Monday 10 May 2010


Slacker on DVD's is a round-up of this weeks most notable releases on DVD and Blu-Ray, along with some of the less notable ones too.

More after the jump...


Set in Liverpool in the late 50's, Nowhere Boy shows us the formative years of a certain Mr John Lennon. Lennon's early life was definitely unorthodox, particularly in the 1950's, being raised by his aunt Mimi whilst his natural Mother lived (unknown to him) a stones throw away. When he finally gets to know his mother Julia, she's more like a big sister, teaching him all about music and life, acting the opposite of his buttoned-up and reserved Aunt Mimi. Whilst being pulled in opposite directions by his family, Lennon discovers his love of Rock n' Roll music, and decides to form a band.
Despite being written by Matt Greenhalgh who also brought us the Joy Division biopic Control, don't expect a story of the formation of the Beatles. Fans may feel disappointed by the lack of Beatles songs featured, but it's a better film for it. Nowhere Boy is defiantly about Lennon and his family life, and a portrait of his life as a young man. Lennon is shown as the same sarcastic arrogant man, but still a real charmer. 
Although it veers dangerously melodramatic at times, it's grounded well with some strong performances. Kristin Scott Thomas and Anne-Marie Duff are both great in their respective roles as aunt and mother, and Aaron Johnson has a cocky enough stride to be believable as Lennon. He really is put through a lot by his family life, and there's no doubt that these events would shape the man he would become. The soundtrack is honest, with Lennon aping Elvis in both fashion and swagger. As for band conflicts and what it foreshadows, the look of disgust John shoots towards Paul when he dares to try and share his limelight says it all.
From his time as a cocky school boy, John Lennon becomes a super-confident show off who finds a kindred spirit in Rock n' Roll, and you don't become one of the defining pop-culture icons of the 20th Century if you don't have the talent to back it up.


Struggling with the loss of his parents, Simon is given an assignment by his teacher to assess the impact a falsified news report can have. The web of lies Simon weaves goes too far and starts to affect his standing amongst his friends and may tarnish the memory of his deceased parents. In terms of dealing with grief and coping mechanisms, saying that your dead father was a terrorist who took your pregnant mother hostage on a plane is not going to be very affective. If anything's about to explode it's big can of worms. I feel that this film was never designed to work as a drama; more as a discussion piece about the audiences fears and prejudices of the unknown. The film itself features it's own kind of mock-trial on Skype, as all of Simon's friends chime in on a subject they are all too young to comprehend, like a coffee-shop discussion but through monitors. Seeing a young boy who doesn't know whether to romanticise his parents memory or destroy it, no teacher would ever ask a pupil to subject themselves to this scrutiny, making the film unbelievable and slightly exploitative. If you're familiar with director Atom Egoyan's other works, you may find things to like. But outside of the art-house crowd, i can't see this finding an audience.


The latest installment into the 'little kids are scary' sub-genre, this Ireland set film introduces us to Dorothy Mills, a sweet shy teenage girl who harbours many demons; maybe literally. A care worker, Jane Van Dopp (Black Book's Carice Van Houten), is assigned to Dorothy's case after a local parent accuses Dorothy of attacking his baby. Did she do it? Is she possessed or does she have multiple personality disorder? Is it revenge for something? The local religious community appears to be hiding something from Jane, and her meetings with Dorothy show a confused and innocent girl, but there is something rotten bubbling up the surface. This films marketing hopes to make a connection to the Exorcist, but more accurately owes a debt to the Wicker Man, a fairer comparison. Like Esther from Orphan, something about Dorothy seems so very 1800's, like she's walked right of the set of Village of the Damned. Her super blonde hair and lack of eyebrows makes her look slightly Hitler Youth, giving her a creepiness that they play with well. As Dorothy switches characters you never know when she might turn violent, and praise should be delivered to Jenn Murray who tackles multiple roles with some skill. This film does throw too many elements into the plot, including some supernatural, but if you stick with it, Dorothy has a satisfying conclusion.


I'll be honest; when this film starts with some Cockney geezers in a Transit Van, i thought i knew exactly what to expect. Kudos then to the filmmakers for throwing me off track because this is nothing like what i expected, but not necessarily for the better. From the writers of Sexy Beast comes this tale of Colin Diamond (perhaps the most ridiculous gangster name i've ever heard), a broken down man whose wife has just left him for a french waiter. Colin (Ray Winstone) and his friends have bundled the waiter into a van and took him to a secluded location with the intention of killing him. That may sound quite laddish, but these men are all in their 40's, 50's and 60's, they should have grown out of it by now. This film also includes lots of C-words, and i don't just mean Chests, Cockney's and Colin's.
A name like 44 Inch Chest suggests a certain amount of broad-shouldered masculinity, but this film is more about shattering that illusion and letting the lads show off their sensitive sides. Ray Winstone looks destroyed and dishevelled as his friends try to guide him through his nightmare. John Hurt is good value as Old Man Peanut, easily overshadowing the other performances. Each man takes turns to deliver a monologue about their past triumphs and failures at love, and that's where the film loses itself. This really would work better as a stage play, and doesn't have any of the same level of deconstruction of the gangster myth Sexy Beast showed.

After witnessing a murder on a New York street, the Morgan's (Sarah Jessica Parker and Hugh Grant) are placed in the witness relocation program and have to move to Wyoming. But how pray tell does the murderer recognise SJP? For some reason she's on the cover of New York magazine, despite not actually being a celebrity. Can they give up their home comforts and get on with the simple folk of Hicksville? Complete nonsense title, complete nonsense movie. Better title would have been 'Fish out of Water, Shit out of Luck'. It's hard to relate to two ungrateful yuppies who look down on all the kind people who don't have to help them, but instead choose to out of the goodness of their heart. Also, it appears that in Sarah Jessica Parker movies, if you don't have a personal assistant, you are a personal assistant. Of course, when they stop being so pitying and downright rude to the well meaning hicks, they discover a lot about themselves, blah, blah, blah. It's hard to care about a relationship when you can see the outcome from the second the movie starts, but what else would you expect from Marc Lawrence, the man responsible for writing no fewer than 3 Hugh Grant movies and 4 Sandra Bullock movies.


After fighting with his mother and arguing with his sister, 10 year old Max (Max Records) travels off into the imaginary land of the Wild Things. There he meets a group of giant beasts who'll either teach him some life lessons or tear him to shreds.
This is an oddity in that it's a kids movie that's not really for kids. Directed by Spike Jonze, the man who gave us Adaptation and Being John Malkovich, this is a lo-fi study of lost youth and recapturing a sense of fun. Within this wonderful world of earth and forestry stands one little boy in his Wolf suit, and he's most easily relatable to those of us with mid-20's malaise. The Wild Things are fantastic creatures, and each mirrors an aspect of Max's personality, from the shy Alexander (Paul Dano) to the fierce Carol (James Gandolfini). If you're a fan of American Independent cinema then this is a must see, and even though it's not really suitable for a lot of kids, this is already a children's classic.

DVD of the week? Where The Wild Things Are.

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