DVD Review: 'The Zero Theorem'

★★★☆☆
The latest mind-bending science fiction fantasy feature from American animator and director Terry Gilliam, The Zero Theorem (2013) depicts an admirable quest for higher meaning in the digital age, playing like a sadder B-side to 1985's Brazil. Detractors of the former Python's peculiar brand of fantastical whimsy will not find anything to convert them to the cause, but fans will find the picture to be a welcome compendium of his work to date. Gilliam, essentially a genre unto himself, mines his favourite thematic concerns, albeit with a modern slant. While it's unfair to call such an imaginative work predictable, there is a niggling sense that Gilliam is firmly operating within his comfort zone.

DVD Review: 'Visitors'

★★★☆☆
A trance-like meditation on humanity's relationship with technology, Godfrey Reggio's non-narrative documentary Visitors (2013) is an anthropological examination of postmodernity and capitalism's affects on human evolution. A poetic montage of intensely moving imagery, the profundity of Reggio's latest allows the audience to study themselves through the eyes of another, and in doing so attempt to understand the essence of our nature. Visitors is Reggio's first film in over a decade after his Qatsi Trilogy, concluding in 2002 with Naqoyqatsi. The trio wowed audiences, with their hypnotic sequences of time-lapse photography and slow motion coalescing beautifully with Phillip Glass' intense scores.

DVD Review: 'The Stag'

★★☆☆☆
Todd Phillips' The Hangover (2009) has a lot to answer for. Not only did it spawn two unfortunate sequels, it has embedded a newfound fascination with lads-only tales where bromance and morals are tested to their very limits. This - along with those films' basic narrative concept - is mimicked in Irish director John Butler's debut feature The Stag (2013), a largely unfunny lads-on-tour comedy that sets about trying to match broad slapstick and enforced camaraderie with brash sentimentality, blending them together into an ultimately flaccid excursion into pre-nuptial chaos. Hugh O'Connor plays Fionnan, a husband-to-be deeply involved with his the wedding plans.

DVD Review: 'The Lego Movie'

★★★★☆
"Everything is awesome" according to the whimsical song that's played repeatedly across plastic protagonist Emmett's (the voice of Guardians of the Galaxy and Jurassic World star Chris Pratt) hometown. He spends his time assembling things out of tiny bricks, obediently following the manual. That, however, is exactly what Christopher Miller and Phil Lord's The Lego Movie (2014) doesn't do. Funded by Lego, it's a showcase for a construction toy that deconstructs everything in sight. Emmett's neatly interlocking world is demolished almost immediately when he discovers that he is "The Special", destined by prophecy to stop antagonist Lord Business (Will Ferrell).

DVD Review: 'A Hard Day's Night'

★★★★☆
A quasi-verité document of The Beatles at the height of Beatlemania, A Hard Day's Night (1964) is the unlikeliest of triumphs. The fact that Richard Lester makes the disparate elements work is tantamount to a cinematic miracle. The odds were aligned against him; a pop group who hadn't acted, an overbearing manager and an almost entirely plotless narrative. Indeed, the film is a rare instance of the stars perfectly aligning; a form of artistic alchemy predicated on the director's broad still set and his mainline into the zeitgeist of the Swinging Sixties. It's a film that succeeds thanks to the unique tension created by its competing elements. Crucially, writer Alun Jones' humorous script is a key foundation.

Blu-ray Review: 'The Jacques Tati Collection'

★★★★★
Comprised of all six of the director's small but remarkable directorial output, The Essential Jacques Tati Collection is a lovingly crafted celebration of one of France's most beloved filmmakers, offering a timely reminder of just how influential he both was and continues to be. Perhaps more renowned for his cinematic, socially inept alter ego Monsieur Hulot - who he played to wide and memorable acclaim in four of his features, Tati was a particularly skilled filmmaker when it came to his deft mixing of perfectly choreographed physical comedy and themes regarding a Western fixation with consumerism and materialism, social class struggles and the (then) unsteady environment of modern society.

