DVD: As If I Am Not There

 

As If I'm Not There

 

DIR/WRI: Juanita Wilson • PRO: James Flynn, Nathalie Lichtenthaeler, Karen Richards • DOP: Tim Fleming • ED: Nathan Nugent • DES: Bujar Muca • Cast: Natasa Petrovic, Stellan Skarsgård, Miraj Grbic

Based on Croatian Slavenka Drakulic’s novel, Juanita Wilson’s As If I Am Not There is an unforgettable and powerful film shedding light on the atrocities committed in former Yugoslavia. Natasha Petrovic plays Samira, who is teaching in a rural village when a gang of soldiers arrive who shoot all the men, and take the women away to a prison camp. Here the soldiers systematically rape and subject the women to horrific humiliation and torture. Samira adopts her own measures in order to survive.

It is a distinctive debut feature from Wilson, whose skill behind the camera is obvious as the film unfolds. Employing sparse dialogue, Wilson uses the camera patiently in a way that affects a mood of visceral tension riddled with a chronic sense of dread. By focusing on one woman’s story, Wilson’s brave directorial debut presents the depressing reality of war – the pain and suffering it inflicts on innocent people. As If I Am Not There is both a story that needs to be told and a film that needs to be seen.

 

Steven Galvin

 

As If I Am Not There is released on DVD on 1st June 2011

 

  • Format: PAL
  • Region: Region 2
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 18
  • Studio: Element Pictures
  • DVD Release Date: 01 June 2011
  • Run Time: 106 minutes

 

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DVD: 'Young Bruce Lee' & 'Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame'

YoungBruceLee-DVD

I’m not entirely sure what the point of Young Bruce Lee is.

Sure, his childhood friends have banded together to swap stories, japes and hardships. Indeed, it’s coloured against the taught socio-political backdrop of a post-war China. And yes, the strong cast provide some evocative performances.

But honestly, who wants to watch a film about Bruce Lee before he was, essentially, Bruce Lee. The Bruce Lee you know. The Bruce Lee you love. The Bruce Lee who’d kick your face in.

The relevance of this feature is lost on me.

Now if this film had been called Young Joseph Chan, the quasi-fictional tale of a roguish troublemaker growing up in a large family, I’d be a little more receptive. Watching the young scoundrel advance in the film industry, struggle with the fairer sex and generally run amuck while western culture slowly creeps into the backdrop, could be a laugh.

Admittedly the plot might meander in places and you’ll wonder where the focus lies. But this staggered narrative epitomizes the adolescent’s carefree lifestyle while a very light smattering of action and stunts spruce up the pace. Yes, you’d find a couple hours decent entertainment there.

But it’s not about fictional scamp Joseph Chan. It’s about film icon Bruce Lee, who made a global name for himself kicking arse once he arrived on American shores. And Young Bruce Lee regards his life before he reached them.

His time in China was tragic, funny, exciting and undeniably interesting. But the only people to care will be the die-hard fans. If you’re not one I suggest spending your leisure time with a more satisfying title…

…Such as Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame. Now this is Chinese Cinema at its best. Ignoring the fact it bristles with stars, astronomical production values, acrobatic stunts, fluid action, magnificent set pieces, gripping effects, the best thing about Detective Dee… is the mystery at its heart.

Detective Dee

Ultimately Detective Dee… is a whodunnit, enveloped in the most deliriously satisfying wrapping imaginable.

International icon Andy Lau puts in a commanding effort as the titular investigator, who sets about unravelling a mystery which threatens the existence of an ancient dynasty. Despite its fantastical elements (and trust me, they are fantastic), Detective Dee is easily followed and replete with unusual characters, any of whom could be the culprit.

While you’re fingers busily point at the nearest pair of shifty brows, the rest of you should be entranced by dizzying leaps, colourful sets and intricate choreography. Somewhere between the buoyancy of Hero and the energy of Red Cliff, Sammo Hung orchestrates the action with his usual precision and clarity.

The wealth of imagination here is staggering, and you’re never more than a minute away from a snazzy weapon, insane stunt, significant plot reveal, jaw dropping visual effect, quirky new character or talking deer.

That’s right, talking deer. Sounds farfetched yet cast and crew tackle this grand project with such fervour, and it rattles along with such pace you’ll hardly have time to catch your breath let alone question if acupuncture can actually alter a man’s bone structure.

Yes Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame is more than a little outlandish. But the film which out-grossed Inception at the Asian Box office and raked up six Hong Honk Film Awards including Best Director, Actress, Art Direction and Visual Effects is worth your time.

With but the slightest of effort on your part, director Tsui Hark will deliver a tale of such originality and exhilaration, Hollywood’s summer offerings will pale by comparison.

Young Bruce Lee is released on DVD on 30th May 2011

Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame is released on DVD on 27th Jun 2011

 

Young Bruce Lee – Tech Specs


• Format: PAL
• Language Cantonese Chinese
• Subtitles: English
• Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
• Number of discs: 2
• Classification: 15
• Studio: Cine Asia
• DVD Release Date: 30 May 2011

SPECIAL FEATURES
– Dolby Digital Cantonese 2.0 & 5.1
– English Subtitles
– Audio Commentary by Bey Logan & Mike Leeder
– Trailer Gallery
– Making Of Gallery
– A Cine Asia World Exclusive Featurette

 

Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame – Tech Specs
• Format: PAL
• Language Chinese
• Subtitles: English
• Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
• Number of discs: 2
• Classification: 15
• Studio: Cine Asia
• DVD Release Date: 27 Jun 2011
• Run Time: 119 minutes

SPECIAL FEATURES:
– Dolby Digital Manadrin 2.0 & 5.1
– English Subtitles
– Audio Commentary by Bey Logan & Mike Leeder
– Trailer Gallery
– Interview Gallery
– Behind the Scenes
– A Cine Asia World Exclusive Featurette


Check out the DD Cine Asia trailer

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DVD: My Neighbours the Yamadas

My Neighbours the Yamadas

My Neighbours the Yamadas follows what is intended to be a typical middle-class family in Japan on a series of misadventures. It is both hilarious and heartbreaking and you can laugh and cry in brand new shining quality as it this heart-warming movie released on Blu-ray this year.

Visually, My Neighbours the Yamadas falls far short of the Studio Ghibli classics, but what it lacks in colour and depth visually, it makes up for in story and character. This is not a linear plot, but a series of vignettes which tell a larger story, each vignette tells us something about our characters, society, or us as viewers, and what starts out as a vaguely difficult-to-follow narrative, becomes second nature almost immediately. Our characters and settings are so well-thought-out that it doesn’t matter that the narrative isn’t seamless, we care enough to want to see their adventures through to the end, whether linear or not.

One of the downsides to this Blu-ray is the English-speaking version. Whilst the dubbing is not some of the worst we’ve seen, the chosen voices don’t entirely suit our vision of the typical middle-class Japanese family. James Belushi isn’t exactly the stereotypical Japanese father, and although dubbing of this kind is often seamless, here it seems a little odd. For me, the movie benefits greatly from being watched with English subtitles.

