JANUARY 2011 DVD REVIEWS

Peter Guttridge

 

CARLOS
Director: Oliver Assayas
Cast: Edgar Ramirez, Alexander Scheer, Nora Vonwaldstatten

This has been out for a couple of months in a three disc full version (six hours)  and a single disc shorter version (2hrs 45mins).  Personally, I wouldn’t want to miss a minute of it, especially Ramirez’s Oscar-worthy performance as Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, better known as Carlos The Jackal, the real-life assassin who was a bogie-man terrorist in the seventies.  A Venezuelan rich boy turned gun for hire turned revolutionary, his exploits spanned countries and trouble spots and culminated in a raid on OPEC headquarters in 1975 before eventual capture by French police.
Carlos was made as a TV mini-series (so Ramirez won’t qualify for an Oscar) but it has the production values of movies such as Mesrines, with which it bears comparison.  The story moves from Moscow to the Basque countries, East Germany to Tripoli.  One moment Carlos is a ruthless killer, the next an international playboy.  Essential viewing.

 

 INSPECTOR BELLAMY

Director: Claude Chabrol

Featuring:  Gerard Depardieu, Marie Bunel

If you read Bitter Lemon translations then this easy going, thoroughly enjoyable homage to George Simenon is for you.  It was the last film by Chabrol – the French Hitchcock – and, surprisingly, the first to pair him with that other giant of French cinema, Gerard Depardieu. 

Depardieu’s Bellamy is a modern Maigret and the actor’s performance is pitch-perfect – his massive physical presence allied with a delicate sensibility is hypnotic to watch.

Bellamy has a leisurely and roundabout way of going about investigations – in fact he’d rather not do them at all, as he’s on his annual holiday in Nimes with his beloved wife.  He’s a loving and loyal husband.

The film opens with someone whistling in a graveyard and Chabrol’s camera leads us to a cliff-edge then over it to a car wrecked on the beach.  A death has been announced but don’t get too excited.  Sure there’s adultery and murder but this is essentially a character study – almost, indeed, a study in domesticity.

Chabrol has always had an elliptical way of constructing his mystery films, from Le Boucher to Betty (his only Simenon adaptation), so that important resolutions happen often only in passing.  Some might find this frustrating here but for me, taken on its own terms, Inspector Bellamy is a delight. 

It was released in continental Europe in 2007 but was first seen in the UK only at the London Film Festival in October 2010 and in New York on limited release in December 2010.  I don’t know if there are plans to release it now in the UK but you can get it on Region 1 DVD.

DVD & BLU RAY - IN BRIEF

   INCEPTION

Winner of 2011’s Oscars for Best Film and Best Director?  Christopher Nolan’s mind-blowing thriller with loads of extras on the 3 disc Blu-Ray.  Be warned about the DVD version though – there have been a number of complaints online that the picture quality is rubbish because Warner Bros have cocked up the transfer. (Although conspiracy theorists are suggesting it’s a deliberate policy to get you to upgrade to Blu Ray.)
 

 

BONDED BY BLOOD

The strapline is “The rise to power of the Essex boys”.  And that’s all I have to say about that.

    

 

 

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