DVD & Blu-Ray reviews: All Is Lost, The Railway Man, Anchorman 2, Gregory’s Girl, Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell

All Is Lost (12) JC Chandor DVD/Blu-ray (106mins)

JC Chandor’s almost dialogue-free disaster movie concerns an aged sailor imperilled in the Indian Ocean. It’s a stomach-churning experience in which we witness a resourceful, remote individual battle the elements without, seemingly, any chance of survival. Is it an allegory for fighting the dying of the light? Who knows. Robert Redford plays the unnamed ancient mariner who wakes to find his yacht’s hull cracked. A wry glance into the expanse of water gives you a hint of what he thinks his chances are. It’s a daring example of pure cinema and an oddly moving, sort-of “farewell” to Redford.

****

The Railway Man (15) Jonathan Teplitzky DVD/Blu-ray (116mins)

The first two scenes – at a veteran’s reunion and in a train, where Patti (Nicole Kidman) and Eric (Colin Firth) meet – suggest a touching middle-aged love story. However, Jonathan Teplitzky’s sometimes brutal true story is anything but. The couple marry and Patti tells Eric she’s deliriously happy, little knowing she’s married a man still tormented by memories of being tortured by the Japanese in the Second World War. Firth is outstanding as the analytical, courageous Eric in an under-rated examination of forgiveness.

****

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (15) Adam McKay DVD/Blu-ray (119mins)

Anchorman has proved the most enduring of all Will Ferrell’s puerile comedies. His unreconstructed anchorman is fired (Harrison Ford in a droll cameo) for a series of foul-mouthed blunders, and he loses his wife (Christina Applegate) into the bargain. However, he’s rescued by a 24-hour TV station and gets the old team (Steve Carell’s goofball, David Koechner’s bigot) back together. It’s not as funny as it thinks but Ferrell’s brand of absurdity hits the mark more often than not.

***

Gregory’s Girl  (12) Bill Forsyth DVD/Blu-ray (88mins)

So many films once beloved as a teenager disappoint viewed later on, but this romantic comedy set in Cumbernauld is as enchanting as it was in 1980. John Gordon Sinclair plays the gawky teenager intoxicated by a girl footballer (Dee Hepburn) while ignoring Susan (Clare Grogan). The script still zings (“Go do something your own age, like demolish a phone box”), Gregory’s two sex-fixated pals are a scream and the warm relationship between Gregory and his sister is exquisitely done. One of Britain’s most enduring comedies.

*****

Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell  (15) Terence Fisher Blu-ray (89mins)

“I arrest you, sir, for sorcery.” Hammer brings its unique aesthetic and ripe dialogue to the last absurd entry in its Frankenstein films. When Dr Helder’s (Shane Briant) stash of eyeballs and skeletons are unearthed by a copper, he’s sentenced to an asylum where he encounters Frankenstein (Peter Cushing) and they create a monster (David Prowse, Darth Vader). Terence Fisher’s final film is an oddly compelling and daft spectacle from Hammer, as ever.

**

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