Win Richard Ayoade’s The Double on DVD

THEDOUBLE_DVDDirector Richard Ayoade’s (Submarine) latest feature, The Double, is an idiosyncratic adaptation of Dostoyevsky’s celebrated novella. Simon (Jesse Eisenberg) is a timid man, scratching out an isolated existence in an indifferent world. He is overlooked at work, scorned by his mother, and ignored by the woman of his dreams, Hannah (Mia Wasikowska). He feels powerless to change any of these things. The arrival of a new co-worker, James, serves to upset the balance. James is both Simon’s exact physical double and his opposite – confident, charismatic and good with women. To Simon’s horror, James slowly starts taking over his life.

To celebrate the film coming to Blu-ray and DVD on Monday 4 August, we have three copies of the DVD for you to win, courtesy of Studiocanal. To be in with a chance of winning simply answer the following question by filling in the form below.

Q: Richard Ayoade is best known for acting in which popular comedy series?

  • The Big Bang Theory
  • The IT Crowd
  • The Inbetweeners

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“Queasy paranoia and off-kilter comedy in Ayoade’s Dostoevsky update” – Read our review

Competition closes 4pm Friday 29 August. Terms and Conditions apply.

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The Double | Film review – Queasy paranoia and off-kilter comedy in Ayoade’s Dostoevsky update

The_Double_Jesse_EisenbergThe IT Crowd’s Richard Ayoade follows up his appealingly quirky directing debut, 2010 coming-of-age comedy Submarine with The Double, a surreal, darkly comic updating of Russian author Fyodor Dostoevsky’s classic 19th-century tale.

Jesse Eisenberg stars as a downtrodden office clerk whose wretched existence gets even worse after his exact double turns up one day in his workplace and quickly wins over everyone else in the company, including the pretty co-worker (Mia Wasikowska) on whom he has a crush.

Eisenberg adroitly pulls off the film’s dual leads, ensuring we never have any difficulty telling the timid tongue-tied hero apart from his brashly confident doppelganger. And Ayoade pulls off his film’s mix of queasy paranoia and off-kilter comedy brilliantly.

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Certificate 15. Runtime 89 mins. Director Richard Ayoade.

Released on Blu-ray & DVD on Monday 4th August by StudioCanal.

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Step Up: All In | Film review – Unstoppable dance series still has plenty of zip on the dance floor

Step Up: All In - Briana Evigan

The dance routines still have plenty of zip, but when it comes to pacy storytelling the Step Up series is definitely flagging in Step Up: All In.

Having striven to refresh the franchise with trips to New York and Miami for the last two instalments (Step Up 3 and Step Up 4: Miami Heat), the filmmakers’ big wheeze this time is to round up characters from the first three sequels and pit them up against one another for a high-stakes reality TV competition in Las Vegas.

This means that Miami street dancer Sean (Ryan Guzman, toned of ab, furrowed of brow, and totally free of charisma) must fall out with his pals in The Mob and instead recruit a new dance crew conveniently made up of figures from the previous movies, including new love interest Andie, played by Step Up 2 the Streets’ husky-voiced star Briana Evigan.

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Despite some half-hearted attempts by screenwriter John Swetnam to create will-they-won’t-they friction between them, the pair fail to generate romantic sparks, which leaves sneaky dance rival Jasper (Stephen Stevo Jones) and his Grim Knights crew to provide what passes in the film for dramatic tension.

Viewer interest flares whenever Izabella Miko’s slinky TV contest host is on screen, her OTT outfits and mannered demeanour echoing Elizabeth Banks’ Effie Trinket in The Hunger Games, but things only truly heat up for the climactic dance-off at Caesars Palace, in which our heroes bust their frenetic popping/locking moves and burn up the dance floor. And that, for fans, will be more than enough.

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Certificate PG. Runtime 112 mins. Director Trish Sie.

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Harold and Maude (1971) | Hal Ashby’s life-affirming cult black comedy has never been bettered

Harold and Maude blu-ray

THE SYNOPSIS
Feeling trapped and emotionally dead by his wealthy surroundings, 20-year-old Harold (Bud Cort) repeatedly stages his suicide in elaborate ways to annoy his society-conscious mother (Vivian Pickles), while attending other people’s funerals in a custom-built hearse. Meeting Maude (Ruth Gordon), who is about to turn 80, at one of the services, Harold finds himself drawn to the free-spirit whose love of life awakens something inside of him, and it is through her love that Harold begins to see life as something to be lived…

Harold and Maude

THE LOWDOWN
Like Ruth Gordon’s sprightly 79-year-old character, director Hal Ashby and screenwriter Colin Higgins’ life-affirming black comedy Harold and Maude just gets better with age. There’s a hugely uplifting quality to the film as well as wonderful sense of anarchic rebellion that speaks as much now as it did when it was first released, where it became a cause célèbre among North American college audiences and enjoyed extended runs (some going for years).