Whilst it is wonderful to see this gorgeous story brought to a wider audience, the necessity of Blu-ray here somewhat evades me. This is the first movie 100% digitally produced by Studio Ghibli, without any hand-drawn cells. Progress is rarely a bad thing, but with the story being so progressive in terms of portraying Japanese society, the necessity to technologically use this movie as a stepping-stone is almost void. This is a wonderfully told tale, but I feel that the viewer is missing out on an important experience here. Without any cells being used, the colours and vibrancy we expect from Ghibli are entirely lost, which removes some of the wonder from the film. Certainly, this new Blu-ray release does nothing to resurrect this loss of vibrancy.

It is a film which has been created with such passion and heart that it is impossible not to fall deeper in love with it each time you watch. It is arguably the most humorous of the Ghibli releases. Whilst Miyazaki might be the most well-known Studio Ghibli alum due to his stunning visuals, Isao Takahata here proves himself to be the king of integrity in anime as he presents Japan to the world with a brand new, previously unseen universal vocabulary which speaks to the viewer’s heart. An unforgettable journey.

Ciara O’Brien

# Language Japanese
# Subtitles: English
# Number of discs: 1
# Classification: PG
# Studio: Studio Ghibli
# DVD Release Date: 9 May 2011

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Blu-ray: Laputa: Castle in the Sky

laputa

Laputa: Castle in the Sky is undoubtedly one of the most beloved anime movies of our time; it is the name on the lips of every movie lover making recommendations to friends, and unlike many similar recommendations is child-friendly. It’s somewhat surprising that being so well-loved, relatively few movie-goers have seen the film, so this year’s release of the movie on Blu-ray is sure to bring this amazing story to a wider audience.

The story is a high-flying animated adventure which cannot fail to thrill audiences of all ages. Castle in the Sky plays on the curiosity of its viewer as it displays excellent screenwriting, revealing to the audience only what is completely necessary to drive the plot, the rest is left up to conjecture. Our hero, Pazu stumbles upon a beautiful girl who has floated from the sky, and taken with her a dark and violent past. Sheeta takes Pazu on a number of soaring adventures in their ultimate search for her identity.

Director Hayao Miyazaki is best known for his work with Studio Ghibli. Ghibli have brought the world some of the most outstanding animated movies, and Castle in the Sky is no exception. This Blu-ray offering gives stunning depth of colour and encases the audience even further within the plot. Miyazaki is more than just a director, he is an artist, and a master storyteller, crafting beautiful hand-drawn animation and sewing it to a plot with expert precision. Castle in the Sky is the work of a vast imagination which draws on the imaginations of its audience to function. It is almost breath-taking that an animated feature can be so vast in scope, and the Blu-ray disc allows us to see every detail in mind-bending clarity.

The entire story is fraught with more tension than your average Vin Diesel action adventure; it is edge of your seat fare which we don’t expect to receive from movies of this genre. What sets Castle in the Sky apart from other anime, is that our characters are fully realised, and do not exist as cardboard cut-outs of generic stereotypes. As with all anime, the personality traits of each character are slightly exaggerated, but not enough to make them caricatures. Our characters may fall from the sky, but they are infinitely more realistically rendered than the majority of fluffy animals that walk on and off our screens. Throughout, we are given the impression that our characters have pasts, and real lives that go on outside of the frame, and it is impossible not to become utterly enthralled with each character.

Occasionally, a movie of this kind may be somewhat let down by the quality of its dubbing. That is not the case here as the dubbing remains faultless; the transcribing of English voices over expressions meant to represent Japanese language is seamless and there exist no moments throughout which throw us off, or which don’t entirely fit the character. James Van Der Beek rows his way out of the creek and into our hearts as Pazu, whilst Sheeta is beautifully voiced by Anna Paquin, who manages to add a level of whimsy to the voice of our heroine, making it difficult to believe that she could have come from anywhere other than the sky.

Laputa Castle in the Sky is a must-see, not only for anime fans, but for movie-lovers everywhere, it is a childhood fantasy to behold and is one of few movies which will hold you in its grasp and make you lament the lost of this new world when the disc stops spinning. It would seem impossible that this movie could be any more engrossing, but this new Blu-ray release has proved me wrong, making everything brighter, and somehow more magical than it was before. This is one that demands an immediate add to everyone’s wish list.

Ciara O’Brien

Laputa: Castle in the Sky is released on Blu-ray on 9th May 2011

Special Features include:

  • Storyboards
  • Promotional Video
  • Behind the Microphone
  • Behind the Studio: The World of Laputa; Creating Castle in the Sky; Character Sketches; Producer’s Perspective: Meeting Miyazaki
  • Textless Opening and Ending Credits
  • TV Spots
  • Original Japanese Theatrical Trailers
  • Studio Ghibli Collection Trailers

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fuKh-IeRfpI[/youtube]

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DVD: Barbarossa- Siege Lord

barbarossa-rutger-hauer

DIR: Renzo Martinelli • WRI: Renzo Martinelli, Giorgio Schottler, Anna Samueli • PRO: Renzo Martinelli • DOP: Fabio Cianchetti • ED: Osvaldo Bargero • DES: Rossella Guarna • CAST: Rutger Hauer, Raz Degan, F. Murray Abraham

Barbarossa- Siege Lord seemed to be an excitingly epic film to review, that was before placing the DVD into the player. The story follows Emperor Barbarossa who is challenged in his desire to build his empire by a ‘company of death’ from Milan.

Barbarossa sees the use of some excellent cinematography ultimately let down by the bizarre need to dub. The dubbing here is some of the shoddiest that I have come across, and fails to even offer the comic value that can sometimes be gained from bad dubbing. Why the creators felt the need to badly dub a film about Italian patriots I’ll never know. But that decision is one which will send this film spiralling into the pit of movie oblivion, perhaps if it had been subtitled, it might garner less confused looks from its audience.

Rutger Hauer seems to be drowning under the weight of his character Barbarossa. Whilst some of our cast members put up a brave fight, it is obvious early on that they are fighting a losing battle. It becomes increasingly hard to relate to the characters as the story progresses as the audience’s loyalty is never truly given to anyone. Our sympathies lie as much with the Milanese as with Barbarossa, as do our irritations. It seems a little odd that a film entitled Barbarossa should focus so heavily and ultimately fail to give its audience any reason to get behind him. Only his queen Beatrix remains unmoved by any character but her husband.

This is a film which is massive in scope as it attempts to cover vast landscapes and timeframes. Therein lies its downfall. By attempting to cover everything, the little details of character and story are lost which could have taken this from oddity to entertainment. It is a story that could have been told well if it had been done correctly, one that could have drawn the audience inside its world and had us gasp as the tension builds. Unfortunately, as it is now, it is more a film which has been done well, and better, countless times before.
The battle scenes are the finest parts as they are cinematic and vast in scope, but it’s often the sign of a poor storyline when we find ourselves wondering when the next fight will be. At times we may forget that we are not in fact watching Braveheart. As the cries for freedom ring out, we’re almost waiting for Mel Gibson to pop out, if only to see what he’ll do. As much as I wanted there to be a wonderful film hidden beneath layers of bad dubbing, it unfortunately left me joining in with the cries for freedom.

