Out on 30 May and 6 June
DiCaprio grimaces and bears it. A long-awaited Alan Clarke collection. Michael Caine conducts a retirement. Jack Black rewrites his own horror story.
Yes, here’s the new DVD and Blu-Ray releases coming out in the next two weeks. Click on for our reviews of The Revenant, Dissent & Disruption: Alan Clarke at the BBC, Youth, Goosebumps, Dirty Grandpa, Brewster’s Millions, Snoopy and Charlie Brown: The Peanuts Movie, Scott of the Antarctic, Concussion, The Club, Journey to Shiloh, and Overlord.
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On Oscar night, The Revenant was left for dead. Up to that point, the film had everything going for it: critical praise, box-office success, and the kind of suffer-for-your-art shoot that has already passed into Hollywood legend. And then… outfought by Mad Max: Fury Road and outpaced by Spotlight to Best Picture, it scored only three wins from 12 nominations. Surely that wasn’t enough for Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s revenger?
It doesn’t matter. Like Leonardo DiCaprio’s Hugh Glass, The Revenant won’t be left out in the cold for long. Cinema this muscular, this memorable, will last. The title doesn’t only refer to the hero’s dogged determination but to a whole strain of uncompromising filmmaking that many thought obsolete in the digital age. For all its CG-assisted bear mauling, Iñárritu brings an undeniably old-school swagger, rivalling Herzog and Coppola for the sheer hardship he puts his actors through and capturing sequences of staggering visual bravura. It’s hard to argue against Iñárritu’s Oscar, except on the grounds that (after winning for Birdman last year) he’s now hogging the Best Director category.
As for DiCaprio, the star gamely huffs and puffs his way through situations so desperate the stage directions should probably read: ‘exit frying pan, enter fire.’ With Glass’ throat slashed, DiCaprio gives a predominantly physical performance. Bizarrely, he replays, completely straight, the same incapacitated floor-shuffle that got big laughs during The Wolf of Wall Street. Sceptics may mock that DiCaprio won his long-overdue Oscar for eating raw bison liver, but that’s to devalue his ability to hold the screen without speaking. And with Tom Hardy out-Bane-ing Bane for incomprehensibility as the film’s villain, this could be a silent movie.
Certainly, with cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki notching up his third consecutive) Oscar, it’s the imagery that stands out. There are long takes here of remarkable potency, the camera so immersed in the physical environment that the screen itself becomes as bedraggled as the beaten-up hero: rain and blood fall on the lens, and the camera gets close enough to DiCaprio for the actor’s breath to fog our view. Yet unlike Birdman, the set-pieces are punctuated by contemplative framings of those awe-inspiring landscapes. Japanese auteur Yasujiro once specialised in such mood-markers, which came to be known as ‘pillow shots’, except here they’re shorn of their comfort to heighten the film’s elemental menace.
All that’s missing, really, is the thematic weight to match the spectacle. The script speaks of courage and honour, and the narrative duly dismantles notions of both to depict a bitter war of racist assumptions and imperial aspirations. Meanwhile, Glass’ quest is tinged with the realisation that he’s corrupted himself simply by choosing revenge as a motive. All well and good, except that there’s nothing new here beyond Iñárritu’s admirable decision never to telegraph the themes. There are no captions, voiceovers or big speeches; the imagery carries the ideas.
Harking back to past Iñárritu films, notably 21 Grams and Biutiful, is the spiritual thread whereby DiCaprio has persistent dreams and visions of his tragic backstory. Arguably, the artistry falters because Iñárritu’s symbols are second-hand. From levitating women to animals in ruined churches, this is the familiar realm of Malick and Tarkovsky and such ruminative transcendence works better without the showboating. All credit to Iñárritu, though, for remixing these unlikely, obtuse influences into a brisk, brutal exploitation pic, and being rewarded with a hit movie, if not – quite – the Oscar-buster many expected.
Chief extra is a 45-minute Making Of doc – ‘A World Unseen’ – as stately as the film. Iñárritu goes full-Herzog discussing his anti-capitalist themes (“you can’t eat money”) while DiCaprio, disconcertingly chatty after Glass’ silence, muses on environmental issues. With bitter irony, production was halted for five months due to lack of snow, casting a bittersweet pall on the majestic drone photography that spies on the shoot. Is time running out for the next Iñárritu to go wild? Here’s hoping filmmaking this ballsy isn’t left for dead.
EXTRAS: Documentary, Stills gallery (BD, 4K)
Director: Alejandro G. Iñárritu; Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Will Poulter, Domhnall Gleeson; DVD, BD, Digital HD release: June 6, 2016
DISSENT & DISRUPTION: THE COMPLETE ALAN CLARKE AT THE BBC
Mention the name Alan Clarke, and chances are the film that explodes to mind is Scum, the unflinching Borstal-set drama in which a young Ray Winstone’s new kid on the prison block announces himself as the daddy via two snooker balls in a sock.
