Category: Recent picks

Pick of the new DVDs for November

Highlights this month include: the Gaylene Preston film about the Christchurch earthquakes, ‘Hope and Wire’; the fun movie of the stage musical ‘Sunshine on Leith’; the complete third season’s of ‘Homeland’ & ‘Call the Midwife’; the Scarlett Johansson art-house feature ‘Under the Skin’; and the acclaimed BAFTA-nominated drama ‘The Selfish Giant’.

MyLibDVDs10Under the skin.
“An alien entity inhabits the earthly form of a seductive young woman who combs the Scottish highways in search of the human prey it is here to plunder. It lures its isolated and forsaken male victims into an otherworldly dimension where they are stripped and consumed. But life in all its complexity starts to change the alien. It begins to see itself as ‘she’, as human, with tragic and terrifying consequences. UNDER THE SKIN is about seeing ourselves through alien eyes. UNDER THE SKIN, starring Scarlett Johansson, is Jonathan Glazer’s critically-acclaimed third feature after Sexy Beast and Birth.” (Product description from Amazon.co.uk)

cover imageSunshine on Leith.
“Dexter Fletcher directs this cinematic adaptation of the acclaimed stage musical featuring the music of Scottish band The Proclaimers. Returning home from their most recent stint in Afghanistan, Davy (George MacKay) and Ally (Kevin Guthrie) have a new appreciation for life after witnessing the horrors of war first-hand. While Ally plans his proposal to Davy’s sister Liz (Freya Mavor), Davy falls for Yvonne (Antonia Thomas) and the two couples come together in time for Liz’s parent’s wedding anniversary, but not everything is plain sailing for love in Leith…” (Product description from Amazon.co.uk)

cover imageHope and wire.
“”In this gripping drama set during the Christchurch earthquakes it’s the aftershocks that run the deepest, bringing to the surface the things that truly matter, the lies we tell ourselves, the compassion of the many and the selfishness of the few. Hope & Wire show us at our most desperate and our most hopeful. Echoing true events with a candid and unflinching eye, telling a universal story of family, hope and triumph against the odds.”–Publisher description.” (Syndetics summary)

cover imageEdge of tomorrow.
“Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt star in this sci-fi action feature based on the light novel ‘All You Need Is Kill’ by Hiroshi Sakurazaka. New Special Forces recruit William ‘Bill’ Cage (Cruise) is equipped with a powered exoskeleton and sent on a mission to fight a fierce alien race known as Mimics, who are ultimately unstoppable. Cage soon dies in combat but, caught in a time loop, he finds himself very much alive and once again facing the same battle. This process repeats itself several times but with every fight Cage grows stronger and more adept. He meets tough warrior Rita Vrataski (Blunt) and together they try to bring down the enemy once and for all.” (Product description from Amazon.co.uk)

cover imageCall the midwife. Series three.
“Based on the memoirs of Jennifer Worth, Call the Midwife follows Nurse Jenny Lee and the midwives from Nonnatus House convent as they provide the best possible care to the expectant mothers of Poplar. Series 3 sees Chummy, PC Noakes and baby Freddy back in the East End; Sister Bernadette – now known as Shelagh since leaving the convent – preparing for her wedding to Dr Turner; and Jenny facing some tough personal and professional challenges. At Christmas, when an unexploded World War II bomb is found under a warehouse close to Nonnatus House, the nuns and dozens of local families find themselves homeless. Later, Dr Turner finds himself in a race against time to immunise children against polio, and when a Royal visitor comes to the East End, Chummy persuades them to open the new Community Centre. A fascinating portrayal of birth, life, death and a community on the brink of huge social change, Call the Midwife continues to offer a gripping insight into a world that is so drastically different from how we live now.” (product description from Amazon.co.uk)

cover imageTracks.
“Australian adventure drama directed by John Curran and starring Mia Wasikowska. Feeling estranged from the Australian urban culture, Robyn Davidson (Wasikowska) embarks on a trek over the harsh and arid landscape of the outback from Alice Springs to the Indian Ocean. Accompanied only by four camels and her dog, she meets a number of people along the way including Mr. Eddy (Roly Mintuma), an Aboriginal man who imparts some important local wisdom to her, and Rick Smolan (Adam Driver), an ambitious National Geographic photographer who is asked to document her journey for the magazine…” (Product description from Amazon.co.uk)

cover imageBad words.
“Guy Trilby is a 40-year-old who finds a loophole in the rules of The Golden Quill national spelling bee and decides to cause trouble by hijacking the competition. While reporter Jenny Widgeon attempts to discover his true motivation, Guy finds himself forging an unlikely alliance with a competitor: awkward ten-year-old Chaitanya Chopra, who is completely unfazed by Guy’s take-no-prisoners approach to life.” (Syndetics summary)

cover imageThe other woman.
“After discovering her boyfriend is married, a woman tries to get her ruined life back on track. But when she accidentally meets the wife he’s been cheating on, she realises they have much in common, and her sworn enemy becomes her greatest friend. When yet another affair is discovered, all three women team up to plot mutual revenge on their cheating, lying, three-timing ex. Hilarious comedy starring Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann and Kate Upton.” (Product description from Amazon.co.uk)

cover imageThey came together.
“Amy Poehler and Paul Rudd star in this romantic comedy directed and co-written by David Wain. Joel (Rudd) is an executive at a confectionary corporation that is trying to close down Molly (Poehler)’s small, independent sweet shop. Given the circumstances, when they meet they instantly take a disliking to each other. Over time a mutual attraction develops between them but they find that their work is not the only obstacle in their way of finding romance. While dining out with friends Kyle (Bill Hader) and Karen (Ellie Kemper), they recount the story of how they met and got together. The cast also features Cobie Smulders, Ed Helms and Jack McBrayer.” (Product description from Amazon.co.uk)

cover imageLeverage. Season one.
“All 13 episodes from the first season of the American crime drama series starring Timothy Hutton. Former insurance investigator Nathan Ford (Hutton) leads a team of professional criminals – cyber-geek Alec Hardison (Aldis Hodge), martial arts expert Eliot Spencer (Christian Kane), acrobatic cat burglar Parker (Beth Riesgraf) and charismatic con-artist and actress Sophie Devereaux (Gina Bellman) – in a quest for revenge against people and companies who misuse their power. Episodes are: ‘The Nigerian Job’, ‘The Homecoming Job’, ‘The Two-Horse Job’, ‘The Miracle Job’, ‘The Bank Shot Job’, ‘The Stork Job’, ‘The Wedding Job’, ‘The Mile High Job’, ‘The Snow Job’, ‘The 12-Step Job’, ‘The Juror #6 Job’, ‘The First David Job’ and ‘The Second David Job’.” (Product description from Amazon.co.uk)

cover imageThe selfish giant.
“The Selfish Giant is a contemporary fable about 13-year-old Arbor (Conner Chapman) and his best friend Swifty (Shaun Thomas). Excluded from school and outsiders in their own neighbourhood, the two boys meet Kitten (Sean Gilder), a local scrapdealer – the Selfish Giant. They begin collecting scrap metal for him using a horse and cart. Swifty has a natural gift with horses while Arbor emulates Kitten – keen to impress him and make some money. However, Kitten favours Swifty, leaving Arbor feeling hurt and excluded, driving a wedge between the boys. Arbor becomes increasingly greedy and exploitative, becoming more like Kitten. Tensions build, leading to a tragic event, which transforms them all.” (Product description from Amazon.co.uk)

cover imageHomeland. The complete third season.
“As Carrie and Saul search for the truth behind the bombing of CIA headquarters, lines are blurred between friend and foe and no one can be trusted. While hiding a stunning secret of her own, Carrie helps recruit Brody for a dangerous mission that could offer him a chance at redemption. But when the plan unravels and Brody is targeted deep inside Iran, he must put his life in Carrie’s hands, leading to one of the most suspenseful and shocking season finales in TV history.” (Syndetics summary)

 

Lists of all new DVDs added to our collection recently can be found on our Booklists page, along with new fiction in print and audiobook.

New DVDs for October

New DVDs in October include: the wonderful comedy ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’; three films about interesting women: ‘Belle’, ‘The White Queen’ and ‘The Invisible Woman’; the return of the clones with series two of ‘Orphan Black’; and the second season of the powerhouse political drama ‘House of Cards’.

cover imageDivergent.
“In a futuristic Chicago, society is divided into five factions based on personality type, created to bring everlasting peace. On a given day each year, all sixteen year olds must take a test and choose where they belong. For Tris Prior (Shailene Woodley) the choice is not an easy one. In a divided existence where everyone must conform, Tris is DIVERGENT – a danger and threat to this seemingly perfect world. Forced to hide this deadly secret, Tris has to make a difficult choice and is drawn to her enigmatic mentor, Four (Theo James), who appears to both threaten and protect her. As a dangerous conflict develops amongst the factions, Tris must rely on her strength and courage not only to survive, but to save the people she loves.” (Product description from amazon.co.uk)

cover imageThe amazing Spider-Man. 2, Rise of Electro.
“It’s great to be Spider-Man (Andrew Garfield). For Peter Parker, there’s no feeling quite like swinging between skyscrapers, embracing being the hero, and spending time with Gwen (Emma Stone). But being Spider-Man comes at a price: only Spider-Man can protect his fellow New Yorkers from the formidable villains that threaten the city. With the emergence of Electro (Jamie Foxx), Peter must confront a foe far more powerful than he. And as his old friend, Harry Osborn (Dane DeHaan), returns, Peter comes to realize that all of his enemies have one thing in common: Oscorp.” (Product description
from Amazon.co.uk)

cover imageBelle.
Belle is inspired by the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), the illegitimate mixed race daughter of a Royal Navy Admiral. Raised by her aristocratic great-uncle Lord Mansfield (Tom Wilkinson) and his wife (Emily Watson), Belle’s lineage affords her certain privileges, yet the colour of her skin prevents her from fully participating in the traditions of her social standing. Left to wonder if she will ever find love, Belle falls for an idealistic young vicar’s son bent on change who, with her help, shapes Lord Mansfield’s role as Lord Chief Justice to end slavery in England.” (Product description from amazon.co.uk.)

