www.list.co.uk/film TV DRAMA LIFE ON MARS (12) 710min (Fox) ●●●●●
The Dam Busters, also just re-issued) and directed by first-timer Leslie Norman (the father of critic Barry who would go on to make Dunkirk). The film opens at a dinner party in Hong Kong, where a pilot recounts a dream he had the night before in which a Dakota cargo plane carrying eight people from Bangkok to Tokyo crashes into Japanese mountains. The next day Michael Redgrave’s dinner guest and fellow pilot is on a DC3 flying out of the Siamese capital and bound for the land of the rising sun with seven people onboard . . . The supernatural overtones, the film’s flashback structure and Redgrave’s presence put one in mind of Ealing’s earlier creepy suspenser Dead of Night. No extras. (Miles Fielder) DOCUMENTARY WE LIVE IN PUBLIC (15) 89min (Dogwoof) ●●●●●
Sundance favourite Ondi Dig! Timoner’s documentary unearths a very curious piece of recent cultural and media history. Josh Harris was the internet pioneer during the dot.com boom of the 1990s. He set up Pseudo.com — the first internet television network. Harris was also interested in the relationship between media, technology and personal identity and helped finance a series
Transplanting a classic British show into a US setting has more often than not borne rotten fruit. The Office and Queer as Folk are two that never quite lived up to the UK original. Remaking Life on Mars proved so tough that the original pilot was shelved and a rehaul of the cast ordered, with Harvey Keitel drafted in as a crotchety Gene Hunt, Gretchen Mol became Annie ‘No Nuts’ Norris and Michael Imperioli wielded a massive mouser as the bitter Ray. Remaining in the Sam
Tyler role, though, was Irish-born Jason O’Mara and once you get past his velvety Clooney- esque tones, he delivers a decent performance as the cop from 2008 who slips back in time to a 1973 New York where hippies line the sidewalk and the Twin Towers still point skywards. While some scenes are virtually frame-for-frame reshoots, an alternative, bizarrely literal ending was concocted. The DVD extras of this five disc set of the first series are disappointingly limited to some deleted scenes and a ‘you-had-to-be- there’ bloopers session. (Brian Donaldson)
SUPERNATURAL THE NIGHT MY NUMBER CAME UP (PG) 91min (Optimum) ●●●●●
Forget Final Destination, this is the original fateful flight film. Produced by Ealing Studios in 1955, it’s based on a supposedly true story via an article by Victor Goddard as adapted by RC Sherriff (who also wrote that same year’s bomber plane classic
of research/art experiments based on the then outrageous Orwellian concept of a Big Brother-style live stream of the day-to- day activities of various individuals (including Harris himself). Harris correctly believed that one day a large majority of internet users would be willing to trade their privacy for recognition and celebrity. Harris’ experiment was to cost him his relationship and his career. Timoner’s fascinating
documentary is a commendable piece of anthropology. Part businessman, part experimental bohemian, Harris is an intriguing conundrum — who like Warhol before him — seemed to know what was coming, but knew no one would listen. Surprisingly few extras. (Paul Dale)
DRAMA/HORROR VAN DIEMAN’S LAND (15) 100min (High Fliers) ●●●●●
Why writer-director Jonathan auf der Heide’s superb film (arguably one of the best films screened at last year’s Edinburgh International Film Festival) is going straight to DVD in this country is a mystery. A lyrical and horrific account of Alexander Pearce’s (Australia’s most notorious convict) escape onto the beautiful yet brutal island of Tasmania, the film is a prison break thriller of the queasiest kind.
In 1822, eight convicts
escaped Macquarie Harbour in Van Dieman’s Land (Tasmania) in a fateful bid for freedom. The band of Irish, English and Scottish thieves are soon resorting to the unthinkable to survive the harsh unforgiving terrain. Beautifully paced, sparsely written and unflinchingly horrific, Van
DVD Reviews Film
BLU-RAY ROUND-UP Paranormal Activity
If you’ve invested in a big fancy HD TV, Blu-ray really is the only way to watch movies. There’s no point having all the audio-visual power of high definition if you’re not going to use it. Some films, such as the deliberately lo-fi Paranormal Activity (Icon) ●●●●● don’t really gain much from the upgrade. Given that it was filmed on an HD camcorder, there’s no full surround sound. The picture is sharper, but not that noticeably, (though that doesn’t stop it being a wonderfully restrained minimalist ghost story) however the extra storage space means there are two different cuts of the film available on the same disc and a whole host of extras and short films. The same goes for Universal Soldier: Regeneration (Optimum) ●●●●●, a surprisingly gritty sci-fi action sequel reuniting Jean Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren, however the film quality isn’t great and the extras are minimal.
Arthouse cinema benefits greatly – the first half of The Double Life of Veronique (Artificial Eye) ●●●●● looks and sounds stunning. The music is such an integral part of the plot and this transfer really does justice to the cinematography of Slawomir Idziak. The period detail in Katyn (Artificial Eye) ●●●●●, which details a massacre of Polish army officers during WWII, also looks similarly amazing.
While gritty urban drama isn’t quite as impressive, Fish Tank (Artificial Eye) ●●●●● isn’t even in widescreen, which doesn’t detract from Andrea Arnold’s scarily realistic portrayal of modern high-rise living, and it’s nice to see Arnold’s 2003 short Wasp included, however the other extras are a bit sparse compared with many Blu-ray packages.
On the other hand Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait (Artificial Eye) ●●●●●, which is as much an art piece as a documentary on revered French footballer Zinedine Zidane, gains a huge amount from the sharper detail on display, while Mogwai’s original score soars on Blu-ray. It’s the only way to really capture artist Douglas Gordon and director Philippe Parreno’s vision at home. Dario Argento’s 1977 Italian horror masterpiece, Suspiria (Nouveaux) ●●●●● is also a visual feast of colour, composition and violence that looks sumptuous in hi-def, and Goblin’s soundtrack is even more startling with the enhanced audio track (especially in surround sound). This is the kind of film Blu-ray was invented for. (Henry Northmore) ■ Star ratings are for the quality of Blu-Ray transfer.
Dieman’s Land is the work of a genuine talent. Though comparable in parts to Walter Hill’s Southern Comfort and John Hillcoat’s Ghosts of The Civil Dead, Heide’s film is actually that all too rare thing — a genuine oddity. Seek it out. Minimal extras. (Paul Dale) SCI-FI/TV MINI SERIES WORLD ON A WIRE (15) 204min (Second Sight) ●●●●●
What a beautiful world we live in. This is the restored, pristine digital print of a little seen two- part 1973 German TV sci-fi drama directed by the great Rainer Werner Fassbinder. Even better, it turns out it’s actually a
and died mysteriously and his successor seems to be going the same way. Clever, astute, dark, gripping and insanely ahead of its time, World on a Wire may look dated in terms of the fashion and lack of CGI effects, but it’s still a stunning exercise in cerebral futurism. This two disc set comes with fascinating special feature, Fassbinder’s World on a Wire: Looking Ahead to Today, a documentary about the making and restoration of the film featuring a rare interview with Fassbinder (and later Scorsese)’s brilliant regular cinematographer Michael Ballhaus. (Paul Dale)
13–27 May 2010 THE LIST 55
science fiction masterwork, one that thematically and philosophically dwarfs The Matrix. The plot involves the creation of Simulacron 1; a highly advanced project to create a virtual reality inhabited by computer generated people. The trouble is the last head of the project went bonkers