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American Beauty | Blu Ray | (14/02/2011)
from £6.49 | Saving you £13.50 (67.50%) | RRP
From its first gliding aerial shot of a generic suburban street, American Beauty moves with a mesmerising confidence and acuity epitomised by Kevin Spacey's calm narration. Spacey is Lester Burnham, a harried Everyman whose midlife awakening is the spine of the story, and his very first lines hook us with their teasing fatalism--like Sunset Boulevard's Joe Gillis, Burnham tells us his story from beyond the grave. It's an audacious start for a film that justifies that audacity. Weaving social satire, domestic tragedy and whodunit into a single package, Alan Ball's first theatrical script dares to blur generic lines and keep us off balance, winking seamlessly from dark, scabrous comedy to deeply moving drama. The Burnham family joins the cinematic short-list of great dysfunctional American families, as Lester is pitted against his manic, materialistic realtor wife, Carolyn (Annette Bening, making the most of a mostly unsympathetic role) and his sullen, contemptuous teenaged daughter, Jane (Thora Birch, utterly convincing in her edgy balance of self-absorption and wistful longing). Into their lives come two catalytic outsiders. A young cheerleader (Mena Suvari) jolts Lester into a sexual epiphany that blooms into a second adolescence. And an eerily calm young neighbour (Wes Bentley) transforms both Lester and Jane with his canny influence. Credit another big-screen newcomer, English theatrical director Sam Mendes, with expertly juggling these potentially disjunctive elements into a superb ensemble piece that achieves a stylised pace without lapsing into transparent self-indulgence. Mendes has shrewdly insured his success with a solid crew of stage veterans, yet he has also made an inspired discovery in Bentley, whose Ricky Fitts becomes a fulcrum for both plot and theme. Cinematographer Conrad Hall's sumptuous visual design further elevates the film, infusing the beige interiors of the Burnhams' lives with vivid bursts of deep crimson, the colour of roses--and of blood. --Sam Sutherland
Cleopatra | DVD | (13/05/2013)
from £5.49 | Saving you £7.50 (57.70%) | RRP
Still the most expensive movie ever made, Cleopatra nearly bankrupted 20th Century Fox. It also scandalised the world with the very public affair of its two major stars, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. But Joseph L Mankiewicz's 1963 epic deserves to be remembered for more than its off-screen troubles. An extravagantly elaborate production, the sets and costumes alone are awe-inspiring; Mankiewicz's own literate screenplay draws heavily on the classics and Shakespeare; while the supporting cast, led by Rex Harrison as Caesar and Roddy McDowall as his nephew (and future emperor) Octavian, are all first-rate thespians and generally put in more convincing performances than either of the two leads. Mankiewicz's original intention was to make two three-hour films: the first being Caesar and Cleopatra, the second Antony and Cleopatra. But before the film?s completion, and following a boardroom coup worthy of Ancient Rome itself, legendary mogul Darryl F Zanuck took back control of Fox and insisted that Cleopatra be cut to a more economical length. A heartbroken Mankiewicz was forced to trim his six-hour vision down to four. This was the "roadshow" version shown at the film?s premiere and now restored here. Then following adverse criticism and pressure from cinema chains Zanuck demanded more cuts, and the final released version ran a mere three hours--half the original length. Capitalising on the feverish publicity surrounding Burton and Taylor, the shortened version played up both their on- and off-screen romance. This longer four-hour roadshow version allows for a broader view of the film, adding some depth to the politics and manipulation of the characters. But the director?s original six-hour edit has been lost. Perhaps one day it will be rediscovered in the vaults and Mankiewicz?s much-maligned movie will finally be seen the way it was meant to be. Until then, Cleopatra remains an epic curiosity rather than the complete spectacle it should be.
