Monday, March 23, 2015

DVD & Blu-ray reviews: From Paddington to James Gandolfini's final film The Drop

Paddington (PG) Paul King DVD/Blu-ray (95mins) 

“They will not have forgotten how to treat strangers,” maintains Aunt Lily to Paddington, bound for London with his marmalade sandwiches. Will the natives, Londoners, have forgotten their manners? Most of them, sadly, but not Sally Hawkins’s kind-hearted illustrator, who takes pity on the bear (sweetly voiced by Ben Whishaw), to the annoyance of her uptight husband (Hugh Bonneville) and his easily embarrassed daughter. Her housekeeper (Julie Walters) and son, however, want the furry fellow to stay. A subplot involving Nicole Kidman as a psychotic taxidermist is not as absorbing as the main plot, which is: can a middle-aged bore find a place in his heart for a displaced Peruvian bear? A beautifully scripted children’s film with jarfuls of heart. 

The Drop (15) Michael R Roskam DVD/Blu-ray (106mins) 

Barman Bob (Tom Hardy) is the kind of “softie” who allows an old soak to not pay her bar tab and who rescues injured pitbull puppies from garbage cans. His conniving cousin (James Gandolfini) is a bit harsher in this Dennis Lehane-scripted crime drama. When Bob’s bar, owned by menacing Chechens, is robbed, Bob is charged with tracking down the readies. Martin Scorsese is an obvious influence on this tense, Brooklyn-based movie, with a nuanced performance from the late, great Gandolfini, while Hardy channels Marlon Brando as the mysterious Bob. “Nobody ever sees you coming, do they Bob?” 

Network (15) Sidney Lumet Blu-ray (121mins) 

“I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore,” wails Peter Finch’s depressed newscaster during a live broadcast in Sidney Lumet’s prescient, incensed exploration of TV news and corporate America in 1976. Paddy Chayefsky’s script sizzles with indignation but it’s the acting that compels, particularly from an Oscar-winning Faye Dunaway as cut-throat producer Diana and Ned Beatty’s devilish CEO (“The world is a business”). Network isn’t subtle but it is mad as hell. 

Rollerball (15) Norman Jewison Blu-ray (125mins) 

“Corporate society takes care of everything,” maintains John Houseman’s sinister CEO in Norman Jewison’s satirical exploration of a dystopian future. James Caan convinces as Jonathan E, a gladiator-like star in the brutal world of Rollerball who rebels against an iniquitous system. “They’re afraid of you, Jonathan, all the way to the top, they are...” 

Two Night Stand (15) Max Nichols DVD/Blu-ray (86mins) 

Miles Teller, a less interesting John Cusack lookalike, has a one-night stand with fellow slovenly New Yorker Megan (Analeigh Tipton). She tries to leave his Brooklyn pad in a huff but finds herself snowed in. So we’re stuck with this tedious pair for an uncomfortable, gag-free period of time. It’s supposed to be a romantic comedy, but it fails on both counts. Watch an episode of Girls instead. 


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