Competition: Win 'A Hard Day's Night' on Blu

Back in 1964, the biggest band on the planet made their inaugural movie appearance with Richard Lester's Swinging Sixties caper A Hard Day's Night, a groundbreaking film that presented a typical day in the life of The Fab Four as they tried to outrun screaming fans, find Paul's mischievous grandfather, deal with a stressed TV producer and make it to the show on time. To celebrate the home entertainment release of A Hard Day's Night, we have THREE Blu-ray copies to give away to fervent Beatles fans across the UK, generously offered up by the distributor of this brand new rereleased version Second Sight. This is an exclusive competition for our Facebook and Twitter fans, so if you haven't already, 'Like' us at facebook.com/CineVueUK or follow us @CineVue before answering the question below.

Competition: Win 'Braquo: Season 3' on DVD

Following its widely acclaimed run on the Fox channel, Arrow Films' Noir Label is pleased to announce that the long awaited third season of French cop thriller Braquo will be released as a DVD and Blu-ray box set on Monday 21 July. Since the first two seasons were shown here in 2012, fans have been left guessing as to what creator Olivier Marchal, himself a former Parisian policeman, has in-store for Eddy Caplan and his team. To celebrate the home ent release of this crime series, we have THREE DVD copies of Braquo: The Complete Third Season to give away. This is an exclusive competition for our Facebook and Twitter fans, so if you haven't already, 'Like' us at facebook.com/CineVueUK or follow us @CineVue before answering the question below.

Competition: Win '20 Feet from Stardom' on DVD

In the compelling 20 Feet from Stardom (2013), award-winning documentary director Morgan Neville shines a spotlight on the untold true story of the backup singers behind some of the greatest musical legends of the 21st century. To celebrate the home entertainment DVD and Blu-ray release of Neville's Academy Award-winning latest this coming Monday (21 July), we have THREE brand new DVD copies of 20 Feet from Stardom to give away to our regular and returning readers, kindly provided to us by our friends at the film's UK distributors Altitude Films. This is an exclusive competition for our Facebook and Twitter fans, so if you haven't already, 'Like' us at facebook.com/CineVueUK or follow us @CineVue before answering the question below.

Film Review: 'Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon'

★★★★☆
In his 2002 documentary The Kid Stays in the Picture, Robert Evans proclaimed there are three sides to every story: "My side, your side and the truth. And no one is lying. Memories shared serve each differently." In Mike Myers' directorial debut (which he co-­directs with Beth Aala), Supermensch: The Legend of Shep Gordon (2013), the titular Hollywood man about town gets his day in the limelight. Standing over six feet in his stocking feet and looking and sounding not dissimilar to Larry David, Shep Gordon is an entertainment legend. A colossus within the fields of talent management, film producing and cooking he has excelled in a field where being the nice guy normally means finishing last.

Film Review: 'Some Like It Hot'

★★★★★
"Story of my life, I always get the fuzzy end of the lollipop,"is just one of the many sublime, double-edged lines that Marilyn Monroe delivers in Billy Wilder's gender-bending comedy Some Like It Hot (1959), which this year celebrates its 55th anniversary. The note of that line is pitch perfect, the sensual, iconic actress allowing it to drop off her lips with comic finesse, whilst simultaneously echoing the tragedy of her own life. Monroe, who died just three years after Some Like It Hot, shares the limelight with two of the finest comedic actors of their generation, Tony Curtis (who, according to Hollywood legend, was sleeping with the actress during the production) and Jack Lemmon (who would star in The Apartment).

Film Review: 'Norte, the End of History'

★★★★★
One of the key modern exponents of slow cinema - although his films do range in length from eight minutes up to eight hours - Filipino director Lav Diaz made his Cannes bow last year with Norte, the End of History (2013), a four-hour epic that rightly garnered comparisons with such Russian literary giants as Dostoevsky. Using an impulsive double homicide as its focal point, Diaz's first colour outing draws together a group of disparate individuals on either side of the wealth divide, building an exquisite portrait of life in a country still bearing the deep psychological and physical scars of years of dictatorship rule. Languid yet always lucid, Norte is easily one of the highlights of this year's world cinema slate.

