This week sees the Oscar-winning Jean Dujardin (The Artist) in his follow-up performance, The Players, the 18-rated comedy that promises a very different side to his silent-film award-winning performance. We are also treated to the Carnegie Hall performance of blind pianist Nobuyuki Tsujii, who performed late last year a fantastic array of pieces, including one of his own, written in dedication to the memory of the victims of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami in March last year.
My picks of the week:
The omnibus comedy, with multiple directors, The Players.
Nobuyuki Tsuki: Live at Carnegie Hall.
After taking the Oscar for Best Actor earlier this year in The Artist, Jean Dujardin returns behind and in front of the camera in The Players (Les Infidèles), a series of vignettes based on the theme of male infidelity.
As you can imagine, it looks to be a very different role than the last time we saw him, earning its 18 rating, and if you’re looking forward to seeing another side to Dujardin, then look no further.
“Jean Dujardin and Gilles Lellouche lead a star in a comedy exploring the triumphs and failures of male infidelity in all its desperate, absurd and wildly funny forms. From a sales conference hotel in the suburbs to a smart sex addiction clinic, from a swish Parisian nightclub to the glitzy meat market of Las Vegas, the protagonists launch themselves into the age old pursuit. Every timeworn excuse is proffered; every trick in the book is played.
Witty and moving, honest and cynical, hope beats eternal in the lusting male heart, but the road to illicit pleasure is never an easy one…”
Nobuyuki Tsujii: Live at Carnegie Hall
DVD and Blu-ray
Born blind, Nobuyuki Tsujii is even more prodigious than your average musical prodigy. Beginning formal study at the age of just four, he went on to win first prize at the All Japan Music of Blind Students by the Tokyo Helen Keller Association.
In November last year, Tsujii travelled to New York to play at the historic Carnegie Hall, composing and performing his own piece in honour of the victims of the Japanese earthquake and Tsunami in March 2011, alongside works by Mussorgsky (Pictures at an Exhibition), Beethoven (‘The Tempest’ Piano Sonata), Chopin (Prelude in D flat major), and more.
DVD and Blu-ray
James McTeigue (V for Vendetta) brought us a dark thriller earlier this year in The Raven, an imagining of the last days of Edgar Allen Poe’s life, with the brilliant John Cusack as the lead.
The film didn’t perform spectacularly at the box office, but with Alice Eve, Luke Evans, and Brendan Gleeson supporting Cusack, and McTeigue behind the camera, it certainly seems worth seeking out now that it’s reached the home entertainment market.
“Upon discovering that a psychotic serial killer has been using his writings as inspiration, legendary author Edgar Allan Poe (John Cusack) joins forces with a bright, young Baltimore detective to catch the maniac and end his reign of terror. Detective Emmett Fields (Luke Evans) was investigating a vicious murder when he realized the crime scene bore a striking resemblance to a mystery story that was just published in the local newspaper. The author of that ominous tale was Edgar Allan Poe, a brilliant young writer whose status as a social outcast catches the attention of the diligent detective. Shortly after Poe is questioned by the authorities, detectives stumble upon yet another murder scene that seems to have been inspired by the author’s morbid writings. Convinced that the killer will once again use Poe’s writings as a springboard to murder, Detective Fields recruits the reclusive author to help piece together a pattern to the crimes and stop the madman before he can strike again. Brendan Gleeson and Alice Eve co-star in this tense period thriller from director James McTeigue (V FOR VENDETTA).”
DVD and Blu-ray Double Play (inc. DVD)
Tarsem Singh’s Mirror Mirror had the unfortunate luck of essentially going head-to-head with Rupert Evans’ Snow White and the Huntsman – not in terms of opening weekends, but their releases were so close and their marketing campaigns overlapped to the extent that the comparisons were inevitable.
Given that Evans’ featured the likes of Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth, and Charlize Theron as the leading trio – not to mention the excellent casting of the dwarfs – it was all but a foregone conclusion that Singh’s film would not perform quite so well.
Nonetheless, it made a very respectable $160m. at the box office, and with Lily Collins, Julia Roberts, and Armie Hammer in its own leading trio, is certainly nothing to turn your nose up to.
“The timeless fairy tale that has enchanted generations gets a dazzling makeover by visionary director Tarsem Singh in this sumptuous fantasy adventure starring Oscar-winner Julia Roberts as The Evil Queen and newcomer Lily Collins as the fair-skinned Princess Snow White. When handsome Prince Alcott (Armie Hammer) falls for angelic Snow White, the jealous The Evil Queen seizes control of a magical kingdom, and casts the orphaned princess into exile. Meanwhile, as the diabolical queen schemes to win the heart of handsome Prince Alcott with the help of her bumbling servant Brighton (Nathan Lane), Snow White befriends a gang of pint-sized thieves that help her to reclaim her rightful place on the throne, and win back the man of her dreams.”
Dominic Burns’ Airborne is an example of the still-thriving UK independent film market, particularly within the horror/thriller genre, reigning in talent like Mark Hamill – who you may also know as Luke Skywalker.
Dave got to visit the set and talk to the talent involved early last year, and it all looked very promising, so this is one we’ve been looking forward to for some time.
“As a snow storm closes in, one final plane takes off. The plane reports to the ground that both pilots are dead, while the slowly dwindling number of passengers on the plane wish that they’d never left the ground.”
Matt Norman’s documentary, Salute, received strong reviews when it debuted in Australia back in 2008, and years later, has finally arrived on our shores after a limited release in anticipation of the Olympics earlier this month, telling the true story of the US Civil Rights Movement and the 1968 Mexico Olympics.
“The picture of the three men on the winner’s podium after the men’s 200 meters final at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics is still considered one of the most powerful images in modern history. Salute tells the true story behind this iconic image, the story of American athletes Tommie Smith, John Carlos and the Australian silver medallist Peter Norman – three Olympic competitors who, in one peaceful but inflammatory moment of political protest as they received their medals on the podium at the 1968 games in Mexico City, would destroy their sporting careers and become a seminal and enduring symbol of the Civil Rights struggle.”
As usual, we’ve got a few classic titles getting the HD treatment this week, and Roger Vadim’s 1968 classic, Barbarella, is top of the list. Based on Jean-Claude Forest’s original French comics, the film of course starred Jane Fonda in the eponymous lead. As you can see from the trailer above, the film is due the Blu-ray treatment, and there’s never been a better time to dip back into yours ’60s favourites and pick up this gem.
Liliana Cavani’s 1974 controversial film, The Night Porter, has also been given the HD treatment this week, noted for its breakthrough performance from Charlotte Rampling, starring in the lead opposite Dick Bogarde.