The Pelican Brief | DVD | (25/09/1998)
from £3.99 | Saving you £10.00 (71.50%) | RRP
Another John Grisham legal thriller comes to the screen, pairing Denzel Washington and Julia Roberts in a film directed by Alan J Pakula, who is known for dark-hued suspense pictures such as Klute, The Parallax View, All the President's Men, and Presumed Innocent. The Pelican Brief isn't up to the level of those films, but it is a perfectly entertaining movie about a law student (Roberts) whose life is endangered when she discovers evidence of a conspiracy behind the killings of two Supreme Court justices. She enlists the help of an investigative reporter (Washington) and the two become fugitives. The charisma and chemistry of the leads goes a long way toward compensating for the story's shortcomings, as does a truly impressive supporting cast that includes Sam Shepard, John Heard, James B Sikking, Tony Goldwyn, Stanley Tucci, Hume Cronyn, John Lithgow, William Atherton and Robert Culp. --Jim Emerson
Leon | DVD | (15/05/2000)
from £4.59 | Saving you £6.40 (58.20%) | RRP
Luc Besson (The Fifth Element) made his American directorial debut with Leon, a stylised thriller about a French hit man (Jean Reno) who takes in an American girl (Natalie Portman) being pursued by a corrupt killer cop (Gary Oldman). Oldman is a little more unhinged than he should be, but there is something genuinely irresistible about the story line and the relationship between Reno and Portman. Rather than cave in to the cookie-cutter look and feel of American action pictures, Besson brings a bit of his glossy style from French hits La Femme Nikita and Subway to the production of The Professional, and the results are refreshing even if the bullets and explosions are awfully familiar.--Tom Keogh
Dark City | DVD | (01/10/1999)
from £3.81 | Saving you £16.18 (80.90%) | RRP
If you're a fan of brooding comic-book anti-heroes, got a nihilistic jolt from The Crow (1994) and share director Alex Proyas's highly developed preoccupation for style over substance, you might be tempted to call Dark City an instant classic of visual imagination. It's one of those films that exists in a world purely of its own making, setting its own rules and playing by them fairly, so that even its derivative elements (and there are quite a few) acquire their own specific uniqueness. Before long, however, the film becomes interesting only as a triumph of production design. And while that's certainly enough to grab your attention (Blade Runner is considered a classic, after all), it's painfully clear that Dark City has precious little heart and soul. One-dimensional characters are no match for the film's abundance of retro-futuristic style, so it's best to admire the latter on its own splendidly cinematic terms. Trivia buffs will be interested to know that the film's 50-plussets (partially inspired by German expressionism) were built at the Fox Film Studios in Sydney, Australia, home base of director Alex Proyas and producer Andrew Mason. The underground world depicted in the film required the largest indoor set ever built in Australia. --Jeff Shannon
Chinatown | DVD | (14/01/2013)
from £2.85 | Saving you £15.54 (77.70%) | RRP
Roman Polanski's brooding film noir exposes the darkest side of the land of sunshine, the Los Angeles of the 1930s, where power is the only currency--and the only real thing worth buying. Jack Nicholson is JJ Gittes, a private eye in the Chandler mould, who during a routine straying-spouse investigation finds himself drawn deeper and deeper into a jigsaw puzzle of clues and corruption. The glamorous Evelyn Mulwray (a dazzling Faye Dunaway) and her titanic father, Noah Cross (John Huston), are at the black-hole centre of this tale of treachery, incest, and political bribery. The crackling, hard-bitten script by Robert Towne won a well-deserved Oscar, and the muted colour cinematography makes the goings-on seem both bleak and impossibly vibrant. Polanski himself has a brief, memorable cameo as the thug who tangles with Nicholson's nose. One of the greatest, most completely satisfying crime films of all time. --Anne Hurley, Amazon.com
Personal Shopper | Blu Ray | (17/07/2017)
from £9.48 | Saving you £N/A (N/A%) | RRP
A personal shopper in Paris refuses to leave the city until she makes contact with her twin brother who previously died there. Her life becomes more complicated when a mysterious person contacts her via text message.
