Out on 3 October and 10 October
It’s sayonara from Studio Ghibli. Jodie Foster's credit-crunch satire draws mixed returns.
Yes, here’s the new DVD and Blu-Ray releases coming out in the next two weeks. Click on for our reviews Marnie Was There, Money Monster, Me Before You, Alice Through the Looking Glass, Women in Love, They Might Be Giants, A Kind of Loving, Conversation Piece, and Florence Foster Jenkins.
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When Marnie Was There
For many, Studio Ghibli is synonymous with Hayao Miyazaki. While the anime maestro deserves to be deified, it’s important not to overlook the astonishing work of Ghibli’s other filmmaking figurehead, Isao Takahata, particularly in the wake of the celebrated studio’s final film When Marnie Was There.
Directed by Arrietty’s Hiromasa Yonebayashi, Marnie is the story of 12-year-old introvert Anna who becomes infatuated with a dilapidated mansion and the mysterious blonde-haired girl who lives there. But is Marnie real? Or a ghost? And why does Anna feel such a strong connection to her?
Handsomely animated and exquisitely written, there’s more than a hint of Hitchcock’s gothic romance Rebecca in the way the mystery unfolds, even if the film’s bleak revelations pack a punch to rival notorious Ghibli tearjerker Grave of the Fireflies.
Takahata, the man behind Fireflies, also has a (re)release out this month in 1991’s newly dubbed Only Yesterday. Daisy Ridley is a perfect fit for office worker Taeko, who dwells on her childhood during a holiday. It’s a subdued but captivating drama dealing with life-changing themes, and the idea that small moments can have a lasting impact. It’s one of Ghibli’s most mature and underrated works.
EXTRAS: Making Of, Featurettes, Storyboards, Trailers
Director: Hiromasa Yonebayashi; Starring: Sara Takatsuki, Kasumi Arimura, Nanako Matsushima; DVD, BD release: October 3, 2016
Jodie Foster’s fourth film as director aims for Network-style satire, but needs more of a spine. George Clooney stars as Lee Gates, a financial shock-jock who uses his TV show to tout Ibis, an investment firm that then loses $800m of his viewers’ money. Among the victims is Kyle (Jack O’Connell), a broke delivery man who takes Gates hostage live on air.
Cue lots of bluster about ‘the system’. Still, Foster does farce well, and it’s a pleasure to see Clooney rekindle his Ocean’s chemistry with Julia Roberts.
EXTRAS: Featurettes, Deleted scenes, Music video
Director: Jodie Foster; Starring: George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Jack O'Connell; DVD, BD, Digital HD release: October 3, 2016
Me Before You
Serious issues related to quadriplegia and assisted suicide get the fluffy treatment in this saccharine romcom based on Jojo Moyes’ bestselling novel. Emilia Clarke stars as Lou, the quirky small-town girl hired to care for the paralysed Will (Sam Claflin), giving him a new lease of life, while he teaches her to broaden her horizons.
The result is a romantic weepie with moments of charm. Yet it mishandles the more delicate story points, not least Will’s desire to end his life – an issue so unexplored it’s insensitive.
EXTRAS: Featurette, Deleted scenes, Outtakes
Director: Thea Sharrock; Starring: Emilia Clarke, Sam Claflin, Janet McTeer; Digital HD release: September 26, 2016; DVD, BD release: October 10, 2016
Alice Through the Looking Glass
After Tim Burton’s acid-nightmare take on Carroll’s classic comes Muppets director James Bobin’s superior sequel, in which Mia Wasikowska’s Alice aids Johnny Depp’s Mad Hatter. All the regulars return, but it’s newbie Sacha Baron Cohen as Time who elevates Looking Glass.
His deft bumbling outshines a muted Depp and Helena Bonham Carter’s Red Queen. Amplified by Alan Rickman’s last performance (voicing Absolem), it feels strangely poignant.
EXTRAS: Commentary (BD), Featurettes (BD), Deleted scenes (BD), Music video (BD)
Director: James Bobin; Starring: Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter; DVD, BD, 3D release: September 26 October 3, 2016
Florence Foster Jenkins
The real-life Florence was a 1940s ‘singer’ who delighted audiences despite not being able to hit a note. No such talent issues in Stephen Frears’ entertaining biopic, whose main joy is watching Meryl Streep caterwaul with off-key abandon.
Despite bubbling subtexts about class and snobbery, Frears is in crowd-pleasing mode, though the slickness sits oddly with the story’s embrace of amateurism. That said, there’s no denying Hugh Grant’s best-in-years performance, juggling comedy and pathos as Florence’s husband.
EXTRAS: Featurettes, Deleted scenes
Director: Stephen Frears; Starring: Meryl Streep, Hugh Grant, Simon Helberg; DVD, BD, Digital HD release: September 5, 2016
Women in Love
Ken Russell’s acclaimed adaptation of D.H. Lawrence’s classic novel gets a 4k restoration, giving perfect clarity to the visuals, if not the hugely complex themes of love and lust.
While Lawrence’s characters raise uncompromising questions about commitment, there can be no such doubt about the dedication of Russell’s cast, with Glenda Jackson’s perfectly understated Oscar-winning performance and, yes, the sight of Oliver Reed and Alan Bates wrestling naked in front of a fire.
EXTRAS: Commentaries, Interviews, Short films, Featurette, Booklet, Gallery
Director: Ken Russell; Starring: Alan Bates, Oliver Reed, Glenda Jackson; BD release: August 22, 2016
They Might Be Giants
The original take on Sherlock Holmes sees George C. Scott as a judge convinced that he’s the famous fictional detective after suffering a mental breakdown. On the case is Joanne Woodward as Doctor Watson, aka the psychiatrist who is charged with committing him.
Buoyed by the leads’ sparkling chemistry, there’s romance in their picaresque quest to find Moriarty and charm in the depiction of New York as a haven for eccentrics. Yet the direction of Anthony Harvey (The Lion in Winter) ultimately settles for a cosy, superficial whimsy, well short of the sorrow and surrealism mined by the film’s spiritual successor – and virtual remake – The Fisher King.
Director: Anthony Harvey; Starring: George C. Scott, Joanne Woodward, Jack Gilford; DVD release: August 8, 2016
A Kind of Loving
A key text of the British New Wave, A Kind of Loving was John Schlesinger’s (Midnight Cowboy) debut feature. Vic (Alan Bates), a draughtsman in a Manchester factory, makes a play for Ingrid (June Ritchie), one of the secretaries.
When their on-off romance results in her getting pregnant he marries her – and finds himself forced to move in with the mother-in-law from hell (Thora Hird, never better). Schlesinger treats Vic and Ingrid’s relationship with sympathy while Vic’s attempt to buy condoms speaks volumes about the social inhibitions of the period.
EXTRAS: Interviews, Featurette, Short
Director: John Schlesinger; Starring: Alan Bates, June Ritchie, Thora Hird; DVD, BD, Digital HD release: August 1, 2016
Luchino Visconti’s (The Leopard, Death in Venice) penultimate movie is a claustrophobic drama with Burt Lancaster as a professor living in his elegant Rome apartment. Into his hermetic life comes an obnoxious Marchesa (Silvana Mangano) and her entourage – toyboy lover Konrad (Helmut Berger), teenage daughter, daughter’s boyfriend.
The prof becomes fascinated by them – and especially by Konrad, with erotic obsession becoming a destructive force. A late, insidious masterwork.
EXTRAS: Interview, Featurette, Booklet
Director: Luchino Visconti; Starring: Burt Lancaster, Helmut Berger, Silvana Mangano; Dual format release: August 15, 2016