A weekly round-up of the latest DVD releases.
By Damon Smith
New to rent on DVD/Blu-ray
Looper (Cert 15, 113 mins, Entertainment One, Sci-Fi/Action/Thriller, also available to buy DVD £19.99/Blu-ray £24.99/Limited Edition Steelbook Blu-ray £25.99)
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, Paul Dano, Pierce Gagnon, Piper Perabo, Jeff Daniels, Summer Qing, Frank Brennan, Garret Dillahunt.
Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is an assassin, or 'looper', who guns down hooded targets that have been sent back in time by his mob bosses in 2044 Kansas. Silver bars are strapped to the back of each target - payment for the pull of a trigger - and once Joe has incinerated the lifeless body, he stashes his spoils in the hidden floor-space of his swanky apartment. Like all loopers, Joe knows his life expectancy is finite and one day he will "close the loop" by gunning down his future self. When the time comes for Joe to kill Future Joe (Bruce Willis), he hesitates, allowing his older incarnation to escape. The race between hunter and hunted leads to a remote farmhouse, where mother Sara (Emily Blunt) and her son Cid (Pierce Gagnon) reside far from prying eyes. Looper is an ingeniously plotted thriller that exploits the gaping plot holes afforded by time travel. Writer-director Rian Johnson's script demands constant vigilance to keep track of alternate, intersecting plot threads. It's all meticulously planned and stylishly executed, realising Marty McFly's worst nightmare from the Back To The Future series by allowing a hero to co-exist with his future self in the same timeframe. The ripple effect leads to a simple yet striking flourish: wounds inflicted on a young protagonist simultaneously manifest as scars on the older self. This temporal torture allows characters to cleverly communicate with each other by scoring letters and symbols into their own flesh. Plot mechanics trump performances throughout, so Gordon-Levitt's usual intensity is muted and Willis plays to his strengths as an action man.
ParaNorman (Cert PG, 88 mins, Universal Pictures (UK) Ltd, Animation/Family/Comedy/Horror/Romance, also available to buy DVD £19.99/Blu-ray & DVD Combi-pack £22.99/3D Blu-ray & DVD Combi-pack £24.99)
Featuring the voices of: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Tucker Albrizzi, Anna Kendrick, Casey Affleck, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Leslie Mann, Jeff Garlin, Elaine Stritch, Bernard Hill, Jodelle Ferland, Tempestt Bledsoe, Alex Borstein, John Goodman.
Perry (voiced by Jeff Garlin) and Sandra (Leslie Mann) live in Blithe Hollow with their daughter Courtney (Anna Kendrick) and son Norman (Kodi Smit-McPhee), who can see and communicate with the dearly departed. They are stunned when deranged Uncle Prenderghast (John Goodman) pays a surprise visit. "The witch's curse is real and you're the only one who can stop it," Prenderghast instructs Norman, who discovers he has inherited his supernatural abilities from his dotty relative. Soon after, the seven people who sent witch Aggie (Jodelle Ferland) to her doom back in 1712 rise from the grave and run amok, led by the menacing Judge (Bernard Hill). Sheriff Hooper (Tempestt Bledsoe) struggles to maintain calm so Norman joins forces with classmate Neil (Tucker Albrizzi), his buff older brother Mitch (Casey Affleck) and school bully Alvin (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) to break the curse. ParaNorman is an intelligent and hilarious stop-motion 3D animation that opens with a tongue-in-cheek homage to George A Romero. Chris Butler and Sam Fell's colourful romp might be aimed at families but parents and teenagers will laugh the loudest at the sly visual gags. Young children might be slightly unnerved by severed limbs that scuttle around of their own accord but violence is cartoonish and scares are gentle. Smit-McPhee tugs heartstrings as the loner who would give anything to lose his ability to communicate with the dead. Animation bursts with vibrant colour and the attention to detail is remarkable in frenetic action scenes, especially in 3D, which is available exclusively on Blu-ray.
Resident Evil: Retribution (Cert 15, 91 mins, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Action/Sci-Fi/Horror/Thriller, also available to buy DVD £19.99/Blu-ray £24.99)
Starring: Milla Jovovich, Bingbing Li, Sienna Guillory, Johann Urb, Boris Kodjoe, Michelle Rodriguez, Kevin Durand, Oded Fehr, Shawn Roberts.
