Shanley wrote the hit play Doubt: A Parable, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and Tony Award for Best Play. Now Shanley has directed a film version called Doubt which stars Meryl Streep as Sister Aloysius, the stern principal of a Catholic school in the Bronx during the 1960s, who comes into conflict with a reforming priest named Father Flynn (Philip Seymour Hoffman).

A strong supporting cast includes Amy Adams and Viola Davis and although at times it is a little too stagey, the strength of the original play shines through and gives the impressive cast a chance to flex their considerable acting muscles. Although some audiences will be left frustrated by the climax, it is worth remembering that it contains the very crux of the play and is also what gives it a rich and lasting power.

The extras on the DVD and Blu-ray are as follows:

  • From Stage to Screen: A discussion with John Patrick Shanley about the history of Doubt, including his inspirations for the story, the acclaim the play‚Äôs Broadway run received, the Pulitzer Prize and the process of adapting it for the screen. Joining the conversation are Meryl Streep and Sister Margaret McEntee (a consultant on the film and Shanley‚Äôs former teacher).
  • Scoring Doubt: Renowned composer Howard Shore discusses his inspiration for the music in the film and his collaboration with both John Patrick Shanley and producer Scott Rudin.
  • The Sisters of Charity: Meryl Streep and John Patrick Shanley discuss the interviews that Shanley did before shooting with real nuns to discuss their lives and make sure they would be accurately portrayed in the film.
  • Feature Commentary with John Patrick Shanley
  • The Cast of Doubt: A conversation with actors Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams and Viola Davis.

The Red Shoes (ITV DVD): Moira Shearer stars as talented young dancer Victoria Page who finds herself torn between Julian Craster (Marius Goring) and Boris Lermontov (Anton Walbrook).

Directed by Powell and Pressburger, featuring cinematography by the late Jack Cardiff, this is the new digital film restoration that was premiered at this year’s Cannes Classics Film Festival.

It was restored in partnership with UCLA Film & Television Archive in association with The BFI, The Film Foundation, Janus Films and ITV Global Entertainment Ltd. Restoration funding was provided by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, The Film Foundation, and the Louis B. Mayer Foundation.

Features on both editions include:

  • Re-mastered film feature
  • A Profile of The Red Shoes
  • The Ballet of The Red Shoes
  • Cannes 09: Martin Scorsese introduction
  • Cannes 09: Thelma Schoonmaker
  • Behind the scenes gallery
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Biographies and photo gallery of cast and crew

Three Monkeys (New Wave Films): Directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan (who made Uzak (Distant) in 2002 and Climates in 2006) this dark family drama is about a politician (Ercan Kesal) who accidentally kills someone whilst out driving and manages to convince his lowly driver (Yavuz Bingol) to take the wrap.

The plot then thickens whilst the driver is in jail, with his wife (Hatice Aslan) and son (Ahmet Rifat Sungar) getting drawn into the web of deceit.

It screened in competition at Cannes in 2008 to considerable acclaim and Ceylan won Best Director although the limited run at UK cinemas meant DVD will be the place discerning filmgoers will catch it.

Extras include the trailer and an interview with Nuri Bilge Ceylan.

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ALSO OUT

Bleach the Movie: Memories of Nobody (Manga)
Blind Loves (ICA Films)
Doctor Who: The War Games (2 Entertain)
Glass: A Portrait of Philip in Twelve Parts (Drakes Avenue Pictures)
Horse People With Alexandra Tolstoy (2Entertain)
If War Should Come: The GPO Film Unit Collection Volume Three (BFI)
Lola Montes (Second Sight)
Marley & Me (Fox)
Meatball Machine (4Digital Asia)
Panda! Go Panda! (Manga)
Prison Break Season 4 (Fox)
S. Darko (Lionsgate)
Stargate Atlantis Season 5 Volume 5 (Fox)
The Genius of Photography (2Entertain)
The Grocer’s Son (ICA Films)
The Innocent Sleep (Bluebell Films)
The International (Sony)
The Scarlet Tunic (Bluebell Films)
The Sky at Night ‚Äď Apollo 11 ‚Äď A Night to Remember (Acorn Media)
Viva (Nouveaux Pictures)
Watching the Detectives (Momentum Pictures)

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> Take a look at the current UK cinema releases (W/C Friday 3rd July)

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DVD & Blu-ray

UK DVD Releases: Monday 29th June 2009

DVD Releases 29-06-09

DVD PICKS

Che Part One and Part Two (Optimum): This long gestating biopic of Che Guevara from director Steven Soderbergh got a mixed reaction after it premiered at Cannes in May 2008.

Some were put off by the four hour running time and the whole question of whether or not it was actually two films. It would probably be most accurate to describe it as two films merged together as one: The Argentine deals with the Cuban revolution in 1959 whilst Guerrilla explores his final years in Bolivia.

In the UK it got released as Che: Part One and Che: Part Two, with some special double-bill screenings at certain cinemas. Now with the DVD release, it is worth saying again what an audacious and thrilling piece of cinema this project turned out to be.

In the first part we see¬†the Cuban Revolution inter-cut with Guevara’s 1964 trip to the United Nation and refreshingly¬†Soderbergh eschews the narrative cliches of many historical biopics. Instead of ponderous meditations on his motives or background we are¬†plunged into the raw action of the revolutionary’s life.

Some viewers may find this off putting but as the film progresses the production design, costume, acting and cinematography get ever more hypnotic, drawing us into this world.

Soderbergh has always been a gifted technical filmmaker interested in pushing the boundaries of mainstream cinema and here he crafted one of his most interesting and accomplished films with the help of a revolutionary digital camera (appropriately called the RED One) that allowed him to make an epic using guerrilla film-making techniques.

The spiritual core of the film is an outstanding performance from Benicio del Toro, who captures the physical and vocal mannerisms of Che so well that he manages to make you forget about the face that spawned so many t-shirts and posters.

Che will be available on DVD and Blu-ray in two parts or as a box-set.

The extras for Che Part One are:

  • Behind the Scenes Featurette
  • Exclusive Interview with Steven Soderbergh
  • Theatrical teaser trailer

The extras for Che Part Two are:

  • Exclusive interview with Benicio Del Toro
  • Interview with Alberto Iglesias (composer)
  • Interview with Jon Lee Anderson (Author of Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life)
  • Theatrical trailer

On DVD the films are presented in anamorphic widescreen with Spanish DD2.0 Stereo, Spanish DD5.1 Surround audio and English subtitles.

On Blu-ray (Region B) the films are presented in 1080P Widescreen with Spanish 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and English subtitles.

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Gran Torino (Warner Bros): Just after directing Changeling, Clint Eastwood returned with another film, which he directs and stars in (reportedly his acting swan song). He plays a disgruntled Korean War vet who sets out to reform his neighbour, a young Hmong teenager (Bee Vang), who tried to steal his vintage 1972 Gran Torino car.

Although this project came together quickly, it is a lean and satisfying tale told with Eastwood’s customary efficiency and class. It would be safe to categorise it as a drama, but there are some very funny sequences, mostly involving the culture clash between Eastwood’s gruff character and his immigrant neighbours.

There are times when the film skates on thin ice when dealing with the issue of race, but Eastwood and screenwriter¬†Nick Schenk deserve credit for venturing in territory that most Hollywood execs wouldn’t touch with a bargepole.

A pleasingly old fashioned drama of simple pleasures and a fitting swansong for the iconic tough guy persona Eastwood has owned for a generation.

Extras on the regular DVD include:

  • Manning the Wheel as Reflected in American Car Culture
  • Gran Torino: More than a Car. Visit Detroit and the Woodland Dream Cruise, an Annual vintage car event where buffs describe the unique bond between man and vehicles
  • The Eastwood Way: Exploring the Actor/Director‚Äôs filmmaking process up close (Blu-ray exclusive)

The following extras will be made available over BD-Live (Blu-ray only):

  • Jamie Cullum‚Äôs music video performance of the original theme song from the motion picture Gran Torino.
  • Gran Torino: Next Door is a 15 minute Hmong documentary. For Hmong Americans, Gran Torino marks a cinematic debut – the first time they have participated as characters, cast and crew in a major motion picture. The documentary takes a very personal look at the Hmong experience and their stories, both on and off the set.
  • Additional Theatrical Trailers

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ALSO OUT

A Rage in Harlem (Optimum)
All The Rivers Run (Fremantle)
American Teen (Optimum)
Bloody Mama (Optimum)
Bust – The Complete Series (Fabulous Films/Fremantle)
Confessions of a Shopaholic (Disney)
Doctor Who: Planet of the Dead (2 Entertain)
Flame & Citron (Metrodome)
I Know How Many Runs You Scored Last Summer (Anchor Bay)
Insatiable: Diary of a Sex Addict (Momentum)
Lift / Travellers / Calais: The Last Border ‚Äď Three films by Marc Isaacs (Second Run DVD)
Lipstick Jungle – Season 2 (Universal Playback)
Naruto Unleashed: Complete Series 5 (Manga)
Naruto Unleashed: Series 6 Part 2 (Manga)
New in Town (EIV)
Push (Icon)
Rachel Getting Married (Sony)
Revolutionary Road (Paramount)
Robin Hood Series 3 (2 Entertain)
Secret Smile (ITV DVD)
Surveillance (E1 Entertainment)
The Cell 2 (EIV)
The House by the Cemetery (Arrow)

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> Take a look at the current UK cinema releases (W/C Friday 26th June)

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UK DVD Releases: Monday 22nd June 2009

UK DVD Picks 22-06-09

DVD PICKS

Vicky Cristina Barcelona (Optimum): A return to form for Woody Allen, after two major misfires (Scoop and Cassandra’s Dream).

The story involves two American women, Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and Cristina (Scarlett Johansson) who spend a summer in Barcelona, where they meet an artist (Javier Bardem) who is attracted to both of them while still enamored of his ex-wife (Penelope Cruz).

Although Hall and Johansson are fine in the two lead roles, it is Bardem and Cruz who give the film an extra flavour with both showing a wonderful light touch for comedy.

Cruz deservedly scooped an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress earlier this year and the film got some of the best reviews Allen has had in some time. The extras are a little thin on the ground (the trailer) but the film is a breezy delight.

Look out for a cameo by the Spanish actor Joan Pera, who often voices Allen in Spanish dubs of his movies.

Hardware (Optimum): This 1990 cult sci-fi has often been hard to track down on DVD due to various rights problems and now Optimum have finally re-issued a special edition on DVD and Blu-ray.

Directed by Richard Stanley, the story involves the head of a killing cyborg found in the desert, which ends up repairing itself and wreaking havoc in the apartment of a sculptress.

It stars Dylan McDermott, Stacey Travis, John Lynch and William Hootkins.

The extras include:

  • Audio commentary with Richard Stanley & Paul Trijbits
  • Deleted, Extended & Behind the Scenes
  • Sea of Perdition
  • The Early Days Richard Stanley Super 8 Movies
  • The Voice of The Moon
  • Original Hardware Promo

* Listen to my interview with Richard Stanley here *

Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist (Sony): A charming romantic-comedy, minus the usual cliches of the genre, with Michael Cera and Kat Dennings two teenagers who fall in love during one sleepless night in New York while searching for their favourite band’s unannounced show.

The extras on the DVD are:

  • 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • English, Catalan and Spanish DD5.1 Surround
  • English Audio Description Track
  • Subtitles: English, English HOH, Danish, Finnish, Hindi, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish
  • Director and Cast Commentary
  • Director and Writers Commentary
  • Deleted & Alternate Scenes
  • Outtakes
  • A Nick & Norah Puppet Show by Kat Dennings
  • Ari Graynor’s Video Diary: A Look Behind-the-Scenes
  • Storyboard Animations with optional commentary
  • Storyboard Animation Piece
  • Faux Interview with Kat Dennings and Eddie Kaye Thomas
  • Peter Sollett’s Photo Album
  • Music Video: “Middle Management” by Bishop Allen

The extras on the Blu-ray Disc (coded for all regions A, B and C) include:

  • 1080P 1.85:1 Widescreen
  • English and Italian 5.1 Dolby TrueHD
  • English Audio Description Track 5.1
  • Subtitles: English, English HOH, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Hindi, Italian, Norwegian, Swedish
  • Cinechat
  • Trivia Track
  • Telestrator Commentary with Director and Cast
  • Nick & Norah‚Äôs interactive playlist ‚Äď create and share a playlist of your favourite Nick & Norah songs
  • Director and Writers Commentary
  • Deleted & Alternate Scenes
  • Outtakes
  • A Nick & Norah Puppet Show by Kat Dennings
  • Ari Graynor’s Video Diary: A Look Behind-the-Scenes
  • Storyboard Animations with optional commentary
  • Storyboard Animation Piece
  • Faux Interview with Kat Dennings and Eddie Kaye Thomas
  • Peter Sollett’s Photo Album
  • Music Video: “Middle Management” by Bishop Allen

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ALSO OUT

A Hill in Korea (Optimum)
A Waste of Shame (Demand DVD)
Anchoress (BFI)
Before Stonewall (Peccadillo Pictures)
Belle Toujours (ICA)
Bulldog Drummond At Bay (Optimum)
Doctor Who: Delta and the Bannermen (2 Entertain)
Electra Glide in Blue (Optimum)
Franklyn (E1 Entertainment)
Keep Your Seats Please (Optimum)
Nine Men (Optimum)
Notorious (Fox)
Occupation (2 Entertain)
Painted Boats (Optimum)
Punisher: War Zone (Sony)
Queer as Folk Season 4 (Warner)
Return of Bulldog Drummond (Optimum)
Robin Hood Series 3 (2 Entertain)
Stargate Atlantis Season 5 Volume 4 (Fox)
The Pink Panther 2 (Fox)
The Unborn (Universal)
This Filthy Earth (BFI)
Tokyo Sonata (Eureka/Masters of Cinema)

> 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 19th June)

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UK DVD Releases: Monday 15th June 2009

DVD Picks 15-06-09

DVD PICKS

The Class (Artificial Eye): The surprise winner of this year’s Palme
d’Or
at the Cannes Film Festival was this deceptively simple tale of a French teacher (Fran√ßois B√©gaudeau) at a state school in Paris. The actual French title is ‚ÄėEntre Les Murs‚Äô ‚Äď which translates as ‚ÄėBetween the walls‚Äô ‚Äď which is apt as the film never (apart from one shot at the beginning) strays outside the confines of the school.