Film Review: 'Jealousy'

★★★★☆
Jealousy's (2013) modesty belies its emotional and structural complexity. The new film from French auteur Philippe Garrel, it's a short but substantial rumination on love and the life of the artist. It's a deeply serious work that looks like a frolic, exposing the perennial compromises of la vie de bohème. A modern story with strong biographical lineage, it's a film that harks back to both the director's own life as well as the artistic aftermath of May 1968. Jealousy is the propeller and the repressor; a destabilising force with kinetic drive, inexorably pushing lives away from resolve. Garrel's initial fly-on-the-wall act is a smokescreen; he's the master puppeteer, guiding the events with a remarkable sense of purpose.

Film Review: 'I Am Divine'

★★★★★
Divine shot to fame in the late seventies thanks to the bizarre directorial demands of John Waters and his cult cinema classic Pink Flamingos (1978). After consuming a heap of freshly produced dog faeces on camera, she turned the collective stomach of a worldwide audience and became the talking point she always strived to be. However, years down the line all anyone wanted to talk about was dog mess and misconceived transvestism. Neither of the two had any relevance in the furthered career of Harris Glenn Milstead, the man behind the eye make-up - a character-actor who strived to be taken seriously in his profession, but just as Hollywood studios began to open their hearts to him, his stopped beating.

Film Review: 'Grand Central'

★★★☆☆
Rebecca Zlotowski's Grand Central (2013) arrives in UK cinemas this week after bagging the Prix François Chalais at Cannes last year. Zlotowski again anchors her film with the naturalism of Léa Seydoux after working together on her debut film, 2010's Belle Épine. With the backdrop of a nuclear power plant in Austria, Grand Central focuses on the plant's workers and their itinerant existence in a campsite close by. Into this closed community comes Gary (Tahar Rahim), a young man looking for a fresh start and a surrogate family. Taken under the wing of Gilles (Olivier Gourmet) and Toni (Denis Ménochet), Gary appreciates the dignity of hard labour and the comradeship of his fellow colleagues.

Film Review: 'Finding Vivian Maier'

★★★★☆
Imagine randomly coming across a literal trove of work and artefacts once owned by an individual as far removed from the public eye as possible. How could you verify work of such magnitude, brilliance and mystery? These are the issues explored in the joint filmmaking debut from John Maloof and Charlie Siskel, Finding Vivian Maier (2013), a documentary that simultaneously explores, commemorates and celebrates the late titular figure whose photography earned her a posthumous reputation as one of the most accomplished living street photographers. Maier's extensive body of work came to light when, in 2007, Maloof happened upon numerous boxes containing thousands of negatives in an auction house.

Film Review Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

★★★★☆
Memories of Tim Burton's woeful 2001 Planet of the Apes remake were thankfully replaced with far fonder recollections in 2011 following the release of Rupert Wyatt's Rise of the Planet of the Apes. An earnest entry in the flagging sci-fi franchise and a surprise hit at the international box office, a sequel was quickly green-lit with Wyatt once again penned in to direct. After dropping out of the project due to a conflict in vision with 20th Century Fox, Wyatt was replaced by Matt Reeves (Cloverfield, Let Me In) who, with Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014), not only carries on the torch of series rejuvenation but has also crafted an eminently darker, grey matter-stimulating post-apocalyptic follow-up sure to please fans.

Special Feature: A Century of Chinese Cinema at the BFI

This July, the BFI's A Century of Chinese Cinema season (which runs all the way up until 7 October) shifts its focus towards the illustrious wuxia and the visually stunning, allegorical dimensions of the Fourth and Fifth Generation of Chinese filmmakers. Chinese cinema has always been inextricably linked to the country's fluctuating sociopolitical landscape, with revolution, war, foreign invasion and political oppression all having impacted upon the production and content of Chinese film. Now, in a period where film belongs to a multinational system, resulting in wider distribution, growth in co-productions and questions around national identity, Chinese cinema remains a relatively uncharted terrain for many Western cinephiles - something this BFI season hopes to change.