Key to the film’s longevity are its universal themes of life, death and resurrection (Maude views death only as part of the life cycle and wants to return as a sunflower) and the incredible chemistry between the two leads, whose characters’ 50-year age gap romance shocked audiences of the day. Bud Cort is quietly effective as the manchild Harold, while Ruth Gordon brings a subtle sense of sadness behind Maude’s wrinkly smiles.

Harold and Maude

While not a laugh out loud comedy, the film is packed with hilarious moments (Maude giving Tom Skerritt’s motorcycle cop the runaround is a highlight, while Charles Tyner‘s one-armed army captain Uncle Victor is a satirical scream) and the script is a quotable delight, with the best quips coming from Maude: ‘Oh my, how the world still dearly loves a cage.’ Also uplifting is Cat Steven’s hippie folk tunes and John Alonzo’s cinematography, which finds beauty in the most unlikely of places: the concrete Californian highways, a scrap yard, and the dilapidated railway carriage where Maude resides.

Harold and Maude

Alzono later scored an Oscar nomination for his work on Polanski’s Chinatown, while Ashby (certainly one of Hollywood’s most underrated directors) would go on to helm the Oscar nominated Coming Home (1978) and Being There (1979), probably Peter Sellers’ finest performance on screen. Writer Higgins, meanwhile, ended up directing the comedy hits Foul Play and Nine to Five, before tragically succumbing to AIDS in 1988, aged 47. Ashby died the same year, from cancer, aged 59. Their legacy, however, is this unforgettable cult comedy. So, if you’re ever feeling down or at odds with the world, just let Harold and Maude in your life to make it that little bit better.

Harold and Maude

THE MASTERS OF CINEMA SERIES RELEASE
This is the first time in the UK that the cult black comedy has been made available on Blu-ray and features a newly restored 1080p high-definition master in a widescreen 1.85:1 aspect ratio, with a choice of original mono audio or stereo track and optional English subtitles. The extras include audio commentary by Hal Ashby biographer Nick Dawson and producer Charles B Mulvehill and a video discussion by critic David Cairns. The booklet accompanying the release features archival interviews with Ashby, Higgins and Gordon alongside vintage imagery.

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Get tickets to a preview screening of animated movie The Unbeatables – In Cinemas August 15!

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To celebrate the release of THE UNBEATABLES, in cinemas August 15th, we’re giving you and the kids the chance to see the animated adventure of the summer early and for free at a cinema near you on Sunday 3rd August!

A poignant story about love, pride, friendship and passion, The Unbeatables, follows the adventures of Amadeo, a shy but talented young man and his Table Football team, who magically come to life as they try to reunite after being dismantled and torn from their home. However, they soon find themselves up against their biggest obstacle – defying the most famous soccer player in the World, Flash.

Watch the trailer here:

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For your chance to bag yourself a set of four tickets to a preview screening on 3rd August, just go to ShowFilmFirst 

THE UNBEATABLES IN CINEMAS IN SCOTLAND ON AUGUST 8TH AND ACROSS THE REST OF THE COUNTRY ON AUGUST 15TH

For more information follow @vertigofilms on Twitter and like Vertigo Films on Facebook

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Win rip-roaring sword-and-sandal adventure The Legend of Hercules starring Kellan Lutz on Blu-ray

HERCULES_3DBDUV_RETAIL_2D_SmallKellan Lutz (The Expendables 3) stars as the mythical Greek hero, Hercules, in this epic origin story. The son of Zeus is betrayed by his stepfather, a tyrant king (Scott Adkins; The Expendables 2), and sold into slavery. Hercules must then embark on a legendary odyssey using his extraordinary strength to overthrow the king and restore peace to the land.

An epic action adventure with mind-blowing thrills, The Legend of Hercules features an all-star supporting cast including Liam McIntyre (Spartacus: War of the Damned), Roxanne Mckee (Game of Thrones) and Gaia Weiss (Vikings).

The Legend of Hercules is released on Blu-ray & DVD on 4th August 2014. To celebrate its release we have three Blu-ray copies to give away, courtesy of Lionsgate Home Entertainment. To be in with a chance of winning simply answer the following question by filling in the form below.

Q: Which of the following was NOT among the 12 labours performed by Hercules according to Greek myth?

  • Slaying the Nemean Lion
  • Cleaning the Augean Stables
  • Retrieving the Golden Fleece

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Competition closes 4pm Friday 15 August. Terms and Conditions apply.

