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DVD & Blu-ray

UK DVD Releases: Monday 12th January 2009

UK DVD Picks 12-01-09

DVD PICKS

Standard Operating Procedure (Sony): A disturbing but fascinating documentary in which director Errol Morris examines the photographs taken during the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in 2003. Using interviews with the soldiers, Morris weaves their stories together with the actual images, re-enactments and graphics to create a chilling portrait of one of the most notorious episodes of the Iraq war.

The regular DVD has the following features:

  • 2.40:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • English, French, Italian and Spanish DD5.1 Surround
  • Subtitles: English, English HOH, Arabic, Croatian, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French (Parisian), German, Greek, Hindi, Hungarian, Icelandic, Italian, Norwegian, Portuguese (Portugal), Slovene, Spanish (Castilian), Swedish, Turkish
  • Director’s Commentary
  • Deleted Scenes

The Blu-ray Disc is coded for all regions (A, B and C) and features:

  • 1080P 2.40:1 Widescreen
  • English, Italian (VO) and Spanish (VO) 5.1 Dolby TrueHD
  • French (VO) 5.1 Dolby Digital
  • Subtitles: English, English HOH, Arabic, Croatian, Danish, Finnish, French, Hindi, Hungarian, Italian, Norwegian, Portuguese, Slovene, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish
  • Commentary with Director Errol Morris
  • Los Angeles Premiere Q&A with Director Errol Morris
  • Berlin Film Festival Press Conference
  • Diplomacy in the Age of Terror: The Impact of Diminished Rule of Law on International Relations
  • 9 New Additional Scenes
  • Nearly 2 hours of new interview footage featuring Tim Dugan, Hydrue Joyner, Steven Jordan, Jeremy Sivits & Samuel Provance

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Pineapple Express (Sony): A comedy about two pot-smoking slackers (Seth Rogen and James Franco) who go on the run, directed by David Gordon Green (a big change of pace for him after films like George Washington and All The Real Girls). Co-written by Rogen and produced by Judd Apatow it is an amusing caper although it isn’t quite as laugh-out-loud funny as previous Apatow productions like Superbad and Knocked Up. Despite that there are enough decent action sequences and gags to recommend it.

The 2-disc DVD breaks down like this:

Disc 1: Main Feature

  • Includes Theatrical & Extended Cuts of the film
  • Anamorphic Widescreen
  • English DD5.1 Surround
  • Polish and Turkish Dolby Surround
  • English Audio Description Track
  • Subtitles: English, English HOH + many more including Arabic, Bulgarian, Croatian, Dutch and Hindi
  • Commentary with filmmakers and cast
  • Extended and Alternate Scenes
  • Gag Reel
  • The Making of Pineapple Express
  • Injury Report Featurette

Disc 2: Extra Features

  • Bonus Digital Copy of the film
  • 5 Behind-the-Scenes Featurettes
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Seth’s Apartment
  • Raw Footage
  • Rehearsal Footage
  • And Much More!

The Blu-ray Disc features all the content of the 2-Disc DVD plus an exclusive game ‘Ride the Express’. Features include:

  • Includes Theatrical & Extended Cuts of the film
  • 1080P 2.40:1 Widescreen
  • English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD
  • English Audio Description Track
  • English, English HOH and Hindi subtitles
  • Ride the Express Game – BD Exclusive
  • Commentary with filmmakers and cast
  • Extended and Alternate Scenes
  • Gag Reel
  • The Making of Pineapple Express
  • Injury Report Featurette
  • Bonus Digital Copy of the film
  • 5 Behind-the-Scenes Featurettes
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Seth’s Apartment
  • Raw Footage
  • Rehearsal Footage

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Somers Town (Optimum): The latest film from Shane Meadows didn’t reach the heights of This is England, but was still a charming urban tale of an unlikely friendship between two teenagers in an area of North LondonThomas Turgoose and Piotr Jagiello were very good in the two lead roles and Perry Benson offered solid support as an Arsenal supporting deckchair seller.

