The Week In Video Part XLXIV

Tuesday, September 9 2014
The Week In Video Part XLXIV

Our latest look at current and forthcoming releases, with an eye on their trade potential…

You can say what you like about Seth Rogen and his merry band of stoners, but you can’t fault Universal’s campaign for its new release Bad Neighbours, starring Rogen, who’s taking on Zac Efron when the pair end up living next door. The in-store execution is particularly smart – a standee featuring topless teen idol Efron, encouraging all kinds of selfie and social media activity. Meanwhile, the public is showing no sign of falling out of love with the kind of red band comedy espoused by the likes of Seth Rogen, Judd Apatow and their coterie of comics, writers and directors, such as Nicholas Stoller, who’s worked with Rogen and his ilk before. The only difference between Rogen now and his earlier outings is he’s now starring in the kind of roles he used to play sidekick too: the dad rather than the mate who refuses to grow up. He’s still plying the same, admittedly amusing, schtick though – look, he’s farting! now he’s smoking weed! and he’s definitely punching above his weight when it comes to women. Given Rogen and co’s continued success – both at the box office and in the home entertainment sector – there’s no reason to see why this commercial outing won’t perform, especially given Universal’s strong support at store level and above the line.

Where Apatow and Rogen now rule, once there were Amy Heckerling and Alicia Silverstone, queens of the teen comedy, thanks to the seminal Clueless, now almost 20 years old. The duo are reunited for Vamps, from Metrodome, which boasts an impeccable cast. As well as Silverstone, it also stars Krysten Ritter, from Breaking Bad, as the pair of vampires living in New York, as well as an impeccable supporting cast, including Sigourney Weaver and Dan Stevens. The latter is now a star in the making, thanks to the likes of The Guest and his presence here offers a chance to cash in on his recent meteoric rise. It’s one of those films that has been hanging around for a while – it was reportedly being filmed as long as four years ago. It still seems fresh and, as we always maintain, if you’ve not seen it before, who cares? It doesn’t always hit the mark, but it’s a cracking cast and Heckerling can still land the odd knockout blow. It’s nothing if not watchable, plays slightly older than Clueless and has potential.

Just released from Lionsgate is possible one of the most violent films we’ve seen this year, Killers. It boasts a strong sleeve and comes from SE Asia, with the added bonus of boasting the involvement of The Raid 2 helmer Gareth Evans, giving it the perfect opportunity to cash in on the post-Raid boom. It’s not quite as action-packed as Evans’ own outings, but what it lacks in quantity it makes up for in sheer unpleasantness. Lionsgate has dressed it up very nicely and with these kind of credentials, it shouldn’t struggle. Word of mouth should kick in after it’s been out for a while too.

Another international collaborative effort, shot in and around Gibraltar, no less, is The Informant (Kaleidoscope), a French language, with a smatter of English, tale, also featuring Spanish, Moroccan and other bad guys, all involved in the murky world of smuggling, flitting between southern Europe, north Africa and elsewhere around the Mediterranean and beyond. It falls into that kind of post A Prophet kind of foreign language space; not what you’d necessarily call art house or world cinema, but enough of a stylish thriller to fall into that space occupied by A Prophet. What’s more, it boasts the involvement of some of the team from that successful outing, as well as another French thriller, the excellent two-parter Mesrine. The odd-English language moment should help draw in a wider audience too.

A similarly transatlantic offering comes in the shape of The Two Faces Of January, an excellent, old-fashioned thriller shot around Greece and the surrounding islands It’s based on a Patricia Highsmith novel and shares much in common with The Talented Mr Ripley. another Mediterranean based thriller outing. Like that it boasts an impeccable cast – Viggo Mortensen and Kirsten Dunst star, with worthy support from Oscar Isaac. It’s backed by a well received theatrical outing, works a treat at home and should bring in a wider audience than the average DVD release, it has the potential to play to an older crowd. A refreshing outing that harks back to a bygone era and yet still feels new; it should work well on the shelves and certainly deserves too

Like James Gandolfini and Paul Walker before him, Robin Williams’ tragic and unexpected death means there are more than a few “final” films yet to be released. And The Angriest Man In Brooklyn, from Signature, is one of those. If accompanying reviews don’t mention how staggeringly prophetic some of this is, we’ll eat our hats. As a commercial proposition, it has, thanks to its stars untimely end and the subsequent outpouring of emotion, buckets of potential and Williams is in fine form as the titular hero, ably supported by an impressive cast including Mila Kunis among others. Signature has handled it sensitively and it’s as good a way as any to remember Williams’ acting talents.

On to a wealth of titles from our old pals at the BFI. Its epic Werner Herzog Collection box set has finally been released after being held up in production, but it was certainly worth the wait (and weight). We’re working our way through this ambitious package that features the highlights from the bulk of the early and middle part of the German’s outstanding filmography and contains some belters. The quality of the likes of Nosferatu and Fitzcarraldo is beyond question. It’s ironic that, given Herzog’s own obsession with getting things right, as well as the folly of Klaus Kinski’s Fitzcaraldo and his attempts to drag a boat over a mountain, that the BFI spent so long getting this set right. But it’s succeeded and it will sell right through until Christmas – there’s no better present for a world cinema fan than this – and beyond.

The BFI has also been working closely with the BBC in recent years, picking some long-forgotten gems from the corporation’s catalogue and bringing them to market. While BBC and its commercial arm, BBC Worldwide, concentrate on the crown jewels – Doctor Who et al – the BFI has been working on slightly more outré and obscure items. Take The Changes. Originally filmed in 1975, it was shot for children’s TV, but like the good Doctor, then in full flight in its first heyday, it played older too. Unlike the Timelord’s adventures, it disappeared without trace, until it was resurrected for recent release. For this writer, it was like a trip down memory lane, as each episode came on, memories became stronger and stronger. The BFI has used its knowledge to rescue such gems and its work in this area is hugely laudable. What’s more it’s paying off too: 1,200 units week one is no mean feat for a BFI release. A similar release from the organisation comes in the shape of The Boy From Space, another BBC children’s programme from a bygone era, albeit one which plays for a younger audience. A similar exercise in nostalgia, it doesn’t quite have the impact of the changes, but makes a great companion piece. The ongoing BFI sci-fi screening programme means both will keep going through until Christmas.

We’ll end on the BFI with a mention of a film we saw away from our sofa but is worth a mention nonetheless. The Day The Earth Caught Fire is also part of its sci-fi programme and is a relatively obscure eco-sci-fi excursion from a different era, taking in early environmental politics, the nuclear arms race and even a sideways look at a pre-Murdoch Fleet Street. It’s been beautifully restored and is out in November. Again with the full weight of the BBFC and its Days Of Fear And Wonder programme behind it, it is overdue a timely reappraisal and will work off the back of that.

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