DVD & Blu-ray

UK DVD & Blu-ray Releases: Monday 2nd April 2012


Hugo (EIV): Martin Scorsese’s tribute to Georges Melies used the latest filmmaking technology to craft a passionate love letter to the early days of cinema and one of its true pioneers. [Read our full review] [Buy it on DVD or Blu-ray]

The Deep Blue Sea (Artificial Eye): Terence Davies’ adaptation of Terrence Rattigan’s play was a welcome return to the big screen, with juicy roles for Rachel Weisz, Tom Hiddleston and Simon Russell Beale. [Buy it on DVD or Blu-ray]

Another Earth (20th Century Fox): A low-budget drama with a big sci-fi premise offers us a startling blend of genres. The debut feature of writer-director Mike Cahill has fashioned a story that’s like an episode of The Twilight Zone scripted by Kryzstof Kieslowski. [Buy it on DVD and Blu-ray]


Alvin and the Chipmunks: Collection (20th Century Fox Home Ent.) [Blu-ray / + DVD and Digital Copy]
Life Is Beautiful (Miramax) [Blu-ray / Special Edition]
Queen Elizabeth II: The Diamond Celebration (Odeon Entertainment) [Blu-ray / Normal]
The Emperor and the White Snake (Metrodome Distribution) [Blu-ray / Normal]
The Revenant (Universal Pictures) [Blu-ray / Normal]
Titanic (1953 Version) (20th Century Fox Home Ent.) [Blu-ray / Normal]

Recent DVD & Blu-ray picks
The Best DVD and Blu-ray releases of 2011



UK Cinema Releases: Friday 9th December 2011


Puss In Boots (Paramount/DreamWorks Animation): Animated 3D spin-off form the Shrek series with the title character (Antonio Banderas) taking centre stage, whilst Kitty (Salma Hayek) is introduced as his love interest. Directed by Chris Miller, it explores his early years as he teams with Humpty Dumpty to steal the famed Goose that lays the Golden Eggs. [Nationwide / PG]

Another Earth (20th Century Fox): Indie sci-fi drama about an ambitious MIT student (Brit Marling) who crosses paths with a music teacher (William Mapother) after a car accident on the night a new planet was discovered. Directed by Mike Cahill, it was one of the big hits of Sundance this year and is a rare example of big ideas being executed well on a small budget. [Key cities / 12A] [Read our full review here]

New Year’s Eve (Warner Bros.): In what appears to be an unofficial sequel to last year’s Valentine’s Day, it follows a group of characters in New York on erm… New Year’s Eve. Directed by Garry Marshall, it stars Lea Michele, Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer and Hilary Swank. [Nationwide / 12A]

A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas (Warner Bros.): Six years after their Guantanamo Bay adventure, stoner buds Harold Lee and Kumar Patel cause a holiday fracas by inadvertently burning down Harold’s father-in-law’s prize Christmas tree. Directed by Todd Strauss-Schulson, it stars Kal Penn, John Cho and Neil Patrick Harris. [Select cities / 18]


The Well Digger’s Daughter (Pathe): A father in pre-WWII France is torn between his sense of honour and his love for his daughter when she gets in trouble with the wealthy son of a shopkeeper. Directed by and starring Daniel Auteuil, it also features Kad Merad, Sabine Azéma and Jean-Pierre Darroussin. [Selected cinemas / PG]

> Get local cinema showtimes at Google Movies or FindAnyFilm
Recent UK DVD & Blu-ray releases


News Thoughts

Earth 2

The discovery of an Earth-like planet coincides with the UK release of a film about …an Earth-like planet.

Back in January a film called Another Earth debuted to considerable surprise and acclaim at the Sundance film festival.

The central premise involves a student (Brit Marling) and music teacher (William Mapother) whose fates intersect amidst the discovery of another planet identical to Earth.

It was one of the most acclaimed titles of the festival, winning the Alfred P. Sloan Prize and getting acquired by Fox Searchlight Pictures for distribution.

Then in February, astronomers announced that the advanced Kepler Space Telescope had helped them identify around 54 planets, five of which were “Earth-sized” and where conditions could possibly sustain life.

Yesterday, NASA revealed further developments at the first Kepler Science Conference, where they confirmed the existence of an Earth-like planet.

Named Kepler 22-b, it lies around 600 light-years away, is about 2.4 times the size of earth and is the closest confirmed planet to our own.

Although it is unclear if it is made mostly of rock, gas or liquid, the main reason it has been dubbed an “Earth 2.0” is because it revolves around a star and circles around it every 290 days.

The Wikipedia entry does the numbers:

The planet’s radius is roughly 2.4 times the radius of Earth; it is 600 light years away from Earth, in orbit around the G-type star Kepler 22.

If it has an Earth-like density (5.515 g/cm3) then it would mass 13.8 Earths while its surface gravity would be 2.4 times Earth’s.

If it has water like density (1 g/cm3) then it would mass 2.5 Earths and have a surface gravity of 0.43 times Earth’s.

The distance from Kepler-22b to its star is about 15% less than the distance from Earth to the Sun, hence its orbit is about 85% of Earth’s orbit.

One orbital revolution around its star takes 289.9 days.

The light output of Kepler-22b’s star is about 25% less than that of the Sun.

Another Earth opened in the US at selected cinemas during the summer and got released on Blu-ray and DVD there last week.

