DVD & Blu-ray

UK DVD Releases: Monday 22nd June 2009

UK DVD Picks 22-06-09


Vicky Cristina Barcelona (Optimum): A return to form for Woody Allen, after two major misfires (Scoop and Cassandra’s Dream).

The story involves two American women, Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and Cristina (Scarlett Johansson) who spend a summer in Barcelona, where they meet an artist (Javier Bardem) who is attracted to both of them while still enamored of his ex-wife (Penelope Cruz).

Although Hall and Johansson are fine in the two lead roles, it is Bardem and Cruz who give the film an extra flavour with both showing a wonderful light touch for comedy.

Cruz deservedly scooped an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress earlier this year and the film got some of the best reviews Allen has had in some time. The extras are a little thin on the ground (the trailer) but the film is a breezy delight.

Look out for a cameo by the Spanish actor Joan Pera, who often voices Allen in Spanish dubs of his movies.

Hardware (Optimum): This 1990 cult sci-fi has often been hard to track down on DVD due to various rights problems and now Optimum have finally re-issued a special edition on DVD and Blu-ray.

Directed by Richard Stanley, the story involves the head of a killing cyborg found in the desert, which ends up repairing itself and wreaking havoc in the apartment of a sculptress.

It stars Dylan McDermott, Stacey Travis, John Lynch and William Hootkins.

The extras include:

  • Audio commentary with Richard Stanley & Paul Trijbits
  • Deleted, Extended & Behind the Scenes
  • Sea of Perdition
  • The Early Days Richard Stanley Super 8 Movies
  • The Voice of The Moon
  • Original Hardware Promo

* Listen to my interview with Richard Stanley here *

Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist (Sony): A charming romantic-comedy, minus the usual cliches of the genre, with Michael Cera and Kat Dennings two teenagers who fall in love during one sleepless night in New York while searching for their favourite band’s unannounced show.

The extras on the DVD are:

  • 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • English, Catalan and Spanish DD5.1 Surround
  • English Audio Description Track
  • Subtitles: English, English HOH, Danish, Finnish, Hindi, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish
  • Director and Cast Commentary
  • Director and Writers Commentary
  • Deleted & Alternate Scenes
  • Outtakes
  • A Nick & Norah Puppet Show by Kat Dennings
  • Ari Graynor’s Video Diary: A Look Behind-the-Scenes
  • Storyboard Animations with optional commentary
  • Storyboard Animation Piece
  • Faux Interview with Kat Dennings and Eddie Kaye Thomas
  • Peter Sollett’s Photo Album
  • Music Video: “Middle Management” by Bishop Allen

The extras on the Blu-ray Disc (coded for all regions A, B and C) include:

  • 1080P 1.85:1 Widescreen
  • English and Italian 5.1 Dolby TrueHD
  • English Audio Description Track 5.1
  • Subtitles: English, English HOH, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Hindi, Italian, Norwegian, Swedish
  • Cinechat
  • Trivia Track
  • Telestrator Commentary with Director and Cast
  • Nick & Norah’s interactive playlist – create and share a playlist of your favourite Nick & Norah songs
  • Director and Writers Commentary
  • Deleted & Alternate Scenes
  • Outtakes
  • A Nick & Norah Puppet Show by Kat Dennings
  • Ari Graynor’s Video Diary: A Look Behind-the-Scenes
  • Storyboard Animations with optional commentary
  • Storyboard Animation Piece
  • Faux Interview with Kat Dennings and Eddie Kaye Thomas
  • Peter Sollett’s Photo Album
  • Music Video: “Middle Management” by Bishop Allen



A Hill in Korea (Optimum)
A Waste of Shame (Demand DVD)
Anchoress (BFI)
Before Stonewall (Peccadillo Pictures)
Belle Toujours (ICA)
Bulldog Drummond At Bay (Optimum)
Doctor Who: Delta and the Bannermen (2 Entertain)
Electra Glide in Blue (Optimum)
Franklyn (E1 Entertainment)
Keep Your Seats Please (Optimum)
Nine Men (Optimum)
Notorious (Fox)
Occupation (2 Entertain)
Painted Boats (Optimum)
Punisher: War Zone (Sony)
Queer as Folk Season 4 (Warner)
Return of Bulldog Drummond (Optimum)
Robin Hood Series 3 (2 Entertain)
Stargate Atlantis Season 5 Volume 4 (Fox)
The Pink Panther 2 (Fox)
The Unborn (Universal)
This Filthy Earth (BFI)
Tokyo Sonata (Eureka/Masters of Cinema)

