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Black and Blue - DVD Preview

Black and Blue

Preview by Jack Foley

ARRIVING on Digital Download on February 17 and DVD on March 2, 2020, courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Black And Blue is a fast-paced action-thriller directed by Deon Taylor (The Intruder) and starring Academy Award® nominee Naomie Harris (Moonlight) and Tyrese Gibson (Fast and Furious 7).

A rookie cop (Harris) inadvertently captures the murder of a young drug dealer on her body cam. After realizing that the murder was committed by corrupt cops, she teams up with the one person from her community who is willing to help her (Gibson) as she tries to escape the criminals out for revenge and the police who are desperate to destroy the incriminating footage.

Black And Blue also stars Frank Grillo (The Purge: Anarchy), Mike Colter (TV’s Luke Cage), Reid Scott (TV’s Veep) and Beau Knapp (Death Wish).

DVD and Digital Bonus Features:

•Deleted scenes.

•Line of Fire: Director Deon Taylor discusses his vision for the film, how it implements body cameras and what sets it apart from other police-lead thrillers.

•The Change in the Big Easy: Naomie Harris and Tyrese Gibson discuss their roles, filming in New Orleans and the poser of unspoken words.

Black And Blue has a run time of approximately 1 hour 48 minutes and is rated 15.

Win Monos on DVD

Monos

Preview by Jack Foley

Picturehouse Entertainment is delighted to announce the Home Entertainment release of Monos, the Best Film winner at the 2019 BFI London Film Festival. It will be released on DVD, Blu-ray and Digital on February 17, 2020 following its critical and box office success.

Directed by Alejandro Landes (Porfirio) and starring Julianne Nicholson and Moisés Aries, alongside newcomers Sofia Buenaventura, Julián Giraldo and Karen Quintero, Monos is a unique and epic experience.

On a remote mountaintop, a rebel group of commandos perform military training exercises while watching over a prisoner (Julianne Nicholson) for a shadowy force known only as ‘The Organization’. After a series of unexpected events drives them deep into the jungle, fracturing their intricate bond, their mission slowly begins to collapse.

Set against a stunningly beautiful but dangerous landscape, Alejandro Landes’s awe-inspiring film is a breathtakingly epic vision that will leave you both mesmerised and utterly gripped.

Having been in competition in Sundance (where it won the World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award) and Berlin 2019 (nominated for Best Feature Film), it was also entered in competition for this year’s BIFA awards (nominated for Best International Independent Film), as well as receiving two nominations for the London Critics’ Circle Film Awards (nominated for Foreign-Language Film of the Year and Technical Achievement Award).

As well as stunning performances from the young cast, the film has an amazing score by Mica Levi (Jackie and Under The Skin), praised by audiences and critics alike.

Monos will be available on DVD, Blu-ray and Digital on February 17, 2020.

Win Monos on DVD

To celebrate the release of Monos on Blu-ray and DVD from February 17, 2020, IndieLondon is offering readers the chance to win a copy on DVD. Simply answer the following question…

Q. Who directs Monos?

Simply send the answer to Monos competition and include your name, address, telephone number and email

Joker (Joaquin Phoenix) - DVD Review

Joker

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 5 out of 5

TODD Phillips delivers another hangover of a movie in Joker, albeit one where the laughs are few and far between and the messages fly thick, fast and in grim, disturbing fashion.

Much less a comic book movie and more a sly, insightful piece of social commentary, this pulls off an incredibly neat trick by framing a cautionary tale about mental health within the single most watched film genre of the moment.

That’s not to say that it turns its back on the universe in which it exists, feeding into Batman folklore in masterful fashion. But in a move worthy of the Joker’s own ability to toy with people’s psychology, this film confronts difficult subject matter, challenges contemporary morality and ethics and leaves you with a head-spinning conundrum.

Joker continually toys with its audience. How much did you like/enjoy it? How far did you sympathise with its main protagonist? Did you understand him? Could you condone him? Is his journey an inevitable one born from society’s indifference and/or ignorance to the issues surrounding him (abuse, mental illness, loneliness and rejection)?

A lot has been made of Joker’s relationship to Scorsese’s Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy, which is accurate and even nodded to in the casting of Robert De Niro in a supporting role. But I was also reminded of Se7en for the way in which it surrounds its viewers in unremitting bleakness, only finding light (via its character’s own epiphany) in its darkest hour.