Adapted from the 2006 novel of the same name by Bégaudeau, which in turn was based on his own real life experiences teaching in a Paris school, it is a rich and deeply satisfying film. Not only did it scrupulously avoid the cliches that can plaue films set inside schools, but also managed to offer a plausible snapshot of modern French society by focusing tightly on a class of pupils and their teachers.

Although it is shot in the widescreen aspect ratio of 2:35, the camera hangs tight on each character and never really gives us a look at the French city landscape. This might sound claustrophobic, but makes the lessons and world inside of the school (the staff room, the corridors, the playground) all come alive in an unexpectedly thrilling way.

Performances ‚Äď especially from B√©gaudeau and a very special cast of non-professional teenagers ‚Äď were outstanding but the film also had a tremendous sense of humanity to it without ever slipping into cheap sentiment. An example of a rare film that touches the heart whilst engaging the brain, The Class is a gem that I would urge you to see.

Extras on the 2 disc DVD include:

  • Anamorphic Widescreen
  • DD5.1 Surround
  • Interview with Director Laurent Cantet
  • Extra Scenes with Commentary by Laurent Cantet and Fran√ßois B√©gaudeau
  • Rehearsals with the Students
  • Student Self Portraits
  • Making of Documentary
  • Theatrical Trailer

Bolt (Disney): The first film from the rejuvenated Walt Disney Animation Studios headed by Pixar supremo John Lasseter tells the story of a dog named Bolt (voiced by John Travolta) who doesn’t realise that the TV show he stars in isn’t actually real. Also featuring the voices of Miley Cyrus, Malcolm McDowell, Susie Essman and Mark Walton, it was directed by Chris Williams and Byron Howard. The effect of Lasseter overseeing this film has had a marked on effect on the animation and writing, which contains similar levels of wit and emotion apparent in the best Pixar movies.

On the single disc DVD the extras include:

  • Bonus Short: Super Rhino – Rhino, the hyperactive hamster, gets a chance to headline his very own adventure

The 2-Disc DVD is as above, plus the following additional extras:

  • ‚ÄúI Thought I Lost You‚ÄĚ Music Video featuring the movie‚Äôs stars, Miley Cyrus and John Travolta.
  • In Session with John Travolta and Miley Cyrus – A behind-the-scenes look at recording Bolt‚Äôs signature song ‚ÄúI Thought I Lost You.‚ÄĚ
  • A New Breed of Directors: A Filmmakers‚Äô Journey – First-time directors Chris Williams and Byron Howard take fans along as they traverse the road from concept to completion.
  • Act, Speak! The Voices of Bolt ‚Äď Viewers join the voice cast in session: John Travolta (Bolt), Miley Cyrus (Penny), Susie
    Essman (Mittens), James Lipton (Director) and Mark Walton (Rhino).
  • Creating The World of Bolt ‚Äď Bolt‚Äôs painterly backgrounds have wowed audiences across the globe. The filmmakers explain how they fashioned the unique look of this CG movie.
  • Deleted Scenes with optional introductions by directors Chris Williams and Byron Howard.

The Blu-ray Disc includes all of the extras found on the DVD editions plus the following exclusives:

  • Bolt‚Äôs Be-Awesome Mission – In order to defeat the Green-Eyed Man, Bolt has to find his way through three challenging levels in an exciting interactive game. Viewers can join in collecting clues, conquering ninjas and unleashing the power of the Super Bark!
  • Bolt Art Gallery ‚Äď Animation enthusiasts can check out the film‚Äôs early creative concepts in the Bolt Art Gallery, which contains the building blocks of a big screen blockbuster, from storyboards to character mock-ups. Gallery sections include Visual Development, Character Development, Storyboard Art and Color Script Images.

* Listen to our interview with John Lasseter about Bolt *

Anvil! The Story of Anvil (Universal): A documentary about little-known Canadian metal band Anvil, whose 1982 album ‘Metal on Metal’ influenced a generation of heavy metal bands including Metallica, Slayer and Anthrax, all of whom went on to sell millions of records. But Anvil’s career took a different path: straight to obscurity. The film tracks the band as they take an ill-advised European tour and release their 13th album in a last ditch attempt to hit the big time.

Extras include:

  • Audio Commentary with Sacha Gervasi, Rebecca Yeldham and Andrew Dickler
  • Audio Commentary with Sacha Gervasi, Robb Reiner and Steve ‘Lips’ Kudlow
  • Deleted Scenes (x5) (17mins)
  • This Feels Good (interview with band) (13mins 37secs)
  • Where are they now? (interview with the original band members) (3mins 9secs)
  • Interview with Lars Ulrich (30mins 3secs)
  • Sacha Gervasi Rocks with Anvil (4mins 15secs)

There is also a Limited Edition On Tour CD+DVD Edition (¬£24.99 RRP) that packages together the DVD with the ‚ÄúThis Is Thirteen‚ÄĚ CD. The track list for the CD follows:

  1. This Is Thirteen
  2. Bombs Away
  3. Burning Bridges
  4. Ready To Fight
  5. Flying Blind
  6. Room #9
  7. Axe To Grind
  8. Feed The Greed
  9. Big Business
  10. Should’ A Would’ A Could’ A
  11. Worry
  12. Game Over
  13. American Refugee

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ALSO OUT

Aria – Special Edition (Second Sight)
Chandni Chowk to China (Warner)
He’s Just Not That Into You (EIV)
Kingdom Series 2 (Acorn Media)
Max Manus – Man of Wa r(Revolver)
Ouran High School Host Club: Series 1 Part 2 (Manga)
Red Dwarf: Back to Earth (2 Entertain)
South Pacific (2 Entertain)
The Good, The Bad, The Weird (Icon)
The Italian Job – 40th Anniversary Special Edition (Paramount)
The Two Ronnies: Series 5 (2 Entertain)
Wainwright Walks Coast to Coast (Acorn Media)
Woodstock 3 Days of Peace & Music Ultimate Collector’s Edition (Warner)

> 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 12th June)

Categories
DVD & Blu-ray

UK DVD Releases: Monday 8th June 2009

UK DVD Picks 08-06-09

DVD PICKS

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (Warner):¬†A high profile big budget adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald‘s short story, which stars¬†Brad Pitt as the title character, a man who is born as an old man and ages backwards throughout his life. Directed¬†by¬†David Fincher, from a script written by¬†Eric Roth and¬†Robin Swicord, it also stars¬†Cate Blanchett,¬†Taraji P. Henson,¬†Julia Ormond,¬†Tilda Swinton and¬†Jason Flemyng. Told in flashback, it is an epic tale of one man‚Äôs life during the 20th century, from in 1918 to 2005.

On first viewing I admired it more as a technical exercise and was puzzled as to why a director like Fincher was attracted to this material. Why did they alter the original story so much? What were the contemporary references all about? And wasn’t it a bit too similar to Forrest Gump? (also scripted by Roth). However, on second viewing I found it to be a much richer experience Рit is essentially a fable about love and loss and gains its power from the central concept of living life in reverse.

Far from being a gimmick, it actually becomes a profound way of dramatising the ageing process. Forget the Oscar fuelled hype and snarkycritical hate surrounding this film and approach it with an open mind. The makeup, visual effects, cinematography, score and performances make it an unusual and affecting big budget rarity.

Disappointingly Warner Bros (the UK distributor) have put all the extras on the Blu-ray version and the regular DVD is a barebones single disc with only audio commentaries.

If you have a multi-region player I would strongly recommend getting the US Criterion edition on import, although I imagine there will be a 2 disc DVD at some point in the future.

The extras on the DVD and Blu-ray versions break down like this.

Single-Disc DVD – Includes the film presented in 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen with English and Italian DD5.1 Surround and English Audio Description; The only extra is commentary by director David Fincher.

2-Disc Blu-ray – Extras include:

  • Commentary by director David Fincher
  • The Curious Birth of Benjamin Button
    • Pre-Production (RT 32:20; New Featurette)
    • Production Part I (RT 24:14; New Featurette)
    • Production Part II (RT 31:36; New Featurette)
    • VFX- Benjamin (RT 16:52; New Featurette)
    • VFX- The Chelsea (RT 8:50; New Featurette)
    • VFX- Youthenizationo (RT 6:21; New Featurette)
    • VFX- Performance Capture (RT 7:57; New Featurette)
    • VFX- The Simulated World (RT 12:50; New Featurette)
    • Sound Design (RT 16:29; New Featurette)
    • Desplats Interumentarium (RT 14:52; New Featurette; Interviews by Alexandre Desplat and the scoring of Benjamin Button)
    • Costume Design (RT 7:33; New Featurette)
    • Tech Scouts (RT 12:53; New Featurette)
    • Birth (RT 4:00; New Featurette)
  • Easter Egg (RT 2:00)
  • Digital Copy

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Milk (Momentum): Sean Penn is often regarded as one of the finest actors of his generation and his portrayal of Harvey Milk in this biopic was one of his very best. Milk was a gay rights activist who in the 1970s became the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in California as a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

The film opens with opens with archive footage of police raiding gay bars during the 1950s and 1960s, followed by the announcement in November, 1978 that Milk and Mayor George Moscone have been assassinated.

What follows is an inspiring and moving tale of political courage and hope with many fine performances across the board from Emile Hirsch, James Franco and Josh Brolin.

Directed by Gus Van Sant from a script by Dustin Lance Black, it skilfully juxtaposed the drama of Milk’s political battles against the inner conflicts of his private life. It was also a nice change to see Penn play a warm and inspirational protagonist, a dimension to the film which gave it an extra lift.

Watching the film unfold just a couple of weeks after the election of Barack Obama it was hard not to see the parallels: both were political outsiders who thrived on changing the status quo through a combination of hope and grass roots activism.

Sadly, Milk’s legacy was not enough to prevent the passing of Prop 8 Рa California ballot proposition that changed the laws of the state to ban same sex marriage. But this film will almost certainly become a lasting testament to his political and moral courage.

The extras on the DVD and Blu-ray include:

  • Deleted Scenes (3m 44s)
  • Remembering Harvey (13m 21s)
  • Hollywood Comes to San Francisco (14m 32s)
  • Marching for Equality (7m 58s)
  • UK & International Trailers

On DVD the film is presented in anamorphic widescreen with English DD5.1 Surround audio and optional English subtitles.

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ALSO OUT

Dasepo Naughty Girls (Third Window Films)
Elephant Diaries – Series 2 (2 Entertain)
Green Green Grass – Series 3 (2 Entertain)
Kick the Moon (Third Window Films)
Marriage Italian Style (Mr. Bongo Films)
My Bloody Valentine 3D (Lionsgate)
Odette (Optimum)
Rescue Me – Season 3 (Sony)
Stargate Atlantis – Season 5 Volume 3 (Fox)
The Incredible Human Journey (2 Entertain)
The Shield – Season 7 (Sony)
Top Gear: The Challenges 3 (2 Entertain)
Valkyrie (Fox)
Whale Wars – Series 1 (Demand DVD)

> 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 5th June)

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DVD & Blu-ray

UK DVD Releases: Monday 1st June 2009

UK DVD Picks 01-06-09

DVD PICKS

Slumdog Millionaire (Pathe): In the spring of 2007 director Danny Boyle told me that his next film would be set in Mumbai and was the story of a young man on the Indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. But it was only afterwards that I started to wonder. Would the film be made in English? Would it be a Bollywood film? Comedy? Drama?

It is a testament to the final film that Slumdog Millionaire is so many different things Рa vibrant and rich journey through modern India through the lens of a Dickensian tale of love and redemption. Adapted by Simon Beaufoy from the novel Q and A by Vikas Swarup, it deservedly received a lot of buzz and acclaim at the Telluride and Toronto film festivals.

