Need some new viewing material? New to our DVD shelves in June are the new biopics of Alfred Hitchcock & Abraham Lincoln; tsunami drama ‘The Impossible’; adaptations of classics from Tolstoy & Ford Maddox Ford; and the screenwriting debut of British rapper Ben Drew… Plus, Benedict Cumberbatch in historical drama “Parade’s End”. Have a browse!
“As with the great John Ford (Young Mr. Lincoln) before him, it would be out of character for Steven Spielberg to construct a conventional, cradle-to-grave portrait of a historical figure. In drawing from Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals, the director instead depicts a career-defining moment in the career of Abraham Lincoln (an uncharacteristically restrained Daniel Day-Lewis). With the Civil War raging, and the death toll rising, the president focuses his energies on passage of the 13th Amendment. Even those sympathetic to the cause question his timing, but Lincoln doesn’t see the two issues as separate, and the situation turns personal when his son, Robert (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), chooses to enlist rather than to study law. While still mourning the loss of one son, Mary (Sally Field) can’t bear to lose another. Playwright Tony Kushner, who adapted the screenplay, takes a page from the procedural handbook in tracing Lincoln’s steps to win over enough representatives to abolish slavery, while simultaneously bringing a larger-than-life leader down to a more manageable size…” (Adapted from Amazon.co.uk review)
“There’s little point pretending that The Impossible is an easy film to watch. It simply isn’t. As haunting a piece of cinema as you’re likely to see with a 12 certificate attached, it’s the story of a family who take a holiday to Thailand. Headed up by Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor, said family’s life is turned upside down by the horrific tsunami that devastated the region back in 2004. Punches simply aren’t pulled here. Based on true events, The Impossible has changed some of the details, but not lessened any of the impact. The tsunami itself is stunningly realised on screen, but it’s the drama afterwards, and the tragedy, that sticks heavily in the mind. It’s not a relentlessly downbeat film, with some extraordinary things to relate about the human spirit, but it is one that’s inevitably very emotional… It’s not the kind of film for a Friday night in front of the telly, but it is one that demands to be seen…” (Adapted from Amazon.co.uk review)
This is 40.
“Director Judd Apatow gets the Zeitgeist just right in the low-key but truly funny comedy This Is 40. This Is 40 is billed as a “sort-of sequel” to Knocked Up and Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann star in both as a happily married couple. In This Is 40, both Pete (Rudd) and Debbie (Mann) turn 40, which sets off a small but irreversible midlife crisis for both. Luckily, the two have a pretty privileged and happy life. It’s as though they don’t even truly know how to have a midlife crisis, yet it’s somehow expected. There are a lot of genuine laughs in This Is 40, many bordering on bad taste–but still hilarious. Pete’s struggle with hemorrhoids is one of those movie jokes you know you shouldn’t laugh at, but you do. The answer to the question “Will Pete and Debbie and their family still be cool as they get older?” is probably never at issue, but watching the two actors, who have tremendous chemistry, bounce off each other during their birthday week really is funny. Adding to the merriment is the stellar supporting cast, including Megan Fox, Graham Parker (yes, the rocker), Lena Dunham (Girls), Melissa McCarthy, Chris O’Dowd, and Albert Brooks, who truly elevate This Is 40 to a genius ensemble experience. If This Is 40, sign us up now!…” (From Amazon.co.uk review)
“Contentious? Definitely. Suitably for a family audience? Most definitely not. One of the funniest, most violent and well rounded British movies of recent times? Very much so. For his third film behind the camera, Sightseers, director Ben Wheatley brings together Alice Lowe and Steve Oram, who developed the two lead characters and script, and sends them on a sightseeing holiday around Britain. It’s a trip taking in seemingly tacky, yet genuinely interesting looking attractions that the two middle-aged lovebirds visit, yet there soon comes something of a twist. For as the holiday progresses, so does the bodycount, as Oram’s Chris finds ways of dealing with the people who tend to get on his nerves. Litterbugs, snobs, Daily Mail readers: they all find their way into the annoyances of Chris…. It’s a frequently hilarious film, yet not afraid to shock, so as not to lessen the impact of the violent acts contained within it…. Highly recommended…” (Adapted from Amazon.co.uk review)
“He may be better known in some quarters as hip-hop musician Plan B, but Ben Drew opened up a fresh career for himself as a movie director with his confident debut, Ill Manors. Drew also wrote the script for this crime drama, which follows the lives of eight characters across seven days in a violence-infested London. That’s a lot to balance for an established director, which makes Drew’s achievement with Ill Manors all the more impressive. He juggles intertwining stories with real confidence, and finds interesting angles on themes that have been explored many times before in cinema. It’s not an easy film to watch at times, mainly because of its refusal to flinch, but it is a very impressive one….A strong debut from a real talent…’ (Adapted from Amazon.co.uk review)
