New DVDs for May include an array of critics favourites from the new version of ‘Les Misérables’, Ang Lee’s ‘Life of Pi’, ‘Beasts of the southern wild’, & ‘The Master; to Hollywood blockbusters like ‘The Hobbit’ & ‘Gangster Squad’…
“Les Misérables is a deeply powerful film that’s rich with raw feeling, the grittiness of life in 19th-century France, and the conflict between right, wrong, and the concept of redemption.
Les Misérables takes viewers on an emotionally exhausting journey as it follows ex-convict Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) after his release from prison. Valjean breaks parole, but he is granted a second chance by a kind bishop. He then moves from place to place throughout France, trying to live an honest life while ruthless policeman Javert (Russell Crowe) hunts him relentlessly. Valjean meets the broken-spirited Fantine (Anne Hathaway), promises to care for her daughter Cosette (Amanda Seyfried) as Fantine is about to die, and finds his own life completely changed as a result of that promise. Like the stage play, the film is dark, gritty, and passionate, but it enhances the sense of place in early- to mid-1800s France as a staged version simply cannot…” (Adapted from Amazon.co.uk review)
The hobbit : an unexpected journey.
“It took some time for Oscar-winning director Peter Jackson to return to Middle Earth, but the wait was very much worth it. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey starts off by playing strongly to its links to the previous adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord Of The Rings trilogy, before setting off on an adventure of its own. The first of three films based on The Hobbit, An Unexpected Journey isn’t a fast film to get going, but it does spent quality time introducing its key characters. Most moviegoers are more than familiar with Sir Ian McKellen’s Gandalf of course, but the collection of dwarves and Martin Freeman’s take on Bilbo Baggins are all brought together, and the adventure ensues. It’s a journey that’s punctuated by terrifically orchestrated action sequences, a swirling score, and lavish production design…” (Adapted from Amazon.co.uk review)
Celeste and Jesse forever.
“Celeste (Rashida Jones) and Jesse (Andy Samberg) are high school sweethearts who married young and are now at a crossroads at the age of thirty. While Celeste is a success in business, Jesse is unemployed and adrift. Celeste thinks that if they divorce now they could still remain friends. Jesse passively accepts the decision even though he is still in love with her. As reality sets in, Celeste slowly and painfully realizes she has been cavalier about their relationship, but her timing with Jesse is less than fortuitous…” (Description from Amazon.com)
“Oscar-winning actor Dustin Hoffman has never been one to zig when he can zag. Not only did he wait until he was in his mid-70s to direct his first feature film, but his crowd-pleasing adaptation of Ronald Harwood’s 1999 play is a thoroughly British affair. Set at one of England’s most scenic estates, the fictional Beecham House for Retired Musicians, Quartet centres on four opera singers. Cecily (Pauline Collins), Wilfred (Billy Connolly), and Reginald (Tom Courtenay) are busy preparing for the annual Verdi Gala when word spreads about a famous new resident. After Reggie catches sight of the elegant figure, his excitement about the benefit gives way to sorrow: it’s his ex-wife, Jean (Downton Abbey’s Maggie Smith)… If Quartet doesn’t offer many significant surprises, Hoffman skillfully honours the humour, the romance, and the wall-to-wall music of Harwood’s warm-hearted script…” (Adapted from Amazon.co.uk review)
To Rome with love.
“To Rome With Love sees Woody Allen back in front of the camera for the first time since 2006’s underwhelming Scoop, heading up one of the collection of stories that make up the film. For the movie brings together a collection of four unconnected narratives taking place in the city of Rome, with Allen playing a frustrated opera director who’s always on the hunt for new talent. He finds some too, with a little help from a shower. Elsewhere, Roberto Benigni’s Leopoldo gets a brief brush with fame, a young couple find themselves parted, while Jesse Eisenberg’s Jack finds the predictions of Alec Baldwin’s John close to the mark. It’s a bit of a mixed bag, though. At its best, From Rome With Love is witty, breezy and just a little bit bonkers…It might not be a vintage Woody Allen feature, but it’s still with more merits than you may have been led to believe…” (Adapted from Amazon.co.uk review)
VEEP. The complete first season.