It’s a shame that this film missed the mark by such a large degree for such simple reasons. If the story and characterisation were just tightened slightly, we may find ourselves able to relate, but as it stands, it’s not a movie which will keep you on the edge of your seat, in fact, you’ll probably have wandered off like the story itself.

Which reminds me, did I leave the oven on?

Ciara O’Brien

Barbarossa: Siege Lord is released on DVD on 4th April 2011

  • Format: PAL
  • Region: Region 2
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 15
  • Studio: Metrodome Distribution
  • DVD Release Date: 4th April 2011
  • Run Time: 123 minutes

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lD8Q1-9Z0lQ[/youtube]

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DVD:Colony

The beauty of a documentary is it can draw you into a world of niches and esoteric interests and give you background for a conversation piece at the next diatribe on problems facing the world you should happen up.

Colony has at its disposal, a great keystone of nature to hinge its story on (that honey bees are responsible for the pollination of huge tracts of agricultural crops world-wide) which could whet any inquisitive persons appetite. Add to this that millions of bees are unexpectedly dying without reason or known cause and you have an unquestionable launching pad for a documentary. However, from the off this documentary struggles to offer a coherent and complete account. Firstly, the dynamics of the role played by bees and the industry that has grown from this (bee keepers effectively farm and sell boxes of bees to pollinate crops as part of a seasonal cycle of production) is not explained very well. Twenty minutes in, the documentary has laid out its stall – populations of bees dying, no explanation – and seems unsure how to progress the story. More time should have been taken to introduce us to the world of bee keeping and its role in the propagation of crops. The audience knows populations of bees are being decimated, we can see that bee keepers are up in arms, but the viewer is left uncertain as to why we should care.

The failure to fully portray the magnitude of the implications of this colony collapse is the documentary’s main flaw. This is perhaps not entirely of the filmmakers own doing; admittedly, in portraying the collapse of honey bee colonies, the documentary must attempt to construct a full, satisfying tale to which there is ultimately no end point as yet. However, had the documentary hit us with the serious potential effects of the collapse – barren fields, empty produce sections in supermarkets – or even ventured into all the ways that the output of pollination and tillage form part of our days, this could have been a hard-hitting piece of work. Instead, there is minimal, brief mention of these impacts and they are saved for the final few moments of running time.

The film fills its time by flitting from the perspective of a family of beekeepers, to the ramshackle lobbying response of representatives of the bee keeping industry and various talking heads pondering the causes and likely outcomes of the collapse. It by and large lets us infer our own scenarios. The predicament faced by the family at the heart of the story forms the most interesting tenet of the documentary. Whatever questions the documentary leaves unanswered it clearly puts this family in the firing line of events they cannot control and seem unprepared for. We, the objective viewer, can see the wood from the trees in a way they cannot, and fear for the short-term view they seem to take. They are dependent on an income from farming bees; the economy is crashing down around them and they are playing hardball when realistically they have very little of an upper hand. In the first year of a wider economic slump and also with the bee keeping industry hit by an unexplained crisis, the family seem naive and inexperienced in managing a business, so that you wonder what might have befallen them in the time since the documentary was made. Herein lies the story of this documentary and where it succeeds, even though much may not be spelt out on screen. The scenes showing the tensions between the family members, particularly the matriarch of the house and eldest son, and the sons attempting to negotiate contracts with producers draw you in. It does not bode well, it is the best insight into how livelihoods and industry could unfurl in light of these events.

Ultimately, this documentary does a far more able job capturing a snap shot of a family than it does creating urgency about the colony destruction or offer a piece of investigative film that would keep you drawn in. Colony tells a large story and a small story, one of an ecological phenomenon, and then captures the story of the people caught up in its ramifications. It should be prime feeding ground for facts and new perspectives, knowledge of the world of production for us consumers and give us material to observe and analyse, whether it be the moments caught by the camera unexpectedly or observances of human frailty. Colony succeeds in some aspects of this, but it feels like it is missing a third act or maybe even a follow up to answer our questions but also to show the documentary makers can pursue a query and construct a more satisfying answer.

William O’Keeffe

# Format: Colour, DVD-Video, NTSC
# Language English
# Region: Region 1
# Aspect Ratio: 4:3 – 1.33:1
# Number of discs: 1
# Classification: NR (Not Rated) (US MPAA rating. See details.)
# Studio: New Video Group
# DVD Release Date: 29 Mar 2011
# Run Time: 88 minutes

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DVD Review: Savage

savage

DIR/WRI: Brendan Muldowney • PRO: Conor Barry, Alan Maher • DOP: Tom Comerford, Michael O’Donovan • ED: Mairead McIvor • DES: Padraig O’Neill • CAST: Darren Healy, Nora-Jane Noone

In this impressive debut feature from filmmaker Brendan Muldowney, Darren Healy plays Paul Graynor, a nervy, loner photographer who becomes the victim of a terrible assault while walking home to his flat in central Dublin one night. From thereon in we witness a vulnerable victim transformed into a desperate man on an unfocused mission of revenge. His distorted, unbridled rage is fuelled by a mix of testosterone stimulants and an uncoiling desperation that bursts forth from the film’s guts. Michelle, played by Nora-Jane Noone, becomes Paul’s only tenuous link to the world of normality.

Savage is skilfully photographed and shot in bleeding hues of blue. The night scenes are pregnant with peril and imbue the urban landscape with a growing sense of claustrophobic foreboding that carves its way through the film and into Paul’s state of mind.

The visuals are matched throughout by a cacophonous soundscape that infects the film with a growing sense of violent anxiety. The use of threatening low tones and visceral sound-effects puncture Stephen McKeon’s music score, attacking the viewer’s senses and inflicting a palpable sense of unsettling menace that builds up to the knock-out punch of the film’s climax.

With Savage, Brendan Muldowney has fashioned a story that skilfully draws upon its obvious influences and in Healy boasts a compelling central performance of intense, swelling dislocation. Muldowney is a serious filmmaker and deserves all the plaudits Savage is bound to bring him.

Special Features include an audio commentary by director Brendan Muldowney; Q&A with Brendan Muldowney; and cast auditions.

