Last week saw the release of 2011’s Oscar-favourite The Artist, alongside two other acclaimed indie films of the year in Martha Marcy May Marlene and Like Crazy. This week brings a different mix to the shelves, with Ralph Fiennes’ directorial debut, Coriolanus, topping the list.
Continuing on from last week, too, Play are releasing a handful of exclusive Blu-ray steelbooks of contemporary classics that will be must-buys for fans of the films and the format. If you’re not yet Blu-ray capable, now is definitely the time to update your television / player to enable the best viewing experience your home has to offer.
My personal picks of the week:
Another tie this week, with two very different films topping the list for me.
Ralph Fiennes’ Coriolanus & Michael Dowse’s Goon
DVD and Blu-ray
Making his directorial debut, Ralph Fiennes brings the Shakespearean tragedy to the big screen adapting a script from the ever-brilliant John Logan (Gladiator, the upcoming Skyfall). Starring Fiennes himself as the eponymous Coriolanus, the film co-stars Gerard Butler, Vanessa Redgrave, Jessica Chastain, Brian Cox, and James Nesbitt, and went on to win a slew of awards and nominations with what is promising to be the start of an exceptional directing career for Fiennes.
“Ralph Fiennes’ directorial debut, CORIOLANUS, scripted by John Logan, updates one of Shakespeare’s more difficult plays, without sacrificing the Bard’s original dialogue. Set in modern times, the movie stars Fiennes as the title character, a fierce General able to fight Rome’s most dreaded enemies as well as quell civil unrest from a lack of food. When politicians convince Coriolanus to become a political leader, his natural fierceness and lack of political instincts lead to him being disgraced by other politicians and eventually forced to leave Rome after being branded a traitor. He then joins with his former enemies to invade Rome, and the only person who may be able to talk him out of this revenge plan is his mother (Vanessa Redgrave).”
DVD and Blu-ray
Starring Seann William-Scott in the lead, alongside Jay Baruchel, Liev Schreiber, Alison Pill, and Eugene Levy, Goon is an ice-hockey comedy – something we don’t get to see often. Baruchel co-wrote the script with the comedy genius Evan Goldberg (Superbad, Pineapple Express), and that’s all I need to know to have me sold. You can read our review of the DVD here.
“The sports comedy GOON stars Sean William Scott as Doug Glatt, a slacker from a rich family who discovers he has a knack for fighting hockey goons. Dragged to a game by his best friend, Doug punches out the visiting team’s toughest player when the angered player rushes into the stands. The team quickly gets Doug on the team and, even though he can’t skate, encourage him to beat up their opponents.”
DVD and Blu-ray
Co-starring Drew Barrymore and John Krasinski in the leads, with support from Kristen Bell, Tim Blake Nelson, and Ted Danson, Big Miracle didn’t really find its audience at the box office despite getting positive reviews, at least in part because it opened in the US on the same weekend as Chronicle and The Woman in Black – not the most favourable competition. The cast is strong though, and the story sounds compelling in my books, so I wouldn’t hold its box office performance against it.
“When a family of grey whales becomes trapped in the Arctic Circle, a Greenpeace volunteer and a small-town reporter go to extraordinary lengths to save the majestic creatures in this romantic adventure inspired by actual events. Alaskan newsman Adam Carlson (John Krasinski) has grown weary of working in such a small market. He’s eager to move on to bigger and better things when the story of a lifetime lands right in his lap. Ice has been forming in the Arctic Circle at a rate so fast that a family of grey whales has become hopelessly stranded. As the eyes of the world turn toward this small, chilly corner of the globe, an oil tycoon, slews of politicians, and countless journalists descend upon Alaska — each with their own hidden agenda. Meanwhile, the only one Adam notices is Rachel Kramer (Drew Barrymore), a devout environmentalist who also happens to be his ex-girlfriend. As the situation grows dire, the unlikely pair rallies a diverse coalition of allies to work together toward the common goal of saving the endangered marine mammals. The result is a rescue mission that will help to thaw Cold War tensions between America and Russia, and show the entire world just what can be accomplished when we start working together, instead of pulling apart.”
DVD and Blu-ray
Madonna’s return behind the camera with W.E. no doubt needs little introduction, given that there was much buzz surrounding it before critics’ negative reviews started surfacing.
The cast, however, is very impressive, with Abbie Cornish, James D’Arcy, Andrea Riseborough, and Oscar Isaac leading, and the film went on to earn an Oscar nomination for Best Costume Design, and I can imagine that this is a film that would look beautiful on Blu-ray.
If you’re reading this before midnight on 6th June, then you can, in fact, enter our competition to win the film on Blu-ray, plus a signed poster and soundtrack.