Dig a little deeper and three more titles might occur: The Firm, featuring Gary Oldman in coruscating form as football hooligan Bexy; Made In Britain, in which Tim Roth makes his startling debut as Trevor, a racist skinhead who gobs in the face of any ‘support’ offered by the inept system; and ebullient-but-bleak dramedy Rita, Sue And Bob Too!, set in and around the notorious Buttershaw estate in Bradford as a married man (George Costigan) repeatedly shags two teenage babysitters (Siobahn Finneran, Michelle Holmes). ‘Thatcher’s Britain with her knickers down’ read the tagline.
The rest of Clarke’s work, though, has been hard to see – which only makes this stunning BFI release all the more vital. Sorted into a pair of six-disc DVD boxsets or a 13-disc Blu extravaganza, it collects together 30 works (all surviving material) from his career at the BBC. Made in Britain and Rita, Sue and Bob Too! are absent, the former commissioned by ITV, the latter by Film4. But both versions of Scum are here (Auntie banned his 1977 take, so he remade it for theatrical release in 1979), plus a one-two gut punch of The Firm – a never-before-seen director’s cut reinstalls the handful of scenes trimmed by the BBC, including Bex taking a beating from his wife (Mike Leigh favourite Lesley Manville).
But the discoveries are the big sell. The consistent quality of Clarke’s work proves startling, while the very best titles on offer – Penda’s Fen, Christine, Elephant – are flat-out masterpieces. Also consistent is the socio-political commitment demonstrated by the anarchic filmmaker, who bloodies the nose of military academies (Sovereign’s Company), the Church (The Hallelujah Handshake), courts (To Encourage the Others), and psychiatric hospitals (Funny Farm), while Psy-Warriors, Contact and Elephant focus on The Troubles.
Using long takes, a roving Steadicam and authentic locations, Clarke often gives a voice to the downtrodden – drug addicts, criminals, the mentally ill – and his legacy can be seen in the work of Shane Meadows, Clio Barnard, Andrea Arnold and more. This release confirms he’s one of the true daddies of British cinema.
EXTRAS: Commentaries, Documentaries, Outtakes, Introductions
Director: Alan Clarke; Starring: Various; DVD release: June 6, 2016
Veteran thesps Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel aren’t the only things that sag in a melancholic meditation upon growing old that mistakes a barrage of vivid detail for what’s commonly known as a plot.
As the retired conductor reluctant to launch a comeback and the past-it film director desperate to engineer one, Mike and Harry respectively have little to do but watch on agape as the Alpine resort in which they’re staying is invaded by everyone from Paul Dano’s credibility-seeking actor to Paloma Faith as, er, Paloma Faith. An abrupt tragic ending feels as arbitrary as everything else in Paolo Sorrentino’s gorgeously shot but aggravating Great Beauty follow-up.
EXTRAS: Featurette, Interviews
Director: Paolo Sorrentino; Starring: Michael Caine, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, Paul Dano; DVD, BD, Digital HD release: May 30, 2016
“There aren’t kids’ books!” protests the script shortly before all monster hell erupts, and it’s true: this is an adventure filled with thrills, gags and heart for all ages to enjoy. The masterstroke is in not adapting a single Goosebumps book but having author RL Stine (Jack Black) at the centre of a story in which all his creations are unleashed.
Self-aware, sinister silliness comes in the form of gnomes, a ventriloquist dummy mastermind, etc., but Dylan Minnette steals the show, with the charisma and comic timing of a star with a huge career ahead.
EXTRAS: Featurettes, Alternate opening/ending (BD), Deleted scenes (BD), Blooper reel (BD), Gallery (BD)
Director: Rob Letterman; Starring: Jack Black, Dylan Minnette, Odeya Rush; DVD, BD, Digital HD release: May 30, 2016
“I want to fuck until my dick falls off” is the excuse that Robert De Niro’s recently widowed horndog grandpa gives for his aggressive perving and borderline sexual harassment. And if this alone isn’t enough to drive you into mourning for the once great actor’s career, there’s always the sight of him getting caught masturbating by grandson Zac Efron.
Both actors give their best shot in this outrageous and intentionally gross road movie, in which De Niro’s grandpa tries to teach Efron’s uptight Jason to lighten up. But most of the gags are so offensive, the film feels like it belongs in a long-discarded era of odorous sex comedies.
EXTRAS: Featurettes, Commentary, Gag reel
Director: Dan Mazer; Starring: Robert De Niro, Zac Efron, Zoey Deutch; DVD, BD release: May 30, 2016
The seventh adaptation of George Barr McCutcheon’s novel is arguably the most famous. Not that Walter Hill’s version has worn particularly well. Richard Pryor is Brewster, a minor league baseball pitcher given a ludicrous task by his recently deceased great-uncle: spend $30m in 30 days and he’ll inherit $300m. Easier said than done when you can’t leave any assets, or tell your friends.