Alice (Milla Jovovich) continues her battle against the shadowy Umbrella Corporation in the fifth instalment of the horror franchise. At the conclusion of Resident Evil: Afterlife, Alice found herself on a ship, repelling hordes of heavily armed Umbrella soldiers. The vessel explodes and Alice plummets into the icy waters below, waking some time later as a prisoner in a subterranean Umbrella facility. Ada Wong (Bingbing Li), the right-hand woman of Albert Wesker (Shawn Roberts), helps Alice to escape her confinement and it transpires that the artificial intelligence known as the Red Queen has usurped Wesker as head honcho of the corporation and is already amassing forces to eradicate mankind. The only hope is for Alice, Ada and a team of soldiers led by Leon S Kennedy (Johann Urb) and Luther West (Boris Kodjoe) to battle through the virtual reality zones of the facility and shut down the Red Queen. However, the artificial intelligence controls Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory), who is just as powerful as Alice. Written and directed by Paul WS Anderson, and based on the hugely popular and bloodthirsty Capcom video game series, Resident Evil: Retribution is a cacophony of digital effects and slow-motion slaughter. The gravity-defying fight sequences seem to be recycling choreography from earlier films and dialogue is excruciating, reducing conversations to one-sentence exchanges between the characters. Anderson throws in adversaries from earlier adventures to enforce the feeling that we have seen this all before. The film's final line - "This is humanity's last stand - the beginning of the end" - tees up a sixth chapter, whether we want it or not.
Crawlspace (Cert 18, 118 mins, Revolver Entertainment, Horror/Thriller/Action, also available to buy DVD £15.99/Blu-ray £17.99 - see below)
Darling Companion (Cert 12, 99 mins, Metrodome Distribution, Drama/Romance/Comedy, also available to buy DVD £15.99 - see below)
Detachment (Cert 15, 93 mins, G2 Pictures, Drama/Romance, also available to buy DVD £15.99/Blu-ray £19.99 - see below)
The Double (Cert 15, 94 mins, High Fliers Video Distribution, Thriller, also available to buy DVD/Blu-ray £15.99 - see below)
Everything Or Nothing: The Untold Story Of 007 (Cert 12, 93 mins, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, Documentary, also available to buy DVD £19.99 - see below)
Hollow (Cert 15, 91 mins, Metrodome Distribution, Horror/Thriller, also available to buy DVD £19.99 - see below)
Holy Motors (Cert 18, 111 mins, Artificial Eye, Drama/Romance/Musical, also available to buy DVD £15.99/Blu-ray £19.99 - see below)
House At The End Of The Street (Cert 15, 96 mins, Momentum Pictures Home Entertainment, Thriller, also available to buy DVD £17.99/Blu-ray £19.99 - see below)
Keep The Lights On (Cert 18, 98 mins, Peccadillo Pictures, Drama/Romance, also available to buy DVD £15.99/Blu-ray £19.99 - see below)
V/H/S (Cert 18, 111 mins, Momentum Pictures Home Entertainment, Horror/Thriller, also available to buy DVD £15.99 - see below)
New to buy on DVD/Blu-ray
House At The End Of The Street (Cert 15, 96 mins, Momentum Pictures Home Entertainment, DVD £17.99/Blu-ray £19.99, Thriller)
Jennifer Lawrence takes time out from the blockbusting Hunger Games series to play a young woman in peril in Mark Tonderai's predictable horror. Sarah (Elisabeth Shue) is still smarting from an acrimonious divorce and she moves into a new house in an idyllic rural town with her pretty daughter, Elissa (Lawrence). The family home is perfect and the locals seem lovely, then strange events begin to happen and Sarah and Elissa learn that the house next door was once a murder scene. A young woman killed her parents there and left her brother, Ryan (Max Thieriot), as the sole survivor of the carnage. Sarah is understandably reluctant to allow Elissa to forge a friendship with Ryan but her daughter is drawn to the recluse, venturing into the house stained by the blood of the past. Behind locked doors lie terrifying secrets and Elissa quickly realises that unspeakable evil lurks within her neighbourhood.
