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!
12 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)
Endeavour. 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)
The 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)
The 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)
Inside 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)
Orange 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)
The 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)
Jack 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)
Hannibal. 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)
Short 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)
The 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)
How 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)
Mandela : 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)