Interview: Jonathan Glazer delves 'Under the Skin'

When Jonathan Glazer's Under the Skin (2013) was given its world premiere at last year's 70th Venice Film Festival, the UK director was hoping for a powerful reaction and he duly got one. As part of the audience started to boo, a larger section cheered and applauded. Glazer's films often provoke extreme responses amongst audiences and he wouldn't have it any other way. Inspired by Michel Faber's novel, Under the Skin stars Scarlett Johansson as a nameless alien who drifts across modern day Scotland in a van picking up and seducing men before luring them to their death. Glazer was intrigued by the premise of the book - an alien living amongst us - and over that decade of development searched to find the essence that he would take from it for the screen.

DVD Review: 'Yves Saint Laurent'

★★★☆☆
Jalil Lespert's Yves Saint Laurent (2014), the first of two big-screen biopics of the French fashion designer to be released this year (look out for Saint Laurent also), is typical of the world of high fashion - sumptuous on the surface, but hiding a bitter core. The film follows the story of Saint Laurent (Pierre Niney), from his formative years at the venerable House of Dior to the heyday of his own fashion brand YSL, and the heady days of its success during the 1970s. Yves Saint Laurent differs from the plethora of fashion based films which have saturated the market in recent years. With a few exceptions the majority of productions focusing on this cosseted world are factual as opposed to fictional.

DVD Review: 'Under the Skin'

★★★★★
The term 'alien' is originally descended from the Latin expression 'alienus', roughly translating into modern English as something 'belonging to another'. This points us firmly towards the direction of tonal enlightenment offered in Jonathan Glazer's Under the Skin (2013). There's a Trojan horse-like nature to its formal audacity; are we watching an alien traipsing the streets of Glasgow and attempting to tempt and trick its male denizens into her perambulator lair of the mythical white van, or is Glazer instead trying to peer among the base questions of existence? To the naked eye, Under the Skin follows Scarlett Johansson's unnamed alien as she traps men before they're absorbed into black nothingness.

DVD Review: 'The Square'

★★★★☆
A revolution is a perpetually evolving entity, a constant presence in the lives of its participants. And yet, it's rarely seen nor heard of once the white noise provided by visiting media conglomerates dissipates and they move on to new regions and with new entreaties to the bored mass populace of the West, offering up their weapons of mass distraction. Who now cares for Mohamed Bouazizi or in fact remembers who he is? The only difference with Thích Quảng Đức is that people forgot more rapidly which is why, as documents go, we now look to indigenous interpretations of a forceful historical imperative that can no longer be dreamt back towards an eventual status quo.

DVD Review: 'The Lunchbox'


★★★☆☆
A nostalgic throwback to the Satyajit Ray heyday of Indian arthouse - though admittedly lacking much of Ray's sociopolitical spice - Ritesh Batra's The Lunchbox (2013) blends teasing comic romance with a not-unrealistic portrait of modern Mumbai. Irrfan Khan warms the cockles as the retiring (in every sense of the word) office worker picking through the delight-laden lunchboxes that begin to arrive at his desk each day from a mystery cook. Its more vehement critics will predictably decry its middle-class leanings, but as the success of filmmakers like Joanna Hogg and Jon Sanders here in the UK has proven, there is an appetite for stories about pencil-pushers as well as poverty-stricken slumdogs.

DVD Review: 'In Bloom'

★★★★☆
Based on her own experiences growing up in Georgia, Nana Ekvtimishvili and Simon Gross' In Bloom (2013) uses adolescence as the conduit in which to explore the confused identity of a country in transition. Perceptive and deftly handled, In Bloom transcends the usual coming of age clichés to depict a captivating portrait of urban dissonance and burgeoning fractions of nationalism against the heartening tale of two teenage girls growing up in post-Soviet Union Georgia. Fourteen-year-old Eka (Lika Babluani) lives with her mother and sister in a large, well-appointed flat in Tbilisi. Her father is in prison for murder, but Eka still clings to the old Soviet cigarettes and passport he's left behind.

