DVD Review - February 4

DVD Review - February 4

DVD Review - February 4

First published in DVD Reviews

A weekly round-up of the latest DVD releases.

By Damon Smith.

New to rent on DVD/Blu-ray.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (Cert 15, 122 mins, Studio Canal, Thriller, also available to buy DVD £19.99/Blu-ray & DVD Combi-pack £24.99/Steelbook Blu-ray & DVD Combi-pack £24.99/Deluxe Edition Blu-ray & DVD Box Set £69.99).

Starring: Gary Oldman, John Hurt, Colin Firth, Toby Jones, David Dencik, Ciaran Hinds, Benedict Cumberbatch, Mark Strong, Tom Hardy, Kathy Burke.

Control (John Hurt), the chief of a 1970s British Secret Intelligence Service unit known as the Circus, learns that Russian counterpart Karla has placed a mole within the ranks. To unmask the traitor, Control dispatches Jim Prideaux (Mark Strong) to Hungary but the agent is shot dead. So Control turns to trusted protege Smiley (Gary Oldman) and shares intelligence about a possible double agent. Soon after, Control takes his own life, leaving Smiley to uncover the intrigues of the other Circus members: Percy Alleline (Toby Jones), Roy Bland (Ciaran Hinds), Toby Esterhase (David Dencik) and Bill Haydon (Colin Firth). Aided by the young, ambitious Peter Guillam (Benedict Cumberbatch), Smiley searches for clues and for missing operative Ricki Tarr (Tom Hardy). Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is intelligent film-making of the highest calibre, distinguished by tour de force performances from the predominantly British cast. Oldman doesn't utter a word for what seems like an eternity but he commands every frame. Cumberbatch is a worthy foil, not least in a heart-breaking scene when Peter makes the ultimate sacrifice. Jones, Hinds, Firth et al are excellent in support and Burke scene-steals with aplomb, delivering the best line of the entire film. Director Tomas Alfredson frames every shot with precision, overhearing conversations in darkened hallways or through walls as if we are the spies. Scriptwriters Bridget O'Connor and Peter Straughan have truncated John le Carre's novel but retain the choking air of suspense that has us holding our breaths until the stunning final frame. A limited edition box set, comprising the Blu-ray and DVD combi-pack, an original CD soundtrack, notepad, playing cards, behind the scenes photographs and a film still, is also available.

Rating: **** Drive (Cert 18, 96 mins, Icon Home Entertainment, Action/Thriller/Romance, also available to buy DVD/Blu-ray £17.99) Starring: Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Albert Brooks, Ron Perlman, Bryan Cranston, Oscar Isaac, Kaden Leos, James Biberi, Christina Hendricks.

Driver (Ryan Gosling) performs death-defying stunts in big-budget films but when he's not on a set, he works as a mechanic for his good friend, Shannon (Bryan Cranston). When he's not working beneath the bonnet of a car, Driver performs illegal jobs organised by Shannon, which invariably involve high-speed getaways from crime scenes. When one heist goes wrong, Driver is marked for death at the hands of hoodlums Bernie Rose (Albert Brooks) and Nino (Ron Perlman). There are romantic complications when Driver falls for pretty neighbour Irene (Carey Mulligan), whose husband Standard Gabriel (Oscar Isaac) has just been released from prison and wants to rebuild bridges with his little boy, Benicio (Kaden Leos). Adapted from the novel by James Sallis, Drive is an adrenaline-fuelled journey into the blackened heart of a man living on the fringes of society. Director Nicolas Winding Refn hits the accelerator in the opening scenes and barely touches the brakes as the plot skids with sickening inevitability towards its bloody resolution. The Danish film-maker punctuates Driver and Irene's doomed romance with scenes of graphic violence, including an assault in a lift that will test the strongest stomachs. Gosling is mesmerising as the speed freak loner, catalysing smouldering screen chemistry with Mulligan, who can barely hold back the tears as Driver confesses, "Getting to be around you and Benicio was the best thing that ever happened to me." Brooks and Perlman are terrifying as mobsters, who smile at a rival then stab him in the throat, whispering tenderly, "Don't worry, there's no pain. It's over." We certainly don't want Refn's film to be over.

Rating: **** Crazy, Stupid, Love (Cert 12, 125 mins, Warner Home Video, Comedy/Drama/Romance, also available to buy DVD £19.99/Blu-ray & DVD Combi-pack £24.99) Starring: Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Julianne Moore, Emma Stone, Marisa Tomei, Kevin Bacon, Jonah Bobo, Analeigh Tipton.

On the way home from a restaurant, Emily Weaver (Julianne Moore) confesses to her husband Cal (Steve Carell) that she slept with co-worker David Lindhagen (Kevin Bacon) and wants a divorce. The cuckolded husband seeks refuge at a cocktail bar where lothario Jacob Palmer (Ryan Gosling) takes pity on him and confidently assures Cal, "I'm going to help you rediscover your manhood." With expert guidance, Cal seduces feisty school teacher Kate (Marisa Tomei) and rediscovers his mojo. Meanwhile, Jacob pursues law student Hannah (Emma Stone), who is impervious to his chat-up lines. Back home at the Weaver house, Cal and Emily's 13-year-old son Robbie (Jonah Bobo) declares his crush for 17-year-old babysitter Jessica (Analeigh Tipton): "I love you. I'm pretty sure you're my soul mate." Crazy, Stupid, Love is a rare treat - an intelligent and sophisticated adult-oriented romantic comedy that doesn't resort to gross-out humour, boasting pithy dialogue and exemplary performances from an ensemble cast, who explore the many winding paths to true love. Glenn Ficarra and John Requa's follow-up to I Love You Phillip Morris is hilarious, heart-warming and bittersweet and Dan Fogelman's script pokes fun at convention and the good-looking cast. Carell and Moore are wonderful, milking their characters' tears of regret. Gosling demonstrates a light comic touch and screen chemistry with Stone is electric, including a hilarious recreation of an iconic 1980s film. Rapport between Carell and Gosling is also strong, the latter taking one look at the emotionally shattered husband and despairing, "I don't know whether to help you or euthanise you." Thankfully for Ficarra and Requa's delightful film, it's the former.

Rating: ****

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