Your new weekly look at what’s arriving on Blu-ray & DVD. The Lego Batman Movie, which sees The Caped Crusader return to save Gotham City from the Joker, and Moonlight, the beautiful coming-of-age tale that quite literally snatched the Best Picture Oscar from La La Land, are the week’s big releases, plus Fellini’s restored masterpiece La Strada and the slow-burn Japanese thriller Harmonium.
Dir. Koji Fukada, Japan/France, 2016, 120 mins, subtitles
Cast: Tadanobu Asano, Mariko Tsutsui, Kanji Furutachi, Taiga, Momone Shinokawa, Kana Mahiro
From the director of Au Revoir L’Ete and Hospitalité, Koji Fukada’s HARMONIUM is an off-kilter take on that most venerable of Japanese genres — the family drama, which screened to great acclaim at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, where it was awarded the Un Certain Regard Jury prize.
In this slow-burn Japanese thriller Toshio invites an old acquaintance, Yasaka (just released from prison) to come and live with his family. Toshio lives above the small workshop that he owns with his wife, Akie, and their daughter, Hotaru. It is not clear why Toshio offers Yasaka a job; it doesn’t seem to be out of friendship or goodwill. Akie and Hotaru are wary of the new lodger, but with his persistent charm and goodwill, Yasaka befriends Toshio’s wife Akié and as Yasaka starts teaching their daughter Hotaru to play the harmonium, the family’s fragile domestic bliss is forever altered. Director Kôji Fukada is a master of incremental development, drawing the audience into the unfolding outcome.
La Strada (PG)
Drama | World
Dir. Federico Fellini, Italy, 1954, 108 mins, subtitles
Cast: Anthony Quinn, Giulietta Masina, Richard Basehart
Regarded by some as Federico Fellini’s finest work, and the winner of the first Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, La Strada is a masterpiece of 20th Century filmmaking. Sold by her impoverished mother to Zampano (Anthony Quinn), a brutish fairground wrestler, waif-like Gelsomina (Giulietta Masina) lives a life of drudgery as his assistant. After taking to the road with a travelling circus, a budding relationship with Il Matto/The Fool (Richard Basehart), a gentle-natured, tightrope walking clown, offers a potential refuge from her master’s clutches. Trapped by her own servile nature, Gelsomina waivers, and Zampano’s volcanic temper erupts with tragic consequences.
– New Interview with director Julian Jarrold
– New Interview with Peter Matthews, Senior Lecturer, Film & Television, London College of Communication
– The Guardian Interview: Anthony Quinn (recorded at the BFI in 1995)
– Giulietta Masina 1955 Cannes interview
– Audio commentary by Chris Weigand on selected scenes
The LEGO Batman Movie (U)
Animation | Action | Adventure
Dir. Chris McKay, US/Denmark, 2017, 104 mins
Cast: Jenny Slate, Will Arnett, Ralph Fiennes
In the irreverent spirit of fun that made The LEGO Movie a worldwide phenomenon, the self-described leading man of that ensemble – LEGO Batman – stars in his own big-screen adventure. But there are big changes brewing in Gotham, and if he wants to save the city from The Joker’s hostile takeover, Batman may have to drop the lone vigilante thing, try to work with other, and maybe, just maybe learn to lighten up.
Dir. Barry Jenkins, US, 2016, 111 mins
Cast: Mahershala Ali, Shariff Earp, Duan Sanderson
A timeless story of human connection and self-discovery, MOONLIGHT chronicles the life of a young black man from childhood to adulthood as he struggles to find his place in the world while growing up in a rough neighbourhood of Miami.
At once a vital portrait of contemporary African American life and an intensely personal and poetic meditation on identity, family, friendship, and love, MOONLIGHT is a groundbreaking piece of cinema that reverberates with deep compassion and universal truths.
Anchored by extraordinary performances from a tremendous ensemble cast, Jenkins’s staggering, singular vision is profoundly moving in its portrayal of the moments, people, and unknowable forces that shape our lives and make us who we are.