Ultimate Gangsters Box Set 201 | Blu Ray | (06/09/2011)
from £10.00 | Saving you £49.99 (83.30%) | RRP
In this 10 disc collection features Five classic gangster films; American Gangster:Academy Award winners Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe team with director Ridley Scott (Gladiator) in this powerful, epic story. Armed with ruthless tactics and a strict sense of honour, crime boss Frank Lucas (Washington) rules Harlem’s chaotic drug underworld. When outcast cop Richie Roberts (Crowe) sets out to bring down Lucas’s multimillion-dollar empire, it plunges both men into a legendary confrontation. Carlito's Way: Oscar winner Al Pacino gives an electrifying performance as former drug kingpin Carlito Brigante, who is sprung from prison by his highpowered attorney (Academy Award winner Sean Penn). He stuns the New York underworld by vowing to go straight from a history of violence, but his plans are undermined by misguided loyalties and an outmoded code of honour. In a life-or-death battle, Carlito takes on therelentless forces that refuse to let him go.Casino:Robert De Niro, Sharon Stone and Joe Pesci star in director Martin Scorsese’s riveting look at how blind ambition, white-hot passion and24-carat greed toppled an empire. Las Vegas, 1973, is the setting for this fact-based story about the Mob’s multimillion-dollar casinooperation, where fortunes and lives were made and lost with a roll of the dice.Mean Streets:Mean Streets announced Martin Scorsese’s arrival as a new filmmaking force – and marked his first historic teaming with Robert De Niro. It’s a story Scorsese lived, a semi-autobiographical tale of the first-generation sons and daughters of New York’s Little Italy. Harvey Keitel plays Charlie, working his way up the ranks of a local mob. Amy Robinson is Teresa, the girlfriend his family deems unsuitable because of her epilepsy. And in the starmaking role that won Best Supporting Actor Awards from the New York and National Society of FilmCritics, De Niro is Johnny Boy, a small-time gambler in big-time debt to loan sharks.Scarface:Directed by hit-maker Brian DePalma and produced by Martin Bregman who brought both Carlito’s Way legends to the screen, Scarface follows the violent career of a small-time Cuban refugee hoodlum who guns his way to the top of Miami’s cocaine empire. With its intense screenplay by Academy Award Winner Oliver Stone, driving musical score by Giorgio Moroder, and superb insights into Miami’s Latin lifestyle, Scarface joins the ranks of Hollywood’s greatest underworld dramas, as it lays bare the sordid power of the American drug scene.
Frenzy | DVD | (17/10/2005)
from £6.80 | Saving you £3.19 (31.90%) | RRP
By the time Alfred Hitchcock's second-to-last picture came out in 1972, the censorship restrictions under which he had laboured during his long career had eased up. Now he could give full sway to his lurid fantasies, and that may explain why Frenzy is the director's most violent movie by far--outstripping even Psycho for sheer brutality. Adapted by playwright Anthony Shaffer, the story concerns a series of rape-murders committed by suave fruit-merchant Bob Rusk (Barry Foster), who gets his kicks from throttling women with a necktie. This being a Hitchcock thriller, suspicion naturally falls on the wrong man--ill-tempered publican Richard Blaney (Jon Finch). Enter Inspector Oxford from New Scotland Yard (Alex McCowan), who thrashes out the finer points of the case with his wife (Vivian Merchant), whose tireless enthusiasm for indigestible delicacies like quail with grapes supplies a classic running gag.Frenzy was the first film Hitchcock had shot entirely in his native Britain since Jamaica Inn (1939), and many contemporary critics used that fact to account for what seemed to them a glorious return to form after a string of Hollywood duds (Marnie, Torn Curtain, Topaz). Hitchcock specialists are often less wild about it, judging the detective plot mechanical and the oh-so-English tone insufferable. But at least three sequences rank among the most skin-crawling the maestro ever put on celluloid. There is an astonishing moment when the camera backs away from a room in which a murder is occurring, down the stairs, through the front door and then across the street to join the crowd milling indifferently on the pavement. There is also the killer's nerve-wracking attempt to retrieve his tiepin from a corpse stuffed into a sack of potatoes. Finally, there is one act of strangulation so prolonged and gruesome it verges on the pornographic. Was the veteran film-maker a rampant misogynist as feminist observers have frequently charged? Sit through this appalling scene if you dare and decide for yourself. --Peter Matthews
Leon | DVD | (14/09/2009)
from £6.29 | Saving you £9.70 (60.70%) | RRP
Oklahoma | DVD | (08/03/2004)
from £3.99 | Saving you £10.27 (64.20%) | RRP
The hit Broadway musical from the 1940s gets a lavish if not always exciting workout in this 1955 film version directed by old lion Fred Zinnemann (High Noon). Gordon MacRae brings his sterling voice to the role of cowboy Curly and Shirley Jones plays Laurie, the object of his affection. The Rodgers and Hammerstein score includes "The Surrey with the Fringe on Top", "Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'" and "People Will Say We're in Love", and Agnes DeMille provides the buoyant choreography. Among the supporting cast, Gloria Grahame is memorable as Ado Annie, the "girl who cain't say no", and Rod Steiger overdoes it as the villainous Jud. --Tom Keogh
