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Published on January 26th, 2010 | by Niall

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Couch Potato – DVDs out this week

Tuesday is ordinarily the most depressing day of the week. With that in mind I’ve brought a little something to little up the dour mood, a collection of new DVDs that will keep you entertained right up till the weekend. So forget your boss, your husband/wife/kids, and snuggle up tight with a good glass of vino and a nice new movie. You know you deserve it.

First up this week is a simply stunning double feature, Mesrine, from French director Jean-François Richet and starring Vincent Cassel. Based on the escapades of notorious French criminal, Jacques Mesrine, the movies chart an incredible life full of hold-ups, prison breaks and kidnappings throughout the 70’s and 80’s. The first movie, Killer Instinct, introduces us to Jacques Mesrine, fresh from the Algerian War and back living with his parents. He soon finds himself seduced by the glamour of 60’s Paris and the easy money to be made from a life of crime. He quickly moves up the ladder, under the tutelage of master crook Guido and before long is pulling major heists. One of these lands him in trouble and he flees to Canada where the lure of one big job takes him out of hiding and thrusts him into the public eye. The second movie, Public Enemy Number 1, continues on from the first and finds Mr. Mesrine in police custody, but not for long. After escaping a courtroom, by kidnapping the judge at gunpoint, the French authorities declare him public enemy number one. Captured again he is condemned to a maximum security prison where he writes his first book of memoirs. These serve to  establish him as a household name and anti-hero in France. Escaping again he becomes a celebrity criminal, until his chosen profession finally catches up with him. These movies are epic in their scale and brilliantly capture the life of this enigmatic man. Cassel has a once in a lifetime performance here as he perfectly embodies the detached charm and inherent coolness of Mesrine. Richet’s camera shows both the glamour and the flaws of a life of crime brilliantly without ever detracting from the character study that this movie is. Recommended for all film fas, and not just those with a taste for French cuisine. Out now on DVD and Blu-ray.

Movie two this week is a little less serious, the light-hearted, animated, comic adventure Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, based on the beloved children’s book from Judi and Ron Barrett. The movie delves much deeper into what would cause food to suddenly rain from the sky than its source material, but it is no less funny or enjoyable. Flint is a Doc Brown type inventor, creator of mad inventions that sometimes go awry. When his latest creation, a device for turning water into food, is launched into the sky the clouds quickly begin to disperse more than rain. Falling cheeseburgers pepper the town, and the locals worried at first begin to see an opportunity to attract tourists using the phenomena. Soon greed begins to take hold, and strange new food based calamities threaten the town and its inhabitants. Only Flint, his father and plucky reporter Sam Sparks can save the town from certain destruction. This movie is good old fashioned fun, with a 21st century look. Released in the cinema in Digital 3D it will be interesting to see how it fares on the smaller screen. A thoroughly enjoyable family film, with great animation and inventive comedy, this is one to look out for. Shame it missed out on a Christmas release. Out now on Blu-ray and DVD.

Our third movie this week is a little Canadian gem. Passchendaele is the, based on a true story, telling of the Battle of Passchendaele, a first World War battle and one of Canada’s defining historical moments. The film follows Michael Dunne, a veteran, who returns home to Canada to help with the on-going recruitment drive necessary for the war. Still shell-shocked by the terror of war he finds comfort with Sarah, a nurse whose younger brother, David, cannot enlist due to a medical condition. Desperate to serve his country David fakes his medical history and joins the fighting force. Michael refuses to let the young man go alone however and returns to the Western front once more as protector and guide. Both men find themselves sent into action at Passchendaele, a brutal battle that would claim 600,000 casualties. War as the say is hell, and not since The Thin Red Line has it been so expertly portrayed as such on-screen. A fascinating and terrifying look at life in the trenches and the true cost of war, this is a must see. Get it now on Blu-ray and DVD.

Movie four breaks the chain of excellence that started the week with the completely unnecessary remake of Alan Parker’s seminal 80’s classic Fame. Again focusing on a group of young wannabes at a prestigous school for the performing arts the remake is full of all the singing, dancing and iconic tunes that made the first one successful. This time round the producers have roped in some credible stars such as Debbie Allen, Charles S. Dutton, Kelsey Grammer, Megan Mullally, and Bebe Neuwirth to join a host of newcomers in this insipid, uninspired, pointless movie. It lacks any of the charm that the original had, leaving instead a watered-downed, lifeless movie. Even kids are smart enough to see that this isn’t worth their time. But still it’s available on Blu-ray and DVD regardless.

Back to good movies then for number five, the last movie on this weeks list, the British drama Fish Tank. Telling the story of 15-year old Mia, the movie charts how her life takes a turn for the worse when her mother brings home a new boyfriend. Already a mess by the time this occurs, having been expelled from school, started drinking and hanging listlessly around her derelict council estate, Mia instantly takes a dislike to her mother’s new beau. Is this the hostility of an angry teen or is Connor not the good guy that he appears to be? Gripping, unflinching and ultimately rewarding Fish Tank is a movie that’s hard to watch but definitely worth seeing. Gritty, emotional dramas are starting to become a dime a dozen in the UK but this is a rare one of quality and extraordinary emotional depth. Out now on DVD.

Out now on TV

We round up this weeks DVD releases, as always, with a look at the new TV.

First up is A Town Called Eureka – Season 3.0 – Taking the first part of the third series in the States, the writers strike having cut it in half, this disc set shows the continuing life of Sheriff Carter and his adventures in the extraordinary town of Eureka. In this town of mystery and intrigue, populated with the world’s smartest scientists, and a place where you’re just as likely to get vaporised as you are to get mugged, there’s easier ways to make a living than keeping the piece. A personal fave for the sheer nerdiness, innovative sci-fi and lunatic comedy, it’s one that I will certainly be adding to my shelf. I’ll probably wait for the full season first though. Out now on DVD.

Also out this week is Seth MacFarlane’s Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy, a collection of shorts and sketches from the creator of Family Guy and American Dad. Although not as funny as Family Guy this DVD does feature some prime examples of McFarlane’s sense of humour, and more than a few laugh out load moments. An enjoyable disc for any fans of McFarlane’s work and a distraction from the norm for other this is worth seeing at least once. Out now on DVD.

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About the Author

The proverbial man lost in La Mancha. Sports aficionado and all-round scoundrel. Über-geek to boot. I run the movie website Scannain.com and can usually be found twittering away as @niallxmurphy.



One Response to Couch Potato – DVDs out this week

  1. Also out recently on DVD that I watched this weekend.

    (500) Days of Summer
    Great film. Very sad though. And happy too. Zooey Deschanel is in it. She’s lovely. And Joseph Gordon Levitt is great too. Doesn’t he look like Heath Ledger round the eyes?

    Whiteout
    Kate Bekinsale’s in it. She has a shower at the start. No point in watching it after that bit, because it’s awful. Tom Skerritt’s in it too. Watch The Thing instead.

    Surrogates.
    http://photoshopdisasters.blogspot.com/ the movie. Dumb dumb dumb. If you do watch this, one word about the ending … aeroplanes?

    Is it airplanes or aeroplanes?

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