The regular DVD and the Blu-ray disc have the same extras which are:

  • 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • English DD2.0 Stereo and DD5.1 Surround
  • English HOH subtitles
  • Interviews with Shane Meadows, Thomas Turgoose, Piotr Jagiello and Perry Benson
  • Shane Meadows Master class at Tribeca Film Festival
  • TV Spots
  • Trailer

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ALSO OUT

Apparitions (2 Entertain)
Aristocrats (Acorn Media)
Just Add Water (Sony)
Red Sorghum (Drakes Avenue Pictures)
Resident Evil: Degeneration (Sony)
Sakuran (ICA)
Speak Easily (Powis Square Pictures)
The Big Bang Theory – Season 1 (Warner)
The Devil’s Chair (Sony)
The Diary of Anne Frank (Contender)
The Sadist (Powis Square Pictures)

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> Buy Standard Operating ProcedurePineapple Express and Somers Town 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 9th January)
Categories
DVD & Blu-ray

The Best DVDs of 2008

Best DVDs of 2008

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Every year I usually compile a list of the best films but since I started doing regular DVD roundups it was clear that there was a lot of re-issues and special editions of films worth compiling in an end of year list.

This is my selection of the best films to come out on DVD during 2008 and all of these titles are ones that I would recommend to buy or put in your online rental queue.

When you click on the title of each entry it will take you to my original post on it or the entry in Amazon where you can buy the DVD.

JANUARY

FEBRUARY

MARCH

APRIL

MAY

JUNE

Best DVD releases of 2008

JULY

AUGUST

SEPTEMBER

OCTOBER

NOVEMBER

DECEMBER

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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
Check the latest DVD prices at DVD Price Check

> Check out the best selling DVDs at Play
> Amazon US pick their best DVDs of 2008 (these are Region 1 DVDs)

Categories
DVD & Blu-ray

UK DVD Releases: Monday 15th-29th December 2008

DVD PICK

Man on Wire DVD coverMan on Wire (Icon): In what is quite a barren Christmas period for notable DVDs, there is only one that truly stands out which is this stunning documentary by director James Marsh,who made Wisconsin Death Trip

It chronicles Frenchman Philippe Petit, who on August 7th 1974 gave an incredible high-wire performance by walking between between the Twin Towers of New York’s World Trade Center eight times in one hour.

The act itself almost defies belief but what the film does brilliantly is capture the tension, beauty and brilliance of Petit’s highly illegal operation. 

Born out of a dream and an idea, Petit and his team of accomplices spent eight months planning the execution of their ‘coup’ down to the most intricate detail.

Like a team of bank robbers planning their most ambitious heist, the tasks they faced seemed virtually impossible: they would have to bypass the WTC’s security; smuggle the wire and rigging equipment into the towers; suspend the wire between the towers; secure the wire at the correct tension to withstand the winds and the swaying of the buildings; to rig it secretly by night – all without being caught.

Then there would be the walk itself.

One of the finest documentaries to come out in the last few years, the DVD has the following extras:

  • Audio commentary from James Marsh (director) and Simon Chinn (producer)
  • Interview with Phillipe Petit
  • Unseen footage

 * Listen to an interview we did with Philippe Petit about the film *

Man on Wire is released on Friday 26th December

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ALSO OUT

Friday 26th December 

Battle of Wits (Metrodome)
Lipstick Jungle – Season 1 (Universal Playback)
Mum & Dad (Revolver Entertainment)
Steep (Metrodome)
The Love Guru (Paramount)
The Strangers (Universal)

Monday 29th December 

Babylon A.D. (Fox)
Bangkok Dangerous (EIV)
Ben X (Momentum)
Cass (Optimum)
Death Note: L – Change the World (4 Digital Asia)
Doctor Who: Battlefield 2 (2Entertain)
Hellsing Ultimate Volume 2 (Manga)
Make it Happen (Optimum)
Naruto The Movie 2 : Legend of the Stone of Gelel (Manga)

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> Buy Man on Wire 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 12th December)

Categories
DVD & Blu-ray

UK DVD Releases: Monday 8th December 2008

DVD PICKS

The Dark Knight (Warner): The best blockbuster of the year gets a handsome DVD release from Warner Bros. If you missed it at cinemas this sequel to 2005’s Batman Begins reunites director Christopher Nolan and star Christian Bale, who reprises the role of Bruce Wayne/Batman. With the back story of the first film out of the way, this jumps head first into the ongoing war against crime in Gotham City.

Now the forces of law and order under Batman, Lt Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) and District Attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) have to deal with a new criminal known as The Joker (Heath Ledger). Maggie Gyllenhaal joins the cast as Rachel Dawes (replacing Katie Holmes) whilst Michael Caine (as Alfred) and Morgan Freeman (as Lucius Fox) both return in key supportg roles.