What’s interesting is that the narrative plays a little like The Usual Suspects, as we learn how the central character Jamal (Dev Patel) came to be on the game show. It then flashes back to periods of his life growing up as a kid from the slums (or ’slumdog’ as some less than charitable characters in the film put it) and his desire to find the true love of his life (Frieda Pinto).

Boyle and his cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle don’t shy away from the poverty of the slums in the film but also capture the live wire energy of Mumbai with some inventive use of digital cameras and a cracking soundtrack. Whilst some audiences might be a bit taken aback by some of the darker sequences, they are necessary counterweights for others aspects of the story to really work.

A huge amount of credit must go to Beaufoy who has constructed a jigsaw puzzle narrative that somehow manages to hold everything together in a way that is exciting, clever and moving. Another clever touch is the realistic portrayal of the Who Wants To Be A Millionaire show, complete with the right music and graphics which are expertly woven into the film and play a key part in how the story unfolds.

The cheesy tension of the TV show somehow has a new life here, with added meaning on the tense pauses and multiple choice questions. The film deservedly cleaned up at this year’s Oscars taking home 8 awards including Best Picture and Best Director.

Both the DVD and Blu-ray version offer more than three hours of special features, including commentaries, featurettes and deleted scenes.

DVD and Blu-ray Extras:

  • Commentary from director Danny Boyle and Dev Patel
  • Commentary from producer Christian Colson and writer Simon Beaufoy
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Slumdog Dreams: Danny Boyle and the making of Slumdog Millionaire
  • Jai Ho Remix ‚Äď Slumdog Cutdown
  • UK Theatrical Trailer

Additional Blu-ray only special features:

  • Slumdog Guru ‚Äď an interactive option of watching the film that gives the viewer access to special features directly from the film. Contains exclusive picture in picture interviews.
  • From Script to Screen: The Toilet Scene
  • Indian Short Film: Manjha
  • Bombay Liquid Dance

* Listen to my interview with Danny Boyle about Slumdog Millionaire *

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The Wrestler (Optimum):¬†On first hearing about a film where Mickey Rourke plays a has-been, directed by Darren Aronofsky, I was intrigued.¬†Would it be similar to the director‚Äôs previous films like¬†ŌÄ and Requiem for a Dream? And what would Mickey Rourke be like in his first proper leading role for many years?

For Aronofksy it is a major – but welcome – departure in that it eschews many of the stylistic devices of his earlier work in favour of a raw, stripped down approach. For Rourke it is nothing less than a triumphant comeback: a dream role that proves not only what a fine screen actor he can be, but also atones for the chaos of his professional career over the last 20 years.

The film itself is the story of a big time wrestler from the 1980s called¬†Randy ‚ÄėThe Ram‚Äô Robinson, who has fallen on hard times and¬†wrestles on the weekends in independent and semi-pro matches for extra money.¬†Health problems force him to re-evaluate his life which includes working in a deli, a possible relationship with¬†a¬†stripper¬†(Marisa Tomei) and an attempted reconciliation with his estranged daughter (Evan Rachel Wood).

The parallels between Rourke’s own career and that of his character are there for anyone to see but there is more to the film than just brave casting: it paints a moving yet unsentimental view of outsiders struggling to make it in modern America. The world of semi-pro wrestling is also brought to life with remarkable authenticity. Although the theatricality and hype of the WWF dominates the public perception of wrestlers, the realism on display in this story creates a much more authentic and poignant world.

A lot of the film’s charm rests on Rourke and Tomei, who play two contrasting characters who actually have much in common: both are performers who use their bodies and have problems reconciling their double lives. Rourke scooped Best Actor at the BAFTAs and Indie Spirit Awards, where he delivered hilarious acceptance speeches, but lost out on the Oscar to his old buddy Sean Penn.

Extras include:

  • A making of documentary (Within The Ring, 42mins)
  • Interview with Mickey Rourke (16mins)
  • Theatrical trailer.
  • The DVD will be presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen with English DD5.1 Surround, English DD2.0 Stereo and English subtitles.

* Listen to my interview with Darren Aronofsky and Mickey Rourke *

Battlestar Galactica: The Final Season (Universal Playback): The final stretch of this modern sci-fi series comes to DVD in the UK with the second half of Season 4 branded ‚ÄėThe Final Season‚Äô.¬†A four-disc set, episodes are spread across the first three presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen with English DD5.1 Surround audio, English DD2.0 Stereo audio and English SDH subtitles.

The 11 episodes on four discs are:

Disc One

  • Sometimes A Great Notion
  • A Disquiet Follows My Soul
  • The Oath Blood On The Scales

Disc Two

  • No Exit
  • Deadlock
  • Someone To Watch Over Me
  • Islanded in a Stream of Stars

Disc Three

  • Daybreak Part 1
  • Daybreak Part 2
  • Daybreak Part 3

These discs also have podcast commentaries and deleted scenes on select episodes. The fourth disc contains featurettes and the unrated version of A Disquiet Follows My Soul.

All extras (except for the commentaries) are subtitled in English SDH.

Extras include:

  • Deleted Scenes:¬†Sometimes A Great Notion, The Oath, Blood on the Scales, No Exit, Deadlock, Someone to Watch Over Me, Daybreak
  • Podcast Commentary:¬†Sometimes A Great Notion, A Disquiet Follows My Soul, The Oath, Blood On The Scales, No Exit
  • A Sneak Peek at Caprica (1:32)
  • David Eick’s Video Blogs (x11)
  • What the Frak is Going on with Battlestar Galactica? – A recap of Battlestar Galactica‚Äôs first three seasons (8:17)
  • Evolution of a Cue: Composer, Bear McCreary takes us step by step through his process of creating the music of Battlestar Galactica (22:13)
  • Unrated/Extended Episode: A Disquiet Follows My Soul (50:54)
  • Anvil Trailer, Playback Trailer

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ALSO OUT

Blue Dragon: Volumes 1 & 2 (Manga)
Boccaccio ‚Äė70 (Mr. Bongo Films)
Goto l’ile d’amour (Nouveaux)
How Not To Live Your Life (2 Entertain)
Primeval Series 3 (2 Entertain)
Reggie Perrin (2 Entertain)
Shallow Grave (4DVD)
The London Box-Set (Optimum)
Trainspotting (4DVD)

> 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 29th May)

Categories
DVD & Blu-ray

UK DVD Releases: Monday 25th May 2009

UK DVD Picks 24-05-09

DVD PICKS

The Reader (EIV): This adaptation of the 1995 German novel by Bernhard Schlink follows a complicated love affair in the 1950s between a German teenager named Michael Berg (David Kross) and a woman twice his age called Hannah Schmitz (Kate Winslet). Years later as a law student he discovers a terrible secret about his former lover and struggles to deal with the repercussions of her actions in World War II. 

It is directed by Stephen Daldry and Ralph Fiennes plays Berg as an older man struggling to deal with his past. With a script by David Hare (who worked with Daldry on The Hours) this was always going to be an awards season contender, although some mixed reviews in the US and the UK might harm its word of mouth. 

It is a well crafted and involving tale with three very solid performances from Winslet, Fiennes and Kross. Daldry and Hare have managed to preserve the knotty moral questions of the book – something which appears to have really riled critics of the film – and the cinematography from Roger Deakins and Chris Menges is first rate.

The extras include:

  • The Reader : Music
  • The Reader : Makeup
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Production Design
  • Making the Reader : Adapting a timeless masterpiece
  • A conversation with David Kross and Stephen Daltry
  • Deleted Scenes

* Listen to our interview with Stephen Daldry and Ralph Fiennes on The Reader *

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30 Rock – Season 2 (Universal Playback): The second season of the award-winning sitcom created¬†by (and starring)¬†Tina Fey¬†takes place behind the scenes of a fictional¬†livesketch comedy¬†series depicted as airing on NBC; the name “30 Rock” refers to the address of the¬†GE Building¬†where¬†NBC Studios¬†is located, 30¬†Rockefeller Plaza.

The ensemble cast includes Fey, Tracy Morgan, Jane Krakowski, Jack McBrayer, Scott Adsit, Judah Friedlander and Alec Baldwin.

Some of the highlights in this season (which was cut short to 15 episodes because of the WGA strike in 2007) include: 

The features and extras include:

  • 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • English DD5.1 Surround
  • Audio Commentaries by Tina Fey, Jack McBrayer, Jane Krakowski, Scott Adsit, Judah Friedlander, Producers John Riggi and Robert Carlock, Producer/Composer Jeff Richmond and Guest Stars Tim Conway, Will Arnett and Fred Armisen
  • Deleted Scenes
  • “Cooter” Table Read
  • 30 Rock Live at the UCB Theatre
  • Tina Hosts SNL
  • The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Presents: An Evening with 30 Rock
  • And More!

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ALSO OUT

Beverly Hills Chihuahua (Disney)
Carrington VC (Network)
Central Bazaar (BFI)
Doctor Who: Planet of the Dead (2 Entertain)
Evergreen (Network)
Fifi’s Carnival (2 Entertain)
Il Grido (Eureka/Masters of Cinema)
London in the Raw (BFI)
Magick Lantern Cycle (BFI)
Martyrs (Optimum)
Moonlight Sonata (Network)
My Family Series 9 (2 Entertain)
Ordeal by Innocence (Optimum)
Primitive London (BFI)
Pulling: Series 2 (2 Entertain)
Pumping Iron (Lionsgate)
Pushing Daisies – Season 2 (Warner)
Seven Pounds (Sony)
The Bed Sitting Room (BFI)
The Fear ‚Äď The Complete Series (Network)
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 (Warner)
There Goes The Bride (Network)
Tokyo! (Optimum)
Yus, My Dear Series 1 (Network)

> 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 22nd May)

Categories
DVD & Blu-ray

UK DVD Releases: Monday 18th May 2009

UK DVD Releases 18-05-09

DVD PICKS

Frost/Nixon (Universal): When I first saw Peter Morgan’s stage playabout David Frost’s famous interviews with Richard Nixon in 1977, I remember wondering what a film adaptation might look like. 

Although the hiring of Ron Howard to direct might have raised some eyebrows, to his credit he not only kept the two lead actors from the production (Michael Sheen as Frost and Frank Langella as Nixon) but also managed preserve the essential drama at the heart of the story and keep as faithful to it as possible.

For those of you unfamiliar with the background, Peter Morgan (who has become an expert in dramatising modern history scripting The Queen and The Last King of Scotland) created a play which explored the tensions behind Frost pursuing and then conducting Nixon’s first TV interviews since resigning in disgrace over the Watergate scandal.

What makes it so absorbing is the clash of two very different characters who for different reasons had a lot at stake: Frost was desperate to re-establish himself in America, whilst Nixon was keen to rebuild his shattered political reputation. Technically, both lead performances are superb and after two years on stage together the chemistry between Sheen and Langella is magnetic.

The supporting cast is very solid with Rebecca Hall, Toby Jones, Matthew Macfadyen, Kevin Bacon, Oliver Platt and Sam Rockwell all making fine contributions in key roles. Perhaps the most striking aspect of the film is how it manages to be both a fascinating slice of history garnished with some fine period design yet also finds a way of commenting on the current concerns about US politics.

It also poses a fascinating question: will President Bush ever come out with the same anguished mea culpa that Nixon delivered in these interviews?

Given that it didn’t perform as well as it might have done at the box office, it is definitely worth checking out on DVD if you missed it earlier in the year.

Extras on the regular DVD include:

  • 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • English and Hungarian DD5.1 Surround
  • English SDH, Arabic, Danish, Finnish, Hungarian, Icelandic, Norwegian and Swedish subtitles
  • Deleted Scenes
  • The Making of Frost/Nixon – Take an in-depth look at all aspects of the production and discover the lengths it took to recreate this historic event for the big screen.
  • The Real Interview – Footage from the actual interview and how it compares to the way it was reenacted for the film
  • The Nixon Library – Discover the materials that have been preserved for public viewing in the Richard Nixon Library, ranging from the ‚ÄúNixon Tapes‚ÄĚ to footage of Nixon visiting China
  • Feature Commentary with Director Ron Howard

The Blu-ray Disc has a few extra features:

  • BD-50 Dual Layer
  • 1080P Widescreen
  • English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
  • German and Spanish 5.1 DTS Surround
  • English SDH, German and Spanish subtitles
  • U-Control, Picture in Picture, BD Live, My Scenes
  • Nixon Chronicles ‚Äď Use this branching feature to see clips from the original interview event side by side with the shot-by-shot recreations from the movie
  • Discovering Secrets: The People and Places Behind the Story (13mins) – Director Ron Howard, producer Brian Grazer and the entire production team discuss the many ‚Äúsecrets‚ÄĚ of the era that were uncovered as they researched the project
  • Deleted Scenes
  • The Making of Frost/Nixon (22mins) – Take an in-depth look at all aspects of the production and discover the lengths it took to recreate this historic event for the big screen.
  • The Real Interview – Footage from the actual interview and how it compares to the way it was reenacted for the film
  • The Nixon Library – Discover the materials that have been preserved for public viewing in the Richard Nixon Library, ranging from the ‚ÄúNixon Tapes‚ÄĚ to footage of Nixon visiting China
  • Feature Commentary with Director Ron Howard

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Defiance (Momentum):¬†Set in the eastern regions of occupied Poland during¬†World War II¬†this is an adaptation of¬†Nechama Tec‚Äôs book ‚ÄėDefiance: The Bielski Partisans‚Äė, which was based on the true story of the Bielski partisans.¬†

Directed by Ed Zwick, it stars Daniel Craig, Liev Schreiber, Jamie Belland George MacKay as four brothers from Poland who escape from the Nazis and fight back to rescue fellow Jews.

