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10 Must watch DVDs for January

BY Farhana Gani

1st Jan 2015 Film & TV

10 Must watch DVDs for January

These unmissable new DVD releases range from deep meditations on late-life loss and regret to bold coming-of-age comedies, a classic murder mystery, French zombies and peeks behind the scenes at Russia’s famous ballet company.

45 Years

45 years
Image via Black Sheep Reviews

Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay star in this captivating portrait of a lengthy marriage coming under intolerable pressure as a bygone love affair rises to the surface.

The pair are superb as Kate and Geoff Mercer, a retired couple whose tranquil life is shattered by the discovery of the body of Geoff’s first love Katya.

Katya plunged to her death in the Swiss Alps five decades earlier, and news of the discovery creates an avalanche of regret and recrimination. The film is up for many awards, including all the top BAFTAs and Rampling for the Best Actress Oscar.



Mia Madre

Multiple award-winning writer-director Nanni Moretti’s latest film is a touching exploration of grief and loss, for which he draws deeply on events surrounding his mother’s death as he was busy filming his 2011 comedy We Have a Pope.

Margherita Buy stars as a filmmaker facing up to her mother’s debilitating final illness whilst engaged in a daily battle with John Turturo’s difficult Italian-American screen star.

With a deft mix of humour and sorrow, Moretti builds a profound portrait of parental mourning.



The Diary of a Teenage Girl

The Diary of a Teenage Girl
Image via Chicago Tribune

Based on Phoebe Glockner's graphic novel, this coming-of-age drama stars British actress Bel Powely as 15-year-old Minnie Goetze. Minnie is an aspiring cartoonist in 1970s San Francisco who sets out to lose her virginity to her mother’s boyfriend.

Writer-director Marielle Heller’s breezy adaptation skips over some of the darker elements of the original, but delivers a winningly bright self-examining and self-determining Lolita.

Alexander Skarsgard (True Blood) and Kristen Wiig (Bridesmaids) also star.



Bolshoi Babylon

Bolshoi Babylon
Image via Cine City 

Nick Read’s remarkable documentary goes behind the curtain at the world famous ballet company in the wake of the infamous 2013 acid attack on director Sergei Filin.

Archive clips of glorious past performances are combined with present-day intrigue and in-fighting, providing a fascinating glimpse inside a revered institution at a time of mounting tension and change in Putin’s Russia.



The Wolfpack

The Wolfpack
Image via People

Crystal Mozelle’s documentary tells the extraordinary story of the Angulo brothers, whose father held them prisoner in a cramped New York apartment for 14 years.

The boys’ home-video re-enactments of famous film sequences and frank disclosures about the unnatural family set-up reveal a burning curiosity about life outside their known world.

The film invites poignant reflection on the power of popular culture as an engine of freedom.



Appropriate Behaviour

Appropriate Behaviour

Desiree Akhavan (Girls) writes, directs and stars in this irreverent, genre-stretching rom-com as Shirin, a bisexual Iranian-American in Brooklyn pondering the consequences of coming out to her orthodox parents.

After a break-up with her girlfriend, she sets course on a new life among random roommates and an impossible job teaching film theory to overindulged kindergarten kids. Wonderfully weird and differently wired.



The Returned, series 1 & 2

The Returned
Image via Channel 4

A superior supernatural TV drama set among a small community in the French Alps living in the shadows of a giant reservoir and the unsettling return of long-dead strangers and family members.

The unearthly spookiness is established from the off by a specially commissioned theme tune and soundtrack by Mogwai and it’s all beautifully filmed and played out to lull the viewer into unlikely speculation about unthinkable visitations.



And Then There Were None

And Then There Were None
Image via BBC

A landmark BBC adaptation of Agatha Christie’s best-loved mystery novel, in which ten strangers stranded on a Devon island are lined up to be murdered one by one by forces unknown.

Victims and viewers alike are kept guessing as the body count rises and this time there’s no omniscient Marple or Poirot on hand to save the day.

The dazzling line-up includes Charles Dance, Miranda Richardson, Sam Neill, Maeve Dermody and Poldark’s Aidan Turner.



Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
Image via Fox Searchlight Pictures

A quirky and charming indie drama about lessons in life and death that offers a highly individual take on the themes of schmaltzy blockbuster The Fault in Our Stars.

Thomas Mann is dorky film fanatic Greg, who is instructed by his mum to befriend classmate Rachel (Olivia Cooke) who has been diagnosed with leukaemia.

Together with his friend Earl (CJ Tyler), Greg makes low-budget movie-spoof short films that underpin a tragicomic quest for identity and meaning.



Father’s Chair

Father's Chair
Image via Simply Media 

This Brazilian road movie is an unorthodox celebration of family values.

Workaholic São Paulo doctor Theo Gadelha (Wagner Moura) is so consumed with self-pity as his marriage to Branca collapses that he barely notices the effect the incessant rowing is having on their 15-year-old son, Pedro. He is finally shaken from his inertia when the teenager disappears.

The venerable Sundance Institute describes it as: “A road trip into the depths of humanity”.



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