It opens in UK cinemas this week and in an age where online agencies are desperately trying to drum up interest with phony virals, here is a genuine one that has fallen right into their lap with perfect timing.

IndieWire recently hosted a deleted scene from the film which shows a news clip of the discovery and there is another scene where Brit Marling’s character looks up the website for a chance to travel to Earth 2:

This isn’t possible in real life yet as 600 million light years presents a challenge for even the fastest rocket.

That said, this year did see the basic foundation of modern physics rocked by two experiments at CERN, which appeared to demonstrate that neutrinos may travel faster than light, even though some later cast doubt on that.

What this shows is that life can imitate art, as our technical realities catch up with our creative fantasies.

Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey seemed to predict the iPad and Siri, The Truman Show predicted the rise of reality TV in the 2000s and Minority Report foresaw multi-touch computing and the Kinect.

In terms of timing Another Earth seems spooky, but there are other films which had news stories dovetail with their release.

The China Syndrome (1979) – a drama about an accident at a nuclear power plant – was released on March 16th 1979, just 12 days before the Three Mile Island nuclear accident in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania.

In the film, someone actually says that the China Syndrome would render “an area the size of Pennsylvania” permanently uninhabitable.

John Frankenheimer made two political thrillers in the early 1960s – The Manchurian Candidate (1962) and Seven Days in May (1964) – which had creepy parallels with the Kennedy assassination and the Cuban missile crisis.

Wag the Dog (1997) – a satire about a spin doctor trying to cover up a presidential affair – opened just one month before the Lewinsky scandal blew up in January 1998.

Lars Von Trier’s Melancholia, which opened earlier this year, also featured a premise where there was another planet heading towards earth.

So whilst there are precedents, the news of another ‘earth’ in the same week Another Earth actually opens in the UK seems like viral marketing from a superior alien intelligence.

> Another Earth
> More about Kepler 22-b at Wikipedia
> Follow director Mike Cahill and actress-writer Brit Marling on Twitter

Cinema Reviews Thoughts

Another Earth

A low-budget drama with a big sci-fi premise offers us a startling blend of genres.

Although the science fiction is frequently associated with gigantic effects-driven spectacles, the debut feature of writer-director Mike Cahill offers us an intriguing alternative.

The central premise involves a student (Brit Marling) and music teacher (William Mapother) whose fates intersect after a car accident.

After four years pass, they gradually get to know each other properly and whilst the discovery of another planet identical to Earth lingers in the background.

Beginning with a major plot development right up front, it is hard to go into to details about the plot without significant spoilers, except to say that the narrative is consistently surprising and enjoyable.

Part of that is because Cahill and co-writer Marling don’t go for the obvious sci-fi tropes that have been done to death, as they have fashioned a story that’s like an episode of The Twilight Zone scripted by Kryzstof Kieslowski.

Despite the sci-fi elements, a large part of the drama is given over to themes of grief, regret and secrets, but it skilfully avoids being a signature, self-indulgent indie movie.

Part of this is down to the tantalising backdrop of an identical planet, skilfully evoked via news clips, reaction shots and recurring images of the sky.

But it is also a surprisingly powerful study of loss, regret and possible redemption.

In an age where seismic news events seem to be experienced through ever more unbelievable news updates on television, the film had a tangible resonance.

Despite the fantastical premise, emotions and events are wisely kept grounded in a believable reality.

Essentially this boils down to two actors who really deliver the goods: Marling has a natural screen presence and pulls off a difficult part with some aplomb.

Her confident delivery of dialogue was probably due to the fact that she co-wrote them, but there are some difficult scenes here which she handles extraordinarily well.

Likewise Mapother, who for most of the film has to make his grief-stricken character interesting but, to his credit, he convincingly rebuilds his inner and outer life.

The production makes highly effective use of his low-budget, shooting with a handheld HD camera in such a way that doesn’t call attention to itself, but feels organic to the story.

Visual compositions are also impressive, with characters often tastefully framed through an appropriately chilly palette that’s heavy on the blues and greys.

News footage, often done so badly in bigger budget films, is very convincing here and a couple of scenes are brilliantly effective through ideas and execution alone, rather than expensive graphics.

The electronic score by Fall on Your Sword is perhaps the joker in the pack – a pulsating melange of beats and hooks that fits the film perfectly, giving it unexpected shifts in mood and pace.

Shot in and around New Haven, Connecticut for a reported budget of under $200,000, this represents a significant commercial and artistic achievement, which was why it was one of the big breakout hits at Sundance earlier this year with Fox Searchlight swiftly acquiring the rights.

Since the collapse of the indie film bubble in 2008, Sundance in recent times has rediscovered its original spirit by providing a welcome platform for films like Winter’s Bone, Exit Through The Gift Shop, Senna and Martha Marcy May Marlene.

All of these didn’t come off the studio production line, nor were they vanity projects looking for faux-indie credibility or a bidding war studios would later regret.

Another Earth is a good example of a modern Sundance success – a genuine independent that has broken through to the mainstream by force of its ideas and execution alone.

In an age where genre movies are designed to please carefully targeted demographics, this feels suitably fresh.

I’ll close by mentioning that it features one of the most effective closing shots of any film in recent memory.

> Official site
> Reviews at MUBi and Metacritic