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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 – a 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’s 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 Soufriére: 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’s 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” – an exclusive 20-minute interview with director Gillo Pontecorvo
  • “The Real Battle Of Algiers” – 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 ‘special relationship’ 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
  • ‘Shifty’ soundtrack by MC Riz, Sway & Plan B – music video
  • ‘Number One’ by Tinchy Stryder Ft. N-Dubz – music video (from the producers of Shifty)
  • Eran Creevy’s 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 – 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)

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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:

  • “Coke, Dick and the First Kick” commentary
  • “Heart, 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)

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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 – a 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’s Mask (3:39mins)
  • Viral Video: 10 Years Of Dr. Manhattan (1970: NBS Special News Report) (3:05mins)
  • Music Video – 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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> 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 July)

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DVD & Blu-ray

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 “His Visit: Day 1” with creator David Milch
  • Decoding John: The Making of a Dream Sequence
  • Audio Commentary on Episode 10 “His Visit Day 9” 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 DixonMos Def as Chuck BerryColumbus Short as Little WalterJeffrey 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)

> 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 July)