Everything Or Nothing: The Untold Story Of 007 (Cert 12, 93 mins, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, DVD £19.99, Documentary)
For the past 50 years, James Bond has entertained cinema audiences with his thrilling missions around the world, clashing with villains such as Blofeld, Scaramanga and Auric Goldfinger. The latest instalment, Skyfall, has become the highest grossing film of all time at the UK box office and looks set to win at least one Oscar for Adele's theme tune. Director Stevan Riley celebrates the enduring popularity of the franchise in this feature-length documentary, which charts the history of the series from its origins in the imagination of writer Ian Fleming to the big screen, where tensions between producers Albert R Broccoli and Harry Saltzman provided as much drama off screen as on it. Cast and crew from the various films share their memories, intercut with famous scenes and rare behind-the-scenes footage of the six Bonds - Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig - bringing the dashing secret agent to life.
V/H/S (Cert 18, 111 mins, Momentum Pictures Home Entertainment, DVD £15.99, Horror/Thriller)
Adam Wingard, David Bruckner, Ti West, Glenn McQuaid, Joe Swanberg and Radio Silence direct this anthology of horror shorts, all loosely linked by the plot device of a rare videotape. In the framing storyline, entitled Tape 56, a mysterious client asks a small gang of petty crooks to break into the house of an old man and steal a VHS cassette. The misfits discover the owner dead, sitting in front of a television buzzing with static white noise, surrounded by hundreds of video cassettes. Without any idea which tape they should take, the thieves begin to watch the cassettes and they are greeted by graphic and apparently genuine recordings which chill them to the bone and hint at undiscovered nightmares that lurk within the house.
Holy Motors (Cert 18, 111 mins, Artificial Eye, DVD £15.99/Blu-ray £19.99, Drama/Romance/Musical)
Leos Carax's dreamlike drama sharply divided critics at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival and viewers will react with similar passion or disdain to the French writer-director's surreal vision. Monsieur Oscar (Denis Lavant) travels in the back of a stretched limousine driven by trusty chauffeur Celine (Edith Scob). The enigmatic Oscar has a busy schedule of 'appointments' to fulfil and as his car glides around the French capital, he changes into numerous costumes and latex masks to adopt the guise of a gnarly beggar, a dying paterfamilias, an expert assassin and a deformed monster who kidnaps a beautiful model called Kay M (Eva Mendes) from a fashion shoot. For his final meeting of the day, he encounters fellow chameleon Eva Grace (Kylie Minogue), who has been slipping between roles like him and greets Oscar with a heartbreaking lament as they wander through the shell of an abandoned building.
Detachment (Cert 15, 93 mins, G2 Pictures, DVD £15.99/Blu-ray £19.99, Drama/Romance)
Tony Kaye (American History X) directs this hard-hitting critique of the American education system. Carol Dearden (Marcia Gay Harden) is the principal of a Long Island school, where a drop in grades has left her position exposed. When another staff member is permanently waylaid, Carol drafts in Henry Barthes (Adrien Brody) to take control of the class until the end of term. From the moment he walks into the school, Henry is challenged by the unruly teenagers but stands his ground, winning the approval of Meredith (Betty Kaye), a gifted yet socially awkward girl. Meredith develops a crush on Henry - so too does fellow teacher Sarah (Christina Hendricks), who takes abuse from her wards to heart. Henry's focus changes when he meets teenage prostitute Erica (Sami Gayle) and offers her a place to stay for the night. A strange friendship develops between the educator and the working girl, which could potentially jeopardise his standing in the community.
Keep The Lights On (Cert 18, 98 mins, Peccadillo Pictures, DVD £15.99/Blu-ray £19.99, Drama/Romance)
Drawn from the painful personal experiences of writer-director Ira Sachs, Keep The Lights On chronicles a turbulent relationship over the course of nine years, opening in 1998 with Danish documentary film-maker Erik (Thure Lindhardt) scouting for anonymous sex in New York. One hook-up is closeted lawyer Paul (Zachary Booth), who confesses, "I have a girlfriend", then becomes a permanent fixture in Erik's topsy-turvy life. Sexual heat between the two men cools as Paul's crack habit escalates and Sachs's picture reduces to artful chapters steeped in misery.
Hollow (Cert 15, 91 mins, Metrodome Distribution, DVD £19.99, Horror/Thriller)
Emma (Emily Plumtree) and her fiance Scott (Matt Stokoe) are looking forward to their wedding day but they are acutely aware that good friends James (Sam Stockman) and Lynn (Jessica Ellerby) are not so blessed. Their relationship is faltering badly, stemming in part from James's childhood crush on Emma. When Emma's grandfather passes away, she decides to take Scott to inspect the old man's remote cottage and they invite James and Lynn to join them on the expedition into the countryside. The travellers learn about an abandoned monastery and a hollowed-out tree steeped in myth. Intrigued yet sceptical about the bloody legend, Emily, Scott, James and Lynn decide to test the supernatural power of the tree by filming events on their cameras. Alas, the two couples discover that the tall tales may not be as far-fetched as they originally thought.