The Birds | DVD | (17/10/2005)
from £4.49 | Saving you £5.50 (55.10%) | RRP
Vacationing in northern California, Alfred Hitchcock was struck by a story in a Santa Cruz newspaper: "Seabird Invasion Hits Coastal Homes". From this peculiar incident, and his memory of a short story by Daphne du Maurier, the master of suspense created one of his strangest and most terrifying films. The Birds follows a chic blonde, Melanie Daniels (Tippi Hedren), as she travels to the coastal town of Bodega Bay to hook up with a rugged fellow (Rod Taylor) she's only just met. Before long the town is attacked by marauding birds, and Hitchcock's skill at staging action is brought to the fore. Beyond the superb effects, however, The Birds is also one of Hitchcock's most psychologically complicated scenarios, a tense study of violence, loneliness, and complacency. What really gets under your skin are not the bird skirmishes but the anxiety and the eerie quiet between attacks. The director elevated an unknown model, Tippi Hedren (mother of Melanie Griffith), to being his latest cool, blond leading lady, an experience that was not always easy on the much-pecked Ms. Hedren. Still, she returned for the next Hitchcock picture, the underrated Marnie. Treated with scant attention by serious critics in 1963, The Birds has grown into a classic and--despite the sci-fi trappings--one of Hitchcock's most serious films. --Robert Horton
The Glenn Miller Story | DVD | (04/06/2007)
from £4.19 | Saving you £5.80 (58.10%) | RRP
The true story of an unassuming band leader and trombonist Glenn Miller (played by James Stewart) who got his first break playing his own arrangement of 'Everybody Loves My Baby' at an audition. He never looked back. He married his childhood sweetheart and everything he played became an instant hit...songs like 'Moonlight Serenade' 'String of Pearls' and 'Tuxedo Junction'. Hollywood beckoned and success piled upon success. But then came World War II. A war from which Glenn Miller never returned. He was on his way to Paris to entertain the American Forces when his plane disappeared. But the show had to go on...and Glenn Miller became a legend. The film features all of Glenn Miller's hits and there are many guest performances who make this film an all time classic. Winner of an Oscar for Best Sound in 1955.
Predestination | DVD | (06/04/2015)
from £2.63 | Saving you £15.36 (85.40%) | RRP
Critics are hailing Predestination as 'the best film of the year' and 'enthralling from start to finish'. From the directors of Daybreakers, PREDESTINATION chronicles the life of a Temporal Agent (Ethan Hawke, Boyhood, Training Day) sent on an intricate series of time-travel journeys designed to stop crimes before they are committed. Now, on his final assignment, he must pursue the one criminal that has eluded him throughout time.
Unbreakable -- 2-disc Collector's Edition | DVD | (29/10/2001)
from £4.89 | Saving you £13.10 (72.80%) | RRP
In Unbreakable, writer-director M. Night Shyamalan reunites with Sixth Sense star Bruce Willis, comes up with another story of everyday folk baffled by the supernatural (or at least unknown-to-science) and returns to his home town, presenting Philadelphia as a wintry haunt of the bizarre yet transcendent. This time around, Willis (in earnest, agonised, frankly bald Twelve Monkeys mode) has the paranormal abilities, and a superbly un-typecast Samuel L. Jackson is the investigator who digs into someone else's strange life to prompt startling revelations about his own. David Dunn (Willis), an ex-jock security guard with a failing marriage (to Robin Wright Penn), is the stunned sole survivor of a train derailment. Approached by Elijah Price (Jackson), a dealer in comic book art who suffers from a rare brittle bone syndrome, Dunn comes to wonder whether Price's theory that he has superhuman abilities might not hold water. Dunn's young son Joseph (Spencer Treat Clark) encourages him to test his powers and the primal scene of Superman bouncing a bullet off his chest is rewritten as an amazing kitchen confrontation when Joseph pulls the family gun on Dad in a desperate attempt to convince him that he really is unbreakable (surely, "Invulnerable" would have been a more apt title). Half-convinced he is the real-world equivalent of a superhero, Dunn commences a never-ending battle against crime but learns a hard lesson about balancing forces in the universe. Throughout, the film refers to comic-book imagery--with Dunn's security guard slicker coming to look like a cape, and Price's gallery taking on elements of a Batcave-like lair--while the lectures on artwork and symbolism feed back into the plot. The last act offers a terrific suspense-thriller scene, which (like the similar family-saving at the end of The Sixth Sense) is a self-contained sub-plot that slingshots a twist ending that may have been obvious all along. Some viewers might find the stately solemnity with which Shyamalan approaches a subject usually treated with colourful silliness offputting, but Unbreakable wins points for not playing safe and proves that both Willis and Jackson, too often cast in lazy blockbusters, have the acting chops to enter the heart of darkness. --Kim Newman
Drive | Blu Ray | (30/01/2012)
from £4.85 | Saving you £13.14 (73.00%) | RRP
A Hollywood stunt performer who moonlights as a wheelman discovers that a contract has been put on him after a heist gone wrong.
