The latest DVDs and Blu-rays are given the once-over by our writers. Read first before reaching for your credit card.
At the time of its release, Billy Liar (1963) was seen as part of the Angry Young Man and “Kitchen Sink” movements which brought discontented working class characters into the cultural mainstream. These days, though, it has much greater significance as a precursor of Northern comedy and as a key influence on groundbreaking shows such as The Likely Lads. Oh aye, this is where 'tall started, right enough.
The title of director Bess Kargman's documentary First Position refers to the first pose or posture of ballet. Kargman's film follows a group of young ballet dancers all competing in the Youth America Grand Prix. The importance of this international dance competition cannot be underestimated within ballet as this is where the top percentile of ballet dancers will be seen, earn scholarships and/or a contract by the leading ballet organisations around the world.
From the opening scene of this film director Hal Hartley grabbed my attention. Through a combination of excellent dialogue between the larger-than-life characters and a well shot story I found it superbly refreshing having not experienced his films before. Although the opening scene enticed me to watch the story develop with interest it soon took a back seat to the engrossing conversation between the main characters; nymphomaniac ex-nun Isabelle (superbly played by Huppert) and the man with no memory who tries to use Dutch money in a New York café, Thomas(Martin Donovan).
Come Out And Play, directed by Makinov, tells the startling story of a couple who embark on a romantic getaway to Mexico and travel to an island that is surprisingly quiet. Quiet, except for the menacing sounds of laughing children and a difficult to decipher distress call from a radio.
Celebrating its 40th anniversary, Scarecrow is the type of film that is so rarely made in Hollywood today. Character driven dialogue with the brand of drama where nothing and everything occurs, Hackman and Pacino are allowed to bring real subtly and nuance to their characters.