The latest DVDs and Blu-rays are given the once-over by our writers. Read first before reaching for your credit card.
A sake bomb, for those who haven't had the pleasure, is a cup of sake dropped into a three-quarters-full pint of beer and downed in one. In this case, metaphorically speaking, the beer is Southern California, and the cup of sake falling into it is one Naoto (Gaku Hamada), a young Japanese man who comes to LA for a week's holiday in hopes of tracking down his long-lost love Olivia and finding out why she left him without a word.
A companion piece to his post-tsunami dystopia, Himizu, Sion Sono's The Land of Hope deals with an imaginary earthquake and subsequent nuclear plant explosion (closely based on the Fukushima incident) in the fictional Nagashima prefecture. But it's not a disaster movie in the Irwin Allen sense. Instead, it's a quiet, dignified, moving, sometimes mordantly funny look at how the human mind tries to cope with an almost ungraspable calamity.
Once considered one of the giants of world cinema, Michaelangelo Antonioni has suffered something of a dip in reputation in recent decades, but this release might well bring him a whole new posse of admirers. La Notte charts the divagations, over the course of a single day and night, of a well-to-do couple, Giovanni (Marcello Mastroianni) and Lidia (Jeanne Moreau), who seem to be at a pivotal point in their marriage. The reasons aren't far to seek. He's a celebrity writer, she's in his shadow. He's outward-going, she's withdrawn. Furthermore, he's worried that he might be burnt out, an anxiety he assuages by becoming more frivolous and worldly. Meanwhile, she's afraid of what his attempts to renew himself might mean for her – is he going to trade her in for a younger model in the same way that the city they live in is rejecting the old for the new all around her, marking down quaint semi-rural neighbourhoods for redevelopment into sleek concrete and glass?
Best known for his lavishly mounted melodramas of suburban life, Douglas Sirk wouldn't seem the obvious choice for helming a movie about World War II. But actually, 1958's A Time to Love and a Time to Die (based on a novel by Erich Maria Remarque) was a uniquely personal project for the director, who was German by birth and whose estranged son became a poster boy for Nazi Youth before perishing on the Russian-German front in 1944 at the age of only nineteen.
This little coming-of-age movie has been one of the surprise critical successes of the year so far, melting the icy hearts of reviewers everywhere, and it's easy to see why: it's an absolute charmer. Not since The Graduate, perhaps, has there been a film that so ably combines hilarious social comedy with moments of dreamy sensuousness.