Goto, Island of Love (1968) | Blu-ray/DVD release – Walerian Borowczyk’s allegorical comic tragedy

Goto Isle of Love (1

On a mythical island that has been cut off from civilisation by an earthquake, melancholic dictator Goto III (Pierre Brasseur) rules with a iron fist, but power-hungry petty thief Grozo (Guy Saint-Jean) hatches a devious plot to win the heart of Glossia (Ligia Branice), Goto’s beautiful wife. But Grozo’s plans go terribly wrong when he finally gets his hands on Glossia and the island…

Goto Isle of Love

THE LOWDOWN
This French allegorical comic tragedy from cult director Walerian Borowczyk was the Polish filmmaker’s first live-action feature. Featuring bizarre sets, a bonkers fetishtic sex and death scenario, and brilliant blarring deployment of one of Handel’s organ concertos, Goto, Isle of Love is an acutely conceived nightmare where power and lust festers, breeds and rules in absurdity. The film was also a thinly veiled attack on totalitarianism, which famously got it banned in Communist Poland and Fascist Spain (much the director’s delight), and is feminist author Angela Carter’s favourite film.

THE UK DUAL FORMAT RELEASE
Goto, Isle of Love is presented by Arrow Films in a brand new 2k high-definition restoration from the original 35mm interpositive and includes the colour sequences that were often omitted from earlier releases. The release also includes the following element…
• Uncompressed mono 2.0 PCM Audio and optional English subtitles
• Introduction by artist and Turner Prize nominee Craigie Horsfield
The Concentration Universe: Making Goto, Isle of Love (2014), interview programme featuring actor Jean-Pierre Andréani, cameraman Noël Véry and camera assistant Jean-Pierre Platel
The Profligate Door: Borowczyk’s Sound Sculptures (2014), documentary featuring curator Maurice Corbet

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Vamps | Film review – Alicia Silverstone & Krysten Ritter sink their teeth into the roles of party-loving New York vampires

Vamps_Krysten-Ritter_Alicia-Silverstone

Alicia Silverstone and Krysten Ritter play a pair of party-loving, flat-sharing vampires in modern-day New York in Vamps, a fun-spirited if cheesy-looking vampire comedy from writer-director Amy Heckerling, maker of teen classics Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Clueless (the film that made Silverstone a star).

Made immortal by bloodsucker Sigourney Weaver in the 1840s and 1980s respectively, the duo party and work by night, sleeping in coffins by day and drinking rat’s blood to survive. Then Stacy falls in love with Joey (Downton Abbey’s Dan Stevens), a descendant of the vampire-slaying Van Helsing clan…

Evidently made on the cheap, notwithstanding the surprisingly classy cast, Vamps is a bit of a mess, but there’s sweetness and wit here, too, making this a movie worth sinking your teeth into

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Certificate 15. Runtime 92 mins. Director Amy Heckerling.

Released on DVD by Metrodome Home Entertainment

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Only Lovers Left Alive | Film review – Tom & Tilda’s undead lovers ooze hipster cool in seductive vampire movie

Tilda-Swinton-and-Tom-Hiddleston-Eve-and-Adam-Only-Lovers-Left-Alive

Forget Edward Cullen and Bella Swan. The long-lived undead lovers played by Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton in cult director Jim Jarmusch’s highly unconventional vampire movie Only Lovers Left Alive ooze so much hipster cool they make the Twilight pair look positively anaemic.

And forget garlic, crucifixes and wooden stakes. Jarmusch dispenses with the usual vampire paraphernalia to deliver a beguiling meditation on love and immortality. Prepare, though, for a slow moving tale (what’s the hurry when you live for centuries?), with the lovers spending most of the film’s first half apart, living on separate continents – Hiddleston’s reclusive musician Adam holed up in a crumbling mansion in post-industrial Detroit, while Swinton’s avidly curious bohemian Eve hangs out with John Hurt’s undead Elizabethan playwright Christopher Marlowe in exotic Tangiers.

There is a brief flurry of action when Eve’s wayward, trouble-making sister Ava (Mia Wasikowska) turns up and causes panic in Detroit, but for the most part the story moves at a decidedly languid pace. Yet give the film time and you will surely succumb to its intensely romantic, deeply sensuous mood.

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Certificate 15. Runtime 118 mins. Director Jim Jarmusch.

Released on DVD, Blu-ray, and Steelbook exclusive to Zavvi by Soda Pictures. 

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The Two Faces of January | Film review – Expat trio Viggo, Kirsten & Oscar, perilously entangled in 1960s Greece

Two Faces of January - Viggo Mortensen, Oscar Isaac and Kirsten Dunst

Viggo Mortensen, Kirsten Dunst and Oscar Isaac play a trio of expat Americans who become perilously entangled in early-1960s Greece in stylish psychological thriller The Two Faces of January, based on the novel by crime writer Patricia Highsmith, legendary author of The Talented Mr Ripley. Isaac’s character is a sharp-eyed, Ripley-like young hustler who charms his way into the lives of Mortensen and Dunst’s wealthy married couple after encountering them on the steps of the Parthenon in 1962 Athens – but the coolly glamorous pair are not all they seem and he duly finds himself snared in a mesh of desire, guilt, paranoia and murder. Telling this tale, first-time director Hossein Amini (screenwriter of The Wings of the Dove and Drive, among other credits) sometimes overplays his hand, and things turn rather melodramatic before the end, but the acting is excellent, with Mortensen particularly strong as his character’s cool façade begins to crack.

