Saturday, 27 September 2008

New DVD releases round up 29th / 30th September.

Sifting through this weeks crop of contemporary DVD releases, we've come up with some recommendations for you.

In the UK, our pick of the DVD releases on 29th September 2008 are:

Leolo

Leolo tells the story of a young boy (Leolo), who is being brought up in squalid conditions in a shabby tenement in Montreal that he shares with his family - most of whom seem plagued by madness. To escape these conditions, he increasingly retreats into a world of his own imagination where he looks to find some path to happiness, whether it be falling in love with his beautiful neighbour, or by killing his Grandfather whom Leolo blames for the genetic failure of the entire family. When Leolo's two worlds start to merge, the escape he longs for him pushes him into increasingly desperate actions.

Leolo A quite remarkable piece of work that we have made DVD release of the month for September 2008, see elsewhere in the blog for details and the trailer. The Network label is renowned for its classic TV releases (everything from Emmerdale Farm 1st series to Budgie to The Owl Service to Michael Bentines Potty Time through to 3 volumes of Pipkins - all firm favourites with us), and is also building up an impressive roster of films in its catalogue. Only last week it released the classic The Red Balloon, and Leolo is the latest in a long line of films released by Network that, but for them, otherwise might not have been released on DVD. These include many films we have recommended in the past to you such as Billy The Kid And The Green Baize Vampire, The Chain, Bloody Kids, The Fruit Machine and The Buster Keaton Chronicles.

Caligula (Imperial edition). Not a film for the faint hearted. The notorious Caligula holds a unique position in cinematic history. Commissioned by Penthouse publishing magnate Bob Guccione with a very impressive budget and some considerable talent both in front (Malcolm McDowell, Helen Mirren, John Gielgud and Peter O'Toole) and behind the camera (director Tinto Brass writer Gore Vidal), the film was envisaged as being a legitimate attempt at making an epic film of the life of the insane Roman emperor. As filming progressed over a protracted period however, Guccione increasingly the wished to interfere in its making and insited on inserting some pretty much hardcore sequences into Brass' original cut. When Brass left the project Guccione took over the editing of the film with the expected results. The film itself was never truly going to be a masterpiece (check out I Claudius for that), however it is still a pretty good film despite some of the botching done to it. This 4 disc release includes 3 different cuts of the film but equally as important some truly superb extras including great commentaries, and some fascinating documentaries too.

Irina Palm. This one slipped out almost unseen last year. Starring the ever wonderful Marianne Faithfull and ever gorgeous Jenny Agutter. The film follows the exploits a middle-aged widow who, in order to raise money to pay for her grandson`s medical bills, takes a hostess job in a sex club. She soon finds she can turn her hand to almost anything. Sorry for the cheesy write up - the film is much better than our blurb. Marianne Faithfull is superbly convincing in this unnacustomed and slightly unexpected role as a shy widow, and the film hangs together very well as one of the best brit coms of recent times.

In the USA, the pick of the DVD releases on 30th September 2008 are:

Taxi To The Dark Side
Taxi To The Dark Side. The film that quite correctly won the 2007 Oscar for best documentary feature. This film makes for extremely uncomfortable viewing. The film centers around the death of a completely innocent young taxi driver in Afghanistan, who is subjected to horrifying torture / interrogation in prison at the hands of the American forces. His death, from the injuries sustained in his interrogation is not unique, either in Afghanistan Guantanomo etc, and the film goes onto explore how the US administration appeared to ("unofficially") condone the tactics of torture in the name of democracy.

An Autumn Afternoon aka Sanma no aji . This final film by Japanese director Yasujiro Ozu was originally released in 1962, and it tells the story of a widower who has to encourage his daughter to lead her on life rather than look after him in his old age. The film is something of a masterpiece, deceptively paced, acutely observed and meaningfully powerful, Ozu's trademarks are all also apparent here. Yet another classic Criterion release.

The Hairdresser's Husband aka Le Mari de la coiffeuse. The story of Antoine, a little boy who falls in love with the local hairdresser, and in his obsession he gets his hair cut as often as he can. When he grows up, his obsession with hair cutting is undiminished, and one day meets a hairdresser, Mathilde, and for both of them it is love at first sight, but not necessarily all happy endings. Another superb offering from Patrice Leconte and ranks alongside L'Homme du train and Monsieur Hire as some of his finest work to date.

