blu-ray DVD & Blu-ray

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


An Education (E1 Entertainment): Coming of age dramas can often fall prey to cliché or sentimentality but this manages to avoid avoid such pitfalls to become something really special. Based on journalist Lynn Barber‘s memoir of growing up in the early 1960s, it explores the life lessons learnt by a 16 year old girl named Jenny (Carey Mulligan, outstanding in the central role) as she falls for an older man (Peter Sarsgaard) and the glamorous lifestyle he appears to offer her. Skilfully directed by Lone Scherfig from an intelligent and heartfelt script by Nick Hornby, it evokes the charming drabness of the period whilst accurately depicting the emotional minefield that teenage years can be. [Buy on Blu-ray / Buy on DVD]

Bright Star (20th Century Fox Home Ent.): The latest film from director Jane Campion explores the last years of John Keats (Ben Whishaw) and his relationship with Fanny Brawne (Abbie Cornish). Beautifully filmed and acted, it is a surprise that this hasn’t got a UK Blu-ray release given the stunning Vermeer-like cinematography from Greig Fraser. [Buy on DVD]

Toy Story (Walt Disney): The first feature from Pixar finally arrives on the Blu-ray format. The 1995 film directed by John Lasseter had a brilliantly simple concept: what happens to toys when they’re not played with? The main characters it introduced us to were: Cowboy Woody (voiced by Tom Hanks), the favourite toy of a young boy named Andy, who tries to calm his colleagues during a difficult time of year – the birthday – when they may be replaced by newer toys. Along comes the snazzy Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), who mistakenly believes he is a real space ranger and not a toy. What could have been cheesy and overly commercial was instead a magical, innovative landmark in film history. Lasseter and his team won a richly deserved special Oscar “for the development and inspired application of techniques that have made possible the first feature-length computer-animated film”. [Buy on Blu-ray / Buy on DVD]

Toy Story 2 (Walt Disney): The 1999 sequel to Toy Story gets a simultaneous Blu-ray release in preparation for the third film, which is out at cinemas in June. As the only sequel Pixar have done (so far) Toy Story managed to preserve the quality of the original and in certain sequences surpass it. Toy collecting becomes the focus here, as Woody (Tom Hanks) – a rare doll from a popular 60s children’s show – gets kidnapped by a greedy collector and Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) hatches a rescue mission with Andy’s other toys. A massive box office success, the second film demonstrated that Pixar were not only innovators in terms of CG animation but that they had tremendous story telling skills which have continued to delight audiences over the last decade. [Buy on Blu-ray / Buy on DVD]

Afterschool (Network Releasing): A US indie which explores the experiences of a teenage student at an elite East Coast school who accidentally captures on camera the tragic deaths of two female classmates. Their lives become memorialised as part of an audio-visual assignment intended to facilitate the campus-wide healing process, with the technophile Robert eventually overseeing the project, which creates unexpected tensions and unease. An interesting and distinctive debut film from first time director Antonio Campos which explores new and disturbing issues for a generation who have grown up in a world connected by the web. [Buy on DVD]



Julie and Julia (Sony Pictures) [Buy on Blu-ray / Buy on DVD]
Kill Zone (Showbox Media Group) [Buy on Blu-ray / Buy on DVD]
Saw VI (Lionsgate UK) [Buy on Blu-ray / Buy on DVD]
The Great Rift (2 Entertain) [Buy on Blu-ray / Buy on DVD]
200 Motels (Tony Palmer Films) [Buy on DVD]
Amelia (20th Century Fox Home Ent.) [Buy on DVD]
Don’t Worry About Me (Verve Pictures) [Buy on DVD]
Mister Lonely (ICA) [Buy on DVD]
Motherhood (Metrodome Distribution) [Buy on DVD]
Reservoir Dogs (Lionsgate UK) [Buy on Blu-ray / Buy on DVD]
Taking Woodstock (Universal Pictures) [Buy on Blu-ray / Buy on DVD]
The Mentalist: Season 1 (Warner Home Video) [Buy on DVD]
Track 29 (Optimum Home Entertainment) [Buy on DVD]
True Lies (20th Century Fox Home Ent.) [Buy on DVD]

> The Best DVD and Blu-ray releases of 2009
> UK cinema releases for Friday 5th March including Alice in Wonderland, Legion, Chloe, Case 39 and Ondine


UK Cinema Releases: Friday 21st August 2009

UK Cinema Releases 21-08-09


Inglourious Basterds (Universal): Quentin Tarantino‘s long awaited World War II film done in the style of a spaghetti western. A fantasy of sorts (with significant chunks of history rewritten for effect) it involves a large ensemble cast of characters, who are slowly drawn into a tale of revenge.

