DVD reviews

BILLY LIAR      STUDIOCANAL OPTBD2526

Billy LiarDirected by John Schlesinger, Billy Liar is one of the most memorable and universally acclaimed films of the 60s. Tom Courtenay is funny and poignant as William Terrence Fisher (‘Billy Liar’), a role he had understudied Albert Finney for in the West End theatre adaptation. Running from an unsympathetic working-class family, a pair of demanding fiancées and an insecure job at an undertakers, Billy escapes, Walter Mitty-like, into a world of fantasy where he can realize his dream ambitions. As work and family pressures build to new intolerable levels, Liz (an early, charismatic turn from Julie Christie), enters his drab life and offers Billy the one real chance he will ever get to leave the past behind. Mona Washbourne and Wilfred Pickles play Billy’s parents and Rodney Bewes, Finlay Currie and Leonard Rossiter also feature. Scripted by Keith Waterhouse from his well-loved novel, Billy Liar is one of the few comedies of the British ‘New Wave’, marrying visual and verbal wit with a rather poignant rumination on the futility of dreams. Studiocanal has now released this fully restored version of Billy Liar on Blu-Ray (OPTBD2526) and DVD (OPTD2526) to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the screen adaptation of an undisputed classic. Special features include Remembering Billy Liar (with Tom Courtenay and Helen Fraser), a look through the Keith Waterhouse Archive with British Library curator Zoe Wilcox, interviews with Richard Ayoade and Saint Etienne’s Bob Stanley, a stills gallery and the trailer.

BLOOD SIMPLE - DIRECTOR’S CUT      STUDIOCANAL OPTD0660

Blood SimpleM. Emmett Walsh is outstanding as Visser, a sleazy, unscrupulous private eye hired by Marty (Dan Hedaya), the owner of a seedy small-town Texas bar, to murder Marty’s faithless wife Abby (the artlessly sexy Frances McDormand) and her paramour, Ray (John Getz), one of Marty’s employees. But Visser is no more up-front with Marty than he is with anyone else, making some slight modifications of the original plan so that it better serves his own best interests. After a surprise double-cross and the murder of one of the important players, matters spiral out of control. Made in 1984, Blood Simple was the first film of the celebrated team of Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, the brothers who would subsequently create such modern classics as Fargo, The Big Lebowski, and No Country for Old Men. This witty, suspenseful and stylish slice of Texan film noir conjures up a twisting storyline that involves a chaotic chain of misunderstandings, lies and mischief to demonstrate Jean Luc Godard’s famous dictum: ‘All you need to make a film is a girl and a gun’. This is the UK premiere DVD release of the Director’s Cut: three minutes shorter than the original theatrical release. The Coens reduced the running time with tighter editing, shortening some shots and removing others altogether. They also resolved long-standing rights issues with the music. Highly recommended.

CITY OF WOMEN    EUREKA EKA70091

City of WomenFederico Fellini’s epic 1980 fantasia introduced the start of the Maestro’s delirious late period and stars his cinematic alter ego, Marcello Mastroianni (‘not Marcello again?’). La città delle donne (City of Women) is one of Fellini’s most erotic, sex-obsesed films and opens, appropriately enough, with the scene of a train entering a tunnel. Snàporaz (the effortlessly charming Mastroianni) wakes up on the train to find himself sitting opposite a beautiful woman (Bernice Stegers). They have a brief encounter in the bathroom that is cut short when the train suddenly stops and the woman gets off. Snàporaz follows her into the woods to a hotel hosting an noisy feminist convention. Alarmed, he is cornered by a group of rampaging women on roller skates before making his exit head first down a flight of stairs. From there he takes a ride with a burly woman motorcyclist (Jole Silvani) and one thing leads to another in a surrealist tour-de-force overflowing with the same sensory (and sensual) invention usually found only in the classic movie musicals (and Fellini’s own oeuvre). Mastroianni performs a graceful dance routine that echoes Fred Astaire and there are tributes to such classic Hollywood stars as Marlene Dietrich and Mae West. La città delle donne taps into an era’s restless youth culture, coalescing into nothing less than Fellini’s post-punk opus. On his hallucinatory journey, Snàporaz finds shelter in the private mansion of the extravagantly promiscuous, gun-wielding Dr Xavier Katzone (Ettore Manni), who is celebrating his 10,000th conquest with an eccentric party. Snàporaz there comes across his feisty ex wife, Elena (Anna Prucnal), and the delightful Donatella (Donatella Damiani). Playful, serious, satirical and visually stunning, Fellini’s ‘through the looking-glass’ adventure is wonderfully alive and unpredictable even for Snàporaz/Mastroianni (‘What kind of film is this?’). This Blu-ray release features a glorious new HD restoration of the film in 1080p, with many extras that include several fascinating documentaries on the making of the film, the original Italian and French theatrical trailers, and a substantial booklet containing writing on the film, vintage excerpts, and rare archival imagery. ‘Phenomenal! A gigantic motion-picture spectacle.’ - New York Times.

ENTERTAINING MR SLOANE      STUDIOCANAL OPTD2527

Entertaining Mr SloaneThis deliciously dark and humorous story about manipulation and repressed sexuality was directed in 1970 by Douglas Hickox with screenplay by Clive Exton based on the play by Joe Orton. An attractive young charmer by the name of Mr Sloane weasels his way into the lives of a middle-aged brother and sister, while trying to disguise the truth about his unpleasant past. Sexual tension drives the plot from the very beginning, when the lonely Kath (Beryl Reid) spots Mr Sloane (Peter McEnery) in a cemetery and invites him to become a boarder. Despite the age difference, Sloane coyly plays along with her flirtations for his own benefit. Their fun seems over when Kath’s brother Ed (Harry Andrews) shows up, but the prim and proper gentleman also takes a shine to Sloane, hiring him as his chauffeur and taking particular interest in the young man’s tight leather uniform. Kath and Ed’s elderly father, however, develops a strong hatred of Sloane, and accuses to him of being involved in an old, unsolved murder. Extras with this DVD release include Joe Orton’s appearance on the Eamonn Andrews chat show and the film’s trailer.

THE SERVANT        STUDIOCANAL OPTD0763

The ServantThis classic film marked the start of what became one of the most potent creative partnerships of British 1960s cinema. Director Joseph Losey and acclaimed playwright-turned-screenwriter Harold Pinter united to create a disturbing, subversive tale of seduction, sexual and social tension and psychological control. Adapted by Pinter from Robin Maugham’s novel, The Servant stars Dirk Bogarde in one of his finest performances as Hugo Barrett, a manservant recently employed by a bored aristocrat Tony (James Fox). Surly at best, Barrett gradually takes over the house, slyly reducing his master to a state of complete submission. Wendy Craig plays Tony’s inhibited girlfriend, Susan, who is suspicious of Barrett from the start and seems to loathe all he represents. Barrett brings sexy Vera (Sarah Miles), whom he presents as his sister, into Tony’s household as a maid, but it soon emerges that she is actually his lover. Through Barrett’s and Vera’s games and machinations, they reverse roles with Tony and Susan in a series of power-plays. Tony becomes more and more dissipated, sinking further into what he perceives as their level, as the ‘master’ and the ‘servant’ exchange roles. DVD extras include interviews with James Fox, Wendy Craig, Sarah Miles, and audio interview with ace cinematographer Douglas Slocombe, Harold Pinter’s Tempo interview, Joseph Losey talking about The Servant, a stills gallery and the cinema trailer. Blu-ray extras include the above plus an interview with Stephen Wooley (fan of the film), Harry Burton (Pinter expert) on Harold Pinter, Joseph Losey and Adolfas Mekas at the New York film festival, and John Coldstream (Bogarde Accidentbiographer) on Dirk Bogarde. Pinter’s sparse dialogue allows Losey to create a taut, unsettling psychological drama and they are brilliant together again in another newly released classic on Blu-ray, ACCIDENT (STUDIOCANAL OPTD2479). This superbly acted dissection of the emotional lives of the English intelligentsia stars Dirk Bogarde as Stephen, an Oxford Philosophy lecturer, contentedly married to Rosalind (Vivien Merchant) but silently resentful of his colleague Charley (a fantastic performance by Stanley Baker), whose star is rising as a TV pundit. Among Stephen’s students is the casually charming young aristocrat William (Michael York) who has his eye on another of Stephen’s charges, Austrian princess Anna (Jacqueline Sassard). Motivated by a dangerous mixture of admiration and envy, Stephen facilitates a meeting between William and Anna. But Stephen’s gently magnanimous demeanour conceals a rising tide of anxiety, self-centredness and sexual desperation. Over the course of one drink-drenched summer afternoon in the rolling English countryside, Stephen and Charley’s unspoken impulses - charged up by the seductive presence of Anna - break the veneer of English civility. Extras include Talking About Accident (a documentary featuring an interview with Harry Pinter), Joseph Losey and Harold Pinter discussing Accident (1957), Dirk Bogarde biographer John Coldstream on Dirk Bogarde, Pinter expert Harry Burton discussing Harold Pinter, and interviews with feminist author and academic Melanie Williams film critic Tim Robey.

PERLASCA: THE COURAGE OF A JUST MAN     ODYSSEY OD546

PerlascaIn the final years of the Second World War, Italian businessman Giorgio Perlasca risked his life by posing as a Spanish diplomat in order to save more than 5,000 Hungarian Jews from the Holocaust. Perlasca, a non-Jew, has been honoured for his heroism, courage, and compassion by several nations, including Israel, Hungary, Italy, Spain and the United States. ‘He was a stranger in a strange country ... He could have let the whole thing pass him by without taking risks, and like the rest of the world stood idly by. He chose not to do that’ - Miles Lerman, United States Holocaust Council. Often compared to Oskar Schindler, Giorgio Perlasca’s amazing story is told in Perlasca: The Courage Of A Just Man which is here released on DVD for the first time. The excellent Luca Zingaretti from the hit series Montalbano plays the Italian cattle dealer and former Italian Fascist supporter who found himself trapped in Budapest in 1944. Witness to the violent treatment of Jews, he sacrifices his own freedom to save many lives. With a striking score from Oscar-winning composer Ennio Moricone, Perlasca: The Courage Of A Just Man is a fine tribute to a true hero who ran incredible risks to save thousands of Hungarian Jews from a tragic death. ‘More courageous than Spielberg in its depiction of Nazi brutality.’ - Village Voice.

SCANNERS     SECOND SIGHT 2NDBR4016

ScannersDirector David Cronenberg tells an outrageously entertaining tale in this iconic horror film from the eighties. Drifter Cameron Vale (played by Canadian artist Stephen Lack) is plagued by incessant voices in his head unaware that he is a Scanner - a person with extraordinary powers who can not only read minds but literally tear them apart. He soon encounters Dr Paul Ruth (the charismatic Patrick McGoohan), a scientist trying to help his kind adapt to society. An underground movement of Scanners led by the psychotic Derryl Revok (Michael Ironside) have other intentions, and the ultimate confrontation of minds awaits. The much-married Jennifer O’Neil (nine times to eight husbands) plays a beautiful female Scanner named Kim and the riotous special effects are by Gary Zeller and the legendary Dick Smith. This cult classic is released here on Blu-ray as a limited edition steelbook along with a DVD release. The many extras include engaging interviews with Stephen Lack, cinematographer Mark Irwin, executive producer Pierre David, makeup effects artist Stephen Dupuis and actor Lawrence Dane, who plays Derryl Revok’s evil business partner.

SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK    ENTERTAINMENT IN VIDEO EBR5225

Silver Linings PlaybookLife doesn’t always go according to plan for Pat Solitano (Bradley Cooper). He has lost everything - his house, his job, and his wife, and finds himself living back with his mother (an excellent performance by Jacki Weaver) and controlling, football-obsessed father (Robert DeNiro). After spending eight months in a state institution on a plea bargain, Pat is determined to rebuild his life, remain positive and reunite with his wife Nikki (Brea Bee), despite the challenging circumstances of their separation. When he meets Tiffany (the lovely Jennifer Lawrence), a mysterious girl with problems of her own, things get complicated. Tiffany offers to help Pat reconnect with his wife, but only if he’ll do something very important for her in return. As their deal plays out, an unexpected bond begins to form between them, and silver linings appear in both of their lives. Jennifer Lawrence is excellent as the sexy, foul-mouthed yet vulnerable Tiffany and DeNiro relishes another chance to play comedy. Anupam Kher is droll as Dr Cliff Patel, Chris Tucker is Pat’s friend Danny, and the cast also includes Julia Stiles, John Ortiz, Shea Whigham and Dash Mihok. Written and directed by David O Russell, this family drama, comedy and love story, based on the bestselling novel by Matthew Quick, was a surprise hit that won a BAFTA for Best Adapted Screenplay and was the Critics Choice Award winner for Best Comedy. Special features with this Blu-ray release include deleted scenes, Silver Linings Playbook: The Movie That Became A Movement, and Q&A highlights. The film is also available on DVD (EDV9745).

VALLEY OF SONG & LAST DAYS OF DOLWYN      STUDIOCANAL  

Valley Of  SongValley Of Song is a charming film that tells the story of homesick insurance agent Geraint Llewellyn, excellently played by Clifford Evans. Having spent five years in London, he returns to the quaint Welsh village where he grew up and takes over the role of choirmaster with the local church. Having chosen Handel’s Messiah for the choir’s showcase piece, he inadvertently causes fierce rivalries to surface when he pick the soloists and overlooks formidable contralto Olwen Davies (Rachel Thomas) who regards that part as her own. Hilarious consequences ensue as the village divides and old feuds resurface. Two young people in particular suffer from the quarrel: Cliff and Olwen, caught in a ‘Romeo and Juliet’ situation as their families find themselves on opposite sides. Cliff Gordon’s celebrated play Choir Practice is brought vividly to life in this gentle fifties British comedy directed by Gilbert Gunn. Rachel Roberts shows early star quality in the distinctly unglamorous role of Bessie the Milk, driving her horse and cart with terrific elan. The cast of Welsh stalwarts also includes Edward Evans, John Fraser, Maureen Swanson, Mervyn Johns as the minister, John Glyn-Jones as mischievous old Ebenezer, and Desmond Llewelyn (later to be Q in the James Bond films). Last Days of DolwynStarring, written and well directed by Emlyn Williams, LAST DAYS OF DOLWYN is a compelling British melodrama featuring an early film role for fresh-faced Richard Burton. The sleepy village of Dolwyn in North Wales is known for its friendly folk and simple ways. This idyllic, peaceful retreat is suddenly thrown into turmoil with the arrival of a ruthless representative of water company representative (icily played by Williams) planning a reservoir that will flood the village. He turns out to be an embittered local who was once shunned by the villagers and has returned from the big city intent on destroying the place he once called home. ‘We’re all going to be deported….to England!’ Are the residents capable of fighting off the industrialists and saving their home? Or are these truly the last days of Dolwyn? Burton and Williams are excellent and Edith Evans is extraordinarily moving as an elderly woman desperate to keep her memories. The fine cast also includes Hugh Griffiths, Anthony James, Barbara Couper as impoverished Lady Dolwyn, and Alan Aynesworth as the benign Lord Lancashire. Both these classic Welsh films are released here for the first time on DVD.

TO WALK WITH LIONS    SECOND SIGHT 2NDVD3216

To Walk With LionsBritish wildlife conservationist and author George Adamson first visited Kenya in 1924. After a series of jobs, including gold prospector, goat trader and professional safari hunter, he joined Kenya’s game department and became Senior Game Warden of the Northern Frontier District. In 1944, he married Joy and in 1956 they raised the lioness cub, Elsa, who became the subject of the best-selling book and feature film, Born Free. Set among the impressive landscapes of Kenya in the late 1980s, To Walk With Lions is an acclaimed follow up to that film and stars Richard Harris in an outstanding performance as George Adamson. British backpacker Tony Fitzjohn (John Michie) is fired from his safari guide driving stint and drifts into a job assisting the aging conservationist (Adamson was born in 1906) at his wildlife reserve. After a shaky start when he is nearly mauled by a lion, Tony soon falls under the spell of the animals and develops a strong bond with George, who continues his obsessive battle with the government and armed poachers to protect his reserve and the magnificent creatures that mean so much to him. This inspiring film also stars Honor Blackman as Joy Adamson, Ian Bannen as George’s disgruntled brother, Terrence, with Kerry Fox, Hugh Quarshie and Geraldine Chaplin.

PIRANHA  SECOND SIGHT FILMS 2NDBR4014

Piranha blu-rayThis irresistible 1978 low-budget American film about a swarm of killer piranhas was directed and co-edited by Joe Dante, produced by Roger Corman and expertly scripted by John Sayles, who used the proceeds to fund his own films. Sayles and Dante would go on to collaborate on a werewolf movie, The Howling, and James Cameron cut his directorial teeth on the Piranha sequel in 1982. This original lake-bound horror film, shot at Aquarena Springs in San Marcos, Texas, is a parody of the 1975 film Jaws, which had been a huge success for its director Steven Spielberg. Two teenagers going for a dip inadvertently stumble upon a government secret weapon: deadly mutant piranha fish, planned for use in Vietnam. When the teenagers disappear, private eye Heather Menzies goes searching for them, helped by a hermit (Bradford Dillman) who she finds living on the mountainside. Accidentally released, the piranha make their way to the site of a children’s summer camp resort and tension is cleverly ratcheted up as the watery carnage begins. Piranha, which Spielberg called ‘the best of the Jaws ripoffs’, also stars Kevin McCarthy as a crazed scientist, with veterans Keenan Wynn, Dick Miller and Gothic horror film diva Barbara Steele. This enjoyable gorefest is now available on Blu-ray for the first time. Bonus features include an audio commentary with Joe Dante and producer Jon Davison, behind the scenes footage, a ‘making of’ documentary, outtakes and a stills gallery.

THE BLUE ANGEL   EUREKA MASTERS OF CINEMA EKA70093

Blue AngelThis 1930s classic (filmed simultaneously in an English-language version) launched the career of the legendary Marlene Dietrich and her collaboration with the great director director Josef von Sternberg. The Blue Angel (Der Blaue Engel) showcases Dietrich in performance, singing some of the songs that would take on the status of trademarks throughout her long career. Emil Jannings, the famous German character actor, who appeared in such classics as Faust, The Last Laugh and The Last Command, plays a fastidious bachelor schoolteacher named Immanuel Rath, whose fateful expedition to catch his unruly students frequenting a tawdry cabaret known as ‘The Blue Angel’ leads to his own rapture with the establishment’s main attraction, the coquettish Lola (an assured and knowing performance by 30-year-old Dietrich). The unworldly professor’s reckless infatuation triggers a tragic and inexorable downward spiral of his life and fortune. Directed by Sternberg while on loan from America to the pioneering German producer Erich Pommer, The Blue Angel is at once captivating, devastating and powerfully erotic. Sternberg’s painterly cinematography is masterful and sound is used brilliantly in what was one of the first German films of the sound era. The director and Dietrich would go on to make six more films together in five years, resulting in some of the most indelible iconography in the cinema of glamour and obsession. This Masters of Cinema dual format edition (Blu-ray and DVD) includes both versions of the film in 1080p HD for the first time in the UK, with newly translated optional subtitles on the German-language one and SDH on the English version. The many other extras include a profound video essay by critic and scholar Tag Gallagher, audio commentary by Tony Rayns, Dietrich’s remarkably confident original screen test with pianist Friedrich Hollander (the film’s composer), archival interview clips and stage performances by her, two trailers, and a substantial booklet containing writing on the film as well as rare archive images.

DANCE HALL     STUDIOCANAL OPTD2398

Dance HallDirected by Charles Crichton, co-written by the great Alexander Mackendrick and skillfully edited by Seth Holt, Dance Hall is a romantic melodrama centred round the life and loves of four working-class women who spend their Saturday nights at the Chiswick Palais dancing to the music of Ted Heath’s Big Band. The beautiful Natasha Parry made her screen debut as Eve, whose marriage to Phil (Donald Houston) is in danger when she takes a different partner with fancier footwork (a predatory character played by Bonar Colleano) for an upcoming dance contest. Her reasoning is that Phil is a lousy dancer, but she loves him all the same; Phil, however, is the jealous type and doesn’t see things Eve’s way. Young Petula Clark plays Georgie, whose ambition is to become a dance champion with her partner, Peter (Douglas Barr). Gladys Henson and Fred Johnson are touching as her devoted parents. There are excellent performances too by Jane Hylton as the girl who really loves Phil, the effervescent Diana Dors revealing her gift for comedy, and Sydney Tafler as the shrewd Palais manager. Other familiar faces in this Ealing Studios film are Kay Kendal, Dandy Nichols and an uncredited Alma Cogan. This first ever DVD release of Dance Hall, now digitally re-mastered, comes with a featurette revealing the film’s importance in showing how women’s lives were changing during the post-war period.

NOWHERE TO GO     STUDIOCANAL

Nowhere To GoThis excellent slice of British film noir, adapted from Donald McKenzie’s novel of the same name by critic Kenneth Tynan, was the first for director Seth Holt, who made his name as one of Ealing Studio’s finest editors. It’s a stylish, grimy tale of deception and betrayal starring the excellent American actor George Nader as Paul Gregory, a thief and conman who comes to London to rob Harriet Jefferson (Hollywood veteran Bessie Love) of her rare coin collection. Having sold the coins, he puts the money in a safe deposit box and waits to be arrested, expecting to be out in five years. Sentenced instead to ten years, Gregory breaks out of prison with the help of Victor Sloane (Bernard Lee), planning to collect the money then leave the country. A series of accidents and double-crosses leads to murder and sends Gregory spinning through London’s criminal underworld, before he ends up on the run in the Welsh countryside with socialite Bridget Howard (Maggie Smith, making her assured film debut). Geoffrey Keen is the dogged police inspector, Harry H. Corbett gives a convincing cameo performance as a gang boss, Andree Melly plays a cocktail waitress with a dodgy Irish accent, and there are uncredited appearances by Glyn Houston and Lionel Jeffries. Described as ‘the least Ealing film ever made, Nowhere To Go opens with an audacious, almost soundless nine minute prison break sequence and has a lean jazz score by Dizzy Reece. This is first ever DVD release of a lost gem, now restored to its full 100 minute length and digitally remastered to reveal glorious black and white photography. Extras include Revisiting Nowhere To Go, a featurette with crew interviews. Highly recommended.

