The Week In Video Part X

Friday, September 21 2012
The Week In Video Part X

More of our regular musings on what we’ve been watching on DVD, Blu-ray and other formats at home over the past seven days…

It was with some excitement that we received the exclusive Steelbook edition of The Raid, a film that’s been dubbed the year’s best action film. And as our repeat viewing, albeit the first at home, on Blu-ray, showed, the statement still holds water a few months after its theatrical bow – we’ve yet to see anything that matches the sheer excitement of this Indonesian actioner helmed by a Welshman. The film, due on September 24 via Momentum, is a belter; it’s set the blogs and Internet ablaze earlier this year in the run-up to its cinema opening, with Momentum and the UK leading the way. With Momentum’s not inconsiderable nous in marketing genre fare behind it all the way, planning the DVD and Blu-ray release in tandem with the theatrical marketing, ensuring a carefully thought out cradle to grave strategy for the title, you don’t need us to tell you this will be a strong, perennial seller, which will keep going right through Q4. It works just as well at home as on the big screen, it’s damn near impossible to avert your eyes from it once the action kicks in (after a minute or two’s preamble). What’s more, we were lucky enough to get our mitts on the play.com, exclusive Steelbook version, already going for big bucks on eBay, with punters who have yet to receive their pre-ordered copies already selling them on (flipping is the term for this used by vinyl collectors). We, however, will be holding on to ours…

Also from east Asia, comes My Way, due from Universal on September 24. It’s one of those epic tales you get from this neck of the woods, concerning a part of history you may not be entirely au fait with, although by the end of its lengthy running time, you’ll have a better idea of some of the events involving Korea, Japan, the Soviet Union, and Germany, as our protagonists make their way through warring territories during the World War II, shunted from army to army, as cannon (or bayonet, or tank, or numerous other weapons of war) fodder. It’s a moving tale, of the kind that has sold so many copies for Metrodome of its Saints And Soldiers. Given its huge budget, and subsequent box office success in Korea and beyond, this has the pedigree to work. It comes wrapped in one of those split sleeves, with images across the top and bottom divided by the title treatment, so beloved of films of Asian epics and films of that ilk, be they set in the 20th century or before. The sleeve works, the film is certainly the right kind to perform, with PR and marketing in place, this could work. Another well selected title from Universal, following in the wake of the likes of Mongol.

Sticking with Asia, moving through to China, we watched Ai Wei Wei Never Sorry, the documentary following the controversial artist who, through the course of the film, continues to infuriate the authorities in China. It’s a fascinating documentary and has won plenty of fans during its theatrical release. Ai Wei Wei himself is not the straightforward dissenting voice, which makes his activism all the more intriguing. Interest is certain to remain high on its October release and this will work well alongside the Dogwoof kind of political documentaries that have carved out a niche for themselves in recent months.

Moving to the US now for more of the kind of fare you’d normally expect us to be banging on about in this column, DTV horrors, thrillers and genre titles.

This week’s selection took in The Burningmoore Incident, about a DIY reality show (no, stick with us) that goes to a house that had once been the home of a man who’d butchered his family and gone missing. Supplanting the found footage concept with a story pieced together from hidden cameras around the house, it features elements borrowed liberally from numerous other horror flicks – you can sit there crossing them off. But the found footage horror, in all its variants, is proving more resolute than expected, and this is commercial enough to find an audience.

The Silent House has a smart premise, one that despite not being wholly original is at least a little different from many of the horrors films we see. Originally a Uruguayan film, the remake, starring Elizabeth Olsen, follows the same format, as it unfolds in what appears to be one take and real time. It follows Olsen, returning to a remote house to help do it up with her father and uncle, but once there all sorts of weirdness occurs and dark secrets are revealed. At times the novelty element becomes too overriding, but it has some strong moments and Olsen shows further acting shops beyond her tween and teen roots. Her presence also gives it a further commercial edge and widens the audience beyond the standard horror crowd. In the case of the latter, if the aficionados can move beyond their repulsion at the word “remake”, then they should be rewarded.

Meanwhile, The Aggression Scale, from Anchor Bay, is a fairly novel DTV title due from Anchor Bay. It plays like a kind of ultraviolent take on Home Alone, one where real damage and real violence are inflicted upon a hapless group of ne’er do wells by some youngsters, albeit ones who aren’t cute by Macauley Culkin, these are teens with some serious issues. That Home Alone element gives the film its main selling point, but this is certainly one of the better DTV titles we’ve seen of late.

We’ll end with our favourite of the week, The Landlord. It’s an early gem from Hal Ashby, the maverick director who was at the helm for two of our favourite films, Harold And Maude and Being There. It’s been unearthed by Studiocanal, which keeps managing to dig up little gems such as this, Ashby’s debut feature. It stars a young Beau Bridges (who still looked old, even when he was in his 20s) and is a look at end of the 60s racial politics and mores in Brooklyn. Funny, inventive, sharp and with a great soundtrack, it doesn’t always hit the mark, but it shows there are still plenty of catalogue releases that have never seen the light of day waiting to be unearthed…

Our chief TV viewing over the past week has been Moone Boy, the new Chris O’Dowd starring comedy airing on Sky 1 and due from BBC Worldwide on DVD. It’s refreshing to see O’Dowd, whose stock is on the rise, eschewing the lure of Hollywood, albeit temporarily, to make a comedy set in Ireland that he not only stars in, but also helped pen. This one is only going to get better and O’Dowd’s ever-growing reputation should help it on its October release.

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