Although the expected Oscar buzz for this film failed to materialize, it is a well made and admirable piece of work. Commercial prospects will be helped by a marketing campaign that has emphasised Daniel Craig (aka James Bond) and the action aspects of the film.

The extras on the regular DVD and Blu-ray Disc include:

  • Director‚Äôs Commentary
  • Return to the Forest: The Making of Defiance (26mins)
  • BD Exclusive: Scoring Defiance (7mins)
  • BD Exclusive: Children of the Otriad (13mins)
  • BD Exclusive: Bielski Partisan Photo Gallery (as photographed by director Edward Zwick)

* Listen to our interview with Daniel Craig, Liev Schreiber and Ed Zwick on Defiance * 

ALSO OUT

Adventurer ‚Äď The Complete Series (Network)
Black Blood Brothers: Complete Series (Manga)
Bride Wars (Fox)
Dear Diary (Arrow Films)
ER Season 14 (Warner)
How To Be (Network)
Shameless – Series 6 (4DVD)
The Grudge 3 (Icon)
The Inbetweeners Series 2 (4DVD)
The Machine Girl (Cine Asia)
The Main Chance – Series 1 (Network)
Underworld: Rise of the Lycans (EIV)

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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 15th May)

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UK DVD Releases: Monday 11th May 2009

UK DVD Releases 11-05-09

DVD RELEASES

Another lean week on the DVD front, so no picks (again) but just a breakdown of the releases.

A Scene at the Sea (Second Sight)
Backlash (Optimum)
Boiling Point (Second Sight)
Boston Legal – Season 5 (Fox)
Bullet for a Badman (Optimum)
Chandni Chowk to China (Warner)
CSI Miami Season 6 (Momentum)
Cutie Honey (MVM)
Doctor Who: The Deadly Assassin (2 Entertain)
Escape From Huang Shi (Momentum)
Fine, Totally Fine (Third Window Films)
Funuke: Show Some Love, You Losers! (Third Window Films)
Getting Any? (Second Sight)
Kids Return (Second Sight)
Legally Blondes (Fox)
Role Models (Universal)
Sonatine (Second Sight)
Spitting Image ‚Äď Series 6 (Network)
The Victorians (2 Entertain)
Violent Cop (Second Sight)
Watching – Series 4 (Network)

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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 8th May)

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DVD & Blu-ray

UK DVD Releases: Monday 4th May 2009

DVD Releases 04-05-09

DVD RELEASES FOR MONDAY 4th MAY

As there are no DVDs of special note this week, I’m just listing the releases and will pick some older recommendations over the next few days.

You can check out last week’s picks here.

20th Century Boys (4Digital Asia)
All the Small Things (2 Entertain)
Around the World in 80 Trades (2 Entertain)
Bergerac – Series 8 (2 Entertain)
Clubbed (Route One Releasing)
Common Threads ‚Äď Stories from the Quilt (Drakes Avenue Pictures)
Gary the Tennis Coach (Optimum)
He Ran All The Way Home (Optimum)
Laid to Rest (Anchor Bay)
Mirrors (Fox)
Morecambe and Wise – Series 5 (2 Entertain)
Terry and June – Series 9 (2 Entertain)
The Celluloid Closet (Drakes Avenue Pictures)
The Cheerleaders Boxset (Arrow Films)
The Happiest Days of Your Life (Optimum)
The Young Savages (Optimum)
Timecrimes (Optimum)

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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 1st May)

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UK DVD Releases: Monday 27th April 2009

DVD Picks 27-04-09

DVD PICKS

Dean Spanley (Icon): A quirky period piece set in the Edwardian era it tells the story of a father (Peter O’Toole) and son (Jeremy Northam) who attend a lecture by a visiting Hindu Swami (Art Malik). There they encounter Dean Spanley (Sam Neill), with whom Henslowe strikes up an unlikely friendship. Based on the 1936 novella by Irish author Lord Dunsany it is directed by Toa Fraser from a screenplay by Alan Sharp.

Extras include:

  • Stereo and 5.1 Surround audio¬†
  • Making of featurette¬†
  • Cast and crew interviews

Although it didn’t get a huge cinema release, it is well worth getting on DVD.

* Listen to my interview with director Toa Fraser * 

North Face (Metrodome): A¬†tense documentary that relives 48 hours in the lives of the two climbers who scaled the eponymous wall of the Eiger Mountain in 1936. Directed by¬†Philipp St√∂lzl¬†and starring¬†Benno F√ľrmann,¬†Florian Lukas¬†and¬†Georg Friedrich.

Extras include:

  • Making Northface
  • Visual Effects Of ‘Nothface”
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Interview With Philipp Stoelzl and Kolja Brandt
  • The Myth Of The Eiger North Face
  • Timeline Of Attempts On The Eiger Mountain
  • Cast & Crew Biographies
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • UK Exclusive Trailer

Trouble the Water (ICA): An Oscar-nominated documentary that follows the story of aspiring rap artist and self proclaimed hustler Kimberly Rivers Roberts and her husband Scott as they try to survive the destruction wrought by Hurricane Katrina. 

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ALSO OUT

A Bunch of Amateurs (EIV)
Afro Samurai: Resurrection (Manga)
Arabian Nights (BFI)
Ashanti (Arrow Films)
Australia (Fox)
Baba Yaga: The Final Cut (Shameless)
Barquero (Optimum)
Bedtime Stories (Disney)
Billy Two Hats (Optimum)
Black Emanuelle 2 (Severin)
Boogeyman 3 (Icon)
City Rats (Revolver)
Cold Prey 2: Resurrection (Momentum)
Cold Prey Boxset (Momentum)
Darwin’s Dangerous Idea (2 Entertain)
For Those in Peril (Optimum)
Frost On Sunday (Network)
Gunfight at Dodge City (Optimum)
Hannah Takes the Stairs (ICA)
Henry: Mind of a Tyrant (2 Entertain)
Manhunt – The Complete Series (Network)
My Learned Friend (Optimum)
Odds Against Tomorrow (Optimum)
Paris is Burning (Second Sight)
Shabby Tiger ‚Äď Complete Series (Network)
Sometimes a Great Notion (Optimum)
Stormy Weather (Network)
Supernatural Season 4 (Warner)
The Canterbury Tales (BFI)
The Decameron (BFI)
The Exterminating Angels (Axiom Films)
The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin (2 Entertain)
The King and Four Queens (Optimum)
The L Word Season 5 (Fox)
The Private Life of Henry VIII (Network)
The Promise (Momentum)
The Small Back Room (Optimum)
Time Trumpet (2 Entertain)
Trouble Brewing (Optimum)
What Just Happened (Pathe)
Zulu Dawn (Arrow Films)

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> Buy Dean Spanley, North Face and Trouble the Water 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 April)

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UK DVD Releases: Monday 20th April 2009

DVD Picks 20-04-09

DVD PICKS

Yes Man (Warner): The big screen US adaptation of Danny Wallace‘s best-selling memoir sees¬†Jim Carrey star as a man who reluctantly signs up for a self-help program that challenges him to say ‘yes’ to everything and embrace life.

Directed by Peyton Reed, it co-stars Zooey Deschanel and Bradley Cooper. 

The extras on the regular DVD include:

  • Down Time on the Set of Yes Man – Jim Carrey improvs with the cast, crew, and Director Peyton Reed.
  • Extreme Yes Man – This piece delves into all of the outrageous stunts
  • Gag Reel
  • Exclusive “Munchausen by Proxy” Music Videos: Five full-length music videos showcasing the musical talents of Zooey Deschanel and the Von Iva band.
  • Uh-Huh (RT: 3:46)
  • Yes Man (RT: 3:10)
  • Star Spangled Banner (RT: 1:15)
  • Sweet Ballad (RT: 2:50)
  • Keystar (RT: 3:12)
  • Future Sounds: Munchausen by Proxy – Explore the unlikely story behind the formation of Allison’s band, Munchausen By Proxy, from the real San Francisco-based band Von Iva.

The extras on the Blu-ray Disc include all on the regular DVD plus the following exclusive features:

  • On Set with Danny Wallace: The Original Yes Man – Behind the scenes tour with author Danny Wallace as he interacts with the cast and crew
  • Yes Man Party Central with Norman Stokes – Comedian Rhys Darby gives us a tour of his apartment in full Harry Potter regalia
  • Say Yes! To Red Bull – Jim Carrey brings Method Acting to a whole new level as he chugs Red Bull.
  • Digital copy

* Listen to my interview with Danny Wallace from December *

The Baader Meinhof Complex (Momentum): Germany’s official entry for the 2009 foreign-language Oscar explores the creation and actions of the West German terrorist group the Red Army Faction (RAF), which was the most active and prominent terrorist group in post-war West Germany. 

Directed by Uli Edel, it stars Moritz Bleibtreu, Martina Gedeck and Johanna Wokalek and is based on the best selling non-fiction book of the same name by Stefan Aust.

Extras include:

  • History in the Making: A detailed and exhaustive documentary that examines the making of the film with input from cast and crew.
  • On Uli Edel: This takes a look at the career of the director and why the events of the film were so personal to him. ‚ÄėThe Score‚Äô talks with the films composer and looks at the compositional process.¬†
  • Filmographies for the cast¬†
  • Trailer.

* Listen to my interview with producer Bernd Eichinger about The Baader Meinhof Complex *

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ALSO OUT
After Henry – Series 3 (Network)
American Dad Volume 4 (Fox)
Behind Enemy Lines: Colombia (Fox)
Being Human (2 Entertain)
Columbus Day (DNC)
Dark Floors (Metrodome)
Doctor Who: Image of the Fendahl (2 Entertain)
Fingerprints (Anchor Bay)
La Gueule Ouverte (Eureka/Masters of Cinema)
Lark Rise to Candleford Series 2 (2 Entertain)
Life’s A Trip (Metrodome)
Murder, She Wrote Season 9 (Universal Playback)
Poison Ivy 4: The Secret Society (EIV)
Stone (Severin)
The Day the Earth Stood Still (Fox)
The Myth (Cine Asia)
The Raccoons Season 2 (Fabulous Films)
Transporter 3 (Icon)
Ultra (Drakes Avenue Pictures)
Une Femme Mariée (Eureka/Masters of Cinema)

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> Buy Yes Man and The Baader Meinhof Complex 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 April)

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DVD & Blu-ray

UK DVD Releases: Monday 13th April 2009

UK DVD Picks 13-04-09

DVD PICKS

Gonzo (Optimum): A new documentary directed by Alex Gibney which explores Hunter S. Thompson’s life and times as well as his landmark writings on music and politics with contributions from the likes of Tom Wolfe, Ralph Steadman and Jann Wenner.

Narrated by Johnny Depp, who played Hunter in the 1998 film version of Fear and Loathing and Las Vegas, it is an interesting portrait of a fascinating writer. 

The extras include:

  • 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • English DD5.1 Surround
  • Director‚Äôs Commentary
  • Extended Interviews
  • Extended & Deleted Scenes
  • Ralph Steadman drawings
  • UK exclusive Alex Gibney interview
  • Wayward & Weary¬†featurette about tribute song by Tift Merritt
  • Gallery
  • Trailer

* Listen to my interview with Alex Gibney from last year *

 

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The Red Riding Trilogy (Optimum): A highly impressive trilogy of films adapted by Tony Grisoni from David Peace’scult novels set in Yorkshire during the 1970s and 80s.

The three films are all two hours long and aired recently on Channel 4, boasting an impressive cast including: Mark Addy, Sean Bean, Jim Carter, Warren Clarke, Paddy Considine, Andrew Garfield, Rebecca Hall,Eddie Marsan and David Morrissey.

Produced by Michael Winterbottom and Andrew Eaton’s production company, Revolution Films, each film has been directed by a separate director: Julian Jarrold (Brideshead Revisited), James Marsh (Man on Wire) and Anand Tucker (And When Did You Last See Your Father?).

The first is entitled 1974 and explores the paranoia, mistrust and institutionalised police corruption in Yorkshire.

When a young journalist named Eddie Dunford (Andrew Garfield) becomes obsessed with a police investigation into a series of child abductions, he uncovers a complex maze of lies and deceit.

