The Week In Video Part VII

Thursday, August 30 2012
The Week In Video Part VII

So, last weekend was the annual Film4 FrightFest, and while we may only have joined the cast of thousands in the pub both before and after the event, we caught up with a few of the films being shown over the weekend at home. As we noted on this website some time ago, the event is becoming increasingly important for high profile DVD launches and a few of its wares we viewed are due in September.

FWirst up was Kill Zombie!, due from Kaleidoscope on September 17. It’s one of those that will be boosted by its airing there – a Dutch entrant into the ever-popular genre, that has the kind of comic-book savvy displayed in Shaun Of The Dead, rather than the gritty realism of, say, 28 Days Later. It’s commercial horror fare, albeit with subtitles, but the FrightFest seal of approval gives it a further leg-up.

Less generic by far was The Devil’s Business, a British horror that if we said it blended gangtster elements in it too, we’d  see you rolling your eyes. It’s far less obvious than that though, the gangsters in question are an ageing hitman and a young trainee, sent to dispose of an enemy of their boss. When they arrive, things start getting weird and, with a gently building tension, work their way towards a bizarre climax. Metrodome, releasing it on September 10, has put together a commercial sleeve, aided by some strong quotes and, in a smart move, one from Kill List helmer Ben Wheatley, giving it a further worthwhile recommendation.

There’s already been a very perceptive review of SPHE’s Detention over at The Guardian, with one of our favourite columnists, the Guide supplement’s DVD reviewer Phelim O’Neill. “For anyone over the age of 20,” he said (we quoted him in our weekly round-up of coverage), “it’s as baffling as the popularity of Skrillex, but it won’t make a heap of sense to its target audience either. However, despite being baffling, there is still something intriguing about it.” We pretty much agree with his sentiments – it’s a smart, clever, watchable film, without ever being truly endearing –– but the film is making a welcome arrival to the home entertainment sector. It first aired last year and was a hit at FrightFest, its as then unsigned status giving it further cachet. A year later and it’s here, an event that will certainly be enough to draw in the cognoscenti. Expect it to be a consistent, strong seller.

We’ve already talked in this very column about Eureka and its excellent Masters Of Cinema label, but the only film offering we’ve focused on thus far is the imprint’s more recent output, such as  Rumble Fish. Cleopatra (as we noted on Twitter, we really struggle to say or even write that word without adding “comin’ at ya”), which is at the other end of the MoC scale from Coppola’s relatively recent outing. It’s a Cecil B DeMille epic, and, as usual, the label has excelled in bringing it to the market. It has all the right qualities that has helped build it into what is perhaps best described as this country’s equivalent to the wonderful Criterion imprint in the US – great transfer, some insightful additional material, a weighty booklet… oh, and it’s a film worthy of the label too, a stunning historical tale from when Hollywood really did know how to spend lavishly. With the strong branding the label has, this is a credible addition to the ever-growing catalogue.

Another classic title being dusted down for Blu-ray is The Trial, the Orson Welles’ adaptation of Franz Kafka’s seminal novel. It’s part of a trio of additions to the Studiocanal Collection, the company’s own specialist collector’s imprint. Due on September 10, this is an underrated Welles title. It’s one of those films that, growing up as an existentialist teen just outside of London, was nigh on impossible to see; rarely on television, unavailable on VHS, only really seen through the film clubs or the BFI (or NFT, as it was then). It shows the great strides taken, in terms of accessibility to classic films, especially lesser known ones, that this is now being released in a gorgeous version complete with accompanying booklet. It certainly looks great – it’s a visual feast from Welles as our hero Josef K (another part of its lure for us, as the name was appropriated by an early 80s indie band much beloved by this writer) is caught in an increasingly frustrating and bizarre world, one where he’s been accused of some kind of crime, although mo one will tell him what it is. With reviewers getting behind it, this will sell through.

In a week of some good, strong viewing, our film of the week was a world away from the titles we’ve already talked about. We’ve been looking forward to seeing Beats, Rhymes And Life, the documentary about hip hop legends A Tribe Called Quest since we first started seeing trailers some time ago. Now it’s finally getting a release in the UK courtesy of Soda Pictures, packaged in a great cover, and including a souvenir picture that apes the band’s classic Midnight Marauders album, putting UK rappers and talent in the place of the original’s US faces). And it really is rather good, a look at a band whose personal troubles have, in recent years, overshadowed their incredible output, particularly in the earlier part of their career, when they released a slew of seminal albums. Surprisingly for a film about rappers, it eschews cliché, these aren’t your average crew, but instead portrays an honest portrait. Some smart marketing, including elements such as a screening at Rough Trade’s east London shop, should get the word out; the sleeve will really help too.

We’ll end with a quick note about this week’s streaming offering we’ve been watching. The Sony-owned Crackle has been a bit of a disappointment thus far, with its UK offering being nowhere near that of its US parent. Having said that, it’s a free service, so we can’t really complain, and we must admit, its new series, the Jerry Seinfeld-hosted Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee, in which the comic picks up other comedians in a rented or borrowed flash car and then goes to get a coffee with them. Created solely for the site, it’s superb, and is the kind of short-form material that a lot of streaming and online content providers are looking towards. Oh, and it’s very funny too, especially the Larry David one. You can read more here, and see it over here: