Out on 4 April and 11 April
An intimate epic of Scots rural life from Terence Davies. A trip into the weird world of cinephilia with Guy Maddin.
Yes, here's the new DVD and Blu-Ray releases coming out in the next two weeks. Click on for our reviews of Sunset Song, The Forbidden Room, Kill Your Friends, Victor Frankenstein, Bande à Part, A Kiss Before Dying, Justice League: Cosmic Clash, Bridge of Spies, Three Days of the Condor, Bride of Re-Animator, Grandma, Creepshow 2, Chronic, Bullset!, Snow White: A Tale of Terror, and The Sound Barrier.
For the best movie reviews, subscribe to Total Film.
Scotland, the early 1900s: aspiring teacher Chris (Agyness Deyn) is finding it hard to escape her bleak rural life (personified by grizzled pa Peter Mullan). This adap of Lewis Grassic Gibbon's classic novel (included as an E-book) is clearly a labour of love for director Terence Davies, becoming a characteristic study of how environment and circumstances shape communities and individuals.
Yet while Davies' meticulous, patient approach offers beautiful, burnished visuals, the episodic narrative can't help but become a dour soap opera, in which Deyn stoically withstands one overfamiliar tragedy after another without ever achieving the necessary emotional wallop.
Director: Terence Davies Starring: Agyness Deyn, Peter Mullan, Kevin Guthrie DVD, BD release: April 4, 2016
THE FORBIDDEN ROOM
Combining the aesthetics of silent cinema with the avant-garde, director Guy Maddin dives deep into the rabbit hole for this surreal, spellbinding experience of a film. Comprising a series of vignettes that flow into each other with the logic of a dream, it serves up everything from a man possessed by the bust of the two-faced god Janus to an infomercial explaining the best way to take a bath.
Some are unsettling in their mystery, while others are burdened by an ironic detachment from the genres they're pastiching. But overall this is cinema bursting at the seams with activity and imagination.
EXTRAS: Commentary > Features
Director: Guy Maddin Starring: Roy Dupuis, Clara Furey, Louis Negin Dual format release: April 4, 2016
KILL YOUR FRIENDS
John Niven adapts his own cult novel into a self-impressed American Psycho rip-off set in Brit-pop London that's entertaining enough but doesn’t always hit the right notes. Nicholas Hoult does his charismatic best as wunderkind A&R sociopath Steven Stelfox, a man so desperate to find the next big thing and climb the industry pile he'll stove in heads to get it.
But if Niven's repellent speeches work on paper, that doesn't always fly as dialogue. And despite the cracking '90s soundtrack, a clear sense of the era is missing, making the more grotesque elements of this dark comedy seem trite and try-hard rather than bleakly funny.
Director: Owen Harris Starring: Ed Skrein, Nicholas Hoult, James Corden, Rosanna Arquette DVD, BD, Digital HD release: April 4, 2016
Under-promoted and overly criticised on release, Victor Frankenstein fell under the radar and under box-office expectation. But Max Landis' reimagining is a perfectly entertaining small-screen watch. In Frankenstein (James McAvoy in manic form) is a socially inept dick kept in moral check by his former-circus-freak sidekick, Igor (Daniel Radcliffe) as the duo try to reanimate corpses.
Jessica brown Findlay adds little in a romantic sideline, especially as Sherlock director Paul McGuigan is more interested in replicating the Cumberbatch/Freeman emotional dynamic, complete with Andrew Scott's cock-blocking adversary. Derivative but diverting.
Director: Paul McGuigan Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, James McAvoy, Jessica Brown Findlay DVD, BD, Digital HD release: April 11, 2016
BANDE À PART
Three young outsiders entangled in a love triangle (Anna Karina, Claude Brasseur and Sami Frey) wander Paris contemplating whether to carry out a robbery. Jean-Luc Godard's iconic caper is not as thrillingly original as the auteur at his best, but neither is it as off-puttingly detached as his most maddening work.
It resonates most as a slice of effortlessly cool '60s chic, one that peaks in the famous cafe dance sequence. That scene and the race through the Louvre have secured the film's place in cine-history – which is expanded upon at length in the scholarly extras.