“Pop icon Madonna returns to the director’s seat for the first time since her 2008 feature debut, FILTH AND WISDOM, for this ambitious romance detailing one lonely woman’s obsession with the relationship between King Edward VIII (James D’Arcy) and American divorcée Wallis Simpson (Andrea Riseborough). To Wally Winthrop (Abbie Cornish), no act of devotion in history is more romantic than King Edward VIII abdicating the throne to be with his one true love. But the deeper Wally dives into the background of this controversial love affair, the more apparent it becomes that their relationship was no bed of roses. Now, as each new discovery paints an increasingly dire picture for the once-happy couple, Wally begins to grow disillusioned about the prospect of true love.”
A Monster in Paris
DVD and Blu-ray 3D (inc. 2D and 3D)
Produced by Luc Besson, this French animated adventure-comedy is set in Paris at the start of the 20th Century. I missed it whilst it was playing in my local cinema, but know that it was well received critically, and having Adam Goldberg, Catherine O’Hara, and Sean Lennon voicing the English dubs sounds of a strong enough calibre to be viewed in either the original French or English.
“Bibo Bergeron’s charming animated adventure UN MONSTRE A PARIS (A MONSTER IN PARIS) tells the story of a giant mutated flea who is taken in by a Parisian cabaret singer. Luc Besson produced the French fairytale, which stars Vanessa Paradis as the voice of Lucille the kindly singer in the original language version, with Sean Lennon lending his voice to the flea in the English version.”
Juan of the Dead
With its obvious nod/homage to Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg, and Nick Frost’s Shaun of the Dead, the Spanish-Cuban zombie horror-comedy Juan of the Dead was given a limited release here early last month, after debuting at Toronto International Film Festival last year, and has quickly made its way to DVD where it is sure to build on its cult status in the genre.
“Groundbreaking, action-packed and utterly nerve-wracking, Juan Of The Dead is an epic battle for humanity in a world gone to hell.
In the middle of what official media refers as isolated incidents provoked by mercenary dissidents, a small group of terrified friends find themselves abandoned in what is soon revealed as a zombie apocalypse. Besieged by hordes of the cannibalistic living dead, the small band of survivors join forces and prepare for battle with whatever weapons come to hand. But as an escape route becomes apparent, they soon make the decision whether to flee to new, unknown dangers or stay and fight for the future of humanity.”
You Only Live Once – 75th Anniversary Release
So old-school that YouTube doesn’t even have a trailer for it, Fritz Lang’s 1937 film You Only Live Once stars Sylvia Sydney and Henry Fonda is being re-released to mark its 75th anniversary. If you’re a fan of Lang’s work – best known for Metropolis and M – this will likely be something you’ll want to pick up this week. We’ll be bringing you our review of the special anniversary release later this week, so be sure to check back in for that.
“Released in 1937 and partly based on the legend of Bonnie and Clyde, You Only Live Once was directed by Fritz Lang (Metropolis, Fury), starring Oscar® winning actor Henry Fonda (Grapes Of Wrath, Twelve Angry Men) and Sylvia Sidney (Fury, Blood On The Run). Eddie Taylor (Fonda) is an ex-convict who can’t get a break on the “outside”. He marries Joan Graham (Sidney) who like her husband is one of life’s losers. Framed on a murder rap, he is forced on the run with his wife and baby in tow. In trying to avoid capture, Taylor becomes a murderer for real, condemning himself and Graham to an early demise.”
Play.com Exclusive Blu-ray Steelbooks
Adding to last week’s first round of exclusive Blu-ray steelbooks of contemporary cult classics, Play are releasing another great batch of brilliant films with the updated steelbook packaging: Predator, Braveheart, Alien Anthology, Fight Club, Taken, Man on Fire, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and The A-Team (2010).
Priced at £9.99 each (except for the Alien Anthology, which is £19.99), they’re a bit of a bargain for what you get – they may be cheaper in their original covers, but the steelbook designs look awesome.
As usual, we have another set of classic films (these largely dating back older than the steelbooks) that are getting the HD treatment this week, being re-released on Blu-ray.
Topping the list this week is the six-disc David Lynch Collection Box Set, also released on DVD, which features Eraserhead, Dune, Blue Velvet, Wild At Heart, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, and Lost Highway. Each of the films are also available individually, as well as in this neat little set – and you can enter our competition to win it here.
Also re-released is Sam Raimi’s original Spider-Man trilogy, The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine, The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974), Phil Karlson’s Walking Tall, Dan O’Bannon’s The Return of the Living Dead (also on DVD), and Oliver Parker’s excellent adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, starring Rupert Everett, Colin Firth, Reese Witherspoon, Judi Dench, and Frances O’Connor.