DVD reviews - January 19

DVD reviews - January 19

DVD reviews - January 19

First published in AdXtra

A weekly round-up of the latest DVD releases.

By Damon Smith

New to rent on DVD/Blu-ray

Lawless (Cert 18, 111 mins, Momentum Pictures Home Entertainment, Western/Thriller/Romance/Action, also available to buy DVD £17.99/Blu-ray £19.99) Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy, Jason Clarke, Guy Pearce, Jessica Chastain, Dane DeHaan, Mia Wasikowska, Gary Oldman, Tim Tolin.

Forrest Bondurant (Tom Hardy) and his brothers Howard (Jason Clarke) and Jack (Shia LaBeouf) are bootleggers in the mountains of Franklin County. They run a successful bar and eke out a comfortable living by trading moonshine, made at secret distilleries maintained by Jack's disabled pal, Cricket (Dane DeHaan). The siblings' business empire threatens to crumble to its foundations when sadistic Special Deputy Charley Rakes (Guy Pearce) arrives from Chicago on a mission to shut down the distilleries at the behest of District Attorney Mason Wardell (Tim Tolin). As young love blossoms between Jack and preacher's daughter Bertha Minnix (Mia Wasikowska), Rakes sets about dismantling the brothers' operation, targeting weak links such as dancer Maggie (Jessica Chastain), who has recently taken up a position as a waitress at the bar. Set in early 1930s Virginia and adapted from Matt Bondurant's novel The Wettest County In The World, Lawless is a gritty Prohibition-era thriller which pulls few punches in its depiction of the senseless violence meted out by law-makers and law-breakers. A late-night attack on Forrest is particularly graphic. Nick Cave's script corrals its fair share of rootin' tootin' cliches to a fine bluegrass-tinged soundtrack. Yet, for its dramatic simplicity, John Hillcoat's film packs a hefty punch. Hardy delivers a brooding central performance, maintaining his stoic hard-man image around Chastain's emotionally battered love interest. However, it's Pearce who scorches every mud- and blood-smeared frame as an obsessive-compulsive bully who hides behind his police badge.

Rating: **** Dredd (Cert 18, 91 mins, Entertainment In Video, Sci-Fi/Action/Thriller, also available to buy DVD £19.99/3D Blu-ray £24.99) Starring: Karl Urban, Olivia Thirlby, Lena Headey, Wood Harris, Warren Grier, Domhnall Gleeson, Rakie Ayola, Jason Cope.

In the near future, America has been reduced to an irradiated wasteland and more than 400 million people are crammed into Mega City One, which is patrolled by law-makers called Judges. The Chief Judge (Rakie Ayola) asks universally feared Judge Dredd (Karl Urban) to assess rookie Cassandra Anderson (Olivia Thirlby), a mutant with devastating psychic powers. Reluctantly, Dredd mentors Anderson and they head to the Peach Trees mega-block to investigate reports of a triple homicide. The Judges apprehend Kay (Wood Harris) for the murders but Anderson surmises that the suspect is linked to sadistic dealer Ma-Ma (Lena Headey) and the supply of a designer drug called Slo-Mo. Before Dredd and his protegee can interrogate Kay, Ma-Ma locks down Peach Trees and orders the hoodlums and lowlifes in the building to kill the interlopers. Dredd is an ultra-violent reboot of the 2000AD comic Judge Dredd, which induces feelings of deja vu for anyone who enjoyed Gareth Evans's bone-crunching action romp The Raid. However, while The Raid orchestrated breathtakingly balletic fight sequences that were beautiful in their barbarity, Dredd takes a high-velocity gun to the heads of its nameless victims and splatters their brains across the camera lens. Urban scowls beneath his helmet, tossing out the occasional one-liner, while Thirlby adds a touch of humanity to the degradation. Headey chews scenery with obvious relish, defying macho conventions as a powerful woman in the patriarchal mire. The 3D version of the film is available exclusively on Blu-ray.

Rating: *** Shadow Dancer (Cert 15, 97 mins, Paramount Home Entertainment, Thriller/Action, also available to buy DVD £15.99/Blu-ray £19.99) Starring: Andrea Riseborough, Clive Owen, Aidan Gillen, Domhnall Gleeson, Brid Brennan, Gillian Anderson, David Wilmot, Cathal Maguire.