“Julia Louis-Dreyfus won an Emmy for her leading role in the droll series Veep–and it’s well deserved. It’s as if every role Louis-Dreyfus had was helping to hone her for this role–Elaine in Seinfeld, Christine in The New Adventures of Old Christine. Veep is an HBO dramedy that shows what The West Wing might have been like if created by Larry David. Louis-Dreyfus is U.S. Sen. Selina Meyer, a rising star in her political party, which has high hopes for her to run for president one day. Then suddenly she is tapped to become vice president. As shown by series creator Armando Iannucci (In the Loop), the role of U.S. vice president is the highest-level bird in a gilded cage of American politics. Meyer has very little power, a lot of visibility, a ton of appearances to make, and not much to do…” (Adapted from Amazon.com review)
“The turf explored in Gangster Squad may not be entirely accurate to historical truth, but it sure looks like the world of the movie mobster: the basics are instantly recognizable if you’ve seen L.A. Confidential and The Untouchables. Take a post-World War II Los Angeles, plunge it in noir, drop a ruthless gangster into the mix, and let loose an extralegal squad of cops to break the mob’s rule. The crime kingpin in question is Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn), and his LAPD adversaries include a detective so square his fedora appears permanently affixed to his skull (Josh Brolin) and a ladies’ man (Ryan Gosling) whose dalliance with Cohen’s escort (Emma Stone) might not be the best idea for a smooth relationship. Their squad includes stalwart character actors such as Anthony Mackie, Michael Peña, Giovanni Ribisi, and an especially droll Robert Patrick. With all this talent on display, the movie must surely have some bang in its Tommy gun–but alas, director Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland) has opted for a peculiarly lighthearted, bantering tone for much of the action…” (Adapted from Amazon.com review)
Grimm. Season one.
“The classic Grimms’ fairytales come to life like never before in this “dark and imaginative” (Mike Ayers, CNN.com Entertainment) series from the producers of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. Portland homicide detective Nick Burkhardt (David Giuntoli) discovers he’s descended from a long line of “Grimms,” who are charged with keeping balance between humanity and the creatures of myth. With newly awoken abilities to detect the evil lurking among us, Nick struggles to keep his old life separate and safe as he becomes ever more entrenched in the ancient rivalries of the Grimm world. Now, watch back-to-back and uninterrupted all 22 Season One episodes of this uniquely evocative series that critics rave “offers genuine scares” (Michelle Tauber, People)…” (From Amazon.comdescription)
The man from Beijing.
“A mass murder, a female judge and diary entries from ages ago judge Brigitta Roslin has to make a dangerous journey before she discovers the background of this crime. Police believe a madman was behind the brutal act. Not only Brigitta Roslin s parents are among the dead; almost all the victims were related to her. Brigitta soon becomes convinced that the police are on the wrong track, and she starts to investigate on her own. Her search for the murderer of her entire family leads Brigitta to China, where she is confronted with the gruesome machinations of a millionaire businessman. The two-part thriller is based on the internationally bestselling novel by Henning Mankell (the Inspector Wallander series)…” (Description from Amazon.com)
Beasts of the southern wild.
“The devastated landscape of the Louisiana bayou becomes a primordial world in the eyes of 6-year-old Hushpuppy (the fierce and magnetic Quvenzhané Wallis). Hushpuppy’s father Wink (Dwight Henry), emotionally unstable and increasingly ill, fights to maintain their ramshackle home, along with the rest of the precarious community of the area known as the Bathtub–but a Katrina-esque storm leaves the Bathtub flooded, driving Wink to desperate lengths. Faced with the loss of everything she knows, Hushpuppy decides her only hope is to find her mother, but her only clue is a winking light in the distance. Beasts of the Southern Wild tells its story entirely from the 6-year-old girl’s perspective; the actions and emotions of adults take on a mythic scope, as does the damaged environment in which she lives…but the story gradually emerges, rising to a potent end. Viewers who take the time to sink into its mysteries will be rewarded…” (Adapted from Amazon.com review)
Life of Pi.
“There are only so many filmmakers fearless or foolhardy enough to tackle a challenging novel, like Yann Martel’s Life of Pi, but adaptation specialist Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain) was well positioned to take it on. As a structuring device, he uses an interview between a journalist (Rafe Spall) and Pi Patel (The Namesake’s Irrfan Khan), a Montreal immigrant with an unusual back story. As he tells the writer, his parents oversaw a zoo in French-Indian Pondicherry, and he found himself drawn to the Bengal tiger, Richard Parker–the name resulted from a clerical error–but his father (Adil Hussain) warned him to stay away. On his own, Pi became entranced by Islam, Hinduism, and Catholicism, which comes in handy when his family relocates to Canada by freighter and a brutal storm–as believably horrific as anything in Titanic–leaves Pi (now played by Suraj Sharma) stranded in a lifeboat with a zebra, an orangutan, a hyena, and the tiger…” (Adapted from Amazon.co.uk review)
“Gaunt, tightly wound, and eerily reminiscent of Montgomery Clift, Joaquin Phoenix plays Freddie Quell, an ex-naval officer suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder. Since World War II, he’s had difficulty holding down a job due to his hot temper and affinity for paint thinner-spiked potions, but the charismatic Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman in a more subtle, but equally skillful turn) finds him irresistible as a project, a surrogate son–maybe even the shadow self that he normally keeps hidden (Dodd shares Quell’s propensity for the occasional splenetic outburst). Lancaster welcomes him to join the Cause, a movement that recalls Scientology by way of Freud, since he focuses on the elimination of past trauma through a pseudo-psychoanalytic exercise called processing…The lack of clear-cut conclusions will leave some viewers cold, but you’ve never seen a performance–simultaneously riveting and repellent–like Phoenix’s before…” (Adapted from Amazon.com review)