Barry Forshaw’s DVD Choice
Barry Forshaw’s pick of the latest DVDs on offer
SOURCE CODE Blu-Ray
Duncan Jones, director/Optimum
This level of success for this lively and intelligent science fiction thriller has exceeded that for Duncan Jones’ much-acclaimed first feature Moon, and it’s not hard to see why. Source Code might almost be described as North by Northwest meets Philip K Dick on Groundhog Day – and the strong central performance by Jake Gyllenhall anchors the narrative firmly.
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Mark Ezra, director/Arrow
From the heyday of the slasher movie genre, the lively Slaughter High arrives uncut for the first time in the UK with a slew of special features (including audio commentaries by co-writer/co-director Mark Ezra and the film’s star, Scream Queen, Caroline Munro). It’s the ‘psycho cutting a swathe thorough his tormentors’ plot, but the inventive killings are dispatched with gusto.
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THE LAVENDER HILL MOB Blu-ray
Charles Crichton, direct/Optimum
The imperishable (and impeccably cast) Ealing comedy, looking better than ever in this splendid Blu-ray transfer.
HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN
Jason Eisener, director/Momentum/Alliance
Beginning its life as an award-winning ersatz Grindhouse trailer (that became an internet hit via YouTube), Hobo with a Shotgun, Jason Eisener’s loving and authentic tip-of-the-hat to the exploitation movies of the 1970s and 80s, stars the durable Rutger Hauer in a kinetic slice of over-the top violence that doesn’t take itself seriously.
BEFORE THE REVOLUTION Blu-ray
Bernardo Bertolucci, director/BFI
After a recent reshowing in cinemas, a newly-restored version of Bernardo Bertolucci’s early Before the Revolution makes a home cinema appearance in a dual-format edition (DVD & Blu-ray discs together) with a nice crop of special features. Bertolucci’s tyro effort (made when he was just 22) is indulgent, but encapsulates the spirit of the 1960s.
James Wan, director/Momentum
A phenomenal box office winner after its positive critical acclaim, the supernatural shocks of Insidious have a touch less force in a home setting, but this is still a movie that packs a punch. Directed by James Wan and written by Leigh Whannell (who, between them created the Saw franchise) and produced by Oren Peli, Steven Schneider, and Jason Blum (the team behind Paranormal Activity), the film is closer in its approach to the later film than the more insanguinated horror of the Saw movies. Turn the lights down low and prepare to be chilled.
THE BIG SKY
Howard Hawks, director/Odeon
A very welcome issue from Odeon of the exuberant Howard Hawks Western classic The Big Sky, with a winning performance by Kirk Douglas. (Odeon’s current batch also showcases intriguing films by other auteur directors, including Jacques Tourneur’s Experiment Perilous and Douglas Sirk’s Summer Storm.)
Antti-Jussi Annila, director/Matchbox Films
The second film from acclaimed Finnish director Antti-Jussi Annila is an unusual and atmospheric horror essay with more than a hint of art-house aesthetics along with the grisly chills. 1595: the lengthy conflict war between Russia and Sweden is finally over. Brothers Erik and Knut are commissioned to tabulate new borders separating Finland from Russia, a grim task that takes them though the cold and desolate countryside. Murder and horror await.
JOHN WOO’S ONCE A THIEF
The TV series (complete in this box set) that came after John Woo’s balletic and exhilarating film is perhaps for Woo completists only (though even the pilot is directed by someone else, David Wu), but is an unusual – and self-consciously camp -- curio
Masaki Kobayashi, director/Eureka
Masaki Kobayashi’s disquisitions on the abuse of power by authoritarian regimes finds its most powerful expression in the celebrated (and still shocking) Hara-kiri (aka Seppued). In a memorable performance, Tatsuya Nakadai (famous for Yojimbo and The Face of Another) plays Hanshiro Tsugumo, a masterless, down-on-his-luck samurai who enters the manor of Lord Lyi, requesting to be allowed to commit ritual suicide on his property. Suspected of simply fishing for charity, Hanshiro is told the gruesome tale of the last samurai who made the same request. The film won the 1963 Special Jury Prize at Cannes – and maintains its visceral force.
THE ROUND UP Blu-ray
Roselyne Bosch, director/Revolver
Moving and powerful, Roselyne Bosch’s massive French box office hit (with Jean Reno on characteristic form) looks astonishing in this crisp Blu-ray transfer.
Juan Piquer Simon, director/Arrow
From cult Spanish exploitation maven Juan Piquer Simon, Pieces is an over-the-top 80s horror outing starring Christopher George and his then-other-half, the inexpressive but pneumatic Lynda Day George, along with a past-his-best Edmund Purdom. The gruesomeness is delivered with gusto, but the film is not to be taken too seriously (e.g., the soon-to be-victim of a killer in a lift fails to notice the large chainsaw behind a caped figure’s back...).
Istvan Szabo, director/Second Run
Szabo’s prize-winning drama (set in Hungary in the years after World War II) remains as poignant and affecting as when it was made in the mid-1960s.
John A. Russo, director/Arrow
Midnight, writer-director John A. Russo’s grisly tale of runaways and depraved Satanists, arrives on DVD for the first time in the UK, completely uncut. Adapted by Russo (who co-wrote Romero’s Night Of The Living Dead) the film is moody and unsettling, if crudely made.
THE HAUNTED CASTEL/SCHLOSS VOGELOD
FW Murnau, director/Eureka
The haunting Murnau classic given a splendid spruce-up by the ever-useful Eureka.