New on DVD: ‘Harry Brown,’ ‘Red Riding,’ and More
Great British Thrillers Come Out on DVD Today
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Credit: Sony Pictures Classics
Here's a new addition to Cinema Junkie. Each week I will highlight what's new and worth checking out on DVD. This week it's Michael Caine and British serial killers topping the list. I've included links to my original reviews as well.
"Harry Brown" is a showcase for Michael Caine. He plays an aging pensioner who finally has too much of the violence around him and strikes back. The fact that he was trained to deal with violence in Ireland plays into his character, and the murky moral and political shadings the story takes on. The DVD and BluRay contain deleted scenes as well as a commentary track with Michael Caine and director Daniel Barber. If you missed this in the theaters, it's definitely worth checking out.
Also worth checking out but requiring a major commitment of time is "Red Riding." Drawing on fact and fiction, this three-part film series was originally created fro British television. Each film is set in and named after a different year: 1974, 1980, and 1983. Each film focuses on a different crime with different protagonists but with many of the supporting characters remaining the same. The films are bleak and it's a grueling five-plus hours as you start to wonder if justice and good will ever prevail. But the series is superbly acted and creates a chilling atmosphere. It also builds its web of corruption and evil with ever mounting tension. The first two films are the strongest, with the final film unfortunately proving the weakest. Based on David Pearce's novels, each film can stand on its own to a degree but they are better seen altogether and preferably in close proximity (all in one sitting is great if you can take it). Paddy Considine stands out as an honest cop among dirty ones. There may also be more interest in the films since Andrew Garfield -- the new Spider-Man -- has the lead in the first film. The films are also streaming live on NetFlix. They provide a tough but rewarding marathon of British filmmaking.
The bonus features for the "Red Riding Trilogy" includes deleted scenes, making of featurettes, and interviews with some of the creative talent.
And now for something completely different: "OSS 117: Lost in Rio." The intrepid French secret agent Hubert Bonisseur de La Bath, AKA OSS 117, is back and sillier than ever. The film, like its predecessor, has a leisurely pace and a unique style of humor but the main attraction is Jean Dujardin as the goofy, sexist, racist spy. If you are looking for a light confection, give this one a try.
And my final recommendation for the week is a Russian film that I actually have not yet seen but would like to check out: "9th Company." This 2005 release is based on true events from the 1980s. It focuses on a group of Soviet soldiers who endure a grueling boot camp and then are shipped off to fight in Afghanistan. Directed by Fyodor Bondarchuk, the film has picked up a couple of international awards and looks intriguing.
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