THE TITFIELD THUNDERBOLT    STUDIOCANAL OPTBD2522

Titfield ThunderboltOriginally released in 1953, this high-spirited Ealing classic follows the consequences when Government-run British Railways Service announce the closure of the line linking rural Titfield to Mallingford - a line the Titfield inhabitants rely on to commute to work and transport their produce to market. A group of determined local residents make a bid to run it themselves, backed by a massively wealthy member of the community attracted to the complete lack of alcohol licensing hours on trains. Unfortunately their decision puts them into direct competition with the local bus company and soon enough, a whole array of comical anarchy and madness ensues, including cunning sabotage and thrilling adventures. Directed by Charles Crichton and written by Academy Award winner T.E.B Clarke, this charming and quirky tale of community spirit stars Stanley Holloway, George Relph, Naunton Wayne, John Gregson, a youngish Sid James, and Hugh Griffiths in great form as an ex-railwayman and shameless poacher. The film transports us to a gentler time when people were more respectful to one another, trains had proper locomotives with plumes of smoke and jaunty whistles, and the British countryside looked achingly beautiful in Technicolor. To celebrate its 60th Anniversary, The Titfield Thunderbolt has been digitally restored and is now available in this Blu-Ray release as well as on DVD (OPTD2522). The many extras include a documentary on the making of the film, cinematographer Douglas Slocombe’s home movie footage, a featurette about The Lion locomotive, locations scenes then and now, a stills gallery, restoration comparison, an audio interview in which Douglas Slocombe tells a revealing anecdote about Charles Crichton, and the film’s original trailer.

PARTNERS IN CRIME    STUDIOCANAL OPTD2556

Partners In CrimeBased on characters created by Agatha Christie, this is the third of director Pascal Thomas’s films featuring offbeat amateur sleuths Prudence and Bélisaire Beresford (Tommy and Tuppence), who are reminiscent of the great William Powell and Myrna Loy in the Thin Man films of the 1940s. After Bélisaire’s tedious book launch they decide to take a well deserved rest, but when an extremely wealthy Russian heiress disappears, Prudence can not resist the call to danger. Bélisaire is obliged to follow his turbulent wife on an investigation that lead them to strange goings-on at the Phoenix Clinic and a mysterious doctor who perhaps holds the secret of eternal youth. Starring the impeccable Catherine Frot and André Dussollier, with Linh Dan Pham as an astonishingly young 82 year old, the film mixes all ingredients of the detective comedy. Witty, quirky, sometimes frightening, and with many surprising twists along the way, this stylish film is a delight right through to its hilarious conclusion. Highly recommended.

THE DEADLY TRAP   STUDIOCANAL OPTD2520

Described as the French Hitchcock, René Clément was one of France’s great post-World War II era directors. Studying as an architect originally, it was at the Ecole-des-Beaux-Arts that he developed an interest in filmmaking. In 1936 he directed his first film – a short written by and starring Jacques Tati. Clément then spent most of the latter part of the 1930s making documentaries and directed his first feature, La Bataille du rail, in 1945. Clément went on to win two Oscars for Best Foreign Language Film as well as many other awards throughout his career. The Deadly Trap (aka: La Maison Sous Les Arbres and Death Scream) is an intriguing psychological thriller about young American Jill (Faye Dunaway at her most beautiful) who moves to Paris with her computer expert husband Philippe (Frank Langella) and their two young children (delightfully natural performances by Patrick Vincent and Michele Louris). Jill becomes increasingly disturbed and past psychological problems resurface when strange things start happening to her. Philippe’s ruthless former employers are unwilling to part company with him and Jill finds herself having to investigate his murky past, while the suspected kidnapping of her children threatens to tip her over the edge. Faye Dunaway is entirely convincing as a woman on the verge of breakdown and the multi-national cast also includes Raymond Gérôme, Gérard Buhr and the excellent Barbara Parkins. In celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the birth of one of France’s most versatile directors, Forbidden GamesStudiocanal has also released three more René Clément classics. FORBIDDEN GAMES (JEUX INTERDITS) is a lyrical evocation of childhood innocence corrupted, telling the story of a young girl orphaned by war and the farm boy she joins in a fantastical world of macabre play. At once mythical and heartbreakingly real, this unique film features astonishing performances by its child stars (Brigitte Fossey and Georges Poujouly) and was honoured with a special foreign language film Academy Award in 1952 and won The Golden Lion in Venice. Extras include an Innocent Love Stories Under Occupation featurette that includes an interview with the lovely Brigitte Fossey, who went on to have a brilliant career as an actress. The alternate opening and ending also included here are touching and add another magical layer to this poignant masterpiece. Forbidden Games is available as either DVD (OPTD0504042) or Blu-ray (OPTBD8290424). The gripping GERVAISE (OPTD2419) is a vivid adaptation of Émile Zola’s 1877 masterpiece L’assommoir, an uncompromising depiction of a laundress’s struggles with an alcoholic husband while running her own business. Gervaise was the winner of the BAFTA for Best Film and Best Foreign Actor, two prizes at Venice including Best Actress (Maria Schell), and was also nominated for the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. AND HOPE TO DIE (LA COURSE DU LIEVRE A TRAVERS LES CHAMPS - OPTD2518), based on the David Goodis novel ‘Black Friday’, is a melancholy crime caper starring veteran actors Jean-Louis Trintignant and Robert Ryan. One summer night, a group of children are playing in a street of Marseille. Their game consists of attacking an American skyscraper in order to steal a priceless object. In the meantime in the United States, a young man who is being pursued, takes refuge in a house where a group of strangers are getting ready for real to attack a skyscraper in order to steal something which is priceless to adults... Which of these two groups is leading the action? Where does reality end and dreams begin?. 

THE LORD OF THE RINGS - BLU-RAY EXTENDED EDITION   ENTERTAINMENT IN VIDEO

J. R. R. Tolkien’s epic fantasy novel, The Lord of the Rings, began as a sequel to his earlier fantasy book The Hobbit and was written in stages between 1937 and 1949. Originally published in three volumes in 1954 and 1955, it has since been reprinted many times and been translated into dozens of languages, becoming one of the most popular works in 20th-century literature. Three film adaptations have been made, the first being by animator Ralph Bakshi in 1978 and the second an animated television special by Rankin-Bass in 1980. The best-known and most ambitious film adaptation has been Peter Jackson’s extraordinarily successful live action trilogy, produced by New Line Cinema and released in three instalments as The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002), and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003). The films chronicle the struggle of Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood) as he battles against the Dark Lord Sauron to save his world, Middle-earth, from the grip of evil. Frodo and Lord of the Rings - Return of the Kinghis fellowship of friends and allies embark on a desperate journey to rid Middle-earth of the source of Sauron’s greatest strength, a ring that has the power to enslave the inhabitants. Jackson’s trilogy became the highest grossing adventure film franchise ever and the most publicly recognised brand image of its time, and this six-disc box set contains the theatrical-release versions in Blu-ray format of all three films as originally seen in cinemas. Besides Wood, the stars include Ian McKellen, Liv Tyler, Viggo Mortensen, Sean Astin, Cate Blanchett, John Rhys-Davies, Billy Boyd, Dominic Monaghan, Orlando Bloom, Christopher Lee, Hugo Weaving, Sean Bean and Ian Holm, with Andy Serkis as Gollum. This definitive Extended Edition of Peter Jackson’s epic fantasy is superior to the theatrical version and an even a richer experience. Released here for the first time on Blu-ray, these superb double-disc releases come with a host of extras that include commentaries with the director and writers, the design team, production and post production staff, and the cast.

SOUTHERN COMFORT  SECOND SIGHT 2NDVD3241

Legendary director and co-writer Walter Hill’s gripping cult action thriller follows a platoon of weekend National Guard soldiers as they embark on a routine training exercise in the Louisiana bayou. This soon turns into an all too real war of attrition when the brash soldiers unwittingly upset a group of Cajun hunters by stealing their canoes and jokingly firing blank amminition. Lost in unknown territory, the National Guardsmen face a terrifying battle for survival against an unforgiving enemy as violence escalates deep in the heart of Southern swampland. Often compared to John Boorman’s Deliverance, Southern Comfort has an excellent, almost all-male cast that includes Keith Carradine, Powers Boothe, Peter Coyote and Fred Ward. The film has clever, hard-bitten dialogue, an exceptional music score by guitarist Ry Cooder, and atmospheric photography by Andrew Laszlo. The film is now available in a sumptuous Blu-ray limited edition as well as on DVD. Extras include a rare interview with the admirable Walter Hill, who discusses Southern Comfort and its actors in a 45 minute feature, ‘Will He Live or Will He Die’.

IT ALWAYS RAINS ON SUNDAY   STUDIOCANAL OPTBD2399

Perhaps over-shadowed by its more famous comedic cousins at Ealing, It Always Rains on Sundays has steadily grown in stature as one of the earliest and best examples of British film noir. Based on the novel by Arthur La Bern (also the original author of Hitchcock’s Frenzy) and shot largely on location, the film is a gritty drama that plays out in the rain-drenched streets of the East End one Sunday. Directed by Robert Hamer, the film stars Googie Withers in a towering performance as Rose Sandigate, a sad Bethnal Green housewife stuck in a dull marriage, hemmed in on all sides by well-meaning but nosey neighbours and jealous of the burgeoning social life of her precocious stepdaughter. Her dreary world is turned upside down by the sudden re-appearance of an old flame, Tommy (played by Googie’s real-life husband John McCallum), on the run from the police after having escaped from prison. There are excellent performances too by John Slater as a likeable rogue, Jack Warner as a dogged policeman, Sydney Tafler as a musician and inveterate womaniser, and Alfie Bass as a petty criminal, with Edward Chapman, Susan Shaw and Betty Ann Davies. A series of interlinked stories ends in a terrifically exciting climax set in a rainy steam locomotive shunting yard at night. Extras include a featurette looking back at It Always Rains on Sunday and a fascinating locations featurette.

WOMAN IN A DRESSING GOWN   STUDIOCANAL OPTD2359

Woman in a Dressing Gown DVDFollowing a successful return to the big screen, the underrated and long unseen Woman in a Dressing Gown has now been released on DVD for the first time. This powerful drama reveals the turmoil caused when a husband of 20 years tells his wife he is leaving her for a younger woman. Amy (Yvonne Mitchell) is a loud, chaotic housewife - she burns meals, doesn’t finish the housework, listens to the radio too loud, and some days doesn’t even get dressed. She is taken for granted by son Brian (Andrew Ray) and her taciturn husband Jim (Anthony Quayle), who is stuck in a mundane job at a timber merchant office. Jim has fallen in love with his young, adoring secretary Georgie (impeccably beautiful Sylvia Syms) and when he tells Amy he is leaving her, her already fragile world threatens to fall apart. Released in 1957, this gripping drama anticipated not only the British New Wave of Social Realism, but also Betty Friedan’s ground-breaking book, The Feminine Mystique. Woman in a Dressing Gown shows us that Amy’s hopelessness in the home is born out of loneliness, boredom and depression - dissatisfaction with her ‘confinement’ to the home that Friedan later labeled ‘the problem with no name’. As such the film can be heralded as more progressive, at least in terms of gender politics, than its better known successors, such as Saturday Night and Sunday Morning and Look Back in Anger, because it has as its heart a middle-aged housewife rather than an angry young man. Sensitively directed by J Lee Thompson, Woman in a Dressing Gown was written by Ted Willis and based on his TV drama of the same name. Yvonne Mitchell’s bravura performance won her the Silver Bear in Berlin, where the film also picked up the FIPRESCI prize and the OCIC Special Mention prize. Extras include interviews with the sparky Sylvia Syms and UEA film expert Melanie Williams, an audio interview with producer Frank Godwin, behind the scenes stills gallery and trailer.

THE DEVIL RIDES OUT  STUDIOCANAL OPTBD0697

The Devil Rides OutThe debonair Duc de Richleau has been trusted with the care of his deceased friend’s son, Simon Aron. The Duc then discovers that the young man has been seduced into joining a Satanic cult headed by the diabolic Mocata, who is intent on making Simon one of the Devil’s disciples. Having rescued Simon from a bloodied ritual, de Richleau is pursued by Mocata, who will stop at nothing to destroy the Duc and his friends, even summoning the Angel of Death itself. Starring Christopher Lee in one of his personal favourite roles and based on a celebrated novel by Dennis Wheatley, The Devil Rides Out is one of Hammer’s best and thrilling mystery horrors. Terence Fisher directs with relish and the film also stars Charles Gray and Nike Arrighi. Following Studiocanal’s release of The Reptile and The Plague of the Zombies, this fully restored and re-mastered classic is also now available on Double Play (DVD & Blu Ray). Extras include three new documentaries, a World of Hammer Episode ‘Hammer’ and an audio commentary with Christopher Lee, Sarah Lawson and Hammer Films historian Marcus Hearn. Two other iconic Hammer titles are also released in new restorations: THE MUMMY’S SHROUD (OPTBD2474) is set in 1920 in Egypt, an exotic land of mystery and ancient magic, where a routine expedition turns into a violent, murderous rampage that few will survive. Renowned scientist Sir Basil Walden and a team of expert archaeologists are on a journey to find the lost tomb of pharaoh Kah-to-Rasputin The Mad MonkBey. Having ignored warnings of a deathly curse, the expedition unearths the pharaoh’s final resting place with horrific consequences. A vengeful spirit has been unleashed and it wants their flesh. Directed by John Gilling and starring Andre Morell, John Phillips and David Buck, The Mummy’s Shroud has gained cult notoriety for its gruesome murder sequences as well as its stunning climax. A true terror from the tombs! Extras include two new documentaries, Hammer trailers and a stills gallery. RASPUTIN THE MAD MONK (OPTBD0632), directed by Don Sharp, again stars horror legend Christopher Lee, this time as sinister monk Grigori Rasputin in pre-revolution St Petersburg, Russia. Rasputin appears to have unearthly power to ease the deranged and heal the sick, but at what price? Aided by hypnotism he begins his ruthless and depraved pursuit of power and wealth, determined to give God sins worth forgiving. Barbara Shelley and Richard Pasco also star and extras include two documentaries, a World of Hammer Episode ‘Costumers’, and audio commentary with Christopher Lee, Barbara Shelley, Francis Matthews and Suzan Farmer.

OUTSKIRTS & BY THE BLUEST OF SEAS  MR BONGO FILMS MRBDVD053 & MRBDVD054

OutskirtsBy The Bluest Of SeasBoris Barnet was an actor and screenwriter as well as one of the greatest Soviet directors. After studying at the Moscow Art School, he joined the Red Army before working as a film-maker with the likes of Serafima Birman and Nikolai Erdman. Admired by Andrei Tarkovsky, Barnet directed 27 films in Russia between 1927 and 1963. His gift of artistic invention made him stand out from his Soviet colleagues and two of his finest works have now been released by Mr Bongo Films. Outskirts is set in a small village on the Russo-German border. The war poisons this small community and close friendships are destroyed by vindictive nationalism, while a sweet romance between a Russian girl (a touching performance by Yelena Kuzmina) and a German POW is greeted with suspicion and disapproval. On the front, soldiers face the grim absurdity of trench warfare, and at home returning veterans are unable to return to normal life; while intimations of the Russian Revolution makes themselves felt within the village. Made in 1933, Outskirts is one of the most ambitious films from the early sound period, ahead of its time in its inventive camera movements, montage and use of sound. With moments of humour and surreal elements, this influential Russian film has a distinctly modern sensibility. In By the Bluest Of Seas a storm on the Caspian Sea lands two friends, emotional sailor Yusuf (Lev Sverdlin) and mechanic Alyosha (Nikolai Kruychkov), on the shores of Soviet Azerbaijan where they arrive at the ‘Lights of Communism’ kolkhoz (‘collective farm’). They are able to find work at the farm as most of the other workers are fighting a conflict on the Pacific Ocean. One of the administrators of the kolkhoz is the spirited Masha (another charming performance by Yelena Kuzmina) who they both fall in love with. Their rivalry for her affections affects their work and threatens the community. One of the most lyrical and uplifting films of the Soviet era, By the Bluest Of Seas is a dreamlike poetic film that eschews propaganda in favour of a comedy about love and friendship. The superb photography is by Mikhail Kirillov.

CASQUE D’OR      STUDIOCANAL OPTBD1007

Casque D’OrDirector Jacques Becker’s Renoir-like Casque d’Or (also known as ‘Golden Marie’) is dazzling masterpiece set in Paris at the turn of the 19th Century. It stars the radiantly beautiful Simone Signoret in her luminous prime as a gangster’s moll and tells the story of her passionate affair with carpenter and reformed criminal Georges Manda (an intense performance by Serge Reggiani). When devious mob boss, Felix Leca (Claude Dauphin), takes an active interest in their affair, an underworld rivalry ensues leading to a treacherous and tragic climax. Casque D’Or is a classic, poetic tale of doomed romance based on the true-life Leca-Manda scandal. Evoking the Belle Epoque period perfectly and with an unforgettable femme fatale performance from Signoret (this was one of her favourite films) as well as a devastatingly powerful climax, Casque D’Or has been voted among the top ten best French films of all time. Extras with this 60th Anniversary Blu-Ray release include a featurette, ‘At the Heart of Emotions – the Legend of Golden Marie’, a revealing appreciation of this overwhelming love story as well as its admired director and stars.

CÉSAR ET ROSALIE   STUDIOCANAL OPTD2363

César et RosalieStarring the formidable Yves Montand, César et Rosalie is a witty, subtle and entertaining French romance, beautifully photographed and elegantly directed by Claude Sautet. Amicably divorced Rosalie (the enchanting Romy Schneider) is a beautiful, vivacious young woman involved with a charming, successful scrap metal king called César (Montand). He is crazy about her and his exuberant vitality satisfies the free-spirited Rosalie’s healthy lust for life. One day her old flame, a handsome young comic strip artist called David (Sami Frey) reappears, hoping to win her back. César’s intense jealousy and ever more extreme behaviour send Rosalie running into the arms of David, though she soon begins to doubt whether she’s made the right choice, moving to and fro between them until the film’s enigmatic ending. Romy Schneider is effortlessly gorgeous and Sami Frey is the perfect foil to Yves Montand, who put a lot of his own personality into the part and brilliantly conveys the tortured insecurity beneath César’s extrovert manner. Extras with this 40th Anniversary DVD/Blu-Ray release include ‘Serenade for Three’, a featurette in which those involved with the film explain how it was made and what it was like to work with the sometimes irascible perfectionist Claude Sautet.

DIE NIBELUNGEN   EUREKA EKA70026

Die NibelungenDie Nibelungen is a majestic five-hour epic consisting of two silent fantasy films created in 1924 by legendary German director Fritz Lang, who would go on to make other masterpieces such as Metroplis, M, and The Testament of Dr. Mabuse. Both films (Die Nibelungen: Siegfried and Die Nibelungen: Kriemhild’s Revenge) were co-written by Lang’s then-wife Thea von Harbou, based on the epic poem Nibelungenlied written around 1200 AD and also the inspiration for Wagner’s Ring cycle of operas. The young hero Siegfried (Paul Richter) kills a dragon and bathes in its blood to gain immortality. His quests then make him a powerful figure and allow him to court the princess Kriemhield (Margarete Schön). Her weakling brother will only approve the lovers’ union if Siegfried agrees to help him deceive the beautiful Valkyrie Brunhild (Hanna Ralph) into falling in love with him. When she eventually discovers this treachery, the humiliated amazon sets forth a cycle of revenge that will create tragedy on an epic scale, culminating in massacre, conflagration, and, under the auspices of Lang, one of the most exhilarating and terrifying end-sequences in all of cinema. This immaculate Masters of Cinema Series release of the long-awaited HD restoration by the Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Stiftung respects the film’s original frame rates and aspect ratio, in 1080p on the double Blu-ray set. Special features include newly translated optional English subtitles for the original German intertitles, an hour-long documentary: The Heritage of Die Nibelungen, and an illustrated booklet featuring the words of Lang as well as rare archival imagery. This restored version of the hallucinatory Die Nibelungen is also available on DVD (EKA40246).

FOSTER    HIGH FLIERS HFR0186

FosterZooey and Alec Morrison (Toni Collette and Ioan Gruffudd) are a grieving couple whose marriage has gone stale since a traumatic accident devastated their lives two years earlier. Zooey is told by her doctor that she can’t have any more biological children so she persuades an initially reluctant husband that they should foster a child. While awaiting confirmation of this they are surprise when a precocious a boy named Eli (a wonderfully assured and witty performance by child actor Maurice Cole) suddenly appears on their doorstep saying he’s been sent by the adoption agency. Eli, though, is no ordinary seven-year-old. The little boy who has a maturity way beyond his age as it becomes apparent that he’s listening in to the breakdown of his foster parents’ marriage. Not prepared to just be a neutral onlooker, he offers moral support and sensible suggestions on how they might be able to repair their relationship and re-kindle their feelings for each other. Admired and adored by his foster mum and dad, he helps the couple to rebuild their foundations emotionally at home and at work until they re-discover their lost love. Part family drama, part magical fable, the film also stars Richard E Grant as a mysterious tramp who drifts in and out of the family’s life, a spookily recognisable Hayley Mills as the adoption agency manager, and national treasure Anne Reid as Zooey’s mother. Written and directed by Jonathan Newman, Foster is funny, heart-warming story that makes ideal entertainment for the Christmas season. The film was shot on location in and around London, and bonus features with this DVD release include behind-the-scenes footage as well as interviews with the cast and director.

LA GLOIRE DE MON PERE & LE CHATEAU DE MA MERE SECOND SIGHT 2NDBR4009

La Gloire de Mon PereBased on the childhood memoirs of Marcel Pagnol, author of Jean De Florette and Manon Des Sources, these timeless classics directed by Yves Robert are one of cinema’s greatest celebrations of childhood. Filled with warmth, love and a poignant nostalgia for bygone days they continue to captivate audiences. In these memoirs an adult Marcel nostalgically recalls idyllic retreats with his family to a cottage in the sun-drenched hills of Provence in turn-of-the-century France. Marcel’s love affair with the country began and during those perfect days he found new respect for his school-teacher father as he adapted to life away from the city. Poetic, moving and exquisitely beautiful, these two much loved and successful French films have now been released for the first time in this sumptuous two-disc Blu-ray box set. Bonus features include Pagnol’s Glory - the story of novelist Marcel Pagnol, featuring interviews with his grandson, Nicolas Pagnol, and French novelist Karin Hann. Filming Aunt Rose details the making of La Gloire de Mon Pere and Le Chateau de Ma Mere through the eyes of actress Therese Liotard and director of photography Robert Alazraki. The films are also available as a two two-disc DVD set (2NDVD3237).

GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS  ITV STUDIOS HOME ENTERTAINMENT 3711535643

Glengarry Glen RossOscar nominated Al Pacino plays ruthless, fast talking Chicago real estate salesman Ricky Roma, a man prepared to wreck the marriage of a man (brilliantly played by Jonathan Pryce) in order to clinch a sale. His former mentor, the veteran Shelly ‘The Machine’ Levene (a superb performance by Jack Lemmon) is a man struggling to keep his neck above water and painfully falling apart from the effort. The star studded ensemble cast of this gripping film also includes Kevin Spacey as the cold-hearted office manager, with Alec Baldwin as a head office assassin, Ed Harris and Alan Arkin, a group of outstanding actors who relish the crisp, expletive undeleted dialogue based on David Mamet’s play. Things are good for one of the salesmen on a roll but for the others life hangs in the balance and there is no room for losers as they battle in an Edward Hopper world of bleak coffee shops, wet streets and elevated trains. With the pressure on - only ‘closers’ get the good leads - a dark, rainy night of cut-throat business and shattered lives begins. This two disc Steelbook Collector’s Edition has both DVD and Blu-ray releases. Special features include commentary by director James Foley; A.B.C. (Always Be Closing) - a documentary tracing the psychological intersection of fictional and real life salesman; A tribute to Jack Lemmon; Scenes with bonus audio commentary by Alec Balwin, cinematographer Juan Ruiz Anchia, Alan Arkin, and production designer Jane Musky; and the original theatrical trailer. ‘This is brilliant black comedy doesn’t just dazzle; it stings.’ - Rolling Stone .

THE LIFE AND DEATH OF COLONEL BLIMP  ITV STUDIOS HOME ENTERTAINMENT 3711535373

Colonel BlimpRoger Livesey brilliantly portrays a British officer, Clive Candy, through the trials and tribulations of three wars, three loves and a lifelong friendship across enemy lines. During the Boer War, Candy is sent to Berlin to trap a German spy. There he befriends Theo, a sympathetic German Officer (the excellent Anton Walbrook), who marries Edith, the girl Candy is in love with (Deborah Kerr). During the First World War, Candy marries a girl who resembles his lost love and helps Theo - now a POW - to get repatriated. Candy comes back in the Second World War as a Brigadier General and once again encounters Theo. On joining a Home Guard exercise, Candy is memorably captured in a Turkish bath and the two are forced to either aid or betray each other. Drawing on the satirical cartoon character created by David Low, Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s boldly original and ambitious 1943 film is an epic satire now recognised as an artistic masterpiece. The film’s glorious Technicolor (camera operators Jack Cardiff and Geoffrey Unsworth) has now been gloriously restored in a project overseen by director Martin Scorsese with his film editor and Powell’s widow Thelma Schoonmaker. This 2 disc Steelbook Collector’s Edition features the digitally remastered film on both DVD & Blu-ray. Special features include a profile of The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp - an exclusive 25 minute documentary that has interviews with Jack Cardiff, Powell and Pressburger biographer Ian Christie and Blimp fan Stephen Fry; Martin Scorsese explaining the meticulous restoration process; a stills gallery; biographies of the directors and cast; and four exclusive art cards. Stephen Fry has said of this film ‘The melancholy, humour, tenderness and farce with which the story is told makes it one of the greatest films about friendship and the nature of war that I know. We can be grateful that one of the greatest achievements in British film-making made it to the screen, and that it now returns in all its glory to be discovered by a whole new audience.’

PARK ROW  EUREKA MASTERS OF CINEMA EKA40353

Park RowIconic American filmmaker Samuel Fuller began his career as a tabloid reporter, and thrillingly drew on those skills and experiences in his extraordinary labour-of-love, Park Row. An exhilarating tribute to the ideals of the free press and noble popular journalism, this two-fisted tale of battles on and off the printed page in 1880s New York is a major American rediscovery. When Phineas Mitchell (Gene Evans), a dedicated and visionary newspaperman, launches his own title The Globe, his eye-catching headlines and approach quickly catch fire with the New York readership. But less impressed is Charity Hackett (the excellent Mary Welch), heiress proprietor of long-established rival The Star, and attempts to undercut The Globe soon escalate into all-out war. Packing more dynamite into eight reels than most directors unleash over a career, Fuller’s self-financed Park Row was shot in 14 days on a single set and is a passionate, idiosyncratic work of gritty myth-making. Unlike the director’s later Shock Corridor, Park Row is full of optimism as it celebrates American journalism and has much to say about ethics and the control of a free press that remains relevant today. The classy black and white cinematography is by John L. Russell, who had previously worked on Orson Welles’ Macbeth. This Masters of Cinema release features the film on DVD for the first time in the UK in a new digital progressive transfer. Extras include an isolated music and effects track, a feature by international film critic and historian Bill Krohn, the original theatrical trailer, and an illustrated booklet featuring the words of Fuller and rare archival imagery. ‘Park Row is one of the greatest love letters in the history of film, and it’s a love letter to journalism.’ - Quentin Tarantino.

HELL IS A CITY   STUDIOCANAL OPTD2376

Hell is a CityWritten and directed by Val Guest, based on a novel by Maurice Proctor, Hell Is A City is a gripping British film noir from 1960 that tells the story of a tough, committed police inspector, Harry Martineau (Stanley Baker) on the trail of jewel thief Don Starling (excellent American actor John Crawford). Starling has escaped from prison after serving 5 years of his 14-year prison sentence for a robbery in which Martineau was the arresting officer. He suspects that the escaped man will return to Manchester to recover the hidden jewels. When Starling does indeed do so he goes to see Laurie Lovett (Charles Morgan), who was in on the heist, and reveals his plans to flee the country after robbing bookmaker Gus Hawkins (Donald Pleasence). Billie Whitelaw gives a terrific performance as the bookmaker’s sluttish wife, with whom Starling previously had an affair, and Stanley Baker is at his flinty best as the determined inspector. Martineau naturally has a troubled private life that includes a childless marriage to a selfish wife (Maxine Audley) and the temptation of a fling with a sympathetic barmaid (touchingy played by Vanda Godsell). Acclaimed for its startling realism and gritty Manchester locations, Hell Is A City was a groundbreaking film nominated for two British Academy Awards when first released by Hammer, including Best Screenplay and Most Promising Newcomer for Billie Whitelaw. The film has been digitally re-mastered for this DVD, which also includes an interesting alternate, if less satisfactory, ending.

LES ENFANTS DU PARADIS  SECOND SIGHT 2NDVD3231

Les Enfants Du ParadisVoted ‘The best French film ever made’ by the French Film Academy, and critically acclaimed the World over, Les Enfants Du Paradis is a lavish three-hour film of dazzling imagination. Made during the German occupation of France during the Second World War and first released in 1945, the story is set among the glittering Parisian theatre scene of the 1820s and 30s. A beautiful courtesan, Garance, is the attraction for four men who each love her in their own way: a mime artist dreamer (Jean-Louis Barrault), an actor (a wonderfully flamboyant performance by Pierre Brasseur), an insouciant criminal (Marcel Herrand) and a rich, aristocratic dandy (Louis Salou). As the melodrama unfolds we are treated to one of cinema’s greatest love stories, a captivating tale of passion, deception and murder. Directed by Marcel Carne, the film stars the exquisite Arletty as free-spirited Garance with Barrault mesmerising as the tormented mime, Jean-Baptiste Debureau. After a major restoration, the film screened at the Cannes Film Festival to great acclaim and is now released on this two-disc DVD set. Extras include a new 55 minute documentary about the making of the film, showing the collaboration of director Marcel Carne, writer Jacques Prevert and set designer Alexandre Trauner. Other special features demonstrate the painstaking restoration process. ‘Once seen it lives in the imagination for ever’ - Evening Standard.

THE LANDLORD    STUDIOCANAL OPTD2496

The LandlordIn the early seventies, with the impact of Martin Luther king’s death still raw, films exploring the impact of racial prejudice and mixed-race relationships were a rarity but one unique exception was The Landlord. This directorial debut by Hal Ashby, based on a novel by Kristin Hunter, tells the story of a privileged white entrepreneur, Elgar Enders (young Beau Bridges at his best). He buys an inner-city apartment block in Brooklyn with plans to renovate it and increase his already considerable wealth. Much to Elgar’s annoyance the streetwise tenants refuse to be evicted and he is forced to interact personally with them. In the course of their dispute he unexpectedly starts to become fond of these oddball characters and abandons the development, instead planning on a restoration. He even romances black tenants Lanie (Marki Bey) and Fanny (an excellent performance by the beautiful Diana Sands). But his naivety creates unforeseen problems and raises the question of whether true harmony can ever exist between people of such varying social and ethnic backgrounds. The Landlord is a freewheeling mix of social satire, urban drama and high comedy with an outstanding ensemble cast which also includes Louis Gossett Jr. as Fanny’s enraged husband, the great Pearl Bailey as Marge, and Lee Grant as Elgar’s imperious high society mother, a performance that earned her a Best Supporting Actress nomination at the 1970 Oscars.

DAS TESTAMENT DES DR. MABUSE    EUREKA EKA70009

Das Testament des Dr. MabuseFrom the early stages of his career across five decades to his final film, Fritz Lang directed a trilogy of paranoiac thrillers focused on an entity who began as a criminal mastermind, and progressed into something more amorphous: fear itself, embodied only by a name - Dr. Mabuse. Dr. Mabuse, der Spieler (Dr. Mabuse, the Gambler) was made in 1922 and is a two-part, nearly 5-hour silent epic detailing the rise and fall of Dr. Mabuse in Weimar-era Berlin. Die 1000 Augen des Dr. Mabuse (The 1000 Eyes of Dr. Mabuse) was Lang’s final film, made in 1960, in which hypnosis, clairvoyance, surveillance, and machine-guns come together in a memorable climax. Das Testament des Dr. Mabuse (The Testament of Dr. Mabuse) dates from 1933 and is a tour-de-force thriller rife with supernatural elements, all converging around an attempt by the now-institutionalised Mabuse (or someone acting under his name) to organise an ‘Empire of Crime’. With the etching onto glass of a single word – ‘MABUSE’ – Berlin reawakens to a nightmare as Lang’s electrifying film puts image and sound into an hypnotic arrangement unlike anything seen or heard in the cinema before - or since. It’s been eleven years since the downfall of arch-criminal and master-of-disguise Dr. Mabuse (Rudolf Klein-Rogge), now sequestered in an asylum under the watchful eye of one Professor Baum (Oskar Beregi). Mabuse exists in a state of ‘catatonic graphomania’, his only action the irrepressible scribbling of blueprints that would realise a seemingly theoretical ‘Empire of Crime’. But when a series of violent events courses through the city, police and populace alike start asking themselves with increasing panic: ‘Who is behind all this?!’ The answer borders on the realm of the impossible… This dual format (Blu-ray & DVD) Eureka Masters of Cinema special edition features a High Definition transfer of the film in its original aspect ratio, with original German-language intertitles and optional English-language subtitles. Extras include an audio commentary by film scholar and Lang expert David Kalat, a lavish booklet featuring the words of Fritz Lang and rare archival imagery. Das Testament des Dr. Mabuse, which seems to prophesy the implications of the Nazi scourge, is considered by many to be the director’s greatest achievement - a work of terrible and practically supernatural power from one of cinema’s greatest and most influential filmmakers.

CLEOPATRA   EUREKA EKA70081

Cleopatra - de MilleMany films have been inspired by the story of Cleopatra, including the 1960s Elizabeth Taylor extravaganza and a now lost 1917 version starring Theda Bara. Producer-director Cecil B. DeMille’s spectacular 1934 Hollywood epic, with its sensuous barge scene, stars Claudette Colbert as the world’s most powerful woman who strikes up an entirely convincing erotic rapport with the excellent Henry Wilcoxon as Marc Antony. Warren William is Julius Caesar, Joseph Schildkraut is Herod and the inimitable C. Aubrey Smith is luxuriantly bearded Roman soldier Enobarbus. Victor Milner won an Academy Award for Best Cinematography and the film was nominated for Best Picture as well as three other categories. As a pre-Hays Office code film, DeMille’s Cleopatra is a libertine paean to decadence and depravity that can still send a viewer’s mind reeling and pulse thumping. Claudette Colbert presides over the most outrageous spectacle this side of The Scarlet Empress as the devious and beautiful pharaoh queen who knows how to make an entrance as she speeds from Julius Caesar to Marc Antony, from Egypt to Rome, from war-room to bedroom… The whiff of incense permeates every scene, with each connected to the next in a veritable matrix of whips, blindfolds, and bindings - the crazed arrangement laying bare all the fetish inklings of the moving picture dream. Lavishly produced with some of the most inspired waxing-moon photography and unwholesome set-design to come out of the studio system, Cleopatra is an erotic tour-de-force that obliges us to re-examine the appeal of this most popular of Hollywood directors. This new DVD edition features a stunning HD transfer of the film officially licensed from Universal and presented in its original aspect ratio. Extras include optional English subtitles, audio commentary by F.X. Feeney, documentary appreciations of archetypal director de Mille and Claudette Colbert, a feature on the Hayes Production Code, the original theatrical trailer, and a booklet featuring the words of Cecil B. DeMille and rare archival imagery.

DON QUIXOTE   MR BONGO FILMS

Don QuixoteRussian director Grigori Kozintse’s faithful adaptation of Miguel de Cervantes’ classic novel was made in 1957 (the first version of the story in colour and cinemascope) and shot on location in the Crimean region. This version of the story is hilarious and often touching and stars one of Soviet cinema’s finest actors Nikolai Cherkasov, who appeared in Eisenstein’s Alexander Nevsky and Ivan the Terrible and looks exactly right as the Knight of the Rueful Countenance. Lyudmila Kasyanova is delightful as his muse Aldonsa / Dulcinea. After years spent reading books of chivalry, a middle-aged Spanish gentleman is convinced that he is the real-life knight-errant, Don Quixote de la Mancha. To this end, he commissions his battered horse Rocinante to be his steed and appoints fellow Manchegan Sancho Panza (a perfectly cast Yuri Tolubeyev) to be his reluctant squire. Both Knight and Squire find themselves living anachronisms in 16th Century Spain, subject to constant humiliation and frequent defeat; safeguarded only by Sancho’s good humour and Quixote’s mad zeal. Kozintsev crafts a film of comparable visual flair and poetic wit.

WAR TRILOGY: ZVENIGORA - ARSENAL - EARTH  MR BONGO FILMS MRBDVD049

War TrilogyAlexander Dovzhenko is one of the great visionaries of the 20th Century and one of the most important and celebrated early Soviet filmmakers, along with Sergei Eisenstein and Vsevolod Pudovkin. His War Trilogy chronicles the transformation of his native Ukraine from a pastoral feudal society to an industrialized communist state. ZVENIGORA, made in 1928, is a poetic, avant-garde film in which Nikolai Nademsky plays the grandfather of Timoshka (Semyon Svashenko), whom he alerts to secret treasure buried in the mountains. The boy spends the rest of his life trying to find it and the film is almost religious in tone, blending lyricism and politics and using its central construct to build a montage praising Ukrainian industrialisation and attacking the European bourgeoisie. ARSENAL is an action-packed story based on the real life events of the Ukranian Civil War. Set in the bleak aftermath and devastation of World War One, a recently demobbed soldier, Timosh (Semyon Svashenko) returns to his hometown Kiev, after having survived a train wreck. His arrival coincides with a national celebration of Ukrainian freedom, but the festivities are not to last as a disenchanted Timosh soon begins to clash with the city’s authorities when he starts to agitate for the adoption of the Soviet system. Arsenal is intense and emotionally wrenching, with painterly photography and some of the most eloquent horses ever seen on film. ZEMLYA (EARTH), made in 1930, tells the story of a group of farmers in a Ukrainian village who unite to purchase a tractor. The leader of the peasants is later killed by a kulak, or landowner, who considers them a threat to his long-established authority. The events fade into memory, but the long-ranging effects of the peasant revolt - like the earth itself - last forever. Earth is Dovzhenko’s celebration of life and an ultimate prayer to nature, the land and those who toil on it. The film unfolds using a series of stunning visuals to reflect the constant cycle of birth, growth and death resulting in a truly poetic masterpiece. An unforgettable experience, the film was voted one of the 100 Best Films of the Century in Time Out and has been named as one of the top ten greatest films of all time by the International Film Critics Symposium. ‘Combining lyrical beauty with simple, truth, this is a masterpiece with a soul’ - Radio Times.

INNOCENT SORCERERS  SECOND RUN DVD 066

Innocent SorcerersFollowing after his renowned War trilogy, Andrzej Wajda made this fascinating, provocative film in 1960, co-written by the director and Jerzy Skolimowski, who also plays a minor character in the film. A commentary on the lives of disillusioned young people who grew up in post-war communist Poland, Wajda chronicles their search for purpose amid a restless bohemian milieu of motor-scooters, love, sex and jazz with great vitality and humour. The rebellion the film depicts is social and moral, not political, but the it angered both Communist and Church authorities by showing its young characters’ explicit rejection of any ideological affinity. An outstanding cast is headed by Tadeusz Łomnicki as a young doctor, Krystyna Stypulkowska as the sparky girl he pursues, cool Polish superstar Zbigniew Cybulski and a young Roman Polanski dwarfed by a double bass bigger than himself. The lively jazz score is by Krzysztof Komeda. This celebrated landmark of Polish cinema has been restored from its original materials and is released here on DVD in a new director-approved High-Definition transfer. Special features include an exclusive interview with Andrzej Wajda, improved English subtitles and a 16-page booklet featuring a new essay by author and film critic Michał Oleszczyk.

EROICA   SECOND RUN DVD 046

EroicaAndrzej Munk’s ‘heroic symphony’ is set during the Second World War and presents two sardonic tales of courage and valour which aim to demystify the archetypal image of heroism. The first movement of Eroica focuses on a seemingly feckless and selfish man and his ironic route to finally taking up arms in the national struggle against the Nazis. The second movement is set in a POW camp whose Polish inmates cling to their hopes for an eventual escape, encouraged by the legendary escape of one of their number. Both tales converge to create a blackly comic and perceptive satire; a provocative, powerful, and potent anti-war poem considered amongst the most subversive films of the period. Munk’s witty, intelligent comedy won the 1958 Polish Film Critics’ Award as Best Polish Film of the Year. This DVD release features the film in a new HD digital transfer with restored picture and sound supervised by the film’s cinematographer Jerzy Wójcik, plus Andrzej Munk’s charming short film, the prize-winning A Walk in the Old Town of Warsaw (Spacerek staromiejski) and a new essay on the film by author and film scholar Dr César Ballester. ‘A true black comedy... that has something relevant to say about the modern world.’ - Pauline Kael.

THAT OBSCURE OBJECT OF DESIRE  STUDIOCANAL OPTBD2354

That Obscure Object Of DesireThe TrialAdapted from Pierre Louÿs’ 1898 novel ‘La Femme et le Pantin’, That Obscure Object of Desire was Luis Buñuel’s final film. Related in flashback to a group of railway travellers, the story wryly details the romantic perils of Mathieu (Fernando Rey), a wealthy middle-aged French sophisticate who falls in love with a beautiful 19-year-old former chambermaid Conchita (knowingly played by Carole Bouquet and mischievous Angela Molina). Thus begins a surreal game of sexual cat-and-mouse, with Mathieu obsessively attempting to win the girl’s affections as she ruthlessly manipulates his carnal desires, each vying to gain absolute control of the other. Brimming with the subversive wit which characterizes Buñuel’s finest work, That Obscure Object of Desire takes satiric aim at a decadent, decaying society riddled with political unrest and moral bankruptcy. Sumptously photographed by Edmond Richard, who also worked with on The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, this elegant film shows that Bunuel was subversive and mercilessly funny to the end. Extras with this Blu-ray release include fascinating interviews with Jean-Claude Carrière, Carlos Saura, Carole Bouquet and Angela Molina; A portrait of Luis Buñuel (with Pierre Lary and Edmond Richard); and a booklet on the film written by Peter William Evans. That Obscure Object of Desire is one of three new releases in the Studiocanal Collection, which also includes THE TRIAL (OPTBD1008). Based on the influential Franz Kafka novel, this paranoid masterpiece was directed in 1962 by Orson Welles, who thought this was the best film he ever made. Josef K (Anthony Perkins) is arrested, but has no idea what crime he is accused of. In order to find out what offence he is meant to have committed, and to protest his innocence, he must go through the machinations of the judicial system, but he soon finds himself trapped Le Quai Des Brumesin a dehumanized nightmare. The icy black and white photography strikingly depicts the spider-and-fly games of an ineffectual man struggling against his inescapable fate. A masterclass in building tension, The Trial shows why Welles is often cited as the greatest director of all time. Extras include several documentaries, interviews with Orson Welles and Steven Berkoff, a deleted Scene, trailer, and a booklet on the movie written by critic Jonathan Rosenbaum. LE QUAI DES BRUMES (OPTBD0904) is Marcel Carné’s daring 1938 adaptation of Pierre Mac Orlan’s novel. Now regarded as one of the greatest French classical films, this existential adventure stars droll Jean Gabin as a fatalistic army deserter who arrives in Le Havre. Befriended by a dog, he looks for shelter before leaving French territory on board a ship bound for Venezuela. Housed in a shed on the harbour, at the end of the docks, the ex-soldier meets other misfits including an eccentric painter (Michel Simon) and a mysterious, beautiful girl called Nelly (the enchanting Michele Morgan). From then on he will be trapped in a tragic destiny, in spite of his passion for Nelly and his will to live. Now available on this Blu-ray release in a superbly restored print that captures all the black and white beauty of this dazzling, atmospheric film. Extras include On The Port Of Shadows; Restoring Le Quai Des Brumes; and an introduction to the film by Ginette Vincendeau.