False Trail (Jagarna 2) (Cert 15, 125 mins, Arrow Films, DVD £15.99/Blu-ray £17.99, Thriller)
In the 1996 Swedish thriller Jagarna, Stockholm-based police officer Erik Backstrom (Rolf Lassgard) learnt about the death of his abusive father and returned to his hometown to be reunited with his estranged younger brother, Leif (Lennart Jahkel). In grief, the siblings rebuilt bridges until Erik investigated a case of reindeer poaching and discovered evidence linking his brother to the gang of hunters. In this belated sequel, once again directed by Kjell Sundvall, Erik returns to his hometown to investigate the murder of a girl and falls foul of local hunter Torsten (Peter Stormare), who has more reasons than most to avoid the cops.
The Double (Cert 15, 94 mins, High Fliers Video Distribution, DVD/Blu-ray £15.99, Thriller)
CIA operative Paul Shepherdson (Richard Gere) retired from service some time ago but he is called back into action when US senator Dennis Darden (Ed Kelly) is murdered by a shadowy assassin, whose method of slaughter bears the hallmarks of a former Soviet agent known as Cassius. Paul is paired with young FBI agent Ben Geary (Topher Grace), whose is an expert on Cassius and his bloody reign of terror. The two FBI officers follow the chain of bewildering evidence, which leads them to Cassius's loyal protege Brutus (Stephen Moyer) and Russian terrorist Bozlovski (Tamer Hassan).
Continuum - Season One (Cert 12, 450 mins, Universal/Playback, DVD £24.99, Sci-Fi/Action/Drama)
Three-disc box set comprising all 10 episodes of the Canadian sci-fi drama which originally broadcast on the Syfy channel. Kiera Cameron (Rachel Nichols) is a City Protective Services (CPS) officer who ensures law and order in 2077 Vancouver. Eight ruthless terrorists known as Liber8 escape CPS custody by travelling back in time to 2012. Kiera follows them, determined to prevent Liber8 from altering the past. She joins the present-day Vancouver Police Department and enlists the help of officer Carlos Fonnegra (Victor Webster) and 17-year-old technical genius Alec Sadler (Erik Knudsen) to hunt down the escapees. In the process, Kiera reluctantly places her trust in former Liber8 member Matthew Kellog (Stephen Lobo), who claims to have reformed his ways and is wise to the inner workings of the clandestine group.
Crawlspace (Cert 18, 118 mins, Revolver Entertainment, DVD £15.99/Blu-ray £17.99, Horror/Thriller/Action)
Justin Dix directs and co-writes this subterranean Australian horror about unspeakable terrors that lurk in a top-secret military compound. Pine Gap is a highly classified facility, located deep underground, where government scientists conduct experiments hidden from public scrutiny. Unexpectedly, contact is lost with the facility so authorities dispatch an elite Special Forces unit led by Romeo (Ditch Davey) to secure the area. As the soldiers descend into the bowels of Pine Gap, they become aware of a monstrous presence with a taste for human flesh.
Darling Companion (Cert 12, 99 mins, Metrodome Distribution, DVD £15.99, Drama/Romance/Comedy)
Beth (Diane Keaton) and her husband Joseph (Kevin Kline) have been married for years and they have raised a beautiful, independent daughter, Grace (Elisabeth Moss). Fissures in the marriage are apparent and Beth and Joseph take out their frustrations on each other. By the roadside one day, Beth and Grace discover an abandoned dog and they take pity on the creature, naming him Freeway. However, Joseph is less enamoured with the four-legged addition to the household and when the disgruntled husband loses Freeway during a weekend vacation, tensions boil over as Beth must work with her spouse to track down the missing mutt.
Jack Irish (Cert 15, 193 mins, Spirit Entertainment, DVD £19.99, Thriller)
Adapted from the novels by Peter Temple, this double bill of Australian made-for-TV movies comprises Jack Irish: Bad Debts and Jack Irish: Black Tide. In both instalments, former criminal lawyer Jack (Guy Pearce) is haunted by the murder of his wife and struggles to piece his life back together. He dabbles in various professions, some far removed from his work in the courtroom, but Jack's dark past eventually catches up with him and he is forced to confront the destructive emotions he thought he had buried.