Twenty-something single mother Colette McVeigh (Andrea Riseborough) blames herself for the death of her young brother in 1970s Belfast. She harbours a deep resentment towards British forces, which fired the fateful bullet, and has assuaged her guilt as an active member of the IRA alongside her two brothers, Gerry (Aidan Gillen) and Connor (Domhnall Gleeson). British police apprehend Colette during an attempted bombing of the London Underground and MI5 operative Mac (Clive Owen) leads the interrogation. He provides evidence that an IRA bullet killed Colette's brother all those years ago. He offers his prisoner an ultimatum: act as a mole, secretly feeding back vital intelligence on terrorist plots, or serve 25 years behind bars and forego precious time with her young son Mark (Cathal Maguire) and mother (Brid Brennan). Set in the early 1990s, Shadow Dancer is a suspenseful yarn about a young woman's betrayal of the people she holds most dear, elegantly adapted by Tom Bradby from his book of the same name. James Marsh's film is a riveting portrait of an era when simmering political tensions threatened to boil over. The tour-de-force London bombing sequence is accomplished almost without dialogue, and Bradby's script cranks up tension with the minimum of exposition. Riseborough is mesmerising as a young woman offered an impossible choice between her son and her siblings, while Owen is solid as the low-level puppeteer who realises too late that his professional integrity has been irrevocably compromised.

Rating: **** Also released 360 (Cert 15, 105 mins, Artificial Eye, Drama/Romance, also available to buy DVD £15.99/Blu-ray £19.99 - see below) Cheerful Weather For The Wedding (Cert PG, 88 mins, Universal Pictures (UK) Ltd, Comedy/Drama/Romance, also available to buy DVD £12.99/Blu-ray £17.99 - see below) Hysteria (Cert 15, 95 mins, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Comedy/Drama/Romance, also available to buy DVD £17.99 - see below) New to buy on DVD/Blu-ray Hysteria (Cert 15, 95 mins, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, DVD £17.99, Comedy/Drama/Romance) Tanya Wexler directs this saucy comedy set in 19th century London, based on the true story of the invention of the vibrator. Dr Robert Dalrymple (Jonathan Pryce) tends to a steady stream of uptight, nervous, frustrated and exhausted women by massaging their lower portions in his treatment room, believing that his rhythmic hand movements are relieving their hysteria. Demand for Dr Dalrymple's services increases and the medic takes on Dr Mortimer Granville (Hugh Dancy) as a protege, demonstrating the proper technique so the newcomer can ease patients' hysteria as well. When Dr Granville begins to suffer crippling pain in his wrist, he approaches eccentric aristocrat and inventor Lord Edmund St John-Smythe (Rupert Everett) for an electrical stimulator. Meanwhile, Granville finds his affections torn between Dr Dalrymple's pretty youngest daughter Emily (Felicity Jones) and eldest child Charlotte (Maggie Gyllenhaal).

360 (Cert 15, 105 mins, Artificial Eye, DVD £15.99/Blu-ray £19.99, Drama/Romance) Fernando Meirelles directs this star-laden ensemble drama which examines the affairs of the heart from myriad perspectives, loosely adapted from Arthur Schnitzler's La Ronde by screenwriter Peter Morgan. Rocco (Johannes Krisch) pimps out prostitute Mirka (Lucia Siposova) to handsome businessman Michael Daly (Jude Law), who has an unsatisfying marriage to his wife Rose (Rachel Weisz). He is unaware that Rose is cheating on him with Brazilian photographer Rui (Juliano Cazarre), who has a girlfriend called Laura (Maria Flor). When Laura discovers the infidelity, she heads for the airport and crosses paths with aged father John (Anthony Hopkins), who is on a journey to identify a body. During a layover in Denver, Laura meets sex offender Tyler (Ben Foster), who is surrounded by temptation and wrestling with his base desires. And so the cycle continues with characters intersecting around the world and impacting on each other's fortunes.