ROGOPAG  EUREKA EKA70047

RogopagConceived by producer Alfredo Bini, Let’s Wash Our Brains: RoGoPaG (Laviamoci il cervello: Ro.Go.Pa.G) is a fascinating portmanteau film that brings together four giants of European cinema in four separate episodes directed by Roberto Rossellini, Jean-Luc Godard, Pier Paolo Pasolini and Ugo Gregoretti. Each distinctive episode reflects the swinging post-’boom’ era in Italy (with much dancing of the Twist) and the resulting omnibus collectively examines social anxieties around sex, nuclear war, religion, urbanisation - and the promise of a modern cinema. Rossellini’s Illibatezza (Virginity) follows an airline stewardess (Rosanna Schiaffino) plagued by a creepily obsessed American tourist whose 8mm camera enables the indulgence of a personal, and solipsistic, vision of the Ideal. Godard’s unnerving Il nuovo mondo (The New World) takes place in an Italian-dubbed Paris beset by nuclear fallout as it wittily chronicles the changes that take place in the lives of a coolly handsome young couple as they pop pills to cope with their loss of freedom and the end of logic. Pasolini’s scandalous La ricotta shows the goings-on around a film shoot devoted to the Crucifixion and presided over by Orson Welles, playing a kind of stand-in for Pasolini himself. This episode, reflecting Pasolini’s usual irreverent reverence, earned the director a suspended four-month prison sentence for ‘defamation of the state religion’ and the film was suppressed in Italy on its release in 1963. Lastly, Ugo Gregoretti’s warm, funny and humane Il pollo ruspante (Free-Range Chicken) depicts a middle-class Milanese family (the excellent Ugo Tognazzi and Lisa Gastoni) flirting with the purchase of a plot of land and engaging catastrophically with an antagonistic consumerist infrastructure before realising that ‘the past was better than this’. Let’s Wash Our Brains: RoGoPaG, part of the Sixties vogue for the multi-auteur anthology film, is now available in Eureka’s Masters of Cinema Series for the first time anywhere on Blu-ray in a Dual Format (Blu-ray + DVD) edition, as well as on DVD. Special features with the Dual Format uncut edition include a beautiful HD restoration of the film in its original aspect ratio, newly translated optional English subtitles, the original Italian theatrical trailer, and a 56-page booklet featuring new essays and rare archival images.

CLOCLO    STUDIOCANAL OPTD2484

Cloclo‘My Way’ is the most covered song in history, made famous by Frank Sinatra and a frequent choice of guests on Desert Island Discs. Canadian Paul Anka wrote the lyrics with Sinatra in mind, setting them to music based on a pop song he heard while on holiday in the south of France, ‘Comme d’habitude’ (as usual), composed in 1967 by Claude François and Jacques Revaux. Though little known outside France, pop singer, songwriter and dancer Claude François sold some 70 million records during his career - being roughly analogous to Cliff Richard in Great Britain, with a dash of Tom Jones. Directed by Florent-Emilio Siri, this biopic follows Francois from his childhood in Egypt through his success in France to his untimely death in Paris in 1978, when he accidentally electrocuted himself at the age 39. Starring Jérémie Renier and the excellent Monica Scattini, the film is an engaging portrait of a complex character who became a legend in his own country with chirpy versions of American pop songs. Girls, popularity and marriages come and go as François gets a new nose, rises from poverty and enjoys a hedonistic 1960s lifestyle. As well as being a star he was also a shrewd businessman and showman, though prone to petulance and self-doubt. CLOCLO is the story of someone whose ambition drove him to the top, left him dissatisfied and ultimately led him to a tragic end - an eventful life that continues to fascinate fans more than 30 years after his death.

PIRANHA 3DD  ENTERTAINMENT IN VIDEO EBR5191

PIRANHA 3DDAfter the terror unleashed on Lake Victoria in Piranha 3D, the pre-historic school of blood thirsty piranhas are back in Piranha 3DD, directed by John Gulager. This time, no one is safe from the flesh eating fish as they sink their razor sharp teeth into the visitors of summer’s best attraction, The Big Wet Water Park. Christoper Lloyd reprises his role as the eccentric piranha expert with survivor Paul Scheer and a partially devoured Ving Rhames back for more frenzied action. ‘Double the terror, double the action and double the Ds’ are promised in this sequel, also starring Gary Busey, Katrina Bowden, Danielle Panabaker, Matt Bus, Chris Zylka and David Koechner. The film has pretty girls, dumb teenagers, nudity, screaming, silicone, hungry fish, crude thrills and some hilarious dialogue, plus Baywatch’s David Hasselhoff as himself. The Hoff trades in the sandy beaches and sends himself up remorselessly as a celebrity lifeguard at the racy water park (‘Welcome to rock bottom’). Piranha 3DD, available on Blu-ray and DVD, is a gory, funny and ridiculously entertaining romp in the worst possible taste.

THE ISLAND PRESIDENT  DOGWOOF DOG265

Island PresidentThe Maldives is a country like no other, a Shangri-la of breathtakingly beautiful turquoise reefs, beaches, and palm trees, composed of 1200 coral islands off of the Indian subcontinent, of which 200 are inhabited. But this fragile paradise is threatened by global warming and in danger of disappearing. The Island President is a thought-provoking documentary by Jon Shenk about a man who tries to save his country from imminent extinction: President Mohamed Nasheed. A brave and truly inspiring figure, he led a twenty year pro-democracy movement against the brutal regime of Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, surviving repeated imprisonments and torture to become president at the age of 41. The President made it his mission to make the Maldives the first carbon neutral country and worked tirelessly to achieve this. Beautifully photographed and with a stirring soundtrack from Radiohead, this stirring film captures the determined Nasheed’s first year of office, culminating in his trip to the Copenhagen Climate Summit in 2009, and provides a rare glimpse of the political horse-trading that goes on at a top-level global assembly. Nasheed is unusually candid about revealing his strategies – leveraging the Maldives’ underdog position as a tiny country, harnessing the power of media, and overcoming deadlocks through an appeal to unity with other developing nations. When hope fades for a written accord to be signed, he makes an impassioned speech which salvages an agreement. Even though President Nasheed was ousted in a military coup in February 2012 he continues his hard work and never gives up hope. Special features with this DVD release include a Sundance Festival Q&A, an interview with the filmmakers on Maldivian TV, and a Commonwealth Club Screening Q&A.

THE ASSAULT  STUDIOCANAL OPTBD2450

The AssaultOn December 24, 1994, when four heavily armed terrorists from the Algerian Armed Islamic Group hijacked an Air France plane, Flight 8969, bound for Paris at Algiers’ airport, the 227 passengers on board seemed destined for tragedy. After hours of tireless negotiations the plane was granted permission to leave only to head to Marseille for refueling. Mindfully avoiding politics and emphasizing only the events themselves, young director Julien Leclercq’s film shows the violent and claustrophobic onboard drama as it is dealt with by France’s equivalent of SWAT, the elite counter-terrorism GIGN (Groupe d’Intervention de la Gendarmerie Nationale). The film combines some explosive action with backstories of a tough GIGN officer Thierry (Vincent Elbaz) and his family, the determined jihadist from the slums of Algiers (Aymen Saidi), and an overly ambitious French Interior Ministry worker. Shot in muted colour, this is a gripping, verite style thriller into which Leclercq seamlessly intertwines harrowing real-life footage, heightening the rising tension that culminates in an explosive gun-wielding climax. Available on DVD & Blu-Ray, the film also stars Gregori Derangere and Melanie Bernier as a Foreign Ministry analyst, who incidentally reveals the blinkered misogynism of the authorities.

CHARIOTS OF FIRE  20TH CENTURY FOX

Chariots of Fire 1This 30th Anniversary Edition release of Chariots of Fire on Blu-ray is perfectly timed for the opening of the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Director Hugh Hudson’s iconic film tells the engrossing and powerful story of two real-life athletes competing at the 1924 Olympics: Eric Liddell (Ian Charleson), a devout Scottish Christian who runs for the glory of God, and Harold Abrahams (Ben Cross), an English Jew who runs to overcome prejudice. Chariots of Fire was nominated for seven Academy Awards and won four, including Best Picture and Best Screenplay (written by Colin Welland). Harold hires trainer Sam Mussabini (Ian Holm) to further his dreams of winning the gold. Featuring highly memorable soundtrack by Vangelis, this inspiring story of athletic excellence and spiritual awakening captures the zeal of post-WW1 Britain and the glory of the Olympics. This new release of the restored digital print comes with six featurettes not available previously as well as commentary by Hugh Hudson, two documentaries, screen tests, additional scenes and a theatrical trailer. The digitally re-mastered version of CHARIOTS OF FIRE is in cinemas and on Blu-ray now.

THE PREY   STUDIOCANAL OPTD2483

The PreyAlbert Dupontel gives a smouldering performance as Frank Adrien, a dangerous man serving a prison sentence for robbing a bank to pay for the specialised care his daughter requires. Only he knows where the money is, which pleases neither his wife (Caterina Murino) nor former partner (Olivier Schneider) who is also locked up in prison. In fact, the only person Frank confides in is his cellmate Jean-Louis Maurel (played with icy menace by Stephane Debac) as a suspected rapist and child molester who claims his innocence. The court finds him not guilty and when released, Maurel uses everything Frank told him against him and accuses him of being responsible for the series of murders he truly committed. It is only then that Frank learns from a disfigured ex-cop (the excellent Sergi Lopez) that he was actually sharing his cell with a serial killer and that Frank’s family and hidden fortune are now in jeopardy. Forced to run out of prison to save both his daughter and his identity, Frank races across France to stop Maurel with Detective Claire Linne (Alice Taglioni) on his chase. A brutal manhunt results in the mountains and forests of eastern France, where at every turn the hunter is just one step away from becoming the hunted in this exciting tale. Director Eric Valette’s fast-moving and occasionally brutal thriller is brilliantly constructed, with many neat twists right to the end.

THE DISCREET CHARM OF THE BOURGEOISIE   STUDIOCANAL OPTBD2353

The Discreet Charm of the BourgeoisieThis surrealist film, written by Jean-Claude Carrière and its director, Luis Buñuel, features excellent performances by Fernando Rey, Delphine Seyrig, Bulle Ogier, Jean-Pierre Cassel, Stéphane Audran and Paul Frankeur as a group of bourgeois friends. Despite continual interruptions, everyone keeps a commendably straight face as the film focuses on their gatherings together and explores their strange dreams. Born in Spain, Luis Buñuel is widely credited as having founded Surrealist Cinema with films such as Un Chien andalou (made with Salvador Dali) and L’Age d’Or. Leaving Nationalist-controlled Spain, Buñuel emigrated to New York and later to Mexico, where he made such classics as Los Olvidados and Viridiana. After returning to Europe, Buñuel collaborated with Carrière and producer Serge Silberman to make The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie in France when the director was 72 years old. The film is full of passion and fire and won the 1972 Best Foreign Film Oscar. Alternately laugh-out-loud funny and disquietingly bizarre this masterpiece remains one of Buñuel’s most popular films. Dreams, daydreams and fantasy intertwine in this masterful display of bravura filmmaking. To celebrate the film’s 40th Anniversary, Studiocanal and the ICO have released this re-mastered digital print of Buñuel’s surreal comedy on Blu-ray and DVD following a successful run at BFI Southbank as part of the Jean-Claude Carrière season. Extras include an introduction by Peter Evans, professor of film studies at Queen Mary, University of London. Essential viewing.

TRAPEZE - THE WONDER SHOW OF THE WORLD!   SECOND SIGHT 2NDVD3234

TrapezeCarol Reed’s lavish 1956 melodrama is set in Paris in the sleazily glamorous world of the circus. Mike Ribble, once a great trapeze artist, is severely injured after an accident while attempting a dangerous triple somersault. Tino is the aspiring aerialist who is determined to learn the death-defying trick and knows Mike is the man to teach him. The pair become firm friends but their relationship is threatened by the arrival of Lola, a beautiful and driven acrobat with ambitions of her own. With spellbinding stunts performed by the best circus performers in Europe, Trapeze is a high-flying visual treat with an unforgettable finale. The underrated Burt Lancaster, a former trapeze artist himself who here performs his own stunts, is perfect as Mike and the starry cast also includes Tony Curtis as Tino and lovely Gina Lollobrigida as the ambitious Lola, with veteran actor Thomas Gomez as the irascible circus master, Katy Jurado in a typically souful performance as Rosa and Sidney James as a snake charmer. Lancaster and Curtis would appear together again a year later in the classic Sweet Smell of Success.

THE QUEEN   PATHE P9206BDC

The QueenFollowing the death of Diana, the ‘People’s Princess’, the Queen and her family remain hidden behind tradition and the closed doors of their summer residence, Balmoral Castle. Whilst the heartbroken public becomes disillusioned with their Queen’s absence, an increasingly popular Prime Minister, Tony Blair, must battle to convince the monarchy that its desire for privacy could lead to its ultimate downfall. With an astonishing Oscar-winning performance from Helen Mirren, director Stephen Frears’ brave, engrossing film gives an intimate, intelligently witty and sympathetic portrait of the monarchy’s darkest days in the week following one of the nation’s greatest tragedies. ‘Nowadays people want glamor and tears, the grand performance. I’ve never been good at that.’ - HM Queen Elizabeth II. Michael Sheen is brilliant as the cocky Tony Blair and the cast also includes Helen McCrory as his wife Cherie, Alex Jennings as Prince Charles, Roger Allam as the Queen’s impeccable private secretary, the excellent James Cromwell as Prince Philip and Sylvia Syms as the Queen Mother. This Blu-ray Diamond Jubilee Edition includes a featurette on the making of the film, the theatrical trailer, a photography gallery, and a spiky audio commentary by Stephen Frears and writer Peter Morgan.

THE ARTIST   ENTERTAINMENT IN VIDEO EBR5209

The ArtistMichel Hazanavicius’ stylistically daring, almost dialogue free comedy stars Jean Dujardin as George Valentin, a matinee idol in Hollywood in the late 1920s. His marriage is far from perfect, and one day he meets ambitious chorus girl Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo) and is smitten. Very quickly, sound comes to movies and George sinks all his money into one epic silent film, while Peppy becomes a star in the new era. Jean Dujardin exudes swashbuckling Douglas Fairbanks-like charm and panache as the leading man and Bérénice Bejo is both delightful and touching as the effervescent Peppy. The cast also includes the brilliant James Cromwell as George’s devoted chauffeur, Missi Pyle, Penelope Ann Miller, Malcolm McDowell, John Goodman as the head of the film studio, and Uggie, the extraordinary, scene-stealing dog who thinks he’s people. This exceptional black and white film is a sweet, lovingly created elegy for the great silent film era of Chaplin, Murnau and King Vidor, before the dawn of the talkies. As well as winning a BAFTA for Best Film of the Year and the Best Actor award at the Cannes Film Festival, The Artist received five US Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor. This Blu-ray release presents the film in its original 1.37:1 aspect ratio, alongside bonus supplements including four featurettes covering the costumes by Mark Bridges, Guillaume Schiffman’s cinematography, production design and Ludovic Bource’s music. Other behind-the-scenes featurettes include ‘The Artist: The Making of an American Romance’, ‘Hollywood as a Character: The Locations of The Artist’, and there is a lengthy Q&A with the filmmakers and cast.

TOTAL RECALL   STUDIOCANAL OPTBD1798

Total RecallDirector Paul Verhoeven’s classic sci-fi actioner, based on a short story by the acclaimed Philip K. Dick, is set in the year 2084 after the earth has survived its third world war. Two opposing government blocs rule the world and construction worker Douglas Quaid (Schwarzenegger), a man with a beautiful wife, a good job and great friends, is constantly dreaming of Mars, of another life there - and a mysterious woman. His wife Lori (a then unknown Sharon Stone) worries he’s becoming obsessed with the war torn planet and deters Quaid from taking an actual trip to the colony there, so he settles for the next best thing - a ‘virtual vacation’ guaranteed to seem like the real thing. But something goes very wrong and his everyday world crumbles around him as he is thrust into a fight for his life and is relentlessly pursued by his former wife and friends. Is he a spy, or is he just suffering from a massive paranoid delusion? Winner of a Special Achievement Award for its groundbreaking visual effects, this mindbending rollercoaster ride of a film was also nominated for two Oscars. Highlighted by an exclusive new interview with Verhoeven, Studiocanal’s triple play release features a brand-new, director-approved high definition restoration taken from the original negative. A wealth of bonus materials includes several documentaries as well as commentary from Verhoeven and Schwarzenegger. ‘The Future doesn’t come any better’ - Time Out.

ENDURANCE   SECOND SIGHT 2NDVD3233

EnduranceEthiopian Haile Gebrselassie is one of the world’s greatest long-distance track and road running athletes of all time. He won two Olympic gold medals over 10,000 metres and four World Championship titles in the event, won the Berlin Marathon four times consecutively and had three straight wins at the Dubai Marathon. He has also won four world titles indoors and was the 2001 World Half Marathon Champion. Gebrselassie had major competition wins at distances between 1500 metres and the marathon, moving from outdoor, indoor and cross country running to road running in the latter part of his career. He broke 61 Ethiopian National Records ranging from 800 metres to the marathon and set 27 world records. In 2008, at the age of 35, he won the Berlin Marathon with a world record time of 2:03:59, breaking his own world record by 27 seconds. In Endurance, veteran documentarian Leslie Woodhead tells the amazing story of this true sporting hero as he discovers his phenomenal gift, dedicates himself to training, works the fields, falls in love, and is inspired by prayer. Beginning with Haile Gebrselassie’s early life in Ethiopia where he ran to school barefoot with his books under his arm, the film follows his determined pursuit, despite hardship and his father’s disapproval, of Olympic glory and a 10,000 metre final at the Atlanta games of 1996 that would become recognised as one of the greatest races in athletics history. ‘It contrasts the community’s material poverty with its spiritual richness and suggests this may be one of the great lessons that Africa has to teach the West’ - Film4.com.

CROOKS IN CLOISTERS   STUDIOCANAL OPTD2367

Crooks In CloistersAfter pulling off the smallest ever train robbery, ‘Little Walter’ (Ronald Fraser) and his crew are forced to lie low, away from London and the attentions of the formidable Superintendent Mungo (Alister Williamson). The six of them set up business in an abandoned island monastery off the Cornish coast disguised as monks, despite the fact that none of them really qualifies - least of all Walter’s girlfriend (Barbara Windsor). True to form, old habits initially die hard and soon their vows of poverty give way to a massive counterfeiting operation making ‘schneid rhino’. Successfully dodging visits by tourists and even real monks, the gang are taken by surprise to find the simple life starting to grow on them. After all they can’t live a life of dodgement forever, but is it too late to turn over a new leaf and escape the dogged Mungo’s clutches? Ronald Fraser relishes his role as the disreputable Walter and Barbara Windsor is a surreal ‘Brother Bikini’. Directed by Jeremy Summers, this 1964 British comedy also stars Bernard Cribbins and other British stalwarts such as Wilfrid Brambell, Melvyn Hayes as a would-be poet, Corin Redgrave (in his first film), the delightful Francesca Annis and veteran Arnold Ridley.

TALES FROM EARTHSEA & HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE  STUDIOCANAL OPTBD1083 & OPTBD0837

Tales From EarthseaHowl's Moving CastleThese releases feature two films based on highly acclaimed source novels and made by Japan’s imaginative Studio Ghibli, creator of My Neighbours The Yamadas and Laputa: Castle in The Sky. Director Hayao Miyazaki’s Howl’s Moving Castle featuring the voices of Emily Mortimer, Blythe Danner, Christian Bale, Jean Simmons and Billy Crystal, is set in a magical story-book land of wizards and magic where our heroine Sophie becomes the victim of an evil sorcerer’s spell and is trapped in the body of an old woman. Based on a popular book by British author Diana Wynne Jones, Howl’s Moving Castle is wise, witty and beautifully filmed, creating a wonderfully rich and strange world. The UK theatrical release of was a phenomenal success and the film has won any awards, especially for the fabulous soundtrack. This Blu-ray release has many extras including interviews with Diana Wynne Jones, trailers and and four featurettes. Tales From Earthsea, directorial debut of Goro Miyazaki, son of the legendary Hayao Miyazaki, creates a similarly fantastical landscape. The wizard Sparrowhawk, voiced by Timothy Dalton, experiences a terrible omen - the sight of two dragons devouring one another in a raging storm - and sets out on a quest to find the source of the evil forces about to start shaking his world. The film is based on the unique series of books by Ursula Le Guin and also features the voices of Willem Dafoe and Matt Levin. Extras include complete storyboards, several featurettes and a Studio Ghibli trailer reel.

A BRONX TALE   STUDIOCANAL OPTBD0224

A Bronx TaleThe streets of the Bronx are a tough place for a kid to grow up - you learn fast or lose everything. In his impressive directorial debut, two-time Academy Award-Winner Robert De Niro also stars as Lorenzo Anello, a hard-working bus driver and family man, who must stand up to local mob boss, Sonny (Chazz Palminteri, who also wrote the screenplay) if he is to keep his son from falling into a life of crime. When Lorenzo’s nine-year old son Calogero (Lillo Brancato) witnesses a murder committed by Sonny and refuses to identify the killer, the gangster takes the boy under his wing, gradually introducing him to a new way of life. Calogero learns about the virtues of hard, honest work from his father, who owns nothing but his integrity; but he learns about easy money and life on the streets from the man who owns them – Sonny. Calogero grows up torn between his own natural honesty and his fascination with the gangster, and must choose between earning respect or commanding it. Joe Pesci also appears briefly as another respected crime boss this gripping film that vividly evokes the sights and sounds of the Bronx. A compelling tale of love and loyalty, A Bronx Tale is one of the most authentic gangster dramas ever made. Extras with this Blu-ray release include a ‘making of’ documentary and the original trailer.