One of the characters he comes across is a local businessman named John Dawson (played by Sean Bean) who, in this clip, advises Eddie to form a mutually beneficial relationship with him.

The second episode, directed by Marsh, set in and called 1980, sees theYorkshire Ripper terrorise the area for six long years, and with the local police failing to make any progress, the Home Office sends in Manchester officer Peter Hunter (Considine) to review the investigation.

Having previously made enemies in the Yorkshire force while investigating a shooting incident in 1974, Hunter finds himself increasingly isolated when his version of events challenges their official line on the ‚ÄúRipper‚ÄĚ.

In the final instalment, directed by Tucker and set in and called 1983, another young girl has disappeared and Detective Chief Superintendent Maurice Jobson (Morrissey) recognises some alarming similarities to the abductions in 1974, forcing him to come to terms with the fact that he may have helped convict the wrong man.

When local solicitor John Piggott (Addy) is persuaded to fight this miscarriage of justice he finds himself slowly uncovering a catalogue of cover ups.

It is dark but compelling material and the kind of expensive, challenging drama that Channel 4 at their best can be capable of.

The extras include: 

1974

  • 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • English DD2.0 Stereo and DD5.1 Surround
  • Interview with Julian Jarrold
  • Deleted Scenes

1980

  • 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • English DD2.0 Stereo and DD5.1 Surround
  • Making of featurette
  • Deleted Scenes

1983

  • 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • English DD2.0 Stereo and DD5.1 Surround
  • Making of featurette
  • Deleted Scenes

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ALSO OUT

A Love To Hide (Peccadillo Pictures)
Dead Wood (DNC Entertainment)
Doctor Who: The Cybermen (2 Entertain)
Hotel Babylon Series 3 (2 Entertain)
Ideal Series Four (2 Entertain)
Inkheart (EIV)
Lady in White РDirector’s Cut (Optimum)
Max Payne (Fox)
Star Wars: The Clone Wars ‚Äď A Galaxy Divided (Warner)
The Lost World of Communism (2 Entertain)
The Omid Djalili Show Series 1 (2 Entertain)
The Thick of It: The Specials (2 Entertain)
Two and a Half Men Season 5 (Warner)

> Buy Gonzo and The Red Riding Trilogy 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 10th April)

Categories
DVD & Blu-ray

UK DVD Releases: Monday 6th April 2009

UK DVD Picks 07-04-09

DVD PICKS

Mike Leigh at the BBC (2 Entertain): Priced at nearly ¬£60 this box set of Mike Leigh’s early films at the BBC might seem an expensive luxury but, if you can afford it, is actually an excellent insight into a hugely significant part of his career.

Spanning nearly 30 years this collection showcases all of the writer-director’s surviving work from the BBC, including his contributions to the influential Play For Today series.

For the first time on DVD, this includes seven of his early films (some with new director’s commentaries) as well as two TV studio plays and five engaging short films.

Everything has been restored, and there is a raft of insightful extras.

A six-disc set, the films and features are:

  • Hard Labour:¬†Mike Leigh’s first TV drama for the BBC in 1973, which was shot entirely on location in his native Salford. It depicts the grinding daily routine of stoical domestic cleaner Mrs Thornley and her cantankerous family. It features Liz Smith (The Royle Family) and early appearances by Ben Kingsley, Bernard Hill and Alison Steadman.
  • The Permissive Society: A¬†short play, shot entirely in a television studio, about an awkward first date in a Lancashire high rise flat which is interrupted by the young man‚Äôs elder sister, returning prematurely after being stood up.
  • Nuts in May:¬†Leigh‚Äôs second Play For Today offering about a¬†self-righteous vegetarian couple¬†(Roger Sloman and Alison Steadman), on a camping holiday in Dorset, who’s rigid assumptions are challenged by other campers.
  • The Kiss of Death: David Threlfall stars ¬†as an off-beat undertaker‚Äôs assistant, with a dry sense of humour and a healthy resistance to conformity. He and his best friend Ronnie are confronted by, and finally escape, the clutches of two predatory and fiercely conventional young women, Sandra and Linda. Filmed on location in Oldham.
  • Who‚Äôs Who?:¬†A film about toffs and snobs with¬†Richard Kane as Alan, an obsequious autograph hunter, who works as a clerk for a City stockbroker, and whose wife breeds pedigree chinchilla cats.
  • Abigail‚Äôs Party:¬†Immediately after its smash-hit run at The Hampstead Theatre in London, this 1977 stage-play was staged for TVand became his most popular work to date up to that point. It explores a¬†suburban evening of hilarious disaster, gross embarrassment and untimely death is presided over by the monstrous Beverly, for which performance Alison Steadman won two best actress awards.
  • Grown-Ups:¬†A young working-class couple, Dick and Mandy, move into a council house, to find their old teacher living next door with his wife.¬†Starring Lesley Manville (All Or Nothing, Topsy-Turvy, Cranford) who has worked with Mike Leigh more than any other actor and Brenda Blethyn (Secrets and Lies), Phil Davis, Sam Kelly, Janine Duvitski (Abigail‚Äôs Party) and Lindsay Duncan. Filmed on location in Canterbury.
  • Home Sweet Home:¬†The tragic-comic tale of a lonely postman, the social workers who chivvy him about his estranged teenage daughter, and his secret affairs with the wives of his fellow postmen. It stars Eric Richard (The Bill) and features Frances Barber (Funland). It was also the first appearance in a Mike Leigh film of Timothy Spall (Secrets and Lies, All Or Nothing). Filmed on location in Hitchin, Hertfordshire.¬†
  • Four Days in July: A¬†bitterly humorous take on “The Troubles” in Northern Ireland. Set (and shot) in Belfast in July 1984, around the annual 12th July Loyalist Parades, the film examines the communities on both sides of the divide.¬†The cast includes Stephen Rea (The Crying Game) and Br√≠d Brennan (Dancing At Lughnasa)
  • Five-Minute Films:¬†This collection also includes a rare treat, five short films written and directed by Mike Leigh – Afternoon, Birth of the Goalie, Old Chums, A Light Snack and Probation. Originally filmed in 1975, these five films, lasting five minutes each, were intended to be the first in an ongoing series but weren‚Äôt actually broadcast until 1982 during a season of Leigh’s work on BBC.

Extras include:

  • Documentary, ‚ÄúAll About Abigail‚Äôs Party‚ÄĚ, plus ‚ÄúWelcome‚ÄĚ, ‚ÄúParty Nibbles‚ÄĚ, ‚ÄúIntro‚ÄĚ & ‚ÄúGoodbye‚ÄĚ
  • The Conversation: Will Self interviews Mike Leigh
  • The Long Goodbye: Bel Mooney interviews Mike Leigh
  • Arena: Making Plays: the life and work of Mike Leigh
  • Audio commentary by Mike Leigh available on Nuts in May,The Kiss of Death, Grown-Ups, Four Days in July

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The Silence of Lorna (New Wave Films): The latest film from the Belgian brothers Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne, who have been a regular fixture at Cannes in the last decade with their contemporary takes on modern European life.

Their best known films are: La Promesse (1996), Rosetta (1999), which won them their first Palme d’or; The Son (2002); and The Child (2005), which secured them a second Palme d’or.

Their new film sees Kosovar actress Arta Dobroshi play Lorna, a young Albanian living in Belgium, who becomes an accomplice to a local mobster’s plan.

Extras include:

  • Interview with Arta Dobroshi
  • Interview with the Dardenne Brothers
  • Theatrical Trailer

ALSO OUT

Body Armour (Momentum)
Breakdance 2: Electric Boogaloo (Second Sight)
Breakdance: The Movie (Second Sight)
Criminal Minds Season 3 (Disney)
Demons Season 1 (Sony)
Electric Dreams (Second Sight)
Gavin and Stacey Christmas Special (2 Entertain)
Ghost Whisperer Season 3 (Disney)
Gossip Girl Season 2 Volume 1 (Warner)
Hansel & Gretel (Terracotta Distribution)
Mad Money (Lionsgate)
Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa (Paramount)
Quicksand (Glass Key)
Skins Series 3 (4DVD)
The High Life (2 Entertain)
The Signal (Optimum)
The Tale of Despereaux (Universal)
Twilight (E-1 Films)
Watchmen: Tales of the Black Freighter (Paramount)
Woman on the Run (Glass Key)
Tis Autumn, The Search for Jackie Paris (Drakes Avenue Pictures)

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> Buy Mike Leigh at the BBC and The Silence of Lorna 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 April)

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DVD & Blu-ray

UK DVD Releases: Monday 30th March 2009

UK DVD Picks 30-03-09

DVD PICKS

Waltz With Bashir (Artificial Eye): One of the most remarkable films to be released in the last year deals with the memory of Israeli soldiers involved in the invasion of Lebanon in the early 1980s and the 1982 Sabra and Shatila massacre. 

Directed by Ari Folman, it examines his own experiences on that mission and the struggle to remember what happened when he interviews various army colleagues from the time.

The strange title is taken from a scene with one of Folman‚Äôs interviewees, who remembers taking a machine gun and dancing an ‚Äėinsane waltz‚Äô amid enemy fire, with posters of¬†Bashir Gemayel¬†lining the walls behind him.

Gemayel was the Lebanese president who whose assassination helped trigger the massacre. The most unusual and startling aspect of the film is that it is animated, an unconventional approach for what is essentially a documentary.

Although very different in theme and tone to Creature Comforts it appears to adopt the same device in which real conversations are animated and stylised. 

A hugely ambitious film, it took four years to complete and is and international co-production between Israel, Germany and France.

Back in May it premiered to huge acclaim at Cannes and was one of the front runners to win the Palme d’Or. Much of that praise was richly deserved because this is an arresting and highly original film.

It deserves particular credit for taking a highly politicised and contentious event and yet somehow makes a wider point about the futility of war whose relevance is not just confined to the cauldron of the Middle East.

Another aspect which makes this story so intriguing is that the Israeli troops were not guilty of the massacre itself, but of standing by and letting Lebanese miltia murder Palestinian refugees. 

It is the memory of, or rather the inability to remember, this event that lies at the core of the story. Has Folman unconsciously blocked out the memory? Does guilt cloud any rational perspective? 

The raw power of the source material is enhanced by some extraordinary imagery, with a remarkable and inventive use of colour for certain sections, especially those involving the sea.

Added to this is Folman’s narration which has an almost hypnotic effect when set alongside the visuals, almost as if the audience is experiencing a dream whilst watching the film itself. 

The film won 6 Israeli Film Academy awards (including Best Picture) and was nominated for Best Foreign Film at the Oscars.

It might seem like a strange film to make about such a serious subject but it’s surreal approach only makes the horrors of war seem all too real.  

The DVD and Blu-ray discs include the following extras:

DVD

  • 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Interview with director Ari Folman
  • Theatrical Trailers

Blu-ray Disc

  • 1080P 1.78:1 Widescreen
  • Dolby Digital 5.1 & DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Interview with director Ari Folman
  • ‚ÄėMaking of‚Äô documentary (70minutes)
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Theatrical Trailers

* Listen to our interview with director Ari Folman here *

Not Quite Hollywood (Optimum): A highly entertaining documentary exploring the world of Australian exploitation cinema that began in the early 1970s. 

Directed by Mark Hartley it shows how a new generation of maverick filmmakers capitalised on the relaxing of censorship laws to create wilder films on smaller budgets.

Whilst more refined directors like Peter Weir achieved worldwide acclaim with films like Picnic At Hanging Rock, more maverick directors and actors created a crazier breed of exploitation movie. 

The film explores how films like Alvin Purple, Barry McKenzie Holds His Own, Dead-End Drive In, Long Weekend, Mad Max, The Man from Hong Kong, Patrick, Razorback, Roadgames, Stork and Turkey Shoot all contributed to a new era of Aussie cinema.  

Extras on the disc inlcude:

  • 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • English DD5.1 Surround
  • Commentary with writer/director Mark Hartley and Oxploitation auteurs
  • Ozploitation panel at MIFF
  • Quentin Tarantino speaks with Brian Trenchard-Smith
  • UK Exclusive Interview with Mark Hartley
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Original ozploitation trailers

* Listen to our interview with Mark Hartley here * 

Blindness (Pathe): The film adaptation of the 1995 novel by José Saramago explores a society suffering an epidemic of blindness.

Directed by Fernando Meirelles it stars Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo , Danny Glover and Gael Garcia Bernal as a group of people struggling to survive amidst the chaos that ensues.

Whilst at times the film may be too bleak for some viewers, it is a much better film that its mixed reception at Cannes last year might have believe, with fine performances from the leads and some excellent visuals.