> 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 19th June)


UK Cinema Releases: Friday 6th February 2009

UK Cinema Releases 06-02-09


The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button (Warner Bros): This high profile big budget adaptation an F. Scott Fitzgerald short story stars Brad Pitt as the title character, a man who is born as an old man and ages backwards throughout his life. Directed by David Fincher, from a script written by Eric Roth and Robin Swicord, it also stars Cate BlanchettTaraji P. HensonJulia OrmondTilda Swinton and Jason Flemyng. Told in flashback, it is an epic tale of one man’s life during the 20th century, from in 1918 to 2005.

On first viewing I admired it more as a technical exercise and was puzzled as to why a director like Fincher was attracted to this material. Why did they alter the original story so much? What were the contemporary references all about? And wasn’t it a bit too similar to Forrest Gump? (also scripted by Roth). However, on second viewing I found it to be a much richer experience – it is essentially a fable about love and loss and gains its power from the central concept of living life backwards.

Far from being a gimmick, it actually becomes a profound way of dramatising the ageing process. Forget the Oscar fuelled hype and snarky critical hate surrounding this film and approach it with an open mind. The makeup, visual effects, cinematography, score and performances make it an unusual and affecting big budget rarity.

Because studios don’t like making expensive dramas like this, Paramount have split costs with Warner Bros, with the latter being the UK distributor. The Oscar nominations and star power of Pitt and Blanchett should give it a top 2 finish at least, even though the length (166 mins) will curb its earnings. [Cert 12A / Nationwide]

Doubt (Walt Disney): In 2005, John Patrick Shanley wrote the hit play Doubt: A Parable, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and Tony Award for Best Play. Now Shanley has directed a film version called Doubt which stars Meryl Streep as Sister Aloysius, the stern principal of a Catholic school in the Bronx during the 1960s, who comes into conflict with a reforming priest named Father Flynn (Philip Seymour Hoffman).

A strong supporting cast includes Amy Adams and Viola Davis and although at times it is a little too stagey, the strength of the original play shines through and gives the impressive cast a chance to flex their considerable acting muscles. Although some audiences will be left frustrated by the climax, it is worth remembering that it contains the very crux of the play and is also what gives it a rich and lasting power. Disney and Miramax will be hoping that upscale audiences will check this out, but it faces tough competition from Benjamin Button and other awards season fare. [Cert 15 / Nationwide]

Bolt (Walt Disney): The first film from the rejuvenated Walt Disney Animation Studios headed by Pixar supremo John Lasseter tells the story of a dog named Bolt (voiced by John Travolta) who doesn’t realise that the TV show he stars in isn’t actually real. Also featuring the voices of Miley CyrusMalcolm McDowellSusie Essman and Mark Walton, it was directed by Chris Williams and Byron Howard.

The effect of Lasseter overseeing this film has had a marked on effect on the animation and writing, which contains similar levels of wit and emotion apparent in the best Pixar movies. Added to this, is the impressive Dolby 3-D which is less gimicky than recent films like Beowulf, instead featuring a more organic visual approach. Disney can be hopeful that family audiences will power this to the top slot despite it being a very busy weekend at the UK box office. [Cert PG / Vue West End & Nationwide]

* Listen to our interview with John Lasseter about Bolt *

He’s Just Not That Into You (Entertainment): A romantic comedy squarely aimed at female audiences based on the self-help book of the same name by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo, which, in turn, was based on a line of dialogue in Sex and the City. The ensemble cast is impressive: Ben AffleckJennifer AnistonDrew BarrymoreScarlett JohanssonJustin LongJennifer ConnellyGinnifer GoodwinKevin Connolly and Bradley Cooper.