THE REPTILE & THE PLAGUE OF ZOMBIES  STUDIOCANAL OPTBD0633 & OPTBD0630

The ReptileFollowing Dracula, Prince of Darkness on double play, Studiocanal has now released two more digitally restored Hammer classics: The Reptile and The Plague of the Zombies. These were shot back to back in 1966 under the direction of John Gilling and both have now undergone extensive restorations in conjunction with Hammer and Pinewood studios, with new extras specially created working alongside Hammer expert Marcus Hearn. In The Reptile, a deadly epidemic is spreading through the remote Cornish village of Glagmoor Heath and as darkness falls its victims are found foaming at the mouth with savage wounds to their necks. After his brother becomes another fatality, Harry Spalding and his wife Valerie move to Clagmoor to investigate the mysterious death. With little help from the superstitious locals, Harry follows a trail of macabre intrigue that leads him to the sinister Dr Franklyn (Noel Willman), his strange but beautiful daughter Anna (Jacqueline Pearce) and a truly horrific family secret. Released in 1966, The Reptile is Hammer horror at its most nightmarish and bizarre. Ray Barrett and Jennifer Daniel are excellent as the troubled young couple, Harry and Valerie, and there are fine performances too by Michael The Plague of the ZombiesRipper as a tavern keeper and John Laurie as ‘Mad Peter’. Extras with this DVD/Blu-ray edition include the World of Hammer episode ‘Wicked Women’; A featurette ‘The Serpents Tale’; restoration comparison; and the restored trailer. The Plague of the Zombies is also set in a remote eighteenth century Cornish village, where an evil presence lurks within the darkness of the witching hour and a mysterious plague relentlessly takes lives. Unable to find the cause, Dr Peter Thompson (Brook Williams) enlists the help of Professor James Forbes (the great Andre Morell). Desperate to discover an antidote, they find instead empty coffins with the diseased corpses missing. Following a series of strange and frightening clues, Thompson and Forbes are lead to a deserted mine where they discover a world of black magic and a doomed legion of flesh eating slaves - the walking dead. The Plague of the Zombies also stars Jacqueline Pearce and Michael Ripper. An intelligent script and effective photography help create a chilling atmosphere, making this cult film one of Hammer’s most memorable. Extras include the World of Hammer episode ‘Mummies, Werewolves And The Living Dead; A featurette: ‘Raising The Dead’; restoration comparison; and the restored trailer.

ISLAND OF LOST SOULS  EUREKA MASTERS OF CINEMA EKA70074

Island of Lost SoulsOriginally rejected by the BBFC on its original release for being ‘against nature’, this first and best screen adaptation of H G Wells’ The Island of Dr Moreau is a taboo-flaunting, bloodcurdling spectacular, and one of Hollywood’s wildest, most notorious, pre-Code pictures. Shipwrecked and adrift, Edward Parker finds himself a guest on Dr Moreau’s isolated South Seas island, but quickly discovers the horrifying nature of the doctor’s grisly work and the origin of the strange forms inhabiting the isle: a colony of wild animals reworked into humanoid form via sadistic surgical experiments. Furthermore, Parker quickly begins to fear his own part in the doctor’s plans to take the unholy enterprise to a next level. Featuring a peerlessly erudite and sinister performance by Charles Laughton as the diabolical, whip-wielding doctor, a sterling appearance by an extravagantly bearded Bela Lugosi as the half-beast-half-man ‘Sayer of the Law’, and sensationally atmospheric cinematography by the great Karl Struss (Murnau’s Sunrise), Island of Lost Souls was directed in 1932 by the shadowy Erle C. Kenton. This disturbing classic raises serious moral issues and can claim a central position among the most imaginative and nightmarish fantasies from Hollywood’s golden age of horror. Kathleen Burke is the temptingly beautiful Panther Woman, Lota, and there are alleged uncredited performances by Alan Ladd and Randolph Scott among ‘The Beasts’, who are often restless at night. Extras with this new high-definition restoration of the uncut theatrical version include two exclusive videos and the original trailer. Horror critic and historian Jonathan Rigby discusses the film in revealing detail and Laughton biographer Simon Callow talks about Island of Lost Souls in the context of the great man’s work.

YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE   STUDIOCANAL OPTD2346

You Only Live OnceEddie Taylor (charismatic Henry Fonda) is a three-time convict completing his third term for felony. One more offence, the warden warns him and he will be returned to prison for life. Taylor is not a bad sort though, he has made his mistakes, but he has paid for them. All he wants now is a job and a home for the girl who has been waiting for him, Joan Graham (a touching performance by Sylvia Sidney). He gets a truck-driving job, marries Joan and even makes a down payment on a little house. Sadly, everything falls apart: he loses his job, and a hat, bearing the initials ‘E.T’, found at the scene of a fatal bank robbery, which is enough to convince a jury of his guilt. So he is forced to flee with his wife and baby on the way, but in trying to avoid capture, Taylor becomes a murderer for real. Released in 1937 and partly inspired on the legend of Bonnie and Clyde, You Only Live Once is an early noir classic directed by Fritz Lang as his second American film. Extras with this 75th Anniversary release on DVD include an introduction by George Wilson, Inside You Only Live Once - production takes from a film in the making, and a long audio interview/Q&A with Lang recorded at the National Film Theatre in 1962. The great director is in top form, answering questions with mischievous wit and refreshing frankness.

RUGGLES OF RED GAP   EUREKA MASTERS OF CINEMA EKA70043

Ruggles of Red GapRuggles of Red Gap began as a serial in The Saturday Evening Post then became a play by Harry Leon Wilson, a best selling novel and a successful stage musical. Leo McCarey’s delicious 1935 film is a screwball satire telling the story of Lord Burnstead (a wonderfully droll performance by Roland Young) who gambles away his impeccably correct English butler, Marmaduke Ruggles (the great Charles Laughton). Ruggles’ new ‘owners’ are a nouveau riche American couple, Egbert and Effie Floud (Charlie Ruggles and Mary Boland), who take him to Red Gap, a remote Western town in the state of Washington. When the butler is mistaken for a wealthy Englishman, he becomes a small-town celebrity. As he attempts to adjust to this rough new community, he learns to live life on his own terms, achieving a fulfilling independence as a result. The director’s legendary comic instincts combine with his customary tender respect to make this one of the most glorious and enduring comedies of classical Hollywood. Laughton gives one of his finest performances and the supporting cast includes the charming ZaSu Pitts and Leila Hyams, with Maude Eburne as the formidable ‘Ma’ Pettingill. ‘Rapturously funny.’ - The New York Times. Leo McCarey’s warmhearted masterpiece was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Picture and is here released in a new high-definition master for the first time anywhere in the world on Blu-ray. Special features include an optional music and effects track; Ruggles on the Radio (three adaptations made for radio broadcast, all featuring Charles Laughton and Charlie Ruggles in a reprisal of their famous roles); Laughton reciting Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, originally released as a 78-rpm record in 1937; and a booklet featuring rare archival imagery.

OUTCAST OF THE ISLANDS   STUDIOCANAL OPTD2344

Outcast of the IslandsPeter Willems, a morally compromised man, is on the run from scandal in Makassar when he finds himself stranded on a remote Indian Ocean trading outpost, where his malign influence soon spreads to all around him, including a despicable fellow English ex-pat Almayer (Robert Morley) and the crafty native Babalatchi (George Coulouris). With brutal candour the film depicts his gradual decline as his lust for the beautiful daughter (played by mysterious Kerima) of the sly Babalatchi and his double-crossing combine to undo him. Adapted from Joseph Conrad’s novel of the same name and directed by Oscar winning director Carol Reed, this 1952 film features memorable performances by Wendy Hiller as the tragic Mrs Almayer, Trevor Howard as Willems and Ralph Richardson as as decent Captain Lingard. To celebrate the 50th Anniversary of this unjustly neglected film, Studiocanal has now released Outcast of the Islands for the first time on DVD.

THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES   MR BONGO MRBDVD050

Hound of the BaskervillesSir Arthur Conan Doyle’s immortal fictional detective first appeared in Beeton’s Christmas Annual in 1887. Sherlock Holmes became hugely popular following the publication in The Strand Magazine of the first series of short stories covering a period from around 1878 up to 1907, with the final case being set in 1914. The London-based ‘consulting detective’ is famous for using his intellectual prowess, astute observation, deductive reasoning and inference to solve even the most difficult cases. All but four of the stories are narrated by Holmes’s friend and biographer, Dr John H. Watson, with two narrated by Holmes himself and two others written in the third person. As well as being hugely popular still in print, Conan Doyle’s stories have been filmed many times. Sherlock Holmes has appeared on screen more often than any other fictional character and his exploits have intrigued and fascinated the world over. A series of Russian television films directed by Igor Maslennikov has been widely acclaimed as the finest Holmes adaptations and this faithful version of The Hound of the Baskervilles is now available on DVD for the first time. With the sudden death of Sir Charles Baskerville, his estate is left in the care of his porridge-hating nephew Sir Henry (Nikita Mihalkov). In light of suspicious circumstances surrounding his uncle’s death, detectives Sherlock Holmes (Vasili Livanov) and Dr Watson (Vitali Solomin) are appointed to safeguard him. Holmes follows leads in London while Watson accompanies Sir Henry to the Baskerville estate in Devonshire. Although tranquil in daytime, the countryside proves highly treacherous at night when the wind is drowned by the howling of an unseen beast. Director Maslennikov conjures up an authentic Holmesian atmosphere captured in gorgeous colour photography in this adaptation that has become a cult favourite for its wit, style and period detail. Nikita Mihalkov is superb as the hapless Sir Henry, Borislav Brondukov is Inspector Lestrade, and the distinguished Russian actress Alla Demidova makes an attractive Laura Lyons. Vasili Livanov received an OBE for his unfussy portrayal of the rational Victorian sleuth and together with Vitali Solomin this duo have been voted the best Holmes and Watson of all time.

THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES OF NICHOLAS NICKLEBY & THE OLD CURIOSITY SHOP  STUDIOCANAL

Nicholas NicklebyTo celebrate the bicentenary of the great author’s birth, Studiocanal has released two Dickens’ classics filmed in the heydays of British cinema. Alongside Great Expectations, Nicholas Nickleby (OPTD2348) is among the finest film adaptations of Dickens’ work. Made by Ealing Studios in 1947 and superbly directed by Alberto Cavalcanti, it stars Cedric Hardwicke, Derek Bond, Bernard Miles (unforgettable as the kindly Noggs), Sybil Thorndike, Cyril Fletcher as flamboyant Mr Mantalini, Alfred Drayton as the horrible Wackford Squeers, Aubrey Woods as poor Smike and Stanley Holloway as the extravagantly theatrical Vincent Crummles. Bond plays the title character, a resourceful young Britisher forced to protect his family against the demonic machinations of his scheming Uncle Ralph (a chilling performance by Hardwicke). Cast out into the cold cruel world, Nicholas Nickleby deals adroitly with friend and foe alike as he seek his fortune as a travelling entertainer. Eventually things come full circle as he gains his rightful inheritance and metes out just desserts to his avaricious uncle. Extras include Nicholas NicklebyThe Old Curiosity Shop, a silent film from 1912 directed by George O. Nichols, and a behind the scenes stills gallery. In The Old Curiosity Shop (OPTD2349), directed by Thomas Bentley in 1935, Hay Petrie gives an unforgettable performance as the demonic, hunchbacked, gleefully evil Mr Quilp, the wicked landlord who dominates and later ruins the lives of elderly shopkeeper Trent (Ben Webster) and his resourceful granddaughter Little Nell, who live in the antiques shop he owns. Nell and her grandfather take off across the country in an attempt to evade Quilp, who follows close behind, and meet rich assortment of Dickensian characters along the way. The death of the heroine is handled with discretion by screenwriters Margaret Kennedy and Ralph Neale and the superb set designs by Cedric Dawe closely follow the original book illustrations. Elaine Benson is a convincingly sweet Nell and there are fine performances too by Reginald Purdell as amiable wastrel Dick Swiveller, James Harcourt as The Single Gentleman and Amy Veness as the splendid Mrs Jarley, proprietor of Jarley’s Celebrated Wax Works. Special features include interviews with BFI Dickens Season curators Adrian Wootton & Michael Eaton and with biographer Michael Slater, as well as ‘Wonderful Dickens: Dickens’ London’ - a 1924 silent film directed by Frank Miller.

THE HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY  ARROW FCD620

The House by The CemeteryItalian director Lucio Fulci’s 1981 supernatural zombie horror film (‘Quella villa accanto al cimitero’) is the third instalment of his ‘Gates of Hell’ trilogy that also includes City of the Living Dead and The Beyond. The film’s plot revolves around a series of murders taking place in a gothic New England home, which happens to be hiding a particularly gruesome secret within its basement walls. This terrifying, stylish and extremely gory movie stars English actress Catriona MacColl, Paolo Malco, Ania Pieroni as the beautiful but unnervingly quiet babysitter, Giovanni Frezza, Silvia Collatina and Dagmar Lassander, with Giovanni De Nava as Dr Jacob Freudstein and an uncredited appearance by the director. In 1982, The House by The Cemetery was declared a ‘video nasty’ by the UK press and commentators such as Mary Whitehouse, which will be recommendation enough for many. Beautifully photographed and compelling, The House by the Cemetery is bloody shocker that builds to a screaming climax that is not for the squeamish. This Limited Edition Blu-ray release from Arrow comes with a huge range of extras that include a new High Definition restoration from the original negative presented totally uncut, audio commentaries with Catriona MacColl and Silvia Collatina, interviews with some of the stars, several documentaries and a host of Italian cult horror trailers.

LAPUTA: CASTLE IN THE SKY  OPTIMUM OPTBD0291

LaputaFrom the creators of Spirited Away comes Hayao Miyazaki’s homage to Jules Verne and Jonathan Swift. Castle in the Sky was the first feature film from the now legendary Studio Ghibli and combines the Japanese master director’s twin obsessions of eco-thriller and aerial escapades, turning a treasure hunt into a fight against evil for an unforgettable adventure. Orphan Pazu dreams of escaping from life in his dreary mining village, until the day that the beautiful Sheeta literally falls out of the sky. Round her neck she wears a glowing crystal, a relic of the mighty Levitation Stones that once kept ancient cities floating in the air. Caught up in a race between sky pirates and sinister government agents, Pazu and Sheeta go in search of Laputa, the last of the fabled castles in the sky. Miyazaki’s fantasy epic is a beautiful and magical trip into an enchanting world. Extras include storyboards, a promotional video, a behind the scenes documentary and the original Japanese trailers.

MIRACLE IN MILAN   ARROW FILMS FCD597

Miracle in Milan - Dual EditionThis three-disc set includes new High Definition Blu-ray and Standard Definition DVD presentations of Vittorio De Sica’s unforgettable Miracle in Milan (Miracolo a Milano). Made in 1951, the year after the director’s immortal Bicycle Thieves, Miracle in Milan was again co-written by Cesare Zavattini, based on his novel Totò il Buono. Set in poverty-stricken post-war Milan, this neo-realist fable tells the story of a newborn boy discovered in a cabbage patch and adopted by Lolotta, a kind old woman. When she dies he moves to an orphanage, leaving at and ending up in a shantytown on the outskirts of Milan. His organizational ability and optimistic outlook bring a sense of happiness and well being to the dispossessed who live there but when oil is found the capitalists move in and the squatters taken away until Totò (Francesco Golisan) uses his magic powers. A Chaplinesque tale of the triumph of innocence, De Sica’s classic celebrates the best of humanity. The many features with this dual edition include a full length feature, Il Tetto [The Roof], De Sica’s touching 1956 film also written by Zavattini. Available for the first time in the UK on DVD, it follows a young couple (played by Giorgio Listuzzi and the delightful Gabriella Pallotta) trying to make their way in postwar Rome. Other extras include interviews with Manuel De Sica and actor Brunella Bovo, Rome premiere newsreel footage of Miracle in Milan, and a comprehensive booklet with writing about this film and Il Tetto.

LIFEBOAT    EUREKA EKA70040

LifeboatBased on an unpublished novella by John Steinbeck, Lifeboat one of the finest 1940s works by the undisputed Master of Suspense, Alfred Hitchcock. The great director took on the challenge of creating maximal tension in the most minimal of settings, resulting in one of his most ingenious cameo appearances. Set in the Atlantic during the Second World War, this consistently inventive, beautifully paced drama foreshadowed other Hitchcock single-set experiments – Rope, Rear Window and Dial M for Murder. In Lifeboat, a Nazi submarine torpedo reduces an ocean liner to wooden splinters and scorched personal effects. The survivors gather in a drifting lifeboat in the hope of eventual rescue. But the devious motivations of a rescued German U-boat captain (played by Walter Slezak) soon cause suspicion. Described by François Truffaut as a ‘picture of characters’, this Oscar-nominated film stars the fabulous, irrepressible Tallulah Bankhead as an international photo-journalist. Others involved include Hume Cronyn (who suffered cracked ribs and almost drowned during the course of filming), William Bendix, Mary Anderson, John Hodiak, Henry Hull as millionaire Charles S. Rittenhouse, Heather Angel and the excellent Canada Lee. ‘Absorbing...brilliantly executed’ - The Hollywood Reporter. This dual format edition (Blu-ray and DVD) features a new high-definition master of the film as well as Hitchcock’s little-seen French-language 1944 wartime films, Bon voyage and Aventure malgache Other extras include a documentary on the making of Lifeboat, an excerpt from the 1962 audio interviews between Hitchcock and Truffaut, discussing Lifeboat and the wartime shorts. This underrated masterpiece is also available from Eureka as a limited edition Dual Format steelbook (EKA70076).

UGETSU MONOGATARI  EUREKA MASTERS OF CINEMA EKA70067

Ugetsu MonogatariDirector Kenji Mizoguchi is famed for his meticulously orchestrated long takes and subtle blending of realistic period reconstruction with lyrical supernaturalism. His 1953 masterpiece, Ugetsu Monogatari (Tales of the Rain and Moon, aka Ugetsu) is based on two 18th century ghost stories by Ueda Akinari. The film’s release continued Mizoguchi’s introduction to the West, where it was nominated for an Oscar and won the Venice Film Festival’s Silver Lion award for Best Direction. In 16th century Japan, amidst the pandemonium of civil war, potter Genjūrō (Mori Masayuki) and samurai-aspirant Tobei (Ozawa Sakae) set out with their wives in search of wealth and military glory respectively. Two parallel tales ensue when the men are lured from their wives: Genjūrō by the ghostly charm of Lady Wakasa (Kyo Machiko) and Tobei by the dream of military glory. This dual format Special Edition includes a newly restored high-definition transfer of Mizoguchi’s classic alongside his lesser known Oyū-sama (Miss Oyū, aka Lady Oyū), available on Blu-ray for the first time anywhere in the world. Extras include optional English subtitles, Tony Rayns video discussions of Ugetsu Monogatari and Oyū-sama, original Japanese and Spanish theatrical trailers for Ugetsu Monogatari, a restoration demonstration, and an illustrated booklet featuring rare archival images and award-winning translations of the 18th century Ueda Akinari stories. Haunting, magical and ravishingly beautiful, Ugetsu Monogatari consistently features in polls of the best films ever made.

SANSHO DAYU   EUREKA MASTERS OF CINEMA EKA70068

Sansho DayuBased on an ancient legend, as recounted by celebrated author Mori Ōgai (in his short story of the same name, written in 1915), and adapted by Mizoguchi, Sanshō Dayū (Sanshō the Steward, aka Sanshō the Bailiff) is both distinctively Japanese and as deeply affecting as a Greek tragedy. Described in its opening title as ‘one of the oldest and most tragic in Japan’s history’, Mizoguchi depicts an unforgettably sad story of social injustice, family love and personal sacrifice – all conveyed with exquisite tone and purity of emotion. Set in 11th century Japan, it follows an aristocratic woman, Tamaki (played by Tanaka Kinuyo, who also stars in Mizoguchi’s Ugetsu Monogatari), and her two children, Zushiō (Hanayagi Yoshiaki) and Anju (Kagawa Kyōko), who are separated by feudal tyranny from Tamaki’s husband. When the children are kidnapped and sold into slavery to the eponymous ‘Sansho’ (Shindō Eitarō), the lives of each of the family members follow very different paths – each course uniquely, and insufferably, tragic. Famed for its period reconstructions and powerful imagery, Sanshō Dayū is one of the most critically revered of all of japanese cinema and frequently mentioned in lists of the greatest films ever made. This dual format Special Edition features a newly restored high-definition transfer of Mizoguchi’s classic together with Gion Bayashi (Gion Festival Music, aka A Geisha). Extras include Tony Rayns video discussion of Sanshō Dayū and Gion Bayashi, Japanese theatrical trailers, before-and-after Sanshō Dayū restoration demonstrations, and an illustrated booklet featuring archival imagery and a full reprint of the 1915 Mori Ōgai story adapted in Sanshō Dayū ‘Moving and atmospheric, this quest tale is among the best of its kind.’ - Empire.

THE LADY   ENTERTAINMENT IN VIDEO EDV9732 (DVD) & EBR5210 (BLU-RAY)

The LadyDirector Luc Besson’s film tells the extraordinary story of Burmese political heroine Aung San Suu Kyi and her British husband, Michael Aris. This is also the epic story of the peaceful quest of the woman who is at the core of Burma’s democratic movement and was recently elected again to her country’s parliament after many years of persecution. When Aung San Suu Kyi was three years old her father, who led Burma to independence, was assassinated by a death squad. As an adult she moved to England, found a loving husband and had a perfectly happy life until her mother’s poor health forces her to return to Burma. She meets many people who have been wounded during a recent military crackdown and finds herself becoming an icon for Burma’s people’s self-determination movement. Suu Kyi founds a party and clearly wins the election but the generals deny her victory. Her family are banned from the country while she is put under house arrest for more than a decade. Outside Burma, Aung San Suu Kyi’s plight is increasingly recognised and due to her families’ efforts she becomes the first woman in Asia to re be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. This is a story of devotion and human understanding set against a backdrop of political turmoil that continues today. Written by Rebecca Frayn and handsomely photographed by Thierry Arbogast, this true story features convincing performances by Michelle Yeoh (who bears an astonishing resemblance to Burma’s national heroine) and David Thewlis as the devoted Michael. Extras include a ‘Making Of’ documentary and ‘Happy Worldburma: The Dictatorship of the Absurd’.

TWICE ROUND THE DAFFODILS   STUDIOCANAL OPTD2338

TWICE ROUND THE DAFFODILSThis unusual comedy has an unlikely scenario in which four male patients arrive at a sanatorium to be treated for TB (5,000 people died of the disease in 1962, the year that the film was made). As the patients adjust to their new home, each starts to take a shine to the nurses who are there to care for them. This ‘unofficial’ Carry On film was made by the regular team of producer Peter Rogers, director Gerald Thomas and writer Norman Hudis (Carry on Nurse was based on the same original stage play, co-written by Patrick Cargill). Twice Round The Daffodils stars such well-loved British comedy actors as Kenneth Williams and Joan Sims as brother and sister, Juliet Mills (a delightful performance as beautiful Nurse Catty), Renee Houston as the feared Matron, goofy Lance Percival and girlfriend Sheila Hancock, Donald Sinden as an incorrigible wolf, Jill Ireland, the excellent Donald Houston, Ronald Lewis as a long-term resident and Nanette Newman as his fiancee. More heartwarming drama than an out and out comedy, Twice Round the Daffodils is a thoughtful and gently funny film that has been unfairly overlooked.

