A weekly round-up of the latest DVD releases.
By Damon Smith
New to rent on DVD/Blu-ray
Comes A Bright Day (Cert 15, 87 mins, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Drama/Romance, also available to buy DVD £15.99) Starring: Craig Roberts, Imogen Poots, Timothy Spall, Kevin McKidd, Josef Altin, Anthony Welsh.
Twenty-year-old Sam Smith (Craig Roberts) works as a bellboy at a luxury five-star hotel but he secretly dreams of owning a restaurant. While running an errand for a guest at an exclusive Mayfair jewellery boutique, Sam meets salesgirl Mary (Imogen Poots) and is smitten. However, he cannot pluck up the courage to ask her out on a date or to confess that he is merely a low-level lackey. With gentle encouragement from best friend Elliot (Anthony Welsh), Sam returns to the boutique to woo Mary but his amorous advances are curtailed by armed robbers Cameron (Kevin McKidd) and Clegg (Josef Altin), who are determined to relieve store owner Charlie (Timothy Spall) of a lovely Stahl Papillon brooch worth £1 million. The robbers take the shop workers and Sam hostage, providing the young man with strangely perfect conditions to become better acquainted with Mary. Comes A Bright Day marks a confident feature debut for award-winning commercials director Simon Aboud, who certainly knows how to seduce our eyes with his well-crafted shots. He doesn't cater so much to the heart and mind, skimping on some of the characterisation and occasionally he slips back into ad man mode, telling us what to think or feel rather than entrusting us to engage with the characters in our own time. Roberts is a likeable hero and there's pleasing screen chemistry with Poots. Frenetic action sequences pale next to intimate scenes of the hostages trading bittersweet reminiscences, while McKidd chews furiously on the scenery and the sometimes clumsy dialogue.
Rating: *** The Assault (Cert 15, 87 mins, Studio Canal, Action/Drama, also available to buy DVD £15.99/Blu-ray £19.99) Starring: Vincent Elbaz, Aymen Saidi, Melanie Bernier, Marie Guillard, Gregori Derangere.
On December 24, 1994, four members of the Armed Islamic Group boarded an Air France flight in Algiers bound for Paris, with the ultimate intention of causing a massive explosion onboard the craft over the Eiffel Tower. When the airplane touched down in Marseilles to refuel, elite officers from French Special Forces stormed the hijacked plane with orders to neutralise the terrorist threat and protect the passengers. Director Julien Leclercq draws inspiration from chilling fact for his second feature, which follows hijacker Yahia (Aymen Saidi) and his three colleagues as they board the plane and execute their terrifying plan. When news breaks of the hostage situation, police officer Thierry (Vincent Elbaz) bids farewell to his wife (Marie Guillard) and rushes to the scene as part of the first response unit led by Denis Favier (Gregori Derangere). Meanwhile, Carole (Melanie Bernier), who works for the French Interior Ministry, attempts to make her mark as part of the operation on the ground. The hours tick by and the world watches with a mounting sense of dread... The Assault adheres closely to documented fact, incorporating verbatim recorded communications between the hijackers and the authorities. Leclercq steadily cranks up the tension, reflecting the grim fate of the passengers and crew by bleaching almost all colour from the film's palette. Violence is brief yet brutal and snappy editing quickens the pulse, particularly as the narrative careens with sickening inevitability towards its explosive and tragic final showdown.
Rating: *** Also released Delicacy (La Delicatesse) (Cert 12, 106 mins, Studio Canal, Romance/Drama, also available to buy DVD £17.99/Blu-ray £22.99 - see below) The Flowers Of War (Cert 15, 136 mins, Revolver Entertainment, Drama/Romance, also available to buy DVD £15.99/Blu-ray £17.99 - see below) New to buy on DVD/Blu-ray Twenty Twelve - Series 2 (Cert 15, 435 mins, BBC DVD, DVD £19.99/Series 1 & 2 DVD Box Set £24.99, Comedy) David Tennant narrates another seven hilarious episodes of the BBC mockumentary following Head of Deliverance Ian Fletcher (Hugh Bonneville) and his team as they overcome adversity to stage the London 2012 Olympic Games. PR operative Siobhan Sharpe (Jessica Hynes) has the brilliant idea of the 'Jubilympics' to harness public support for The Queen's Diamond Jubilee and channel it into the summer games. Meanwhile, the Algerian squad threatens to boycott London because the athletes' Shared Belief Centre does not face Mecca and Ian is shell-shocked to learn that his loyal and trusted PA, Daniel (Samuel Barnett), has been offered another job. A two-disc box set comprising both series is also available.