Barbara (Cert 12, 100 mins, Soda Pictures, DVD £17.99, Drama/Romance)
A doctor from 1980s Berlin must readjust to a slower pace of life in the country in this bleak character study directed by Christian Petzold and co-written by Harun Farocki. Barbara (Nina Hoss) is a brilliant doctor working in Germany, whose rapid ascent through the medical ranks is curtailed by a lapse in judgment. She is banished to the provinces, where she remains distant from her new work colleagues, including lead physician Andre (Ronald Zehrfeld), with whom she shares a palpable sexual chemistry. Rather than engage with staff at her new hospital, Barbara prefers to enjoy romantic trysts with her boyfriend Jorg (Mark Waschke) and dream of escape to Scandinavia. Despite her iciness towards colleagues, Barbara cares deeply about her patients and as she becomes enmeshed in their day-to-day lives, she finds herself gravitating towards Andre.
About Elly (Cert 12, 118 mins, Axiom Films, DVD £12.99, Drama)
Winner of the Silver Bear for Best Director at the 2009 Berlin Film Festival, About Elly is a taut drama following a group of friends who search for answers when one of them vanishes without trace. Sepideh (Golshifteh Farahani) organises a get-together of old classmates from law school at a pretty rented villa on the Caspian Sea. She invites Shohreh (Merila Zare'i) and her husband Peyman (Peyman Moadi), Naazi (Ra'na Azadivar) and her husband Manoochehr (Ahmad Mehranfar) and divorcee Ahmad (Shahab Hosseini), who is flying in from Germany for the occasion. Sepideh brings along her husband Amir (Mani Haghighi) and also invites her little daughter's kindergarten teacher, Elly (Taraneh Alidoosti), in the hope that the newcomer will spark romance with Ahmad so that everyone is neatly paired off. One afternoon, without any warning, Elly vanishes and her disappearance has a profound effect on the group as they turn on each other.
5 Broken Cameras (Cert 15, 94 mins, New Wave Films, DVD £15.99, Documentary)
Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi's documentary offers a fascinating glimpse at life inside modern-day Palestine through the eyes of a farmer and his workers. Emad is a labourer who lives in the village of Bil'in, west of Ramallah in the West Bank. With his very first video camera, he captures harrowing footage of bulldozers tearing through his land and the construction of a wall separating Jewish settlements from the Palestinians. Soon after, Emad's son Gibreel is born and footage captures those formative years as the boy grows up in the shadow of peaceful protests and the omnipresent Israeli soldiers. Emad's wife fears there will be reprisals for her husband's constant filming of events in the West Bank but the father persists, determined to resist the violence and oppression and show the world what is really happening in his homeland.
Timothy Spall: Somewhere At Sea (Cert E, 319 mins, Delta Home Entertainment, DVD £19.99, Special Interest)
Following a brush with leukaemia, Timothy Spall decided to embrace life with his wife, Shane. In this 11-part series, they travel the length and breadth of the British Isles on a Dutch Barge, enjoying some of our most breathtaking countryside and coastline. The three-disc set includes the episodes The Call Of The Sea, The Bogey Man, Race Against The Tide, The Luck Of The Irish... Sea, Mad About The Buoys, The Bit In The Middle, Scotch Mist, Message In A Bottle, Stags-By-The-Sea, God's Own Coast and The Last Splash.
DVD and Blu-ray retail top 10
1 (-) Dredd
2 (-) Lawless
3 (5) The Hunger Games
4 (3) Snow White And The Huntsman
5 (1) The Dark Knight Rises
6 (2) Total Recall
7 (10) Rock Of Ages
8 (6) Avengers Assemble
9 (-) Black Swan
10 (8) Prometheus
Chart supplied by www.hmv.com
DVD rental top 10
1 (1) The Bourne Legacy
2 (2) Ted
3 (-) The Sweeney
4 (3) The Amazing Spider-Man
5 (-) Lawless
6 (5) Dark Shadows
7 (-) House At The End Of The Street
8 (7) The Five-Year Engagement
9 (4) Men In Black 3
10 (6) Prometheus
Chart supplied by www.blockbuster.co.uk