Out on September 18 and September 25
Ridley Scott's Alien: Cover Version. A stop-motion animation about society's marginalised. Julia Ducournau’s cannibalistic coming-of-ager. Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s horror masterpiece. Dustin Hoffman’s career-defining movie.
Yes, here’s the new DVD and Blu-Ray releases coming out in the next two weeks. Click on for our reviews of Alien: Covenant, My Life as a Courgette, Baywatch, The Red Turtle, Raw, Pulse, The Transfiguration, Death in the Garden, Dreamscape, The Graduate: 50th Anniversary Edition, Marriage Italian Style, Aquarius, and Psycho II.
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Poor old xenomorph. He finally gets the chance to work with Ridley Scott again, only to be overshadowed not only by some pasty upstart called a neomorph, but by a pair of Michael Fassbenders (both ace). Story-wise, this is Alien: Cover Version, enlivened by a waterpark’s worth of blood sloshing about.
Extras include Scott commentary, hour-long Making Of, lots of lovely/disturbing artwork and deleted scenes – some that flesh backstories, some that’ve been on YouTube for yonks.
EXTRAS: Commentary, Making Of (BD), Deleted/Extended scenes, Production gallery
Director: Ridley Scott, Starring: Michael Fassbender, Katherine Waterston, Billy Crudup; DVD, BD, 4K Ultra HD, Digital HD release: September 18, 2017
My Life as a Courgette
Subverting movie-orphanage clichés, this French-Swiss tale about a boy sent to a home after his alcoholic mum’s death enlivens a gloomy setting with bright primary hues and quaint, quirky flourishes.
The stop-motion animation brings a tactile reality to characters, who are as colourful figuratively as they are literally. The result is a parable about society’s marginalised that’s hopeful without shirking life’s harsh realities. Extras include an intro from Aardman’s Peter Lord.
EXTRAS: Making Of, Intro, Featurettes
Director: Claude Barras, Starring: Gaspard Schlatter, Sixtine Murat, Paulin Jaccoud; DVD, BD, Digital HD release: September 18, 2017
The Red Turtle
This Studio Ghibli co-production tells the dialogue-free story of a nameless Robinson Crusoe type, whose attempts to escape his desert island prison are foiled by the titular reptile. The Hergé-like simplicity of the animation doesn’t prevent the island from coming to vivid, dangerous life, and while the allegory’s open-ended nature will frustrate some, this is a moving, visually delightful treat.
A single featurette gives a brief but fascinating look at writer/director Michaël Dudok de Wit’s sketching process.
Director: Michael Dudok de Wit; Digital HD release: September 18, 2017; DVD, Dual format: September 25, 2017
The show made famous by Pamela Anderson’s undulating boobs returns with two even bigger ones in the form of Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron, veteran and newbie respectively in this needless retread of the ’90s TV favourite about daredevil lifeguards.
Sadly, what charm and playfulness the original had has been replaced by feeble banter, dick jokes and an R-rated morgue visit, which we get to see even more of in the deleted/extended scenes, along with some self-congratulatory featurettes.
EXTRAS: Deleted scenes, Extended edition, Featurettes
Director: Seth Gordon, Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron, Alexandra Daddario; Digital HD release: September 21, 2017 DVD, BD, 4K release: September 25, 2017
Vets – gentle, kindly, caring folk, right? You might think otherwise if, like shy teenager Justine (Garance Marillier), you’d newly arrived at the hellish veterinary college near Liège where hapless first years are subjected to sexual harassment and viciously humiliating hazing rituals. Being made to crawl on all fours and getting drenched in buckets of animal blood are the least of it.
Justine’s older sister Alexia (Ella Rumpf) is a sophomore at the college, but that doesn’t help little sis much. Rather the contrary, in fact. At another event it’s Alexia who pressures Justine, a vegetarian, into eating raw rabbit’s kidney. And that’s when things start getting seriously gory.
Justine finds herself experiencing strange cravings for meat – and not just dead animal meat, either. Before long, her relationship with Alexia is developing in ways that go well beyond the sisterly – to say nothing of her attitude to gay roomie Adrien (Rabah Naït Oufella).
Making her cinematic debut as writer/director, Julia Ducournau weaves black humour and subtle feminist elements into her offbeat coming-of-age tale, taking the Cronenbergian body-horror theme in unexpected directions. And the surprises keep coming – all the way to a pitch-black finale.
At the Toronto Film Festival screening, paramedics reportedly had to take care of fainting audience members. You have been warned…
Director: Julia Ducournau; Starring: Garance Marillier, Ella Rumpf; DVD, Digital HD release: August 14, 2017
“I just got the creeps,” says one character in Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s horror masterpiece, and you’ll know just what she means. The story of ghosts invading our world via the internet might sound like tosh – and is, as Kurosawa freely admits, a copy of Hideo Nakata’s Ringu – but mastery of mood establishes it as the finest film of the J-horror cycle and one of the very best horrors of the 21st Century.
Finding dilapidation and desolation amid the bright lights of Tokyo, Kurosawa paints every desaturated frame in dread, his lonely protagonists soaked in sadness as their attempts to connect via technology only deepen their desperation. The low-lit, smudged visuals demand that your panic-widened eyes scrutinise every corner of every composition, but in vain: fear seeps into your pores to smother your soul.
