Out in the UK this Week
Untouchable (EV, cert 15, Blu-ray/DVD)
A rich white tetraplegic (François Cluzet) gets lessons in life from a lusty black guy from out of the projects (Omar Sy). Untouchable (Intouchables in French, and the plural is there for a reason) is the most successful French film ever but has generated at least as many accusations of racism as it has five star reviews. But, one joke about Barack Obama apart, this vastly entertaining, hugely feelgood, very funny and brilliantly acted film (Omar Sy’s is a “star is born” turn) touches more on socio-economics than race, unless you’re in the business of being professionally affronted. Either way, see it before Colin Firth turns up in the American remake.
Chained (Anchor Bay, cert 18, Blu-ray/DVD)
Superficially similar to the Austrian Fritzl/horror film Michael, Jennifer Lynch’s Chained tells of the home life of a serial killer (a scary Vincent D’Onofrio) as seen through the eyes of the boy he kidnapped years before. The routine sub-surface violence of suburbia seems to be a subtext, with Lynch presenting the relationship as one of extreme parenting rather than killer/victim. Unsurprisingly, Jennifer is the daughter of David, who touched on the same ideas in Blue Velvet. Like father like daughter then, you could say, though Jennifer does at least give us an all-out thriller finish.
Anna Karenina (Universal, cert 12, Blu-ray/DVD)
Is director Joe Wright in love with frequent leading lady Keira Knightley? He’s certainly lavished attention on making her look ravishing in this Tom Stoppard adaptation of Tolstoy’s tale of a high-class woman ruined by her lustful relationship with a bounder. Beautiful, delirious, boldly theatrical and intelligent as it is, this version of Anna Karenina stands or falls according to whether you buy the casting of Aaron Taylor-Johnson as the simply irresistible Vronsky. I didn’t.
Ballroom Dancer (Dogwoof, cert E, DVD)
Strictly Come Dancing and Dancing with the Stars fans will enjoy this documentary about Vyacheslav “Slavik” Kryklyvyy (try running that name through a spellcheck), a onetime champion ballroom dancer on the comeback road in spite of his advanced years – he’s 34. Insights into the sheer athleticism of the discipline are what make this foxtrot into the world of competitive dancing worth watching. That, Slavik’s huge ego and his need to share everything on camera. Which is more than his partner wants to.
Everything or Nothing (Fox, cert 12, DVD)
“I only remember Goldeneye, the rest is a blur.” Pierce Brosnan joins his fellow 007s (Connery notably excepted) for a fascinating, though clearly authorised documentary covering the Bond phenomenon from Ian Fleming’s gestation of the idea at the back end of the Second World War right up to Bond’s most recent outing in Skyfall. John Barry’s music is all over the soundtrack, there’s lots of footage from Bond movies to help pep things up and even the odd “expert” talking head – hey, Bill Clinton. So, yes, things do get a bit corporate. But thanks to its decision to get a few long-running disputes fully into the open (who fell out with who, who took who to law), the documentary does manage to pack some weight too. It’s definitely more than just a DVD extra that somehow achieved escape velocity.
Taken 2 (Fox, cert 15, Blu-ray/DVD)
Talking of which, the rooftops of Istanbul, as seen in the opening sequence of Skyfall, turn up again in this sequel in which Liam Neeson’s family is once again monstered by some bad guys, forcing him to go into “you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry” mode. Neeson, once again, is excellent in an actioner churned out of Luc Besson’s film factory which will keep connoisseurs of the car-up-a-ramp action sequence happy at least.
The Woodsman and the Rain (Third Window, cert 12, Blu-ray/DVD)
A charming Japanese comedy about a bluff 60-year-old lumberjack and his developing odd-couple relationship with a 25-year-old director shitting himself at the thought of taking charge of a zombie movie. A lovely, warm comic drama, an Ealing-esque slow-burner.
The Woodsman and the Rain – at Amazon
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© Steve Morrissey 2013