cover imageThe Grand Budapest Hotel.
“The Grand Budapest Hotel is a British-German comedy-drama film written and directed by Wes Anderson and tells the story of a legendary concierge at a famous European hotel between WW1 and WW2 and his friendship with a young employee who becomes his most trusted protégé… An all-star cast including Ralph Fiennes, Adrien Brody, Jeff Goldblum, Jude Law, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Tilda Swinton and Owen Wilson.” (Product description from amazon.co.uk)

cover imageHouse of cards. The complete second season.
“Masterful, beguiling and charismatic, Francis Underwood (Kevin Spacey) and his equally ambitious wife Claire (Robin Wright) continue their ruthless rise to power in Season 2 of “House of Cards”. Behind the curtain of power, sex, ambition, love, greed and corruption in modern Washington D.C. the Underwoods must battle threats past and present to avoid losing everything. As new alliances form and old ones succumb to deception and betrayal, they will stop at nothing to ensure their ascendancy.” (Product description from amazon.co.uk)

cover imageChef.
“Jon Favreau (writer, director and producer) leads a hilarious all-star cast including Sofía Vergara, Scarlett Johansson, John Leguizamo, Bobby Cannavale, Dustin Hoffman, Oliver Platt, Robert Downey Jr. and young actor Emjay Anthony in this deliciously entertaining comedy about starting from scratch. When gifted chef Carl Casper (Favreau) suddenly quits his demanding job at a trendy LA restaurant, he’s on his own to pick up the pieces of his once promising career. Finding himself in Miami, he decides to team up with his successful ex-wife (Vergara), best friend (Leguizamo) and son (Anthony) to launch a no-frills food truck business. Taking to the road, Carl reignites his passion for the kitchen and, along the way, discovers a renewed zest for life and love.” (Editorial Review from Amazom.com)

cover imageOrphan black. Series two.
“Leaving Sarah to navigate a dangerous world of new enemies and shifting allegiances. She sets off fighting for survival & willing to risk everything to find her missing daughter Kira and foster mother. Unsure who to trust, she starts an all out war against immense forces. A powerful member of the Dyad group of companies, clone Rachel Duncan, has been tasked with negotiating the allegiance of Sarah and the other clones. She’ll stop at nothing to complete her mission, using those who love Sarah as leverage, incl confidant Paul Dierden. But Sarah is willing to risk everything and employs scorched earth tactics that inevitably imperil the clones.” (Syndetics summary)

cover imageOnly lovers left alive / a film by Jim Jarmusch.
“Set against the romantic desolation of Detroit and Tangier, an underground musician, deeply depressed by the direction of human activities, reunites with his resilient and enigmatic lover. Their love story has already endured several centuries at least, but their debauched idyll is soon disrupted by her wild and uncontrollable younger sister. Can these wise but fragile outsiders continue to survive as the modern world collapses around them?” (Syndetics summary)

cover imageThe monuments men.
“George Clooney co-writes and directs this adaptation of Robert M. Edsel’s book that follows the men tasked with saving the world’s greatest works of art from the Nazis during WWII. In the last months of the war, with the Third Reich teetering on the brink of collapse, the German army are ordered to destroy every piece of looted art in their possession. In a race against time, American President Franklin D. Roosevelt mobilises a seven-man platoon comprising museum directors and art historians to rescue the cream of the world’s artistic and cultural treasures from the hands of the enemy, and return them to their rightful owners. But with no previous experience of weapons and tactics, the hastily assembled group soon face a rude awakening when they experience their first live action behind enemy lines. As well as Clooney, the all-star cast includes Matt Damon, Cate Blanchett, Bill Murray, John Goodman and Jean Dujardin.” (Product description from Amazon.co.uk)

cover imageThe White Queen.
“A riveting portrayal of one of the most dramatic and turbulent times in English history. A story of love and lust, seduction and deception, betrayal and murder, it is uniquely told through the perspective of three different, yet equally relentless women – Elizabeth Woodville, Margaret Beaufort and Anne Neville. In their quest for power, they will scheme, manipulate and seduce their way onto the English throne.” (Syndetics summary)

cover imageThe tunnel.
“When a prominent French politician is found dead on the border between the UK and France, detectives Karl Roebuck (Stephen Dillane) and Elise Wassermann (Clémence Poésy) are sent to investigate on behalf of their respective countries. However, as the case takes a surreal turn, a series of elaborate killings force the French and British police into uneasy partnership. Despite cultural divides, they find common ground in the race to stop a serial killer who has no boundaries. Using increasingly ingenious methods to highlight five ‘truths’ about our morally bankrupt society, the murderer draws Karl and Elise ever deeper into a powerful, personal and deadly agenda…” (adapted from Product description Amazon.co.uk)

cover imageThe invisible woman / a Ralph Fiennes film.
“Ralph Fiennes directs and stars in this romantic drama adapted from Clare Tomalin’s book about the relationship between celebrated 19th-century novelist Charles Dickens and his mistress. School teacher Nelly Ternan (Felicity Jones), now a wife and mother, looks back on her life as a young woman when, while working as an actress, she met the 45-year-old Dickens (Fiennes). Having become disenchanted with his wife Catherine (Joanna Scanlan), Dickens finds himself enamoured by the equally smitten Nelly and the two become romantically involved. However, they must keep their relationship a secret, meaning Nelly must live an almost invisible existence. The cast also includes Kristin Scott Thomas, Tom Hollander and Michelle Fairley.” (Product description from amazon.co.uk)

New DVDs for September

This month popular Danish series Borgen is back with the third season. Also this month is UK TV conspiracy thriller Utopia, big budget super-hero action with Captain America : The Winter Soldier, and critically acclaimed foreign films Wadjda & The Great Beauty.

cover imageBorgen. Season three.
“Can you attain power and still be yourself? Over two years have passed and Birgitte Nyborg is no longer the Prime Minister of Denmark. Disillusioned with the way her old party is heading she decides to try to make a comeback by publicly challenging the incumbent Party Chairman. Failing narrowly in this attempt, Birgitte assesses her options and concludes that her only way back into politics is to start again and found a new political party. Forging an unlikely alliance with journalist Katrine Fønsmark, who becomes her new media adviser and spokesman, the third season of BORGEN follows the journey of Nyborg and her new party towards a taking a fresh shot at parliament and fighting her way back to power back to Borgen.” (Product description from Amazon.co.uk)

cover imageThe great beauty.
“For decades, journalist Jep Gambardella has charmed and seduced his way through the glittering nightlife of Rome. Since the legendary success of his only novel, he has been a permanent fixture in the citys literary and elite social circles. But on his sixty-fifth birthday, Jep unexpectedly finds himself taking stock of his life, turning his cutting wit on himself and his contemporaries, and looking past the lavish nightclubs, parties, and cafés to find Rome itself, in all its monumental glory: a timeless landscape of absurd, exquisite beauty. Featuring sensuous cinematography, a lush score, and an award-winning central performance by the great Toni Servillo (Gomorrah), this transporting experience by the brilliant Italian director Paolo Sorrentino (Il divo) is a breathtaking Fellini-esque tale of decadence and lost love.” (editorial review from Amazon.com)

cover imageWadjda.
“A rebellious Saudi Arabian girl hatches a plan to get her hands on the bicycle she craves in this coming-of-age story from first time director Haifaa Al-Mansour. Living within a conservative suburb of Riyadh, fun-loving eleven-year-old Wadjda (Waad Mohammed) has her heart set on a green bicycle so that she can beat the boys in their neighbourhood races. But when her mother (Reem Abdullah) forbids it, anticipating a reaction from a society that disapproves of women riding bicycles, an enterprising Wadjda decides to raise the money herself by entering a local Qur’an-reading competition that offers a cash prize.” (Product description from Amazon.co.uk)

cover imageDancing on the edge.
“Set in a time of immense change, Dancing on the Edge tells the story of a black jazz group, the Louis Lester Band, as they rise to fame, entertaining guests at exclusive high society gatherings in 1930′s London. While many recoil at the presence of black musicians in polite society, the capital’s more progressive socialites, including younger members of the Royal Family, take the band under their wing.In this explosive five-part series, Stephen Poliakoff returns to television with his most ambitious work to date. Dancing on the Edge provides a new angle on an extraordinary time in history, giving us a piercingly original vision of Britain in the 1930s; a time of glamour, hardship, vibrant new music and financial meltdown. Starring: Chiwetel Ejiofor, Matthew Goode, Jacqueline Bisset and John Goodman.” (Product description from Amazon.co.uk)

cover imageThe red house.
“When Lee met Jia 20 years ago they barely understood a word of each other’s languages. Now duty calls Jia back to her distant homeland and her aged parents’ tiny apartment. We travel with the couple between the world of his island, this city of hers, and the world they have made together – their red house in the bush, crammed full of books and mementoes.” (Syndetics summary)

cover imageBarefoot.
“The ‘black sheep’ son of a wealthy family meets a young psychiatric patient who’s been raised in isolation her entire life. He takes the naive young woman home for his brother’s wedding to convince his family that he’s finally straightened out his life. She impresses his prim and proper family with her genuine (if unstable) charm, and along the way they fall into improbable love.” (Syndetics summary)

cover imageThe machine.
“With an impoverished world plunged into a Cold War with a new enemy, Britain’s Ministry of Defence is on the brink of developing a game-changing weapon. Lead scientist Vincent McCarthy (Toby Stephens) provides the answer with his creation, The Machine – an android with unrivalled physical and processing skills. When a programming glitch causes an early prototype to destroy his lab, McCarthy enlists artificial intelligence expert Ava (Caity Lotz) to help him harness the full potential of a truly conscious fighting machine.” (Syndetics)

cover imageUtopia.
“Utopia is a cult graphic novel rumoured to have predicted the worst disasters of the late twentieth century. Dismissed as the fevered imaginings of a madman by most, and idolised by a handful, only one thing seems certain about Utopia: come into contact with it and you won’t be safe for long. When a small group of normal people (including an IT consultant, student and child) find themselves in possession of the manuscript of Utopia, they realise they are at the centre of a nightmarish conspiracy turned real. Targeted by a shadowy organisation known only as The Network, they are left with one option if they want to stay alive: they have to run, avoiding even being caught even on CCTV. The Network is everywhere: in government, in business, in charge. A secret organisation constrained neither by borders nor common morality. Nobody knows what their plan is, just that they will stop at nothing to find the original manuscript of Utopia. Utopia asks what if the conspiracy nuts are right? What if people are trying to control our lives, doctor our food, experiment upon us, kill us? Fast, terrifying, funny and brutal, it is a massive new drama/conspiracy thriller.” (Product description from Amazon.co.uk)

cover imageNeed for speed.
“Buckle up with Tobey Marshall (Aaron Paul, BREAKING BAD) as he sets out on a mission of revenge against wealthy and arrogant Dino Brewster (Dominic Cooper), who framed him for a crime he didn’t commit. Tobey pushes his limits to the max in a high-octane race across America, hitting the road with the world’s most exotic supercars — delivering real speed, real danger and real action. Adapted from the top-selling video game franchise — and complete with never-before-seen bonus features — NEED FOR SPEED is the ultimate thrill ride.” (Editorial review from amazon.com)

cover imageStanding up.
“Standing Up tells the story of a boy and a girl, ages 11 and 12, who are ostracized by their peer groups at summer camp. The outsiders soon find themselves victims of a vicious prank, but rather than returning to camp to face the humiliation, they decide to take off on the run together. As they slowly navigate what lies ahead, they develop a bond and help each other over- come adversity and start down the path of self-discovery.” (Editorial review from amazon.com)

cover imageCaptain America : the winter soldier.
“Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson star in this action adventure sequel based on the Marvel Comics series. Set two years after ‘The Avengers’ (2012), the film follows superhero Steve Rogers aka Captain America (Evans) who is now living in Washington where he is trying to adjust to modern society. When a fellow S.H.I.E.L.D. agent is attacked he teams up with Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow (Johansson) to uncover a conspiracy and, with the help of the Falcon (Anthony Mackie), defeat a powerful enemy known as the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan). The cast also includes Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Redford, Cobie Smulders, Dominic Cooper and Emily VanCamp.” (Product description from amazon.co.uk)

New DVDs for August

New this month are foreign dramas in ‘The Past’ from the director of ‘A Separation’ and the uplifting Laos film ‘The Rocket’; award-winning US dramas in ‘Nebraska’ and ‘Dallas Buyers Club’; and some good laughs with ‘Le Week-end’ & ‘Cuban Fury’.