John Candy co-stars as Brewster’s teammate, but this is hardly his or Pryor’s finest hour. Both seem dialled down, although the middle-of-the-road script does them few favours. If you have fond ’80s memories, don’t tarnish them with a re-visit.
Director: Walter Hill; Starring: Richard Pryor, John Candy, Lonette McKee; DVD release: June 6, 2016
SNOOPY AND CHARLIE BROWN: THE PEANUTS MOVIE
Garfield, The Smurfs, Top Cat… Hollywood is littered with rotten updates of beloved cartoons and strips. So thank the great pumpkin that Blue Sky and director Steve Martino have realised Charles Schulz’s Peanuts with loving care.
The plot, which sees good ol’ Charlie Brown (Noah Schnapp) swoon over the red-haired girl at school while Snoopy takes flights of fancy, is paper-thin. But the beautifully rendered CG feels pencil-drawn, the voices are authentic and the characters are just as you remember them (yes, the teacher sounds like a trombone). More good than grief.
EXTRAS: Documentary (BD), Reunion (BD), Shorts, Tutorials, Music video, Playlist
Director: Steve Martino; Starring: Noah Schnapp, Bill Melendez, Hadley Belle Miller, Francesca Capaldi; DVD, BD, Digital HD release: May 30, 2016
SCOTT OF THE ANTARCTIC
As the recent Eddie the Eagle shows, the Brits love a heroic failure – and few failed bigger than Robert Falcon Scott, beaten to the South Pole in 1912 by Norwegian explorer Amundsen and dying heroically on the return journey. Or that’s the way it’s told in Ealing’s version, with John Mills maxing the stiff-upper-lippery as Scott.
In fact, it’s all a bit stiff, but the polar landscapes (shot in Norway and Switzerland) are majestic, and Vaughan Williams’ score is glorious.
EXTRAS: Interviews, Featurettes, Home-movie footage, Booklet, Stills gallery
Director: Charles Frend; Starring: John Mills, James Robertson, Justice Barry Letts; DVD, BD, VOD release: June 6, 2016
It’s a shame when a film doesn’t live up to its lead’s performance. Will Smith gives a superbly understated portrayal of Dr. Bennet Omalu, the pathologist who uncovers a link between the long-term brain damage of American football players and the concussions they incurred on the field.
Sadly, director Peter Landesman’s heavy-handed approach oversimplifies the real story. Still, Smith’s turn and the tackling of a genuine conspiracy score points, even if the film isn’t quite a touchdown.
EXTRAS: Commentary, Deleted scenes, Featurettes
Director: Peter Landesman; Starring: Will Smith Alec Baldwin, Albert Brooks; DVD, BD, Digital HD release: June 6, 2016
A group of ex-priests live anonymously, hiding their secret shame as disgraced clergymen, culpable for crimes including child abuse. However, a trio of new arrivals are about to test how genuine their penance really is. Chilean director Pablo Larraín here brings the same moral scrutiny to the Catholic Church’s failings as he did to his ‘Pinochet trilogy’ (Tony Manero, Post Mortem, No).
With his slow, exacting style punctuated by sudden violence, Larraín’s story commands an unsettling ambiguity. The result exposes the hypocrisy and complacency of a powerful institution policing itself.
Director: Pablo Larraín; Starring: Alfredo Castro, Roberto Farías, Antonia Zegers; DVD, BD release: May 30, 2016
JOURNEY TO SHILOH
Released the same summer as Once Upon a Time in the West, William Hale’s crusty flick is the slightest of the ’Nam-era anti-war westerns. It’s been saved from obscurity by an uncomfortable-looking James Caan in the lead and a bored-looking Harrison Ford in the background.
As the intro song lets on, the story follows “seven lusty long-haired Texans heading for the Civil War” whose “lips have known no women, and hearts have known no fear”. A few women and a bit of fear later, the film ends up feeling like a lost TV special with a few countercultural trimmings.
Director: William Hale; Starring: James Caan, Harrison Ford; DVD release: June 6, 2016
A unique and quietly powerful mediation on World War 2, this largely unsung classic blends archive war footage with an original narrative about one young man’s enrolment in the army and his eventual participation in D-Day.
Director Stuart Cooper matches the look of his fictional story to the real-life clips sourced from the Imperial War Museum, creating a film that seems directly lifted from its period setting, overlaid with a potent sense of foreboding. Exhaustive extras on this Criterion Blu include vintage shorts and journal extracts by two D-Day soldiers.
EXTRAS: Commentary, Short films, Photo essay, Booklet
Director: Stuart Cooper; Starring: Brian Stirner, Nicholas Ball, Davyd Harries, Julie Neesam; BD release: June 6, 2016