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DVD Review - August 18
7:00am Saturday 18th August 2012 in NewsXtra
A weekly round-up of the latest DVD releases.
By Damon Smith
New to rent on DVD/Blu-ray
Headhunters (Hodejegerne) (Cert 15, 96 mins, Momentum Pictures Home Entertainment, Thriller/Action, also available to buy DVD £17.99/Blu-ray £19.99)
Starring: Aksel Hennie, Eivind Sander, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Synnove Macody Lund.
Roger Brown (Aksel Hennie) is a corporate headhunter who places great stock in his reputation. Unbeknown to his colleagues and his beautiful wife Diana (Synnove Macody Lund), Roger supplements his modest income as an art thief. He pilfers prized canvasses from clients while they are attending job interviews with the help of associate Ove Kjikerud (Eivind Sander), who works in an Oslo security company. Thanks to his wife, Roger meets suave businessman Clas Greve (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), who is looking for a new position to match his obvious talents. Clas has inherited a painting by Rubens called The Calydonian Boar Hunt, which would be worth millions on the black market. Roger and Ove plan the theft that will set them up for life but there are unforeseen complications. Based on the novel by Jo Nesbo, Headhunters is an intricate edge-of-seat thriller that simmers gently for the opening 30 minutes, establishing the characters and the marital tension between Roger and Diana, which leads to one major plot twist. As soon as Roger steps inside Clas's apartment to take the painting, director Morten Tyldum steadily cranks up the tension, building to a frenetic crescendo with a series of nerve-wracking showdowns and chases spattered with blood. Humour is black as night, including a disgusting sequence in an outhouse and some gruesome animal cruelty. The machinations of the final act are preposterous yet jaw-droppingly brilliant, requiring a suspension of disbelief somewhere in the stratosphere.
Gone (Cert 15, 91 mins, Entertainment In Video, Thriller, also available to buy DVD £19.99/Blu-ray £24.99)
Starring: Amanda Seyfried, Emily Wickersham, Daniel Sunjata, Katherine Moennig, Michael Pare, Wes Bentley.
Jill Parrish (Amanda Seyfried) was abducted from her home, bound with tape and left in a deep hole in the middle of Forest Park in Oregon. Miraculously, she escaped her knife-wielding abductor but without any DNA evidence to corroborate Jill's chilling story, police doubt her version of events and she is consigned to a psychiatric facility, then released into the care of her sister Molly (Emily Wickersham). One year to the day after her alleged ordeal, Jill returns home from a late shift at a cafe to discover that Molly has vanished without trace. Jill is convinced that her assailant has returned and she begs Detectives Powers (Daniel Sunjata) and Lonsdale (Katherine Moennig) to launch an immediate search, but her pleas fall on deaf ears. Gone is a serpentine thriller littered with enough red herrings to exceed European fishing quotas. Seyfried is sympathetic as a woman on the verge of a breakdown, and she delivers a better performance than Heitor Dhalia's film deserves. However, we're not emotionally invested in Jill because the hairpin twists leave us shaking our heads in disbelief. Scriptwriter Allison Burnett goes out of his way to populate every frame with creepy supporting characters. The ambiguous motives of almost everyone in the film gradually wears us down until we stop caring whether the young woman was really snatched in the dead of night, or whether it was all a figment of her twisted imagination. By the time Burnett engineers his finale, everything teeters precariously on a meagre trail of evidentiary breadcrumbs.
Black Gold (Cert 12, 128 mins, Warner Home Video, Drama/Romance, also available to buy DVD £12.99 - see below)
Elfie Hopkins (Cert 15, 88 mins, Kaleidoscope Home Entertainment, Horror/Thriller/Comedy, also available to buy DVD £17.99/Blu-ray £19.99 - see below)
Even The Rain (Cert 15, 98 mins, Dogwoof Pictures, Drama, also available to buy DVD £14.99 - see below)
This Must Be The Place (Cert 15, 113 mins, Trinity Filmed Entertainment, Drama, also available to buy DVD £17.99/Blu-ray £24.99 - see below)
New to buy on DVD/Blu-ray
Elfie Hopkins (Cert 15, 88 mins, Kaleidoscope Home Entertainment, DVD £17.99/Blu-ray £19.99, Horror/Thriller/Comedy)
There's considerably more madness than method in Ryan Andrews's twisted horror thriller, which splices a rural whodunnit with gore-slathered cannibal holocaust. Jaime Winstone plays grungy sleuth Elfie, whose dishevelled attire - ripped jeans, boots and beanie hat - conceals an inquisitive mind. When city slicker Charlie Gammon (Rupert Evans), his glamorous wife Isabelle (Kate Magowan) and two children Elliot (Will Payne) and Ruby (Gwyneth Keyworth) move into the country pile next door, Elfie smells something rotten in her close-knit hunting community. Nerdy best friend Dylan (Aneurin Barnard) joins the feisty heroine on her investigation, wrestling with the self-consciously quirky one-liners ("Gammon Jr has some serious daddy issues. He almost went OJ Simpson on me!") in Andrews's and Riyad Barmania's haphazard script.