EXTRAS: Commentary > Interviews > Short film > Booklet
Director: Jean-Luc Godard Starring: Anna Karina, Claude Brasseur, Danièle Girard BD release: March 21, 2016
A KISS BEFORE DYING
You get two Sean Youngs for the price of one in this pulpy adap of Ira Levin's novel about a homicidal social climber (Matt Dillon) who, having thrown one sister off a tall building, sets his sights on her identical twin. (Two too many Sean Youngs for some, among them the Razzie voters who gave her two prizes for her pains.)
It's a loopy premise to which director James Dearden gives a floridly Hitchcockian treatment, right down to a shower scene, artificial back projection and Bernard Herrmann-esque score. The result? A guilty pleasure that can be enjoyed and tittered at in equal measure.
Director: James Dearden Starring: Matt Dillon, Sean Young, Max von Sydow DVD release: March 21, 2016
JUSTICE LEAGUE: COSMIC CLASH
This gleefully silly animation acts as a fun, colourful chaser for Zack Snyder's live-action League, but is strictly for kids and hardcore DC completists only. When brainiac (Phil LaMarr) attempts to shrink the earth for his planet collection, Batman (Troy Baker) has to time travel to save the other League members from temporal-displacement doom.
The fun is in the characters sending up their own reputations, particularly with Batman's Adam West-ian deadpan delivery, but don't be fooled – this is skewed much more to a kiddie audience than The LEGO Movie. One throwaway extra: an incoherent, redubbed, fake 'gag reel'.
EXTRAS: Gag reel
Director: Rick Morales Starring: Troy Baker, Nolan North, Khary Payton DVD, BD release: March 21, 2016
BRIDGE OF SPIES
Not Steven Spielberg's most explosive political film, but perhaps – quietly – one of his most insightful and pertinent. Bridge Of Spies is a slow-burn thriller about American values set against the icy backdrop of Cold War Berlin, with Tom Hanks (who has American values firmly locked down) the obdurate lawyer sticking to his guns while defending an alleged Russian agent.
Mr Smith Goes to Eastern Europe, then – but it's the Oscar-winning Mark Rylance as the gentle spy himself who steals it. If the sentimental coda bugs you, blame Hanks – it was his idea, as revealed in the featurette-centric extras.
Director: Steven Spielberg Starring: Tom Hanks, Mark Rylance, Alan Alda DVD, BD, Digital HD release: March 28, 2016
THREE DAYS OF THE CONDOR
In one of Hollywood’s definitive conspiracy thrillers, Robert Redford is CIA analyst Joe Turner, codename Condor, on the run after surviving a hit by renegade spooks. Director Sydney Pollack plays a satisfyingly long game, achieving tension via watchful lensing and cerebral set-pieces; Max Von Sydow’s suave, practical assassin symbolises the classiness.
While Redford’s love affair with hostage-turned-helper Faye Dunaway is far-fetched, the spy-jinks retain a frisson of plausibility. Though made in the wake of Watergate, its jaundiced vision of furtive foreign policy and media manipulation is still worryingly pertinent.
EXTRAS: Booklet > Video essay > Documentary
Director: Sydney Pollack; Starring: Robert Redford, Faye Dunaway, Cliff Robertson; Dual format release: April 11, 2016
BRIDE OF RE-ANIMATOR
Based on the uncanny writings of HP Lovecraft, Brian Yuzna’s sequel owes more to the era’s splatter films, including his own Society: straight-faced, sniff-the-fart acting and imaginatively squishy FX.
It finds Drs Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs) and Dan Cain (Bruce Abbott) bringing life to “dead-heads and no-bodies” as cop Claude earl Jones investigates. It never quite reaches the delirium of part 1, but the hallucinatory climax has to be seen to be believed. The extras complete a more-than-competent package.
EXTRAS: Booklet > Commentaries > Comic > Featurettes > Deleted scenes
Director: Brian Yuzan; Starring: Jeffrey Combs, Bruce Abbott; Dual format release: April 11, 2016
When you consider this year’s Oscar snubs, spare a thought for Lily Tomlin, who rips up the screen in Paul Weitz’s comic drama. She plays Elle, a lesbian poet who sets out to help her granddaughter Sage (Julia Garner) deal with her unplanned pregnancy.