The extras include:

  • ‘A Vision of Blindness’ – 50 minute making of documentary
  • Deleted scenes with director’s introduction
  • Theatrical trailer

* Listen to our interview with Fernando Meirelles about the film here *

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ALSO OUT

10 Days to War (2 Entertain)
A Time To Love and A Time To Die (Masters of Cinema)
Blood on the Sun (Network)
Body of Lies (Warner)
Changeling (Universal)
Derek (BFI)
Dexter – Season 2 (Paramount)
Driftwood (Anchor Bay)
Flawless (Metrodome)
Flesh and Fury (Eureka)
Free Agents (C4 DVD)
Henry Poole is Here (Sony)
Lakeview Terrace (Sony)
Manhunt (Metrodome)
Mistresses – Series 2 (2 Entertain)
Muriel ou le Temps d’un retour (Eureka)
My Best Friend’s Girl (Lionsgate)
Nighthawks / Strip Jack Naked (BFI)
Of Time and the City (BFI)
Patti Smith Dream of Life (BFI)
Rivals (Optimum)
Salaam Bombay (Arrow)
Splinter (Icon)
The Express (Universal)
The Secret Life of Bees (Fox)
The Trail of the Lonesome Pine (Eureka)
The Wild Geese – Special Edition (Arrow)
Unnatural Causes (Sony)

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> Buy Waltz With Bashir, Not Quite Hollywood and Blindness 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 27th March)

Categories
DVD & Blu-ray

UK DVD Releases: Monday 23rd March 2009

UK DVD Picks 23-03-09

DVD PICKS

Wallace & Gromit: A Matter of Loaf and Death (2 Entertain): Nick Park and the Aardman Animations team return for a fifth film involving characters Wallace and Gromit. 

After the splendid feature Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005), they have returned to the short form and this story sees Wallace and Gromit starting a new bakery business amidst the backdrop of bakers who have been mysteriously disappearing. 

The extras include:

  • When Wallace Met Harvey, A Day In The Life of Nick Park (Sunday Times Piece)
  • Tell Tale Games ‚Äď Half hour game
  • Making Of A Matter Of Loaf And Death
The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (BFI): This adapatation of the Alan Sillitoe book of the same name stars Tom Courtenay as a teenager rebelling against the system who discovers a talent for cross-country running. 

Directed by Tony Richardson, it was a key film of the British New Wave in the 1960s and also stars Michael Redgrave. 

This BFI re-release has several interesting extras which include:

  • 1.78:1 aspect ratio (see DVD Beaver for more details)
  • Subtitles for the hearing impaired
  • Commentary by film historian Robert Murphy, with lead actor Tom Courtenay and writer Alan Sillitoe
  • Video essay by cinematographer Walter Lassally (19mins)
  • Momma Don‚Äôt Allow¬†(1956), Tony Richardson‚Äôs Free Cinema documentary shot by Walter Lassally (22mins)
  • Illustrated booklet including essays and biographies
Spitting Image ‚Äď Series 5 (Network): The fifth season of this classic 80s satire show was originally broadcast on ITV in 1988.¬†

The highlights include Jeffrey Archer appearing on Mastermind, Neil Kinnock being sent on a Mission Impossible, Prince Edward’s attempts at guiding the year’s Royal Variety Show and Pavarotti giving a star turn at The Last Night of the Yobs. 

There are no extras.

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ALSO OUT
Amusement (EIV)
An Empress and The Warriors (Cine Asia)
At War With the Army (Network)
Bell-Bottom George (Sony)
Bleach Series 3 (Manga)
Blood Brothers (Metrodome)
Choke (Fox)
Get Cracking (Sony)
Green Street 2: Stand Your Ground (Lionsgate)
In Sickness and In Health Series 3 (2 Entertain)
Journey to the Center of the Earth (Lionsgate)
OSS-117: Cairo, Nest of Spies (ICA)
Quantum of Solace (Fox/MGM)
Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (BFI)
Southern Gothic (DNC Entertainment)
The 36th Chamber of Shaolin (Momentum)
The Secret Millionaire Series 1 (4DVD)
Tripods Series 1 & 2 (2 Entertain)
Yellowstone (2 Entertain)
Zack and Miri Make A Porno (EIV)

> Buy¬†Wallace & Gromit: A Matter of Loaf and Death,¬†The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner¬†and¬†Spitting Image ‚Äď Series 5¬†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 20th March)

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DVD & Blu-ray

UK DVD Releases: Monday 16th March 2009

UK DVD Releases 16-03-09

DVD PICKS

W. (Lionsgate): Oliver Stone’s quickly assembled biopic of George W Bush is a much more accomplished and thoughtful film than some UK reviews would have had you believes.

Starring Josh Brolin as Bush, it explores his life in flashback through the lens of the Iraq War in 2002-2004.

An impressive cast includes Elizabeth Banks (Laura Bush), James Cromwell (George H. W. Bush), Ellen Burstyn (Barbara Bush), Richard Dreyfuss (Dick Cheney), Thandie Newton (Condoleezza Rice) and Toby Jones (Karl Rove) and the performances are generally very good, especially Brolin in what is a very tough role.

The script by Stanley Weiser and Stone does a fine job at compressing Bush’s life through the lens of it’s defining episode.

The film deserves credit for attempting to get inside the head of the maligned president and not just indulging in a blunt hatchet job.

However, the tepid box office reaction suggested that the the nuances of the film got lost amongst liberal haters and the conservative champions and those in the middle just trying to forget him.

The plan for the film (independently financed with Chinese, German and Australian money) was for a timely release around the recent election.

But the election race itself overshadowed it by being more exciting than any script writer could have imagined, whilst Bush himself was consigned to the shadows for his final year in office by the likes of Barack Obama, Joe the Plumper, Sarah Palin and Tina Fey.

Extras on the DVD and Blu-ray disc include:

  • Audio Commentary with director Oliver Stone
  • Dangerous Dynasty: The Bush Presidency
  • No Stranger to Controversy: Oliver Stone’s George W. Bush
  • Deleted Scenes With Commentary by Director Oliver Stone

Elegy (Entertainment In Video): The latest adaptation of a Philip Roth novel hits the big screen with Ben Kingsley playing a cultural critic afraid of committing to a relationship with a younger woman (Penélope Cruz).

Although Roth has often been poorly served on the big screen, the choice of Isabel Coixet to direct proved an inspired one as she coaxes out fine performances from an impressive cast that also includes Dennis Hopper, Patricia Clarkson, Peter Sarsgaard and Debbie Harry. 

It didn’t do huge business at the box office but definitely deserves a look on DVD if you missed it at cinemas.

The only extras on the DVD are¬†‘Soundbites’ and ‘B-Roll footage’.¬†¬†

Easy Virtue (Pathe): A social comedy based on Noel Coward’s play of the same name which was itself  made into a silent movie by Alfred Hitchcock in 1928.

This version has been reshaped by director by Stephan Elliott as a much frothier concoction and stars Jessica Biel as an American socialite who marries a young Englishman (Ben Barnes) in the South of France before going to England to meet his stiff, upper-crust parents (Colin Firth, and Kristin Scott Thomas).

Whilst the setup might sound very familiar, the end result is actually a much more energetic affair with more laughs than you might expect.

Biel in particular, impresses in her most substantial role to date and Elliott wisely doesn’t take things too seriously but at the same time also gets in some nice digs at the joyless nature of the British upper classes.

Extras include: 

  • Making of Documentary
  • Director’s Commentary
  • Photo Gallery
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Outtakes
  • Jessica Biel Music Video (TBC)

* Listen to our interview with Stephan Elliot & Colin Firth about Easy Virtue *

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ALSO OUT

4:30 (Peccadillo Pictures)
88 Minutes (Warner)
A Mind To Kill ‚Äď Complete Series 1 (Network)
After… (Optimum)
Baby Mama (Universal)
Billy Connolly: Journey to the Edge of the World (Universal)
Brothers & Sisters – Season 2 (Disney)
Doctor Who: Attack of the Cybermen (2 Entertain)
Dolphins (Sony)
Eagle Eye (Paramount)
Espionage ‚Äď The Complete Series (Network)
How To Lose Friends and Alienate People (Paramount)
Lady in White РDirector’s Cut (Optimum)
Marple: The Collection (ITV DVD)
Minder (Fremantle)
Minder: The Complete Series (Fremantle)
Pride and Prejudice – Special Edition (2 Entertain)
Private Practice – Season 1 (Disney)
Smother (Optimum)
Sophie Scholl – Special Edition (ICA)
Space Buddies (Disney)
Strawberry and Chocolate (Mr. Bongo Films)
The Antichrist (Optimum)
The Duchess (Pathe)
The IT Crowd – Series 3 (2 Entertain)
The Oblong Box (Optimum)
The Rage (Anchor Bay)
The Women (EIV)
Thérèse Raquin (Optimum)
Vacancy (Sony)
War, Inc. (Lionsgate)
Woman Times Seven (Optimum)
Yangtse Incident (Optimum)

> Buy W., Elegy and Easy Virtue 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 13th March)

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DVD & Blu-ray

UK DVD Releases: Monday 9th March 2009

DVD Picks 09-03-09

DVD PICKS

L.A. Confidential (Warner): The acclaimed¬†1997¬†adaptation of¬†James Ellroy’s¬†novel¬†gets a¬†2-disc special edition re-release.¬†Directed by¬†Curtis Hanson¬†and co-written by¬†Brian Helgeland, it explores corruption within the Los Angeles¬†police¬†in the 1950s and its connection to¬†Hollywood.¬†

It provided substantial roles for Russell Crowe and Guy Pearce early in their mainstream careers and featured sterling work by Kim Basinger (who won an Oscar), Danny DeVito and Kevin Spacey in the supporting cast.

The film still stands up today as a deeply satisfying crime thriller and the extras are as follows:

Disc 1  
  • Commentary by Andrew Sarris, James Ellroy, Russell Crowe, Kevin Spacey, Guy Pearce, James Cromwell, Ruth Myers, David Strathairn, Kim Basinger, Brian Helgeland Jeannine Oppewall, Dante Spinotti and Danny DeVito
  • Music Only Track
  • Trailers and TV Spots
    • Showest
    • Nite Owl Action
    • Hollywood
    • Theatrical Trailer
    • Soundtrack Promo

Disc 2

  • Whatever You Desire: Making L.A. Confidential (29:30)
  • Sunlight and Shadow: The Visual Style of L.A. Confidential (21:30)
  • A True Ensemble: The Cast of L.A. Confidential (24:34)
  • L.A. Confidential: From Book to Screen (21:07)
  • Off the Record – includes interviews with cast and crew (18:50)
  • Photo Pitch – Recreated in this featurette is director Curtis Hanson‚Äôs original pitch for L.A. Confidential (8:26)
  • L.A. Confidential [2000 TV Pilot] (46:25)
  • The L.A. of L.A. Confidential Interactive Map Tour
    • Formosa Caf√©
    • Sid Hudgen’s Office
    • Victory Motel
    • Bidwell’s Office
    • Nick’s Liquor
    • Lynn Bracken’s House
    • Frolic’s Room
    • Pierce Patchett’s House
    • Movie Premiere Pot Bust
    • Mrs. Leffert’s House
    • Nite Owl Caf√©
    • Navarette’s Hole-up
    • Fitch House
    • City Hall¬†

Generation Kill (HBO): A 7-part HBO television miniseries based on the book of the same name by Evan Wright, adapted for television by David Simon (best known for his work on The Wire), Ed Burns, and Wright.

Wright’s book detailed his experiences¬†writing for¬†Rolling Stone¬†as an¬†embedded reporter¬†with the¬†1st Reconnaissance Battalion‚Ä鬆of the¬†United States Marine Corps¬†during the¬†2003 invasion of Iraq.

Although different in many ways to The Wire, it is an impressive portrait of the first 40 days of the Iraq war from the perspective of the US Marines.

Extras include:

  • Generation Kill: A Conversation with the 1st Recon Marines
  • Making Generation Kill: Includes exclusive interviews with writers/producers, cast & crew as well as discussions of the challenges faced while shooting in Africa for 133 days- 30 minutes featurette
  • Eric Ladin‚Äôs video diaries
  • 6 Audio commentaries include interviews with creators David Simons & Ed Burns, and with the author Evan Wright

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ALSO OUT

Brideshead Revisited (2Entertain)
Dynasty Season 1 (Paramount)
Dynasty Season 2 (Paramount)
Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day (Momentum)
Moses Jones (2 Entertain)
Natalie Wood Collection (Warner)
Penitentiary (Arrow)
Pinocchio (Disney)
Quarantine (Sony)
Repo! The Genetic Opera (Lionsgate)
Saw V (Lionsgate)
Splendor in the Grass (Warner)
The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (Disney)
The Rocker (Fox)
Watchmen: The Complete Motion Comic (Warner) 

> Buy L.A. Confidential and Generation Kill 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 6th March)

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DVD & Blu-ray

UK DVD Releases: Monday 2nd March 2009

DVD Releases 02-03-09

DVD PICKS

Ghost Town (Paramount): The first proper leading man role for Ricky Gervais in a mainstream Hollywood movie is a smartly written comedy about a grumpy English dentist in New York who starts seeing ghosts after an operation goes wrong.

