New DVDs for July
New DVDs for July include silent epic The Artist; Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe; the new Almodovar with Antonio Banderas; the acclaimed ‘Shame’ with Michael Fassbender & Carey Mulligan; the Iranian sensation ‘Circumstance’; Clint Eastwood’s J. Edgar Hoover biopic; an adaptation of the Janet Evanovich novel ‘One for the money’; and Glenn Close’s Oscar nominated ‘Albert Nobbs’..
“Firmly planting itself near the top of the memorable performances and films that have been overlooked by the Oscars, Michael Fassbender’s astonishing work in Shame is genuinely something to behold. Stripped bare, both physically and emotionally, he plays Brandon, a man struggling with a sex addiction, whose life gets yet more complex when his sister, played by Carey Mulligan, comes to stay. It’s comfortably one of the least titillating films ever made about sex, and in this case, it’s all the better for it. Directed by Steve McQueen, who also worked with Fassbender on the acclaimed Hunger, Shame is an ambitious, raw drama. As a study of a character in the depths of an addiction, it both breaks a taboo or two, and is unflinching in its portrayal. And while there’s an argument that the film itself isn’t quite the equal of its leading man, Shame is both important and courageous. McQueen, certainly, is a director who very much does things his own way…” – (adapted from Amazon.co.uk summary)
The skin I live in.
“From acclaimed director Pedro Almodovar comes The Skin I Live In… Ever since his wife was burned in a car crash, Dr. Robert Ledgard (Antonio Banderas), an eminent plastic surgeon, has been interested in creating a new skin with which he could have saved her. After 12 years, he manages to cultivate a skin that is a real shield against every assault. In addition to years of study and experimentation, Robert needed a further three things: no scruples, an accomplice and a human guinea pig. Scruples were never a problem. Marilia, the woman who looked after him from the day he was born, is his most faithful accomplice. And as for the human guinea pig…” – (adapted from Amazon.co.uk summary)
“Claire Foy (Little Dorrit) and Christian Cooke (Cemetery Junction) lead an international cast, including Itay Tiran (Lebanon), Haaz Sleiman (The Visitor), Ali Sulaiman (Paradise Now) and Perdita Weeks (Lost in Austen), in Peter Kosminsky’s new four-part drama serial. Just as 18-year-old Londoner Erin (Foy) sets off to spend summer in Israel with her best friend, Eliza (Weeks), she unearths an old diary belonging to her seriously ill grandfather, Len (Cooke). Intrigued by the life of this old man she barely knows, she takes the diary with her, and is stunned to learn of his part in the post-WWII British peace-keeping force in what was then Palestine. Left to her own devices when Eliza begins National Service in the Israeli army, Erin witnesses the complexities of life–for both Jews and Arabs–in this troubled land. And as Len’s story comes to life from the pages of the diary, Erin discovers the disturbing truths about his time in Palestine and the atrocities he witnessed in the 1940s. Retracing Len’s steps in modern-day Israel, Erin sets out on a heart-breaking journey in an effort to understand and fulfil a promise made by her grandfather over 60 years ago…” – (Adapted from Amazon.co.uk summary)
“To his customers, fastidious butler Albert Nobbs (Glenn Close, re-creating her 1982 stage role) is a “kind little man” who works in an upscale Dublin hotel at the turn of the century, prioritizing his position above all other concerns. Little do they know that he isn’t really a man and that he dreams of running a tobacco shop. Until then, he’s quietly biding his time when two new workers arrive: Joe (Nowhere Boy’s Aaron Johnson), a strapping handyman, and Hubert (Oscar nominee Janet McTeer), a swaggering housepainter also passing as a man. After Hubert discovers Albert’s secret, they share their stories, and a friendship ensues. Hubert’s marriage to a spirited seamstress inspires Albert to find a spouse of his own, so he sets his sights on flighty housemaid Helen (Jane Eyre’s Mia Wasikowska). With money in short supply, her erstwhile lover, Joe, encourages her to play along, a move that brings out Albert’s tender side while jeopardizing his security….Though Close gives an admirably controlled performance, Albert’s closed-off character makes him more intriguing than sympathetic…” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)
“Hanna and Simon, a couple in their early forties, live together in Berlin. With their 20th anniversary looming, they both become restless despite being truly and deeply in love. Unbeknownst to one another, they separately become acquainted with Adam, a younger man, and fall in love with him. Clearly not your typical 1930’s romp, this reinvention of those classic films … is a playful update: an intellectual study of a modern couple looking for redefinition in a world of absolutes…” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)
One for the money.
“A film based on the incredibly popular Stephanie Plum books by Janet Evanovich, One for the Money reveals an unexpectedly versatile Katherine Heigl. Heigl takes on the meaty role of Plum, a laid-off lingerie buyer who turns bondswoman in a desperate attempt to pay the rent and put food on the table. Heigl is surprisingly believable as a blue-collar working girl who thinks fast on her feet and is not afraid to throw herself into the middle of even the most dangerous situation–especially if it means getting what she wants. Of course, Stephanie’s impulsiveness manages to get her into all sorts of awkward and potentially life-threatening situations. Throw in her desire for payback against an old boyfriend, a sleazy cousin, a gang of ruthless criminals, a couple of most unexpected allies, and a quirky family who can think of little more than setting her up with a good husband, and you’ve got an enticing blend of drama, action, and comedy…” – (adapted from Amazon.co.uk summary)
The trip: the 6-part series.
