Here are our latest reviews of films on DVD from 2010 and earlier.
The 39 Steps
- Excerpt: Vintage Hitchcock thriller hits high definition from Criterion with an assortment of new extras.
5 Against The House
- Excerpt: The picaresque Barry Lyndon is the unloved black sheep of Stanley Kubrick‘s filmographic family. This three-hour monolith is likely skipped over by all except the most devoted of Kubrickian obsessives. A shame, as it’s an easy 180-minute sitting, thanks to its episodic nature and sardonic undercurrent. Barry Lyndon feels whip-fast, despite being as still and intricately composed as cinema gets.
The Color of Money
- Excerpt: Scorsese, Newman, and Cruise’s pool hall sequel hits Blu-ray.
Counsellor At Law
The Devil’s Needle and Other Tales of Vice and Redemption
- Excerpt: Kino Lorber, under their Kino Classics label, has released an excellent blu-ray set of three such early exploitation films which, while not necessarily the kind of thing that will be widely popular with casual movie goers, is certainly something to celebrate amongst cinephiles and silent film aficionados.
- Excerpt: We’ve already lost so much – The Film Foundation has famously estimated that ninety percent of films made before 1929 are gone forever – and so little of what remains has made its way to DVD, let alone Blu-ray, that every release such as this constitutes a victory. For anyone interested in the history of cinema, these are some of the earliest films available on Blu-ray, and remain important social records.
The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie
- Excerpt: A decade on from Exterminating Angel, which saw a dinner party unable to reach its end, this film reversed that conceit to make similar comments on class and social fixation. The sins of the would-be diners are writ large: greed, avarice, presumptuousness, willful ignorance and hypocrisy – yet despite this they are often likeable. The pity we feel for them stems from a sense that they are unaware of their own potential freedom. They play out their given social roles, as officers and ambassadors and hostesses, with a mannered conviction that borders on obsession. Even when, at one stage, a curtain rises and they discover their dining table is positioned on a stage, they do not comprehend that they may be mere actors following somebody else’s script.
Flame Over India
- Excerpt: The kind of flatfooted incompetence that can turn a sane person into a dedicated bad movie watcher for the rest of their days.
The Fully Monty
Home on the Range
- Excerpt: The whimper with which Disney hand-drawn animation was to disappear is less significant and entertaining eight years later.
Little Lord Fauntleroy
Meshes of the Afternoon
- Excerpt: …the most psychologically accurate dream movie ever made.
- Excerpt: John Travolta’s post-Pulp Fiction popularity was at its peak in 1996.
The Sea Wolf
Star Trek II:The Wrath of Khan
This Happy Breed
A Time For Killing
- Excerpt: Like any tale originating with Philip K Dick, this vibrant slice of science fiction is littered with tricksy twists and turns. The combination of the author’s paranoid second guessing and Verhoeven’s slick, confident style is an interesting one. Sleazy locations are stylishly photographed. The director mixes noirish industrial landscapes with bright, primary coloured interiors, playing with the conventions of Eighties B-movie science fiction to conceal a shrewder agenda. At first glance it seems like a rollercoaster action movie but underneath it’s full of ambiguities, hidden clues and red herrings.
- Excerpt: It’s the chemistry between Bacon and Ward that really clinches it, and screenwriter Maddock’s obvious affection for these no-nonsense blue collar characters recalls the early work of John Carpenter. The action sequences are properly thrilling yet just silly enough to remind us that the film appreciates its cheap and cheerful origins. The pacing is superb, with both horror and comedy timed to perfection – the film only slows down when it wants to make us really nervous.