DVDs: Feb 05

before_sunset.jpgBEFORE SUNSET,
M, 77 Minutes

What if you had a second chance with the one that got away? This is the tagline of this film, the sequel to the 1995 cult hit Before Sunrise. In Before Sunrise, two strangers met on a train and end up spending a night and exploring the after-hours of Vienna together. Before parting they swear to meet up six months later.
Nine years have passed since that morning.
Now, in Before Sunset, on the last stop of his book tour, at the tail end of a reading in a Paris book shop, Jesse (Ethan Hawke) finds Celine (Julie Delpy) watching from the back of the room. She lives in Paris now, he in New York. He’s flying out that evening. Will he make the most of the few hours he has with her? Why did they not meet up six-months later like they both promised?
Before Sunrise illustrated the intoxicating promise of youth and romance, meeting strangers on a train and then spending hours talking about love and life under the stars, and Before Sunset carries on exploring these promises. The director, Richard Linklater (School of Rock, Dazed and Confused) has an almost casual disregard for the usual imperatives of screenwriting the result being this film feels so ‘real life’, we feel as if we are the fly-on-the-wall watching two people re-connecting after nine years in such an unexpected, unrehearsed way. Jesse and Celine are perhaps the archetypal male/female making it very easy for their thoughts to resonate deeply with our own. Linklater gives his characters as chance that we rarely get in real life but he does give us the chance to carry on exploring these two characters thus exploring ourselves.
Special Features: Behind the Scenes of Before Sunset, Theatrical Trailer
Final Word: Gorgeous; an absolutely honest and beautiful depiction of the nature of relationships and of love lost and found. If this film slipped by you in 2004, watch Before Sunrise then you’ll just have to see this sequel.

M, 96 Minutes

Director Jim Jarmusch went out looking for “something different” and he found it. Coffee and Cigarettes, shot over the course of a 17-year period is a collection of eleven short films, vignettes, based around the seemingly insignificant acts of drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes. In the first short film, Strange to Meet You, Steven Wright and Roberto Benigni discuss the benefits of cigarettes and coffee; Somewhere in California, Iggy Pop timidly tries to befriend Tom Waits, who decides that he can have a cigarette because he just quit. In Cousins Cate Blanchett delivers a brilliant dual-role performance, playing both her Hollywood superstar self as well as her bitter cousin. One of the most comic short films is Delirium, in which Rappers Rza and Gza (Wu-Tang Clan) discover that Bill Murray is a coffee addict, and they use their expertise to preach to him the benefits of alternative medicine. Despite the huge diversity of characters/actors used in these films; from rock ‘n’ rollers Jack and Meg White to familiar faces like Bill Murray and Cate Blanchett, Jarmusch succeeds in building a poetic conclusion to these pieces.
Being shot in black-and-white really does imbue this film with a certain artistic quality – snippets of real life that have become art: A tribute to the art of conversation and the joys and addictions of life.
Special Features: Interview, Featurette, Deleted Scenes, Theatrical Trailer.
Final Word: If you’re looking for a one-of-kind slightly eccentric watch, then this is the DVD for you.

angels_in_america_not_appropriate_for_schools.jpgANGELS IN AMERICA,
337 Minutes

In this screen adaptation of Tony Kushner’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play Angels in America, director Mike Nichols captures New York City in the 1980’s; a city where Aids is just beginning to surface and its inhabitants trying to navigate their way to somewhere: Some world where everyday life doesn’t seem so impossible. This is certainly the desire for Prior Walter who is abandoned by his tormented lover Louis, or the pill-popping Harper (Mary-Louis Parker) who is on the verge of losing her sanity when she realizes that her husband, Joe (Patrick Wilson), is a closet homosexual.
Other characters include a deluded lawyer Roy Cohn (Al Pacino) who is frequently visited by Ethel Rosenberg (Meryl Streep), a woman he helped to condemn, and who now wants revenge.
Although brilliantly acted (Al Pacino, Meryl Streep and Emma Thompson lead an all-star cast) and wonderfully poetic dialogue, at six hours of viewing it really does go on and on.
Special Features: None
Final Word: The Themes this mini-series certainly doesn’t shy away from, most notably Aids, Homosexuality and Politics are not ones that everybody would choose to be exposed to for six hours.
Angels in America does however showcase some of the best script writing and screen performances our TV sets have afforded us for a long time.

dennis_the_menace_ver1.jpgDENNIS THE MENACE,
PG, 96 Minutes

It is impossible to forget the 5-year old with his slingshot and dog Ruff: Dennis the Menace. This Special Edition 10th Anniversary release of the much loved, though critically loathed, adaptation of Hank Ketcham’s comic strip and TV Series is back to remind us just how much fun it is to be a kid.
Dennis Mitchell (Mason Gamble) is no menace to society, his intentions are always good it’s just…well… he always ends up wrecking havoc and challenging the sanity of his neighbour Mr Wilson (Walter Matthau). The advent of the shady stranger Switchblade Sam, who is brilliantly played by Christopher Lloyd, unleashes Dennis’s prankish nature and this 5-year old isn’t captive for long.
Special Features: Featurettes: A Menace Named Dennis, Behind the Scenes, Memories of a Menace (Interviews), Theatrical Trailer.
Final Word: For the “kids” (An elusive term that includes those who consider themselves still kids inside). Can’t get enough of Dennis the Menace? Have a watch of Dennis the Menace Strikes Again.