Steven Galvin

Savage is released on DVD on 14th March 2011

  • Format: Colour, PAL
  • Region: Region 2
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 18
  • Studio: High Fliers
  • DVD Release Date: 14 Mar 2011
  • Run Time: 84 minutes

 

 

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DVD: All Good Children

All Good Children

DIR/WRI: Alicia Duffy • PRO: Jonathan Cavendish, Tom Dercourt, Sophie Erbs, Ed Guiney, Andrew Lowe, Patrick Quinet, Tora Young • DOP: Nanu Segal • ED: Nicolas Chaudeurge • DES: Igor Gabriel • CAST: David Brazil, Kate Duchêne, Martin Firket, Jack Gleeson, David Wilmot

Following the critical acclaim of her short films, All Good Children is writer/director Alicia Duffy’s first feature-length film and was included in the Directors’ Fortnight at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. Inspired by Sam Taylor’s The Republic of Trees, the story opens on two young Irish brothers who, following the suicide of their mother, are relocated to rural France to stay with their aunt. The younger of the two boys, Dara (Jack Gleeson), strikes up a friendship with the daughter of a local English family, Bella (Imogen Jones). While the two are initially inseparable, when Bella begins to distance herself from an increasingly intense Dara he isn’t ready to let her go.

Told from Dara’s perspective, All Good Children is the account of a boy’s attempts to understand and deal with the sudden loss of his mother. The lack of an adult role model is all too evident as Dara’s grip on reality becomes increasingly unstable with Gleeson mesmerising in his portrayal of the vulnerable and desperate protagonist. Dialogue is left to a minimum and ultimately unnecessary as Dara’s emotions are written all over his face through nervous smiles, twitches and fought back tears.

Duffy expertly steers the story utilising the camera and score as much as her actors to convey the complex and oft dark emotions which the children are unable to express orally. All Good Children is a haunting story which will stay with you long after the credits roll on its unindulgent eighty minutes.

The DVD’s special features include cast interviews and behind-the-scenes footage.

Peter White

All Good Children is released on DVD on 11th March 2011


* Format: Colour, PAL
* Region: Region 2
* Number of discs: 1
* Classification: 15
* Studio: Element Pictures
* DVD Release Date: 11 Mar 2011
* Run Time: 81 minutes

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DVD: 71 – Into the Fire

71 – Into the Fire

DIR: John H. Lee • WRI: Man-Hee Lee • PRO: Myoung-gy Choi, Jong-hyun Kim • DOP: Chan-min Choi • ED: Steve M. Choe, Changju Kim • DES: Ki-ho Choi • CAST: Seung-won Cha, Sang-woo Kwone, Seung-hyeon Choi

Spielberg may have set the bar for hyper-realism in battle sequence with Saving Private Ryan, but the very welcome offshoot of this is that every war-movie made since fights to stand alongside it. 71 – Into the Fire is no exception, and the pure bloodiness of its battle sequences are matched only by a dedication to character development and audience identification. At no point in its not inconsiderable running time (116 mins) does 71 separate the audience from the material onscreen – we are stuck with these soldiers, barricaded into a lonely outpost, defending a token structure.

The story of 71… is based on true events occurring during the North-South Korean conflict in August 1950. Southern forces (backed by the US) are forced to pull back in the face of a Northern onslaught (supported by Russia) to defend strategic posts, leaving the isolated girl’s middle school at Pohang defended by 71 student soldiers, many of whom have never shot a single bullet. Heading up the students, appointed by the gung-ho Captain Kang (Kim Seung-woo), is the strongly silent Oh Jang-beom, played by Korean superstar rapper, Choi Seung-hyon. Immediately running up against gangster bad-boy Koo Gap-jo (Kwon Sang-woo), the students begin in-fighting and disorganisation from the moment the ‘adults’ retreat. However, within hours of their appointment, it becomes clear that North Korean troops are massing close to their outpost, intent on ending the war before 15th August. The man with this somewhat arrogant plan is Commander Park Moo-rang (Cha Seung-won), who swaggers in front of his Northern troops gazing scornfully at the rag-tag bunch of youngsters left to defend what could be a critical point in the war.

Director (and co-scripter) John H. Lee took some liberties and creative licence, but there is no doubt that the true story of 71 students holding off a wave of Northern soldiers is a compelling one. Relationships besides the rivalry of the two main boys are a little scattered, due to the amount of characters marched across screen, and an early ‘cute nurse’ is blink-and-you-miss-her romance-relief. The Home Alone-style defence of the student soldiers is a little farcical, but their final battle is nothing but heart-wrenching and the beautifully-shot combat scenes make ample use of the rumoured $10 million budget.

Director Lee has been making some moves to Hollywood in recent years, and this film reads somewhat like an all-American CV – proving his capabilities with heart, story and action. However, despite some petty quibbles, 71 does everything a war movie should do: accurately relives the conflict, shows the bloodiness of battle, and, in the end, the futility and desolation of war.

Sarah Griffin

71 – Into the Fire is available on DVD from 14th March 2011

Technical Specs:

  • Format: Anamorphic, Colour, PAL, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 2
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 15
  • Studio: Cine-Asia
  • DVD Release Date: 14th March 2011
  • Run Time: 116 minutes

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HebGUrUqnEs[/youtube]


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DVD: Brighton Rock

Brighton Rock

The special edition release of the Boulting Brothers’ adaptation of Graham Greene’s gritty British noir follows hot on the heels of Rowan Joffe’s recent outing, where the seaside action was transposed to the 1960s. However, this original version remains almost faithful to Greene’s eponymous novel: Greene himself was one of thye scriptwriters on this and he famously changed the ending from that of his novel (I won’t spoil it either here).

The plot follows Pinkie, a 17-year-ols hoodlum, who’s hoping to make the transition from the small to the medium time. A witness to a crime has to be dosposed of, which leads to another witness, a young waitress named Rose, Pinkie silences by marrying.

Greene himself was a renowned convert to Catholicism and the iconography of that faith runs strongly throughout the film, contrasting against the busy gaiety of the holidaymakers and the dank slums where Pimkie and his friends live.

There are memorable performances in this fine DVD edition of the film, most notably from Richard Attenborough as the menacingly deadpan Pinkie and Carol Marsh as the beatific Rose. The setting outshines its players, however, where the poverty and the casual violence of 1940s Brighton is juxtaposed against the jolly optimism of deckchair day trippers determined to put the deprivations of the war behind them.

This edition looks amazing and does brings tremendous picture quality to this classic. This new restored digital transfer of the film includes the  following extra extras:

* Interview with Rowan Joffe;

* 1954 NFT interview with Richard Attenborough and John Bouting.

Claire Coughlan

Brighton Rock  (special edition) is released on DVD on 28th February 2011

# Format: Black & White, Full Screen, PAL
# Language English
# Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
# Aspect Ratio: 4:3 – 1.33:1
# Number of discs: 1
# Classification: PG
# Studio: Optimum Home Entertainment
# DVD Release Date: 28 Feb 2011
# Run Time: 89 minutes

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DVD: The Long Hot Summer

The Long Hot Summer

Dir: Martin Ritt Wri: Irving Ravetch Pro: Jerry Wald DOP: Joseph LaShelle Ed: Louis Loeffler Cast: Paul Newman, Orson Welles, Joanne Woodward, Lee Remick, Angela Lansbury

In the tradition of Tennessee Williams comes this 1959 sweaty, dusty adaptation of a trio of William Faulkner stories, merged to create one twisting, family melodrama. Perhaps the three-story fusion is why the film feel disjointed at times but it is certainly still an enjoyable story.

