Wednesday, 26 September 2012

The Good, the Bad and the Blu-rays

Not the busiest of weeks, but there's one or two gems among this week's selection of new DVD and Blu-ray titles.

Taking on the role of a Middle Eastern Dictator and delivering commentary on some political hot potatoes should be a situation ripe for comedy, and although Sacha Baron Cohen's The Dictator never quite reaches his Borat-shaped high benchmark, it's a massive improvement over the way too distasteful Bruno. When I saw the film in the cinema I got the feeling there were scenes missing (which isn't surprising for the improvisational Cohen), and although I don't know quite what this extended cut has included, more Anna Faris is always a good thing.


I was mightily impressed with Gareth Evans' stripped down actioner when it was released in cinemas earlier this year, so much in fact that I seeked out his re-released debut Vengeance Day when it hit DVD. That turned out to be one of the worst things I've seen all year, so I'm going to choose to ignore its existence and bask in the brilliant high-octane fight sequences that make The Raid stand out from the crowd. Worth your attention.

As twisty-turny deconstructions of the horror genre go, Cabin in the Woods is a market leader. Produced by Joss Whedon (having the most successful year of his life), this long overdue horror will keep you hooked as it tears up the rulebook by acknowledging that there is one. It's best to go in not knowing much about the story, but this is not just for horror fans. Anyone with an interest in science-fiction, film, or just story-telling should seek this out.

Like a lot of audiences, I greet the arrival of a new Todd Solonz film with an automatic shudder. A talented filmmaker for sure, his previous films do leave a rather foul taste, to the point where the mere mention of his name gives a film a weight of expectation.  Dark Horse does appear to be a bit more lighthearted than Happiness, telling the story of a lovestruck loser who meets a girl and decides to finally move out of his parents house in his late 30s.

Oh Mel, where did it all go wrong? It's a shame that his recent indiscretions now overshadow his work, as How I Spent My Summer Vacation (known as the delightfully titled Get the Gringo in the States) is meant to be pretty good. Now that it's out on DVD and blu-ray maybe word of mouth can save it somewhat, as this thriller seems to have sunk without a trace.

Ah, the return of the humble British zombie film. Using the story of an elderly man and his care worker to create an original zombie film, Harold's Going Stiff looks rather charming and eccentrically British. Screened at last year's Celluoid Screams festival in Sheffield, this zombie flick should really come alive now it's on DVD.


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