The result is astonishingly powerful in the way that it delivers a gut punch finale. But then that’s no more than the film deserves.

Essentially a character study, Joker chronicles the rise of Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix), an unsuccessful clown with dreams of becoming a stand-up comedian, as he slowly becomes one of cinema’s most iconic villains.

Initially, Arthur is just attempting to exist within the squalid, rat-infested streets of Gotham City in 1981. But he’s handicapped by a condition that forces him to laugh uncontrollably in certain situations (of anxiety or distress), meaning that he is written off as a loner and a freak. Worse still, he’s quite often beaten up and left in a crumpled heap.

But after being pushed too far, Arthur begins to assume a new identity – that of a darker clown, partly in response to the media manipulation of a violent situation he was at the centre of. With civil unrest creating a divide between Gotham’s rich and poor, society embraces the Joker as some kind of hero – a cult figure giving voice to a thousand grievances.

It’s only a matter of time before the tensions simmer over and Gotham’s streets are flooded with violent rebellion.

Working from a script co-written by Phillips and Scott Silver, leading man Phoenix offers up a transformative performance as Arthur/Joker, creating a villain who is frighteningly real. As such, comparisons with past Jokers (not least Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight) are redundant.

This is a completely different beast. The focus is almost entirely on Arthur. We witness his pain, his heartbreak, his anguish and his rebellion. And for each of us, there will be a certain point where he crosses the line from anti-hero to out and out psychopath.

But Silver and Phillips don’t just take us on a journey; they explore the reasons for it and its consequence. Arthur’s condition is a focal point for some of the mental health issues facing society today: whether in the lack of funding that sees so many people left to fend for themselves, or in the way that every day people view and often shun it.

Joker

Yet while certainly provocative in its outcome, few people could deny that Arthur’s journey holds a mirror up to American social problems, in particular, and the problems that the right to bear arms brings. In that regard, it is uncomfortable; but designed to be.

Concerns over empowering incel culture (otherwise known as involuntary celibates), or provoking copycat acts, fall wide of the mark, in my opinion. The film isn’t irresponsible in the way it confronts such issues without ever suggesting we should condone them. Rather, it invites viewers to judge for themselves and to perhaps be more wary of these issues… to bring them out into the open. It’s why so much has been, and continues to be, written about it.

Mental health and the battle to recognise and support it is one of the biggest issues surrounding society today. It’s a battle-ground that’s on a par with feminism and race, albeit one that encroaches upon every gender and race. It’s arguably why Phillips chose to place Arthur on a bus filled with people of colour in a key early scene.

But Joker doesn’t empower violent behaviour. Its depiction of violence isn’t gratuitous. It is unsettling and horrible.

And Phillips isn’t seeking to suggest that every case of untreated mental illness is a mass killer in waiting. Such suggestions are as wide of the mark and hysteria promoting as notions of Jaws depicting great white sharks as one of the biggest threats to mankind, which therefore must be hunted to the point of extinction.

Joker is many things, but it doesn’t set out to be dangerous or irresponsible. Rather, some of the accusations being levelled against it could be. What it does promote, in my opinion, is rational debate surrounding sensitive and complex issues.

If this sounds a million miles removed from the notion of what a comic book movie should represent, then that’s perhaps deliberate in part. Joker could yet become its own forum to debate such issues. But as previously stated, it doesn’t lose sight of the requirements of the character.

The final moments are spectacular in the way they set up a potential wider Batman universe, while feeding into what’s known about the characters. If anything, Joker re-imagines the superhero genre in the same way that Christopher Nolan did previously with the Dark Knight trilogy.

In doing so, it also re-establishes a villain as someone to fear, or to be terrified by. At a time when many movie villains are embraced by popular culture and emblazoned across T-shirts, Phoenix’s Joker shouldn’t be able to be ‘idolised’ in such a manner. He’s in no way cool. He does strike fear. He makes you nervous.

Phoenix’s performance is such that he inhabits this person, exposing his complexity for all to see. He can be sympathetic. But there’s always something uneasy about him, something unreal. He gets into our heads and refuses to budge. He lingers and he haunts. We can see why he becomes who he does… but it doesn’t make the journey any easier, or any less sad in its own melancholic way.

Joker is a film to admire more than like. But it shouldn’t be underestimated. It is a massively impressive, highly intelligent, openly provocative and ferociously performed masterpiece.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 2hrs 2mins
UK Blu-ray and DVD Release: February 10, 2020

Abominable - DVD Review

Abominable

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

HEART-warming and visually ravishing, new animated adventure Abominable may not boast the most original concept but it’s very big on charm.