There is a young Jewish woman (Melanie Laurent) who escapes the slaughter of her family by a ‘Jew hunting’ Nazi (Christoph Waltz); a group of Nazi-hunting commandos known as ‘The Basterds’ led by a Southern lieutenant (Brad Pitt); a British agent (Michael Fassbender) behind enemy lines; a Nazi war hero (Daniel Bruhl) who has become a film star; an German actress double agent (Diane Kruger) and the Nazi high command of Hitler (Martin Wuttke) and Goebbels (Sylvester Groth).

It will almost certainly divide audiences and critics, but this, for me, was a significant return to form for the writer and director. It may not be up to the standards of Pulp Fiction, but it does contain some of his best writing and is filled with numerous delights, notably the performances of Christoph Waltz and Melanie Laurent; Robert Richardson’s cinematography and some superbly worked sequences.

Universal and The Weinstein Company have marketed this as a Brad Pitt World War II movie which is misleading given that his character (although important) is just one slice in a much larger pie. That said it probably is the way to go after the mixed reception at Cannes and the importance of a strong opening weekend.

This movie will not please everyone, it will piss off some critics, it will cause heated debates and it may or may not even help save The Weinstein Company (who partnered with Universal on this $70 million production).

But in a summer that has given us soulless, mechanical junk like Wolverine,Terminator: SalvationTransformers 2 and G.I. Joe, I am grateful that it exists and hopeful that it will be the platform for Tarantino to explore new creative territory. [Odeon Leicester Square & Nationwide (Previews 15 & 16 Aug) / Cert 18]

* Click here for longer thoughts on Inglourious Basterds *

Dance Flick (Paramount): Another spoof from the Wayans Brothers, although this time they are writing and producing with their nephew Damien Dante Wayans taking directing duties.

This time the target is the musical/dance genre and the plot involves the now familiar formula of a naive girl (Shoshana Bush) who uses dance to achieve her dreams, and the street smart guy (Damon Wayans Jnr) who helps her along the way. It was released in America back in May to decidedly mixed reviews although Paramount will be hoping younger audiences check it out. [Odeon West End & Nationwide / Cert 15]

I Love You Beth Cooper (20th Century Fox): A high school comedy set in a high school, based on the novel by Larry Doyle, about a graduating high school student (Paul Rust) who states to the entire gymnasium that he’s had a crush on cheerleader Beth Cooper (Hayden Panettiere) for six years.

Directed by Chris Columbus, the film has already met with disappointing US box office and some fairly excoriating reviews. Fox will be hoping younger males turn out but the box office prospects here look similar to the US. [Empire Leicester Square & Nationwide / Cert 15]

Shorts (Warner Bros.): A kids film directed by Robert Rodriguez in the Spy Kids mould about a young boy (Jimmy Bennett) who discovers a wish-granting rock that causes chaos when everyone tries to get their hands on it.

The lack of buzz and middling reviews might see this slip quietly under the radar despite the fact that it is the summer holidays. [Vue Leicester Square & Nationwide (Previews 15/16 Aug) / Cert PG]



Afterschool (Network Releasing): Avery different kind of high school movie directed by Antonio Campos that explores a YouTube-obsessed outcast (Ezra Miller) at a privileged US prep school.

Adopting the style of DIY online video, it explores the effect of technology on school life in the style of Michael Haneke and Gus Van Sant. Although it has a limited release it may well get decent arthouse buzz and a longer shelf life on DVD. [Odeon Panton Street & Key Cities / Cert 18]

Chiko (Vertigo Films): A German gangster drama about a young drug dealer (Denis Moschitto) coping on the mean streets of Hamburg is the debut film from Turkish-German director Özgür Yildirim. [Odeon Panton Street & Key Cities / Cert 18]

Shooting Robert King (Quadrant Films): A documentary about the American photojournalist Robert King, a veteran of Sarajevo and Grozny, that was shot over a decade. [ICA Cinema (Previews Renoir – 16 Aug) / Cert 18]


UK cinema releases for August 2009
DVD & Blu-ray Picks for this week (including Angel Heart, La Haine and Near Dark (W/C Monday 17th August)