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Top Ten Visual Feasts…

Chosen by Olivia Lohoar Self

We all know that cinema is a visual medium. But some films are merely easy on the eye, while others put style over substance. Selected here are ten films, wonderful to watch and aesthetically impressive, which we believe to be visual feasts!

1. Moulin Rouge

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As visually beautiful as the tragic love story it depicts. Moulin Rouge delivers a truly spectacular (spectacular!) display. Director Baz Luhrman’s signature theatrical style does not disappoint in capturing the dazzling allure of bohemian Paris. The extravagance of courtesan Satine’s (Nicole Kidman) sparkling world is vividly present, with plush red velvet and bright lights at every turn. Yet the film avoids tackiness and creates a magnificent visual feast.

2. The Grand Budapest Hotel

Grand Budapest Hotel - Ralph Fiennes, Tilda Swinton

The Grand Budapest Hotel is a work of art in its own right. The colour, symmetry, and construction of every scene make Wes Anderson’s film a masterpiece. Each scene presents a real colour pop, adding to the absurdity and comedy, while being a real sweet treat to the eye. The story’s fictional bakery, Mendl’s, creates delicious cakes, and the hotel itself, surrounded by picture-perfect mountains dusted in icing sugar snow, looks as though it could be one of their cakes. The crisp carefully constructed nature of the film adds a slightly surreal quality; making it feel at times as if you are watching the inhabitants of a doll’s house or even a kind of Disneyland.

3. Avatar

Avatar

James Cameron’s Avatar marked a landmark in 3D cinema, taking the cinematic experience to a new level of immersive spectacle. The film’s plot may not be groundbreaking, but visually it certainly is, creating an impressive utopian world of the planet Pandora inhabited by the iconic blue Na’vi aliens. And it delivers on a range of levels, from the fast-paced fighting scenes to the magically vivid jungles, all of which turn the story into an out-of-world experience for the viewer.

4. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

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Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory takes the idea of a visual feast literally. You can’t help but feel your mouth water slightly while watching, wishing that the sweet filled rooms were more than pure imagination. The panning shot on entering the first room of the factory allows you to marvel at sweets upon sweets upon sweets. Everywhere you look there are edible delights: candy cane trees, lollipop foliage, a chocolate river. Incredibly inventive, the scenery captures the mood perfectly; big bright and exciting at first, yet with slightly sinister elements later on.

5. Sin City

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (2014)

Total sensory overload is the order of the day in this jaw-dropping adaptation of Frank Miller’s comic book noir. Co-directed by Robert Rodriguez and Miller himself (with one scene reserved for buddy Quentin Tarantino), it interweaves three stories into one relentless thrill-ride down the mean streets of Basin City, a festering hellhole of vice and corruption. Filmed almost entirely by digitally imposing the actors onto black-and-white CGI backdrops with only isolated bursts of colour, the film creates an environment that is at once otherworldly yet curiously familiar.

6. Life of Pi

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Ang Li’s sumptuous adaptation of Yann Martel’s Booker-winning fable about a boy and a tiger are stranded together on a lifeboat, Life of Pi unsurprisingly picked up Oscars for its cinematography and wholeheartedly spectacular visual effects. Their brilliance allows you to immerse yourself within its magical plot and the novel translates surprisingly well onto screen. The film wows us with its depiction of nature. The images of sky, sea and land are dazzling, but perhaps the biggest marvel is the tiger who – thanks to CGI wizardry – shares the boat with Suraj Sharma’s boy, making the surreal seem real.

7. The Matrix

MATRIX, THE? Warner Bros

Cool, slick and surreal, The Matrix will dazzle you – and leave you wanting to go round in long leather coats and dark glasses. The fight scenes are stunning, varying from hand-to-hand combat at fast-forward speed, to bullet dodging in slow motion. Stuffed full of references to Greek myth, The Bible, Alice in Wonderworld and The Wizard of Oz, the Wachowski Brothers’ extravagantly over-the-top sci-fi action thriller still leaves the viewer reeling.

8. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Film Title: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is refreshingly different. Awash with video-game imagery and brimming with pow’s, bam’s and boom’s, this is a film that’s snappy, bold and funny. The wacky duels fought by Michael Cera’s geeky hero play out like the levels in an arcade video game, yet when his defeated foes explode into showers of coins, gamers and non-gamers alike will thrill to the spectacle.

9. Inception

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Christopher Nolan’s sci-fi thriller dazzles the eye and boggles the brain! And with effects that are as complex as the plot – witness the spectacle of the Paris cityscape rising up and then folding in on itself; or Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s zero-gravity fight – this is a film you can enjoy even if you can’t keep up with the storyline.