Black Gold (Cert 12, 128 mins, Warner Home Video, DVD £12.99, Drama/Romance)
The West's insatiable thirst for oil ignites a bitter conflict between rival Arabian tribes in Jean-Jacques Annaudma's sweeping and timely historical drama, adapted from Hans Ruesch's classic novel The Great Thirst. At the turn of the 20th century, the war between two Emirs, Nesib (Antonio Banderas) and Amar (Mark Strong), has claimed many lives. The men broker a truce, using Amar's two sons, Saleh (Akin Gazi) and his bookish younger brother, Auda (Tahar Rahim), as collateral. The boys will grow up in Nesib's care, thereby ensuring the two tribes remain at peace. Separated from their Muslim traditionalist father, Saleh and Auda make the best of their situation, the latter kindling a forbidden romance with Nesib's beautiful daughter, Leyla (Freida Pinto). However, when Nesib forges alliances with an American oil prospector (Corey Johnson) on the very belt of land that started the bloodshed, Saleh and Auda spearhead a rebellion from within their rival's walls.
This Must Be The Place (Cert 15, 113 mins, Trinity Filmed Entertainment, DVD £17.99/Blu-ray £24.99, Drama)
Writer-director Paolo Sorrentino's English-language road movie was in competition at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival and features Sean Penn in an eye-catching role as a fading one-time rock star. Cheyenne (Penn) amassed as small fortune with his music but he hasn't strummed a guitar in years and now lives in self-imposed exile in Dublin with this wife Jane (Frances McDormand). Learning that his estranged Jewish father is dying, Cheyenne travels by boat to New York to reconcile with the old man and exorcise the ghosts of the past. Alas, Cheyenne arrives too late and in the midst of his grief, he learns of his parent's horrendous ordeal in Auschwitz at the hands of an SS Officer called Aloise Lange (Heinz Lieven). Determined to discover the shocking truth, Cheyenne spurns the offer of assistance from renowned Nazi hunter Mordecai Midler (Judd Hirsch) and embarks on a mammoth road trip, in search of the former guard who has taken on another identity.
Blackout (Cert 15, 176 mins, BBC DVD, DVD £19.99, Thriller/Drama)
Christopher Eccleston headlines this three-part BBC thriller about a shady politician who is unexpectedly handed a chance for redemption. Corrupt council official Daniel Demoys (Eccleston) has been disillusioned with his lot in life and he has turned to the bottle to cope, putting a strain on his relationship with his wife Alex (Dervla Kirwan) and three children Meg, Luke and Charlie. One morning, after one of his frequent blackouts, Daniel regains consciousness with blood on his hands and realises that he has beaten a man to the brink of death. With his future hanging precariously in the balance, fate throws Daniel a lifeline and he schemes to rebuild bridges to all of the people he has hurt. However, cynical detective Dalien Bevan (Andrew Scott), whose own personal life is in freefall, may yet prove to be Daniel's undoing.
Soldier Of Vengeance (Cert 15, 86 mins, Studio Canal, DVD £15.99/Blu-ray £19.99, Action/Thriller)
Steven Seagal returns as renegade cop Elijah Kane in two episodes of True Justice, a fast-paced US TV series which is repackaged as feature-length investigations for British viewers. In this instalment, war continues to rage on the streets of Washington between Mexican drug cartels and the Yakuza. Kane and his team struggle to maintain control. Meanwhile, in one of the city's banks, an emotionally unstable, unemployed man takes the staff and customers hostage, determined to make his mark on a world that has abandoned him.
Beaver Falls - The Complete First Series (Cert 15, 273 mins, 4DVD, DVD £19.99/Blu-ray £24.99, Comedy/Drama/Romance)
All six episodes of the E4 comedy drama about three university graduates who receive some valuable life lessons at an American summer camp. Best friends Barry (John Dagleish), Flynn (Sam Robertson) and Adil aka A-Rab (Arsher Ali) fly to California seeking sun, sea and copious sex at Beaver Falls. Unfortunately, they are assigned to look after the resident oddballs and misfits, who are constantly bullied by the jock cabin. While Barry pursues pretty lifeguard Kimberley (Natasha Loring), who already has a boyfriend, Flynn tries to keep secret a devastating medical condition that may rob him of life far too soon.
