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DVD/Blu Ray New Release Round Up Monday 31st January 2012

01/01/2013

I thought it was fitting for the first post of 2013 to be a little bit of a catch up on the last handful of new releases of 2012. The sharper eyed among you may notice that some of the films included in this round up actually came out the previous week but due to the pressures and strains of my day job over the festive period (not to mention Christmas itself) I wasn’t able to get to them last week so I have included them here instead.

total recallFirst up, Colin Farrell has his nipples digitally removed (I can find no other explanation – he presumably has nipples in real life) in Len Wiseman’s thoroughly unnecessary reboot of Paul Verhoeven’s TOTAL RECALL. I suppose there’s an argument that the 1990 version of the film inspired by Philip K. Dick’s short story “We Can Remember It For You, Wholesale” is far from perfect but it is an undeniable cult classic full of memorable moments and inspired design, unlike Wiseman’s effort which amounts to little more than seriously over-egged digital pudding. Maybe in different hands the ham fisted blend of BLADERUNNER and MINORITY REPORT aesthetics might have worked, but with this much tiresome dialogue and sledgehammer-like exposition (not to mention facile attempts to recall the Verhoeven version) it becomes a garbled mess. It takes a special kind of talent to be able to completely squander Bill Nighy and Bryan Cranston in the same film, the same sort of talent that could take something as quirky and memorable as the 1990 version and purge it of everything that made it memorable.

the man insideIf you’d prefer a slice of social realism to science fantasy then theres THE MAN INSIDE, one of those socially responsible “Blade Britain” type films about London gang culture that sees Clayton (Ashley Bashy Thomas), a young black man trying to escape the shadow of his psychotic gangster father, get caught up in gang violence that threatens to destroy his family and his burgeoning boxing career. These films about trying to break the cycle of gang violence are becoming something of a cliche and to be honest, at times (I think largely due to the writing) this struggles to break out of that but it has a lot of things going for it, not least the cast which includes the ineffable Peter Mullan and David Harewood. There’s also the fact that it actually seeks to be a positive story rather than the usual misery-porn I’ve come to associate with the genre which is no bad thing. Personally the Michelle Ryan as a smack head side plot felt a little tacked on for my liking, almost as a way of covering all the social concern bases, but overall it’s not a bad effort at all.

code name geronimoThe true story of America’s execution without trial of its most wanted criminal, CODE NAME GERONIMO, purports to be a true account of the events and actions that led to the death of Osama Bin Laden at the hands of the now legendary SEAL Team 6. As seems to be par for the course these days it feels like an instalment of the CALL OF DUTY video game series, all live satellite surveillance feeds and spec ops slang (whether this is because CALL OF DUTY is dripping with authenticity or has simply become the Cliff Notes for film makers doing war stories is open to debate) and to be honest is actually reasonable entertaining. Taking the depicted events on face value forces me to question the triumphant tone of the film (sure, they got Osama but an innocent doctor got 33 years in a Pakistan prison and two intelligence operatives face the death penalty for their part in the operation) and the depicted method used to get a positive I.D. on their intended target seems spurious at best and hardly the basis for sending in an assassination squad. A brief attempt at balance where the political motives behind the mission are brought into question is dismissed all too quickly for my liking as well but then this was always going to be biased. It has the feel of an upper echelon TV drama, with a half way decent cast and good production values and works as a piece of entertainment, just as long as you don’t have any moral or political issues with the subject matter.

berberian sound studioMy PICK OF THE WEEK though is the atmospheric head trip that is BERBERIAN SOUND STUDIO. Toby Jones stars as Gilderoy, a Brit sound engineer hired by an Italian film director to soundtrack his latest Giallo masterpiece, a film about undead witches come to avenge the fact they were tortured to death. Out of his comfort zone and in a foreign land Gilderoy starts to feel the strain of the constant exposure to the violence and sadism of the film and the culture clash of working with the Italians. Subtle and disconcerting, it’s a masterful homage to that most underrated element of film making, Sound Design, without which all films, but horror films in particular, would fall flat. Stylistically evoking the Giallo genre, BERBERIAN SOUND STUDIO creates its world in the main through sound and music, the work Gilderoy does for the film spilling through into his own reality. It’s a little bit meta, a little bit Lynchian and entirely brilliant and really focuses your attention on the power of sound.

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