blu-ray DVD & Blu-ray

UK DVD & Blu-ray Releases: Monday 7th June 2010



A Prophet (Optimum Home Entertainment): One of the standout films of last year was this scintillating prison drama about a lowly Arab criminal named Malik (Tahar Rahim) who is drawn into the inner circle of a Corsican mafia group, led by the ruthless César Luciani (Niels Arestrup). After a tough initiation, Malik learns how to read and write, and starts to learn how power works inside and outside the prison.

Directed by Jacques Audiard, it features two outstanding lead performances from Rahim and Arestrup, and quickly established itself as an instant classic, scooping the Grand Prix at Cannes and topping many critic’s end of year polls. Audiard doesn’t shy away from the dark brutalities of prison life, but manages to construct a compelling portrait of how criminal empires are born. An absolute must see. [Blu-ray / DVD]

A Single Man (Icon Home Entertainment): Adapted from Christopher Isherwood’s 1964 novel, it explores a day in the life of a grieving English college professor (Colin Firth) during the early 1960s. A highly impressive directorial debut for fashion designer Tom Ford, it co-stars Julianne Moore, Matthew Goode and Nicholas Hoult.

The stand out element here is a wonderfully nuanced performance from Firth, who was desrvedly nominated for an Oscar, along with some excellent production and costume design. Regrettably, Ford and co-screenwriter David Scearce tinker too much with the source novel (making one major alteration) but there is still much to admire here, not least the fact that Ford largely funded the project himself, which is highly unusual even for the richest filmmakers in Hollywood. [Blu-ray / DVD]

Ponyo (Optimum Home Entertainment): The latest animated film from renowned director Hayao Miyazaki is a story of friendship between a five-year-old boy and a goldfish princess who wants to be human.

Featuring the voices of Matt Damon, Liam Neeson, Cate Blanchett and Tina Fey it loosely adapts Hans Christian Anderson’s The Little Mermaid into a contemporary Japanese setting. Although not quite up to the standards of his finest work, this is still a delight. Stylistically, it is something of a departure with more sparse compositions but the positive vibes, reflected in the bright pastel colors and energy of the film make it a highly pleasurable introduction to Miyazaki’s work for newcomers. [Blu-ray + DVD]

Extras include:

  • Storyboards
  • The Five Genuises Who Created Ponyo – interviews
  • Japanese trailers and TV spots
  • Intro by Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall (3:19)
  • A Conversation with Hayao Miyazaki and John Lasseter (3:30)
  • Behind the Microphone: the Voices of Ponyo (6:01)
  • Creating Ponyo (3:55)
  • Ponyo and Fujimoto(2:56)
  • The Nursery (1:57)
  • Scoring Miyazaki (7:17)
  • The Producer’s Perspective: Telling the Story (2:25)
  • The Locations in Ponyo (9:39)
  • Hayao Miyazaki interview (14.00)
  • Toshio Suzuki interview (29:00)
  • Dubbing Session and interview with Japanese cast 25:00)
  • Music Video of the theme song (3:30)

Spaghetti Western Collection – A Fistful Of Dollars/The Good, The Bad and The Ugly/For A Few Dollars More (20th Century Fox Home Ent.): Sergio Leone’s iconic Western trilogy, which established Clint Eastwood as an international star, is re-released on Blu-ray as part of “Eastwood month”, celebrating his 80th birthday, and features A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More and The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

There has been a lot of debate about the transfer of these classic westerns to Blu-ray – with HD enthusiasts less than happy with the finished result – but the films are enduring enough to make a purchase worthwhile. The plentiful extras from the DVD versions are included with contributions from film historian Christopher Frayling and commentaries on all three films. The featurettes include Clint Eastwood looking back on the making of the trilogy, location comparisons and two solid pieces on Leone himself. [Blu-ray / DVD]

Food Inc. (Dogwoof): A disturbing but enlightening documentary from director Robert Kenner which explores the dark side of America’s food industry and the way in which deregulation has affected what people eat.

Featuring many eye opening sequences featuring chickens, pork chops, soybean seeds, and even tomatoes that won’t go bad, there is a lot here to chew on, both figuratively and literally. Featuring interviews with Eric Schlosser (author of Fast Food Nation) and progressive social entrepreneurs like it is a compelling tale of how food gets to US tables. [DVD]


Absolute Power (Warner Home Video)
Bad Boys (Sony Pictures Home Ent.)
Brothers (Lionsgate UK)
Chris Ryan’s Strike Back (2 Entertain)
Doctor Who – The New Series: 5 – Volume 1 (2 Entertain)
Exam (Sony Pictures Home Ent.)
Heartbreak Ridge (Warner Home Video)
Home (Universal Pictures)
Kelly’s Heroes (Warner Home Video) 
Pacific – The True Stories (Revolver Entertainment)
RoboGeisha (Showbox Media Group)
The Rookie (Warner Home Video) 
The Story of Science (2 Entertain) 
The Wolfman (Universal Pictures) 
Tora! Tora! Tora! (20th Century Fox Home Ent.) 
Where Eagles Dare (Warner Home Video)

The Best DVD and Blu-ray releases of 2009
UK cinema releases for Friday 4th June including She’s Out of My League, 4,3,2,1 and Death at a Funeral


UK Cinema Releases: Friday 12th February 2010



The Wolfman (Universal): A remake of the 1941 classic horror film of the same name, starring Benicio del Toro as an actor who returns to his English ancestral home owned by his father (Anthony Hopkins), only to come under the curse of a werewolf.

Directed by Joe Johnston, it co-stars Emily BluntHugo Weaving and has seemingly had its own curse: original director Mark Romanek left over creative differences; the script bears all the hallmarks of being rewritten extensively and the release has been put back a couple of times.