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Certificate 12. Runtime 93 mins. Director Hossein Amini.

Released on DVD, Blu-ray and VOD by StudioCanal. 

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Sabotage | Film review – Who is gunning for creaky Arnie and his meatheaded special ops crew?

Sabotage

A creaky looking Arnold Schwarzenegger heads the cast of exceedingly violent action thriller Sabotage, playing the leader of an elite special operations team that finds its members getting eliminated one by one after $10million goes missing during a drug bust. Is a vengeful Mexican cartel out to get them or do they have a traitor in their midst? Arnie’s macho crew are such an obnoxious bunch of meatheads – and that goes, too, for Mireille Enos, its lone women member – that you will struggle to care, although things definitely perk up whenever the surprisingly cast Olivia Williams turns up at the latest gory crime scene as the hard-nosed homicide detective investigating the case.

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Certificate 15. Runtime 105 mins. Director David Ayer.

Released on DVD & Blu-ray by Lionsgate on Monday 15th September. 

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Pride | Film review – A crowd-pleasing true tale with a rousing message of empathy and solidarity

PRIDE

This funny, touching, irresistibly entertaining British film tells the true story of the unlikely alliance forged at the height of the 1984-85 Miners’ Strike between a group of gay and lesbian activists and the inhabitants of a small mining village in South Wales.

Pride is an unashamedly feelgood comedy-drama, much in the spirit of Made in Dagenham and Billy Elliot, and director Matthew Warchus and screenwriter Stephen Beresford rarely pass up the opportunity for crowd-pleasing touches.

PRIDE

So there is much broad culture-clash humour when the London-based activists turn up in the village of Onllwyn in the Dulais Valley, each one a proverbial sore thumb; and the comedy gets broader still when some of the villagers pay a return visit and a bunch of miners’ wives go on a tour of leather bars.

But there is heart and soul here, too, in the warmly sympathetic performances from the likes of Bill Nighy, Imelda Staunton and Paddy Considine among the Welsh, and Dominic West, Andrew Scott, George Mackay and Ben Schnetzer among their gay supporters.

There are also plenty of shrewd insights into the period the film depicts, starting with the gay activists’ decision to raise funds for the striking miners. The impulse comes from the recognition of the affinity between them: they both get bashed by the cops and tabloids. And you don’t have to look too hard to find resonances with the present in the film’s rousing message of empathy and solidarity.

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Certificate 15. Runtime 120 mins. Director Matthew Warchus.

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A Most Wanted Man | Film review – Philip Seymour Hoffman gets under the skin of a despairing spymaster

A Most Wanted Man - Philip Seymour Hoffman as Gunther Bachmann

Watching the late Philip Seymour Hoffman as a drained, despairing spymaster in A Most Wanted Man, it’s hard not to find the shadow of his tragically early death hanging over his character.

In this John le Carré adaptation, his last completed film, he plays the weary but dogged head of a German anti-terror unit based in Hamburg, a chain-smoking, whisky-swigging fatalist constantly struggling to keep rival espionage agencies from queering his pitch.

When an illegal immigrant, the half-Chechen, half-Russian, devoutly Muslim Issa Karpov (Grigoriy Dobrygin), turns up illegally in Hamburg, Interpol has him marked as a militant jihadist. Could they be wrong? And can Hoffman’s Gunther Bachmann keep Issa out of the itchy hands of the authorities for long enough to act, unwittingly, as his pawn in a more strategic, less knee-jerk fight against terrorism?

A Most Wanted Man - Willem Dafoe, Rachel McAdams

With Rachel McAdams’ idealistic human rights lawyer, Willem Dafoe’s shifty private banker and Robin Wright’s double-dealing CIA agent also in the mix, the ensuing intrigue is always absorbing, and full of interesting political and moral resonances. But the drama lacks the sweaty-palmed suspense of 2011’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

Rock photographer turned filmmaker Anton Corbijn (Control, The American) directs stylishly, effectively evoking the urban lower depths and upper reaches in which the story plays out. And Hoffman is outstanding, of course, which makes his loss all the harder to bear.

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Certificate 15. Runtime 122 mins. Director Anton Corbijn.

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Frank | Film review – A drolly funny, surprisingly touching portrait of a charismatic musical outsider

FRANK - Maggie Gylenhaal, Michael Fassbender, Domhnall Gleeson

Offbeat doesn’t begin to describe an oddball comedy drama whose leading man goes about wearing a giant papier-mâché head with a cartoon face.

