Sunshine on Leith, Filth and Riddick released on DVD
A Belfast Story, The Colony, Blood Glacier and Frost also released
January and February are usually quiet months. It’s cold outside and your bank balance is still in recovery from December’s excesses. Fortunately there are plenty of DVDs being released to keep you entertained. 2013 was a strong year for Scottish cinema and two very, very different takes on Edinburgh lead the pack. Firstly, the all-singing, all-dancing Proclaimers' musical Sunshine on Leith (Entertainment in Video) ●●●. The Proclaimers songs sounds fantastic in a film that's slightly more gritty than the average musical as two soldiers return from the frontline to deal with life and relationships back home. Not everyone is the best singer in the world, but the cast (including Peter Mullan, Jane Horrocks and Freya Mavor) give it their all, and Edinburgh has never looked so beautiful on screen.
If that's all just too cheery for you the other side of the coin is gritty drama Filth (Lions Gate) ●●● based on Irvine Welsh’s acerbic novel. A surreal nightmarish ride through the capital's underworld starring James McAvoy as corrupt cop Bruce Robertson in the midst of a drug and alcohol-fuelled mental breakdown while trying to solve a murder. McAvoy fully commits to the repulsive nature of his character and it's a stand out performance bringing some much needed humanity to such a hideous creation.
In a vaguely similar vein is A Belfast Story (Kaleidoscope) ●● with Colm Meany as the grizzled cop investigating a series of grisly murders with links to the IRA. Basically a thriller with Northern Ireland's troubled history of politics and violence as a backdrop. Unfortunately it drags in places and never really engages with the deeper issues at stake.
For something completely different there are big sci-fi thrills on offer as Vin Diesel reprises Riddick (Entertainment One) ●●● as the eponymous character finds himself stranded on a hostile world, then battling mercenaries in a bid to escape this barren planet. Packed with blood, aliens and action it's far more streamlined and exciting than the sprawling mess that was The Chronicles of Riddick but still can't touch the original Pitch Black.
Finally a triple bill of chilly sci-fi/horror movies. The Colony (Entertainment One) ●●● sees Laurence Fishburne and Bill Paxton as some of the survivors sheltering in the final pockets of humanity after the temperature drops. An expedition to check on their neighbours finds them attacked by a band of marauding cannibals. It's entertaining enough but offers nothing new to the genre, despite the snowy wastelands it plays out like nearly every other post-apocalyptic film you've ever seen. Blood Glacier (Studiocanal) ●●● is a German homage to John Carpenter's The Thing as rapidly mutating crossbreeds attack a research station. Most of the cast give surprisingly strong performances (particularly Gerhard Liebmann) while the malformed creatures are wonderfully designed even if the lack of budget sometimes lets them down. Frost (Entertainment One) ●● is an Icelandic found footage horror about something nasty under the ice in the Artic circle, basically not much happens apart from lots of shaky cam and a few nose bleeds, but admittedly the scenery is stunning.