Cheerful Weather For The Wedding (Cert PG, 88 mins, Universal Pictures (UK) Ltd, DVD £12.99/Blu-ray £17.99, Comedy/Drama/Romance) A bride-to-be questions her decision to walk down the aisle in this 1930s-set comedy drama, based on the acclaimed novel by Julia Strachey. Christmas beckons in the West Country and the geese are getting fat. On a bright day in one of the county's most impressive houses, Dolly Thatcham (Felicity Jones) is just hours away from her wedding and she is having serious doubts about her dull-yet-worthy fiance, Owen Bigham (James Norton). Dolly's mother Hetty (Elizabeth McGovern) flits around, nervously assuring guests that everything is fine, when clearly the nuptials teeter on a knife-edge. Then the bride's handsome old flame, Joseph (Luke Treadaway), turns up to re-ignite dormant desires and throws the preparations into greater turmoil.

Enlightened - Season One (Cert 15, 220 mins, Warner Home Video/HBO, DVD £24.99, Comedy/Drama) Ten episodes of the comedy drama about a middle-aged woman's turbulent journey of self-discovery. Forty-year-old Amy Jellicoe (Laura Dern) suffers a mental breakdown and rebuilds her self-confidence at a holistic treatment centre, where she learns the benefits of incorporating meditation into her daily life. Amy returns home re-invigorated, with the energy and enthusiasm to rebuild bridges with her mother Helen (Diane Ladd) and help her ex-husband Levi (Luke Wilson) to overcome his myriad addictions. A demotion at work opens Amy's eyes to corruption within her company and she is compelled to follow a more compassionate and altruistic path, helping others rather than always thinking of herself.

Anger Management - Season One (Cert 15, 200 mins, Lionsgate Home Entertainment UK Ltd, DVD £24.99, Comedy) A therapist realises he needs just as much help as some of his patients in this popular US sitcom, which welcomes Charlie Sheen back to the small screen after his high-profile departure from Two And A Half Men. Former baseball player Charlie Goodson (Sheen) has carved out a new career by treating emotional problems of total strangers. However, his own mental wellbeing takes a battering when he gets into a brawl with Sean (Brian Austin Green), the boyfriend of his ex-wife (Shawnee Smith). Adding to Charlie's woes, his 13-year-old daughter Sam (Daniela Bobadilla) is exhibiting OCD-driven behaviour and he yearns to be more than friends with his own therapist, Kate (Selma Blair). The two-disc set includes all 10 episodes.

The Forgiveness Of Blood (Cert 12, 105 mins, Soda Pictures, DVD £15.99, Drama) Joshua Marston, director of Maria Full Of Grace, builds on the promise of that debut with this award-winning drama about an Albanian family embroiled in a deadly blood feud. Teenager Nik (Tristan Halilaj) has grand ambitions to set up his own internet business, when he's not nurturing a crush on the prettiest girl at school. Nik's world implodes when his beloved father causes the death of a fellow villager. According to ancient custom known as the Kanun, Nik's family must atone for the sin by sacrificing a life in return. As the eldest son, Nik is the prime target for a reprisal killing and he goes into hiding along with younger sister Rudina (Sindi Lacej), who is forced to quit school so she can take over the family business. The youngsters spend every waking moment looking over their shoulders, praying that today will not be their last.

Chinatown (Cert 15, 125 mins, Paramount Pictures Home Entertainment, DVD/Blu-ray £19.99, Thriller) Roman Polanski's final film made on US soil before he famously fled to Europe to escape the legal repercussions of unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl was this slow-burning crime thriller steeped in corruption and betrayal. Jack Nicholson lights up the screen as arrogant private detective Jake Gittes, who is hired by Evelyn Mulwray (Diane Ladd) to catch her philandering husband (Darrell Zwerling). When the adulterous spouse turns up dead - drowned in a reservoir - Gittes meets the real Mrs Mulwray (Faye Dunaway), who clearly has something to hide. Jake digs deeper and his investigation leads to Evelyn's sinister father, Noah Cross (John Huston), a man with a violent past, who casts a long shadow over every frame of Polanski's gritty and violent masterpiece.