Ben Quick (Newman) is a drifter and a farmhand who was chased out of the last town after he was accused of burning down a barn. He arrives in the town of Frenchman’s Bend and is picked up on arrival by two beautiful women who give him a lift to town. Eula (a radiant, sensual Lee Remick) is a flirty and friendly airhead and Clara (Woodward) is a beautiful but uptight schoolteacher. As it turns out they are the daughter and daughter-in-law of the town’s most prominent businessman, Will Varner (Welles). As Ben becomes embroiled in the Varner family their deep histories become his business and he becomes friend and enemy in equal measure.

The focus of this story is hard to pinpoint. It is a bromance between Will and Ben, a romance between Ben and Clara and a father-son battle between Will and his underachieving son Jody. The character of Ben is multi-faceted and develops throughout and so it becomes something of a character study as it progresses. Orson Welles is a joy to behold, if barely recognisable here with his high-pitched southern drawl which couldn’t be more different to his usual deep, smooth, thespian speech. He is a powerhouse and lights up the screen every time he appears.

Joanne Woodward plays a difficult part well here as an unconventional female lead. She has a lot to deal with as her family is disintegrating and she is coming to terms with the fact that her would be suitor is in fact a homosexual (or ‘mother’s boy’, which I believe was 50’s lingo for homosexual) who is not interested in marriage or a sexual relationship. She is falling for Ben but feels the need to resist him as he is, as she sees it, ‘bad news’. As their relationship deepens, as does Ben friendship with Will, which is threatening to Jody, with potentially fatal results.

This is perhaps a guilty pleasure melodrama, enjoyable but ultimately shallow. It is a deeply flawed film but sexy and beautiful to behold. In comparison to the melodramas of Douglas Sirk, its closest relative, it lacks the deep feeling of recognition and kinship that Sirk’s films brought out in audiences. It is worth a look for the superb cast, the beautiful setting and the tantalising, if ultimately unfulfilling story.

Charlene Lydon

The Long Hot Summer id s released on DVD on 31st January, 2011

# Format: Colour, PAL
# Language English
# Region: Region 2
# Number of discs: 1
# Classification: PG
# Studio: Optimum Home Entertainment
# DVD Release Date: 31st Jan 2011
# Run Time: 112 minutes

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7qQb6gAnfJE[/youtube]

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DVD: Cré Na Cille

crenacilledvd

DIR: Robert Quinn • WRI: Macdara Ó Fatharta, Robert Quinn • PRO: Ciarán O’Cofaigh • DOP: Tim Fleming • ED: Conall de Cléir • DES: Dara McGee, Padraig O’Neill • Cast: Bríd Ní Neachtain, Peadar Lamb, Máire Ní Mháille

I definitely wouldn’t say that I am fluent in the Irish language; in fact, I have been known to add words like ‘bainne’, ‘capal’ and ‘madra’ together to create some manner of unwelcome hybrid. When reviewing Cré Na Cille, I realised that there may be a little Leaving Cert Ciara inside of me, who wishes she had listened more. So reviewing Cré Na Cille was to be my first steps back into the language, albeit with subtitles.

Cré Na Cille translates as Graveyard Clay, which gives you as much insight into the film as a title can. The film is an adaptation of the beloved book by Mairtin O’Cadhain, which is widely considered to be one of the best Irish language books ever written. Much of the action takes place under ground in the graveyard clay of the title. The story synopsis almost reads like a horror movie; a jealous fury between two sisters in their youth, is carried into the grave where it festers and burns away at our questionable heroine, but what comes as a refreshing change, is the humour that is infused throughout and, regardless of language, this film has taught me some of the most hilarious insults that I have ever heard. If you’re not sure whether or not this film is for you, bear that in mind.

As our heroine Catriona Phaidin rests with no peace, she awaits news from the world above, and harasses the newly dead at every turn. These underground scenes are even more effective than those above ground at portraying Irish life. As Catriona continues to gossip, the urge to keep her quiet is palpable. Some of the greatest scenes here are, rather morbidly, of death. As her neighbours begin to drop like flies, they die in increasingly humorous ways, and it’s difficult not to have a little chuckle.

Director Robert Quinn bases his film in the Connemara of its origin and sought to employ primarily Connemara people. This adds a certain level of authenticity to the film, and makes the language all the more fluid and delicate to the ear. Visually, it is a well composed piece. The sections which take part underground are set up in an interesting departure from the original tale. Rather than attempting to place characters in their coffins in a restrictive way, Quinn gives each character their own specific ‘grave’ from which they can wander. The montage that occurs each time a character dies becomes slightly tiresome, considering the frequency, it would have been nice to have something slightly more visually interesting happen here.

This is a film in which humour is the driving force as the dead don’t seek furious revenge, but gossip. A rarity in adaptations as it certainly does justice to a much-beloved book. Cré Na Cille may just serve its purpose of making the story more accessible and enjoyable to a younger demographic.

Ciara O’Brien

Cré Na Cille is available on DVD from 27th November 2010

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hHA6rAXudZ8[/youtube]

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DVD: Eamon

Eamon

DIR/WRI: Margaret Corkery • PRO: Seamus Byrne • DOP: David Grennan • ED: Mairead McIvor • DES: Mairead McIvor • CAST: Amy Kirwan, Darren Healy, Robert Donnelly

Eamon is a product of the Catalyst Project – a scheme offering new filmmakers creative control and a budget of €275,000. Its director, Cork-born Margaret Corkery, has made the most of her low budget and fashioned a black comic tale of familial dysfunction.

6-year-old Eamon (Robert Donnelly) is taken to Wicklow on holiday by his self-seeking mother, Grace (Amy Kirwan), and feckless father, Daniel (Darren Healy). Cherub-faced Eamon is a maladjusted Irish comic version of Damien in The Omen; however, the most havoc he wreaks is in on his father – compounding his sexual frustration by being the apple of his mother’s eye (when her eye is not seeking out muscle-bound beach bathers), relegating ‘daddy’ to late night acts of onanistic fiddling.

Corkery demonstrates a skilful control of both form and subject matter, as the film’s character-driven narrative explores Oedipal issues and sexual tension. The scenes are skilfully crafted and well performed as the family’s dysfunction spirals out of control. Employing carefully studied cinematography and precise dialogue, Eamon is a well-formed film that many will find a rewarding experience. And it reminds us all how lucky we were to survive those ‘summer’ holidays with our families packed away and come out at the end of them intact and somewhat sane…

Steven Galvin

Eamon is available on DVD from 19th November.

Technical Specs

Runtime: Ireland: 86 min
Sound Mix: Dolby
Color: Color
Aspect Ratio: 1.85 : 1

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DVD: Little Big Soldier

littlebigsoldier

DIR: Sheng Ding • WRI: Jackie Chan • PRO: Jackie Chan, Solon So • CAST: Jackie Chan, Rongguang Yu

If you sit down to Little Big Soldier expecting to be thrilled by 90 minutes of Jackie leapfrogging around set pieces, delivering athletic beat-downs and falling off stuff in spectacular fashion, you’re going to be sorely disappointed. This 2010 film is very light in the action stakes, and considering 95% of Jackie’s career has been built around filming action, your disillusionment is understandable.I allot you 30 seconds to deal with it.