Written and directed by David Koepp (who made the overlooked ghost story Stir of Echoes in 1999, as well as penning blockbusters like Spider-Man and Jurassic Park), it has a neat comic setup, solid supporting performances from Greg Kinnear and Tia Leoni and some surprisingly touching moments.

Available on DVD and Blu-ray, the extras are the same on both and include the following:

  • Commentary by David Koepp and Ricky Gervais
  • Making Ghost Town
  • Ghostly Effects
  • Some People Can Do It

Linha De Passe (Pathe): An interesting look at contemporary Brazil through the eyes of four poverty-stricken brothers who live in a favela neighborhood in São Paulo.

Directed by Walter Salles and Daniela Thomas, it premiered at the Cannes Film Festival back in May where one of its stars, Sandra Corveloni, won the award for Best Actress.

* Listen to an interview I did back in September with Walter Salles *

 

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ALSO OUT

100 Feet (DNC Entertainment)
Bad Biology (Revolver)
Burn Notice – Season 1 (Fox)
Charles Darwin & The Tree of Life (2 Entertain)
Ghost Town (Paramount)
Gran Casino (Optimum)
Incendiary (Optimum)
La Bohème (Axiom Films)
Le Cercle Rouge (Optimum)
Le Doulos (Optimum)
Leon Morin Pretre (Optimum)
My Dinner with Andre (Optimum)
My Name is Bruce (Anchor Bay)
Nights of Cabiria (Optimum)
Oz and James Drink to Britain (Acorn Media)
Pride & Glory (EIV)
Quiet Chaos (New Wave Films)
Secret Diary of a Call Girl: Series 2 (Warner)
The Baxter (Momentum)
The Federico Fellini Collection (Optimum)
The Jean-Pierre Melville Collection (Optimum)
The Midnight Meat Train (Lionsgate)
The Warlords (Metrodome)
Transsiberian (Momentum)
Victorian Farm (Acorn Media)
Waterloo Road – Series 3 (Acorn Media)
Wise Blood (Second Sight)

> Buy Ghost Town and Linha de Passe  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 27th February)

Categories
DVD & Blu-ray

UK DVD Releases: Monday 16th February 2009

UK DVD Picks 16-02-09

DVD PICKS

The Up Series (Network):  A re-issue for the 2005 edition of this remarkable documentary series which has followed the lives of fourteen British children since 1964.

In the original Seven Up (1963) 14 seven-year-old children from vastly different backgrounds were interviewed and every seven years, the director Michael Apted films new material from the original subjects in order to track the changes in their lives.

An evolving project, it is the longest-running documentary project in history and began as a study of the influence of class on schoolchildren in England.This instalment, the seventh, features returnees Tony, Bruce, Sue, Jackie, Suzy, Paul, Simon, Nick, Andrew, John, Lynn, and Neil.

It also incorporates footage from the previous films in order to provide background and ensure that the film stands on its own.¬†A moving and fascinating project, it highlights how interesting ‘normal’ life can be when looked at in a certain way.

Since the first series, each installment has broken down like this:

Filming for the next series, 56 Up, is expected in late 2011 or early 2012.

* Listen to an interview we did in 2007 with Michael Apted where we discussed the Up series *

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Amadeus (Warner Bros): It is a bit of a barren week for DVDs but if you own a Blu-ray player then I would highly reccommend¬†MiloŇ° Forman‘s 1984 film of Peter Schafer’s play.¬†

Although it takes some liberties with history, it is a fascinating study of the relationship between two composers in 18th century Vienna РAntonio Salieri (F. Murray Abraham), the successful court composer for Emperor Joseph of Austria, and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (Tom Hulce), the child prodigy who, while vulgar and irritating, writes some of the greatest music the world has ever heard.

The film unfolds in a series of flashbacks, as Salieri is consumed with jealously by Mozart’s natural talent, and is unable to accept the knowledge that he will never possess the genius of a man he cannot stand.

It was released in 1984 to widespread and richly deserved acclaim, with the film dominating the Oscars that year, scooping Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor.

The visuals and production design are marvellous and unlike some period dramas, it contains a gripping central drama with two powerhouse performances from Abraham and Hulce.

The 3-disc edition¬†includes all of the substantial special features from its standard DVD counterpart, the director’s cut of the film, a bonus compilation CD that contains some of Mozart’s finest music, and a Digital Copy for good measure.

The extras break down like this:

  • Audio Commentary: Director Milos Forman and writer Peter Shaffer sit down for an oft-off topic chat about the production, their careers, the research they compiled for the project, and the reasoning behind some of the more controversial decisions they made in regards to the story and their portrayal of Mozart. They cover a bit too much ground from the excellent documentary (more on that gem of a feature in a moment), but they still deliver a breezy, affable commentary with endless details, insights, and anecdotes.
  • The Making of Amadeus (SD, 61 minutes): This full-length documentary delves into the complete production, from the genesis of the project, to casting relative unknowns, to shooting on lavish sets that presented their own unique problems, and to the film’s release and reception. It’s a sprawling, thorough behind-the-scenes mammoth that should more than satisfy any fan of¬†Amadeus.
  • Special Compilation CD (57 minutes): An 8-track audio CD with music from Sir Neville Marriner and the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-fields Orchestra. The disc features an arrangement of¬†The Abduction from the Seraglio,¬†Chorus of the Janissaries, and¬†Ein Deutsches Kriegslied; the third movement of¬†Concerto for Two Pianos; Act IV of¬†Le nozze di Figaro; The Magic Flute, Aria No. 14,¬†Queen of the Night; the second movement ofPiano Concerto in D minor; the first movement of¬†Symphonie Concertante;¬†Six German Dances¬†Nos. 1-3; and Act II of¬†Don Giovanni. The set also includes a loose insert detailing each track and notes about its significance.
  • Original Theatrical Trailer (SD, 2 minutes)
  • 36-Page Production Booklet
  • Digital Copy Disc

While the supplemental package only consists of a documentary and a commentary, the features’ extensive and informative nature, the inclusion of the hour-long audio CD, and the quality of the 36-page production booklet make this release well worth its cost if you have joined the Blu-ray bandwagon.

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ALSO OUT

CSI Season 8 – Part 2 (Momentum)
Film Noir (Optimum)
High School Musical 3 (Disney)
Hulk Vs. (Lionsgate)
Law & Order – Season 6 (Universal Playback)
Law and Order Special Victims Unit – Season 7 (Universal Playback)
Picture This (Fox)
Righteous Kill (Lionsgate)
 The Fall Guy РSeason 2 (Fox)
The Mutant Chronicles (EIV)
Thick as Thieves (Lionsgate)
Whitechapel (2Entertain)
Within These Walls – Series 1 & Series 2 (Network)

> Buy The Up Series and Amadeus 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 13th February)

Categories
DVD & Blu-ray

UK DVD Releases: Monday 9th February 2009

UK DVD Picks 09-02-09

DVD PICKS

Gomorrah (Optimum): One of the outstanding films of last year was this dark exploration of crime in modern day Italy directed by Matteo Garrone. The narrative was based on true life stories from Roberto Saviano’s bestselling book about the Comorrah, a criminal organisation centred around southern Italy (especially Naples and Caserta).

There is a 13-year-old boy (Salvatore Abruzzese) who falls in with a criminal gang; a messenger (Gianfelice Imparato) who pays the families of prisoners; a young graduate (Carmine Paternoster) who gets involved in toxic waste management; a tailor (Salvatore Cantalupo) who wants to break free of local suppliers and two wannabe gangsters (Marco Macor and Ciro Petrone) who find a stash of weapons and want to act like Scarface.

It is impeccably cast and the ensemble acting was terrific, but the film also creates a hellishly believable modern landscape far removed from that of mob movies like The Godfather, Goodfellas or The Sopranos.

This was a world riddled with poverty, tension and despair where crime infects everyone like a rampant virus. It paints a devastating picture not only of modern Italy, but also how the tentacles of the Comorrah spread out to the wider world.

The film scooped the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival, where it deservedly screened to critical acclaim. Although at times it was an uncomfortable and brutal film to watch, it remains one of the most powerful and haunting crime films of the last decade.

It is available on 2-Disc DVD and Blu-ray Disc and the extras on both include:

  • Trailer
  • Interview with Roberto Saviano
  • Interview with Toni Servillo, Salvatore Cantalupo, Gianfelice Imparato
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Gomorrah ‚Äď 5 Stories: Making Of featurette

On DVD the film is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen with stereo and 5.1 surround audio and English subtitles. On Blu-ray the film is presented in 1080P 2.35:1 widescreen with 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and optional English subtitles. 

* Listen to our interview with Matteo Garrone about Gomorrah * 

I’ve Loved You So Long (Lionsgate):¬†An intelligent and beautifully crafted portrayal of family love which¬†revolved around two sisters named Juliette (Kristin Scott Thomas) and Lea (Elsa Zylberstein), who reconnect with one another after a prolonged absence.¬†

To say too much about the plot would spoil the cleverly constructed narrative which gradually reveals their past and the reasons as to why they have been separated for so long. 

Writer and director Philippe Claudel was better known as a novelist in his native France and this also shares many of the pleasures of well written fiction: nuanced characters, slow burning emotions and a real sense of the complexities of human relationships. 

This is a film in which a lot of characters spend a lot of time in rooms talking about themselves, but at the same time manages to burrow deeply into the tangled emotions of it’s protagonist. 

Much of the power comes from two marvellous central performances and Scott Thomas proved what a captivating screen presence in what is arguably the performance of her career so far.

It is available on DVD and Blu-ray Disc and the extras on both include:

  • Interview with Philippe Claudel
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Deleted Scenes with Audio Commentary

Burn After Reading (Universal): After the Oscar winning triumph of No Country For Old Men, the Coen Brothers return to more comic ground with this tale of a demoted CIA agent (John Malkovich) who loses the manuscript to his memoirs and then gets blackmailed by two clueless gym workers (Frances McDormand and Brad Pitt).

George Clooney, Tilda Swinton, Richard Jenkins and J.K. Simmons round out an impressive cast but this is actually a very quirky and mannered comedy. Critical reaction was mixed when it premiered at the Venice Film Festival and there is no doubt that some will find it a chilly, even condescending, film with its characters nearly all appearing to be either stupid, vain or clueless.

Despite some critics disliking it, I found much of it a welcome satire on the unapologetic idiocy of the Bush era, with some excellent comic performances. Universal will be hoping for a repeat of the US box office performance, in which the starry cast helped sell what is actually quite an uncommercial film in many respects.

Available on DVD and Blu-ray, it comes with the following extras:

  • Finding the Burn ‚Äď The Making of Burn After Reading
  • DC Insiders Run Amuck ‚Äď An all-star cast creates the world¬†of Washington, DC, insiders all trying to get ahead or find true love
  • Welcome Back, George ‚Äď This comedy piece features Mr. Clooney as he returns for his third collaboration with Ethan and Joel
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ALSO OUT

Against the Dark aka Late Night (Sony)
Angel (Lionsgate)
Are You Ready for Love? (Sony)
Bad Girls: The Musical (2Entertain)
Beehive: Series 1 (C4 DVD)
Death Defying Acts (Lionsgate)
Death Note – Volume 4 (Manga)
Hit and Run (Fox)
Merlin РVolume 2 (2 Entertain)
Moscow Zero (Sony)
Nights in Rodanthe (Warner)
Open Season 2 (Sony)
Plus One: Series 1 (C4 DVD)
Star Fleet: The Complete Series (Fremantle)
Strictly Come Dancing: The Best of 2008 (2Entertain)
Taken (Fox)
The Escapist (Vertigo Films)
The Gigolos (BFI)
The Heart of the Earth (Metrodome)
The House Bunny (Sony)
The Hunting Party (Momentum)
The Joy of Sex Education (BFI)
The New Pink Panther Show – Season 1 (Fox)
The Pink Panther and Friends Triple Pack (Fox)
The Secret Life of Elephants (2Entertain)
The Wackness (Revolver)
They Wait (Metrodome)
Thick as Thieves: The Complete Series (Network)

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> Buy¬†Gomorrah,¬†I’ve Loved You So Long¬†and¬†Burn After Reading¬†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 6th February)
Categories
DVD & Blu-ray

UK DVD Releases: Monday 2nd February 2009

DVD Picks 02-02-09

DVD PICKS

John Adams (HBO): Based on David McCullough’s Pulitzer Prize winning biography of the second president of the United States, this HBO miniseries arrives on DVD in the UK after winning several awards and garnering considerable critical acclaim.

For those unfamiliar with the title character, he was one of the key figures in the creation of the United States and its struggle for independence from Great Britain.

An impressive cast features Paul Giamatti as John Adams, Laura Linney as his wife Abigail, Stephen Dillane as Thomas Jefferson, David Morse as George Washington, Tom Wilkinson as Benjamin Franklin and Rufus Sewell as Alexander Hamilton.

