Monday 14 June 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...

Following the horrific murder of his daughter, Detective Tom Craven must work through her past to uncover the truth about her killing. Her ex-employers Northmoor may hold the secret, but first Craven must gain access to their exclusive facility. Mel Gibson stars as the lonely man struggling to cope with the death of his daughter, and it's good to see him back on screen. Danny Huston appears as the villainous head of the Northmoor company; that's not really a spoiler, Danny Huston is always the bad guy. Ray Winstone shows up, and although he's fun to watch, his character's motivations and actions are quite confusing.
It's too reliant on creating jump scares which, under closer scrutiny, are a bit ridiculous and cheapen the impact of the story. A remake of Martin Campbell's original 1985 BBC miniseries, I'm sure it was an interesting exercise for him to film it again on a Hollywood budget, although he doesn't really get the chance to show any of the action expertise he brought to the Bond franchise with Goldeneye and Casino Royale. A better story would have been advantageous, but this is a good reintroduction to Mel Gibson, Actor. It's a bit overlong, but not completely without merit.

Jeff Bridges stars as Bad Blake. Grizzled, 57 years old, broke. He's managed to drink his own career into obscurity, reduced to performing his country music at bowling alleys. When Blake's on form he's a talented musician, but he's ran out of reasons to play, or at least until Maggie Gyllenhaal's journalist single mother offers him a substitute family.
Colin Farrell appears as Blake's protege Tommy Sweet, and he's a younger, more successful version of Blake before the bottle took charge. He offers Blake a chance at redemption by becoming one of his songwriters, but the stubborn Blake thinks there's still life in his career yet. Tonally reminiscent of The Wrestler, I wasn't as engaged in this story as I was with Randy the Ram. Bad Blake is another damaged and broken man who's a victim of his chosen lifestyle, but the people around him support unconditionally. It's good to see Jeff Bridges have a showcase as a leading man as he makes for a very likeable world-weary lonesome traveller. And there's some stand-out musical performances from the cast that I wasn't expecting. A familiar tale anchored by an engaging, if oscar-baiting, dramatic performance.

Following his election as President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela seeks to find something that will unite the people of his country, no matter what colour their skin. After seeing how the mostly white national rugby team has fallen into disrepute among the blacks, he plans to use the underdog team as a catalyst for unity at the 1995 Rugby World Cup.
It's always difficult in sport movies to find the right balance between the 'real story' and the 'scenes of people playing said sport'. This may just be my opinion, but the films weakest scenes occur later when the focus on sport takes over from drama. They say all good sport movies aren't really about sport, but I bet no-one's ever tackled apartheid as a backdrop before. The title refers to a poem Mandela had used during his time incarcerated at Robben Island as an inspiration to carry on, and he hopes the Springboks can also find meaning within it. 
If you're looking for anyone to play a distinguished and unique presence like Nelson Mandela, you don't have to look much further than Morgan Freeman, even if he isn't a perfect fit physically. Personally, I'd have preferred to see more of Matt Damon's team captain Francois Pienaar, as it's quite an underwritten and yet pivotal role. They're both fine in their respective roles, but apart from having to navigate the tricky South African accent, neither has to particularly flex any acting muscles.

DVD of the week? Crazy Heart.

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