Delicacy (La Delicatesse) (Cert 12, 106 mins, Studio Canal, DVD £17.99/Blu-ray £22.99, Romance/Drama) Adapted from David Foenkinos's award-winning novel, Delicacy is a touching romance about a widow who discovers love when she least expects it. Nathalie Kerr (Audrey Tautou) falls in love with her soul mate Francois (Pio Marmai) and the young couple seem to have it all - until he dies in an accident, shattering her dreams. Nathalie is consumed by her grief, devoting most of her time to her office job, unaware that her boss Charles (Bruno Todeschini) secretly wishes he could be the man to restore her faith in love. Three years pass and Nathalie is a shadow of her former self when, out of the blue, she kisses co-worker Markus Lundl (Francois Damiens). The spontaneous act creates friction in the office but sparks Nathalie back to life and she agrees to run away with Markus to give the fledgling relationship the space and time to flourish.
The Flowers Of War (Cert 15, 136 mins, Revolver Entertainment, DVD £15.99/Blu-ray £17.99, Drama/Romance) Zhang Yimou directs this sweeping historical drama set during the Second Sino-Japanese War, when Japanese troops seized the Chinese city of Nanking and murdered and raped thousands of defenceless civilians. Based on the novel 13 Flowers Of Nanjing by Geling Yan, the story revolves around American mortician John Miller (Christian Bale) who arrives in Nanking shortly after the invasion to bury the head priest of a convent school for Catholic girls. Miller quickly becomes embroiled in the conflict when he is forced to pose as the school's priest to protect the teenage schoolgirls from marauding Japanese troops. Miller also allows a group of local prostitutes to hide in the convent's cellars rather than suffer the wrath of the invaders. Japanese Colonel Hasegawa (Atsuro Watanabe) agrees to spare the convent from the atrocities if the girls will sing for his troops - a firm request which Miller feels certain is a ruse to lure his wards to a grim fate. So the mortician declines Hasegawa's invitation but the Colonel makes clear that the girls will perform or suffer the horrific consequences.
Big Love - The Complete Fifth Season (Cert 15, 580 mins, Warner Home Video/HBO, DVD £39.99/The Complete Collection DVD Box Set £99.99, Drama/Romance) Four-disc set of the final 10 episodes of the acclaimed HBO drama, chronicling the trials and tribulations of Mormon polygamist Bill Hendrickson (Bill Paxton), his three wives Barb (Jeanne Tripplehorn), Nicolette (Chloe Sevigny) and Margene (Ginnifer Goodwin) and their various offspring. The truth about the Hendricksons generates anger and prejudice in Salt Lake City, jeopardising Bill's political future, while tensions between the three wives threaten to tear the family apart. Alby (Matt Ross) prepares to exact delicious revenge against Bill and tragedy forces different members of the clan to reassess their futures. A 20-disc box set comprising all five series is also available.
Le Havre (Cert PG, 89 mins, Artificial Eye, DVD £15.99/Blu-ray £19.99, Comedy/Drama) Townsfolk come together to help a young boy escape his past in this typically offbeat comedy drama from Finnish writer-director Aki Kaurismaki. Struggling author Marcel Marx (Andre Wilms) finally admits defeat when it comes to his literary ambitions, so he settles into the gentle ebb and flow of life in the port city of Le Havre, where he ekes out a meagre living by shining shoes. He is devoted to his wife Arletty (Kati Outinen), so when she falls seriously ill, he searches for any glimmers of hope in the darkness. At his lowest point, Marcel meets African boy Idrissa (Blondin Miguel), who has just arrived in the port from Gabon along with several other illegal immigrants. Taking pity on the child, Marcel agrees to hide Idrissa from the authorities with the help of his kindly neighbours and the community pools its resources to finance an illegal boat trip to England where the youngster can hopefully start afresh.
North Sea Texas (Noordzee Texas) (Cert 15, 94 mins, Peccadillo Pictures, DVD £15.99, Drama/Romance) Celebrated Belgian film-maker Bavo Defurne graduates from visually stunning shorts to feature-length drama with this artfully composed coming-of-age story set in a coastal town where dreams are constantly washed out to sea. Fifteen-year-old Pim (Jelle Florizoone) lives with his mother Yvette (Eva van der Gucht), a talented accordionist who tours the local clubs with her driver Etienne (Luk Wyns), often leaving Pim home alone. With no responsible adult to take care of him, Pim invariably ends up next door with Marcella (Katelijne Damen), who he considers his second mother, and her family: motorcycling son Gino (Mathias Vergels) and his younger sister Sabrina (Nina Marie Kortekaas). Pim is smitten with Gino and as he turns 16, hormones rage, sparking desire. The lad is oblivious to the adoring glances from Sabrina then hunky fair worker Zoltan (Thomas Coumans) takes up lodgings with Yvette and brings dramatic changes to the unhappy home.
Revenge Of The Electric Car (Cert E, 88 mins, Dogwoof Pictures, DVD £15.99, Documentary)