Cover imageI, Frankenstein.
“Otherworldly action thriller directed by Stuart Beattie and starring Aaron Eckhart and Bill Nighy. 200 years on from his formation, Dr. Frankenstein (Aden Young)’s immortal creation Adam (Eckhart) still walks the earth. Caught in the middle of a war between the benevolent Gargoyles led by Leonore (Miranda Otto) and malevolent demonic forces who are hunting him down, Adam is forced to confront those who seek to exploit his unnatural ability to live forever and put an end to their aim of destroying mankind…” (description from Amazon.co.uk)

Cover ImageDallas buyers club.
“Matthew McConaughey gives the performance of his career in this uplifting and powerful film inspired by true events. Texas cowboy Ron Woodroof (McConaughey) sees his free-wheeling life overturned when he’s diagnosed as HIV-positive and given 30 days to live. Determined to survive, Woodroof decides to take matters in his own hands by tracking down alternative treatments from all over the world by means both legal and illegal. After finding an unlikely ally in Rayon (Jared Leto), he establishes a hugely successful “buyers’ club” and unites a band of outcasts in a struggle for dignity and acceptance that inspires in ways no one could have imagined. Co-starring Jennifer Garner, Dallas Buyers Club is “deeply moving. A livewire of a movie!” (Peter Travers, Rolling Stone)…” (description from amazon.com)

Cover ImageCuban fury.
“Beneath Bruce Garrett’s shabby, overweight exterior, the passionate beating heart of a salsa king lies dormant. Only one woman can reignite his Latin fire, but first Bruce must learn how to unshackle his dancing beast, regain his long-lost swagger, and claim the love of his life. Spotlight hits, sweat drips, heels click…” (Syndetics summary)

Cover ImageThe pretty one.
“Laurel has always been the odd wallflower, choosing to live at home with her father, while her glamorous identical twin, Audrey, possesses the confidence and appeal to succeed in the big city. When tragedy strikes and Laurel is mistaken for her twin sister, she makes the impulsive decision to assume her sister’s identity and become The Pretty One. As she eases into her new, independent existence, Laurel discovers that she’s capable of accomplishments she had never dreamed of before; excelling in a career, maintaining friendships and even finding love.” (Syndetics summary)

Cover ImageVampire Academy.
“Rose Hathaway and Lissa Dragomir are best friends at a hidden boarding school for Moroi (mortal peaceful vampires) and Dhampir (half-vampire/half-human guardians to the Moroi). However, all is not as it seems at St. Vladimir’s Academy and threats lurk both from within the walls of the academy and from the Strigoi (immortal, evil vampires) who ruthlessly hunt the Moroi. Rose will do anything protect Lissa from those who intend to harm her and fearing for their lives, the girls escape from St. Vladimir’s only to be quickly recaptured and plunged back into a world of danger which they must face head-on… (description from Amazon.co.uk)

Cover ImageLe week-end.
“A married English couple take a weekend trip to Paris to celebrate their 30th anniversary, hoping to revive some long forgotten amour. While there, they re-evaluate their lives, both individually and collectively, before running into an old acquaintance who will act as the catalyst for things to come.” (Syndetics summary)

cover imageJustified. The complete fourth season.
“In Season 4, Raylan will start to pick at the thread of a cold case over 30 years in the making, unraveling a riddle that echoes all the way back to his boyhood and his criminal father’s bad dealings. Meanwhile Boyd Crowder finds his grip on Harlan loosening due to a Pentecostal preacher with a penchant for theatrics and a knack for manipulation to rival his own.” (Syndetics summary)

cover imageCrimes of passion.
“Based on the classic mystery novels by Maria Lang and starring Wallander’s Ola Rapace, Crimes of Passion is a collection of stylish whodunnits set in post-war Sweden. The brainy and beautiful Puck is a university student obsessed with crime novels, so when she finds herself in the middle of mystery and murder, she’s never short on ideas and insights. She’s also in love with fellow academic Einar, who is as drawn to her as he is to medieval history. Together with Einar’s childhood friend, Police Commissioner Christer, they witness the passions, betrayals and intrigue in the lives of respectable and seemingly quiet-living Swedes. Crimes of Passion is set in the magical beauty of the lake region of Bergslagen in south central Sweden. It may be far north on the globe, but given their steamy passions and secret lives, there’s nothing chilly about these characters from Lang’s famous mysteries.” (Syndetics summary.)

cover imageHannah Arendt.
“A biopic of Hannah Arendt, the influential German-Jewish philosopher and political theorist. Arendt’s reporting on the 1961 trial of ex-Nazi Adolf Eichmann in The New Yorker, controversial both for her portrayal of Eichmann and the Jewish councils, introduced her now-famous concept of the ‘Banality of Evil.’ Using footage from the actual Eichmann trial and weaving a narrative that spans three countries, von Trotta beautifully turns the often invisible passion for thought into dramatic cinema.” (Syndetics summary)

cover imageThe rocket.
“Laos: A ten year old boy, Ahlo, who is believed to bring bad luck, is blamed for a string of disasters. When his family loses their home and are forced to move, Ahlo meets the spirited orphan Kia and her eccentric uncle Purple: an ex-soldier with a purple suit, a rice-wine habit and a fetish for James Brown. Struggling to hang on to his father s trust, Ahlo leads his family, Purple and Kia through a land scarred by war in search of a new home. In a last plea to try and prove he s not cursed, Ahlo builds a giant explosive rocket to enter the most lucrative but dangerous competition of the year: the Rocket Festival. As the most bombed country in the world shoots back at the sky, a boy will reach to the heavens for forgiveness. Gripping yet heart-warming…” (Abridged  description from Amazon.co.uk)

Cover imageThe past.
“Following a four-year separation, Ahmad returns to Paris from Tehran, upon his French wife Marie’s request, in order to finalize their divorce procedure. During his stay, Ahmad quickly discovers the conflicting nature of Marie’s relationship with her daughter, Lucie. But Ahmad’s attempts to build bridges between the two soon begin to encroach on Marie’s new partner, Samir (Tahar Rahim, A Prophet), and as tensions begin to mount it soon becomes clear that the past is only close behind. Directed by Palme d’Or winner Asgar Farhadi (A Separation) and featuring an unforgettable central performance by Bérénice Bejo (The Artist) that earned her the Best Actress award at Cannes 2013, The Past is a tight-knit family drama as gripping as any thriller…” (description from Amazon.co.uk)

Cover imageNebraska.
“From Academy Award winner Alexander Payne, the director of Sideways and The Descendants, comes the film that critics are calling “An American Masterpiece.” When a father (Bruce Dern) and his adult son (Will Forte) embark on a journey to claim a million-dollar prize, what begins as a fool’s errand becomes a search for the road to redemption. Discover why Nebraska is “one of those movies I’ll watch for the rest of my life…” (description from Amazon.com)

New DVDs this month

New DVDs we’ve recently added to the collection include introduce earlier versions of Hannibal Lecter and a young Inspector Morse; memoir adaptations from Eric Lomax, Nelson Mandela & Piper Kerman (also known by its cult hit OITNB); Oscar winner ’12 Years a Slave’ & acclaimed indie-drama ‘Short-Term 12’. Plenty to choose from this month!

Cover image12 years a slave.
“In 12 Years a Slave, Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor, Kinky Boots, Dirty Pretty Things) is a free man living in New York until he’s kidnapped and sold in Louisiana as a slave. He’s owned by masters relatively kind (Benedict Cumberbatch) and harrowingly brutal (Michael Fassbender), but even under the best conditions, the movie never loses sight of Northup’s condition as property, that his well-being and very life are at the whim of his owners. There’s no hype here, nor any hemming or hawing; each scene is captured simply but vividly, letting the cruel facts of life in the pre-Civil War era speak for themselves. The movie’s power lies in the unsettling details and psychological contortions slavery inflicts on everyone involved, black and white. Performances are fantastic throughout, including supporting work from Paul Dano, Paul Giamatti, Sarah Paulson, Lupita Nyong’o, Brad Pitt, and particularly Alfre Woodard as a slave who’s gained a position of comfort and clings to it with haughty entitlement. But it’s Ejiofor who anchors the movie; his mix of intelligence and fundamental decency carries 12 Years a Slave to a moving conclusion…” (From Amazon.com review)

Cover imageEndeavour. The complete first series.
“Since Inspector Morse came to an end, there’s already been one subsequent series that’s taken place using the characters from that world, in the form of Lewis. Endeavour, though, goes backwards, and introduces us to an earlier Morse. Here, he’s no Inspector, rather a Constable, and it’s Shaun Evans who takes on the role made famous by John Thaw. There are lots of things that make Endeavour really quite special, too. For instance, it doesn’t pretend to be distinct, and weaves in one or two nods to the older Inspector Morse, without ever feeling that it’s dependant on it. Furthermore, Evans is excellent. He captures many of the character ticks that John Thaw brought to the role, yet finds room to make his own mark too. However, all of this would be of little use were the investigations themselves undercooked. As it is, the four films that make up this first series of Endeavour crackle with excellent writing and strong production values. At best, they’re really quite gripping, arguably even better than Lewis, and measure up to the standards set in the past. Many were sceptical when it was first announced that ITV was planning Endeavour, and it was suggested that it was a spin-off too far. Those doubters have been proven wrong in the very best possible way…” (From Amazon.co.uk review)