“A sprawling blend of no-nonsense police work and gallows humor, this commendably messy drama captures the cop’s lot in life with a flair and intelligence that recalls the best television procedurals, to say nothing of the legendary novels of Joseph Wambaugh. Based on actual case files, the film follows the squad members of the Parisian Child Protection Unit as they attempt to balance out the grim realities of their job with the fractal implosions of their personal lives. As their case files boil over with heartbreaking instances of abducted infants and neglectful parents (and worse), matters are further complicated by the appearance of a naive photographer assigned by the higher-ups to put a positive gloss on things. Director-cowriter-performer Maïwenn, a Luc Besson protégé (she was the blue Babar-ish opera singer in The Fifth Element), does a terrific job at keeping her narrative’s various plates in the air, shifting from the horrifically matter-of-fact to the organically goofy with aplomb….The last few moments may teeter into sobby melodrama, but for viewers with strong constitutions, the film’s overall balancing act is really something to see. Fans of The Wire, get in line…” (Adapted from Amazon.com review)
“A triumphant adaptation of a surprisingly little-known text, the BBC’s sumptuous staging of Parade’s End, the work of Ford Madox Ford, rightly earned no shortage of plaudits on its first transmission. Many of those were aimed in the direction of Sherlock star Benedict Cumbertbatch, who takes one of the leading roles, yet this first rate Edwardian-set period drama has plenty else about it, too…. The story itself sees Cumberbatch as the aristocrat Christopher Tietjens, married to Hall’s Sylvia. Their life as they know it, already threatened by the shadow of World War I, faces further disruption when a young suffragette by the name of Adelaide arrives. From there, a perhaps inevitable love triangle develops, one that’s played out tremendously well. Parade’s End certainly proves to be gripping drama…” (Description from Amazon.co.uk)
“By filming Leo Tolstoy’s timeless novel as a series of theater pieces that play out across stages and catwalks, Joe Wright extracts Anna Karenina from the dusty pages of history. In her third collaboration with the filmmaker, Keira Knightley portrays the St. Petersburg aristocrat as a woman who loves her son, Sergei, more than her husband, Alexei Karenin (Jude Law). On a trip to Moscow, she meets Count Vronsky (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), whose Snidely Whiplash mustache spells trouble, even as his sky-blue eyes prove impossible to resist. Wright contrasts their passionate union with the less cataclysmic concerns of Anna’s sister-in-law, Dolly (Boardwalk Empire’s Kelly Macdonald), whose capacity for forgiveness puts Alexei to shame, and Levin (Harry Potter’s Domhnall Gleeson), who never gives up on Dolly’s sister, Kitty (Alicia Vikander), even after she rejects him in hopes of a more glamorous future. When the affair between Anna and Vronsky becomes public, Tolstoy’s antiheroine risks losing everything, but as readers know: she just can’t help herself…” (Adapted from Amazon.com review)
“When it was first announced that Anthony Hopkins was to take on the role of Alfred Hitchcock in a movie co-starring Helen Mirren, the immediate assumption was that awards, somewhere down the line, would follow. They didn’t, though, and Hitchcock got lost in the midst of a busy Oscar race. Rediscovering it on disc, however, and there’s no shortage of things to like in director Sacha Gervasi’s interesting, diverting film.
Hitchcock centres its story around the making of the director’s masterpiece, Psycho, and it’s through this that Gervasi touches on the many qualities and frailties behind Alfred Hitchcock’s public persona. The film explores, too, his marriage to his wife Alma, played by Mirren, and where she fits into the Psycho jigsaw. Hers is not an insignificant contribution. In truth, Hitchcock is an uneven film, and a surprisingly unambitious one in terms of the story that it wants to tell. But it does still have plenty going for it, not least the strength of its acting ensemble. Hopkins is excellent in the title role, and Helen Mirren too emerges with a lot of credit…” (Adapted from Amazon.co.uk review)
“Romantic drama following the fortunes of a guarded young woman who unexpectedly finds love in a North Carolina town. Katie Feldman (Julianne Hough) stands out on arrival in Southport. Beautiful but highly reserved, she makes it clear that she expects to have little involvement in the social life of the town and its inhabitants. However, an unforeseen chain of events brings Katie close to Alex (Josh Duhamel), a widower who runs a store while also attempting to bring up his young children. As she inexorably falls in love with Alex and the children Katie begins to let down her guard, but doing so threatens to raise the dark secret she has been protecting. Will she find a way to reconcile the trauma of her past with the possibility of a brighter future?…” (Description from Amazon.co.uk)
“Single mother Collette McVeigh is a Republican living in Belfast with her mother and hardliner IRA brothers. When she is arrested for her part in an aborted IRA bomb plot in London, an MI5 officer (Mac) offers her a choice: lose everything and go to prison for 25 years or return to Belfast to spy on her own family. With her son’s life in her hands, Collette chooses to place her trust in Mac and return home, but when her brothers’ secret operation is ambushed, suspicions of an informant are raised and Collette finds both herself, and her family, in grave danger…” (Description from Amazon.co.uk)
“Turei is a young man with a big dream; a dream that goes beyond the paddocks of Pukekohe and a life of spud-picking with his whanau. When it’s announced that his idol Bob Marley is looking for a support act for his 1979 Auckland show, Turei sees his chance. Together with his brother Hone and best mates Reggie and Pou they audition for a shot at being the opening band. But Turei’s ambition challenges the traditions and values of his upbringing and sets him at odds with his father, a true man of the land…” (From Syndetics summary)