After the fiasco of Van Helsing, the 2004 release which made a mockery of the classic Universal horror characters, one might have hoped that the studio would get it right this time. Despite the excellent cast and impressive make-up effects by Rick Baker (famous for American Werewolf in London), the narrative is rushed and it feels like a classic case of too many cooks spoiling the broth.

The English locations are shot with a dull, misty gloom; the gore looks like it has been inserted in at later edit to appeal to teenage horror fanboys; too many comic Northern accents and an unforgivable finale where you cannot distinguish between two key characters.

The presence of ace editors Mark Goldblatt and Walter Murch would suggest that they were hired to re-edit the film into something coherent and respectable, but is a project with deep underlying script and directorial problems.

Universal have spent a fair amount marketing this, so they can expect decent business this weekend in the US and UK, but once word of mouth spreads and people read the mixed reviews, it will die a swift death. [Empire Leicester Square & Nationwide / 15]

Valentine’s Day (Warner Bros.): A patchwork romantic comedy about intertwining couples and singles in Los Angeles who break-up and make-up based on the pressures and expectations of Valentine’s Day.

An all star ensemble cast includes Julia RobertsBradley CooperAshton KutcherJessica AlbaJennifer GarnerPatrick DempseyShirley MacLaineTaylor LautnerTaylor SwiftJessica BielJamie FoxxAnne Hathaway and Topher Grace. Clearly aimed at less-than-discerning female audiences, it basically looks like this year’s He’s Just Not That Into You. Poor reviews will not stop the target audience from rushing to this like crack-heads sprinting to their dealers. [Nationwide / 12A]

Ponyo (Optimum Releasing): The latest animated film from Studio Ghibli, written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki is a tale of a goldfish named Ponyo who befriends a five-year-old human boy and wants to become a human girl.

A huge hit in Japan, it has garnered awards and critical acclaim and should do reasonable business before discovering a wider audience on DVD and Blu-ray.[Vue West End & Nationwide / U]

A Single Man (Icon): An adaptation of the novel by Christopher Isherwood, which explores a day in the life of an English college professor (Colin Firth) in Southern California in 1962.

The directorial debut of fashion designer Tom Ford is a tasteful and well acted affair with a nuanced and moving central performance by Firth and some fine supporting turns from Julianne MooreNicholas Hoult and Matthew Goode. The production design and period detail are first rate and it depicts the ideas of the book with considerable skill and grace.

There are some drawbacks: a significant plot change is misguided and some of the visuals are a little too mannered, but generally it is a classy affair and finally allows Firth to show audiences what he can do in a lead role. Icon will expect decent arthouse business on the back of critical acclaim and Firth’s Oscar and BAFTA nomination. [Curzons Mayfair, Soho & Nationwide trailer / 12A]

Percy Jackson And The Lightning Thief (20th Century Fox): Chris Columbus directs this adaptation of the first novel in the Percy Jackson & The Olympians series by Rick Riordan, which stars Logan Lerman in the title role alongside Brandon T. JacksonRosario DawsonSteve CooganUma ThurmanCatherine KeenerSean Bean and Pierce Brosnan.

This looks like a shameless Harry Potter clone (Columbus directed the first two Potter films) but it may get family audiences interested, despite the average reviews. [Vue West End & Nationwide / PG]

Battle For Terra (The Works): This 2007 film (yes, three years old) originally called Terra, is a 2007 CGI animated film redone in 3D about a peaceful alien planet facing destruction from colonization by the displaced remainder of the human race.

Directed by Aristomenis Tsirbas, it features the voices of Brian CoxLuke WilsonAmanda PeetDennis Quaid and Justin Long. [Empire Leicester Square & Nationwide / PG]


Food, Inc (Dogwoof): A documentary directed by Robert Kenner about the agricultural food production in the US, which explores how meat and vegetables produced by this system are less-than-healthy and environmentally-harmful.

Narrated by Michael Pollan and Eric Schlosser, it has garnered decent reviews and could make an art-house impact although it might depend heavily on word of mouth. [Curzon Soho, Odeon Panton St., Ritzy & Nationwide / PG]

My Name Is Khan (20th Century Fox): A Bollywood film directed by Karan Johar, with starring Shahrukh Khan and Kajol about a Muslim with Asberger’s Syndrome who emigrates to the United States. [Cineworld Shaftesbury Ave & Nationwide / 12A]

Takeshis’ (Artificial Eye): A 2005 (yes, that’s five years old!) Japanese film directed, written, edited by, and starring Takeshi Kitano in a self-reflexive film about himself. [Curzon Renoir / 15]

Winter In Wartime (Kaleidoscope Entertainment): An adaptation of the novel by Jan Terlouw about a boy who tries to help the resistance during World War II by helping an English pilot stay out of German hands. [Key Cities / 12A]

Anonyma: A Woman In Berlin (Metrodome Distribution): A drama about a woman who tries to survive the invasion of Berlin by the Soviet troops during the last days of World War II. [ICA Cinema]

Beyond The Pole (Shooting Pictures): A documentary film crew follows the first carbon neutral, organic, vegetarian expedition ever to attempt the North Pole. [ICA Cinema / Key Cities from March)

Letter From An Unknown Woman (bfi Distribution): A reissue of the 1948 Max Ophüls film about based on the novella by Stefan Zweig, starring Joan FontaineLouis JourdanMady Christians and Marcel Journet. [BFI Southbank, Everyman Hampstead & Key Cities]

Pretty Woman (Park Circus): A reissue for Garry Marshall’s 1990 romantic comedy about an LA hooker (Julia Roberts) who falls for a millionaire businessman (Richard Gere). [Cineworld Haymarket & Nationwide / 15]


DVD and Blu-ray Picks for Monday 8th February including Adventureland, Mystic River and Paper Heart
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