DVD Review Round Up - November 2012

With 'Amour', 'Hit So Hard', 'Jason Becker: Not Dead Yet', 'The Master', 'End Of Watch'
DVD Review Round Up - November 2012 - Amour film poster

AMOUR
DIRECTOR MICHAEL HANEKE
RELEASED NOVEMBER 16th
CERT TBC
ARTIFICIAL EYE

A tender exploration of a loving marriage beset by dementia, illness and old age, Michael Haneke’s Palme d’Or winning film is a genuinely moving and unflinching look at the human realities of life near its end.

Comfortably well-off ex-music teachers George and Anne share a rich and fulfilled retirement, enjoying Parisian cultural life to its full. This all changes dramatically when Anne suffers a health scare intensified by a later fall, culminating in severe dementia. The strain on their relationship is a beautiful and heartbreaking story to watch.

The sober, almost vérité, Haneke style and upper middle-class concerns are familiar from past films, but this piece is about an adversary that all must face. Amidst the routine of care and treatment, the impending doom of the final outcome is always lurking in the background. When it finally arrives the result is amongst the most emotional ever witnessed on a cinema screen.

Also starring Isabelle Huppert as the couple’s middle-aged daughter, Amour manages to be delicate and devastating and will live on in the memory for long after the credits roll. An absolute masterpiece, Haneke seems to be doing the impossible by actually getting better and better...

9/10

Words by ROBERT W. MONK

-

HIT SO HARD: THE LIFE AND NEAR-DEATH STORY OF PATTY SCHEMEL
DIRECTOR P. DAVID EVERSOLE
RELEASED NOVEMBER 16th
CERT E
PECCADILLO PICTURES

With the spotlight fixed firmly on ex-Hole drummer Patty Schemel, P. David Ebersole’s DIY debut rockumentary purposely sidesteps Ms. Love, focusing entirely on Schemel’s life and history of addiction. “My parents were… well, I shouldn’t really tell you my parents were alcoholics,” discloses Schemel, a slip that Ebersole shockingly fails to press upon. We do learn her first drink was at age twelve, that her brother introduced her to heroin. Then there was Hole. “Everybody was doing dope. Everybody. It was ridiculous,” cites Love, wild-eyed when interviewed.

1994 saw Kurt Cobain’s suicide followed by bassist Kristin Pfaff’s overdose, Hole’s second album ‘Live Through This’ going multi-platinum and their profile skyrocket. Four years on, Schemel was out of the band and on the streets, sold down the river by Love, leaving a (humorous) but thinly veiled contempt for the singer. Through the drugs, deaths and band dynamics, achievements during this notorious period become remarkably impressive.

Tour footage demonstrates the raw emotion and real power of the group (Schemel’s thunderous drumming prowess is praised throughout), with previously unseen home videos showing happier times (Schemel and co. off guard, the Cobain family at play); delivering a curiously nostalgic recollection of an extraordinary time.

7/10

Words by KATE BLOWER

-

JASON BECKER: NOT DEAD YET
DIRECTOR JESSE VILLE
RELEASED NOVEMBER 16th
CERT TBC
DOGWOOF

 

It was clear that Jason Becker had a natural gift as a musician since he first picked up the guitar as a child. By his late teens, he was releasing albums with future Megadeth guitarist Marty Friedman in Cacophony, a band who played virtuoso metal with neo-classical leanings. At the age of nineteen, he joined the band of former Van Halen vocalist David Lee Roth and completed work on his album ‘A Little Ain’t Enough’. But the limp that had troubled him soon bore devastating news - it was the first sign of ALS, a disease which soon causes paralysis. Becker was unable to tour in support of the album and was soon unable to move any part of his body aside from his eyes. Over twenty years after his diagnosis, Becker has defied the odds to survive.

Still composing music to this day, Becker’s ability to continue to achieve so much in spite of one of the most devastating conditions known to mankind is truly inspiring. Nonetheless, it’s heartbreaking to see the contrast between the talented teenager and the stricken, if seemingly relentlessly positive (and wickedly funny) adult, especially as even now a guitar is always within his sight. Becker’s story is incredible and deeply moving.

8/10

Words by BEN HOPKINS

-

THE MASTER
DIRECTOR PAUL THOMAS ANDERSON
RELEASED NOVEMBER 16th
CERT TBC
ENTERTAINMENT FILM

 

The latest film from There Will Be Blood director Paul Thomas Anderson focuses on two personalities duelling for control: Lancaster Dodd (Phillip Seymour Hoffman), the figurehead of a rising pseudo-science collective, and the animalistic, PTSD-afflicted Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix). Dodd is eager to demonstrate the validity of his ideas, and conquering the impulsive, alcoholic, sex-obsessed Quell would achieve exactly that.

The interplay between Hoffman (controlled, discreetly charismatic) and Phoenix (brooding, immensely volatile) is sublime, and reaches a peak during a scene of extensive psychological testing in which Quell is broken by Dodd’s manipulative questioning. Indeed, the film is full of hallmarks of greatness: a similarly intense supporting performance from Amy Adams, an air of mystery than lends itself to interpretation, beautifully framed photography and a mood-setting score - sometimes powerful, sometimes barely there - from Jonny Greenwood.

Yet The Master’s ambiguity is a mixed blessing. There’s plenty to debate regarding the reasons behind Dodd and Quell’s continued magnetism, as well as the intentions behind a handful of open-ended scenes. For all its intelligence its purpose isn’t evident - is it a loose interpretation of the beginnings of scientology, or a study of mankind’s attempts to control its innate desires? It’s brilliantly frustrating and frustratingly almost brilliant.

8/10

Words by BEN HOPKINS

-

END OF WATCH
DIRECTOR DAVID AYER
RELEASED NOVEMBER 23rd
CERT 15
STUDIO CANAL


Writer-director David Ayer has already covered the darker side of the LAPD with some distinction with the likes of Training Day behind him. End Of Watch could well be his best yet, as it follows two officers (Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña) who uncover a drugs trafficking operation and are subsequently targeted by the gang.

Keeping cop clichés to a minimum, the use of found footage photography is the film’s one weakness as the initially nauseating camerawork adds little to the sense of atmosphere. It’s more than salvaged, however, by the scintillating chemistry between the two leads and a bold conclusion.

8/10

Words by BEN HOPKINS

 

Have your say

Sign in or Register to leave comments
-