The big ‘serious film’ release is Roman Polanski’s incredibly stagy Carnage, an adaptation of Yasmina Reza’s Olivier award winning play God of Carnage. Although it has proved to be a little too close to the original play for some critics, the central performances from Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, John C. Reilly and Christoph Waltz have been widely well received. The extras are a little lacking, however, with interviews with the principle cast and a trailer. (DVD) (Blu)
The Woman in Black (a.k.a Harry Potter and the Spooky Ghost) is the other big release this week. Despite its rubbish, clumsily tacked-on ending, the film is largely successful. Its gothic period look brings to mind classic Hammer horror, minus the regular bosom shots (the film is a Hammer production, which may explain the link). Daniel Radcliffe does a decent enough job as the young widower Arthur Kipps, but it’s the scares that really carry the film. It’s creepy more than anything else, but like the play version of the same story, a lot of the scariest moments come from its effective use of sound. (DVD) (Blu)
The Woman in Black isn’t the only Hammer release; 60s low budget horror movies Plague of the Zombies (DVD/Blu) and The Reptile (DVD/Blu), both shot back-to-back and using the same sets, are being issued on blu ray for the first time. It’s pretty much what you expect from Hammer films from that era, but Plague… in particular is an example of how good a Hammer B picture can be.
Safe House, starring human pectoral Ryan Reynolds and one eighth of Denzel Washington, was made on autopilot. It’s one to catch on telly when there’s nothing else on. (DVD) (Blu) (Limited Edition Blu/DVD/Digital)
Vinnie Jones is back (rejoice) in Kazakh production The Liquidator. It’s a supporting role as a mute assassin, but you wouldn’t know that looking at the UK DVD release and the blurb accompanying it. The film may even be OK, but I have a feeling that a lot of people buying the UK release will be disappointed due to its misleading packaging.(DVD)
As previously stated, however, the best films are reissues.
Almost 40 years after its initial release, The Sting is still one of the best con movies. Reuniting Paul Newman, Robert Redford and director George Roy Hill (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid), The Sting was critically lauded at the time, winning seven Academy Awards. While some elements of the film have dated slightly, the elaborate plot zips along effortlessly and the pay off is very satisfying. More than anything, it’s fun spending time in Redford and Newman’s company; the two actors have a great buddy chemistry that also made Butch Cassidy so enjoyable. The film has been reissued on blu ray as part of the Universal 100th Anniversary series, and is available in a limited edition digi-book pack. The extras focus more on the history of Universal than the film itself, but there is a fairly in-depth making of documentary that features the principle players in the film’s production. (Blu)
We also get a Yasujiro Ozu Three Melodramas boxset (Early Spring, Tokyo Twilight and his rare 1933 silent Woman of Tokyo, on DVD in the UK for the first time); a triple play version of Batman Begins and The Dark Knight; and the director’s cut of Revolution, starring Al Pacino
Finally, best title of the week: Apocalypse 2012: The World After Time Ends. Expect this snappily named epic to hit the Sci-Fi channel within the next few days.