Cover imageThe railway man.
“Colin Firth, Nicole Kidman and Stellan Skarsgård star in this war drama adapted from Eric Lomax’s memoirs about his experiences in a POW camp. While serving in the Second World War, British Army officer Eric Lomax (Jeremy Irvine) is captured and held prisoner by the Japanese. He is brutally tortured and forced, along with his fellow captives, to build the Thai-Burma Railway. Many years later an older Lomax (Firth) is still traumatised by the experience. Supported by his wife Patti (Kidman) and friend Finlay (Skarsgård), he decides to track down one of his torturers, Takashi Nagase (Hiroyuki Sanada), hoping to find the answers that will enable him to finally let go of the hatred he has held for so long…” (Publishers description from Amazon.co.uk)

Cover imageThe wolf of Wall Street.
“Revered filmmaker Martin Scorsese directs the story of New York stockbroker Jordan Belfort (Leonardo DiCaprio). From the American dream to corporate greed, Belfort goes from penny stocks and righteousness to IPOs and a life of corruption in the late 80s. Excess success and affluence in his early twenties as founder of the brokerage firm Stratton Oakmont warranted Belfort the title – “The Wolf of Wall Street.” Sex. Money. Power. Drugs. Brace yourself for an outrageous true story from legendary filmmaker Martin Scorsese. Leonardo DiCaprio stars as a young stockbroker hungry for a life of non-stop thrills where corruption was king and more was never enough. His rise to power earned him the title The Wolf of Wall Street. Together Scorsese and DiCaprio deliver a story of American excess…” (Publishers description from Amazon.com)

Cover imageInside Llewyn Davis.
“Inside Llewyn Davis, the new film from Academy Award winners Joel and Ethan Coen, follows a week in the life of a young folk singer as he navigates the Greenwich Village folk scene of 1961. Llewyn Davis (Oscar Isaac, Drive) is at a crossroads. Guitar in tow, huddled against the unforgiving New York winter, he is struggling to make it as a musician against seemingly insurmountable obstacles–some of them of his own making. Living at the mercy of both friends and strangers, scaring up what work he can find, Llewyn’s misadventures take him from the baskethouses of the Village to an empty Chicago club–on an odyssey to audition for a music mogul–and back again. Brimming with music performed by Oscar Isaac, Justin Timberlake and Carey Mulligan (as Llewyn’s married Village friends), as well as Marcus Mumford and Punch Brothers, Inside Llewyn Davis–in the tradition of O Brother, Where Art Thou?–is infused with the transportive sound of another time and place…” (Publishers description from Amazon.co.uk)

Cover imageOrange is the new black. Season one.
“All 13 episodes from the first season of the Netflix comedy drama adapted from Piper Kerman’s memoir about her time spent in a women’s prison. Taylor Schilling stars as Piper Chapman, who ten years previously transported drug money for her then girlfriend Alex Vause (Laura Prepon). Piper is now serving a 15-month sentence as a result. Though her fiancé Larry Bloom (Jason Biggs) is initially determined to support her through the ordeal, the challenges of prison life often cause problems in their relationship, especially since Alex is one of her fellow inmates…” ((Publishers description from Amazon.co.uk)

Cover imageThe secret life of Walter Mitty.
“A moment comes when you stop dreaming and create your own destiny. For Walter Mitty, a daydreamer who escapes his anonymous existence by disappearing into a world of fantasies, that moment is now. When his job, along with that of his coworker, is threatened, Walter takes action in the real world, embarking on a journey more incredible than anything he could’ve imagined. Ben Stiller directs and stars in this inspirign story about an ordinary man who finds the courage to leap into the extraordinary adventure that is life…” (Publishers description from Syndetics summary)

Cover imageJack Ryan : shadow recruit.
“Kenneth Branagh directs and co-stars in this action thriller starring Chris Pine as the iconic Jack Ryan character created by Tom Clancy. Following on from his career in the military, Jack now works as an analyst for the CIA’s Financial Intelligence Unit under the guidance of William Harper (Kevin Costner). Believing he has stumbled upon a plot by Russian billionaire Viktor Cherevin (Branagh) to crash the United States economy, it isn’t long before Jack is forced to go undercover and infiltrate Viktor’s network. But with his wife Cathy (Keira Knightley) curious about the true nature of his work, Jack is under pressure to protect not only his country but his personal relationship as well…” (Publishers description from Amazon.co.uk)

Cover imageHannibal. Season 1.
“Before Silence of the Lambs, before Red Dragon, Hannibal Lecter was a brilliant psychiatrist in the employ of the FBI. His task: to help an unusually gifted criminal profiler, Will Graham, who is haunted by his ability to see into the minds of serial killers. After a particularly grueling case hunting a serial killer known as the Minnesota Shrike, Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) threatens to walk away. Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne), the head of the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit, desperately needs Will on his team to break the tough cases, so he enlists Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen), to ensure Will’s mental well-being. Unbeknownst to Will, Hannibal also has a particular insight into these horrible crimes and the psychopaths who commit them. As Will hunts down brutal killers, he is unknowingly sitting across from the most gifted killer of them all…” (Publishers description from Amazon.co.uk)

Cover imageShort term 12.
“Grace is a twenty-something supervisor at a group home for troubled teens. She’s passionate, tough and in love with her long-term boyfriend and co-worker, Mason… But Grace’s difficult past, her fierce independence–and the arrival of a distraught new girl at the facility–create complications that push Grace and Mason to the brink. How this couple overcomes those challenges is what makes this film an entirely unique love story. Grace and Mason come to embrace a surprising future together, discovering truth, humor and family in unexpected places along the way…” (Publishers description from Syndetics summary)

Cover imageThe spirit of ’45.
“1945 was a pivotal year in British history. The unity that carried Britain through the war allied to the bitter memories of the inter-war years led to a vision of a better society. The spirit of the age was to be our brother’s and our sister’s keeper. Director Ken Loach has used film from Britain’s regional and national archives, alongside sound recordings and contemporary interviews, to create a rich political and social narrative. The Spirit of ’45 hopes to illuminate and celebrate a period of unprecedented community spirit in the UK, the impact of which endured for many years and which may yet be rediscovered today”…(Publishers description from Syndetics summary)

Cover imageHow I live now.
“Set in the near-future UK; Daisy, an American teenager sent to stay with relatives in the English countryside. Initially withdrawn and alienated, she begins to warm up to her charming surroundings, and strikes up a romance with the handsome Edmund. But on the fringes of their idyllic summer days are tense news reports of an escalating conflict in Europe. As the UK falls into a violent, chaotic military state, Daisy finds herself hiding and fighting to survive…” (Publishers description from Syndetics summary)

Cover imageMandela : long walk to freedom.
“Based on South African President Nelson Mandela’s autobiography of the same name, it chronicles his early life, coming of age, education and 27 years in prison before becoming President and working to rebuild the country’s once segregated society…” (Publishers description from Syndetics summary)

New DVDs in May

New DVDs for May include the acclaimed Bio-pics Saving Mr. Banks with Tom Hanks & Emma Thompson, and Philomena with Judi Dench & Steve Coogan; adaptations of popular YA novels with The Book Thief & The Spectacular Now, and the short-story collection The Turning by Tim Winton; new Foreign hits with French romantic-comedy Populaire & exciting Danish thriller A Hijacking; Academy Award-nominated drama with August: Osage County; and the return of cult-TV favourite Veronica Mars.

Cover imageSaving Mr. Banks.
“Saving Mr. Banks is a fascinating look at the circuitous “collaborative” process Walt Disney, his creative team, and author P.L. Travers engaged in in bringing the character Mary Poppins to life on the big screen in the early 1960s. This touching, funny film is really two stories nicely tied up in one appealing package. The first story is of P.L. Travers’s childhood in Australia in the early 1900s. This story starts out idyllically enough, emphasizing her father’s immense love for his children and his uncanny ability to make everything fun and exciting, but it’s one that has a darker side that ends up shaping the adult that Travers eventually becomes. The other story is of the adult P.L. Travers. A proper Englishwoman completely set in her ways, she grudgingly embarks on a trip from England to Los Angeles to discuss the possibility of turning her highly successful book Mary Poppins into a Disney motion picture. Walt Disney has a vested personal interest in the project, but Travers and the Disney team clash on virtually every level and their interactions run the gamut from perplexing to infuriating and downright funny. The juxtaposition of the two stories is quite masterful, with the stories continually intertwining and each shedding light on the other to create a cohesive film that is highly engaging and emotionally poignant.” (Abridged from Amazon.com review)

Cover imageThe book thief.
“Skillfully pared down from Markus Zusak’s celebrated young adult novel, The Book Thief presents a somewhat sanitized glimpse of Nazi Germany and the war from the uniquely innocent view of an adolescent girl. At first the perspective seems to be from the narrator, a bored, yet amused voice we learn is Death, presumably taking a brief holiday to comment on the experience of young Liesel (Sophie Nélisse) and the evolving disruptions around her. After Liesel is separated from her brother and mother in sharp and unsettling fashion, she lands at the home of protective, penurious foster parents Hans and Rosa Hubermann (Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson) in a small village somewhere in the picturesque German countryside. When she’s teased at school for being illiterate, the kindly Hans makes a fun project of teaching her to read. Rosa is a persnickety presence for both of them, but it’s mainly a façade as the couple embrace Liesel tighter even as the situation around them grows more dire. At a Nazi book burning a horrified Liesel surreptitiously snatches a random volume from the flames. The wife of the local Bürgermeister is the only one who notices, and she compassionately allows Liesel to visit her dead son’s library, where she soon earns the movie’s title moniker. Liesel’s newfound love of literature begins informing her actions as more is revealed about the Hubermanns and the toll of wartime village life becomes more desperate.” (Abridged from Amazon.com review)

Cover imagePopulaire.
“In 1958, the young Rose Pamphyle dreams on leaving the small village in the countryside of France where she lives with her grumpy father Jean Pamphyle, who is a widower that runs a store and wishes that Rose get married to the son of the local mechanic. Rose learns by herself how to type using only two fingers and when she sees an advertisement for a secretary for the insurance agent Louis Échard in Lisieux, Lower Normandy, she immediately travels to city. Rose has a bad interview but she impresses Louis typing at very high speed. Louis decides to hire her for a short period of experience and Rose shows that she is a clumsy secretary. But Louis is a former sportsman and he decides to train Rose how to type correctly to dispute a speed typing competition. He brings Rose to his home and she learns how to play piano to help her typing with Louis’s childhood friend Marie Taylor that is married with the American Bob Taylor. She becomes close to his friends and family. Rose becomes the fastest typist in France and now she needs to train to compete in the world title in USA. But Louis, who has fallen in love with her, believes that he is not enough to help her and decides to sacrifice his love to make Rose’s dream come true.” (Publishers description from Amazon.co.uk)