The seven episodes chronicle the key chapters of Adams’ life, which span the first fifty years of the¬†United States:

  1. Join or Die:¬†The first episode deals with the¬†Boston Massacre¬†and Adams defending British troops because of his belief in a fair trial for everyone. We also see his cousin¬†Sam Adams¬†(Danny Huston) and his involvement in the ‚ÄúSons of Liberty,‚ÄĚ a group opposed to British rule. It also shows the tensions over the¬†Coercive Acts¬†and Adams’ election to the¬†First Continental Congress.
  2. Independence: The second episode covers the drafting of the Declaration of Independence and the disputes among the members of the Second Continental Congress towards declaring independence from Great Britain. Adams is depicted as the lead advocate for independence despite all the danger that entails.
  3. Don’t Tread On Me: The third episode sees Adams travel to Europe during the War of Independence to seek alliances with foreign nations hostile to Britain. He meets up with¬†Benjamin Franklin¬†in the court of¬†Louis XVI¬†and then goes on to the¬†Dutch Republic¬†to obtain financial support for the Revolution.
  4. Reunion:¬†The fourth episode shows Adams being notified of the end of the Revolutionary War before he is sent to Paris to negotiate the Treaty of Paris in 1783. While there, he spends time with Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson and reunites¬†with Abigail. After being appointed the first United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom he relocates to the British Court of St. James’s but is poorly received by the British. He then returns to Massachusetts for the first presidential election which sees George Washington become the first President of the United States and Adams first Vice President.
  5. Unite or Die: ¬†The fifth episode explores Adams as Vice-President, presiding over the¬†Senate¬†and the strains within¬†George Washington‘s cabinet members, especially¬†Thomas Jefferson¬†and¬†Alexander Hamilton, the struggle to enact the¬†Jay Treaty¬†with Britain and his inauguration as the second president.
  6. Unnecessary War: The sixth episode explores¬†Adams’s term as president and the bitter rift between the Hamilton-led¬†Federalists¬†and Jefferson-led¬†Republicans. Adams’s neutrality alienates both factions and his shaky relationship with his vice president, Thomas Jefferson, is damaged after a breakdown in relations with the French and the signing the¬†Alien and Sedition Acts. Adams disowns his son Charles, who soon dies as an alcoholic vagrant. He eventually prevents a war with France, but loses the election of 1800 to Jefferson and retires back home to Massachusetts.
  7. Peacefield: The concluding episode examines the last years of his life in retirement which include the tragic deaths of his daughter to cancer and his wife to typhoid fever. However, Adams does live long enough to see his son, John Quincy, elected president. Adams and Jefferson are reconciled through correspondence towards the end of their lives, and both die mere hours apart, on the 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.   

A hugely ambitious project, this miniseries offers us a fascinating insight into the early years of the United States as seen through the lens of one of the key founding fathers.

Director Tom Hooper (who was also behind HBO’s ‘Elizabeth I’) and writer Kirk Ellis have done an amazing job of distilling McCullough’s 700-page book into seven epiosdes that are rich with drama and detail.

Technically, it is first rate with some marvellous cinematography by Tak Fujimoto capturing the candle lit interiors and and outdoor landscapes superbly well.

The sets and locations are also extremely impressive, making clever use of CGI which is nicely woven into the action without ever being distracting.

It was filmed in the Colonial Williamsburg Historic Area in Virginia and Hungary for the European locations and also features 125 speaking roles, so it is mounted on a scale unusual even for an HBO project.

However, unlike some historical dramas it goes beyond the settings and costumes to grapple with the underlying themes and and issues at stake in the birth of the United States of America.

Part of what makes the series so attractive is the extraordinary nature of Adams’ life – one that encompassed so many crucial events in a remarkable period of history.

He personally embodied many of the ideals upon which the nation was founded and also had a remarkably strong relationship with Abigail, his feisty wife of 54 years.

Given the importance of the War of Independence you might wonder why it has been so poorly represented on screen but perhaps the shadow of the disastrous Revolution (1985) still hangs over anyone that attempts to pitch a project set in the era.

A good deal of credit then must go to producer Tom Hanks and HBO for attempting such a bold and sweeping project, with a reported budget of $100 million.

It has paid off with plaudits and¬†swept the board at the 2008 Emmy Awards with 17 nominations and 13 wins including, ‚ÄėOutstanding Actor‚Äô, ‚ÄėOutstanding Actress‚Äô and ‚ÄėOutstanding Mini-series‚Äô and¬†also won four awards at the 2009 Golden Globes.

This 3-disc, 7 part mini series clocks in at 501 minutes and comes with the following extras:

  • David McCullough – Painting with Words:¬†Explore the artistry of this two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and his approach to writing history.
  • Making of John Adams: A behind the scenes feature with the cast and crew as they talk about bringing the book to screen, and including an on-set and location tour.
  • On Screen Historical Guide: An on screen guide which pops up historically relevant information about John Adams and his time period during each of the 7 episodes.

Overall it is a landmark piece of television and one of the best DVD releases to come out this year.

Appaloosa (EIV): Based on the 2005 novel by Robert B. Parker, this superb western centres around a lawman named Virgil Cole (Ed Harris) and his deputy Everett Hitch (Viggo Mortensen), two friends who are hired to defend a lawless 1880s town from a murderous rancher (Jeremy Irons). Their efforts are disrupted and friendship tested by the arrival of a woman (Renée Zellweger).

Although it followed the fate of most westerns by dying at the UK box office, is a rich and highly accomplished film, well worth seeking out on DVD.

The extras on the disc include:

  • Commentary by Ed Harris and Screenwriter-Producer Robert Knott
  • Bringing the characters of Appaloosa to life
  • Historic accuracy of Appaloosa
  • The Town of Appaloosa
  • Dean Semler‚Äôs return to the Western
  • Deleted scenes
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ALSO OUT

Alfresco: The Complete Series (Network)
Category 6: Day of Destruction (Brightspark)
Death Race (Universal)
Faintheart (Vertigo Films)
Fear(s) of the Dark (Metrodome)
Igor (Mometnum)
Immortal Beloved (Icon)
JCVD (Revolver)
Life – Season 1 (Universal Playback)
Paris (Optimum)
Quo Vadis (Warner)
Redbelt (Sony)
Roadkill 2 (Fox)
RocknRolla (Warner)
Step Brothers (Sony)
The Accidental Husband (Momentum)
The Black Balloon (Icon)
The Chaser (Metrodome)
The Cosby Show – Season 4 (Universal Playback)
Trip to Asia: The Quest for Harmony (Axiom Films)
Unrelated (New Wave Films)

> Buy John Adams and Appaloosa 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 30th January)
Categories
DVD & Blu-ray

UK DVD Releases: Monday 26th January 2009

UK DVD Picks 26-01-09

DVD PICKS

Jar City (Universal): An Icelandic thriller from director Baltasar Kormakur which follows the unearthing of a murder which gradually reveals secrets of a genetic defect running through an entire community. Extras are limited but it is an anamorphic wide-screen presentation and has a choice between DD2.0 and DD5.1 audio.

The Fall (Momentum): The story of an injured stuntman (Lee Pace) in the early days of Hollywood who forms a friendship in hospital with a younger girl (Catinca Untaru) by telling her a fantasy story, which we then see in flashback.

Directed by Tarsem Singh, who previously directed The Cell as well as numerous award winning commercials and music videos, it was largely funded out of his own pocket and took many years to make.

Extras include:

  • Director‚Äôs commentary¬†
  • Deleted scenes¬†
  • Featurette: The Making of The Fall¬†

Although the absence of stars meant it didn’t get a major cinema release, it is a feast for the eyes and contains some truly remarkable imagery.

* Listen to our interview with Tarsem Singh about The Fall *

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ALSO OUT

Blackout (High Fliers)
Buena Vista Social Club (Axiom Films)
Divorce Iranian Style / Runaway (Second Run)
Driftwood (Anchor Bay)
Elite Squad (Optimum)
Escape from Sobibor (Network)
Fly Me To The Moon (Momentum)
Four Last Songs (Verve Pictures)
Good Dick (Universal)
Import Export (Trinity)
Kamikaze Girls (Third Window Films)
Last Days of Mussolini (Eureka)
Little Dorrit (Entertain)
Man of a Thousand Faces (Eureka)
Manufacturing Consent ‚Äď Noam Chomsky and the Media (BFI)
Married Life (Fox/MGM)
Memories of Matsuko (Third Window Films)
Noel Coward’s This Happy Breed РSpecial Edition (Network)
Shogun’s Samurai (Eureka)
Sleepwalking (Icon)
Survivors (2 Entertain)
The Fan (BFI)
The Living End (Verve Pictures)
The Moonstone (2 Entertain)
The Tattooist (Icon)
The Times of Harvey Milk (Drakes Avenue Pictures)
Trailer Park of Terror (Kaleidoscope Home Entertainment)
Tropic Thunder (Paramount)
Underbelly (Contender)
West End Jungle (Network)
Who Killed Teddy Bear (Network)
Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow (Eureka)
Youssou D’Nour – Return to Gor√©e (Axiom Films)

> Buy Jar City and The Fall 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 23rd January)
Categories
DVD & Blu-ray

UK DVD Releases: Monday 19th January 2009

UK DVD Releases 19-01-09
 
DVD PICKS

Recount (HBO): A fascinating drama that¬†chronicles the¬†2000 United States Presidential Election¬†Bush v. Gore¬†case between Governor of Texas¬†George W. Bush¬†and Vice President¬†Al Gore. Made for HBO, it has all the class and depth that you would expect from their best work. It boasts an impressive cast including:¬†Kevin Spacey¬†(as Gore’s campaign manager¬†Ron Klain);¬†Tom Wilkinson¬†(as¬†James Baker);¬†Denis Leary¬†(as¬†Michael Whouley);¬†John Hurt¬†(as¬†Warren Christopher);¬†Laura Dern¬†(as¬†Katherine Harris) and¬†Ed Begley, Jr.¬†(as¬†David Boies).¬†

Directed by Jay Roach and written by Danny Strong, it manages to avoid the clumsy political stereotypes of this kind of drama and manages to convey the humour and despair of one of the most extraordinary elections in US history. 

Extras include:

  • The True Inside Story of the 2000 Presidential Election: Washington correspondent Jake Tapper and Recount writer Danny Strong discuss the events that inspired the film
  • Audio commentary with director Jay Roach and writer Danny Strong
  • A conversation between Kevin Spacey and the real Ron Klain
  • A conversation between Bob Balaban and the real Ben Ginsberg

It was screened on More4 just before the US election and more recently on Channel 4, but if you didn’t see it then the DVD is an essential purchase just in time for the inauguration of Barack Obama. ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†

Eden Lake (Optimum): British horror films of late haven’t been very exciting or innovative but this one was something of an exception. Directed by James Watkins, it shows a¬†young couple (Kelly Reilly¬†and¬†Michael Fassbender) on a romantic getaway who get terrorised by a gang of obnoxious kids. Although the setup is a familiar Deliverance-style narrative, the acting and direction are a cut above films of this type and although there is violence, it avoids the tedious horror-porn cliches that have dragged the horror genre down of late.

Extras include:

  • 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • English DD2.0 Stereo and DD5.1 Surround
  • English HOH subtitles
  • Interviews with James Watkins, Kelly Reilly, Thomas Turgoose, Michael Fassbender and Christian Colson
  • Behind the scenes
  • Q & A with Director James Watkins
  • TV spots
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Extreme trailer

* Listen to our interview with director James Watkins about the film *

Masada (Universal Playback): Before the age of HBO, the established TV networks did actually invest in decent high-quality made-for-TV dramas. Often these took the form of a miniseries such as Masada, which aired on ABC in April 1981. It was a fictionalized account of the historical siege of the Masada citadel by legions of the Roman Empire in 73 A.D..

The script is based on the novel “The Antagonists” by¬†Ernest Gann. The siege ended when the Roman armies were able to enter the fortress, only to discover the¬†mass suicide¬†by the Jewish defenders when defeat became imminent.¬†

It starred¬†Peter O’Toole¬†as¬†Roman legion¬†commander¬†Lucius Flavius Silva,¬†Peter Strauss¬†as the Jewish commander Elazar ben Ya’ir, and¬†Barbara Carrera¬†as Silva’s Jewish mistress.¬†David Warner, as Pomponius Falco, won an Emmy for his role. O’Toole was nominated for an¬†Emmy Award¬†for his performance and it was his first appearance in an American miniseries.

Despite this being a made for TV drama, the costumes and production design are impressive and the performances are all solid, even if they occasionally slip into the Shakespearean style that seems to affect anything remotely historical doene in the English language.

Extras are limited to say the least but you are getting 6 hours of content, which is pretty good value. 

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ALSO OUT

Dallas – Season 10 (Warner)
Dawson’s Weekly (Network)
Doctor Who – The Next Doctor (2 Entertain)
Louis Theroux: The Strange and The Dangerous (2 Entertain)
Scrubs – Season 7 (Disney)
The Galton and Simpson Playhouse (Network)
The Sullivans – On the Brink of War (Fremantle)
X-Cross 2 (4Digital Asia)
You Don’t Mess With The Zohan (Sony)

> Buy Recount, Eden Lake and Masada 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 16th January)