Extended Director’s Cut for New Total Recall

The new version of Philip K Dick’s Total Recall (with Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale and Jessica Biel), to appear on Blu-ray™ and DVD with UltraViolet on December 26 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, is to have a new feature. Exclusive to the Blu-ray™ is the All-New Extended Director’s Cut, Featuring 20 Minutes of Footage Not Shown in Theatres Plus “God of War: Ascension” PlayStation®3 (PS3™) Game Demo. The Blu-ray comes with two discs:        Disc one is a Blu-ray that includes the theatrical feature film and an all-new Extended Director’s Cut, which includes 20 minutes of footage not shown in cinemas, featuring new storylines and an alternate ending, as well as commentary by director Len Wiseman.  Disc one also comes with “Total Recall Insight Mode,” allowing viewers to watch the film while engaging with scene-specific behind-the-scenes insights.    Disc two is a Blu-ray with a gag reel and multiple featurettes. “

Hammer Redux on Blu-Ray

THE DEVIL RIDES OUT Terence Fisher, director/Studio Canal Blu-ray  In the 21st-century, it’s hard to realise just how popular the writer Dennis Wheatley was. His success was something of a phenomenon, and he achieved a virtual superstar status before such things were a regular occurrence for writers; he was (to some degree) a JK Rowling avant-la-lettre, and relished his celebrity. Wheatley’s novels were mostly in the adventure field, but if he is remembered today (and there are many readers for whom his name would mean very little), it is for his supernatural outings – and of these, by far the most significant was his 1934 Gothic adventure The Devil Rides Out. Continue reading


To celebrate the 31st October release of psychological horror SILENT HILL: REVELATION 3D, Lionsgate is inviting competition winners to experience the best of Lionsgate Horror on the big screen with a special HALLOWEEN HORROR-THON. A dozen of Lionsgate’s most disturbing delights will be shown back-to-back in one day along with exclusive SILENT HILL: REVELATION 3D surprises.Carefully selected from the Lionsgate horror vaults, the event on 27th October will include screenings of The Blair Witch Project, My Bloody Valentine 3D, The Cabin in the Woods, Drag Me To Hell and Saw 3D: The Final Chapter. Based on the groundbreaking survival horror video game franchise, SILENT HILL: REVELATION 3D is the sequel to the hit film SILENT HILL, which opened to number one at the U.S. box office and took in nearly $100 million at the worldwide box office.


Maison Close

MAISON CLOSE Season One/Mabrouk El Mechri, director/Arrow Films Blu-ray  This handsome Blu-ray set showcases a remarkable television series (one that is — in its frankness — not for the narrow-minded). The setting is a 19th-century brothel in Paris, and the eight-part series is distinguished from earlier similar dramas (notably Louis Malle’s Pretty Baby) by the modern sensibility with which the material is treated. Its sexual nature echoes another ground-breaking piece of period drama, which also had an uncompromising sex-for-hire theme, the television adaptation of Michael Faber’s The Crimson Petal and the White. The central characters in Maison Close are a trio of prostitutes, who ply their trade in a well-appointed house of pleasure, ‘Paradise’, with a speciality client list including bluebloods and other notables of society. The basic impulse of the three women is to try to break free from the cloistered life, and the film’s treatment of the world of prostitution is never romanticised in the way that (for instance) the recent adaptation of Diary of a Call Girl was accused of being (the men are almost all universally appalling). Performances are utterly superlative, reminding us that the wealth of acting talent in France appears to be the equal of the more celebrated one in the United Kingdom.