Managing to transcend the usual limitations of the comic book genre, its ambitious approach owes more to crime epics like Heat and The Godfather than the usual summer comic book adaptation. The admirably dark and oppressive tone is cleverly offset by some ingenious plotting and some truly memorable performances, especially from Ledger and Oldman.

Overall the technical contributions are outstanding – of particular not are Wally Pfister’s cinematography, Nathan Crowley’s production design and Lee Smith’s editing. Special mention must also go to the diverting score by Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard, which sadly won’t be up for Oscar consideration due to a technicality.

It really struck a chord at the US box office – it is currently second only to Titanic there –  and managed to tap into current themes of terror, corruption and surveillance without being preachy. 

The extras on the 2-disc edition include:

  • Gotham Uncovered: How Christopher Nolan and his team developed the new Bat-suit and Bat-pod and composer Hans Zimmer musically characterized The Joker’s reign of chaos.
  • The Dark Knight IMAX® Scenes: View these 6 action-packed sequences – shot on the largest format possible – in their original IMAX framing, just as they were intended
  • Gotham Tonight: 6 episodes of Gotham Cable’s premier news program
  • The Galleries: Poster art and production stills
  • Digital Copy of the Feature Film

On the Blu-ray disc the following features are included:

  • 1080P 2.40:1 Widescreen
  • English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD
  • English 5.1, English 2.0, French 5.1 and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital
  • English, French and Spanish subtitles (Movie & Select Bonus Material)

Disc 1: Movie with Focus Points

  •  Gotham Uncovered: Creation of a Scene – Director Christopher Nolan and creative collaborators unmask the detail and planning behind the film including stunt staging, filming in IMAX, the new bat-suit and bat-pod…and more.

Disc 2: Special Features

  • Batman Tech: The incredible gadgets and tools (in Hi-Def)
  • Batman Unmasked: The Psychology of The Dark Knight – Delve into the psyche of Bruce Wayne and the world of batman through real-world psychotherapy (in Hi-Def)
  • Gotham Tonight: 6 episodes of Gotham Cable’s Premier News Program
  • The Galleries: The Jokes Cards, Concept Art, Poster Art, Production Stills, Trailers & TV Spots

Hellboy II: The Golden Army (Universal): Another sequel for a comic book character sees another hugely talented filmmaker impress in the mainstream realm. Although this wasn’t quite as good as The Dark Knight, director Guillermo Del Toro managed to demonstrate his usual intelligence, wit and style in this follow up to the 2004 original.

Ron Perlman returns as the title character, a demonic tough guy (turned good) now working for the US government as a secret agent. After a ruthless leader (Luke Goss) tries to awaken an unstoppable army of creatures, Hellboy and his colleagues have to try and stop him.

What’s impressive here is the power of Del Toro’s imagination, which has already contributed to such marvellous films as CronosThe Devil’s Backbone and Pan’s Labyrinth and the breezy charm of the script which doesn’t feel inhibited about including a Barry Manilow sing-a-long.    

The extras on the 2-disc special edition include the following:

  • 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • English DD5.1 Surround
  • Main Feature Disc Subtitles: English SDH
  • Bonus Disc Subtitles: English SDH, French, Italian, Spanish, German, Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Dutch, Greek, Hebrew, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Turkish, Slovenian, Arabic, Danish, Finnish, Hungarian, Icelandic, Norwegian, Swedish
  • Hellboy: In Service of the Demon – Over two hours of an extensive, in-depth look at the creation of Hellboy II
  • Director’s Notebook
  • Production Workshop Puppet Theatre
  • Image Galleries
  • Deleted Scenes with Optional Director’s Commentary
  • Troll Market Tour with Guillermo del Toro
  • Feature Commentary with Guillermo del Toro

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ALSO OUT 

Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging (Paramount)
Austin Powers: Goldmember (EIV)
Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (EIV) 
Star Wars: The Clone Wars (Warner)
The Fox and The Child (Pathé)
The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (Manga)
The Stranglers On Stage On Screen (Eureka)
The Wire: The Complete Series (HBO)

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> Buy The Dark Knight and Hellboy II: The Golden Army 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 5th December)

Categories
DVD & Blu-ray

UK DVD Releases: Monday 1st December 2008

DVD PICKS

Hancock (Sony): Although this Will Smith summer blockbuster attracted a mixed critical response it remains an entertaining and interesting riff on the superhero genre. The biggest movie star in the world plays a depressed, drunken superman who is reviled by Los Angeles because he causes mass destruction when fighting crime. After saving the life of a PR man (Justin Bateman) he is persuaded to change his ways and become a proper hero but complications ensue when his past catches up with him. Directed by Peter Berg (Very Bad Things, The Kingdom) from a script by Vince Gilligan & Vincent Ngo, the action is efficiently handled and the humor (especially between bateman and Smith) nicely played.

