DVD - Round-up
‘Spring being a tough act to follow, God created June.’ The great American writer, actor and boxing analyst Al Bernstein wrote that. But then he also said, ‘A fool and his money get a lot of publicity’ so perhaps we shouldn’t pay too much attention to him. As June winds down you should, however, be paying attention to the long overdue DVD release of Scottish filmmaker Richard Jobson’s bizarre, intermittently enjoyable futuristic gang-banger flick The Purifiers (Lionsgate, 3 Stars). Shot in Glasgow, this overly wordy but kinetic and unruly exploitation thriller pitches a bunch of Tae Kwan Do kids against megalomaniac underground gang leader Moses (Kevin McKidd). Using Walter Hill’s The Warriors, a million Hong Kong actioners and Manga as touchstones, Jobson creates a fairly silly but totally unique vision of this land of ours in the years to come. Jobson’s film sets the tone for what is frankly a bonkers selection of releases this fortnight. British Transport Films Collection (Vol 5): Off the Beaten Track (BFI, 4 Stars) is (unbelievably) the fifth compendium of classic British Transport films. And, as mundane as it sounds, you really can’t beat the experience of watching a bunch of blokes in old wagons driving up and down pre-motorway Britain. Despite being collated around the theme of transport there is a strong natural history element to the short films (truckers go fishing, truckers go twitching); two of the shorts were even nominated for Oscars.
Ken Loach’s 1971 tribal dissection, Family Life (Optimum, 4 Stars), finally debuts on DVD this month. This painful, austere fictional documentary about a young lady who suffers at the hands of her authoritarian parents is worth checking out if you have the stomach for it. Michael Tucker and Petra Epperlein’s 2004 documentary Gunner Palace (Elephant Video, 3 Stars) is about the activities of the US 2/3 Field Artillery during the early part of the Iraq War. Though dated by the rivers of blood that have since washed through many of the film’s locations this is an interesting wartime sketch by serious embedded film journalists. Box sets are pretty low on the ground this fortnight. One is pointless - the Nick Nolte Collection (Prism Leisure, 2 Stars). It features only Farewell to the King and Affliction neither of which are particularly representative of this brilliant actor’s work. The Oshima Box Set (Nouveaux Pictures, 5 Stars), containing the great Japanese filmmaker’s two best known films - The Realm of the Senses and Empire of Passion (pictured) - is far more interesting. Both films have been restored to their original erotic glory. This is sensual, heady world cinema at it’s best.
Next time we’ll be falling in love with the Coen Brothers all over again.