DVD and Blu-ray reviews: The Selfish Giant, Rush, In A World..., The Call, A Belfast Story

 

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The Independent Culture

The Selfish Giant (15) Clio Barnard DVD/Blu-ray (91mins)

“Oh no, not him,” exclaims a school secretary about Arbor (Conner Chapman), a scrappy, hyperactive Bradford teenager who has been excluded from school. His best pal is Swifty (Shaun Thomas), a soft-hearted giant who is a dab hand with horses. The duo go into the scrap-metal business, but this isn’t one of those cheery, old-fashioned Children’s Foundation Films: this is an angry and bleak experience. Clio Barnard’s painful fable comes across as a blend of Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, Ken Loach and Dickens. It leaves you bereft.

*****

Rush (15) Ron Howard DVD/Blu-ray (122mins)

“Twenty-five drivers start every season in Formula One, and each year, two of us die,” maintains Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl) in this uncomplicated take on the rivalry, during the 1976 season, between the intense Austrian driver and James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth), Britain’s dashing wheel man. Both men rejected their well-heeled backgrounds to take up motor sport, but that’s about all they had in common. Lauda was methodical, Hunt a hedonist, and Peter Morgan’s script captures these two driven characters adroitly. Rush benefits from some visceral cinematography from Anthony Dod Mantle and a deft performance from Brühl.

****

In A World... (15) Lake Bell DVD/Blu-ray (93mins)

“Let’s give the voiceover industry something to talk about here...” yells Demetri Martin’s goofball in Lake Bell’s sweet-natured comedy. Bell plays struggling voice coach Carol, who is the daughter of a smugly successful voiceover artist (Fred Melamed). Carol snags her big break on a fantasy series, The Amazon Games, only for her father to wade in, along with Ken Marino’s nincompoop. A lovely karaoke sequence, droll dialogue and a lot of heart feature here.

***

The Call (15) Brad Anderson DVD/Blu-ray (94mins)

Halle Berry stars as a usually calm 911 operator for the LAPD who receives a call from a distressed teenage girl and makes a fatal error. Six months later, she receives another call from a panicked teen (Abigail Breslin) who is in the boot of a serial killer’s car. She’s determined not to make the same mistake again. For the first 45 minutes, this is a robust and gripping thriller. However, The Call unravels into ludicrousness towards the ill-thought-out finale.

**

A Belfast Story (15) Nathan Todd DVD/Blu-ray (99mins)

A duo in balaclavas are bumping off former IRA operatives and Colm Meaney’s jaded detective is tasked with unearthing them. The presumption is that they’re loyalists, but Meaney’s glum cop thinks different. The plot is clunky, as is the dialogue, but the no-frills, straightforward storytelling is oddly compelling and Meaney’s performance just about keeps the absurd story afloat.

**

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