HORROR F (18) 76min ●●●●● F is the latest in a line of peculiarly British ‘hoody horror’ films that also include Eden Lake and Heartless. English writer/director Johannes Roberts’ effort is the best yet thanks to his smart script, crisp direction and a fine performance by David Schofield, who plays an Eng Lit teacher who’s terrorised by a gang of faceless youths one night after school. Troublesome pupils and an education system that panders to their parents have brought Schofield’s Mr Anderson to the end of his tether; it’s a backstory that generates emotional clout (and there’s a nice literary analogy to King Lear).
First and foremost, however, Roberts is concerned with delivering genre thrills. He has called F his homage to slasher movie pioneer John Carpenter, and certainly Robert’s reliance on atmosphere and shocks and his eschewing of blood and gore is reminiscent of the past master’s work, most conspicuously Assault on Precinct 13. B+ for effort. Extras: making of doc, audio commentary. (Miles Fielder)
EROTIC/THRILLER FLESH OF THE ORCHID (LA CHAIR DE L’ORCHIDEE) (18) 120min (Bluebell) ●●●●● Charlotte Rampling rarely takes an easy role and this 1975 adaptation of a James Hadley Chase novel is no exception. She is Claire, a runaway heiress and it’s the asylum she is running away from. Taking up with big and bulky Louis (Bruno Cremer) from the
wrong side of the tracks, he offers love and warmth, but is Claire too perverse to accept emotion on it own terms? Long unavailable on DVD, Patrice Chéreau’s debut film fits into a thriller format, but also has some of the bloody mess of his 1994 historical epic Le Reine Margot and the emotional subtleties of Chéreau’s later troubled and troubling films: Gabrielle, Intimacy and Son Frére, where feelings are more important than actions. Minimal extras. (Tony McKibbin) DRAMA/THRILLER WETHERBY (15) 99min (Park Circus) ●●●●●
National treasure David Hare remains best known for his award- feted plays (Plenty, The Blue Room) and his screenwriting (The Hours, The Reader), but he’s also an assured director, as is evidenced by this intriguing and engrossing mystery drama funded by Film Four in 1984. It revolves around a dinner party hosted by a lonely schoolteacher (Vanessa Redgrave in a role Hare supposedly wrote to examine Margaret Thatcher as a product of her time) in her cottage at the titular Yorkshire village and the arrival of an unexpected guest (Tim McInnerny), a stranger
invited by friends Judi Dench and Ian Holm who returns to the cottage the next night and kills himself in front of his host. The subsequent unravelling of the ‘suicide mystery’ prompts Redgrave’s spinster to recall a passionate and tragic love affair from her youth and the viewer to question assumptions about what’s gone before. The to-die-for cast also features Tom Wilkinson, Stuart Wilson and Joely Richardson, and the film rightly won Berlin’s Golden Bear. Extras: still gallery. (Miles Fielder) DOCUMENTARY FREAKONOMICS (12) 90min (Optimum) ●●●●●
This ‘blockbuster documentary’, which pools the talents of six well-established doc directors to adapt the bestselling book by Steven D Levitt and Stephen J Dubner that examined various aspects of human nature, doesn’t quite add up to the sum of its not uninteresting parts. Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me) directs a typically satirical piece about the consequences of baby naming. Alex Gibney (Taxi to the Dark Side) uncovers corruption in the world of sumo wrestling. Eugene Jarecki (brother of Capturing the Friedman’s Andrew, director of Why We Fight) investigates a drop in crime rates in the 1990s. Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing (Jesus Camp) look at a scheme to offer students financial incentives to improve their grades. And Seth Gordon (The King of Kong) contributes the linking sections. It’s all watchable enough (though Jarecki’s
DVD REVIEWS Film
It’s over. Christmas and Hogmanay are now behind you. Your body has been bloated with indulgence and your wallet has been emptied by consumption. It may be time to hibernate with a DVD or Blu-ray box set. Why not push yourself beyond the comfort of mainstream cinema and indulge in a little cinematic purging? How about Jess Franco: Complete Collection 1969–85 (Anchor Bay ●●●●● )? Now retired, Spanish filmmaker Franco was the self-proclaimed master of Euro- pudding horror and sleaze. Many of his films are unwatchable but some of them are genuine cult and curio interest. Don’t be fooled by the title however, this is far from a complete collection, there’s no Vampiros Lesbos or Venus in Furs for starters but there is his two Marquis De Sade films Justine and Eugenie, Barbed Wire Dolls and Jack the Ripper starring the mighty Klaus Kinski. The New British Cinema Quarterly Annual (Soda ●●●●● ) is the
first showcase for exciting contemporary British filmmaking and contains romantic drama Brilliantlove (pictured), documentary No Greater Love, surreal comedy Skeletons and music scene drama 1234. All of which offer hope for British cinema.
Late Mizoguchi: Eight Films (1951–56) (Eureka/Masters of
Cinema ●●●●●) brings together two fistfuls of films from the last decade of the working life of Japan’s master filmmaker. The films include some of his best films, most noticeably Sansho Dayu and Ugetsu Monogatari, but every one of these films is a treat, you will not regret immersing yourself in Mizoguchi’s world. This set also comes with four lavish booklets and a ton of extras. Other Russian Cinema (HB Films ●●●●●) is a very welcome
collection of Soviet era films which were rare in that they were straight forward adventure films and had little or no agit-prop or propaganda qualities. The four films here are Viy, a horror film based on a short story by Gogol. Treasure Island, Jack Frost, an adaptation of a classic Russian fairytale and Arabian fantasy Aladdin’s Magic Lamp. Get back on that sofa hedgehog. (Paul Dale)
section is the most thought-provoking), but it’s just not substantial enough. Would have worked better as a TV series. Extras: filmmaker commentaries, author interviews. (Miles Fielder) DRAMA PRIVATE ROAD (15) 89min (BFI) ●●●●●
Barney Platts-Mills’ 1971 film is undoubtedly one of the great lost British masterpieces of the 1970s. Platts-Mills was a filmmaker whose previous cult film Bronco Bullfrog had taken a knife to the frothy London set cinema of the 1960s and examined the struggles of the disenfranchised
dismay of Ann’s well-to- do parents. Soon, however, they are forced to make some serious choices.
On this film’s initial release, Platts-Mills was forced to hire a cinema in order to get his film shown only to then witness the effective disappearance of it for almost 40 years. This wistful, wilful and strange film now looks like a template for the new British realist cinema of Mike Leigh and Ken Loach. It’s an absolute peach ripe for discovery. The extras are fantastic: this dual- format two-disc set includes two of Platt- Mills never-before-seen early short films and an illustrated booklet with newly commissioned essays and reviews. (Paul Dale)
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working class East- enders. With Private Road, Platt-Mills turns his gaze to middle- class youth as they elope from suburban Surrey to rural Scotland. When handsome writer Peter (Bruce Robinson who would go on to write and direct Withnail & I) shacks up with sugar- sweet receptionist Ann (Susan Penhaligon), sex and hedonism are mirrored by the realities of rural living, all to the