Cover imageAugust: Osage County.
“Academy Award-nominated drama directed by John Wells. Members of the Weston family reunite at their family home in Osage County, Oklahoma when their troubled poet father Beverly (Sam Shepard) goes missing. It isn’t long before they find that he has commited suicide and the rest of the family then come to pay their last regards at the funeral. Leaving his outspoken and drug-addicted wife Violet (Meryl Streep) behind, the rest of the family feel obligated to stay with her while she grieves for her husband. But living in such close proximity is a test for any grown family, and it isn’t long before cracks in their relationships begin to appear. The ensemble cast includes Julia Roberts, Ewan McGregor, Juliette Lewis, Chris Cooper and Benedict Cumberbatch. Both Streep and Roberts received Oscar nominations for their performances in the Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress categories, respectively.” (Publishers description from Amazon.co.uk)

Cover imageA hijacking.
“The cargo ship MV Rozen is heading for harbour when it is hijacked by Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean. Amongst the men on board are the ship’s cook Mikkel (Pilou Asbæk, Borgen) and the engineer Jan (Roland Møller), who along with the rest of the seamen are taken hostage in a cynical game of life and death. With the demand for a ransom of millions of dollars a psychological drama unfolds between the CEO of the shipping company (Søren Malling The Killing, Borgen) and the Somali pirates. ‘A brilliant piece of scary, authentic-looking realism… Lindholm keeps the tension going and never descends into crude melodrama. As a psychological drama, this is surely one of the best of the year’ – Evening Standard.” (Publishers description from Amazon.co.uk)

Cover imageThe spectacular now.
“Based on the beloved book by Tim Tharp, The Spectacular Now is the story of Sutter Keely (Miles Teller), a high school senior and self-proclaimed “life of the party,” who unexpectedly falls in love with “nice girl” Aimee Fineky (Shailene Woodley). While Aimee dreams of the future, Sutter lives in the now, and yet somehow, they’re drawn together. What starts as an unlikely romance becomes a sharp- eyed, straight-up snapshot of the heady confusion and haunting passion of youth. Costarring Brie Larson, Kyle Chandler and Jennifer Jason Leigh.” (Publishers description from Amazon.co.uk)

Cover imageVeronica Mars.
“On the eve of graduating law school, Veronica Mars has put Neptune and her amateur sleuthing days behind her. While interviewing at high-end New York law firms, Veronica Mars gets a call from her ex-boyfriend Logan who has been accused of murder. Veronica heads back to Neptune just to help Logan find an attorney, but when things don’t seem right with how Logan’s case is perceived and handled, Veronica finds herself being pulled back into a life she thought she had left behind.” (Publishers description from Syndetics summary)

Cover imagePhilomena.
“Judi Dench stars in the story of Philomena Lee, mother to a boy conceived out of wedlock and given up for adoption. Nearly 50 years later, Philomena meets Martin Sixsmith, a former BBC reporter looking for his next big story. Together, they embark on a journey to locate her long lost son. As the pieces of the puzzle come together, the unlikely travel companions form a comic and heartwarming friendship. Based on the 2009 investigative book by Martin Sixsmith.” (Publishers description from Syndetics summary)

Cover imageBreathe in.
“Sophie, a young foreign exchange student, arrives to stay with a family in up-state New York, taking piano lessons from the father, Keith. But soon Sophie’s longing for excitement and Keith’s growing disenchantment with family life begin to take on a romantic aspect which threatens Keith’s comfortable suburban existence. An intimate and intelligent romantic drama starring Felicity Jones (Like Crazy Chalet Girl) and Guy Pearce (Prometheus, Lawless, The Hurt Locker). Directed by Drake Doremus (Like Crazy).” (Publishers description from Amazon.co.uk)

Syndetics book coverThe turning.
“‘The turning’ is a unique cinema event. Each of the seventeen directors reinterpret a chapter of the hauntingly beautiful short story collection by author Tim Winton. The linking and overlapping stories explore the extraordinary turning points in ordinary peoples lives in a stunning portrait of a small coastal community. As characters face second thoughts and regret, relationships irretrievably alter, resolves are made or broken, and lives change direction forever.” (Container description from Syndetics summary)

Cover imageCarrie.
“Chloe Grace Moretz and Academy Award nominee Julianne Moore star in this exhilarating reimagining of Stephen King’s iconic best seller. After merciless taunting from classmates and abuse at the hand of her religious fanatic mother (Moore), Carrie’s (Mortez) anger – and her telekinetic powers – are unleashed. And when a prom prank goes horribly wrong, events spiral out of control until the terrifying conclusion of this powerful, pulse-quickening horror story.” (Publishers description from Amazon.com)

New DVDs for April

New DVDs for April include plenty of book-to-movie adaptations: With the spectacular Sci-Fi epic Ender’s Game from the cult novel by Orson Scott Card, The Patience Stone the best-selling novel by Afghan-born Atiq Rahimi, and the latest entry in The Hobbit trilogy. Also there is plenty of new TV with Masters of Sex recounting the real life story of William Masters and Virginia Johnson, and the return of Sherlock Holmes from the dead…

Cover imageEnder’s game.
“Based on the popular series of books by Orson Scott Card, Ender’s Game is aimed at the same young adult crowd that gobbled up franchises like Twilight and The Hunger Games, but it has plenty to satisfy older audiences too. Ender Wiggin is a pubescent genius selected for training in an elite battle school some 70 years after an apocalyptic global attack by the insectlike Formics that killed tens of millions. The Formics were defeated, but the threat of their return remains and it’s up to children like Ender to become strategic commanders who will take up the mantle of defending Earth. The martial sensibility of a child army is crisp and believable in the scenes of boot camp on space stations and distant planet outposts. Asa Butterfield (Hugo) makes Ender the scrawny, brilliant misfit who really may be a savior to end the Formic threat forever. He’s bullied and alienated, a theme that recurs throughout the story in many ways and comes full circle in the brutal, beautiful finale. His mentor and tormentor is Colonel Graff, the grizzled commander who believes Ender is “the one,” but must hide some essential truths as a measure of control. Harrison Ford makes a bang-up return to stardom as Graff with barely dimmed wattage that pays more than a little homage to Han Solo…” (Abridged from Amazon.com review)

Cover imageThe patience stone.
“Based on the best-selling novel by Afghan-born Atiq Rahimi (Winner of France s prestigious Prix Goncourt) and co-adapted for the screen by the legendary Jean-Claude Carrière, THE PATIENCE STONE is a bold, powerful and ultimately uplifting story of one woman s resolve to break free from silence and oppression, featuring a breath-taking performance from Iranian actress Golshifteh Farahani (Asghar Farhadi s About Elly, Ridley Scott s Body of Lies). In a country torn apart by a war, in Afghanistan or elsewhere, a beautiful young woman is left alone to care for her wounded husband who has been in a coma for the past two weeks. With no improvement in his condition, food and water in short supply and a war raging around her, she begins a heartfelt monologue in the hope that he will awaken and recover. She talks about her childhood, her dreams and frustrations, her loneliness, desires and suffering… For the very first time in her life she is able to confess her deepest feelings, believing he has become her Patience Stone , a magical stone which, according to Persian mythology, will deliver her from all her pain and torment. Poetic and unflinching, THE PATIENCE STONE reveals the complex secrets of one woman s life and love in a violent world of patriarchal confinement, in a story that is both deeply personal and resoundingly universal…” (Publishers description from Amazon.co.uk)

Cover imageWhat Richard did.
“Richard Karlsen is a charming and talented young man – the undisputed leader of his circle of privileged South-Dublin teenagers. Straight out of school with a long summer and then university ahead of him, Richard’s world seems full of possibility. A new relationship with Lara, whom he meets at a beach party, seems to offer Richard the sort of relationship that he’s always been yearning for. But one night, during a party, Richard does something that destroys it all and shatters the lives of the people closest to him. Winner of numerous international film awards and featuring a breathtaking performance from star on the rise Jack Reynor, WHAT RICHARD DID is a quietly devastating study of a boy confronting the gap between who he thought he was and who he proves to be…” (Publishers description from catalogue)

Cover imageMasters of sex. The complete first season.
“MASTERS OF SEX stars Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan as real-life pioneers of the science of human sexuality, William Masters and Virginia Johnson. Their research touched off the sexual revolution and took them from a Midwestern teaching hospital to the cover of Time magazine and multiple appearances on Johnny Carson’s couch. He is a brilliant scientist out of touch with his own feelings, and she is a single working mother ahead of her time. The series chronicles their unusual lives, romance, and unlikely pop culture trajectory…” (Publishers description from catalogue)

Cover imageStranger by the lake.
“Summertime in France. At a cruising spot for men, tucked away on the shores of a lake, Franck falls for the sexy Michel – lust at first sight. Unfortunately for Franck, Michel’s jealous lover is also a regular at the cruising spot, and the two men are unable to act on the obvious spark between them. Retreating to the lake’s shores, Franck befriends an older man, Henri, who does not fit in to the “scene”. Their friendship is not based on sex, but on conversation and shared observation of their world and situation. When Franck witnesses Michel killing his lover, he is shocked, but his lust for this dangerous man overrides any sense of personal safety, and the two men begin a passionate affair. Soon the spot is frequented by a policeman who simply won’t accept that the body they discovered was caused by an accidental drowning…” (Publishers description from catalogue)

Cover imageSherlock. Complete series three.
“Two years after the devastating events of The Reichenbach Fall, Dr John Watson has got on with his life. New horizons and romance beckon in the shape of the beautiful and smart Mary Morstan. But Sherlock Holmes is about to rise from the grave. And even though it’s what his best friend wanted more than anything, for John Watson it might well be a case of ‘be careful what you wish for!’ In three brand new adventures, Sherlock and John face baffling mystery beneath the streets of London – a wedding that’s not quite what it seems and the arrival of the repellent and terrifying blackmailer Charles Augustus Magnussen. Who is the mysterious disappearing man? How can a Royal Guardsman bleed to death in a locked room? And what is the secret that threatens to blow apart everything the reunited friends hold dear? Sherlock is back, but will things ever be the same again?”…” (Publishers description from catalogue)

