The Week In Video Part VIII

Wednesday, September 12 2012
The Week In Video Part VIII

The latest in our regular updates on what we’ve been watching at home over the past seven days, with a view as much on whether titles will sell as whether they’re any good or not…

The biggest event for home viewing buffs such as ourselves over the past week or so was Home Cinema Day. Organised as part of the Scala Beyond season, which has taken last year’s original film season idea celebrating the notorious London rep cinema and taken it one step further, it was supported by MovieMail and Film4 (as well as us at The Raygun, natch) and encouraged film fans to watch films at home, with family and friends, introduce them to films they may not have seen and have a communal viewing experience.

We loved the idea and the whole family were keen participants; we’d discussed our viewing plans in the days running up to September 1. I awoke to find our eldest junior correspondent watching Land Of The Lost downstairs, while the youngest junior correspondent eagerly soaking up Puss in Boots. After doing the normal Saturday stuff, it was back for more and a double helping of Laurel And Hardy, from Universal’s box set from a few years back that still stands up as a lovingly put together collection of Stan and Ollie’s finest. Our nine-year-old wasn’t so sure (he’s gone off them as part of a general distaste for black and white), but the four-year-old, who’d never seen them in action before, warmed to the slapstick. It was helped that we put on two of their most popular shorts, The Music Box and Busy Bodies. Later that evening, it was the turn of David Lynch’s Blue Velvet, with more than a nod to the old Scala of yore, as it was a popular choice during its later years. The disc was taken from Universal’s recent box set. We tweeted throughout and loved watching other people’s selections. We’ll be back for more next year and will be pushing it to all and sundry; it’s a marvellous idea and has the potential to grow and grow…

As for the rest of the week, we saw more than a few forthcoming theatrical outings, although most of these were at home.

A Night In The Woods (Momentum) is the latest horror from the Vertigo stable, the UK-based production outfit that moves swiftly from bigger budget and more family—based fare through to low budget horrors and genre films with some ease. This falls firmly in the latter camp. It’s a homegrown entrant into the ever-popular found footage sector so beloved of filmmakers and producers, especially for those working with tight budgetary constraints and within the DTV sector… It’s due a theatrical release this Friday (September 7) ahead of its DVD bow the following Monday, a well-worn path to take for titles of this ilk. A mismatched trio, some hiding secrets, as you’d expect them to, head off to some woods for some camping fun, ignorjng the warnings of locals. Needless to say, there’s a lot of running around in the dark, night vision cameras at the ready, with lots of cameras being dropped too. It offers no real surprises (nor explanations, for that matter), but that’s not held back found footage films before, and Momentum’s expertise in this arena, particularly when it comes to ideas for promotional activity, coupled with Vertigo’s equally commercial nous, makes for a potentially winning combination. The pair have succeeded in this arena before there’s no reason why this won’t work either.

Taking a similar limited theatrical platform release ahead of eventual home entertainment bow, albeit using a slightly different model, is Shut Up And Play The Hits from Pulse Films. Released for one night only at cinemas (this week, September 4, to be precise) it’s due early in October on DVD and other formats. The film follows the farewell gig of LCD Soundsystem, New York punk funksters who comfortably straddle the worlds of NY disco, Chicago house, Detroit techno and British post-punk from the early 80s. The gig itself was a celebratory adieu, some 18,000 tickets sold out within minutes of the Madison Square Gardens show being announced. It blends footage from the gig with interviews and general loafing around with founding member and frontman James Murphy. He’s undoubtedly a nice guy, while the band are great  (we own pretty much everything they’ve ever done, and on vinyl too), but the film was something of a disappointment, it seemed a touch lacklustre to us. Having said that, our personal quibbles won’t stop this being a big success, the band has a huge fanbase (its last UK show was at the massive Alexandra Palace, we were there) and sold out screenings for the one night only screenings testify to the pulling power of this film.

Also due at cinemas about now is Love, a rather unoriginally titled sci-fi film from High Fliers. We’ve talked about this film on our newsletter already, as it’s generating quite a bit of interest from those in the know, the likes of  Kim Newman have been praising it. It’s low budget fare, relying on its wits and ingenuity to make up for a lack of dough. Its strengths are also its failings – the fact it echoes the likes of 2001: A Space Odyssey and Moon make it eminently more commercial and give it ideal quotes for the sleeve and artwork, but it also hampers its originality, it all seems a little too familiar. Having said that, it’s still one of the better films we’ve watched this year and High Fliers is giving it a decent push at theatrical ahead of home entertainment release, which should elevate it when it arrives on DVD early in 2013.

Our other theatrical release for the week was Alps, the second major outing from Dogtooth helmer Yorgos Lanthimos. We viewed it ahead of an interview with him (thankfully, he’s fluent in English, and a lovely bloke to boot) and we won’t say too much now, it’s not due to arrive on DVD until early next year, but it’s an excellent outing, that comes with a distinctive look and feel too. Dogtooth solidified its reputation on DVD and carried some great reviews, expect this one to do well too.

Strangest film of the week is 13. Why? Well, it’s a remake, for starters (the scourge of a lot of bloggers) but don’t let that poor advance word of mouth put you off, as it boasts a great cast, all turning in strong performances, and offers up a fascinating storyline. The cast includes the dream team pairing of Jason Statham and Ray Winstone, alongside one of our favourite DTV faces, Michael Shannon, the ever-dependable Mickey Rourke, up and coming talent such as Sam Riley and even Curtis Jackson, or Curtis 50 Cent Jackson, as he’s referred to in press releases and on sleeves, turns up. It’s the kind of film that connoisseurs such as ourselves should instantly fall in love with, but is hampered from the off merely because it’s a remake. We’d recommend anyone watch it, for its once in a lifetime casting alone. Forget the 13 Tamazeti that was the inspiration and try and approach this without prejudice. A commercial sleeve should help too.

We’ll end with some more on our Home Cinema Day viewing, and, in between our feast of viewing, we managed to catch up with the first episode of the new (and seventh) series of Doctor Who. And if our junior correspdondents are anything to go by, then the latest will be just as popular as previous outings when BBC Worldwide gets round to releasing it (the first part will drop at the end of October, with a full season due next year). At first glance, it appears to have dropped some of the last series’ over-scripted, more complicated elements and  returned to the combination of terror, wit and warmth that has made the Doctor’s latest incarnation so irresistible. And Daleks, as ever, make it even more commercial.

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