The plot revolves around the romantic misadventures of several individuals in their twenties and thirties and the common thread is that one person in each relationship is more enamored with the other person. Directed by Ken Kwapis it looks likely to ensnare gullible females but the lack of marketing buzz and mixed reviews would appear to be ominous signs for its box office potential. The recent remix of the trailer with the Christian Bale meltdown might actually be funnier than the film. [Cert 12A/ Nationwide]

Punisher War Zone (Sony Pictures): A fairly unnecessary reboot for the Marvel Comics vigilante The Punisher. British actor Ray Stevenson replaces Thomas Jane as Frank Castle and in this story wages a one-man war against a horribly disfigured mob boss known as Jigsaw (no, not the Saw villain) played by Dominic West. Lionsgate tried to ressurect this a superviolent anti-superhero franchise but it failed at the US box office and Sony (who have UK distribution) will have to look to ancillary markets to find any profit. [Cert 18 / Nationwide]

The Secret Of Moonacre (Warner Bros.): An adaptation of the novel The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge, which is set in the 1840’s and follows Maria Merryweather (Dakota Blue Richards), a 13 year old orphan on her journey to the mysterious Moonacre Manor in the West Country. There she discovers that she is the last Moon Princess and she has only until the next full moon to undo the misdeeds of her ancestors and save the Moonacre estate. Although some talented actors such as Tim Curry, Ioan Gruffudd, and Natascha McElhone feature in the supporting cast, this faces a struggle to capture family audiences with Disney’s Bolt looking to be dominant film for that market this week. [Cert U / Nationwide]

Vicky Cristina Barcelona (Optimum Releasing): After making the worst film of his career, Woody Allen returns with his best in years, a witty and sparkling tale of  two American women, Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and Cristina (Scarlett Johansson) who spend a summer in Barcelona and both fall for a local artist (Javier Bardem) who has an angry ex-wife (Penélope Cruz). Not only is it smarter than his recent outings but it contains some truly marvellous performances, especially from Bardem and Cruz. [Cert 12A/ West End venues / Regions from 13th Feb]



The Good, The Bad and The Weird (Icon): The story of three Korean outlaws in 1930s Manchuria and their dealings with the Japanese army and Chinese and Russian bandits. Directed by Kim Ji-woon, it stars Song Kang-hoLee Byung-hun, and Jung Woo-sung[Cert 15 / Cineworld Shaftesbury Ave & Key Cities]

Who Killed Nancy? (Soda Pictures): A limited release for a documentary exploring the death of Nancy Spungen, an ex-prostitute, sometimes stripper, heroin addict, and girlfriend of Sex Pistols’ bassist Sid Vicious. Directed by Alan G Parker. [London venues & Key Cities]

UK Cinema Releases for February 2009
Get the latest showtimes for your local cinema via Google Movies
Check out our latest DVD picks (W/C Monday 2nd February)


UK Cinema Releases: February 2009

UK Cinema Releases - February 2009


  • Bolt (3D) (PG) Walt Disney / Vue West End & Nationwide
  • The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button (12A) Warner Bros. / Nationwide
  • Doubt (15) / Walt Disney
  • The Good, The Bad and The Weird (15) Icon / Cineworld Shaftesbury Ave., & Key Cities
  • He’s Just Not That Into You (TBC) Entertainment / Nationwide
  • Punisher War Zone (18) / Sony Pictures
  • The Secret Of Moonacre (U) / Warner Bros.
  • Vicky Cristina Barcelona (12A) Optimum Releasing / West End venues (Regions from 13 Feb)
  • Who Killed Nancy? (TBC) Soda Pictures / London venues & Key Cities


  • Friday The 13th (18) / Paramount
  • Fuck (TBC) ICA Films / ICA Cinema (Key Cities from March)
  • Hotel For Dogs (U) / Paramount
  • Moscow, Belgium (15) Unanimous Pictures / London venues (tbc) & Key Cities
  • Notorious (15) 20th Century Fox
  • Pink Panther 2 (PG) / Sony Pictures
  • Three Monkeys (15) / New Wave Films


  • 20th Century Boys (15) 4Digital Asia / ICA Cinema & Key Cities
  • Anvil! The Story Of Anvil (12A) The Works / Curzon Soho & Key Cities
  • Cadillac Records (TBC) / Sony Pictures
  • Che: Part Two (15) / Optimum Releasing
  • Confessions Of A Shopaholic (TBC) / Walt Disney
  • Franklyn (15) Contender Films / E1 Films
  • Gran Torino (15) / Warner Bros.
  • Push (12A) / Icon


  • Brothers (TBC) / Lionsgate UK
  • The Class (15) / Artificial Eye
  • Dance Flick (TBC) / Paramount
  • Fermat’s Room (TBC) / Revolver Entertainment
  • Gun Crazy (PG) (R/I) bfi Distribution / BFI Southbank & Key Cities
  • Hamlet 2 (15) / Momentum Pictures
  • The International (15) / Sony Pictures
  • New In Town (12A) / Entertainment
  • The Unborn (15) Universal


Keep a look out every Friday for a breakdown of the weekly releases with more detail on each film.

If you have any questions about this month’s cinema releases or any upcoming titles then just email me or leave a comment below.

Get local showtimes via Google Movies (just enter your local postcode)
Find out about films showing near you at MyFilms

Cannes Festivals

Cannes 2008 Reactions: Vicky Cristina Barcelona

Woody Allen’s latest film Vicky Cristina Barcelona is having it’s out of competition premiere at Cannes tonight.

The film is about two young American women named Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and Cristina (Scarlett Johansson) who come to Barcelona for a summer holiday only to get involved with a local painter (Javier Bardem) and his tempestuous wife (Penélope Cruz).

Todd McCarthy of Variety thinks it is sexy and funny:

‘Vicky Cristina Barcelona’ is a sexy, funny divertissement that passes as enjoyably as an idle summer’s afternoon in the titular Spanish city.

With Javier Bardem starring as a bohemian artist involved variously with Scarlett Johansson, Penelope Cruz and Rebecca Hall, pic offers potent romantic fantasy elements for men and women and a cast that should produce the best commercial returns for a Woody Allen film since “Match Point.”

And, in the bargain, if Barcelona wants even more visitors than it already attracts, this film will supply them.

Richard Corliss of Time rates it as Woody’s most engaging since Crimes and Misdeameanors (which by my reckoning is high praise indeed):

It’s hard not to feel warmly toward Allen after VCB, his first vital movie since Match Point three years ago (we quickly throw the veil of oblivion over Scoop and Cassandra’s Dream), and maybe his most engaging large-scale effort since, let’s say, Crimes and Misdemeanors nearly 20 years ago.

It doesn’t percolate with the inventive comic situations or quotable one-liners of the films that established his meta-movie credentials, Annie Hall and Manhattan; but, like them, this one is about people whose jobs are incidental to their real vocations of falling in love and messing things up.

Jeffrey Wells of Hollywood Elsewhere was less impressed:

The only parts of Woody Allen’s Vicky Cristina Barcelona that feel truly alive and crackling are the Spanish-language scenes between Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz.

I never thought I’d see the day when one of the great comedy writers of the 20th Century would write unintentional howlers, but this happens every so often in VCB, and I was not happy to witness this.

Ty Burr of the Boston Globe enjoyed it, despite some reservations:

I think I enjoyed Woody Allen’s new movie, “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” a lot more than I should have. Certainly more than the people who gave it scattered boos after its Out of Competition screening here last night.

…In other words, the movie’s inordinate, even ridiculous fun, despite an overly chatty narrative track (not sure by whom at this writing) that I wanted to slap down after about five minutes.

An even bigger problem is a persistent, obnoxious and thoroughly unwanted narration track that makes this story of overlapping, off-and-on love affairs in present-day Barcelona so on-the-nose and over-explained that I was feeling actively hostile less than 15 minutes in.

Kirk Honeycutt of The Hollywood Reporter was admiring, especially of the performances by Bardem and Cruz:

…the film belongs to Bardem and Cruz. This is a Spanish version of “Private Lives,” a couple that cannot live apart or together, whose love will always burst into fiery combat.

Their scenes are some of the funniest Allen has ever put on film, and the culmination of this love/hate tango is not to be missed.

A voice-over narration for once actually works, urging the story on and slipping us past talk of art and poetry.

Javier Auirresarobe’s cinematography and Alisa Lepselter’s editing are unusually sharp, even by Allen’s high standards.

Kim Voynar of Cinematical feels it is one of Allen’s best films in years:

Cruz turns in a performance that’s better, even, than her Oscar-nominated turn in Volver; her Maria Elena is on-the-edge crazy, but is also very funny and engaging.