Other recommended new DVD releases can be found on our site at alt-flix.co.uk DVD releases.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Leolo - September 2008 DVD release of the month

Leolo

The DVD release of the month for September 2008 is Leolo. This Golden Palm nominated Canadian film from 1992, directed by Jean-Claude Lauzon is released by the lovely Network DVD label in the UK on 29th September 2008.

Leolo tells the story of a young boy (Leolo), who is being brought up in squalid conditions in a shabby tenement in Montreal that he shares with his family - most of whom seem plagued by madness. To escape these conditions, he increasingly retreats into a world of his own imagination where he looks to find some path to happiness, whether it be falling in love with his beautiful neighbour, or by killing his Grandfather whom Leolo blames for the genetic failure of the entire family. When Leolo's two worlds start to merge, the escape he longs for him pushes him into increasingly desperate actions.

Leolo

Leolo is a strange and relatively unknown film. The most remarkable story contained in the film is in turn funny, tragic, sentimental, brutal and other times just plain weird, all of which neatly mirror the madness that Leolo's family suffers. In fact it is plain weird quite a lot of the time. There is also a certain schizophrenia in the cinematography which switches seamlessly from the "late 1980s post-MTV ultra slick music video epic" ultra slow zoom in zoom out, to the European cinema approved long tracking establishing shots, both of which work beautifully in conjunction with the terrifically atmospheric score. Allied to these ingredients, the film contains a truly superb main cast, though special mention has to go to the then 13 year old Maxime Collin who so perfectly judges the role of Leolo.

It's always an absolute thrill stumbling across such hidden gems as this film. So here is hoping that lots more people get to discover this fantastic piece of work thanks to this DVD release.

View the Leolo trailer below (which unfortunately gives only the briefest flavour of the film itself).

Monday, 22 September 2008

New DVD releases round up 22nd / 23rd September.

Sifting through this weeks crop of contemporary DVD releases, we've come up with some recommendations for you.

In the UK, our pick of the DVD releases on 22nd September 2008 are:

Histoire(s) Du Cinema - Jean-Luc Goadard
Jean-Luc Godard's place in cinematic history is already assured with a long list of stunning and challenging movies such as Weekend, Made In USA and Breathless to name but three, but his eight episode series of histories of the cinema may well be his crowning glory. Made over a period of 10 years, this series is a truly mammoth critical meditation on 20th century cinema its glory and failings and taken in so much more. All done is a godard stylee it is a truly remarkable piece of work.

Bullet Boy. This film about the mean streets of London from 2005 is even more relevant given the escalation in the media profile of knife crime in the capital in the last year, and so this fine film is given a timely re-release. The story expands on themes of loyalty, kinship, courage, and escapism against the tough realities of surviving in a pressure cooker urban environment where doing the right thing is rarely a straight forward judgement call.

The Red Balloon / Flight of the Red Balloon. AKA Le Voyage Du Ballon Rouge/Le Ballon Rouge. Cult DVD label Network continues to build on its excellent repertoire of TV releases with its growing roster of film DVDs. They have now released The Red Ballon (1954) a 34 film minute with minimal dialogue, and an almost balletic story of a boy and his balloon meandering through the streets and rooftops of a changing Paris. Absolutely beautifully photographed it was also the winner of that years Oscar for best screenplay (even though it was only classed as a short film).

In the USA, the pick of the DVD releases on 23rd September 2008 are:

The Bill Douglas Trilogy
Bill Douglas was something of a lost name in British cinema, but his trilogy of films My Childhood, My Ain Folk and My Way Home are some of the most strongly autobiographical stories ever brought to life in Cinema. With those personal stories the joy and crushing lows of being brought up in a poverty stricken mining town in Scotland, and the 'escape' from home cut into the viewer like a knife. We here at alt-flix are dying to see Douglas' truly lost classic Comrades an extremely rarely shown epic about the Tolpuddle Martyrs.

