DVD & Blue-Ray reviews: The Worricker Trilogy, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Kill Your Darlings, The Summit, Seven Samurai
Saturday 19 April 2014
The Worricker Trilogy (15) David Hare DVD/Blu-ray (290mins)
David Hare’s spy trilogy is bursting with talent – Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham Carter and Winona Ryder – but it’s Bill Nighy who carries these admirably restrained, murky tales on his elegant shoulders. He plays veteran MI5 agent Johnny Worricker, who is in possession of a very sensitive file that could destroy the Prime Minister. The middle tale, set on the Turks and Caicos islands, is the most enjoyable, as Johnny outwits some American crooks with the help of Ryder’s damaged press officer.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (PG) Ben Stiller DVD/Blu-ray (114mins)
The heroic underdog, in this case the fantasist (Ben Stiller), needs to be pitted against a suitable rotter. Adam Scott’s unctuous, bearded MD, who is just about to fire Walt from his picture research position at Life magazine, is a thoroughly convincing jerk. Unfortunately, he gets far too little screen time in this bland take on James Thurber’s 1939 story, as Mitty is asked to track down a photographer (Sean Penn) and goes on an adventure (to Iceland, Greenland, Afghanistan) to find him. It’s as plodding and unfunny as it sounds.
Kill Your Darlings (15) John Krokidas DVD/Blu-ray (104mins)
“It is our duty to break the law,” claims the anarchic Lucien Carr, a huge influence on the Beat Generation who, in 1944, murdered his older lover (played by the excellent Michael C Hall). A young Allen Ginsberg (impressively played by Daniel Radcliffe) is infatuated with Carr (Dane DeHaan) in this immaculately staged examination of these deeply annoying revolutionary poets, including William Burroughs (Ben Foster) and Jack Keroauc (Jack Huston). When will US cinema stop pandering to this over-rated set of narcissists?
The Summit (E) Nick Ryan DVD/Blu-ray (95mins)
“It is my belief that everyone has a love of climbing,” maintains climber Ger McDonnell. Well, I’m not so keen, Ger, and climbing K2 seems a particularly perilous business. Nick Ryan’s film recounts an ill-fated expedition to K2 (the “mountain for real mountaineers” where one in four climbers perish) in 2008, which accounted for the lives of 11 climbers, most losing their lives on the descent. Ryan adroitly mixes first-hand footage with re-creations and interviews with the survivors in this unnerving and gripping documentary.
Seven Samurai (A) Akira Kurosawa DVD/Blu-ray (207mins)
“We were born to suffer, it’s our fate,” maintains a farmer in Akira Kurosawa’s harsher film than the stirring remake, The Magnificent Seven. Bandits, capable of any monstrosity, are demanding all of a village’s food supply, so the community’s blind sage suggests that they seek out some samurai (including world-weary Takashi Shimura) to save their skins. This is masterful and influential film-making and storytelling.
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