Even The Rain (Cert 15, 98 mins, Dogwoof Pictures, DVD £14.99, Drama)
A film crew become embroiled in a Bolivian revolt in this drama directed by Iciar Bollain. Costa (Luis Tosar) is the producer of a historical drama which hopes to retrace the steps of Christopher Columbus and explore how the Spanish treated the native Indians. Purse strings are tight so Costa intends to hire locals as extras for a pittance, ironically mirroring the shameful behaviour of protagonists in the film. Long-suffering director Sebastian (Gael Garcia Bernal) sympathises with the low-paid crew but his focus has to be completing the picture and to that end, he hires local worker Daniel (Juan Carlos Aduviri) in a pivotal role. The production begins smoothly and Sebastian is pleased with progress until troubles flare over the proposed privatisation of water resources. Daniel is the ringleader of the revolt, dragging Sebastian and his film into the eye of the political storm.
Jersey Shore - Season Four (Uncensored) (Cert 15, 493 mins, Paramount Home Entertainment, DVD £19.99, Documentary/Drama)
The beautiful people of MTV's fly-on-the-wall docu-drama return for 12 episodes of bitching, back-stabbing and romance. This series, they abandon Seaside Heights in New Jersey for the balmy climes of Florence, where Mike makes a romantic advance on Snooki, even though she has a boyfriend. Mike continues to cause friction with the other housemates, jeopardising his future on the show. Meanwhile, Deena ends up in a police cell, Vinny pays a visit to his family in Sicily and Ron and Sam attempt to heal their strained relationship.
Livid (Cert 18, 88 mins, Studio Canal, DVD £15.99/Blu-ray £19.99, Horror/Thriller)
Lucy (Chloe Coulloud) takes up a position as a care giver to a comatose patient, Madame Jessel (Marie-Claude Pietragalla), in her decaying mansion. The old woman used to be a famous ballet teacher and local rumours suggest that Madame Jessel hides all of her considerable wealth within the grand house. Determined to steal everything, Lucy breaks into the property with friends Ben (Jeremy Kapone) and William (Felix Moati). They search for the hidden booty but stumble upon something far more terrifying inside the crumbling walls.
If Not Us, Who? (Cert 15, 125 mins, Soda Pictures, DVD £15.99, Drama)
Director Andres Veiel explores political tensions within west Germany during the early 1960s in this highly charged portrait of extremism at large. Bernward Vesper (August Diehl) lives in the shadow of his domineering father, a former Nazi poet, who he feels compelled to defend in his work. The young man is passionate about literature and believes that words, when used correctly, possess the power to change the world. Bernward meets free spirit Gudrun Ensslin (Lena Lauzemis) and they fall in love, united by their belief in a better Germany. However, Gudrun falls under the spell of radical Andreas Baader (Alexander Fehling), who advocates extreme action to bring the authorities to their knees. While Gudrun follows Baader, even abandoning her child to answer his call, Bernward holds firm to his course, hoping to shake off his nation's collective guilt about the Nazi atrocities.
Bad Ass (Cert 18, 86 mins, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, DVD £12.99, Action/Thriller)
Frank Vega (Danny Trejo) returns home from Vietnam expecting a hero's welcome but the local community shuns him and he struggles to find work. To rub salt into his emotional wounds, his high school sweetheart also leaves him. Many years later, abandoned by society, Frank becomes an internet sensation when someone films him protecting an elderly black man from a pair of young thugs on a local bus. His valiant actions win widespread acclaim but that counts for nothing when Frank's best friend is murdered and the police fail to respond to his desperate pleas for help. So Frank declares war on the shadier elements of his home town and he embarks on a one-man crusade to dole out tough justice.
Woman In A Dressing Gown (Cert PG, 89 mins, Studio Canal, DVD £15.99, Drama/Romance)
A welcome re-issue of J Lee Thompson's celebrated 1957 portrait of a marriage in crisis, which garnered Yvonne Mitchell the coveted Best Actress prize at the Berlin Film Festival. Jim Preston (Anthony Quayle) and his wife Amy (Mitchell) live in London with their teenage son Brian (Andrew Ray), apparently content with their lot. However, Amy can barely muster the energy to dress herself each day, wandering around the house in her dressing gown as she completes some of the housework and serves charred remains for the evening meal. Tensions with Jim drive him into the arms of work colleague Georgie (Sylvia Sims), who demands the husband leave his family for her. Having agreed to Georgie's ultimatum, Jim is shocked when Amy invites him and his mistress round for dinner to discuss their respective futures
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