Mike Goodridge of Screen Daily thinks its his best film since 1994’s Bullets Over Broadway:

Vicky Cristina Barcelona, his first of several Spanish ventures, is as close to consistently delightful as Allen has been able to deliver since 1994’s Bullets Over Broadway.

Given a dramatic boost by the vitality and charisma of Spanish superstars Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz, this sunny romantic comedy could well be the director’s biggest audience-pleaser in years.

Allen has created one of his best works in years, a film that is funny, philosophical, and imaginatively explorative of the meaning of love and desire.

The film is going to be distributed in the US by The Weinstein Company and gets a release there on September 5th.

Here is the international trailer:

And here is Woody, Rebecca Hall and Penelope Cruz sitting down for the press conference:

> Vicky Cristina Barcelona at the IMDb
> Cinematical report on today’s press conference
> Stills from the film

Cannes Festivals Trailers

Trailer: Vicky Cristina Barcelona

This is the trailer for Woody Allen’s latest film Vicky Cristina Barcelona

It premieres in Cannes on Saturday (out of competition) and opens in the US on September 5th.

> Vicky Cristina Barcelona at IMDb
> See our preview of the Cannes films showing out of competition

Cannes Festivals

Cannes 2008 Preview: Films Out of Competition

The out of competition films screening at this year’s Cannes Film Festival include some of the more high profile premieres.

Red Carpet at the Palais


Here is a guide to the big films screening out of competition, which means they are not competing for the Palme d’Or and are basically ‘prestige’ premieres.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (Dir. Steven Spielberg): The biggest major studio release of the year gets a high profile premiere, with Steven Spielberg bringing a film to the festival for the first time since The Color Purple in 1985.

All eyes around the world will eagerly be awaiting how this installment will fit in with the original trilogy. Plot details have been kept under wraps, but according to the offficial plot sypnopsis at the festival site it begins in 1957 at the height of the Cold War and involves Indy battling Russian agents as he searches for the Crystal Skull of Akator in Peru.

Harrison Ford returns as the famous archaeologist and the supporting cast includes Ray Winstone, Shia LaBeouf, Cate Blanchett, John Hurt, Jim Broadbent and Karen Allen.

It is bound to be a huge hit worldwide, but the big question is whether or not it can please the older, more demading audiences that loved the original trilogy. All eyes will be on the reports coming out of the press screening which happens a few hours before the official premiere. (Screening: Sunday 18th May)

Kung Fu Panda (Dir. Mark Osborne and John Stevenson): The new animated film from DreamWorks Animation is about a panda (voiced by Jack Black) who learns martial arts to fight his enemies.

The film features a starry voice cast including the likes of Jackie Chan, Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie and
Lucy Liu. Cannes has often been a place for DreamWorks to launch their tentpole releases like Shrek or Over the Hedge and this is expected to do similar business.

Maradona (Dir. Emir Kusturica): A documentary about the extraordinary life of Diego Maradona – the legendary Argentine footballer.

If the quality is good, this looks set to get interest from the wider media though the fact that the IMDb lists it as a 2006 film may be a cuase for concern. (Screens: Tuesday 20th May)

Vicky Cristina Barcelona (Dir. Woody Allen): The latest Woody Allen film is about two young American women, Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and Cristina (Scarlett Johansson) who come to Barcelona for a summer holiday only to get invloved with a local painter (Javier Bardem).

Despite the fact that Allen’s recent films haven’t always even secured UK distribution, he is loved in France and the European setting of this film, as well as the solid cast, should ensure a lot of interest. (Screens: Saturday 17th May)

What Just Happened? (Dir. Barry Levinson): The closing night film is based on producer Art Linson’s memoir of the same name, this stars Robert De Niro as an ageing producer struggling to get his new moviein the crazy world of Hollywood.

Despite a solid cast with Bruce Willis and Sean Penn turning up in minor roles as themselves, this only seemed to get lukewarm reviews at Sundance back in January. That said the book it is based on is very funny indeed (especailly the chapter chrinicling the making of The Edge) so it could be a pleasant surprise. (Screens: Sunday 25th May)

Also screening out of competition are:

If you are in Cannes and get to see any of these films then you can leave comments below.

> Official site for the Cannes Film Festival
> Our guide to the history and significance of the festival from last year
> Download the official screenings schedule as a PDF file