The 39 Steps | DVD | (19/06/2007)
from £3.85 | Saving you £12.14 (75.90%) | RRP
A high point of Hitchcock's pre-Hollywood career, 1935's The Thirty-Nine Steps is the first and best of three film versions of John Buchan's rather stiff novel. Robert Donat plays Richard Hannay, who becomes embroiled in a plot to steal military secrets. He finds himself on the run; falsely accused of murder, while also pursuing the dastardly web of spies alluded to in the title. With a plot whose twists and turns match the hilly Scottish terrain in which much of the film is set, The Thirty-Nine Steps combines a breezy suavity with a palpable psychological tension. Hitchcock was already a master at conveying such tension through his cinematic methods, rather than relying just on situation or dialogue. Sometimes his ways of bringing the best out of his actors brought the worst out in himself. If the scene in which Donat is handcuffed to co-star Madeline Carroll has a certain edge, for instance, that's perhaps because the director mischievously cuffed them together in a rehearsal, then left them attached for a whole afternoon, pretending to have lost the key. The movie also introduces Hitchcock's favoured plot device, the "McGuffin" (here, the military secret), the unexplained device or "non-point" on which the movie turns. --David Stubbs
The Ten Commandments | DVD | (04/02/2013)
from £4.99 | Saving you £11.00 (68.80%) | RRP
Throughout film history, Hollywood has produced a number of sweeping epics and generation-defining movies. However, one film – Cecil B. DeMille's The Ten Commandments – has stood the test of time. Universally recognised among critics as a cinematic masterpiece, this unforgettable motion picture has also been recognised by The American Film Institute as one of the 'Top Ten' epics of all time. From its Academy Award-winning director* and revolutionary Oscar-winning special effects** to its memorable music score and all-star cast, The Ten Commandments presents the story of Moses in all of its stunning glory. Starring Charlton Heston, Yul Brynner, Anne Baxter and a 'who's who' of legendary screen talent, the film was nominated for seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture of 1956***. Special Features: 3 Theatrical Trailers 1956, 1966 and 1989 (1959 - PAL 4272459, NTSC 4272457) *Winner: Best Director (Cecil B. DeMille), The Greatest Show On Earth, 1952. **Winner: Best Special Effects (John Fulton), 1956. ***Additional Oscar nominations (1956): Picture; Cinematography – Colour; Art Direction/Set Decoration; Costume Design – Colour; Film Editing; and Sound Recording.
The Maze Runner | DVD | (09/02/2015)
from £5.39 | Saving you £14.60 (73.00%) | RRP
When Thomas wakes up trapped in a massive maze with a groups of other boys he has no memory of the outside world other than strange dreams about a mysterious organisation known as W.C.K.D. Only by piecing together fragments of his past with clues he discovers in the maze can Thomas hope to uncover his true purpose and a way to escape. Based on the best-selling novel by James Dasnher.
Strangers On A Train (1951) | DVD | (09/04/2001)
from £4.75 | Saving you £9.24 (66.00%) | RRP
From its cleverly choreographed opening sequence to its heart-stopping climax on a rampant carousel, this 1951 Hitchcock classic readily earns its reputation as one of the director's finest examples of timeless cinematic suspense. It's not just a ripping-good thriller but a film student's delight and a perversely enjoyable battle of wits between tennis pro Guy (Farley Granger) and his mysterious, sycophantic admirer, Bruno (Robert Walker), who proposes a "criss-cross" scheme of traded murders. Bruno agrees to kill Guy's unfaithful wife, in return for which Guy will (or so it seems) kill Bruno's spiteful father. With an emphasis on narrative and visual strategy, Hitchcock controls the escalating tension with a master's flair for cinematic design, and the plot (coscripted by Raymond Chandler) is so tightly constructed that you'll be white-knuckled even after multiple viewings. Strangers on a Train remains one of Hitchcock's crowning achievements and a suspenseful classic that never loses its capacity to thrill and delight. --Jeff Shannon