LA GRANDE ILLUSION   STUDIOCANAL OPTD2387 (DVD) & OPTBD2365 (BLU-RAY)

La Grande Illusion blu-rayJean Renoir’s poetic and poignant classic is a meditation on class, the nature of war and the death of the old European order. Aristocratic Captain de Boeldieu (Pierre Fresnay), mechanic Lieutenant Marechal (Jean Gabin) and wealthy Jewish banker Rosenthal (Marcel Dalio) are all thrown together, despite their vastly different backgrounds, as prisoners of the Germans in World War I. Separated by a successful escape, they are recaptured and reunited in an imposing fortress commanded by German aristocrat Van Rauffenstein (Erich Von Stroheim), with tragic consequences. The title and central theme of La Grande Illusion comes from a Nobel prize-winning essay by British economist Norman Angell on the futility of war and the film calls on Renoir’s own experiences as an aviator in WWI. The film was declared the ‘Cinematographic Enemy Number One’ by the Nazis after it won a prize at the Venice Film Festival and was banned. The original negative was long feared destroyed in an Allied bombing raid, though in reality it had been confiscated by the Nazis and shipped to the Reichfilmarchiv in Berlin. Despite being returned to France in the 1960s, the negative lay undamaged and unidentified in storage at La Cinémathèque de Toulouse until the 1990s. Having previously restored the film in 1997, Studiocanal and La Cinémathèque de Toulouse decided to complete this beautiful new restoration utilizing 21st century cutting edge technologies and the film will be preserved now for at least a century. An impassioned call for the unity of humankind across class and national boundaries, La Grande Illusion also offers a quietly subversive social analysis of European society. Following its recent cinema release, this wonderful film is now available on DVD and Blu-ray, with extras that include an introduction by the director, the theatrical trailer and two Renoir shorts – Sur Un Air de Charleston and La Petite Merchande d’Alluminettes.

BAD LIEUTENANT   FABULOUS FILMS FHED2876

BAD LIEUTENANTThe Lieutenant is the kind of New York City cop who steals drugs off a dead man’s body, the kind of father who would feed his drug and gambling habits rather than his family. His badge means nothing to him other than the right to act like the very criminals he is supposed to be chasing and the fierce anger beneath his personality is only fuelled by his addiction to heroin, crack and alcohol. However, when a beautiful young nun (Frankie Thorn) is raped on the altar of a local church the bad lieutenant is drawn to her case and into a final desperate attempt to find the true depths of human sin and the power of mercy. Harvey Keitel gives a mesmerising performance in this disturbing and uncompromising film, which Premiere Magazine voted as one of ‘The 25 Most Dangerous Movies’. Bad Lieutenant is now available in this Blu-ray Collectors Edition featuring a fully restored master in Hi-Definition. Extras include the original theatrical trailer, original directors cut, an interview, audio commentary and introduction to the film by director Abel Ferrara, and a stills gallery. ‘Keitel gives the bravest performance of his career’ - Radio Times.

A MIDNIGHT CLEAR  SECOND SIGHT 2NDBR4007 (BLU-RAY) & 2NDVD3214 (DVD)

A Midnight ClearEthan Hawke, Gary Sinise, Kevin Dillon and Peter Berg star in this unusual war movie closely based on a novel by William Wharton. A Midnight Clear won critical acclaim on its release in 1992 and this gripping, atmospheric film has earned a large cult following. A Midnight Clear is now available on DVD and Blu-ray in widescreen format for the first time in this Anniversary Edition from Second Sight Films. Towards the end of World War II, a depleted squad of American soldiers are assigned a special intelligence mission to watch activity amid the stark snow covered landscape of the French-German border and soon discover a battle weary enemy reluctant to fight. When Christmas comes the two sides begin to communicate and warily establish some common ground. They agree to fake a battle so that the Germans can be ‘captured’ without any bloodshed and loss of honour. Unfortunately a tragic misunderstanding has devastating consequences in this powerful depiction of the random chaos and insanity of war. This sharply scripted, intelligent film has an outstanding ensemble cast, ably marshalled by debut director Keith Gordon. Special features include a 50 minute documentary featuring the director, audio commentary by Keith Gordon and Ethan Hawke and deleted scenes. ‘The performances are uniformly excellent as the film moves inexorably towards bloody confrontation and spiritual reckoning’ - Time Out.

IL BOOM   STUDIOCANAL OPTD 2362

Il BoomThe groundbreaking director Vittorio De Sica was reunited with screenwriter Cesare Zavattini, his collaborator for Bicycle Thieves and Miracle in Milan, to create this sharp satire on the ‘greed is good’ culture that gripped Italy in the 1950s and 1960s. Alberto Sordi plays Giovanni, a struggling businessman who will do anything to shower his exotic wife Silvia with expensive gifts and prove his success by extravagant displays of conspicuous consumption. Pushed to the limits in his efforts to rid himself of his growing debts and contemplating suicide, Giovanni hears of a rich, partially-sighted industrialist named Bausetti (Ettore Geri) who is willing to pay handsomely anyone prepared to sacrifice one of his eyes to help him. Sordi is slyly funny and touching as the trapped Giovanni, the beautiful Gianna Maria Canale is wonderfully effervescent as Silvia and Elena Nicolai gives a scene-stealing performance as the formidable Mrs Bausetti. The dark underlying message of this hilarious, overlooked comedy is sure to strike a chord with contemporary audiences. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of its original release, Il boom will be screened on April 18th and 24th as part of this year’s classic choice in the Italian Film Festival in Scotland. This unjustly neglected film will also be available for the first time ever on DVD, released by Studio Canal on April 23rd.

HUGO   ENTERTAINMENT IN VIDEO

HugoLegendary storyteller and early film afficionado Martin Scorsese directed this thrilling journey to a magical world as his first 3D family adventure. Based on Brian Selznick’s award-winning, imaginative best-seller, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, it tells the story a wily and resourceful orphan boy and his quest to unlock a secret left to him by his father. Young Hugo (Asa Butterfield) is an unofficial clock keeper, fixer of gadgets and thief living in the walls of a busy Paris train station, where his survival depends on secrets and anonymity. His undercover life and most precious secret are put in jeopardy when he becomes involved with an adventurous, bookish girl (Chloë Grace Moretz) and a bitter old man who runs a toy booth in the station (Ben Kingsley). Hugo constantly has to hide from the threat of being sent to the orphanage by the unrelenting Station Inspector (a terrific performance by Sacha Baron Cohen). A cryptic drawing, a treasured notebook, a stolen key, a mechanical man and a hidden message from Hugo’s dead father (Jude Law) form the backbone of this intricate, tender and spellbinding mystery that is also Scorsese’s heartfelt tribute to early fimmakers such as Georges Melies anf the the Lumière brothers. The mostly British cast also includes Christopher Lee, Ray Winstone, Emily Mortimer, Frances de la Tour and Richard Griffiths. Special features on this Blu-ray and DVD release include Shoot The Moon (The Making of Hugo); The Cinemagician, Georges Melies; The Mechanical Man At the Heart of Hugo; Big Effects, Small Scale; Sacha Baron Cohen: Role of a Lifetime. Georges Méliès: If you’ve ever wondered where your dreams come from, you look around... this is where they’re made.

MURDER BY DECREE   STUDIOCANAL

Murder by DecreeWhen Scotland Yard is unable to stop the gruesome rampage of Jack the Ripper, a citizen’s committee asks Sherlock Holmes and his trusted associate Dr Watson to investigate. But even if Holmes’ remarkable powers of deduction unmask the maniacal fiend, can he and Watson face the most shocking secret of all? Over 125 years after he first appeared in print, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s immortal detective is as popular as ever, appearing on screen more often than any other fictional character. Director Bob Clark’s atmospheric 1979 thriller, Murder by Decree (aka ‘Sherlock Holmes and Saucy Jack’ in the USA) is one of the most interesting and original of all Holmes adaptations. It stars Canadian Christopher Plummer as the great detective and James Mason Dr Watson. The rest of the cast also has a strong Canadian presence, featuring David Hemmings, Anthony Quayle, John Gielgud as Prime Minister Lord Salisbury, the excellent Frank Finlay as Inspector Lestrade, Donald Sutherland as the intense medium Robert Lees, and Geneviève Bujold as tragic Annie Crook. Plummer brings out the charm and humour of Holmes, especially when teasing Watson, who Mason makes very sympathetic. Extras include audio commentary with Bob Clark, posters and stills galleries, and the theatrical trailer.

LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL  STUDIOCANAL MIROPBD2125

Life is BeautifulIn 1939, Guido, a carefree Italian Jewish book keeper, falls in love with lovely Dora from a nearby town. She isn’t Jewish but Guido woos her away from the Fascist official she has been seeing. They get married, have a son called Giosue and live happily together until the occupation of Italy by German forces. Giosue grows up among increasing anti-Semitism and as the war progresses, he and Guido are arrested and taken to a concentration camp. Dora goes too, determined not to separate the family. In the midst of the horrors of the camp, Guido protects his son by pretending that survival in the concentration camp is an elaborate game with which Giosue must play along or be sent home. Whimsical charm and glamour are gradually undermined by the lurking horrors of fascism. Directed by and starring the brilliant Roberto Benigni, Life is Beautiful (Vita e bella) also features remarkable performances by Nicoletta Braschi and Giustino Durano, with Sergio Bustric and Marisa Paredes. This unique, affecting and dramatic film was awarded the Grand Prize of the Jury at the 1998 Cannes Film Festival and a year later won three US Academy Awards, including Best Foreign Language Film and Best Actor in a Leading Role. It’s now available in this Collector’s Edition Blu-ray release from Studio Canal with extras that include cast and crew interviews.

THE DOOM GENERATION  SECOND SIGHT 2NDVD3227

Doom GenerationThis boundary-pushing cult hit of the 90s, directed by the controversial Gregg Araki, is a surreal, disturbing road-trip in which sexy teen speed-freak Amy Blue (Rose McGowan) and her shy, dim-witted boyfriend Jordan White (James Duval) find their lives are turned on their heads when they meet the mysterious, swaggering drifter, Xavier Red (a charismatic performance by Johnathon Schaech). Unfortunately, Xavier has a bad habit of killing people as the trio embark on a hell-ride of a journey that takes debauchery to new heights. This lurid, gory and often very funny film reflects the director’s punk sensibility and features entertaining cameos from Hollywood Madam Heidi Fleiss, Parker Posey and Perry Farrell among the bizarre characters encountered along the way. Special features include an interview with Gregg Araki and irreverent commentary with Gregg Araki, Rose McGowan, James Duval and Johnathon Scaech. ‘Leaves even Natural Born Killers behind in the gross-out stakes’ - Empire.

THE SARAGOSSA MANUSCRIPT   MR BONGO FILMS MRBDVD046

Saragossa ManuscriptBased on the book by the highly acclaimed Count Jan Potocki, The Saragossa Manuscript is the English title for a Polish film released in 1965, directed by Wojciech Has. Set in Spain during the Napoleonic Wars, Alphonse Van Worden (Zbigniew Cybulski) is a young army captain who discovers an old book that tells the story of his grandfather, who was a captain in the Walloon Guard. The younger van Worden reads of how his ancestor sought the shortest route through the Sierra Morena Mountains. At an apparently deserted inn, he dined with Moorish princesses, Emina (Iga Cembrzynska) and Princess Zibelda (Joanna Jedryka), who inform the captain that they are his cousins and he must marry them both to provide heirs. He will have to convert to Islam, but then delights of all sorts will await him. This appeals to the captain and he drinks with the ladies, only to wake and find himself back in a forbidding countryside, lying next to a heap of skulls under a gallows. He meets a hermit priest and a goatherd; each tells his story; he wakes again by the gallows. He is then rescued from the Spanish Inquisition, meets a cabalist and hears more stories within stories, usually of love. Described by directors Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola and Luis Bunuel as their favourite film, Worcieck Has’ masterpiece is a weird and wonderful experience unlike anything else. During the 1990s, Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia, together with Scorsese and Coppola, helped finance a restoration and subtitling of the film, which was re-released in 2001. This DVD features the lovingly restored full version of a film that creates a magical, mysterious and sometimes disturbing world of the supernatural. Set among the arid landscapes of Seventeenth Century Spain, populated with ghosts, alluring Hourglass Sanatoriumdemons, debauched royalty and mystical priests, the film spans centuries and nations, encompassing a rich slew of tales from the humorous to the horrifying, climaxing with the final chilling revelations. Stylish and unique, this amazing film is one of the few in which Zbigniew Cybulski does not appear in his customary dark glasses. ‘Simultaneously horrific, erotic and funny…this is one mother of a film - David Lynch. Mr Bongo Fims has also released a fully restored version of another film directed by Wojciech Has, THE HOURGLASS SANATORIUM (MRBDVD045), in which a young man named Joseph (Jan Nowicki) takes a strange, dilapidated train to see his dying father in a sanatorium, travelling through a dream-like world. When he arrives, he finds the entire hospital is going to ruin and no one seems to be in charge, or even caring for the patients. Time behaves in unpredictable ways, reanimating the past in an elaborate artificial caprice. But the place is going to ruin and recalls a lot of memories from the past - soldiers, colonial black mercenaries, girls from his early life, and his parents. This is a haunting, macabre and thought-provoking film - a surreal, dream-like adventure with unusual atmospheric flair and extraordinary sets.

WEEKEND  PECCADILLO PICTURES PPDB006

WeekendBritish writer/director Andrew Haigh’s remarkable breakthrough film has received wide critical and box office acclaim as well as numerous awards since its world premiere in 2011 at the SXSW Film Festival. The cleverly structured film stars Tom Cullen as quiet, unassuming and sensitive Russell, who after boozing with his straight friends on a Friday night in Nottingham then visits a gay nightclub, alone and on the pull. Just before closing time he drunkenly picks up a would-be artist, Glen (an edgy, knowing performance by Chris New). Over the next 48 hours, the two of them become inseparable as they drink, do lots of drugs, quarrel, make up and make love. Gradually they form a tight bond that neither of them could have predicted - one that may change their lives forever or be just a one night stand. Weekend tells a poignant and unconventional love story with a raw, edifying honesty, revealing Haigh to be a refreshing new voice in British cinema. Special features include director, producer and cast interviews as well as behind the scenes footage. ‘A romance that is tender, funny and unafraid of the naked truth’ - The Telegraph.

LOVE ON A PILLOW (LE REPOS DU GUERRIER)  STUDIOCANAL OPTD1219

Love on a PillowWritten and directed by Roger Vadim in 1962, Love on a Pillow stars his then wife, the alluring Brigitte Bardot, as Genevieve Le Thiel. A nice, well brought up girl from a bourgeois family, she leaves her Paris home and travels to Dijon to settle an inheritance left to her by a wealthy aunt. There she finds a young existentialist artist, Renaud (Robert Hossein), who has attempted to commit suicide, and saves him just in time when she walks into the wrong hotel room. Genevieve takes him back to her apartment in Paris and ends up falling in love with this cynical, abusive man who appears to be no good for her and a thoroughly bad influence. Despite her mother’s disapproval and warnings from his own friends, she refuses to break with her lover and continues on her intense, self-destructive course. Yet as Renaud keeps repeating that love is a bottomless pit, perhaps he too, will be engulfed by it and find he has met his match. Bardot, lovingly lingered over in Armand Thirard’s gorgeous Eastmancolor photography, looks particularly luscious in one of her best performances, Robert Hossein impresses as the unsympathetic, nihilist Renaud, and James Robertson Justice appears as a rascally sculptor. Vadim successfully captures the bohemian sixties French jazz/beat scene, hinting at the decadent indulgence of a certain class of French society at the time.

PARKED  ELEMENT PICTURES

ParkedFred Daly returns to Ireland but has fallen on hard times and has nowhere to live except his car in a Dublin carpark. Then dope-smoking 21-year-old Cathal parks beside him, and an unlikely friendship develops as he brightens up Fred’s lonely world. Encouraged by Cathal, Fred meets attractive piano music teacher Jules, and as they grow closer these three outsiders are set on a course that will change their lives forever. Darragh Byrne’s bittersweet debut feature film was written by Ciaran Creagh and has outstanding performances by Colm Meaney as Fred, Colin Morgan as the mischievous, streetwise Cathal, and Milka Ahlroth as Jules from Helsinki (the film was co-financed by the Finnish Film Foundation). Parked took top prize at the Mannheim-Heidelberg Film Festival, where the jury was ‘very much moved by the mastery of storytelling of a first time director about the unexpected friendship of two opposite characters. In a subtle way the narrative unfolds underestimated values of marginalized people in a bureaucratic society that increasingly fails to recover and maintain human dignity.’ This funny, touching and compassionate film shows that a glimmer of hope is possible even in tragic situations if you give life a chance. Highly recommended.

MY WEEK WITH MARILYN  ENTERTAINMENT IN VIDEO EBR5201

My Week with MarilynThis unusual film tells the true story of a star-struck young film fan, Colin Clark, underachieving younger brother of MP Alan Clark and son of art historian Lord Clark, who falls in love with the ‘the most famous woman in the world’, Marilyn Monroe. Colin is determined to break into the film business and his first job is on The Prince and The Showgirl - a film that famously united two of the biggest stars of the 1950s, Marilyn Monroe and Sir Laurence Olivier. On honeymoon in Britain with her new husband, Arthur Miller, Marilyn is excited about the project but quickly becomes desperate to run away from her Hollywood entourage, the pressures of work and the media who hound her. For Marilyn, Colin is a welcome antidote and he offers her everything she craves when, together, they escape the film set to get closer in an idyllic Britain. Golden Globe award winner Michelle Williams stars as Marilyn Monroe and is joined by an outstanding cast that includes Eddie Redmayne as Colin, Kenneth Branagh as Sir Laurence Olivier, Dame Judi Dench as Dame Sybil Thorndike, Julia Ormond as Vivien Leigh, Dougray Scott as Arthur Miller and Zoe Wanamaker as Paula Strasberg, as well as Simon Russell Beale, Emma Watson, Derek Jacobi and Michael Kitchen. Michelle Williams is enchanting as she bravely takes on the impossible task of capturing the essence of the irreplaceable Marilyn. Kenneth Branagh is excellent also as his hero, the waspish Olivier, Judi Dench is great as the kindly Dame Sybil, and Redmayne impresses as the sensitive Colin. Available on Blu-Ray and DVD with extras that include a featurette - ‘The untold story of an American Icon’ - and audio commentary by the director, Simon Curtis.

CHUNG KUO CHINA  MR BONGO FILMS MRBDVD044

Chung KuoMichelangelo Antonioni’s sharply observed Chung Kuo China is a fascinating three-part documentary about the world's most populous country made by the great Italian director in the early 1970s. It provides unforgettable glimpses of one of the world’s richest cultures, visiting familiar sights such as the Great Wall of China and The Forbidden City, though focussing mainly on the people themselves, who seem just as curious about the filmmakers in return. Antonioni picks up snippets of life from major cities such as Peking and Shanghai, including scenes of children at an elementary school; a collective farm in Henan; a hospital where a woman is having a caesarean birth using acupuncture; a cotton mill and its workers; and spectacular stage acrobats. People struggle amidst poverty and hardship to sustain the collective revolutionary spirit that liberated them. Despite receiving direct support from the Chinese Communist Party during production, the film provoked a strong backlash on its initial release, earning rebuke from Chairman Mao Zedong himself. While well received in the West, this rarely seen documentary only found its intended audience thirty years later with a screening at the Beijing Cinema Institute in 2004. One of Antonioni’s most innovative works, Chung Kuo China is an indelible time capsule of the aftermath of the Cultural Revolution - the defining event of modern China.

THE RUM DIARY   ENTERTAINMENT IN VIDEO EDV9679 (DVD) & EBR5164 (BLU-RAY)

Rum DiaryBased on the debut novel by Hunter S. Thompson which initiated his long, distinguished and brilliantly unpredictable career, The Rum Diary tells the increasingly unhinged story of hard-drinking itinerant journalist Paul Kemp (Johnny Depp). Tiring of the noise and madness of New York and the crushing conventions of late Eisenhower-era America, he travels to the pristine island of Puerto Rico to write for a local newspaper, The San Juan Star, run by volatile editor Lotterman (Richard Jenkins). Adopting the rum-soaked life of the late 50s version of Hemmingway’s lost generation, Paul soon becomes increasingly obsessed with Chenault (Amber Heard), the wildly attractive Connecticut-born fiancée of shady entrepreneur Sanderson (Aaron Eckhart), who plans to buy an island near the capital and build a resort. The Rum Diary is superbly written and directed by Bruce Robinson and features an outstanding performance by Johnny Depp as the young Thompson. The film is available in both DVD and Blu-ray versions. Extras include A Voice Made Of Ink And Rage: Inside The Rum Diary; the Rum Diary back-story; and a cinema trailer. Paul Kemp: ‘I tend to avoid alcohol,’ pause as he takes a bottle of alcohol. ‘When I can.’

DRACULA, PRINCE OF DARKNESS  STUDIOCANAL OPTBD0634

Dracula Prince of DarknessIrish author Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula was first published in 1897 and is mainly composed of journal entries and letters written by several narrators who also serve as the story’s main protagonists. The book was not an immediate bestseller and only achieved its broader iconic classic status in the 20th century after the leading character appeared in numerous films, including the Bela Lugosi version of 1931. Some of the most memorable adaptations were made by Britain’s Hammer Studios in the 1960s, including Horror of Dracula and Brides of Dracula. Christopher Lee returned in perhaps his finest performance in the role in 1966 as Dracula, Prince of Darkness, which also starred regular Hammer stalwarts such as Francis Matthews and the beautiful Barbara Shelley. Four English tourists find themselves stranded in the mysterious village of Karlsbad, a sinister and remote place of deadly, dark legend. Their journey leads them to an abandoned castle where a nightmarish destiny awaits them. However, it wasn’t just fate that brought them here, but an evil force in need of resurrection, a blood craving beast known only as Count Dracula, Prince of Darkness. Released in 1966, this was Lee’s second outing as Dracula, with Hammer pushing the cinematic boundaries of graphic gore and terror. Andrew Keir is excellent as Father Sandor, a Van Helsing type character, and Philip Latham enjoys himself as the Count’s sinister servant, Klove. As part of its joint restoration project with Hammer Films, Studiocanal is to restore and release on DVD and as blu-ray premieres some of their most iconic horror titles, starting with Dracula, Prince of Darkness. The fully restored film is accompanied by a comprehensive extras package produced in association with Hammer expert Marcus Hearn, including commentary by Christopher Lee, Suzan Farmer, Francis Matthews and Barbara Shelley, a documentary about the film, a feature on Christopher Lee narrated by Oliver Reed, behind the scenes footage, remarkable restoration comparison shots, and several trailers.

