Sunday, 11 March 2012

DVD/Blu-ray New Releases 12.03.12

Well, we’ve had a couple of good weeks and the next two pretty damn special as well, however, sandwiched in between we have what looks like it’s aimed at Mother’s Day (Sunday the 18th of March in the UK). The big releases are Twilight: Breaking Dawn part I, The Help and My Week With Marilyn. Fear not though, if you’re not a middle-aged woman, there are still DVDs out this week that you might find entertaining. Failing that, you could always turn to a film I forgot to mention the other week.

Pom Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold is Morgan Spurlock’s latest documentary feature. This time, the man that changed McDonald’s is looking into the murky world of product placement and the impact that it has on what you’re watching. The premise is that Spurlock makes a feature about product placement, funded entirely by product placement, hence the title. It’s an interesting and entertaining piece but is hardly explosive, it doesn’t really tell us much we didn’t already know. Personally I found the section in the middle where Spurlock talks to Directors, like Brett Ratner, about their experiences with corporate backers. It’s unlikely to change the way you watch movies but it’s certainly well worth a look.

So, on to this week, we’ll start with the remake of Straw Dogs. Now, the original, as best I can remember, was notable only for its controversial rape scene, in which Susan George seemed to enjoy it. That has been eliminated from Rod Lurie’s version and, as such, no one seemed to notice the film at all. It stars James Marsden and Kate Bosworth as the couple that have moved into a small town, now in America rather than Britain. It drags, and there’s very little in the way of tension. In the original Dustin Hoffman was an American abroad, a proper fish out of water. He was meek and mild and that translated well when it came to him snapping and battling thugs. Marsden however, he’s an X-man, he’s well built, athletic, I’m sure he could beat up some hicks. It doesn’t really work and I can see how it flopped at the box office.

The Help is an adaptation of Kathryn Stockett's novel of the same name, about a young white woman, Eugenia "Skeeter" Phelan (played by Emma Stone), and her relationship with two black maids in the early 1960s. Skeeter is a journalist who decides to write a controversial book from the point of view of the maids, exposing the racism they are faced with as they work for white families. It’s stirred up controversy in the US as many felt that the portrayal of the maids trivialised what it was actually like for ‘the help’ in that era.

I didn’t personally pick up on that whilst watching but my knowledge of what it would have been like then is beyond stunted so I shouldn’t really comment on that aspect. I do know however that Octavia Spencer won an Academy Award the other week for her portrayal of Minny Jackson, one of the aforementioned maids, and she was good value for the award. The film’s overlong at two and a half hours and I found myself drifting in and out for long sequences. I’ve said before that historical dramas aren’t really my thing and this has done little to change that. The same can be said of My Week With Marilyn.

Simon Curtis’ film is based around the filming of 1957’s The Prince and the Showgirl which starred Monroe and Laurence Olivier, played here by Michelle Williams and Kenneth Branagh. Eddie Redmayne plays Colin Clark, the man that’s asked to look after Monroe for the week and the man whose books this film is based upon. The performances are all fine………zzzzz…….zzzzz……zzzzz. Like I said, it’s not my sort of thing and did absolutely nothing for me. Your Mother will love it though but she’d probably like flowers more.

Twilight: Breaking Dawn part I, where do I start? Well, I’m not a fan of the franchise and this film didn’t change that. It’s this simple, if you like the other films you’ll probably like this one, though nothing happens. If you don’t like the other films you’ve probably already made up your mind on this one, so I suggest you don’t watch it and furthermore, don’t read this either. Right, in terms of TV shows there’s This Is England ’88 and The Impressions Show with Culshaw and Stephenson, both were reviewed in greater detail earlier in the week and you can click them for the links.

Okay, so that brings us to this weeks DVD of the week, and it comes courtesy of controversial American stand-up Doug Stanhope. His latest effort is called Before Turning the Gun on Himself and it was filmed in Salt Lake City, Utah. It works an awful lot better than his last effort, 2011’s Burning the Bridge to Nowhere which was filmed in Oslo. This isn’t for everyone, let me warn you about that, Stanhope upsets a lot of people and it’s definitely not for Mother’s Day. Stanhope says exactly what he’s thinking and nothing is off limits. He’s a social commentator and certainly sounds like he knows what he’s talking about. This might not be his funniest or most controversial work but it’s some of the most interesting out there. Whilst he might say some shocking things, he’ll back them up with reasoned arguments and you can’t say fairer than that.

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