Cover imageAfternoon delight.
“Jill Soloway directs this comedy drama starring Kathryn Hahn, Juno Temple and Josh Radnor. Rachel (Hahn) is a stay-at-home mum trapped in a sexless marriage. After seeking advice from therapist Lenore (Jane Lynch) she visits a strip club hoping to pick up some tips on how to spice up her sex life. When an impromptu lapdance leads to Rachel taking pity on stripper McKenna (Temple), she makes it her duty to point her life in a new direction. As Rachel disguises McKenna as her son’s new nanny, people start to wonder who this woman really is. Will this arrangement make or break Rachel’s marriage?” (Publishers description from Amazon.co.uk)

Cover imageThe hobbit. The desolation of Smaug.
“The second of three epic instalments in director Peter Jackson’s blockbuster prequel to ‘The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy. Set in Middle-Earth 60 years before events in ‘The Lord of the Rings’, the story follows the adventures of Hobbit Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman), who, at the instigation of the wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen), suddenly finds himself co-opted into joining a company of 13 Dwarves led by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) to help reclaim the lost kingdom of the Lonely Mountain from the clutches of Smaug the dragon (voice of Benedict Cumberbatch). In this film, while Gandalf heads south on his own, Bilbo, Thorin and the Dwarves enter the treacherous Mirkwood Forest on their way to the mountain. When they reach Lake-town Bilbo will have to perform the role he was assigned at the start of the quest – to find a secret door that will lead him to the lair of the dragon.” (Publishers description from Amazon.co.uk)

Cover imageFilth.
“Scheming Bruce Robertson (James McAvoy), a bigoted and corrupt policeman, is in line for a promotion and will stop at nothing to get what he wants. Enlisted to solve a brutal murder and threatened by the aspirations of his colleagues, including Ray Lennox (Jamie Bell), Bruce sets about ensuring their ruin, right under the nose of unwitting Chief Inspector Toal. As he turns his colleagues against one another by stealing their wives and exposing their secrets, Bruce starts to lose himself in a web of deceit that he can no longer control. His past is slowly catching up with him, and a missing wife, a crippling drug habit and suspicious colleagues start to take their toll on his sanity. The question is: can he keep his grip on reality long enough to disentangle himself from the filth?…” (Publishers description from Amazon.co.uk)

Cover imageOne chance.
“Biopic starring James Corden as ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ winner Paul Potts. The film charts Potts’ rise to fame, from his humble beginnings as a timid shop assistant to an internationally-renowned opera singer thanks to his success on the 2007 British talent show. Following a string of failed chances, dismissals from his idol Pavarotti and unforeseeable accidents, Paul’s determination and talent enabled him to battle through against the odds and achieve his lifelong dream.” (Publishers description from Amazon.co.uk)

Cover image20 feet from stardom.
“They are the voices behind the greatest rock, pop and R&B hits of all time, but no one knows their names. Now, in this award-winning documentary, director Morgan Neville shines the spotlight on the untold stories of such legendary background (backup) singers as Darlene Love, Merry Clayton, Lisa Fischer, Judith Hill, and more. Includes behind-the-scenes footage, vintage live performances, and interviews with Bruce Springsteen, Sting, Mick Jagger, Stevie Wonder, and Bette Midler.” (Publishers description from Catalogue)

New DVDs for March

New DVDs for March include the acclaimed documentary Blackfish; the latest entry in the Hunger Games franchise; the return of Thor; White House historical drama The Butler; stylish French ‘zombie’ TV Show The Returned; a biography of popular singer Jeff Buckley; and the new British series Ripper Street

Cover imageBlackfish.
“A mesmerising psychological thriller with a killer whale at its centre, Blackfish is the first film since Grizzly Man to show how nature can get revenge on man when pushed to its limits. Blackfish tells the story of Tilikum, a performing killer whale that killed several people while in captivity. Along the way, director-producer Gabriela Cowperthwaite compiles shocking footage and emotional interviews to explore the creature’s extraordinary nature, the species’ cruel treatment in captivity, the lives and losses of the trainers and the pressures brought to bear by the mulit-billion dollar sea-park industry. This emotionally wrenching, tautly structured story challenges us to consider our relationship to nature and reveals how little we humans have learned from these highly intelligent and enormously sentient fellow mammals.” (Publishers Description from Amazon.co.uk)

Cover imageThe hunger games. Catching fire.
“When it comes to blockbuster franchises, the first sequel frequently offers pumped-up versions of the initial thrills–to diminishing results. Catching Fire, however, the second adaptation drawn from Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy, defies that trend with more finely drawn relationships. Despite her best efforts to feign romance with her co-competitor and to keep posttraumatic stress at bay, President Snow (Donald Sutherland) fears that Katniss’s defiant nature will incite rebellion, so he takes a tip from new gamemaker Plutarch (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and launches a Quarter Quell in which past champions, such as the hilariously bitter Johanna (Jena Malone) and the deceptively arrogant Finnick (Sam Claflin), will fight to the death. Not all tributes are quite so young, like Mags (Lynn Cohen), a senior citizen who suits up for battle and establishes a touching bond with Finnick (Jeffrey Wright and Amanda Plummer play the craftiest teammates). Until the cliffhanger ending, director Francis Lawrence (I Am Legend) serves up an array of splendors, from killer baboons to the ever-amazing outfits of Effie and Caesar (Stanley Tucci). Most significantly, the script from cowriter Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire) strengthens the bonds between Katniss and Peeta and Gale (Liam Hemsworth), who prove themselves more worthy than ever of Katniss’s affections.” (Abridged from Amazon.com review)

Cover imageThor. The dark world.
“Action adventure sequel which sees Chris Hemsworth reprise his role as the Marvel Comics superhero Thor, based on the mythical Norse God of Thunder. After the events of Marvel Avengers Assemble (2012), Earth and the Nine Realms come under attack from the powerful Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) and his age-old army that have existed since even before the creation of the universe. With the enemy proving near impossible to defeat, Thor approaches his adoptive brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) for help, despite his villainous past. Meanwhile, the hero becomes reacquainted with the woman he loves, astrophysicist Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), and takes her to Asgard in an attempt to protect her from harm. The cast also includes Anthony Hopkins, Stellan Skarsgård, Kat Dennings and Zachary Levi.” (Publishers description from Amazon.co.uk)

Cover imageThe butler.
The Butler tells the story of a White House butler who served eight American presidents over three decades. The film traces the dramatic changes that swept American society during this time, from the civil rights movement to Vietnam and beyond, and how those changes affected this man’s life and family. Forest Whitaker stars as the butler with Robin Williams as Dwight Eisenhower, John Cusack as Richard Nixon, Alan Rickman as Ronald Reagan, James Marsden as John F. Kennedy, Liev Schreiber as Lyndon B. Johnson, and many more. Academy Award® nominated Lee Daniels (Precious) directs and co-wrote the script with Emmy®-award winning Danny Strong (Game Change).” (Publishers description from Amazon.com)

Cover imageFruitvale Station.
“Winner of both the Grand Jury Prize for dramatic feature and the Audience Award for U.S. dramatic film at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, director Ryan Coogler’s Fruitvale Station follows the true story of Oscar Grant (Michael B. Jordan), a 22-year-old Bay Area resident who wakes up on the morning of December 31, 2008 and feels something in the air. Not sure what it is, he takes it as a sign to get a head start on his resolutions: being a better son to his mother (Octavia Spencer), whose birthday falls on New Year’s Eve, being a better partner to his girlfriend Sophina (Melonie Diaz), who he hasn’t been completely honest with as of late, and being a better father to Tatiana (Ariana Neal), their beautiful four year-old daughter. Crossing paths with friends, family, and strangers, Oscar starts out well, but as the day goes on, he realizes that change is not going to come easily. His resolve takes a tragic turn, however, when BART officers shoot him in cold blood at the Fruitvale subway stop on New Year’s Day. Oscar’s life and tragic death would shake the Bay Area – and the entire nation – to its very core.” (From Amazon.com review)

Cover imageGreetings from Tim Buckley.
“In 1991, Jeff Buckley rehearses for his public singing debut at a Brooklyn tribute concert for his father, the late folk singer Tim Buckley. Struggling with the legacy of a man he barely knew, Jeff forms a friendship with an enigmatic young woman and begins to discover the powerful potential of his own musical voice. Filled with stirring musical performances and the memorable songs of a father and son who were each among the most beloved singer/songwriters of their respective generations.” (From Library Catalogue)

Cover imageAlan Partridge: Alpha papa.
“Steve Coogan’s legendary chat show host and broadcaster finally receives the big screen treatment in this comedy directed by Declan Lowney. Occupying a career stasis-defining role as a mid-morning DJ on North Norfolk Digital Radio, Alan Partridge (Coogan)’s hopes for one last shot at the big time suffer a severe setback when it emerges that his employers have been taken over by a giant media conglomerate. Alan soon finds himself back in the spotlight, however, when newly-sacked fellow DJ Pat Farrell (Colm Meaney) returns to the studio with a shotgun and begins taking hostages. Called in by the police to act as a hostage negotiator, can Britain’s most famous Toblerone addict turn the tables and finally save the day?” (Library catalogue)

Cover imageFrances Ha.
“Noah Baumbach introduces 27-year-old New Yorker Frances Halliday (Greenberg’s Greta Gerwig) at an optimistic time in her life. Using quick cuts, he focuses primarily on the former Californian’s sisterly relationship with Sophie (Sting’s daughter, Mickey Sumner), with whom she went to Vassar. Then, it all comes crashing down. Frances breaks up with her boyfriend (who has a strange obsession with hairless cats), Sophie gets fancier digs, and Frances’s dance company director suggests that office work may be a better use of her time–though she praises her choreography skills. Worse yet, Sophie’s fiancé soon takes precedence over Frances, who assumed they’d always be the most important person in each other’s lives….Frances will move several more times, and each location will represent another blow to her self-esteem. Baumbach marks these moves with matter-of-fact subtitles listing the addresses, but Frances’s disappointments only serve to make her stronger… Baumbach and cowriter Gerwig have crafted a film with as much offbeat charm and bone-deep empathy as black-and-white progenitors Band of Outsiders and Stranger Than Paradise–a peak for both actress and director.” (Abridged from Amazon.com review)