Consider instead that 95% of Jackie’s career has also been built about his peerless physical comedy and you’ll get a feeling for Little Big Soldier. Going against the grain, this is a buddy comedy/adventure film about a tired old foot-soldier who finds himself in possession of an enemy commander. Little Big Soldier chronicles his attempts to transport the young general back to his homeland where he’ll be rewarded with goats or sheep or something. As you’re no longer expecting 8-minute fight scenes, you’ll discover the dynamic of Little Big Soldier works better than most films of its genre.

There are minor yet creative fights, imaginative stunts, a well constructed narrative and best of all, a believable, entertaining chemistry between Jackie Chan and Leehom Wang. There’s a common misconception that Jackie cannot act, relying solely on his physicality to compel viewers. Such opinions are ignorant of the fact the man has been acting for over 40 years, and it’s nice to see a film that allows him to showcase his range.

Along with his writing, Jackie’s performance is funny, sensitive and powerfully stirring and coupled with the keen pace and enthusiasm, despite yourself you may find yourself moved by the Little Big Soldier’s conclusion. It’s not perfect: some of the jokes miss their mark, the absence of premier action is noticeable, it concludes a bit too quickly and there is absolutely no room for a sequel. But said complaints are more along the lines of ‘I want more!’ than ‘That were terrible!’

If you adored Jackie’s foray into lighter, more subdued adventure, then the DVD offers a lengthy behind the scenes set in China’s astounding Yunnan province. Similarly there’s an extensive interview gallery featuring the stars, the director, the writers, the goats, the sheep…

It’s easy to come down hard on Little Big Soldier for not being all it could have been, but that attitude is akin to coming down hard on a 56-year-old man who wants to share the lime light, take a different route and, for once, focus on something other than getting beat up.

It’s a sweet tale. It’s good fun. Don’t be a hater!

Jack McGlynn

Format: Dolby, PAL, Widescreen
Region: Region 2 Number of discs: 2
Classification: 15
Studio: Showbox Media Group
DVD Release Date: 8th Nov 2010

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DVD: His & Hers

His & Hers

DIR: Ken Wardrop • PRO: Andrew Freedman • DOP: Kate McCullough, Michael Lavelle • ED: Ken Wardrop

Ken Wardrop’s captivating documentary is simple in its premise, meticulous in its construction and joyous in its effect. His & Hers is a tribute to the director’s mother, ingeniously crafted through a series of 70 interviews with different female subjects, each relaying their own particular circumstances with regard to the men in their lives. It traces a chronological tale that is, at once, both a personal and universal love story.

Wardrop frames his subjects in simple portrait shots taken in their domestic spaces and films them entering and exiting the frame in a natural way that maintains a smooth transition between interviews and allows the various individual vignettes to succeed as one coherent narrative.

As the final few interviews focus on the latter stages of life, we hear tales of the absent men as the women reflect on the husbands that have passed on. There are some heart-wrenching moments, heightened by Denis Clohessy’s subtle score, which bring proceedings to an emotional climax, richly intensified by the film’s haunting final image.

Every now and again a film comes along that sweeps you off your feet and restores your faith. Hers & Hers does just that. It is, ultimately, an elegant piece of articulate filmmaking.

Steven Galvin

His & Hers is available on DVD from 15th October.

Extra DVD Features include:  Director’s Commentary. Short Film The Herd. Trailer.

* Feature Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 Dolby Digital Stereo
* Language: English
* Region: PAL Region 2
* Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
* Number of discs: 1
* Classification: G
* Colour: DVD 9 Dual layer format
* Running Time: Approx. 80 minutes

Click here for Film Ireland‘s podcast featuring documentary filmmaker Anna Rodgers of Crossing the Line films talking to director Ken Wardrop and producer Andrew Freedman of Venom Films.

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We Love… Boxsets

TV Drama

Illustration by Adeline Pericart

Long gone are the days when you used to rush home from the circus to watch Dempsey & Makepeace on a Thursday night at 8 o’clock on television. Nowadays rather than follow weekly installments on the box, most of us indulge ourselves with lavish boxsets that we can watch whenever we choose even if that means an all-night, whole season feast of vampires, mobsters, meth-dealers or serial killers. In conjunction with the recent article ‘BIG DRAMA little screen’  in Film Ireland‘s Autumn issue, Steven Galvin gave up his sleep-filled nights and was couchridden under a crisp-strewn duvet in order to take a look at what’s out there in the boxset-land of TV drama. Here he takes a look at 3 contemporary dramas (Mad Men, Dexter, and Breaking Bad), 3 classic dramas (Twin Peaks, The Sopranos, and The Wire) and 3 dramas that you may have missed (The Prisoner, The Singing Detective, and Deadwood).

CONTEMPORARY:

Mad Men – Season I

‘I hate to break it to you but there is no big lie, there is no system. The universe is indifferent’

Oozing style, capturing a moment of social American history on the cusp of change and populated by characters of dubious values, Mad Men is the stylish soap opera that lives off the lives it seeks to exploit. It is a world of superficial beauty, of vacuous dialogue, of empty vessels and guff that perfectly captures the depressing reality of an advertising industry populated by characters as hollow as the products they sell. Its unflinching realism refuses to renegotiate the past in terms of the present and in doing so exposes a world of undesirable creatures wallowing in their own self-congratulatory existence. What’s not to love? Its snail-like pace unfolds with a subtle and skilful dramatic plot seducing the viewer into its luscious narrative that is lit from all angles with exquisite production design and bang-on attention to detail. Has there ever been anything on television so fascinatingly ugly that looks so beautiful?

Dexter – Season I

‘I’ve lived in darkness a long time. Over the years my eyes adjusted, until the dark became my world and I could see’

Despite being a bit of a one-trick pony, Dexter is a delicious slice of depraved humour. Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall) is the charming sociopathic serial killer with a conscience, who works for forensics for the Miami Metro Police Department while also expertly disposing of the ‘scum’ that society has failed to punish – he kills killers. The series has no qualms fetishising violence and its many gruesome scenes are lovingly shot with cameras lingering over blood-splattered canvases. The deep red blood of the visual is always matched by the black humour of the dialogue, which energises each episode with a verve and style that drives things forward at a rapid pace. The tightly scripted episodes develop well over the first season as the overarching narrative develops into an intriguing story that brings the moral ambiguity at the heart of the series to an intriguing culmination.