“Steve Coogan has been commissioned by a Sunday newspaper to review half a dozen restaurants in the North of England. When his food-loving American girlfriend backs out, Steve is faced with a week of meals for one. Reluctantly, he calls Rob Brydon, the only person he can think of who will be available. Heading north in a stylish black Range Rover, the pair begin a journey of bickering jokes and reflection. Across the dinner tables of the North’s best restaurants the neurotic and sardonic Coogan and the genial eager-to-entertain Brydon spar on everything from Coleridge or career insecurities to which of them does the best Michael Caine impression. This two disc set includes the original six part BAFTA winning comedy series as seen on the BBC.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)
“The Artist is a love letter and homage to classic black-and-white silent films. The film is enormously likable and is anchored by a charming performance from Jean Dujardin, as silent movie star George Valentin. In late-1920s Hollywood, as Valentin wonders if the arrival of talking pictures will cause him to fade into oblivion, he makes an intense connection with Peppy Miller, a young dancer set for a big break. As one career declines, another flourishes, and by channeling elements of A Star Is Born and Singing in the Rain, The Artist tells the engaging story with humour, melodrama, romance, and–most importantly–silence. As wonderful as the performances by Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo (Miller) are, the real star of The Artist is cinematographer Guillaume Schiffman. Visually, the film is stunning. Crisp and beautifully contrasted, each frame is so wonderfully constructed that this sweet and unique little movie is transformed from entertaining fluff to a profound cinematic achievement…” – (adapted from Amazon.co.uk summary)
My week with Marilyn.
“In My Week with Marilyn Williams takes on the formidable challenge of playing Marilyn Monroe, and does so with depth and assuredness, and without resorting to caricature. Williams’s Marilyn commands the screen with pain and delicacy, and doesn’t let go until the final credits. My Week with Marilyn focuses on a small time frame in Monroe’s life, right after her marriage to Arthur Miller. Monroe, already “the world’s most famous woman,” still feels the need for validation as an actress. What better way to achieve that, she believes, than committing to co-starring with Laurence Olivier in The Prince and the Showgirl, a film she firmly believed would finally cement her reputation as a serious actress. My Week with Marilyn is based on the short memoir of Colin Clark, a crew member on The Prince and the Showgirl, who quickly became the confidant of the wildly insecure Monroe and watched a train wreck of egos–mostly Olivier’s and Monroe’s–collide in a fiery near-disaster…But it’s Williams who gives the revelatory performance, capturing with painful intensity the insecurity that begins to seep out of Monroe like a fearful sweat…My Week with Marilyn doesn’t attempt to answer the unanswerable, but instead shines a light on the very real woman who became lost in the giant shadow of legend…” – (adapted from Amazon.co.uk summary)
“It’s been said that Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were killed in a standoff with the Bolivian military in 1908. In BLACKTHORN, Cassidy (Sam Shepard) survived and is quietly living out his years under the name James Blackthorn in a secluded Bolivian village. Tired of his long exile from the U.S. and hoping to see his family again before he dies, Cassidy sets out on the long journey home. But when an unexpected encounter with an ambitious young criminal (Eduardo Noriega) derails his plans, he is thrust into one last adventure, the likes of which he hasn’t experienced since his glory days with the Sundance Kid…” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)
“This job should be a piece of cake: former smuggler Chris Farraday (Mark Wahlberg) gets dragged back into the game in order to make things right with a nasty New Orleans gangster (Giovanni Ribisi) over a debt owed by Chris’s brother-in-law. So, Chris needs to smuggle in some goods on a cargo ship from Panama, pay the guy off, and return to a suburban life on the straight and narrow. No problem, right? What’s fun about Contraband is that despite its hero’s meticulous planning, all hell breaks loose in Panama City, where nothing goes as planned and where the cargo ship is, after all, due to disembark at a certain time, with or without him. Based on the Icelandic film Reykjavík-Rotterdam, this movie is full of stock characters and rancid dialogue, but the plot is so kicky and wild, it almost doesn’t matter, at least for as long as the movie is on screen…No one will mistake it for a classic, but Contraband has enough zip, and a few genuine surprises, to qualify it as a fun diversion…” – (adapted from Amazon.com summary)
“The complicated life of J. Edgar Hoover is thoughtfully and quietly distilled into a feature film by director Clint Eastwood. J. Edgar is a movie, therefore, that’s free of fuss. Told mainly through an older Hoover reciting back his life story, it’s a conventional structure that allows Eastwood to cherry-pick some of the most interesting moments from the contrversial life of the man who was the first director of the modern day FBI. J. Edgar, as a movie, is sometimes a little too cautious for its own good, sidestepping one or two areas of its subject’s life. But in the title role, Leonardo DiCaprio is in excellent form. Sometimes weighed down by ageing make-up, but always able to hold the screen, it’s his central performance that’s the compelling reason to watch the movie. Judi Dench has less to work with as his mother, although Armie Hammer fares better as Clyde Tolson, the man who may or may not have been Hoover’s lover…” – (adapted from Amazon.co.uk summary)
“A coming-of-age story set in the world of Iranian youth culture, filled with sex, drugs and defiance. A wealthy family struggles to contain their teenage daughter’s growing sexual rebellion and her brother’s dangerous obsession.” – (adapted from Syndetics summary)