The Singing Detective . A re-telling of Dennis Potter's classic 1980s TV serial. Surprisingly for a Hollywood produced movie, the retelling only loses a small amount of the charm and the darkly bitten spite of the original series. Robert Downey Jr gives his finest performance so far in the film, and the rest of the cast are pretty good too. Having said all that I would strongly recommend that anyone who enjoys watching this film should track down the DVD of the original series as it is an absolute masterpiece.

Aki Kaurismaki's Proletariat Trilogy (Shadows in Paradise / Ariel / The Match Factory Girl). Switching disarmingly and constantly rotating somewhere between tragedy and comedy, these social-realist comedies beautifully trevail the trials of the working-class of Kaurismaki's native Finland. A uniquely talented film maker whose work deserves a much wider audience.

Cinematographer Style. A truly fascinating and beautiful documentary focusing on the art and artists involved in cinematography. Includes inllumintaion from such cinematographers as Roger Deakins (the Coen brother's cinematographer) and Vittorio Storaro (whose stunning cinematography graced Apocalypse Now).

Other recommended new DVD releases can be found on our site at alt-flix.co.uk DVD releases.

Monday, 15 September 2008

New DVD releases round up 15th / 16th September.

Sifting through this weeks crop of contemporary DVD releases, we've come up with some recommendations to help you forget about the rain and the wind.

In the UK, our pick of the DVD releases on 15th September 2008 are:

Rashomon
Rashomon. Truly a landmark film Akira Kurosawa's 1950 tale of human frailty and (dis)honesty was the first of a crop of Japenese classics to truly find an international audience after its triumph at the 1951 Venice Film Festival. Justifiably a classic, we cannot recommend this special edition release highly enough.

XXY. A bold, but sensitively played out tale of a hermaphrodite teenager and a new found friend trying to make sense of their relationship, sexualities and their local community. This Argentinian drama has deservedly chalked up numerous awards and nominations, and found itself a wider audience who have praised its unflinching and honest approach to the story.

Three And Out. Starring Mckenzie Crook as a tube train driver who has recently had 2 suicides jump in front of his tube train. When he is told that if this happens 3 times in a month he gets paid off service with a huge lump sum, he goes out in search of a willing volunteer. Low budget Brit coms never seem to be flavour of the month, but this controversial black comedy deserved better treatment that it received, as it is actually one of the best Brit coms made in the last few years.

In the USA, the pick of the DVD releases on 16th September 2008 are:

Ladies And Gentlemen The Fabulous Stains
Ladies And Gentlemen The Fabulous Stains. An almost legendary and lost 1981 low budget flick about an all girl punk band who rise from obscurity to next big thing. With a cast that included Ray Winstone, alongside musicians Paul Cook and Steve Jones (Sex Pistols) and Paul Simenon (The Clash) the film enjoyed only rare screenings, but like all great cult classics, it has over the years gained a significant following through word of mouth and lots of poor quality video tapes and discs changing hands. Now receiving its first commercial release on any format.

The Love Guru. Everyone is waiting for Mike Myers to make a bad film - keep waiting. This is another truly funny Myers movies stuffed with some great gags, and again proves he is one of the very few universal talents making comedy these days.

British Cinema Classic B Film Collection, Vol. 1. B movie in this particular context is slightly misleading. There are some classics contained in this great selection. The Siege of Sidney Street is the pick of the bunch, the true story of a riot come uprising in the east end of London in 1911. Also included is Tread Softly Stranger, The Frightened Man, Crimes at the Dark House, The Hooded Terror and Girl in the News

Other recommended new DVD releases can be found on our site at alt-flix.co.uk DVD releases.

Monday, 8 September 2008

New DVD releases round up 8th / 9th September.

Sifting through this weeks crop of contemporary DVD releases, we've come up with some recommendations to help you forget about the wind and the rain.

In the UK, our pick of the DVD releases on 8th September 2008 are:

Chemical Wedding
Chemical Wedding. Now any film based on a screenplay written by Bruce Dickinson, lead singer of British heavy metal band Iron Maiden, doesn't exactly set your imagination aflame but this blackly comic horror stars a wonderfully over the top (is there any other kind) Simon Callow. Callow stars as Cambridge professor who who becomes possessed by the spirit of the legendary occultist, Aleister Crowley. Then it starts getting really weird.