Following hot-on-the-heels of similarly themed mythical ape movies (Smallfoot and Missing Link), this collaboration between DreamWorks and the China-based Pearl Studio nevertheless boasts plenty to recommend it, not least in the way that it embraces Chinese culture and even adopts some of Studio Ghibli’s more emotional traits.

The story is simple: Chinese teenager Yi (voiced by Chloe Bennet) is still quietly coming to terms with the death of her father, when she comes across an escaped yeti hiding out on her rooftop.

This abominable snowman has been the captive of rich collector-explorer Burnish (Eddie Izzard) and his zoologist assistant (Sarah Paulson) and they are hot on his trail, along with a team of bad guys.

But Yi determines to get him back to his home on Everest and enlists the help of basketball fixated cousin Peng (Albert Tsai) and resident ladies man Jin (Tenzing Norgay Trainor).

Their ensuing adventure takes them across various mountain ranges and rivers, while bringing this unlikely foursome closer together, as well as helping Yi to understand and overcome her grief.

If the plot beats are fairly predictable, Abominable still thrives in other areas. Its notable for making its own kind of history by making its writer-director, Jill Culton, the first-ever woman to direct an animated film with a female lead.

But it also boasts a timely message about being kind to each other as well as the wider world and its creatures, as well as embracing different cultures and practices. It also offers a supremely satisfying and sometimes extremely poignant emotional journey (enhanced by a classic Coldplay tune popping up at a crucial moment). Yi’s story arc is particularly endearing and draws comparisons with the likes of both Pixar and Studio Ghibli at their best during one or two key moments.

The creature, too, is suitably furry and loveable, while Yi’s accomplices – while certainly stereotypical at times – also exhibit winning personalities, learning their various lessons along the way.

Visually, the film is also beautiful, drawing on its Chinese backdrop to create vistas that are both breath-taking and different from the US norm.

True, there are elements that require huge suspensions of disbelief and some of the writing opts for contrived escapes from certain scenarios that don’t always seem logical. But Culton maintains the film’s optimism and fantasy to ensure that it’s refreshingly cynical free. And that’s its own kind of tonic for families seeking some inspiring escapism.

Minor gripes aside, it would take a very hard heart indeed not to be melted by Abominable‘s considerable charm.

Certificate: U
Running time: 97mins
UK Blu-ray & DVD Release: February 10, 2020

Win A Shaun The Sheep Movie: Farmageddon on DVD

A Shaun The Sheep Movie: Farmageddon

Preview by Jack Foley

FROM the creators of Chicken Run and Wallace & Gromit comes A Shaun The Sheep Movie: Farmageddon, on Digital Download, Blu-ray, DVD and double pack on February 10, 2020. Available to pre-order now.

Strange lights over the quiet town of Mossingham herald the arrival of a mystery visitor from far across the galaxy… but at nearby Mossy Bottom Farm, Shaun has other things on his mind, as his mischievous schemes are continually thwarted by an exasperated Bitzer.

When an impish and adorable alien with amazing powers crash-lands near Mossy Bottom Farm, Shaun soon sees an opportunity for alien-powered fun and adventure, setting off on a mission to shepherd the intergalactic visitor home before a sinister organisation can capture her…can Shaun and the flock avert Farmageddon on Mossy Bottom Farm before it’s too late?

Hold on to your seats as we blast off on an exciting and heart-warming sci-fi comedy adventure that takes us from Mossy Bottom all the way into deep space, via a car wash!

Read our review

Win A Shaun The Sheep Movie: Farmageddon on DVD

To celebrate the release of A Shaun The Sheep Movie: Farmageddon on Blu-ray and DVD from February 10, 2020, IndieLondon is offering readers the chance to win a copy on DVD. Simply answer the following question…

Q. Who directs A Shaun The Sheep Movie: Farmageddon (clue, the answer is in our review)?

Simply send the answer to A Shaun The Sheep Movie: Farmageddon competition and include your name, address, telephone number and email

Win a Vintage Classics Blu-ray bundle including the newly restored edition of The Winslow Boy

The Winslow Boy

Preview by Jack Foley

THE 1948 searing British drama The Winslow Boy is the latest exciting addition to join Studiocanal’s Vintage Classics Collection. Stunningly restored with brand new bonus content, The Winslow Boy – based on Terence Rattigan’s famous play – comes to Blu-ray and DVD on February 3, 2020.

