Monday 12 October 2015

Home Comforts: The best in TV, VOD, DVD and Blu-ray (Monday October 12 - Sunday October 18)

13 films to see on DVD, Blu-ray, VOD and TV in the coming week...

1. The Act Of Killing 
(23:55, Sky Atlantic, Thursday)
2. The Look Of Silence 
It really isn't hyperbole to say Joshua Oppenheimer's films dealing with the systematic slaughter of alleged communists in 1960s Indonesia are two of the finest - and most disturbing - documentaries ever made. In 2013's The Act Of Killing, Oppenheimer focuses his attention on the leaders of the death squads, men whose heinous acts have made them heroes and celebrities in their home country. Proceedings take a bizarre turn when the killers are invited to re-enact their crimes as if they were in a gangster movie, complete with make-up and props, and readily agree. The Look Of Silence - released earlier this year - is a smaller, more personal story of one of the families who lost a loved one during the purge. The murdered man's brother - a gentle but determined optometrist named Adi - confronts his brother's killers in a number of jaw-dropping scenes.

3. Scarface 
(22:00, Sky Select, tonight)
Brian DePalma directs Oliver Stone's screenplay and Al Pacino turns in one of the best performances of his career as Tony Montana (pictured, top of page), a poor Cuban immigrant turned ruthless drug cartel boss in '80s Miami. Too long, too violent, endlessly quotable and packed with expletives (207 fucks), Scarface is both a cautionary tale (mountains of cocaine, cash and hubris are a bad mix) and one of the most purely nihilistic films you'll ever lay eyes on.

4. Drive 
(22:45, BBC2, Saturday)
Nicolas Winding Refn's masterful LA noir starring Ryan Gosling as a mysterious, taciturn car mechanic/stuntman who moonlights as a getaway driver. Gosling - his character doesn't have a name - runs bumper-first into trouble when he agrees to help out his struggling neighbour Carey Mulligan. Stylish, stunning and one of the best films of the last decade. 

5. Raging Bull 
(22:00, Sky Select, Wednesday)
Robert De Niro stars in Martin Scorsese's biopic of former world champion middleweight boxer Jake 'The Bronx Bull' LaMotta. Not just the finest film about boxing ever made (although, in truth, it doesn't have a lot of competition) but an extraordinary portrait of a deeply troubled man whose appetite for self-destruction wrecked every important relationship in his life. A stone-cold American classic.

6. Beasts of No Nation 
(Netflix UK, from Friday)
Netflix's first original feature film venture is an adaptation of Uzodinma Iweala's 2005 novel about a child soldier in an unnamed African country. Idris Elba (Pacific Rim, Second Coming) stars, Cary Joji Fukunaga (True Detective) directs.

7. The Firemen's Ball 
(Blu-ray/DVD Double Play)
This was the last film Milos Foreman (One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, Amadeus) made in his native Czechoslovakia before he fled to Hollywood. The 1967 comedy - which utilised a cast of non-professional actors, many of whom were actual firemen - was banned by the Czech authorities at the time as they suspected its portrait of small-town incompetence was a dig at them. This Blu-ray release showcases a new 4K restoration of the film by the Czech National Film Archive.

8. Super 
(Netflix UK, from Thursday)
Rainn Wilson (The Office) is The Crimson Bolt, Ellen Page (Juno) his trusty sidekick Boltie, in James Gunn's weird, warped and wonderful superhero satire. Everyone went gaga for Gunn's Guardians Of The Galaxy last year but this is even better. Shut up, crime!

9. Whiplash 
(NOW TV, from Friday)
Abusive music teacher Terence Fletcher (Oscar winner JK Simmons, below) pushes talented young musician Miles Teller to the edge in a punishing drama. Who knew the world of jazz drumming could be so brutal or so entertaining?

10. The Incredibles 
(18:00, Sky Disney, Wednesday)
Or, as the film is known in certain quarters, 'the Fantastic Four done properly'. Suffice to say, this funny, inventive and action-packed superhero family adventure is another winner from Pixar. Hurry up with that sequel, already!

11. Gravity Special Edition 
I was never the biggest fan of the Sandra Bullock/George Clooney disaster-in-space flick from 2013 but this new two-disc Special Edition has me intrigued. As well as a heap of extras, it features a 'Silent Space Version' of Alfonso Cuar√≥n's movie that omits Steven Price's original score. If this clip is anything to go by, it could make for a genuinely eerie experience.

12. The Fifth Element 
(18:40, Channel Five, Sunday)
Bonkers twenty-third-century-set sci-fi from French director Luc Besson (Lucy). Bruce Willis is Korben Dallas (really!) an elite commando turned cab driver who must protect Leeloo (Milla Jovovich), a young woman battling to save Earth from the evil Zorg (Gary Oldman). I'm not sure any of it makes a jot of sense but it is a lot of fun.

13. Cooties 
(various streaming services, DVD/Blu-ray)
Horror comedy starring Rainn Wilson (again), Elijah Wood (The Lord Of The Rings trilogy) and Alison Pill (Scott Pilgrim vs. The World) as teachers fighting for their lives when a mystery virus turns students at a remote elementary school into marauding savages.

And one to avoid...The Happening 
(21:00, SyFy, tonight) 
Anyone who thought director M Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense, Signs) had reached his nadir with Lady In The Water would have been knocked sideways by this SF/horror flick about nature rising up against humanity. Starring Mark Wahlberg as a block of wood pretending to be a scientist and Kooky McKookington who'd go on to star in kooky US sitcom New Girl, it features several shots of grass swaying threateningly in the breeze and some well-scary trees. The tiramisu scene alone should have ensured Shyamalan was never allowed within six feet of a movie camera ever again. 

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