Blu-ray Review: 'Harold & Maude'

★★★☆☆
As artistic styles develop and audience sensibilities change, it's inevitable that certain causes célèbres will lose a certain sense of purpose as the years go by. And yet, Hal Ashby's Harold and Maude remains as strange a proposition in 2014 as it must have in 1971. Ashby's idiosyncrasies never quite fitted in with the zeal of his movie brat contemporaries, yet he was just as interested in the generational schism precipitated by the sixties counterculture; he simply weaved them through his uniquely offbeat comic vision. Watching Harold and Maude in the same year as Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014), it's interesting to note just how influential its deadpan stylings became.

Blu-ray Review: 'The Driver'

★★★★★
The B-movie form begins and ends with Walter Hill's The Driver (1978). It's the blueprint genre picture; a year zero for the modern cult canon. When the French Nouvelle Vague repurposed the American genres of the thirties and forties for the intellectual classes of the Parisian sixties, they gave the forms a new lease of life by burdening them with existential malaise and a heavy sense of ennui. While these elements carried over to New Hollywood, Hill brought the grit back to the B-movie. The Driver is a film of types and trends; a cinematic expression of our basest narrative impulses. Directed with remarkable economy, the seasoned Hill keeps everything as tight as possible.

Competition: Win 'Under the Skin' *closed*

Directed by acclaimed British filmmaker Jonathan Glazer (whose previous stellar outings include Sexy Beast and Birth), Under the Skin (2013) features an absolutely mesmerising performance from American actress Scarlett Johansson as a seductive alien temptress preying upon lonely male hitchhikers in Scotland. To celebrate the home entertainment release of Under the Skin this coming Monday (14 July), we have THREE Blu-ray copies of Glazer's unforgettable sci-fi offering to offer out to our readers courtesy of the fine folks at UK distributors StudioCanal. This is an exclusive competition for our Facebook and Twitter fans, so if you haven't already, 'Like' us at facebook.com/CineVueUK or follow us @CineVue before answering the question below.

Competition: Win 'Mistaken for Strangers' *closed*

In 2010, US rock band The National released their fifth album, High Violet. After ten years as critical darlings, the band was finally enjoying wider recognition. As they were about to embark on the biggest tour of their career, lead singer Matt Berninger invited his younger brother, Tom, to be a part of their tour crew. A budding filmmaker and horror movie enthusiast, Tom brought along his camera to film the experience. To celebrate the DVD release of Mistaken for Strangers (2013) this Monday (14 July), we have THREE copies to give away courtesy of UK distributors Dogwoof. This is an exclusive competition for our Facebook and Twitter fans, so if you haven't already, 'Like' us at facebook.com/CineVueUK or follow us @CineVue before answering the question below.

Competition: Win 'The Lunchbox' *closed*

India's hottest indie film of the year, Ritesh Batra's directorial debut The Lunchbox (2013) is a feel-good romance with global appeal, and comes to DVD and Blu-ray this coming Monday (14 July). To celebrate the home entertainment release of Batra's winning offering, which is guaranteed to please foodies and world cinema fans alike, we have THREE brand new DVD copies of The Lunchbox to give away to our regular and returning readers, kindly provided to us by the always generous team at the film's UK distributors and friends of the site Artificial Eye. This is an exclusive competition for our Facebook and Twitter fans, so if you haven't already, 'Like' us at facebook.com/CineVueUK or follow us @CineVue before answering the question below.

Film Review Transformers Age of Extinction

★☆☆☆☆
Could Michael Bay be considered an auteur? He certainly has his own line of distinctive tropes: the migraine-inducing noise, the fetishistic gloss, the playground-bully characters elevated to hero status and a fervently male gaze. That's to be applauded for some - he has brought $3 billion into cinemas with the Transformers series, after all - but let's consider the opening scene of the franchise's latest entry, Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014). We're in a derelict movie theatre, forced to close after its proprietor blames sequels and reboots are killing cinema. Don't be tricked, however, into thinking this is one big meta-theatrical joke (he's no Samuel Beckett), as we're soon back in rock 'em sock 'em territory.
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