Kermit and the gang hit the shelves last week with the release of James Bobbins’ The Muppets, and this week brings Daniel Radcliffe in his first feature following Harry Potter in James Watkins’ The Woman in Black, which topped the UK box office three weeks in a row back in February, and has been one of 2012’s biggest earners internationally.

Not too bad a follow-up, I’m sure you’ll agree.

Surprisingly few new titles coming to DVD and Blu-ray this week. But next week brings with it Charlize Theron in Young Adult, along with the Blu-ray releases of Studio Ghibli’s Howl’s Moving Castle and Tales from Earthsea, so be sure to get your pre-orders in early for them. Because who can resist Studio Ghibli?

My picks of the week:

James Watkins’ The Woman in Black     &     Roman Polanski’s Carnage

 

The Woman in Black

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DVD and Blu-ray

As mentioned above, The Woman in Black is Daniel Radcliffe’s first role since finishing the Harry Potter franchise last year, and it was praised by cinemagoers and critics alike to the tune of turning its $15m. budget into more than ten times that at the box office.

Based on Susan Hill’s novel of the same name, The Woman in Black is a Hammer Films Production, part of the company’s recent resurgence, penned by the excellent Jane Goldman (Kick-Ass, X-Men: First Class).

“A widowed lawyer travels to a secluded village on an important assignment, and encounters a vengeful ghost with mysterious motives. After losing his beloved wife, Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe) was nearly consumed by grief. When an important client of Arthur’s dies, he pulls himself out of mourning to settle the man’s affairs. But in this town, everyone has a secret. Something horrible once happened here, and it seems that the locals are determined to ensure Arthur never finds out what it was. Now the more time Arthur spends in his client’s crumbling estate, the more aware he becomes of a presence that isn’t quite human. In this house dwells a woman’s ghost. In life she lost something precious, and now in death she’ll do whatever it takes to get it back. Until she does, anyone who dares enter this house is doomed.”

 

Carnage

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DVD and Blu-ray

Roman Polanski returns behind the camera with Carnage, which won a slew of awards and nominations for its great cast, for Polanski himself, and for screenwriter Yasmina Reza.

Co-starring Jodie Foster, Kate Winslet, Christoph Waltz, and John C. Reilly, the film is centred on two couples (Winslet and Waltz, Foster and Reilly) trying to settle a dispute between their children, and becoming more and more childlike in their attempts at reconciliation.

“Director Roman Polanski teams with playwright Yasmina Reza to adapt Reza’s Tony Award-winning play about four New York parents who gather for a civilized discussion that becomes anything but after their children get into a scuffle at a local park. Alan (Christoph Waltz) and Nancy (Kate Winslet) are the parents of Zachary, a young schoolboy whose recent fight with classmate Ethan resulted in two of Ethan’s teeth being broken. Convinced that they can find an amiable solution to the problem rather than dragging lawyers into the picture, Ethan’s parents Penelope (Jodie Foster) and Michael (John C. Reilly) invite Alan and Nancy to their home to discuss the matter in a comfortable setting. At first the conversation is cordial, with both sets of parents stating their own perspectives over coffee and dessert. But once the booze starts to flow and the guards come down, things begin to turn combative. As the evening wears on, both sets of parents are slinging venomous insults and engaging in underhanded behavior that makes their kids’ tooth-chipping tussle look like child’s play.”

 

One For The Money

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DVD and Blu-ray

Starring Katherine Heigl in the lead, One for the Money adapts Janet Evanovich’s 1994 novel of the same name, with Julie Anne Robinson (The Last Song) behind the camera.

Somewhat panned by critics, the film debuted at #3 at the US box office behind Liam Neeson in The Grey and Kate Beckinsale in Underworld: Awakening, and didn’t perform brilliantly here either, opening at #10 back in February – I wouldn’t be surprised if you’ve never heard of this film before.

The trailer wasn’t especially inspiring, but Heigl is a great actress, and I can imagine fans of hers will find something to enjoy here.