Charlie Bubbles. A very welcome re-release for the 1960s classic starring the wonderful Albert Finney who plays the title role of a successful writer who has lost his way and looks to reconnect with his roots and family. A superb film based on the script by the very wonderful Shelagh Delaney (A Taste Of Honey and Dance With A Stranger).

Caramel aka Sukkar banat. Nadine Labaki's refreshing bittersweet film tells the tales of the lives of 5 woman in a beauty salon is Beirut.

In the USA, the pick of the DVD releases on 9th September 2008 are:

The Big Lebowski
The Big Lebowski - 10th Anniversary Limited Edition. Ten years on and The Big Lebowksi still rocks (or rolls is more appropriate) and this is our favourite US movie of all time. Ok this release is in novel bowling ball packaging, but the real treat is that the previous releases have been rather bereft of extras whilst this one is an extras laden 2 disc release. Other editions including Blu-Ray, HD DVD, and normally packaged anniversary editions are all available from us via the alt-flix stores.

Wild Strawberries. Released as part of the Essential Art House series of DVDs. Ingmar Bergman's 1957 classic is a must see (don't be put off by his reputation his films are much more accessible than some would have you believe).
Also released the same day as part of the series are other classics like The Lord Of The Flies, Grand Illusion, Rashomon, Beauty and The Beast, and Knife In The Water.

Other recommended new DVD releases can be found on our site at alt-flix.co.uk DVD releases.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Never Apologise (for correct spelling).



Never Aplogise, or Never Apologize (USA title) is an exciting new film that has received a very limited cinematic run in the UK from 5th September.
The film is basically a recording of Malcolm McDowell's one man theatre show about legendary British film director Lindsay Anderson. The show is cut with clips of Lindsay Anderson's films If... and O'Lucky Man! (both starring McDowell), and excerpts from Andersons recently pothumously published memoirs.
We here at alt-flix are great fans of Lindsay Anderson's work (and Malcolm McDowell's for that matter) and can heartily recommend the film for fellow fans of Anderson and McDowell, film buffs and anyone who wants to have a damn good laugh at McDowell's hugely funny stories. Check out the trailer below.



If you can't make it to the cinema the DVD will be released in the UK on 27th October and can be pre-ordered direct from our alt-flix store, where you can also order the book Never Apologise: The Collected Writings of Lindsay Anderson.

You can read more about Lindsay Anderson in our Lindsay Anderson directors guide.

You can also visit the Never Apologise website, which has lots more clips and information about the project.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

New DVD releases round up 1st / 2nd September.

Sifting through this weeks crop of contemporary DVD releases, we've come up with some recommendations to help you get over the fact that Summer is almost over now.

In the UK, our pick of the DVD releases on 1st September 2008 are:

doomsdayDoomsday. Director Neil Marshall continues his upward trajectory with this contribution to the post apocalyptic / viral outbreak genre. Not hugely original perhaps, but very well made and consistently acted (not always a given in the genre). There is more than enough going on here to suggest that Marshall has a serious career in the making.

To Kill A King (aka Cromwell and Fairfax). One of the very best films about the English Civil war (not that there have been that many). Dougray Scott and Tim Roth give some truly committed performances. Given a bigger budget this film could have been something of a masterpiece.

With Or Without You. One of Britain's very best directors Micheal Winterbottom, took this story by the scruff of the neck and made a very decent film out of what could have been a very middle of the road piece.

In the USA, the pick of the DVD releases on 2nd September 2008 are:

The Embassy Sith SIde of The PentagonLegendary photographically inspired director Chris Marker (La Jette, Sans Soleil etc) has four extras packed DVDs released separately. First up is The Last Bolshevik / Happiness (1993); then Remembrance of Things to Come (2001), his most recent work The Case of the Grinning Cat (2004) and most excitingly The Sixth Side of the Pentagon / The Embassy (1967). Each of these are really not to be missed.

Water Lillies. One of last years best European movies - a portrait of a love triangle amongst some Parisian teenagers it was selected in the official selection at both the Cannes and Toronto Film Festivals.

Derek. A truly superb documentary about Derek Jarman, one of the UK's most talented, provoking and experimental directors. The film includes many previously unseen clips form his film along with rare interviews, and is a fitting reminder of just why he is just so missed.

Other recommended new DVD releases can be found on our site at alt-flix.co.uk DVD releases.