The Sound of The Killing: Talking to The Composer Frans Bak

Whenever discussion turns to the British success of the cult Danish series The Killing, there is often a mention of the atmospheric, utterly compelling music which underscores (and points up) the suspense of so many sequences – notably Sarah Lund’s repeated (and usually ill-advised) explorations of dark places brandishing a torch. The music which makes the scenes work so well is that of the talented composer Frans Bak, and a conversation with him is particularly instructive – not least in pointing up who the important people in the making of the show are. ‘I have a close working relationship with the Danish director Birger Larsen, who was the conceptual director of the show,’ he told me, ‘but obviously there is a process whereby the producer Piv Bernth and the writer Søren Sveistrup listen to what I’ve come up with for their approval.’ But isn’t that highly unusual, I suggest, checking what the writer thinks of your material as a composer? The producer, certainly, but surely the writer is rarely involved in such processes? ‘Not in the case of The Killing,’ Bak replies. ‘Søren Sveistrup is very much a part of the process, and I know I have to get things right for him as much as anyone else. He’s very hands-on, and he will approve, but will also suggest “Could this not perhaps be scored in this particular way?” It was with him as much as with the other creative personnel that I helped define the sound world of The Killing.’ I point out that the composer Jerry Goldsmith often said that silence was quite as important when it’s scoring suspense movies as where to place the music. ‘Absolutely’, Bak agrees. ‘And it is a great mistake to score absolutely everything – for instance, to point up every emotion that the actors are feeling, rather than let such things register on their own terms. You have to trust your actors as much you trust the director. And on The Killing, with actors of the calibre of Sofie Gråbøl, that’s very easy to do.’ I ask Bak about the orchestral forces he used on the show — it’s clear that he didn’t go for large orchestral resources. ‘Well’, he replies, ‘although I have worked with large orchestras, I felt that was less appropriate here — and there are fewer instruments employed. In fact, on The Killing, I’m actually something of a one-man band; I physically created a lot of the music myself, using multi-tracking and so forth. But I also used the fantastic Swedish singer Josefine Cronnholm in several themes – especially for the ending of each episode. To some degree, that’s why it’s such a personal score for me. As with composers for television in 1950s such as Bernard Herrmann, I composed a library of music for the show, some of which was reused in later episodes.’ Intriguingly, Bak’s name is also evident as composer on the American remake of The Killing. How did that come about? ‘Well, the American show – at least the pilot – was initially scored using some of my music, and the producers were looking around for someone who could score like me. For the American version I was auditioned along with with four American composers – but the producers felt that I got closest to the feel of the series. When they talked to me, I said, well, I can probably write a Franz Bak score as well as anyone else! And that’s how I got the job. But it’s a different kind of show with different demands.’ The controversy about the American show, I suggest, was that the actors wore their emotions far more on their sleeves than in the original Danish show — which would make, surely, for different scoring challenges. ‘Yes, that’s the case,’ he replies. ‘I had to adjust my music to the very different actors and directors who were used in the American show. But I really got a jolt when Sofie Gråbøl appeared in the American series — there I found myself scoring for the same sate in two series of the same property!’ I ask Bak if he subscribes to the school of thought that film and TV scoring should be invisible and unnoticed by an audience. ‘Well, to some degree, that’s true — you don’t really want the audience saying “I like the composer’s use of piano and percussion at that point!” You want to help tell the story, and if people are focused too much on the music, you can’t be said to have done your work. ‘But on the other hand,’ he added, ‘that appreciation doesn’t take away from the enjoyment of the whole experience, and I’m quite pleased to hear that people have noticed what I’m doing – as long as they think I’m doing a good job!’  The Killing/Universal/DR


Ill Manors Blu-Ray

ILL MANORS Ben Drew, director/Revolver Blu-ray  In the long and prestigious history of the British crime film, how has its typical product developed in the 21st-century? Is the genre still alive and kicking? It most certainly is – and proof that the genre is in the rudest of health is the remarkable directorial debut film by Ben Drew, Ill Manors, which now appears in a striking-looking Blu-ray transfer from Revolver; a transfer which does full justice to the eye-jolting cinematography. The defining locale of modern British crime movies is no longer the police station or seedy Soho nightclub, but the graffiti-ridden, drugs-focussed urban scene, usually evoked in the most unsparing and caustic of fashions – precisely what Ben Drew does in this kinetic piece. The tough narrative centres on eight protagonists living in Forest Gate in East London and follows their often hopeless lives over a course of days as their various grim stories perform an awkward dance. As a picture of modern Britain, this is a film that pulls absolutely no punches – but makes for utterly riveting viewing, even if its conclusions are hardly hopeful. Film aficionados will sincerely wish that Drew spends much more time making movies such as this rather than following his other career as a rapper – we have plenty of interchangeable rappers appearing on a daily basis, but few filmmakers with his obvious talents.