Directed by Anthony Asquith (The Browning Version, Pygmalion) and adapted from the seminal play by Terence Rattigan (The Deep Blue Sea, Separate Tables), The Winslow Boy is a classic tale of standing up to bureaucracy and one family’s testing fight for justice, based on the real-life 1908 case of George Archer-Shee, and stars Cedric Hardwicke, Robert Donat and Margaret Leighton.

To celebrate we’re giving away a Vintage Classics bundle which includes The Winslow Boy plus Guy
Hamilton’s An Inspector Calls, starring Alastair Sim, and Carol Reed’s The Fallen Idol starring Ralph Richardson.

For your chance to win The Winslow Boy Vintage Classics bundle on Blu-ray simply answer the following question…

Q. The Winslow Boy was remade in 1999 starring which actor in the Robert Donat role as barrister Sir Robert Morton?

A) Jeremy Northam
B) Jeremy Irons
C) Jeremy Paxman

Simply send the answer to The Winslow Boy competition and include your name, address, telephone number and email

The Winslow Boy is released as part of the Vintage Classics collection which showcases iconic British films, all fully restored and featuring brand new extra content. The collection includes Kind Hearts & Coronets, The Dam Busters, Billy Liar, Don’t Look Now, Death On The Nile, Far From The Madding Crowd, The Wicker Man, The Man Who Fell To Earth, The Railway Children, It Always Rains On Sunday, The Holly And The Ivy, The Halfway House and many more.

Win Snatchers on Blu-ray

Snatchers

Preview by Jack Foley

TO celebrate the release of Snatchers – available on Blu-ray & DVD from February 17, 2020 – we are giving away a Blu-ray courtesy of Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

Chosen as one of Variety’s “11 Best Movies of the 2019 SXSW Film Festival”, and described as a cross between Aliens and Mean Girls, Snatchers – co-directed by Cedars & Kleiman – was initially released in new media as a successful short-form series that follows a status-obsessed high school teenager who loses her virginity and finds herself pregnant the next day… with an alien!

Senior year is going to rule! Thanks to her relationship with clueless hunk Skyler, Sara is totally in with the cool girls. But Skyler contracted an extra-terrestrial bug during his summer vacation. After just one night together, Sara discovers she’s Nine. Months.

Pregnant. Desperate to keep her condition on the DL, she turns to the only person she can trust: her nerdy ex-bestie, Hayley. The girls soon realize this alien problem is only just the beginning. Aliens had best beware in this hilarious comedy filled with action and tongue-in-cheek teen spirit.

Order today

Win Snatchers on Blu-ray

To celebrate the release of Snatchers on Blu-ray from February 17, 2020, IndieLondon is offering readers the chance to win a copy. Simply answer the following question…

Q. Who directs Snatchers?

Simply send the answer to Snatchers competition and include your name, address, telephone number and email

Win Hustlers on Blu-ray

Hustlers

Constance Wu (Crazy Rich Asians) and Jennifer Lopez (Second Act, Maid in Manhattan, Shades of Blue) magnetize in Hustlers, arriving on Digital Download on January 6 and Blu-ray and DVD on January 20, 2020.

Hustlers follows a crew of savvy former strip club employees who band together to turn the tables on their Wall Street clients.

Working as a stripper to make ends meet, Destiny’s life changes forever when she meets self-assured Ramona (Jennifer Lopez) – the club’s top money earner and matriarch. Under Ramona’s wing, Destiny (Constance Wu) soon learns how to work her way around the wealthy Wall Street regulars.

When the 2008 economic collapse forces them out of work, the savvy former strip club employees band together to turn the tables on their old clients.

Inspired by the viral 2016 article titled The Hustlers at Scores, this is a true story about glamour, greed and above all, friendship. Also starring Julia Stiles, Keke Palmer, Lili Reinhart, Lizzo and Cardi B.

