DVD & Blu-ray

UK DVD & Blu-ray Releases: Monday 26th September 2011


Ben Hur (Warner Home Video): William Wyler’s 1959 historical epic was one of the largest productions in Hollywood history. The tale of a Jewish prince (Charlton Heston) in Judea around the time of Jesus, it won 11 Oscars and is filled with numerous set pieces, including the famous chariot race, and an iconic Miklós Rózsa score. This Blu-ray has been eagerly awaited by cinephiles as it has been remastered at 6K resolution from a 65mm negative and is presented in the original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.76:1, complete with remastered Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. Extras include: an extensive documentaries tracing the history of the story, as well as Heston’s career, an audio commentary from film historian T Gene Hatcher and Heston and numerous other production featurettes. One of the essential purchases of the year. [Buy it on Blu-ray from Amazon UK]

My Voyage to Italy (Mr Bongo Films): Martin Scorsese’s 1999 documentary is a revealing exploration of post-war Italian cinema which blends a healthy collection of clips with the director talking about his families immigrant experience. Not only is the director a warm and accessible guide, but he makes shrewd observations about such classics as Bicycle Thieves, Umberto D, Voyage to Italy and La Dolce Vita whilst also pointing out lesser known titles like Senso and Europa 51. An essential purchase for any fan of cinema. [Buy it on DVD from Amazon UK]

Manhunter (StudioCanal): The first film to portray Hannibal Lecter on screen was this stylish 1986 thriller directed by Michael Mann, based on the Robert Harris novel Red Dragon. When a haunted cop (William Petersen) is asked to track down a serial killer (Tom Noonan), he needs the help of an imprisoned psychiatrist (Brian Cox) but the hunt soon brings up demons from his past. Shot around the time of the Miami Vice TV show, this established the distinctive visual look of Mann’s films for the next 15 years and holds up very well today. [Buy it on Blu-ray from Amazon UK]

Airplane! (Paramount Home Video): This ingenious 1980 spoof of disaster movies of the 1970s still holds up as one of the finest comedies ever made. When food poisoning affects a flight crew, a retired war pilot (Robert Hays) has to step in and help save the day despite a ‘drinking problem’. Directed by the David and Jerry Zucker and written with Jim Abrahams, the jokes appear at a rapid rate and the cast features Julie Hagerty, Leslie Nielsen, Lloyd Bridges and Robert Stack. The AFI voted it amongst their top 10 comedies in 2000 and the honour is richly deserved. [Buy it on Blu-ray from Amazon UK]


Beverly Hills Cop (Paramount Home Entertainment) [Blu-ray / Normal]
Blitz (Lionsgate UK) [Blu-ray / Normal]
Cannibal Holocaust: Ruggero Deodato’s New Edit (Shameless) [Blu-ray / Limited Edition]
Cat O’ Nine Tails (Arrow Video) [Blu-ray / Normal]
Clear and Present Danger (Paramount Home Entertainment) [Blu-ray / Normal]
Cold Mountain (Optimum Home Entertainment) [Blu-ray / Normal]
Fringe: Season 3 (Warner Home Video) [Blu-ray / Normal]
Harakiri (Eureka) [Blu-ray / with DVD – Double Play]
Hawaii Five-0: Season 1 (Paramount Home Entertainment) [Blu-ray / Normal]
House: Season 7 (Universal/Playback) [Blu-ray / Box Set]
Kill the Irishman (Anchor Bay Entertainment UK) [Blu-ray / Normal]
Le Mans: 2011 (Duke) [Blu-ray / with DVD – Double Play]
Nirvana: Live at Paramount (Universal Music) [Blu-ray / Remastered]
Patriot Games (Paramount Home Entertainment) [Blu-ray / Normal]
Planes, Trains and Automobiles (Paramount Home Entertainment) [Blu-ray / Normal]
Shall We Dance? (Optimum Home Entertainment) [Blu-ray / Normal]
The Hunt for Red October (Paramount Home Entertainment) [Blu-ray / Normal]
The Killing: Season 1 (20th Century Fox Home Ent.) [Blu-ray / Normal]
The Naked Gun (Paramount Home Entertainment) [Blu-ray / Normal]
Thor (Paramount Home Entertainment) [Blu-ray / Normal / Digital Copy]
Tucker and Dale Vs Evil (Sony Pictures Home Ent.) [Blu-ray / Normal]
Turnout (Revolver Entertainment) [Blu-ray / Normal]

UK Cinema Releases for Friday 23rd September 2011
The Best DVD & Blu-ray releases of 2010


DVD: My Voyage to Italy

Martin Scorsese’s classic 1999 documentary on Italian cinema gets a welcome release on DVD this month.