“Recently divorced and desperate for a job following a string of misfortunes, 30-year-old Stephanie Plum (Katherine Heigl) goes to work at her cousin’s bail-bond business, and begins investigating her first case. On the plus side, Stephanie proves to be a resourceful employee with a skill for ferreting out the truth; on the minus side, her first case is that of a Trenton, N.J., cop who broke her heart in high school and now stands accused of murder.”

 

The Raconteurs: Live at Montreux 2008

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DVD and Blu-ray

Best known for their hit single Steady, As She Goes, and their #2 album Broken Boy Soldiers, and composed of Jack White, Brendan Benson, Jack Lawrence, and Patrick Keeler, The Racounteurs bring their 2008 live show to DVD and Blu-ray this week.

A full detailing of their set can be found at Play here. I don’t know much of their music, but Steady, As She goes is undeniably catchy stuff.

“The Raconteurs were formed in 2005 by Jack White of The White Stripes, acclaimed solo artist Brendan Benson and drummer Patrick Keeler and bassist Jack Lawrence from The Greenhornes. Their debut album “Broken Boy Soldiers” charted at No.2 in the UK and follow up “Consolers Of The Lonely” went in at No.8. Both albums were also Top 10 in the USA. This performance from Montreux in 2008 was part of the tour in support of their second album. The setlist is split between songs from the two albums and includes covers of Terry Reid’s “Rich Kid Blues” and the old Charley Jordan track “Keep It Clean”. This is rough, tough rock ‘n’ roll with great tunes and even better guitar hooks performed by an outstanding live band.”

 

Television

Dexter – Season 6

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DVD and Blu-ray

(Also available: Seasons 1 to 5 released for the first time (individually) on Blu-ray.)

Led by Michael C. Hall (Six Feet Under), Dexter is the Emmy- and Golden Globe-winning programme that has been – like I mentioned with Entourage and Curb Your Enthusiasm last week – a big part of the relatively recent surge of improving programming on television.

Whilst I alas still am yet to get around to start watching it, I know the reputation it has, and am certain that it has such a good reputation with good reason. As soon as I’ve finished watching Mad Men, maybe I’ll finally make a start of Dexter.

“After playing a mild-mannered funeral home director in SIX FEET UNDER, Michael C. Hall makes a smooth transition to a serial killer in this original series. But the twist in this smart show is that Dexter chooses to prey only on other serial killers. As a child, Dexter was adopted by a cop (James Remar) who quickly realises that his new son is no ordinary boy. Since Dexter is compelled to kill, his law-abiding father pushes him to choose his quarry in a way that will best benefit society. As Dexter grows older, he works as a forensic blood-splatter expert in Miami, giving him a close view of other murderers and their handiwork. Stylish and blackly comic, this drama is adapted from Jeff Lindsay’s novel DARKLY DREAMING DEXTER. Includes every episode from series 6.”

 

Lip Service – Season 2

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DVD and Blu-ray

(Also available: Seasons 1 & 2 box set on DVD.)

The BBC’s popular drama returned to the small screen this year for another six episodes, centring on a group of lesbians living in Glasgow.

“Cat and Sam arrive back in Glasgow with a colossal bump after a loved-up month in South America.

Has Cat made her mind up once and for all about her first love, Frankie? Or is she still torn between the two women she loves? Meanwhile, it looks like Tess has finally got her first proper acting role, a hot new girlfriend and is sharing a pad with Frankie, what could possibly go wrong?”

 

Blu-ray Re-Releases

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As usual, this week has a host of contemporary and older classics being given the HD treatment, headed up by Robert De Niro’s 1993 directorial debut, A Bronx Tale, starring De Niro and Chazz Palminteri (The Usual Suspects), written by Palminteri himself.

Also released are The Stones in the Park – the free 1969 Rolling Stones concert and documentary following guitarist Brian Jones’ death that July; Hammer Films’ The Reptile; the 1947 film noir, Odd Man Out; Peter Greenway’s 1987 film, The Belly of an Architect, released on DVD/Blu-ray Double Play; and the 1936 British sci-fi, Things to Come, penned by H.G. Wells, based on his own works.

And as noted above, Seasons One through Five of Dexter have been given the HD treatment, and are being released individually for the first time in the UK in tandem with the sixth season.