CAPRICE  SECOND SIGHT 2NDVD3224

CapriceScreen idol Doris Day tackles industrial espionage alongside Richard Harris in this cheery comedy-thriller directed in 1967 by Frank Tashlin. Doris plays Patricia Fowler, an industrial designer and ‘spy who came in from the cold cream’ who is hired to work undercover at a cosmetics company to discover a new formula that the firm is planning to market. It soon transpires make-up is not the only product they’re selling as the company is involved in an international drug-smuggling ring. Patricia finds herself in trouble as she does battle with ruthless agents, joining forces with fellow spy Christopher White (Richard Harris) to take on evil genius Stuart Clancy (Ray Walston). This fast-moving spy spoof deftly balances laughs and suspense, featuring some great clothes and wonderful 60s colour photography. The underrated Doris Day gives a charmingly funny performance and looks maturely sexy in her psychedelic mod outfits and platinum wig. Look out for her wonderful slapstick scene in a garden shed. Richard Harris said of this film that he had learned more about comedy from working with Doris Day than he had during his whole time at drama school.

THE SLIPPER AND THE ROSE  SECOND SIGHT FILMS 2NDVD3225

Slipper and the RoseDirector Brian Forbes’ tuneful Oscar-nominated musical re-tells the much-loved story of Cinderella, featuring a splendid score by the renowned Sherman Brothers, whose film credits also include Mary Poppins, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and The Jungle Book. Richard Chamberlain plays handsome Prince Edward, heir to throne of the tiny kingdom of Euphrania, who is expected by his parents to find a wife. The King and Queen plan a Royal Ball to which every princess in the land will be invited so that he can find his bride. Meanwhile Cinderella lives in misery after her father has died. Her wicked stepmother (Margaret Lockwood) and awful sisters make Cinderella the house servant, but with the arrival of a cheery fairy Godmother come three wishes and the chance for her to go to the ball. Gemma Craven is delightful as Cinderella and there is fine support from the Richard Chamberlain, blustering Michael Hordern as the King, Lally Bowers as the Queen, the great Margaret Lockwood in her last film, Rosalind Ayres and Sherrie Hewson as the awful stepsisters, Kenneth More as the stuffy Lord Chamberlain, Christopher Gable as the prince’s amiable friend and servant John, and Dame Edith Evans the outrageously dotty dowager Queen. Lavish, handsomely costumed and wittily scripted, this version of the ageless Cinderella story is a classic.

UNE FEMME MARIEE  EUREKA MASTERS OF CINEMA - DUAL FORMAT EKA70058

Long out-of-circulation and unavailable on home-video, Jean-Luc Godard’s masterpiece Une femme mariée, fragments d’un film tourné en 1964 en noir et blanc (A Married Woman: Fragments of a Film Shot in 1964 in Black and White) represents the ostensibly ‘missing’ key work from his first phase of filmmaking, bridging the gap between Bande à part and Alphaville. Macha Méril plays the very modern Charlotte, the cool title character, who is married to an airline pilot Pierre (Philippe Leroy). She sleeps with her lover, the actor Robert (Bernard Noël), talks ‘intelligence’ with renowned critic-filmmaker Roger Leenhardt, and takes part in a fashion-shoot at a public pool. The ‘fragments’ of the film’s subtitle are chapters, episodes, vignettes, tableaux. Une femme mariée is a pile of magazines made into a film, and a film turned into a magazine - the table of contents reading: Alfred Hitchcock. Jean Racine. La Peau douce. A Peruvian serum. Nuit et brouillard. The ‘Eloquence’ bra. The quartets of Beethoven. Madame Céline. Fantômas. Robert Bresson. A Volkswagen making a right turn. Designed with Raoul Coutard’s breathtaking cinematography, Godard’s edgy, complex and intelligent film captures a moment in time - but all its mysteries, its truths, its beauty, comedy and grace, serve to resolve into a work of art for the ages. This dual format (DVD and Blu-ray) special edition features a beautifully restored 1080p/24fps transfer of the film in its original 1.37:1 aspect ratio, improved English subtitles, the brilliant trailer (in 1080p on Blu-ray) created by Godard at the time of the film’s original French release, and an 80-page book packed with information about the film. Jean-Luc Godard’s film unerringly captures the zeitgeist with wit and panache, and his meticulous depiction of the uncertainty of love is timeless.

CLEOPATRA  TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX HOME ENTERTAINMENT

CleopatraElizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton and Rex Harrison star in this sweeping tale of power and betrayal – the legendary story of the Queen of the Nile and her conquest of Julius Caesar and Marc Antony. This classic epic was dogged with production problems, not to mention the very public private relationship between Taylor and Burton. Soon after filming began in 1960 in England, Elizabeth Taylor became ill and was unable to work. Production had to be closed down and director Rouben Mamoulian resigned, by stars Peter Finch and Stephen Boyd, who had prior commitments. Joseph L Mankiewicz became the new direcor and production was moved to Rome’s Cinecitta studios, where several millions of dollars worth of equipment and props were stolen and a group of female extras went on strike in protest at the amorous male Italian counterparts. After getting through a budget of budget of $44 million (equivalent to over $300 million today) the film was finally released in 1963, breaking even 10 years later. Visually breathtaking in scope and grandeur, Cleopatra is an unmissable portrayal of the legendary beauty who seduced two of Rome’s greatest soldiers and changed the course of history. Elizabeth Taylor is memorable in the title role and Richard Burton is dashing as Mark Antony, but the chief acting honours go to Rex Harrison (Caesar) and Roddy McDowall (Octavian). This much talked about film won Oscars for cinematography, art direction, costumes and special effects, and has now been released for the first time on Blu-ray in this double disc 50th Anniversary edition. The splendid extravaganza looks and sounds better than ever in a newly, digitally restored print, with a host of extras that include many new documentaries; missing footage; features on Tom Mankiewicz and the Fox Legacy; audio commentary with Chris Mankiewicz, Tom Rothman, Martin Landau and Tom Mankiewicz; and theatrical Trailers.

THELMA & LOUISE  TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX HOME ENTERTAINMENT

Thelma & LouiseThis hit 1991 film, co-produced and directed by Ridley Scott, tells the story of bored housewife Thelma and coffee shop waitress Louise’s escape from their troubled and caged lives. Written by Callie Khour, it stars Geena Davis as Thelma and Susan Sarandon as Louise, with Harvey Keitel as a sympathetic detective trying to trace them as they go on the run in a ’66 T-Bird convertible after killing a drunken, would-be rapist. Michael Madsen plays Louise’s boyfriend and Brad Pitt, in one of his earliest significant roles, plays a handsome cowboy robber out on parole. Exhilarated by their newly-found assertiveness, the women begin holding-up convenience stores and generally behaving badly. Thelma & Louise touched the early 90s zeitgeist and became an instant critical and commercial success when released, receiving six Academy Award nominations and winning one for best original screenplay. Sarandon and Davis were nominated for their roles in the same category - Best Actress - though both lost out to Jodie Foster in The Silence of the Lambs. Blu-ray extras include commentaries by Ridley Scott, Susan Sarandon, Geena Davis and Callie Khouri; a fine making-of documentary, ‘The Last Journey’; an original theatrical featurette; deleted and extended scenes; and an alternate ending.

LA PLANETE SAUVAGE  EUREKA MASTERS OF CINEMA - DUAL FORMAT EKA70056

La Planete SauvageRené Laloux’s mesmerising psychedelic sci-fi animated feature won the Grand Prix at the 1973 Cannes Film Festival and is a landmark of European animation. Based on a novel by Stefan Wul, Laloux’s breathtaking vision was released in France as La Planète sauvage (The Savage Planet in the UK and Fantastic Planet in the USA) and immediately drew comparisons to Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels and Pierre Boulle’s Planet of the Apes. La Planète sauvage tells the story of ‘Oms’, human-like creatures, kept as domesticated pets by an alien race of cold blue giants called ‘Draags’. The story takes place on the Draags’ planet Ygam, where we follow our narrator, an Om called Terr, from mischievous infancy to rebellious adulthood. He manages to escape enslavement with a Draag learning device and begins to organise an Om revolt. The imagination invested in the strange creatures and surreal, dreamlike landscapes we encounter is astonishing in this brave allegorical statement reflecting the Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia. The film was five years in the making at Prague’s Jiri Trnka Studios under the direction of René Laloux, with meticulous artwork by Roland Topor and a brilliant music score by French jazz pianist Alain Goraguer. La Planète sauvage is a mind-searing experience and one of the strangest animated films of all time. This dual format edtion features a new high-definition master with optional English subtitles, five short films by Laloux (Les Dents du singe, Les Temps morts, Les Escargots, Comment Wang-Fo fut sauvé, and La Prisonnière), a 27-minute documentary interviewing the roguish director, an alternate USA dub track, and a colour booklet with rare production sketches, another interview with Laloux and an essay by Craig Keller.

SUNRISE   EUREKA (MASTERS OF CINEMA) DVD & BLU-RAY EKA70050

SunriseSunrise, released in 1927 with the subtitle ‘A Song of Two Humans’, is perhaps the finest and most visually expressive of all silent films. Best known for his horror classic, Nosferatu, Murnau was invited by William Fox to America to direct his first Hollywood film, with the promise of complete artistic freedom and a blank cheque. Conceived by Murnau and written by Carl Mayer while they were both still in Germany, Sunrise takes describes the marriage of a peasant couple (George O’Brien and Janet Gaynor) from a country hamlet, invaded by a seductress from the city (Margaret Livingston), and elevates it to the realm of fable, stripped of melodrama yet brimming with poetic impulses. Murnau captivated audiences with his ‘invisible’ tracking shots, breathtaking double exposures, expressive lighting, and distorted sets, so that the viewer is immersed in the fate of these simple characters. Sunrise won three Oscars at the first Academy Awards ceremony. Janet Gaynor won for Best Actress; Charles Rosher and Karl Struss for Best Cinematography; and the film won a special Oscar for ‘Unique and Artistic Picture’ (the only time this award has been given). This dual format special edition in the Masters of Cinema Series includes Sunrise on both Blu-ray and DVD. It contains two versions: the previously released Movietone version and an alternate silent version of the film recently discovered in the Czech Republic. The generous extras include the original English intertitles on the Movietone version, and optional English subtitles on the silent Czech version; the original Movietone score (mono) and alternate Olympic Chamber Orchestra score (stereo); full-length audio commentary by cinematographer John Bailey on the Movietone version; miraculously surviving out-takes (with John Bailey commentary or intertitles); Murnau’s 4 Devils (a documentary about the lost film the director made after Sunrise); the original theatrical trailer; Carl Mayer’s original ‘photoplay’ script with Murnau’s handwritten annotations (150 pages in pdf format); and a 68-page illustrated booklet with numerous essays including a new reprint of a piece by Dudley Andrew. Described by Cahiers du Cinéma as ‘the single greatest masterwork in the history of the cinema’, Sunrise continues to thrill Murnau admirers and Eureka’s latest edition of his masterpiece will amaze a whole new audience. The current success at the cinema of The Artist and Martin Scorsese’s Hugo, inspired by the work of the cinematic pioneer Georges Méliès, everyone is talking about a silent film revival. F W Murnau’s Sunrise and City Girl were major inspirations for Michel Hazanavicius’ writing and creation of The Artist. The 'silent' camera was allowed an incredible mobility that simultaneously ‘opened up’ the inner world of the film, and encouraged new and ingeniously inspired ways to represent both ideas and emotion. As Norma Desmond put it so well in Sunset Boulevard: ‘We didn't need dialogue. We had FACES.’ Eureka’s exemplary Masters of Cinema catalogue includes a vast body of work that makes use of the silent aesthetic, featuring films from Murnau, Lang and Buster Keaton amongst others.

CITY GIRL  EUREKA MASTERS OF CINEMA (BLU-RAY) EKA70014

City GirlAfter the visual fireworks of Sunrise and the now-lost splendour of 4 Devils, F.W. Murnau turned his attention to this vivid, painterly study of an impulsive and fragile marriage among the wheatfields of Minnesota. Innocent farmer’s son Lem goes to Chicago to sell the wheat his family has grown on their farm and meets the lonely waitress Kate. They fall in love and marry before going back to the farm, where Kate is rejected by his hostile father, who believes she married for the money. The reapers arrive and quickly they make things even more complicated by making their move on Kate. Lem misunderstands the situation and believes Kate is actually interested. In despair she leaves the farm and Lem goes looking for her. Tenderly romantic and tough-minded in equal measure, City Girl is one of cinema’s great pastorals, featuring some of the most delicate performances Murnau ever directed and influencing filmmakers such as Terrence Malick and Jean Vigo. Charles Farrell and Mary Duncan are outstanding in the lead roles and this poetic film is both technically brilliant and emotionally sensitive. This special edition Blu-ray release in Eureka’s Masters of Cinema Series features a beautifully restored high-definition transfer of the silent version by 20th Century Fox of Murnau’s penultimate film. Extras include a new score, composed and arranged by Christopher Caliendo; full-length audio commentary by film scholar David Kalat; and a 40-page illustrated booklet.

LEOLO - LAUZON    NETWORK

The Palme d’Or-nominated off-beat comedy drama, Leolo, is set in a gloomy and squalid tenement block in Montreal, where a boy lives with his dysfunctional, neurotic and highly strung family. His mind roams free and wild amidst the perversion and chaos that his family life throws at him. There is very little respite from the tidal waves of various problems that seem to constantly afflict one or more of the members of the family. To Leolo, these people might as well be strangers with whom he just happens to share a living space. He obsessively keeps notebooks in which he constructs a parallel universe. This dream world is beautiful, grand, and stars his first love Bianca, the sexy but remote Italian neighbour. A most extraordinary rites of passage film, director Jean-Claude Lauzon takes the audience on a journey that is in turn intense, funny, surreal and ultimately tragic. Leolo won the award for best screenplay at Vancouver International Film Festival and was named Best Canadian Film at the Toronto Film Festival. It features a strong, internationally renowned cast that includes singer Ginette Reno (making her film debut as Leolo’s mother), Julien Guiomar as the grandmother and Maxime Collin, giving an amazing performance as Leolo. Tom Waits features on the soundtrack of this audacious, lyrical and rewarding film, directed with passion and intelligence.

UNDER THE VOLCANO - HUSTON     MR BONGO FILMS

Malcolm Lowry’s 1947 semi-autobiographical novel, Under the Volcano, tells the story of Geoffrey Firmin, a self-destructive alcoholic British consul in the small Mexican town of Quauhnahuac (recognizably Cuernavaca). John Huston’s 1984 film takes on the formidable task of translating this complex book to the screen. Set on the eve of the Second World War in 1939 and starring Albert Finney, Jacqueline Bisset, Anthony Andrews and Katy Jurado, the film received Academy Award nominations for best actor (Finney) and best music (original score by Alex North). Under the Volcano follows Firmin’s final day as he stumbles through the town’s day of the dead fiesta, attempting to reconnect with his estranged wife Yvonne (Bisset). We are taken through one day in a life of alcoholic disrepair and obscurity. Firmin’s self-destructive behaviour is perhaps a metaphor for a menaced civilization, and is a source of perplexity and sadness to his nomadic, idealistic half-brother, Hugh (Anthony Andrews), and to Yvonne, who has returned with hopes of healing him and their broken marriage. Albert Finney gives one of the finest and most nuanced performances, described by critic Roger Ebert as ‘the best drunk performance I’ve ever seen in a film’. Huston’s film is essentially a one-man tour de force but Finney has strong support from Jacqueline Bisset and it’s always good to see Katy Jurado.

FLIGHT OF THE RED BALLOON - HSIAO-HSIEN    NETWORK

Flight of the Red Balloon (Le Voyage du Ballon Rouge) tells the story of a French family as seen through the eyes of a Chinese student. Shot on location in Paris and commissioned by the Musee d’Orsay, Taiwanese arthouse director Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s first western film is based on the famous 1956 classic French short The Red Balloon, directed by Albert Lamorisse. Suzanne, superbly played by Juliette Binoche, is a mother snowed under with her work for her puppet shows, the classes she teaches and the two children, Simon and Louise, who she has been raising alone since their father left. To help ease her burden, the frazzled mother takes in a young babysitter (Song Fang), who is a film student at Paris University. On his way home from school, seven-year-old Simon (Simon Iteanu) leads her through the streets and cafés of his neighbourhood and they are soon sharing an imaginary world in which a strange red balloon follows them, even in the exhibition space of the Musée d’Orsay. While Suzanne is involved in a court case concerning her annoying tenant downstairs who refuses to pay his rent or leave, Song helps her get a grip by adding a calmer Asian perspective to her frazzled life. Flight Of The Red Balloon is a leisurely, beautifully observed film that delicately explores the human condition. Network has also released two 1950s Albert Lamorisse classics on a single DVD: THE RED BALLOON / WHITE MANE. The Red Balloon (Le Ballon rouge), filmed in the picturesque Ménilmontant district of Paris, is a charming 34-minute fantasy in which a young boy called Pascal (played by the director’s son, Pascal Lamorisse) finds a large helium-filled red balloon while on his way to school one morning. The balloon seems to have a personality of its own and becomes his friend as they have adventures together. With gorgeous photography, brilliant special effects, haunting score and unforgettable ending, this is a treat for children and adults alike. White Mane (Crin Blanc) is set in the France’s wild Camargue region. Ranchers pursue wild horses led by the magnificent stallion, ‘White Mane’, who constantly escapes capture. A small boy witnesses the horse’s persecution and joins him in his fight for peace and freedom. This groundbreaking 1953 classic was a winner of the prestigious Palm D’Or in Cannes. view trailer

THE LIAR & JACKPOT 2     BLUEBELL BLB020

Mika Kaurismäki’s first film Valehtelija (The Liar) was made a diploma project during his studies at film school in Munich, Germany. An enjoyable pastiche of Breathless and other French New Wave films, it caused a sensation when first shown in Finland in 1981. Aki Kaurismaki, who wrote the script, plays Ville Alfa, a selfish young man with exceptional lying skills and a way with words. He spends his days hanging out with intellectuals, cadging money, trying to pick up girls and failing to write the great Finnish working-class novel. He treats most people, including his girlfriend, badly yet somehow remains sympathetic. The inspiration of Godard is evident throughout and the black and white photography almost transforms Helsinki into Paris of the 60s. This DVD includes Mika Kaurismäki’s short second film, Jackpot 2, as well as an interview with the director. Bluebell has also released Kaurismäki’s award-winning black comedy ZOMBIE AND THE GHOST TRAIN (BLB021) made in 1994. Described as part docu-fiction, part Hamlet-style tragedy and just a bit screwball, this unusual road movie tells the story of a fragile, aimless young man called Zombie as he struggles to get a grip on the world. Lost and drinking too much, he finds himself taking a desperate journey from Helsinki to Istanbul. Kaurismäki cast is made up mostly of musicians and they all give totally convincing performances, especially Silu Seppälä as Zombie and Marjo Leinonen as his girlfriend. Extras include theatrical trailers and a revealing interview with the director.

LA RONDE - OPHULS      SECOND SIGHT 2NDVD 3143

Max Ophüls was born Maximillian Oppenheimer in Germany in 1902 but used the pseudonym Ophüls (the umlaut was usually dropped when he later worked abroad). He began as an actor but soon moved into production, becoming creative director of the Burgtheater in Vienna. He started in films as a dialogue director under Anatole Litvak and directed his first film in 1931 (the comedy short, Dann schon lieber Lebertran). When the Nazis came into power in 1933, Ophüls, being a Jew, fled to France, where he became a French citizen. After the fall of France, he travelled via Switzerland and Italy to the USA, where he made several distinguished films before returning to Europe in 1950. Most of his films feature characteristically smooth camera movements, with complex crane and tracking shots that have influenced many other directors, including Stanley Kubrick and Martin Scorsese. Following the successful release of the first four films in Second Sight’s Max Ophuls Collection come two more highly acclaimed films. The irresistible La Ronde is an elegant adaptation of Arthur Schnitzler’s play of the same name. A series of character vignettes, set in Vienna in the early 1900s, is woven together by the Raconteur (Anton Walbrook). The starry cast also includes Simone Signoret, Simone Simon, Daniel Gélin, Danielle Darrieux and Jean-Louis Barrault. Ophuls uses an old-fashioned merry go round to foreshadow the film’s events, in which each segment introduces a new character, who then moves on to an affair with another as the carousel spins, revealing itself as the metaphor for the very nature of human relationships. La Ronde won the 1952 BAFTA for Best Film and was nominated for two Academy Awards that year. Bonus features include ‘Working with Max Ophuls’ (Daniel Gelin on La Ronde), ‘Circles of Desire’ (Alan Williams) and an audio commentary by Susan White, author of The Cinema of Max Ophuls. CAUGHT (SECOND SIGHT 2NDVD 3144) is an underrated film noir in which Leonora Eames (Barbara Bel Geddes in her best performance), thinking she is living out her childhood dream of marrying a man worth millions, marries the wealthy Smith Ohrig (the always excellent Robert Ryan), unaware that her new husband is a cruel monster who forces her to remain a prisoner in her own home. In an effort to escape her miserable existence she falls in love with society doctor Larry Quinada (James Mason) but only a miracle can free her from her life of lavish bondage. This magnificently photographed film shows the influence of Orson Welles on Ophüls’ work. DVD extras include a commentary by Lutz Bacher, author of Max Ophuls in the Hollywood Studios and a video essay by film historian Tag Gallagher. These are stylish, technically brilliant and hugely enjoyable films by one of cinema’s most admired directors.