In addition to being one of the great directors of his generation, Scorsese has long been a passionate advocate for cinema itself by making documentaries and helping create the World Cinema Foundation.

In 1995 he made the four hour A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese Through American Movies, which examined key films up to 1969, focusing on directors such as D.W. Griffith, Charlie Chaplin, Orson Welles, Elia Kazan, Nicholas Ray and Stanley Kubrick.

Four years later he took a similar journey into the heart of Italian cinema and explored the films which had such an effect on him and his relatives growing up in New York.

Scorsese was born to parents who both worked in the Garment district and his father’s parents had emigrated from the province of Palermo in Sicily.

As a boy his parents and older brother would take him to the movies but he would also catch Italian films of the post-war era on the emerging medium of television.

In those days television was still in its infancy and the fledgling stations needed programming which they often filled with Italian movies.

As sets were quite rare, relatives and friends would gather round to watch films in his family apartment in 253 Elizabeth Street.

It was whilst watching movies dealing with the pain of post-war Italy that Scorsese saw his grandparents (who hardly spoke English) powerfully affected by what was on screen.

In that was born a desire to see more Italian cinema and this four hour documentary charts the landmark films and directors of that era, including Vittorio de Sica, Luchino Visconti, Federico Fellini, Roberto Rosselini and Michelangelo Antonioni.

Scorsese introduces various segments and through judicious use of clips and an informed, eloquent voiceover takes us on a journey of the following films:

Given his wealth of knowledge and infectious passion, just watching this DVD is like attending a the best film class you never had and it’s worth remembering that after attending NYU, Scorsese remained there as a teaching assistant and eventually a professor of Film.

Incidentally, amongst his students at this time was a young Oliver Stone, who may have been an influence on the central character of Taxi Driver (1976).

He knows what he’s talking about and gives precise, eloquent descriptions of each movie, using his years of experience in front of a screen as well as behind the camera.

Part of what makes My Voyage to Italy so special is that Scorsese brings the same passion and intelligence to describing these films as to those he has made.

Unlike some directors, he’s always retained his enthusiasm as a viewer which triggered his desire to make films.

There are numerous astute observations laced throughout, including:

  • How Rome, Open City (1945) essentially led to the birth of Italian neo-realism
  • The impact of L’Amore (1948) on US cinema after it led to a key Supreme Court decision which stated film was a form of artistic expression protected by the First Amendment
  • The influence of Chaplin on Vittorio De Sica’s Umberto D (1952)
  • How a complex shot of a controversial battle in Luscio Visconti’s Senso (1954) led to the studio burning the negative elements of those scenes
  • How the term ‘paparazzi‘ became a popular term after the name of a character in La Dolce Vita (1960)
  • The slow burn appeal of Journey to Italy (1954) and how it was championed by French New Wave directors such as Godard and Truffaut.
  • The elliptical appeal of L’avventura (1960) and Antonioni’s precise use of the frame
  • The dream-like appeal of Fellini’s (1963) which is like a ‘visual stream of consciousness that keeps the audience in a constant state of surprise’ and how it is the ‘purest expression of love for the cinema’ that Scorsese knows of.

These films might seem to some like ancient cinematic history, but their treatment of social issues have a new relevance in the current recession as people struggle with harsh economic conditions.

Modern versions of the young boy in Germany, Year Zero, the father and son in Bicycle Thieves and the lonely old man in Umberto D can probably be found in any modern city just some of the characters struggling to survive in a cruel world.

But most of all this is 246 minutes of one of the great US directors imparting his passion about some of the most important films of the 20th century.

If you care about the medium, then it is an essential purchase.

My Voyage to Italy is released on DVD by Mr Bongo Films on September 26th

> Buy My Voyage to Italy on DVD from Amazon UK
> Find out more about Italian neo-realism at Green Cine
> Martin Scorsese at Wikipedia
> Scorsese talking about the documentary on Charlie Rose in 1999