Fairytale (Cert 15, 84 mins, Metrodome Distribution, DVD £15.99, Horror/Thriller) Sophia (Harriet MacMasters-Green) and her daughter Helena (Sabrina Jolie Perez) move into an idyllic home in the quiet town of Latina. At first, the new start is everything it promised to be and Sophia and Helena are blissfully happy. Then the youngster begins to lose her baby teeth and she tells her mother that a sinister figure, far removed from the benevolent tooth fairy, has been appearing in her bedroom late at night. As these visitations become increasingly bizarre and threatening, mother and daughter join forces to unravel the chilling mystery of their new abode.

Vile (Cert 18, 84 mins, Anchor Bay Entertainment, DVD £9.99/Blu-ray £11.99, Horror/Thriller) Pain is gain in Taylor Sheridan's grisly horror, which contains images of strong bloody violence and torture. Young couple Tayler (April Matson) and Nick (Eric Jay Beck) wake in a basement with strangers Sam (Greg Cipes), Tara (Maya Hazen) and Tony (Akeem Smith). All five captives have been deceived and drugged by a beautiful hitchhiker so they can take part in a deadly and horrifying game. They all have a special vial implanted in their skulls which must be filled with fluid produced by intense pain. With just 22 hours until they go under a surgeon's knife, Nick, Sam, Tara, Tayler and Tony must inflict sufficient agony on each other to fill their vials and survive the operation.

Samsara and Baraka (Cert 12, 102 mins, Arrow Film Distributors, Blu-ray & DVD Combi-pack £34.99, Documentary) A two-disc set of Ron Fricke's visually stunning portraits of planet Earth and its inhabitants. Samsara was filmed over the course of four years in 25 countries across five continents, capturing stunning footage of the fragile relationship between mankind and Mother Nature. Lisa Gerrard, whose haunting vocals were made famous by Oscar-winning epic Gladiator, provides a dynamic score to accompany the gorgeous imagery. Baraka surveys the globe in all of its glory and squalor, admiring the beautiful landscapes and people during their day-to-day existences. Images of indigenous peoples dancing with joy or applying body paint are juxtaposed with the urban decay of major cities and the devastation wrought by strip mining. As pilgrims bathe in a sacred river and monks ring a huge bell, stars twinkle in the sky and Earth prepares for a new day, full of hope and destruction.

Forks Over Knives (Cert E, 90 mins, Crystal Lake Entertainment, DVD £16.99, Documentary) Nutritionists and dieticians continue to offer conflicting advice about healthy eating. Dr T Colin Campbell and Dr Caldwell Esselstyn Jr have conducted separate studies into links between diet and disease and both doctors have reached the conclusion that incidences of heart disease, cancer and some other illnesses are higher among groups who consume meat than groups who consume plants and vegetables. Lee Fulkerson's documentary examines these fascinating findings and follows patients who have switched to a vegetarian diet in the hope that this will alleviate their symptoms.

Thomas & Friends: Sticky Situations (Cert U, 70 mins, HIT Entertainment, DVD £12.99, Children/Animation) The blue tank engine and his locomotive chums on the island of Sodor discover that true friends stick together and pride comes before a fall in six instalments of the popular animated series. Spencer gets lost in the fog, Butch doesn't listen to directions and Gordon drops a valuable passenger in the mud in the episodes Stuck On You, Spencer The Grand, Gordon And Ferdinand, Charlie And Eddie, Henry's Health And Safety and Diesel's Special Delivery.

DVD and Blu-ray retail top 10 1 (-) Total Recall 2 (1) The Dark Knight Rises 3 (6) London 2012 Olympic Games 4 (-) Snow White And The Huntsman 5 (-) The Hunger Games 6 (-) Prometheus 7 (-) New Year's Eve 8 (2) Ice Age 4: Continental Drift 9 (8) Michael McIntyre: Showtime 10 (-) The Lord Of The Rings - Trilogy Chart supplied by www.hmv.com DVD rental top 10 1 (-) Dark Shadows 2 (4) The Bourne Legacy 3 (-) Wrath Of The Titans 4 (6) Ted 5 (-) Rock Of Ages 6 (-) The Five-Year Engagement 7 (-) What To Expect When You're Expecting 8 (-) Contraband 9 (-) Snow White And The Huntsman 10 (-) Man On A Ledge Chart supplied by www.blockbuster.co.uk

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