10. The Nightmare before Christmas

THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS 3D

Spooky yet enchanting, this ghoulish seasonal confection about the mayor of Halloweentown’s fiendish scheme to take over Christmas is a stop-motion animation treat. Its fantasy world may be dark and scary, but director Henry Selick – who went on to make James and the Giant Peach and Coraline – breathes such life into Tim Burton’s spindly figures that the film is a real delight to watch.

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Khumba: A Zebra’s Tale | Film review – Oddball animals on a meandering computer-animated quest

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Following in the footsteps of The Lion King and the Ice Age and Madagascar movies, South African computer-animated comedy-adventure Khumba: A Zebra’s Tale dispatches another bunch of cute talking animals on a life-changing quest. This time the hero is an outcast half-striped zebra, who hopes to earn his missing stripes by finding a magical pool and naturally has a pair of oddball travelling companions on his journey – a motherly wildebeest (Loretta Devine) and a garrulous camp ostrich (Richard E Grant, irritating). The animation is vibrant and the voice cast impressive – Liam Neeson purrs menacingly as the leopard villain, Catherine Tate’s sheep is engagingly bonkers, and Steve Buscemi and Laurence Fishburne put in appearances, too. So it’s a great shame that the animators and actors are let down by the meandering plot and trite dialogue.

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Certificate U. Runtime 85 mins. Director Anthony Silverston.

Released on Blu-ray & DVD on Monday 28th July by Kaleidoscope Home Entertainment.

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L’Assassino (1961) | Blu-ray/DVD release – Elio Petri’s dazzling Kafkaesque thriller starring Marcello Mastroianni is a neglected cinematic gem

64943829_500x500_1SYNOPSIS
Released within months of Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita and Michelangelo Antonioni’s La Notte, director Elio Petri’s dazzling 1961 debut L’Assassino (aka The Ladykiller of Rome) also stars Marcello Mastroianni, this time as sleazy thirtysomething antiques dealer Alfredo Martelli, arrested on suspicion of murdering his older, far wealthier lover Adalgisa (Micheline Presle). But as the police investigation proceeds, it becomes less and less important whether Martelli actually committed the crime as his entire lifestyle is effectively put on trial…

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THE LOWDOWN
Best known for Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion and The Tenth Victim (read our review here), Elio Petri was one of the finest and yet most underrated Italian directors of the 1960s and 1970s. Highly acclaimed on its original UK release but unjustly neglected since, L’Assassino is a remarkably assured debut from one of the cinema’s sharpest chroniclers of Italian social and political realities; fusing a thriller, a favourite genre of Petri’s, with elements of a mystery plot with an Kafkaesque air, while also being a explicit critique of the rising upper-bourgeois society in Italy in the early 1960s.

The Ladykiller of Rome 1

Written for the screen by Tonino Guerra (who also did Antonioni’s Blow-Up, Fellini’s Amarcord and Tarkovsky’s Nostalghia); lensed by Woody Allen’s favourite cinematographer, Carlo Di Palma; edited by Fellini regular Ruggero Mastroianni; and with music by Piero Piccioni (whose compositions have recently been used in American Hustle and Silver Linings Playbook), L’Assassino is certainly ripe for rediscovery.

The Ladykiller of Rome 2

THE UK BLU-RAY/DVD RELEASE
Following a high-definition restoration by Cineteca di Bologna, this is the first ever UK home entertainment release of L’Assassino and comes in a Blu-ray and DVD combo pack from Arrow Films’ Arrow Academy label. Alongside the 2k digital presentation of the film, there’s also a host of special features on offer, including the 52-minute documentary, Tonino Guerra – A Poet in the Movies, about the acclaimed screenwriter; an introduction by Italian cinema expert Pasquale Iannone; theatrical trailer; collector’s booklet (featuring some informative new and vintage writings on the film); and newly commissioned artwork by Jay Shaw.

L’Assassino is available in the UK on the Arrow Academy label in a Blu-ray/DVD combo from Arrow Films

 

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Earth to Echo | Film review – Family-friendly sci-fi throwback to the 1980s – with a found-footage twist

Earth To Echo

A trio of 13-year-old boys and a token girl embark on a quest to help a stranded alien creature evade sinister government agents and return home. Sound familiar? Yes, director Dave Green’s Earth to Echo makes more than a nod to Steven Spielberg’s ET and a host of other 1980s family-friendly sci-fi adventures, including Short Circuit, Explorers and Batteries Not Included. Indeed, you would be hard pressed to find a bigger throwback to those earlier movies were it not for the fact that Green and screenwriter Henry Gayden have bafflingly chosen to tell their story as a found-footage tale put together after the events by one of the boys. The point-of-view camerawork is often irritating, but there’s a charming tale lurking beneath and the owl-like robotic alien, dubbed Echo by the boys, is undeniably cute.

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Certificate PG. Runtime 91 mins. Director Dave Green.

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