To celebrate the release of Hustlers on Blu-ray and DVD from Monday, January 20, 2020, IndieLondon is offering readers the chance to win 1 of 2 copies on Blu-ray. Simply answer the following question…

Q. Who directs Jennifer Lopez in Hustlers (Clue, the answer is in our preview)?

A) Lone Scherfig
B) Lorene Scafaria
C) Kathryn Bigelow

Simply send the answer to Hustlers competition and include your name, address, telephone number and email

Win an Under The Shadow Limited Edition Box Set on Blu-ray

Under The Shadow

Preview by Jack Foley

LAUDED by Mark Kermode as a ‘brilliantly intelligent thriller’ and one of his top 10 films of the decade, Iranian director Babak Anvari’s Sundance 2016 hit Under The Shadow is loved by audiences and critics alike, and was the UK’s Foreign Language submission to the Academy Awards.

Part ghost story, part social thriller with cutting political commentary, the film is already considered a genre classic and is set for its UK Blu-ray debut on February 10, in a feature packed Limited Edition box set, courtesy of Second Sight.

1988 Tehran, Shideh (Narges Rashidi) is rejected by her medical school as a consequence of her politically active history. Her husband is sent off to serve in the Iran-Iraq War. Iraqi air raids are drawing perilously close to their own apartment. As neighbours and friends flee from a city in chaos, Shideh and her daughter Dorsa (Avin Manshadi) are left on their own.

But Dorsa starts to become increasingly ill and disturbed. Tantrums sparked by a missing doll are initially dismissed, but as they worsen Shideh becomes terrified that they’ve been targeted by a djinn – a malevolent spirit that steals from those it seeks to possess.

Drawing comparisons to Jennifer Kent’s breakout hit The Babadook for its nuanced exploration of motherhood through horror, Under the Shadow also unflinchingly examines the female experience of war and of everyday suppression and the demons it creates.

Take a look Under the Shadow… if you dare.

Watch the trailer

Win an Under The Shadow Limited Edition Box Set on Blu-ray

To celebrate the release of Under The Shadow on Limited Edition Blu-ray from February 10, 2020, IndieLondon is offering readers the chance to win a copy. Simply answer the following question…

Q. In what year is Under The Shadow set?

Simply send the answer to Under The Shadow competition and include your name, address, telephone number and email

A Shaun The Sheep Movie: Farmageddon - DVD Review

A Shaun The Sheep Movie: Farmageddon

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

IRRESISTIBLY sweet for kids, yet sci-fi savvy enough to appeal to grown-ups, Aardman have delivered another family gem in A Shaun The Sheep Movie: Farmageddon.

The second big screen outing for its titular character, Farmageddon offers one giant leap for sheep-kind in terms of scope and ambition with this amiably goofy adventure. But it’s an odyssey worth taking, given how seamlessly the film pays both neat homage to genre classics while maintaining the charm and quintessential British-ness expected from this particular studio.

Co-directed by Will Becher and Richard Phelan, making their feature debuts behind the camera, Farmageddon picks up as a rogue spaceship accidentally lands near Mossy Bottom farm, prompting widespread chaos in the surrounding neighbourhood.

It’s the unflappable Shaun who discovers the spaceship’s occupant, however… a baby ET named Lu-La, who just wants to ‘go home’ to her family. Enlisting the help of the hapless Bitzer, Shaun bids to make this happen, while The Farmer, obsessed with the idea of buying a new combine harvester, tries to cash in on the alien arrival by opening a theme park called Farmageddon.

Standing in everyone’s way, however, is Agent Red and her team of Hazmat-suited goons, who want Lu-La for their own despicable ends.

It’s fair to say that Farmageddon does little to shake up the genre, opting instead to wallow in its conventions. But it does so in such an affectionate way that it’s impossible not to be smitten.

There’s slapstick elements designed to have you laughing out loud, spot-on sci-fi references geared towards impressing the sci-fi buffs, heart-warming messages about inclusion and helping one another, as well as the trademark eccentricity that’s now synonymous with Aardman (the team behind Wallace & Gromit, no less).

A Shaun The Sheep Movie: Farmageddon

But there is the odd moment of subversion, too, with neat ‘twists’ on classic sci-fi scenes from ET and Alien, in particular, as well as more obvious homages to everything from The X-Files and Doctor Who to Close Encounters via 2001: A Space Odyssey and Wall-E.

There’s also plenty of ingenuity to keep the film moving in spite of a near wordless script.

At a time when there is so much to worry about in the wider world, it’s reassuring to find a film that exists so honestly to entertain and put a smile on your face. It’s a skill that shouldn’t be under-estimated, especially when the results are so out of this world.

Certificate: U
Running time: 87mins
UK Blu-ray & DVD Release: February 10, 2020