Last week saw the release of Mark Wahlberg-starrer Contraband to our shelves, and this week brings with it a rather different line-up, with the lovely Marilyn Monroe getting the HD treatment, alongside Robert Pattinson amongst highly impressive company in Bel Ami, and the anticipated Shanghai, with John Cusack leading a fantastic cast.

With that in mind,

My picks of the week:

Mikael Håfström’s Shanghai.

And the Blu-ray release of Marilyn Monroe’s Forever Marilyn.

 

Shanghai

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DVD and Blu-ray

Mikael Håfström’s Shanghai was released back in the summer of 2010 across parts of Asia, and has had various releases across the world since then, but the two markets it hasn’t yet been released in are the UK and the US.

John Cusack, Gong Li, Chow Yun-Fat, Ken Watanabe, David Morse, Franka Potente, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan star in one of the most promising casts of recent years, and though its release has long been delayed in perhaps two of its most important markets, it’s finally coming to us on DVD and Blu-ray this week, and is set to hit the US later this year through The Weinstein Company’s Radius platform on VoD, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled for that.

The cast is undeniably pretty immense, and the script comes from Hossein Amini (Drive), and all that is more than enough to have me sold on buying it.

“This period drama concerns an American (John Cusack) in Shanghai who, through the investigation of the death of a friend, ends up falling in love while stumbling upon a political conspiracy. 1408 helmer Mikael Håfström directs. Gong Li and Ken Watanabe co-star in the production, from a script supplied by Hossein Amini.”

 

A Cat in Paris

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DVD

A Cat in Paris headed to the Academy Awards this year in the Best Animated Film category, and though it didn’t take the award home on the night, the nomination alone is enough to show its promise. The animation in the trailer is interesting in its style, and the cat looks rather excellent.

“Nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animation in 2012, A Cat in Paris is a delightful jazzy noir animation that will appeal to children and adults in equal measure.

Dino is a cool cat. By day, he lives with a little girl called Zoe, whose mother is a police officer. By night, he works with Nico, a jewellery thief with a big heart. When Dino gives Zoe a present of a diamond bracelet it’s not long before the police are trying to track down the thief. Trying to protect Dino, Zoe follows him and unwittingly stumbles on a team of gangsters who have a big robbery in mind. Zoe finds herself in danger and it’s up to Dino and Nico to try and save her”

 

The Kid With a Bike

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DVD

Nominated for a Golden Globe, The Kid With a Bike has received an enormous level of critical acclaim since its Cannes debut last spring. Doing the festival circuits in the months since then, it had a limited release in the UK earlier this year, and now is the perfect time to pick it up if it wasn’t playing in your local theatre.

“The Dardennes create tension out of human drama and draw believable, excellent performances from their entire cast.

Cyril, almost 12, has only one plan: to find the father who left him temporarily in a children’s home. By chance he meets Samantha, who runs a hairdressing salon and agrees to let him stay with her at weekends. Cyril doesn’t recognize the love Samantha feels for him, a love he desperately needs to calm his rage.

This affecting and gripping drama is one of the finest films from the directors of ‘The Child’, ‘Rosetta’ & ‘The Silence of Lorna’.”

 

Wild Bill

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DVD and Blu-ray

The great Dexter Fletcher (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels) made his directorial debut earlier this year with Wild Bill, and though I missed its theatrical release back in March, the reviews were definitely very promising, and was welcomed with open arms as one of the best British films of the year so far.

“Dexter Fletcher’s directorial debut WILD BILL tells the story of recently paroled Bill Hayward (Charlie Creed-Miles), the feckless father of 15 year old Dean (Will Poulter) and 11 year old Jimmy (Sammy Williams). Sensing that social services will be on their backs now their dad is out of prison, Dean blackmails Bill to stick around and play happy families to avoid being put in care. Bill reluctantly agrees and soon finds himself bonding with his boys. But old habits die hard and becoming a proper father is never going to be easy.”

 

Bel Ami

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DVD and Blu-ray

(Also available: 2-Disc Blu-ray HMV Exclusive)

Not particularly well-loved earlier this year, the Robert Pattinson-starrer Bel Ami has a strong enough cast to have me interested, with Christina Ricci, Uma Thurman, and Kristin Scott Thomas supporting him in the leading quartet. From what I hear, the detail of the period is well done, but it’s a little lacking in plot, so if you’re looking for a period drama to lose yourself in, this could well be for you.

“Guy de Maupassant’s classic tale of passion in late-18th century Paris gets adapted for the big screen in this scintillating erotic drama starring TWILIGHT’s Robert Pattinson as a destitute young soldier, Georges Duroy, who plots to gain power by seducing the lonely wives of the city’s most influential men. He starts as a journalist after an old friend helps him out and gradually climbs his way up to chief editor with the help of a former comrade’s wife. Christina Ricci, Uma Thurman, Kristin Scott Thomas, and Colm Meaney co-star.”

 

Streetdance 2

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DVD & Blu-ray 3D Triple Play (inc. Blu-ray and DVD)

The sequel to 2010’s big screen British dancing film saw the return of Britain’s Got Talent stars George Sampson and Flawless earlier this year, alongside Sofia Boutella and Falk Hentschel.

“The follow-up to the 2010 smash-hit STREETDANCE –which saw the world’s of street dance and ballet collide– continues in its mission to mash-up contrasting styles of dance into a eye-popping body-popping extravaganza. This time street dancer Ash (Falk Hentschel) scouts the best dancers from around the world to join his crew.”

 

Television

Wallander Season 3

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DVD and Blu-ray

(Also available: Seasons 1 – 3 on DVD)

Another recent entry amongst the adaptations of Swedish television/novels, the BBC’s version of Wallander stars Kenneth Branagh in the eponymous police inspector lead. The series has won six British Academy Television Awards, our equivalent of the Emmys, and naturally comes highly acclaimed as most BBC programmes do.

“Kenneth Branagh plays Swedish detective Kurt Wallander in three new detective dramas based on the best-selling books by Henning Mankell – an international publishing phenomenon with over 25 million copies sold worldwide. Includes the three feature-length episodes ‘An Event in Autumn’, ‘The Dogs of Riga’ and ‘Before the Frost’ from third series.”

 

Blu-ray Re-Releases

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This week sees the release of Forever Marilyn, a four-film collection of Marilyn Monroe’s films that have been given the HD treatment, featuring Some Like It Hot, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, The Seven Year Itch, and How to Marry a Millionaire.

Also released this week on Blu-ray is Claude Chabrol’s award-winning film, La Cérémonie, starring Isabelle Huppert and Sandrine Bonnaire.