Thr two-disc edition is the one to get as it Includes both the theatrical and extended versions of the film with the following features:

  • 2.40:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • English and Czech DD5.1 Surround
  • English Audio Description
  • Subtitles (Main Feature): English, English HOH, Czech, Dutch, Hindi and Slovak
  • Subtitles (Extra Features): English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Dutch and Portuguese
  • Superhumans: The Making of Hancock behind-the-scenes documentary
  • Seeing the Future – takes eight scenes from the actual film footage or B-roll footage and shows side by side comparisons of the conception during the pre-visualization creation
  • Building a Better Hero special effects featurette
  • Bumps and Bruises – breakdown of action sequences in the film
  • Mere Mortals: Behind the Scenes with ‘Dirty Pete.’ – Interview with director Peter Berg
  • Home Life – – Shows via time lapse photography the building of the homes and buildings used in the film
  • Suiting Up – featurette on the film’s costume design
  • Digital copy of the theatrical cut for consumers to play on their PC or PSP® (PlayStation® Portable) System  

The French Connection – Bluray (Fox): Although I’m still in a state of Blu-ray limbo (a subject of a future post) this is one title I’d be really keen on getting. A landmark film of the early 1970s, it is the story of two New York City policemen trying to intercept a heroin shipment coming in from France. Directed by William Friedkin, it stars Gene Hackman (as detective Jimmy “Popeye” Doyle), Fernando Rey (as French heroin smuggler Alain Charnier) and Roy Scheider (as Jimmy’s partner Buddy “Cloudy” Russo). It also features Eddie Egan and Sonny “Cloudy” Grosso, the real-life police detectives on whom Hackman’s and Scheider’s characters were based.

The Blu-ray disc has exclusive new high-def content including an introduction by William Friedkin, an ‘Anatomy of a Chase’ featurette, Friedkin and Grosso remembering the real French Connection, and a featurette about the music of Don Ellis.

It also features the following:

Disc 1:

  • William Friedkin Introduction to The French Connection
  • Audio Commentary by William Friedkin
  • Audio Commentary by Gene Hackman and Roy Schieder
  • Trivia Track
  • Isolated Score Track
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • French Connection II BD Trailer

Disc 2:

  • 9 Deleted Scenes with Optional Audio Commentary by William Friedkin (12 mins 50 secs)
  • Anatomy of a Chase (20 mins 36 secs)
  • Hackman on Doyle (12 mins 14 secs)
  • Friedman and Grosso remember the real French Connection (19 mins 34 secs)
  • Scene of the Crime (6 mins 19 mins)
  • Colour Timing The French Connection (13 mins 21 secs)
  • Cop Jazz: The Music of Don Ellis (10 mins 11 secs)
  • Rouge Cop: The Noir Connection (13 mins 56 secs)
  • BBC Documentary: The Poughkeepsie Shuffle (53 mins)
  • Making the Connection: The Untold Stories of The French Connection (60 mins)

There is also a double disc edition that contains The French Connection 2.

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ALSO OUT

24: Redemption (Fox)
Aled’s Christmas Carols (2 Entertain)
Einstein and Eddington (2 Entertain)
Just the Ticket: The British Transport Films Collection Volume Nine (BFI)
Lotte Reiniger – The Fairy Tale Films (BFI)
Meet Dave (Fox)
Phil Daniels’ Football Match Day Madness (Fremantle)
Space Chimps (EIV)
Strictly Come Dancing The Workout With Kelly & Flavia (2 Entertain)
The British Transport Films Collection (BFI)
The Memory Keeper’s Daughter (Sony)
The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (Universal)
Thomas Kinkade’s Christmas Cottage (Lionsgate)

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> Buy Hancock and The French Connection 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 28th November)