Cover imageRipper street.
“At first glance, the BBC’s ambitious drama Ripper Street could be mistaken for a British take on something like Deadwood. Yet the creative team behind Ripper Street are wiser than to try that, instead fashioning a taut mix of drama and mystery that more than carves out an identity of its own. Ripper Street is set in 1889, and kicks off half a year after the last unsolved murder conducted by Jack The Ripper. Yet the Ripper’s shadow looms large over East London, and the Whitechapel H division have the uneasy job of policing the district. It is, as you might expect, a dangerous job, one explored over eight episodes of this maiden series for the show. Starring Jerome Flynn and Matthew Macfadyen, Ripper Street balances nicely between a grisly case to solve, and the ongoing development of its key characters, who somewhat inevitably are not short of shades of grey. Granted, there’s a derivative feel to some of the drama, but the historical setting does add a sense that anything could happen here, and the show has its fair share of surprises and twists to keep you guessing. It’s wonderfully realised, with some excellent direction and production design evoking the period. And there’s a little bit more going on under the surface here too than might be immediately obvious.” (From Amazon.co.uk review)

Cover imageThe returned.
“The fabulously intriguing French TV Series as seen on Channel 4 – The Returned is a unique, stylish and powerful supernatural drama. It follows the residents of a small French alpine town as they come to terms with a series of mysterious and unbelievable occurrences. As a small group of unknowingly deceased men, women and children return from the dead and attempt to re-join the family and friends they left behind years before, the town begins to experience a series of chilling local murders. Beautifully filmed, expertly plotted, and featuring superbly believable performances and an unforgettably atmospheric soundtrack by cult Scottish group Mogwai, The Returned is the most original and enthralling series in years. “The Returned is probably the most stylish thing you’ll see on television this year.” Four stars from The Daily Telegraph.” (Publishers description from Amazon.co.uk)

Cover imageWhite elephant.
“From one of Argentina’s most exciting and original directors Pablo Trapero (Carancho, Lion’s Den) and starring Ricardo Darin and Jeremie Renier, White Elephant is a compelling and highly charged film about courage and human triumph. What should have been South America’s largest hospital sits half-finished in the shanty towns of Buenos Aires, home to thousands. Amidst rising tensions between residents, striking labourers and warring drug cartels, two Catholic priests strive to defend the rights of the community while confronting brutal gangs and a church hierarchy skeptical of their unconventional methods. Inspired by the true story of Argentinian priest and activist Father Carlos Mugica, White Elephant traces the moral tightrope these men must walk in their bid to stand up for the victims of a corrupt system. Tense, superbly constructed and ultimately uplifting, White Elephant is a transfixing story of will, violence and survival.” (Publishers description from Amazon.co.uk)

New DVDs from February

New DVDs for February include the latest season of Game Of Thrones; critically acclaimed new shows such as Elementary, The Americans & Boss; new movies from Richard Curtis & Oscar winner Alfonso Cuarón; and modern adaptations of classics, with an update of Henry James & Joss Whedon’s take on Shakespeare.

Cover imageThe house I live in.
“As America remains embroiled in conflict overseas, a less visible war is taking place at home, costing countless lives, destroying families, and inflicting untold damage up on future generations of Americans. In forty years, the War on Drugs has accounted for more than 45 million arrests, made America the world’s largest jailer, and damaged poor communities at home and abroad. Yet for all that, drugs are cheaper, purer, and more available today than ever before. Filmed in more than twenty states, The House I Live In captures heart-wrenching stories from individuals at all levels of America’s War on Drugs. From the dealer to the grieving mother, the narcotics officer to the senator, the inmate to the federal judge, the film offers a penetrating look inside America s longest war – a definitive portrait revealing its profound human rights implications. Beyond simple misguided policy, the film examines how political and economic corruption have fueled the war for 40 years, despite persistent evidence of its moral, economic, and practical failures.” (Description from Amazon.com)

Cover imageRed. 2.
“A very safe sequel bet with a cast of friendly, recognizable, and bankable stars, Red 2 is a breezy romp of global espionage and superhero superspies. In round two, former secret agent Frank Moses (Bruce Willis) is drawn out of retirement (again) by his former cohort Marvin (John Malkovich, acting Malkovich-crazy and loving it) to service a plot that involves a Cold War-era nuclear bomb hidden in Russia and the international effort to retrieve it. Frank is now romantically partnered with RED’s sweet Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker, also a comic delight), who wants to follow him into the fray and turns out to be pretty good at the dangerous game of spycraft. Also returning from not really being retired are the icy MI-6 assassin Victoria (Helen Mirren) and the lusty Russian spy chief Ivan (Brian Cox). Their priceless scene together captures a bucolic picnic where automatic weapons and silk stockings are the main course. Everyone’s motives are purposely muddled, but they all put aside personal grudges and professional kill orders to join forces against the doomsday device. The mechanics of story don’t much matter when the purpose is zingy one-liners and the comic timing is spot on.” (Adapted from Amazon.com review)

Cover imageDetachment.
“Still best known for American History X, a film he tried to have his name removed from, director Tony Kaye’s work has remained consistent and interesting ever since. It’s been a lot lower profile too. Detachment is a case in point. Whereas American films about teachers taking on an unruly class in a trouble school generally end with either Oscar nominations or a hit single, Detachment is a lot more serious, and consequently more interesting, about its work. It follows a brilliant teacher, played by Adrien Brody, who goes from school to school as a substitute, rather than committing and getting attached to the one place. That inevitably changes, but the film’s viewpoint on life doesn’t. There’s no gloss here, rather a superbly acted, down to earth drama, that has as much to say about the school system it’s portraying as it does its individual characters. It’s a shame that Detachment got such a low-key cinema release, something reflected in the straightforward disc debut too. There are a few extras here, but nothing that adds a great deal to the package. That’s a pity too, as the film is superb, courageous, and quite brilliantly acted. Brody is as good here as he was in his Oscar-winning turn in The Pianist, and Detachment deserves all the exposure it can get.” (From Amazon.co.uk review)

Cover imageGame of thrones. The complete third season.
“In the third season of the hit HBO original series based on the bestselling book series A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin. This epic drama is set in the grounded fantasy continent of Westeros, where ambitious men and women of both honor and ill-repute live in a land where summers and winters can last years. In Season 3, family and loyalty will be the overarching themes, and many critical plot points from the first two seasons will come to a violent head, with several major characters meeting cruel fates. While a primary focus continues to be on King’s Landing, where the Lannisters barely held onto power after a savage naval onslaught from Stannis Baratheon, stirrings in the North threaten to alter the overall balance of power in Westeros. Robb Stark, King of the North, will face a major calamity in his efforts to build on his victories over the Lannisters in Season 2, while further north, Mance Rayder (new character) and his huge army of wildlings begin an inexorable march south to scale the Wall. Across the Narrow Sea, Daenerys Targaryen – reunited with her three deadly, fast-maturing dragons – attempts to raise an army of slaves to sail with her from Essos to Westeros, in hopes of eventually overthrowing the Iron Throne.” (From Amazon.co.uk description)

Cover imageBoss. Season one.
“One look at Kelsey Grammer’s glowering, defiant mug on the cover of the Boss: Season One boxed set (with eight episodes spread out over three discs) is all you need to recognize that this is a far cry indeed from his happy days on Frasier and Cheers. Grammer’s Thomas Kane, the mayor of Chicago, is a ruthless, old school pol in the tradition of that city’s Richard J. Daley; “Kane is the city,” as one of his cronies puts it, and by the end of the season, anyone who tries to cross him will have been brought to his knees–sometimes literally–or worse. But Kane is not a man without problems. He’s got a wife (Connie Nielsen) he barely talks to and never sleeps with, an estranged daughter (Hannah Ware) whom he and his wife shunned because her drug problems were a political liability, a host of enemies plotting his downfall, and, worst of all, a condition known as Lewy body, a fatal, untreatable form of dementia that is steadily robbing him of his mental acuity and physical wherewithal. There’s an element of soap opera in all of this; simply keeping track of the sexual escapades of Ben Zajac (Jeff Hephner), a duplicitous young Kane protégé, may require a scorecard (nudity and profanity are also abundant). But the political maneuverings are even more compelling, as we see just how treacherous, scandalous, and even murderous Kane and everyone else who lusts for power can be. It’s not a pretty sight.” (Adapted from Amazon.co.uk review)

Cover imageAbout time.
“At the age of 21, Tim Lake (Domhnall Gleeson) discovers he can travel in time. The night after another unsatisfactory New Year party, Tim’s father (Bill Nighy) tells his son that the men in his family have always had the ability to travel through time. Tim can’t change history, but he can change what happens and has happened in his own life—so he decides to make his world a better place by getting a girlfriend. Sadly, that turns out not to be as easy as you might think. Moving from the Cornwall coast to London to train as a lawyer, Tim finally meets the beautiful but insecure Mary (Rachel McAdams). They fall in love, then an unfortunate time-travel incident means he’s never met her at all. So they meet for the first time again—and again—but finally, after a lot of cunning time traveling, he wins her heart. Tim then uses his power to create the perfect romantic proposal, to save his wedding from the worst best-man speeches and to save his best friend from professional disaster. But as his unusual life progresses, Tim finds out that his unique gift can’t save him from the sorrows and ups and downs that affect all families, everywhere. There are great limits to what time travel can achieve, and it can be dangerous, too.” (Adapted from Amazon.com description)

Cover imageElementary. The first season.
“Sherlock Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller) is a recovering addict who meets Joan Watson (Lucy Lui) as his ‘sober companion’. Initially their relationship is strictly professional, and somewhat frosty, but they grow to understand and work with one another, eventually forming a friendship and partnership. Together they assist Captain Gregson and Detective Bell of the NYPD, where Holmes’ observational abilities and deductive talent unravel a series of complicated cases. Alongside his police work, Sherlock struggles with a past he left behind in London involving an ex-girlfriend Irene Adler, a ‘nemesis’ in Moriarty, and an absent father.” (Description from Amazon.co.uk)

Cover imageGravity.
“Dr. Ryan Stone is a brilliant medical engineer on her first shuttle mission with veteran astronaut Matt Kowalsky. On a seemingly routine spacewalk, the shuttle is destroyed, leaving Stone and Kowalsky spiraling out into the blackness. The deafening silence tells them they have lost any link to Earth and any chance for rescue. As fear turns to panic, every gulp of air eats away at what little oxygen is left, and the only way home may be to go further out into the terrifying expanse of space.” (From Syndetics summary)

Cover imageWhat Maisie knew.
“Based on a contemporary interpretation of the classic Henry James novel, and set in present day New York City, the story centres on Maisie, an unwitting six-year-old girl enmeshed in the bitter divorce of her mother, a rock and roll icon, and her father, a charming but distracted art dealer. Darkly comic and emotionally compelling, What Maisie Knew is an evocative portrayal of the chaos and complexity of a modern marriage.” (Description from Amazon.co.uk)