Played by Michael Fassbender, the eponymous Frank is an eccentric avant-garde rock singer who never removes his outlandish headgear, as Domhnall Gleeson’s callow wannabe musician Jon discovers after being recruited into Frank’s band as its new keyboard player, joining a bunch of misfits that includes Maggie Gyllenhaal’s fiercely prickly Theremin-playing Clara.

A year long spell in a remote log cabin to record an album ensues, followed by a disastrous trip to the South by Southwest festival in the US, during which Jon strives to uncover the real Frank and learn the secret of his musical genius.

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Frank is very loosely inspired by the cult figure of Frank Sidebottom (aka the late Mancunian singer-comedian Chris Sieves), in whose band the film’s co-writer Jon Ronson played keyboards in the 1980s, with elements of notorious rock taskmaster Captain Beefheart and schizophrenic songwriter Daniel Johnson thrown into the mix, too.

But the film stands by itself as a drolly funny, surprisingly touching portrait of a charismatic musical outsider. Oh, and Fassbender is brilliant beneath that absurd head, conveying all you need to know about Frank’s joys and woes and troubled soul by his body language alone.

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Certificate 15. Runtime 90 mins. Director Lenny Abrahamson.

Released on Blu-ray & DVD by Curzon Film World on Monday 15th September.

Special Features:

•    Feature commentary with Lenny Abrahamson, Domhnall Gleeson and Stephen Rennicks (Composer)
•    Feature commentary with Jon Ronson (Writer) and Peter Straughan (Writer)
•    Behind the scenes featurette
•    Sound Promo
•    Deleted Scenes
•    Theatrical Trailer

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The Short Films (1959-1984) | Blu-ray/DVD release – Welcome to the surreal world of Walerian Borowczyk

Borowczyk-Shorts

Following the sell-out successful release of Arrow Academy’s Camera Obscura: The Walerian Borowczyk Collection, which brings together all of the key works from the Polish film-maker’s career, five of his most provocative features as well as his shorts and animation have been released individually on Blu-ray and DVD for the first time in a new 2k digital high definition restoration.

Walerian Borowczyk's Astronaut
THE SHORTS
For the first decade of his film-making career, former colourist artist Walerian Borowczyk made short animated films in his native Poland and then in France, where he settled in the 1950s. This disc includes the majority of the shorts that he made between 1959 and 1984, including the acclaimed surrealist cut-out Astronauts, and the extraordinary Angel’s Games, which was hugely influential on likes of Jan Svankmajer, David Lynch and Terry Gilliam, who selected it as one of the best 10 animated films of all time and supplies the introduction to this release.

The Theatre of Mr & Mrs Kabal
THE THEATRE OF MR & MRS KABAL
In 1967, Borowczyk made his feature debut, the grotesque, surreal animated fantasy, The Theatre of Mr & Mrs Kabal. Rendered in mainly monochrome graphics it’s the polar opposite of Disney’s saccharine features, and is a key film in understanding Borowczyk as a master craftsman and Dadaist prankster.

Walerian Borowczyk
THE UK DUAL FORMAT RELEASE
• Brand new 2K restorations of Borowczyk short films and feature animation are presented in brand new high-definition restorations from original 35mm elements, with uncompressed mono 2.0 PCM audio and optional English subtitles.
• Introduction by Terry Gilliam (2013)
Film is Not a Sausage (2014), documentary about Borowczyk’s animation
Blow Ups (2014), a visual essay by Daniel Bird about Borowczyk’s works on paper
Commercials (1963-64): Holy Smoke (1963), The Museum (1964), Tom Thumb (1966)
• Reversible sleeve featuring original poster designs
• Collector’s booklet

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Blue Ruin | Blu-ray review – Gripping low-budget revenge thriller counts the cost of retribution

Blue Ruin DVD 2DThe grieving loner on a mission of retribution is a stock cinematic type, yet the damaged anti-hero of US indie writer-director-cinematographer Jeremy Saulnier’s low-budget revenge thriller Blue Ruin couldn’t be further removed from such fantasy figures as granite-faced Charles Bronson’s urban vigilante in the Death Wish films.

Blue Ruin - Macon Blair as Dwight

Superbly played by Macon Blair, bedraggled vagrant Dwight Evans is hell-bent on revenge against the redneck clan that has destroyed his family. Unlike most of his cinematic peers, however, he is a singularly inept avenger, cack-handed rather than cool. None the less, he is not to be deflected from his path.

At every step along the way, Saulnier and Blair put us in Dwight’s shoes, making the film’s sustained passages of nail-biting suspense even more tense, yet also forcing us to confront the moral consequences of revenge and the shocking effects of violence. Shifting deftly through different moods, including pathos, dark comedy and appalling bloodshed, Blue Ruin always counts the costs of payback.

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Certificate 15. Runtime 90 mins. Director Jeremy Saulnier.

Released on Blu-ray & DVD by Channel 4 DVD. Special Features: Behind the scenes featurette; deleted scenes; camera test film.

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