Archive for the ‘DVD Of The Week’ Category

Game of Thrones – A Song of Ice and Fire

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

gameofthronesposterBack in 2007, HBO made the potentially risky decision to fund a TV adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s insanely epic set of novels A Song of Ice and Fire. Named after the first book, Game of Thrones is a fantasy-action-drama packed full of twist, turns, chills, thrills and an array of fascinating characters.

The tricky aspect is that, in order to do it justice, you would need to launch millions of dollars into each episode, get an absolutely stellar cast from kids to kings, film in genuine settings, structure the story faithfully and brace the audience for something which doesn’t exactly pander to the usual TV conventions. Luckily HBO has embraced the challenge, and now this studio has the best thing on TV either side of the Atlantic.

Prepare for dragons, incest, violence, gore, prostitutes, swords, sorcery, zombies, wolves and a dizzying amount of sneaky deception within the dynastic struggle which serves as the show’s foundation. There is also a eunuch and a dwarf, who are both utterly compelling, genius characters.

King Robert Baratheon sits on the Iron Throne, ruling the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros. He is married to Cersei Lannister, uniting his royal family with riches. Their marriage is loveless, and as he drinks and eats his way to an early grave, she conducts a grim affair with her brother Jaime. Her other brother, Tyrion, is a dwarf, but neutralises any potential ridicule through his sparkling wit and intelligence.

King Robert’s closest friend is Ned Stark, and when the King’s Hand dies suspiciously, the King calls on his friend to serve in the role. This pretty much means Ned will run business whilst Robert gets drunk, sleeps with prostitutes and eats as much food as possible.

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Drive – Bleed for Speed

Monday, March 12th, 2012

drive-poster1Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn was responsible for the offbeat, often surreal and grimy madness that was Bronson, starring an unrecognisable Tom Hardy as the eponymous hard case with a penchant for the savagery of solitary. The film gained well deserved widespread acclaim, and was regularly touted as a modern Clockwork Orange due to its inventive style, harsh violence and über-dry humour.

His follow-up was the abysmal Valhalla Rising; a slog of a mess of a movie, barely glued together by its only positive which was the cinematography. A few guys wander slowly through some scenery, stopping for the occasional grunt or bout of violence. It’s horrible, dull and pointless.

So, not sure what to expect next then, but his adaptation of 2005 James Sallis novel Drive has already developed cult status, earned numerous plaudits and nabbed the Best Director gong at Cannes.

Drive stars Ryan Gosling as a stunt driver and mechanic who earns extra cash by offering his services as a freelance getaway driver. He has strict rules; his clients have a five minute window beginning from the moment they leave his car for the heist, and during that time he accepts total involvement and shared responsibility, but anything outside of that time frame simply isn’t his problem. He will not carry a gun, and he will not be involved with any clients for a second time.

From the viewer’s perspective, he is known only as The Driver, and comes across as a shy but focused recluse with very little interest in socialising. His world takes a peculiar twist when he meets new neighbour Irene (Carey Mulligan), and her son Benicio. They quickly bond, whilst The Driver is also offered the opportunity to race pro, courtesy of local financier Bernie Rose.

As Drive coasts along with glorious fluidity, punctuated by a pounding, wonderfully intense 80s-style synth soundtrack, we all know that things must take a turn. Once we realise that Bernie and his partner Nino are more than a little dangerous, just as Irene’s husband makes a reappearance, the film kicks into top gear and we get an action-packed thrill ride all the way to the end.

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The Road – A harsh but heart-warming tale of survival

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

theroadposterCormac McCarthy is one of the finest writers in modern literature; he has produced instant classics with Blood Meridian and All The Pretty Horses, not to mention a certain novel titled No Country For Old Men.

The latter is a truly brilliant and breathtaking book, and many who did not appreciate the film would have done well to check out the source material first, in order to gain a better understanding of the story, its purpose and the reasons behind the opinion-splitting ending.

McCarthy won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction with The Road, a literary work that is magnificent beyond words. It is the story of a man and his son as they attempt to survive an arduous journey through a post-apocalyptic wasteland.

The film version, directed by The Proposition helmer John Hillcoat, faithfully adapts the book into a stark, vivid and harrowing piece of cinema.

The two embark on an emotionally and physically draining quest to stay alive in a barren, cold and savage environment where vicious cannibals are a constant threat, and thieves would not think twice about stealing a blanket from a sleeping child.

Man and boy are heading south, out of hope more than anything else. We do not know their names, we do not know what happened to the world and we certainly do not know if they can survive this bleak, unforgiving hell.

A moment of weakness and fatigue sees them investigate a house where they find something truly horrifying in the basement, whilst the man’s own savage survival instincts cause him to defy his son’s desperate request of leniency towards a thief they hold at gunpoint.

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The IT Crowd – out now on DVD

Thursday, November 20th, 2008

The slapstick tech support based sitcom written by Father Ted creator Graham Linehan returns to Channel 4 tomorrow night. If you’ve not seen The IT Crowd, now is the perfect time to get acquainted with Moss, Jen and Roy, who make up the entire IT department of the London-based Reynholm Industries, a company which once turned over “eighteen hundred billion billion,” in profits.

Moss and Roy are, in the words of Denholm Reynholm (the CEO, played by Chris Morris), just a pair of “standard nerds” who are outcast by the rest of the firm despite their reliance on their technical expertise.

The glamorous and ambitious Jen is appointed their manager after blagging her way into the job, even though it’s clear she knows next to squat about computers.

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Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street – out now

Wednesday, June 4th, 2008

They say revenge is a dish best served cold – whoever ‘they’ are, they clearly never told Sweeney Todd, who serves up revenge in the form of a humble meat pie; literally. Yet another winning result of the Tim Burton-Johnny Depp configuration, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is a film adaptation of Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler’s stage musical version of the old Victorian penny dreadful about a killer hairdresser who slices up his victims whilst they sit in his chair.

The story concerns one Benjamin Barker, a successful barber who falls afoul of the corrupt Judge Turpin who takes a shine to Barker’s pretty wife Lucy, and so trumps up some charges and has Benjamin kangaroo courted over to a certain overseas penal colony. Fifteen years later, the mysterious ‘Sweeney Todd’ arrives in London, having escaped from prison. He coincidentally moves into the flat once rented by a certain Benjamin Barker, and whilst there just so happens to come across  a collection of polished silver razors… and begins plotting revenge.

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