Following last week’s release of The Players, with Oscar-winner Jean Dujardin (The Artist) co-starring in the lead, we have a handful of new international films reaching the shelves this week, with three more films from France and two from Asia leading the pack.
We’ve also got a few excellent films to add to Play.com’s exclusive new Blu-ray Steelbook releases, in tandem with Universal’s 100th Anniversary, so with that in mind:
My picks of the week:
Sion Sono’s Himizu & David and Stéphane Foenkinos’ Delicacy
With the Blu-ray Steelbook re-release of Serenity a must-buy for fans/collectors.
DVD and Blu-ray
Debuting at the Venice Film Festival last year, where it came away with the Marcello Mastroianni Award, Sion Sono’s Himizu has been receiving critical acclaim ever since in its film festivals tour ever since. The film was given a limited release in the UK at the start of summer, and now makes its way to our homes, having become one of the most praised films coming out of Japan this year.
“Shion Sono (SUICIDE CLUB, CLOD FISH), adapts Minoru Furuya’s popular manga to tell the confrontational tale of a troubled adolescent boy whose dreams of an ordinary life are slowly eroded in the aftermath of the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. Fifteen year old Sumida (Shôta Sometani) and his mother run a small boat rental business on the outskirts of the city. They don’t get many customers, but the presence of some local homeless people on their property ensure that there’s rarely a dull moment around the shop. Meanwhile, at school, Sumida’s classmate Keiko (Fumi Nikaidou) makes no secret of her massive crush on him. When Sumida’s mother decides to abandon both the business and her son, Keiko and the other locals team up in an attempt to spruce up the boat house, and lure in some new clientele. But when Sumida’s drunken, physically abusive father repeatedly shows up to berate the beleaguered teen, and a vicious crime boss appears seeking to collect on a lingering debt, the volatile situation quickly begins to boil over.”
DVD and Blu-ray
Audrey Tautou will always have a place in our hearts, and it’s no secret that she’s earned her place as one of the best actresses currently working in and out of France. Her latest venture on screen sees her starring opposite comedian Franҫois Damiens in Delicacy, or La delicatessen, with David Foenkinos adapting his own best-selling novel for the big screen.
“The beautiful Nathalie (Audrey Tautou) throws herself into her work after her husband of just three years unexpectedly passes away. One day, she fixates on Markus (Francois Damiens), an unremarkable underling of hers at the office. The two begin a relationship that everyone who knows Nathalie firmly believes will not last, but it’s not other people’s perceptions as much as their own self-doubt that threatens to split apart this seemingly odd pairing.”
DVD and Blu-ray
Writer-director Aki Kaurismäki (The Man without a Past) returns behind the camera once more with Le Havre, earning two awards at Cannes in its debut last year, followed by a slew of critical acclaim in its festival tour since then.
With almost universal critical and popular acclaim, it seems like a strong choice this week, particularly for world cinema enthusiasts.
“Aki Kaurismaki’s LE HAVRE stars Andre Wilms as Marcel, a free-spirited, good-natured writer who is currently making a living as a shoeshiner. He meets Idrissa (Blondin Miguel), an African refugee and helps the young man hide from officials who want him deported., Meanwhile, Marcel’s loving wife suffers from a serious illness.”
The Flowers of War
DVD and Blu-ray
Starring Christian Bale in the lead, The Flowers of War was China’s entry into the Best Foreign Language category earlier this year, and though it didn’t quite make the nominations list, it was one of the highest-grossing films in China of all time.
Nominated for a Golden Globe, the film was picked up by Revolver Entertainment for a limited UK release in a small number of theatres at the weekend, and now should find a substantial audience in the home entertainment market, where we can all enjoy another fascinating role from the ever-brilliant Bale.
“American John Miller (Christian Bale) seeks sanctuary in a Chinese cathedral during the 1937 Nanking Massacre, hiding out from Japanese Imperial forces alongside courtesans and frightened schoolgirls as a shocking crime against humanity unfolds just outside.”
DVD and Blu-ray
Based on a true story, The Assault, or L’assaut, is an action/thriller that looks very promising. It debuted back in 2010 to positive reviews, and was released in France at the start of 2011, and finally made its way to UK and US shores earlier this year. The trailer really says it all: If you’re looking for a new action dose to kick off the week, this is going to be it.
“Julien Leclercq examines a terrorist plot from several points of view in this tense thriller based on a true story. In late December 1994, an airliner took off from Algeria bound for Paris, but once the plane was in the air, it became clear this would not be an ordinary flight. Members of the Algerian Armed Islamic Group, led by Yahia (Aymen Saidi), were onboard, and they took over the jet in order to stage an attack on the Eiffel Tower. Negotiators were able to arrange for the plane to land in Marseille for fuel, and the hijackers were met by French Special Forces operatives who were determined to save the hostages and take down the terrorists. THE ASSAULT examines the hijacking and the raid on the jet from three perspectives — Yahia, Thierry (Vincent Elbaz), one of the policemen taking part in the raid, and Carole (Mélanie Bernier), a low-level Ministry of the Interior employee who believes her language skills will give her a chance to shine in the crisis.”
Play.com / Universal 100th Anniversary Blu-ray Steelbook Releases
Joss Whedon’s Serenity is by far one of my favourite films of all time, taking the world of Whedon’s tragically short-lived TV programme Firefly to the big screen. Few television series translate well when they are transformed for a feature film, and Firely stands almost alone as an exception to that rule – it is immense, and this new Blu-ray Steelbook packaging looks more than a little bit beautiful.
Also released this week in celebration of Universal’s 100th Anniversary this year is The Bourne Trilogy, featuring all three films leading up to this month’s release of The Bourne Identity, to keep you up to date; John Carpenter’s 1982 horror classic, The Thing; and David Twohy’s brilliant Pitch Black, starring Vin Diesel, which also looks pretty awesome in its new packaging. Good news all round for collectors and fans alike.
As we see more and more of each week, we’ve got another round of classic films getting the HD treatment today, with the 1967 Oscar-nominated comedy spy spoof Casino Royale – not the 2006 thriller with Daniel Craig, of course – leading the new line-up.
Joining it will be the Oscar-winning A Fish Called Wanda, with John Cleese, Jamie Lee Curtis, Kevin Kline, and Michael Palin; Richard W. Haines and Lloyd Kaufman’s 1986 horror, Class of Nuke ’Em High; Sally Potter’s Oscar-nominated Orlando, with Tilda Swinton and Billy Zane; and finally two Chuck Norris films, 1979’s A Force of One and 1980’s The Octagon.