The transfer is impeccable, and extras on Arrow’s disc include an archive Making Of and a best-avoided featurette on the effects (sometimes it’s better to maintain the mystery). A new, lengthy interview with Kurosawa tracks his origins in ‘pink’ films (erotica) and straight-to-video thrillers, and sees the Japanese master (his Cure and Retribution are also both five stars) list Pulse’s influences: Godzilla, Suspiria, Cronenberg’s genre/art films and, bizarrely, Tobe Hooper’s The Funhouse and The Mangler.
You haven’t seen anything quite like Pulse, though – and that includes the godawful 2006 Hollywood remake.
EXTRAS: Making Of, Featurettes, Booklet
Director: Kiyoshi Kurosawa; Starring: Haruhiko Katô, Kumiko Asô, Koyuki; Dual Format release: July 10, 2017
“There’s no such thing as a realistic vampire,” we’re told, in Michael O’Shea’s decent stab at creating exactly that. Milo (Eric Ruffin) is a bullied Brooklyn teen whose thirst for blood is both a symptom of – and metaphor for – his limited life options in the projects.
The result is a thoughtful take on ’hood movies to rival Moonlight, as well as a downbeat, chilling addition to vampire lore in the vein of the late, great George A. Romero’s Martin – one of several films Milo himself is shown to love, along with Near Dark, Fright Night and Let The Right One In.
EXTRAS: Deleted scenes, Commentary, Featurette
Director: Michael O’Shea; Starring: Eric Ruffin, Chloe Levine, Jelly Bean; DVD, BD, Digital HD release: August 14, 2017
Death in the Garden
Luis Buñuel making an adventure story bursting with jungle, diamonds and guns? No, he hadn’t gone soft, instead using this commercial framework to explore themes of anti-Catholicism and anti-imperialism, as a ragtag party including a priest (Michel Piccoli), prostitute (Simone Signoret), miner (Charles Vanel) and adventurer (Georges Marchal) flee a dictatorship.
It throws light on some inky souls and disrupts the conventional narrative with startling flourishes.
EXTRAS: Interviews, Booklet
Director: Luis Buñuel; Starring: Simone Signoret, Georges Marchal, Charles Vanel; BD release: June 19, 2017
A wolfishly charismatic Dennis Quaid plays a psychic hired by Max von Sydow’s scientist to enter patients’ dreams, in this smart, funny and inventive cult item from 1984; an auspicious year for (electric) dreams – and nightmares.
If the woefully underrated Dreamscape lost out commercially to Elm Street, that’s even more reason to rejoice that this delirious mash-up of sci-fi, horror and paranoid political thriller is finally getting a decent UK Blu-ray release – albeit in its mildly trimmed, less steamy version.
Director: Joseph Ruben; Starring: Dennis Quaid, Max von Sydow, Christopher Plummer; DVD, BD release: July 31, 2017
The Graduate: 50th Anniversary Edition
Mike Nichols’ iconic, impermeably funny and stylish satire about a college grad’s (Dustin Hoffman) plunge into the ’60s generation gap gets buffed up in this 4K restoration. It’s smothered in heavyweight extras, not least the late director’s unmissable scene-by-scene commentary with Steven Soderbergh.
Watch Hoffman and Katherine Ross tumbling into and over family ties, then luxuriate in their detailed reminiscences.
EXTRAS: Interviews, Commentaries, Essays, Screen tests
Director: Mike Nichols; Starring: Dustin Hoffman, Anne Bancroft, Katharine Ross; DVD, BD, Digital HD release: August 14, 2017
Marriage Italian Style
Italian cinema royalty Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni play on/off lovers in Vittorio De Sica’s slick but slight melodrama, set in post-WW2 Italy. He’s a playboy, she’s the prostitute he never pops the question to, until she forces his hand.
A sensation in its day – bizarrely, it received Oscar nominations in two consecutive years, one for Loren as Best Actress and then one for Best Foreign Language Film the following year – its serio-comic study of sexism now feels contrived and complacent. The broad performances show none of the neo-realist grit that De Sica brought to Bicycle Thieves.
EXTRAS: Interview, Documentary
Director: Vittorio De Sica; Starring: Sophia Loren, Marcello Mastroianni, Aldo Puglisi; DVD, BD release: July 10, 2017
Sônia Braga is simply magnificent in this stirring Brazilian drama about a smart sixtysomething’s escalating battle with developers greedy for her beloved beachfront home. Writer and director Kleber Mendonça Filho’s (Neighbouring Sounds) sharp eye and potent way with classic pop tunes immerses us in the neighbourhood.
Sexy, funny, fiercely determined – not to mention a lover of wine, gigolos and classic rock – Braga’s Clara is a powerful voice in this gently paced hymn to independence.
Director: Kleber Mendonça Filho; Starring: Sônia Braga, Maeve Jinkings, Irandhir Santos; DVD, BD, Digital HD release: July 17, 2017
Freud meets Friday The 13th in this surprisingly un-shit sequel. Yes, it’s occasionally hokey, but Anthony Perkins brings boyish charm and black-eyed intensity as the damaged Norman Bates, released back into an uncaring community 22 years after killing, well, everyone.
Director Richard Franklin is a true Hitchcock disciple, mixing pastiche and character progression, while Tom Holland’s (Fright Night) witty script builds to a delicious double ending that elevates this from potential cash-in towards cult classic.
EXTRAS: Interviews, Stills, Commentary
Director: Richard Franklin; Starring: Anthony Perkins, Vera Miles, Meg Tilly; BD release: July 31, 2017