Breaking Bad – Season 1

‘Fulminated mercury. A little tweak of chemistry’

Breaking Bad is a blow to the guts of television drama. What begins as a dark comedy unfolds and reveals itself as tragic drama. It follows the descent of a run-of-the-mill Joe Soap into the murky world of crime and drugs. Walter White (Bryan Cranston) is a middle-aged chemistry teacher who, after learning he has terminal cancer, hooks up with former student Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) who’s now a low-level drug dealer. White uses his chemistry skills to make the purest form of crystal meth there is in an effort to make money for his family and pay for his treatment. There are some heart-breaking scenes throughout the series as both Walter and Jesse struggle with what they have become and how it has affected their relationships with those that care about them. Often cinematic in scope, Breaking Bad is never less than riveting stuff. With its pitch-perfect central performance, tightly woven narrative strands and fervent imaginative storyline,  Breaking Bad is an unpredictable, edgy series and of all the current dramas it’ll be the most fascinating to see where it goes.

CLASSIC:

Twin Peaks

‘Damn fine coffee! And hot!’

David Lynch’s foray into television was like walking down the yellow brick road of a Brothers’ Grimm story accompanied by angels & demons. It’s difficult to comprehend now what a breakthrough Twin Peaks was in popular television. It reinvented American TV drama and encouraged, even demanded, that from then on such stuff could do much more than provide an hour’s diverting entertainment. Lynch’s camera brought a cinematic style to television screens and the lush colours and production design were matched by Angelo Badalamenti’s seductive score that sweeps majestically through the series. Twin Peaks delved deep into the undergrowth of the America of white-picket fences, revealing Lynch’s obsession with the opposites at work in life – the ugliness behind the beauty; the dark behind the light; the tears behind the joy; and the evil behind the good. All of this was exquisitely wrapped in an offbeat surreal sense of humour that was proud to be ‘odd’. It is still a marvel to behold as well as still being essential viewing, having influenced so much of what came after it. It might be a while before we see the likes of it again.

The Sopranos

‘A wrong decision is better than indecision’

Taking the brutality and humour of Goodfellas and the drama and scope of The Godfather, David Chase’s excellently written television series The Sopranos is a remarkable achievement. It is based around the life of Tony Soprano, a New Jersey mafia captain, who starts to attend therapy after suffering panic attacks. The series explores his troubled relationship with the two families in his life – his own and the mob. The show is an extraordinary concoction of violence and humour that springs from the richly energetic writing and excellent performances. The cast of mobsters and extended families are a wonderfully imagined array of morally ambiguous characters, each of whom in their own way struggle to reconcile their public and private personas, which of course is doomed to tragic failure. Tony Soprano is a classic tragic hero dealing with ‘blind fate’. The plot constantly functions as a test through which he must work out his destiny, but ultimately he undergoes a tragic ‘fall’ that transpires through events which his own actions has set in motion – actions stemming from his own flaws and inability to reconcile his private and public roles. The Sopranos is a lethal hit. And, to quote the series once more, ‘A hit is a hit’.

The Wire

‘All in the game yo, all in the game’

The Wire is superior storytelling that intelligently and honestly explores its socio-political landscape with a fine-tooth comb and populates its world with an array of fascinating and complex characters. Each series is a thoroughly rewarding dramatic experience and is organised around a central theme: season I – the illegal drug trade; season II – the port system; season III – the city government and bureaucracy; season IV – the school system; and season V – the print news media. Its structure resembles that of a novel in that each episode resembles a chapter and makes sense as a whole, achieving an organic unity through its perfect management of plot and composition of episodes that richly fulfil its ambitious dramatic objectives. The show’s realistic portrayal of Baltimore scales lofty heights exposing the structures of power at play in everyday life and is never afraid to take a close look at the maggots it finds under the stones it turns over. With its gritty realism and refusal to offer pithy resolutions The Wire proudly charts, in the words of its creator, ‘the death of America’. A must-see experience.

ONES YOU MAY HAVE MISSED:

The Prisoner

‘I will not make any deals with you. I’ve resigned. I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered. My life is my own. I resign’

Right from its terrific opening sequence, you know The Prisoner isn’t your average television drama. Made in the late ’60s, the series follows ‘Number Six’ (Patrick McGoohan), who, after resigning his job as a secret agent, is captured from his home and mysteriously finds himself trapped on an island known as ‘The Village’ populated by unquestioning inhabitants going about their lives as numbers under the watchful gaze of the island’s Orwellian type authorities. Charting Six’s efforts to escape, the series takes on the structure of a puzzle, but one that raises more questions than it answers; cleverly leaving itself open to a myriad of interpretations ranging from the social to the individual and its intriguing use of symbols feeds into the show’s allegorical readings. Its air of mystery is intensified by the often surreal atmosphere that infuses episodes and the sharp dialogue, beautifully designed sets, intense performances and swinging ’60s soundtrack ensure its addictive watchability. The Prisoner is truly a bold, original and inventive piece of television.

The Singing Detective

‘Can I go back to the ward now? I lead an exciting and vibrant life there’

Dennis Potter’s 1986  Tv show is a masterpiece of dramatic writing. It tells the tale of the physical and mental decay of a writer of detective fiction, who suffers from psoriatic arthropathy (a severe form of inflammatory arthritis) and is bedridden in a hospital. He fantasises his latest novel in an effort to deal with his illness, while at the same time dealing with his traumatic childhood memories. The Singing Detective has a skilfully crafted, multi-temporal narrative that constantly shifts between three layers: A burns victim hospital bed in the 1980s (reality); a childhood traumatic incident in London in the 1930s (memory); and a film-noir detective in the 1940s (fantasy). With a wonderful central performance by Michael Gambon underpinned by Potter’s brilliant, literary writing and mastery of form, The Singing Detective is a towering achievement in television drama.

Deadwood

‘The world ends when you’re dead. Until then, you got more punishment in store. Stand it like a man and give some back’

Deadwood, South Dakota is a grubby hell-like illegal settlement in the 1870s in a wild West truly wild, populated by every manner of oddball, misfit and bandit, all out to fill their pockets after a huge gold strike. The series traces how a civilisation is formed evolving from the vacuum of chaos into a structured organisation. Playing with fact and fiction, the series introduces historical figures into the narrative and sets up its own narrative world – a world of law searching for order. Written by Ian Milch, Deadwood is a rich tapestry of tension and rivalry that exists to torment the building of a community. Its multi-layered themes are expertly juggled. Often brutal, the series is blessed with fearless writing and boasts an outstanding ensemble cast. The sharp dialogue provides some sparkling moments and bullets of wicked humour, and in Ian McShane’s Al Swearengen has provided television with one of its most memorable monsters. Deadwood is a compelling piece of drama that often feels like a foul-mouthed Shakespeare drinking whisky while writing a Western.

Steven Galvin

Read Film Ireland‘s recent article ‘BIG DRAMA – little screen’, in which Amanda Spencer talks to directors Dearbhla Walsh, Daniel O’Hara, Ciaran Donnelly, and Robert Quinn and sees who’s taking sides in TV versus film.