As she tries to rustle up $600 for Sage’s abortion from an assortment of old friends and lovers, Elle is anything but the adorable grandma the title might suggest, and Weitz expertly sketches out a life lived. At 79 minutes, it’s small-but-perfectly formed, with Marcia Gay Harden as Elle’s daughter rivalling Tomlin for the film’s best turn. Don’t miss.
EXTRAS: Commentary > Q&A
Director: Paul Weitz; Starring: Lily Tomlin, Julia Garner; DVD, Blu-ray release: April 4, 2016
Creepshow 2: the sequel that was so cheap, it had to ditch two of its stories just to stay afloat. What’s left hardly justifies the loose change. (And definitely not the 18 certificate.) Once again boasting perversely impressive horror credentials – stories by Stephen King, screenplay by George A. Romero – its most effective segment is ‘The Raft’, in which teens are chased by a menacing oil slick.
The creepiest thing here, though, is King’s cameo as a truck driver attending the scene of a hit and run – presaging his own near-fatal road accident by a dozen years. Spooky.
EXTRAS: Interviews, Featurette, Stills gallery
Director: Michael Gornick; Starring: George Kennedy, Lois Chiles, Domenick John, Tom Savini; DVD, BD release: April 11, 2016
The innermost secrets of the terminally ill are explored in Michel Franco’s bleak whiteout of a film. Tim Roth is a powerful presence as David, a nurse who cares for the dying, morphing into their lives in a way that makes his patients’ relatives deeply uneasy.
David’s own life is explored in little detail – an ex-wife and stepdaughter exist on the fringes – and his dispassionate expression leaves his inner life a mystery. Yet he shocks us at the finale, and it is this that makes Chronic a worthwhile, if disturbing, watch.
Director: Michel Franco; Tim Roth, Bitsie Tulloch, Claire van der Boom, David Dastmalchian; DVD, Digital release: April 11, 2016
Everyone’s a loser in this Michael Winner stinker, a laughter-banishing crime caper that asks those noted chameleons Michael Caine and Roger Moore to take on double roles: a couple of nuclear scientists out to flog their cold fusion formula to the highest bidder, and a pair of con-artists out to relieve them of it first.
The ensuing antics are lowbrow even by this filmmaker’s subterranean standards, though Eddie Kidd’s stunt-biking does at least enliven a Scotland-set last third. The only reason to even contemplate a purchase is a tacked-on Moore interview, in which he happily concedes it’s not much cop.
Director: Michael Winner; Starring: Michael Caine, Roger Moore, Sally Kirkland; DVD release: April 4, 2016
SNOW WHITE: A TALE OF TERROR
Upholding the dark overtones of the original story, this TV-movie version of the Snow White tale really is Grimm in places. Sigourney Weaver plays a more sympathetic evil stepmother, who’s consumed with insane jealousy after Lilli (Monica Keena) proves to be a spoilt brat unwilling to accept her nobleman father’s (Sam Neill) new wife.
The traditional story unfolds in disturbing ways, such as the witch’s black magic reviving a still-born baby, and one of the seven ‘dwarves’ threatening to rape Lilli. Just don’t leave it on your kids’ Disney shelf...
Director: Michael Cohn; Starring: Sigourney Weaver, Sam Neill, Gil Bellows, Taryn Davis; DVD release: April 4, 2016
THE SOUND BARRIER
A massive hit in its day, David Lean’s restored tale of peacetime test pilots tackling air speed records has aged in a way his better-known works haven’t (sample line: “What’s so ruddy peculiar about the Sound Barrier?”).
Dedicated to RAF flyboys – one of them “the late Trevor S. Wade” – it combines balletic aerial footage with dodgy back projection to stirring effect, even if the only thing stiffer than star Nigel Patrick’s upper lip is the class system. Appropriately, Lean spends the disc’s interview smoking like an engine exhaust.
Director: David Lean; Starring: Ralph Richardson, Ann Todd, Nigel Patrick, John Justin; DVD, BD, VOD release: April 11, 2016