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)