IRINA PALM - GARBARSKI   SODA PICTURES

Marianne Faithful stars as middle-aged grandmother Maggie, desperate to provide a rare and expensive medical treatment for her cancer-stricken grandson. With all financial resources exhausted, Maggie knows she must take drastic action and when a ‘Hostess Wanted’ sign catches her eye, she naively stumbles into a Soho sex club. The true job description is a surprise for the respectable widow, even if she isn’t a prude, but the unskilled Maggie accepts this as her fastest way to raise the urgently needed cash. She adopts the pseudonym of Irina Palm as she satisfies her anonymous customers but keeps the money’s origins secret from even her own suspicious son. Discovery is inevitable though and Maggie finds she must confront provincial hypocrisy’s ugly face, as well as question her own morals. Also starring Jenny Agutter as a nosy friend who has had an affair with Maggie’s husband and Serbian actor Miki Manojlovic as the sex club owner, Sam Garbarski’s film has provokeed a wide range of responses. It received rave reviews at the Berlin Film Festival but British critics were less generous. Despite the occasional unintended laugh, this is a thought-provoking film and Marianne Faithful just about manages not to look glamorous as the widow with an unusual occupational injury. Extras include interviews with cast and crew.

UNDER THE BOMBS - ARACTINGI    ARTIFICIAL EYE

Lebanese director Philippe Aractingi’s film is the riveting account of a middle-class Lebanese woman’s search for her young son amid the devastation wrought by the Israeli air assault on the country in 2006. Aractingi, who witnessed the bombing in Beirut, responded remarkably quickly to the Israeli attack and began shooting only ten days later, with just four actors and little in the way of a script. Most of the film’s protagonists, such as journalists, UN soldiers and civilians caught up in the devastation, are played by the individuals themselves. This, together with real-life settings and improvised dialogue, gives the drama a powerful documentary-like authenticity. Zeina (Nada Abu Farhat) is a well-off Shiite Muslim ex-pat living in Dubai, whose son had been staying with her sister in southern Lebanon when war broke out. She travels to her homeland to look for him, arriving on the day of the ceasefire, and hires a taxi to take her to the dangerous south. The driver, Tony (Georges Khabbaz) is a Christian and at first the pair seem to have little in common, but as their desperate search continues they grow closer and find mutual support in the chaos left behind by a messy, pointless little war. The film starts with genuine and frightening bomb footage and uses the resultant rubble as a backdrop. Director and co-writer Philippe Aractingi has made an exciting, affecting and compassionate film that is far more than an anti-Isralei diatribe. It was nominated for the Grand Jury prize at Sundance and received the EIUC Award at Venice. The film’s two leading actors are totally convincing as they reveal this odd couple’s increasingly close relationship with great skill and sensitivity. DVD extras include interviews with the impassioned director and with Nada Abou Farhat, as well as two trailers and a stills gallery. Highly recommended.

TROPICAL MALADY - WEERASETHAKUL     SECOND RUN DVD 034

Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Tropical Malady is a romantic psychological drama set in Thailand. The film is in two parts – the first being a romance about two homosexual men and the second part a mysterious tale about a soldier lost in the woods. Keng (Banlop Lomnoi) is a young soldier assigned to a post in a small town in the country, where he has to investigate the mysterious killing of cattle at local farms. One day he meets Tong (Sakda Kaewbuadee) and the two men start taking trips together into the countryside. The film then suddenly shifts to a different story, about a soldier (played by Lomnoi) who is sent alone into the woods to find a lost villager. He encounters tigers and is taunted by the shape-shifting spirit of a shaman (Kaewbuadee again). This visionary film, originally titled Sud Pralad (meaning Strange Creature or Monster), exists in dual realms, exploring connected themes of love and desire in a radically different way. The conscious and the subconscious, the modern and the ancient, reality and myth; all become magically entwined in this hypnotic, mysterious drama. This strikingingly original film had a mixed reception when first screened at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival, but went on to win the Jury Prize from a jury headed by Quentin Tarantino. It also won the 2004 São Paulo International Film Festival Critics Award and the 2005 Indianapolis International Film Festival Special Jury Prize for Directing. Lushly photographed, Tropical Malady is lyrical film with mesmerisingly beautiful images. Special Features with the DVD include Apichatpong’s 1997 short film, Thirdworld, an interview with the director, improved English subtitles, a stills gallery and storyboard sequence, and a booklet with an essay by film historian Tony Rayns. ‘A beguiling masterpiece’ - New York Sun.

LA ANTENA - SAPIR   DOGWOOF DOG201

Written and directed by the acclaimed Argentinian Esteban Sapir, La Antena (English: The Aerial) is dazzling and quirky sci-fi fantasy that echoes the work of Georges Méliès, Fritz Lang, Tim Burton and Terry Gilliam. An entire mythical city has lost its voice. Mr. TV (played by Alejandro Urdapilleta), the powerful and weirdly-coiffed owner of the city’s only television channel, is carrying out a sinister, secret plan to subject all of the city’s inhabitants to his will forever. The film also features Florencia Raggi as singing sensation The Voice and Valeria Bertuccelli as her eyeless son who has secretly inherited his mother’s gift of speech. The boy teams up with his neighbour Ana (the charming Sol Moreno) and her divorced parents (Rafael Ferro and Julieta Cardinali) to take on the tyrant. La Antena is a visually stunning treat - made in monochrome - and silent almost throughout except for its musical score. The film was greatly admired when first shown at last year’s Rotterdam film festival and went on to become a considerable cult hit. Its challenging comic visions and bizarre originality have brought comparisons with Pan’s Labyrinth and the films of David Lynch, with a generous dash of German Expressionism. It is a thought-provoking allegory about the dangers of an over-powerful media and the horror of totalitarianism, zestfully and wittily told in an exciting and touching story. ‘Breathtaking in its audacity and imagination’ - Sight and Sound.

THE TOMORROW SHOW WITH TOM SNYDER: JOHN, PAUL, TOM & RINGO  SHOUT! FACTORY

This 2-DVD set contains John Lennon’s last televised interview, when he spoke frankly with Tom Snyder on America’s The Tomorrow Show on April 25, 1975. No one then suspected that he was about to take an extended break from public life, or could have predicted that the interview would be re-broadcast five years later - in memoriam. This was on December 9, 1980, the day after John Lennon’s tragic death. The show also includes interviews with journalist Lisa Robinson and Lennon friend and producer Jack Douglas, both clearly still in shock, making this a poignant reminder of the aftermath of his murder and the void it created. This tribute to John Lennon is one of three conversations Tom Snyder had with the former members of The Beatles. Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr were each enjoying solo careers of varying success at the times of their interviews, and their comments provide further insight into the effects of Beatlemania, drugs and their futures. In his 1981 interview, Ringo Starr discusses his film and music career, as well as his band mate and friend John Lennon. It also includes a snippet of Ringo’s music video for ‘Wrack My Brain’ and a guest appearance by actress Barbra Bach (by then Ringo’s wife). The 1979 interview via satellite from a stage in London features a relaxed Paul and Linda McCartney, Denny Laine and Laurence Juber, who were then enjoying great success with Wings, as well as the band’s music video for ‘Spin It On’. There is also a slightly incongruous but interesting interview with the stunning Angie Dickinson about her film and television projects.

WHAT A CARVE UP! - JACKSON     ANCHOR BAY ABD4481

Novel proof reader Ernie’s Uncle Gabriel has died but in order to claim his inheritance the highly-strung Ernie (Kenneth O’Connor) must spend the night in the ancestral family mansion in Yorkshire with the rest of his eccentric relatives. Ernie’s imagination has been affected by his constant immersion in cheap horror novels, but his wildest fears turn out to be justified when the guests begin to drop dead around him. Written by Ray Cooney and Tony Hilton and directed by Pat Jackson, this very British farce is a successful blend of the Carry On and Ealing traditions at their best. Kenneth O’Connor is just right as Ernie and there is first-class support from a cast that includes the always brilliant Sid James, beautiful Shirley Eaton (soon to find fame appearing in a Bond film wearing nothing but a coat of paint), the sinister Donald Pleasence as a ‘zombie solicitor’, suave Dennis Price, Michael Gough as the shambling, Lurch-like butler (long before he became Alfred in the first four Batman films), Michael Gwynn, Frederick Piper as a scene-stealing hearse driver, a fleeting glimpse of an uncredited Adam Faith, and the delightful Esma Cannon as daffy Aunt Emily. Combining creepiness, laughs, suspense, innuendo and general silliness, this enjoyable romp is an under-valued gem waiting to be rediscovered. The film later inspired Jonathon Coe’s novel of the same name, satirising 1980s Thatcherite Britain and using the film to link together several plot strands.

AZUR & ASMAR: THE PRINCES’ QUEST - OCELOT  SODA SODA059

Acclaimed director Michel Ocelot has created this sumptuous new animation film for the whole family to enjoy. Once upon a time there were two children brought up by the same woman: Azur, the blonde, blued-eyed son of a nobleman, and Asmar, the dark-haired, dark-eyed son of the nanny. She sings to them and tells them many enchanting stories, their favourite being one about the Djinn fairy waiting to be rescued by a heroic prince. One dark day fate cruelly separates the boys. Some years later Azur sets out to rescue the Djinn fairy with the help of sparky Princesse Chamsous Sabah and a wily, scene-stealing scamp named Crapoux. Azur is reunited with Asmar but the boys have grown up to be rivals, finding themselves pitted against each other in their search to find the fairy. And so begins the Princes’ Quest - a fantastic adventure across magical, mythical lands and seas on a epic journey in which only one of them can triumph. The dazzling colour and design of the computer-generated animation is extraordinarily beautiful and this engaging story is full of excitement, passion and humour. There is also a timely moral about respect, tolerance, prejudice and open-mindedness. DVD extras include the original French-language version, an interview with the director, animation worksheets, a theatrical trailer and a gallery of stills. Best of all is an utterly captivating short animation called ‘The Princess and the Pendant’ made by Hartside Primary School.

THE LONG DAY CLOSES - DAVIES      BFI BFIVD749

Terence Davies was born in Liverpool - the youngest in a family of ten children - and after leaving school at sixteen worked for ten miserable years as a shipping-office clerk and accountant. After attending Coventry Drama School he set out to become a novelist and actor before directing his autobiographical debut film, Children. The Long Day Closes, now released by the BFI on DVD for the first time, is a lyrical portrait of his own working-class Catholic childhood in post war England. Eleven-year-old Bud escapes from shyness by finding solace in trips to the cinema and in the warmth of family life. But as he gets older, the agonies of the adult world; the casual cruelty of bullying, the tyranny of school and the dread of religion, begin to invade his life. Time and memory blend and blur through Davies’ fluid camerawork; slow tracking shots, pans and dreamlike dissolves combine to create the world of Bud’s imagination and the lost paradise of his childhood. Music permeates the film, as dialogue and songs create profound emotional effects. The minimal acting is perfect, especially by young Leigh McCormack as Bud and Marjorie Yates as his stoical mother. Mocked by some of his fellow pupils as a ‘fruit’, Bud’s growing awareness of his homosexuality is handled with great subtlety in this elegiac, stream-of-consciousness masterpiece. DVD extras include a commentary by Terence Davies and Director of Photography Mick Coulter, an interview with production designer Christopher Hobbs, behind-the-scenes footage of Davies directing, and an illustrated booklet with essays, director biography and credits. The BFI has also released THE TERENCE DAVIES TRILOGY (BFIVD752), a series of short films part-funded by the BFI and now restored by the BFI National Archive. Children was made in 1976 and after this abrupt introduction to filmmaking Davies took up a place at the National Film School. He completed Madonna and Child in 1980 before ending the story of his fictional alter ego, Robert Tucker in 1983 with Death and Transfiguration, featuring a heart-rending performance by the frail Wilfrid Brambell. These uncompromising films, like those of Bill Douglas, explore many of the themes the director would develop in his later work. Made in stark black and white, Davies’ narrative slips between childhood, middle age and death, shaping the raw materials of his own life into a rich tapestry of experiences and impressions. Over the course of the films, we witness the emergence of Davies’ unique talent and style, the refinement of his technique, and the increasing audaciousness of a director growing in confidence. The films were subsequently screened together at festivals in Europe and the United States, winning many awards. Now available for the first time on DVD, with special features that include a commentary by the director, an interview with Davies by Geoff Andrew, and an illustrated booklet with essays by Derek Jarman and Jennifer Howarth. Because of funding difficulties and his refusal to compromise, Terence Davies’ output has been regrettably limited, making these new DVDs even more treasurable.

EUROPA EUROPA - HOLLAND    ARROW FCD328

Set in the early days of the Second World War, Polish film maker Agnieszka Holland’s Europa Europa tells the improbable yet fact-based story of 13-year-old Solomon Perel (Marco Hofschneider), a German Jew who survived the Holocaust by concealing his identity, literally within enemy ranks. When Nazi thugs smash into the Perels’ house, Solly manages to escape with his family to Poland, from where he is again forced to run, this time with his brother. They become separated and Solly falls into the clutches of the Nazis. He quickly realises that his only chance for survival is to convince them that he is a pure-blooded Aryan, hoping that they never find out the truth. He poses as a ‘war hero’ and eventually becomes a member of the Hitler Youth. Based on Perel’s amazing autobiography, Agnieszka Holland’s beautifully photographed film is an epic drama that features fine performances, especially by the handsome Hofschneider as Solly and Julie Delpy as his frustrated lover. The director uses exquisite pacing to build ever greater tension and her screenplay for this unique and moving film was nominated for an Academy Award.

THE PATRICE LECONTE COLLECTION   SECOND SIGHT 2NDVD 3141

The respected and versatile French director and screenwriter Patrice Leconte was born in Paris in 1947. While attending film school in the 1960s he began working as a cartoonist before getting the chance to direct his first feature in 1976. Most of his early films were comedies – extremely successful in France but little seen abroad. This changed in 1989 when the stylish Monsieur Hire was shown at the Cannes film festival and this radical departure from his previous work brought Leconte international attention. Based on a Georges Simenon story, the film is a psychological drama in which a girl is murdered and police suspect the reclusive Monsieur Hire. Living a mundane existence, his greatest pleasure is to watch Alice in the opposite apartment. Starring Michel Blanc and the beautiful Sandrine Bonnaire, this enigmatic tale of love and obsession is played with haunting subtlety and has an unforgettable ending worthy of Hitchcock. Since Monsieur Hire, Leconte has had further success internationally with films such as the lavish, Oscar-nominated Ridicule (with Charles Berling and Fanny Ardant) and L’homme du train, currently being remade by Hollywood. This splendid five-disc box set from Second Sight includes Ridicule and Monsieur Hire as well as three other films by Leconte: His passionate fairy tale, The Hairdresser’s Husband, the erotic Le Parfum D’Yvonne and the darkly comic Tango. Extras include a long and revealing documentary, ‘Leconte On Leconte’, and one of the director’s best short films, La Famille Heureuse.

GARAGE - ABRAHAMSON    SODA SODA066

Lenny Abrahamson’s 2007 award winning Irish drama is an acutely observed tragi-comedy about loneliness and fitting in. Regarded by his neighbours as a harmless misfit, eliciting idle kindness, benign tolerance and occasional abuse, the gentle Josie has spent all his adult life as the caretaker of a crumbling petrol station on the outskirts of a small town in the mid-west of Ireland. He has a limited, lonely life yet remains amiable, relentlessly optimistic and, in his way, happy. Then over the course of a summer, Josie’s world changes when a teenage assistant, David, comes to work with him. They open up to each other and suddenly the lonely adult is drinking cans down at the railway tracks with the local kids. He is also awakened to needs in himself that have never been met as Carmel (perfectly played by Anne-Marie Duff) from the local shop stirs feelings within him that he struggles to name. He becomes even more aware of his essential loneliness as events spiral and and take a tragic turn, changing Josie’s simple life forever. Comedian Pat Shortt gives a remarkable performance as the good-natured Josie and Peter Robertson’s atmospheric cinematography lovingly captures the beauty of the location. This is a funny, compassionate and heartbreaking film, brilliantly acted and scripted throughout. Extras include a commentary by Lenny Abrahamson and the film’s writer, Mark O’Halloran.

BLEAK MOMENTS – LEIGH   SODA SODA074

Mike Leigh studied theatre at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and acted with the Royal Shakespeare Company before becoming a theatre director and playwright in the 1960s. In the 1970s, he made the transition to television with classic plays such Nuts in May and Abigail’s Party. His projects begin without a script; instead, he sets out a basic premise, and lets the ideas develop through improvisation by the actors, who explore their character. The experimental Bleak Moments was Leigh’s debut feature - a haunting and disturbing study of a young woman’s isolation. Released in 1971, it won the Golden Leopard in Locarno the following year and is available now for the first time on DVD. Secretary Sylvia (Anne Raitt) spends her evenings drinking sherry and taking care of her mentally disabled sister, Hilda (brilliantly played by Sarah Stephenson). Lonely for male company, she meets a repressed schoolteacher Peter (Eric Allan) and the shy, guitar-playing Norman (Mike Bradwell), who has rented her garage to print copies of a magazine. Peter and Sylvia go out for a meal at a wincingly inhospitable Chinese restaurant while Sylvia’s annoying fellow office worker Pat (Joolia Cappleman) looks after Hilda. Back home, Sylvia makes an unsuccessful pass at Peter, who awkwardly declines and leaves. Norman then quits the garage, leaving Sylvia and Hilda once more to face the boredom and loneliness of their lives. Bleak Moments fully lives up to its title but there are undercurrents of dark humour that become more apparent with a second viewing. The unique Mike Leigh acting style is already in evidence, with a memorable performance by the Liz Smith in her first important screen role. A fascinating commentary by the director is included as an extra.

THE ESSENTIAL CHARLIE CHAPLIN   DELTA 89149

The Essential Charlie ChaplinSir Charles Spencer Chaplin, better known as Charlie Chaplin, was born in London, England, in 1889. He joined Fred Karno’s touring stage company with his brother Sydney in 1908 (Stan Laurel was also a member of the company) and in 1912 the troupe went to perform in America, where Chaplin decided to stay. The following year, producer Mack Sennett saw him perform and took him on at the Keystone Studio, which already boasted such names as Roscoe ‘Fatty’ Arbuckle, Mabel Normand and the Keystone Kops. Chaplin went on to become one of biggest movie stars the world has ever seen, making an astonishing 35 pictures in one year alone. As well as being a wonderfully inventive comedy actor he was also a notable director, writer, producer and musician, composing scores for some of his later films. His working life spanned over 65 years, from the Victorian stage and music hall in England as a child performer, almost until his death at the age of eighty-eight on Christmas Day, 1977 . His principal character was ‘The Tramp’ (known as ‘Charlot’ in France), a vagrant with the refined manners and dignity of a gentleman. An unmistakeable toothbrush-moustached character wearing a tight coat, over-sized trousers and shoes, and a derby hat, carrying a bamboo cane, his image remains immortal and universally recognised. This superb ten volume DVD collection contains some of Chaplin’s finest films as well as ‘Chaplin - His Life and Work’, a loving and leisurely-paced documentary that includes film excerpts along with reflections on Shakespeare and Jack the Ripper. Titles on the other nine discs include Mabel’s Married Life, Laffing Gas, Face On The Barroom Floor, The Landlady’s Pet, The Fatal Mallet, The Knockout, The New Janitor, The Rival Mashers, Musical Tramp, A Fair Exchange, His New Job, A Night Out, The Champion, In The Park, The Tramp, The Bank, Shanghaied, A Night In The Snow, A Burlesque On Carmen, Police, The Floorwalker, The Fireman, The Vagabond, One A.M., The Count, The Pawnshop, Behind The Screen, The Rink, Easy Street, The Cure and The Immigrant. This collection forms a marvelous tribute to the greatest comedian of them all, currently receiving an overdue critical and popular revival. Highly recommended.

L’AVVENTURA – ANTONIONI    MR BONGO FILMS

Michelangelo Antonioni’s visually stunning L’avventura (The Adventure), made in 1960, stars the beautiful Monica Vitti and Gabriele Ferzetti. Notable for its slow pacing and careful composition, and for its unusual narrative structure, the film was produced on location in Italy under difficult financial and physical conditions and became the first part of a trilogy that also includes La notte and L’eclisse. The superb cinematography is by Aldo Scavarda. In L’avventura, a group of rich Italians go out on a small boat to a deserted volcanic island in the Mediterranean. One of them, Anna (Lea Massari), who had been the main character up to that point goes missing. Her boyfriend, Sandro, and Claudia, Anna’s friend, then try without success to find her and while looking develop a powerful attraction for each other. After they become lovers, they all but forget about the missing Anna. In 1962, this brilliant, subtle and enigmatic film - Antonioni's first international success - was runner-up in Sight and Sound’s poll of the top ten films of all time, coming closer than anything else to beating Citizen Kane. ‘A masterpiece’ - Time Magazine. Also available from Mr Bongo Films is Antonioni’s intriguing and mysterious IDENTIFICAZIONE DI UNA DONNA (‘Identification of a Woman’). Made in 1982, it tells of a Roman film director (Tomas Milian) who has relationships with two women (played by Daniela Silverio and Christine Boisson) in the course of his research for a new film. This is a welcome DVD release for one of the great Italian director’s most ambiguous films, which has links with earlier features such as Blow Up and The Passenger. Beautifully photographed by Carlo di Palma - especially the scenes set in a fog - this is essential viewing for all Antonioni devotees.

FORTY SHADES OF BLUE – IRA SACHS    ARTIFICIAL EYE ART319DVD

Legendary soul music music producer Alan James (played with great presence by Rip Torn) lives in Memphis with his beautiful young Russian girlfriend Laura (Dina Korzun) and their three-year-old son. They have an affluent life but Laura feels lonely, isolated and confused. When Alan’s estranged adult son from a previous marriage, Michael (Darren E. Burrows), returns home to Memphis for the first time in many years a dangerous relationship develops between him and Laura, until she is eventually forced to make a profound decision about what she wants from life. Writer/director Ira Sachs’s intelligent, cleverly crafted screenplay, together with effective cinematography and a great soundtrack (featuring the songs of Bert Berns) allows the story and characters to develop with an almost Antonioni-like slowness. The acting is superb throughout, especially by Rip Torn and the stunning Dina Korzun, previously seen in Last Resort. Her character’s inner struggles are wonderfully suggested in a performance that is both convincing and moving. Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, Forty Shades of Blue is a poignant story of three trapped, lonely people that offers no easy answers but reaches a hauntingly memorable conclusion. Not to be missed.

 

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