Wednesday Jul 23
DVDDVD & Blu-ray Reviews: May 23, 2011
22/05/2011 | Nikki Baughan

Our reviews of the best home entertainment releases for the week of May 23, 2011 Read Barney's Version Review


DVDBarney's Version (DVD)
22/05/2011 | Nikki Baughan

Memories are made of this... At the heart of Barney’s Version is a powerful performance from Paul Giamatti, as an ageing curmudgeon looking back over his past. He blunders his way through two marriages—to a tortured artist (Rachelle Lefevre) and a Jewish socialite (Minnie Dr [ ... ]


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Blessed (DVD)

DVD

No man is an island...

Made back in 2008 and now making its TV and DVD debut just in time for Father's Day, Mark Aldridge's Blessed has at its heart a powerful performance from James Nesbitt that just about keeps it out of 'movie of the week' territory.

He is Peter who, when the film opens, is living in isolation as the lighthouse keeper on a remote Scottish island. Through a series of flashbacks, we see his life hasn't always been like this; formally a city trader, he left everything behind following a devastating family tragedy. Peter copes with an overwhelming sense of guilt and grief by shutting out the world, but his self-imposed exile is shattered by the sudden arrival of Charlotte (Lilian Woods), a young girl who literally washes up on the shore. Despite having lived through her own nightmare, Charlotte has an unshakeable love for life and, as her charms begin to take effect, Peter begins to realise that hope may not be lost forever.

Despite Blessed's focus on universal themes of family, identity and love, it is a pretty small-scale affiar; the majority of the film is a two-hander between the (mainly mute) Peter and the livewire Charlotte. Nesbitt is as watchable as ever, convincing in his portrayal of a man who has lost everything even when the script distills him down to cliché; there are endless shots of looking wistfully into space, gazing at old keepsakes and eating acres of soup. Newcomer Woods is a delight, her childish optimism and innocence cutting through Peter's moroseness, and she more than holds her own through some of her character's more difficult scenes.

It is, however, the cinematography by Steve Weiser that is the star of the show. The Isles of Skye are utterly beguiling, shots of lapping waves, sunsets and the wild and haunting landscapes both reflecting Peter's emotional state and providing the perfect backdrop for his journey to redemption

It's unfortunate, then, that the film's ending feels utterly contrived and unbelievable enough to pull you out of the story; and the follow-up shapshots that are featured throughout the closing credits do nothing to offset the feeling of unease at the pat outcome.  Still, Blessed is a solid debut from writer/director Mark Aldridge and his producer wife Mary, and should find an audience who are more than willing to succumb to its charms. 3 stars

Extra Features
Nothing

Watch Blessed Trailer

ROLL CREDITS...
Stars James Nesbitt, Lillian Woods
Director Mark Aldridge
Format DVD
Distributor Momentum
Released June 21

DVD Reviews Archive

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Highlights

Airborne

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Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

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Director Rob Marshall, producer Jerry Bruckheimer and stars Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz, Ian McShane and Geoffrey Rush talk Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides...

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Shadow

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As his visceral horror Shadow comes to DVD, we sit down for an exclusive chat with Italian director Federico Zampaglione

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Movie Highlight

The Woman in Black

Having relaunched in 2010 with the promise of delivering solid horror films for a modern audience, the output from the rebooted Hammer Films has been something of a mixed bag. While its inaugural release, remake Let Me In, was received with great fanfare, subsequent films The Resident and Wake Wood have been less successful. So with its first big release, The Woman in Black, Hammer has much to prove – and has piled on the pressure by choosing to adapt a story that’s not only a bestselling novel but also a long running West End play.

An additional challenge is that tale is so effective because of its simplicity; there are no big set pieces for a filmmaker to hide behind. So it’s reassuring to see that, while some elements of Susan Hill’s story have been tweaked to give it more of a cinematic scope, the narrative runs fairly true. At its heart is young lawyer Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe) who, still reeling from the death of his wife in childbirth four years previously, is sent to a remote village in order to organise the paperwork at the isolated Eel Marsh House. On his arrival he finds the locals most unwelcoming, believing that anyone disturbing the peace at the house brings tragedy to the village. Although initially sceptical, Kipps soon discovers that the mansion holds horrifying secrets, and that one of its former occupants is determined to exact terrifying revenge…

READ FULL REVIEW:  The Woman in Black

DVD Highlight

The Walking Dead

The living dead have been a mainstay of horror cinema for decades. Now they maraud onto the small screen in Frank Darabont’s adaptation of the graphic novel by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore and Charlie Adlard.

Brit favourite Andrew Lincoln (This LifeTeachers) adopts a convincing drawl to take on the role of sheriff Rick Grimes, who wakes from a coma to find the local residents have become flesh-eating ghouls. While the initial set-up is reminiscent of 28 Days Later, these zombies are not Danny Boyle’s fast moving monsters, but the lumbering breed of tradition. That doesn’t dilute their impact; as Rick teams up with other survivors, the zombies are relentless in their pursuit and the tension builds to unbearable levels.

READ FULL REVIEW: The Walking Dead

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