Check out these DVDs and more on www.towerrecords.ie

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DVD: Ondine

Ondine

DIR/WRI: Neil Jordan • PRO: Ben Browning, James Flynn, Neil Jordan • DOP: Christopher Doyle • ED: Tony Lawson • DES: Anna Rackard • CAST: Colin Farrell, Alicja Bachleda, Stephen Rea, Dervla Kirwan, Alison Barry, Tony Curran

A beautiful, possibly preternatural young woman offers a world-weary trawler-man a new lease of life in Neil Jordan’s whimsical new feature. Working from an original screenplay – his first in well over a decade – Ondine sees the director return to themes of fantasy, myth and the power of storytelling that made early works such as The Company of Wolves and The Miracle so memorable.

The premise is a model of simplicity: has Syracuse (Colin Farrell), a West Cork fisherman on his uppers, uncovered a mermaid (Alicja Bachleda), in his fishing nets or merely a girl named Ondine who is too scared to tell the truth? Whatever the explanation, her ethereal singing seems to produce bountiful hauls of fish, enough to make Syracuse wonder if his luck is about to change.

And not a moment too soon. A recovering alcoholic, Syracuse has long been dismissed by the townsfolk as a hopeless case. The divorced father of Annie (Alison Barry), a very sick little girl who lives with her drunken mother (Dervla Kirwan) and feckless Scottish partner, his sole confidant and surrogate AA sponsor is the parish priest, played by Jordan regular Stephen Rae with his customary wit and subtlety.

Upon learning of her oceanic provenance, Annie begins to fashion a myth around Ondine, likening her to a Selkie, a sea creature in Celtic folklore capable of bestowing luck on beleaguered mortals. Who is Syracuse to disabuse her of this fanciful notion?

The film is at its strongest when Jordan foregrounds the mystical elements of his slight, yet endearing tale; the real-world tensions over Ondine’s true identity are less interesting; the contrived climax, engineered to place order upon an ambiguous narrative, is disappointingly rational.

There’s no escaping the feeling that Ondine is a minor work from Jordan, but it’s a pleasurable, mellow experience, strikingly shot by the justly feted Christopher Doyle with a nicely judged central performance from Farrell (whose Whest Kark accent is at times occasional). Best to leave one’s cynicism at the door.

David O Mahony

Ondine is available on DVD from 16th August

Extra DVD Features include: ‘Making of Ondine: Behind the Scenes’ featurette

  • Format: Anamorphic, Colour, PAL, Widescreen
  • Language English
  • Region: Region 2
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 – 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 12
  • Studio: Paramount Home Entertainment
  • Run Time: 100 minutes

Click here for Film Ireland’s interview with Neil Jordan, Colin Farrell & Alicja Bachleda

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DVD: Perrier’s Bounty

Perrier’s Bounty

DIR: Ian Fitzgibbon • WRI: Mark O’Rowe • PRO: Elizabeth Karlsen, Alan Moloney, Stephen Woolley • DOP: Seamus Deasy • ED: Tony Cranstoun • DES: Amanda McArthur • CAST: Cillian Murphy, Brendan Gleeson, Jim Broadbent, Jodie Whittaker

Perrier’s Bounty premiered at the 2009 Toronto Film Festival last September. It was written by Mark O’Rowe of Intermission fame and directed by Ian Fitzgibbon who co-wrote and directed a film called Spin The Bottle (2003) Michael (Cillian Murphy) owes mob boss Perrier (Brendan Gleeson) €1,000.

Various complications en-sue when Perrier’s henchmen try to hunt down Michael, his neighbour and friend Brenda (Jodie Whittaker) and Michael’s father Jim (Jim Broadbent).

Cillian Murphy’s performance is fine, nothing to write home about (like the film itself) Jodie Whittaker does okay, but she seems it a bit miscast. Jim Broadbent’s Irish accent keeps slipping; he should have kept his own Lincolnshire accent. Gabriel Byrne narrates as the Grim Reaper. In the middle of the film tells the audience what is ahead of the characters. One of the subjects of the film is foretelling. Which will make sense after you see it. Brendan Gleeson’s characterisation of Perrier is a bit too caricatured to be believable. There are some gags about Dublin clampers, which are amusing. There are some violent scenes through the 84-minute running time, which neatly shows the film’s elements of bland dark humour and supposedly serious moments.

After you watch this DVD, just ask yourself will I remember this in a week? Probably not, Perrier’s Bounty is forgettable, but not instantly, it’s worth one viewing, before it fizzles through your head like paper.

There are no problems with the sound and picture quality.

Extra Features:

There two six-minute interviews first with Cillian Murphy and Brendan Gleeson and second with Jim Broadbent and Jodie Whittaker. The interviews don’t have to be any longer, because you’ll only watch them once. The usual questions are asked how did you get involved in the project? Why did you choose the project? It would have been interesting to see some on the set footage.

Peter Larkin

Perrier’s Bounty is available on DVD from 16th August

Extra DVD Features include: Trailer; Interview with Cillian Murphy & Brendan Gleeson; Interview with Jim Broadbent & Jodie Whittaker

Optimium Releasing

  • Format: Anamorphic, Colour, PAL, Widescreen
  • Language English
  • Region: Region 2
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9 – 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: 15
  • Studio: Elevation Sales
  • DVD Release Date: 16 Aug 2010
  • Run Time: 84 minutes

Click here for Film Ireland’s interview with Perrier’s Bounty writer Mark O’Rowe

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DVD: Zonad

Zonad

DIR/WRI: John Carney, Kieran Carney • PRO: Mariela Ed Guiney, Andrew Lowe, John McDonnell • DOP: Peter Robinson • ED: Paul Mullen • DES: Susie Cullen • CAST: Simon Delany, Rory Keenan, David Pearse

Zonad is a zany sci-fi comedy co-written by John Carney, of Oscar®-winning Once, fame and brother Kieran. However, whilst that statement may be factually correct, expectation levels are best kept in check.

Set in the fictional Irish village of Ballymoran, Zonad tells the story of escaped alcohol rehab patient Liam Murphy (Simon Delaney) and the profound effect his otherworldliness has on this village of idiots. With his crash-landing into the sitting room of the Cassidy family coinciding with the sighting of a rare comet, this baile amadaineagh is only too happy to embrace the fanciful notion that the slovenly superhero is indeed from another planet. Not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, Murphy duly rips it up on a steady diet of Guinness and teenage girls, charming the locals and attaining local celebrity status in the process.
Notwithstanding the locals’ healthy appetite for reality suspension, small-town Ireland and its propensity for sheep-like mentality is one of several themes touched on in Zonad. This is underlined by the arrival of fellow rehab inmate Francis O’Connor (David Pearse) in the cunning guise of Bonad, and the subsequent shunning of Zonad himself. Alcohol abuse- always topical- is another theme that runs throughout, although there is little coherence in its message here.

Zonad is a daft comedy that struggles for laughs beyond the whacky plotline, while the sight of Simon Delaney cavorting in a red PVC jumpsuit will not be to everyone’s taste. Enjoy Zonad in moderation.


Shane Kennedy

Zonad is available on DVD from 28th June

82mins

Extra DVD features include: Directors’ Commentary; Outtakes; Love Songs by Zonad; Deleted Scenes; and Short Film

Element Pictures

Click here for an interview with the star of Zonad Simon Delaney

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