Cover imageThe Americans. The complete first season.
“Secrets can be deadly in this suspenseful thriller about undercover Russian spies in 1980s Washington D.C. Phillip and Elizabeth Jennings seem to be a typical suburban couple, but they’re actually lethal KGB agents plotting to bring down America. As the Cold War escalates, Philip and Elizabeth must take extreme measures to continue their mission to keep their true identities hidden. But when an FBI agent movies in across the street, they become ensnared in a pulse-pounding game of cat and mouse.” (From Syndetics summary)

Cover imageWolf children / a Studio Chizu film.
“Hana was a student before she was a mother. Then she met a man, who turned out to be a wolf, and together they built a family. Hana loved her mate fiercely, but fate took him from her, leaving her alone with two unusual kids she didn’t know how to raise. This is a mother’s journey. Teach your children to chase their dreams – and smile through the tears as they disappear into the world in search of who they will become. Hana wasn’t always a mother, but it was always what she was meant to be.” (From Syndetics summary)

Cover imageMuch ado about nothing.
“Joss Whedon’s sexy and contemporary spin on Shakespeare’s classic comedy about the story of sparring lovers Beatrice and Benedick offers a sensual, tragic and occasionally absurd view of the intricate game that is love.” (From Syndetics summary)

New DVDs for January

New DVDs for January include the third instalment in Vin Diesel’s Chronicles of Riddick; the American feature debut of Park Chan-wook (of Oldboy fame); new Norwegian TV show Hellfjord; the award winning & critically acclaimed Blue Jasmine; and the new documentary on reclusive author J.D Salinger…

Cover imageStoker.
“Stoker is a masterful psychodrama that teems with unsettling vibrations that hark directly back to Alfred Hitchcock, but also to the wave of contemporary cinema that has been surging in South Korea for the past decade. It is the first American feature by the auteur Park Chan-wook, whose widely seen trilogy of “revenge” films, Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, Oldboy, and Lady Vengeance, paved the way for the meticulous craftsmanship of Stoker. The inspiration for Wentworth Miller’s haunting script was Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt, though Stoker makes for an altogether creepier tale of a mysterious uncle, his melancholy niece, and the deadly interplay of family secrets slowly revealed. Park’s delicate weaving of style transforms the material into a narrative symphony, with thematic elements conveyed in the smallest details of composition, art direction, and graceful cinematography. Mia Wasikowska is India Stoker, the teenage niece who just lost her father to a violent auto accident. It’s a complete surprise to India and her mother Evelyn (Nicole Kidman) when his handsome younger brother Charlie (Matthew Goode) shows up at the brooding family mansion (itself a character that is integral to the story). Charlie’s enigmatic smirk signals both calm and danger, and his presence is a catalyst that ratchets up the emotional turmoil India and Evelyn are already experiencing. India senses the danger even as she is drawn to Charlie, and her mother’s repressed sexuality turns into a bonfire under his mysterious charm. He tempts and teases them both in an expertly choreographed dance of menace that fuels the rage building in India and puts further pressure on her mother’s cataclysmic despair. To say that there are plot twists is an understatement for a movie whose elegant creativity is the biggest twist of all.” (Adapted from Amazon.co.uk review)

Cover imageRiddick.
“Pitch Black, the first collaboration between writer-director David Twohy and Vin Diesel, stands as a model genre movie, presenting an ingeniously taut narrative while also giving Diesel ample room to develop an antihero for the ages. The success of that film led to the unexpectedly baroque The Chronicles of Riddick, which greatly expanded the scope, but to somewhat diminished effect. The duo’s third go-around wisely returns to the roots of the character, delivering a small-scale, gleefully vulgar film that occasionally resembles a berserk sci-fi version of Man vs. Wild. Featuring some way-cool critters and no shortage of gallows humor, it knows exactly what it is: half B-movie, half awesome ’70s van art. Quickly dispensing with the ornate mythology of the last installment (respect to Karl Urban for returning, however briefly), the story finds Riddick left for dead, on a planet where absolutely everything wants to eat him. As he begins his quest to dominate the local flora and fauna, matters are complicated by the appearance of two teams of bounty hunters (including Katee Sackhoff and the gargantuan Dave Bautista) searching for his chromed dome. Twohy keeps things mean and reasonably lean throughout, giving the squabbling mercenaries some enjoyably hissable personality traits while hurtling toward an intense siege finale.” (Adapted from Amazon.com review)

Syndetics book coverHellfjord.
Hellfjord is the story of urban police officer Salmander, a second generation Pakistani immigrant, who after accidentally killing his police horse in front of thousands of children gets promptly dismissed from the police force. But due to a loophole in his civil service contract, he must serve out a 3-month notice period. His captain banishes him to Hellfjord a tiny fishing community in the far north of Norway. On arrival, things just go from bad to worse for Salmander. Hellfjord is populated by simple-minded people with an average age of 67, only interested in keeping to themselves. But when Salmander scratches the surface, he discovers a secret that will turn Hellfjord upside down. Maybe even inside out.” (From Syndetics summary)

Cover imageThe to do list.
“A winning lead performance by Aubrey Plaza and a script that doesn’t treat its characters or its audience like morons help buoy director-writer Maggie Carey’s The To Do List. The setting is mid-’90s Boise, Idaho, where Plaza’s Brandy Klark is a model student at her high school: senior valedictorian, perfect grades, headed to Georgetown in the fall. She’s also a bitchy, bossy busybody and, worst of all, a virgin. Weary of the nonstop torrent of teasing her “condition” has inspired on the part of her classmates, friends, and older sister (Rachel Bilson), Brandy revises her to-do list until it consists solely of sexual acts, many of which she can’t even define (most are also far too raunchy to print on a family website–what the movie lacks in nudity, it more than makes up for in profane language), that she plans to engage in before heading off to college. Her summer job as a lifeguard trainee at the local public pool provides plenty of candidates to help her on her quest; although she fully expects to be deflowered by the studly, guitar-playing Rusty Waters (Scott Porter), she’s only too eager to use Cameron (Johnny Simmons), the one guy who actually cares about her, and various others to check off the other items on her list. Brandy approaches all of this as if it were a science project, with a combination of innocence and aggressiveness that results in multiple awkward situations. But this girl is no doormat; she’s a doofus, but a smart one, and she handles all the hazing and humiliation with admirable aplomb. And therein lies the film’s principal appeal. The script, while often amusing, doesn’t condescend, and it even offers some genuine, if obvious, insight into high schoolers and the many problems and pressures they face. Heck, even Brandy’s parents are treated with some dignity.” (Adapted from Amazon.com review)

Cover imageBlue Jasmine.
“After everything in her life falls to pieces, including her marriage to wealthy businessman Hal (Alec Baldwin), elegant New York socialite Jasmine (Cate Blanchett) moves into her sister Ginger’s (Sally Hawkins) modest apartment in San Francisco to try to pull herself back together again.
Jasmine arrives in San Francisco in a fragile mental state, her head reeling from the cocktail of anti-depressants she’s on. While still able to project her aristocratic bearing, Jasmine is emotionally precarious and lacks any practical ability to support herself. She disapproves of Ginger’s boyfriend Chili (Bobby Cannavale), who she considers another “loser” like Ginger’s ex-husband Augie (Andrew Dice Clay). Ginger, recognizing but not fully understanding her sister’s psychological instability, suggests that she pursue interior design, a career she correctly intuits that Jasmine won’t feel is beneath her. In the meantime, Jasmine begrudgingly accepts work as the receptionist in a dentist’s office, where she attracts the unwanted attentions of her boss, Dr. Flicker (Michael Stuhlbarg). Feeling that her sister might be right about her poor taste in men, Ginger starts seeing Al (Louis C.K.), a sound engineer whom she considers as a step up from Chili. Jasmine sees a potential lifeline when she meets Dwight (Peter Sarsgaard), a diplomat who is quickly smitten with her beauty, sophistication and style. Jasmine’s flaw is that she derives her worth from the way she’s perceived by others, while she herself is blind to what is going around her. Delicately portrayed by a regal Cate Blanchett, Jasmine earns our compassion because she is the unwitting instrument of her own downfall.” (Adapted from Amazon.co.uk description)

Cover imageBad education. Series one.
Bad Education, written by and starring Jack Whitehall, follows Alfie Wickers the worst teacher to ever (dis)grace the British Education System, and a bigger kid than the pupils he teaches. Abbey Grove School is populated by some of the weirdest teachers you could ever meet: Fraser (Mathew Horne) the hair-brained Headmaster who longs to be down with the kids, Miss Gulliver (Sarah Solemani) the biology teacher with a heart of gold but perhaps a dash too much openness and honesty, Miss Mollinson (Leila Hoffman) the happily swinging Head of Maths who won’t let her hip-replacement get in the way and Deputy Headmistress Miss Pickwell (Michelle Gomez) who displays all the charm and sensitivity of a Third Reich Dominatrix. Alfie’s class is Form K, a bunch of misfits that have been written off by the rest of the school, but Alfie can’t help but see a bit of himself in them. This is about a class of kids and their teacher’s quest to get through life and get the best results with the minimum amount of effort possible. Sadly it’s not an equation that always adds up. From disastrous parents’ evenings to cringe-worthy sex-education lessons to life-threatening self-defence classes to school elections full of dirty tricks and a school trip to see a rhino-pig; Bad Education is school life as you’ve never seen it before.” (From Amazon.co.uk description)

Cover imageThe 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. Furthermore, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey has one or two real standout moments contained within its running time, not least when we finally get reunited with Gollum. The sequence where Bilbo Baggins and Gollum come face to face is as good as anything Jackson put on screen in the Lord Of The Rings films.” (Adapted from Amazon.co.uk review)

Cover imageThe human scale.
“50 % of the world’s population lives in urban areas. By 2050 this will increase to 80%. Life in a mega city is both enchanting and problematic. Today we face peak oil, climate change, loneliness and severe health issues due to our way of life. But why? The Danish architect and professor Jan Gehl has studied human behavior in cities through 40 years. He has documented how modern cities repel human interaction, and argues that we can build cities in a way, which takes human needs for inclusion and intimacy into account. The Human Scale meets thinkers, architects and urban planners across the globe. It questions our assumptions about modernity, exploring what happens when we put people into the center of our planning.” (From Syndetics summary)

Cover imageSalinger.
Salinger is a 2013 feature length documentary looking into the private world of J.D. Salinger, the reclusive author of The Catcher in the Rye. Salinger features interviews with 150 subjects including Salinger’s friends, colleagues and members of his inner circle who have never spoken on the record before as well as previously unseen film footage, photographs and other material. The film is the first work to get beyond the Catcher in the Rye author’s meti­culously built up wall: his childhood, painstaking work methods, marriages, private world and the secrets he left behind after his death in 2010.” (From Syndetics Summary)


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