DVD and Blue-ray film reviews: From The Sopranos to Only Lovers Left Alive

The Sopranos: 'The greatest television show ever made'

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The Independent Culture

Frank, (15) Lenny Abrahamson DVD/Blue-ray. 95 mins

“Someone needs to punch you in the face,” Maggie Gyllenhaal’s temperamental theremin player warns Jon (Domhnall Gleeson). The hapless, wannabe songwriter is very annoying, but the band are desperate and employ him as keyboardist; the previous one tried to drown himself. The experimental act is fronted by unhinged Frank (Michael Fassbender) who never takes off his oversized papier mâché head. After an underwhelming start, this black comedy picks up markedly.

****

The Sopranos, The Complete Series (18) Various directors, Blue-ray. 5,096 mins

The greatest television show ever made (above), with the finest TV performance (James Gandolfini), all on Blu-ray. A series that confounded expectations, boldly played with reality and was, despite its intensely brutal scenes, extremely funny. Many memorable moments, but the tension before the disposal of Salvatore “Big Pussy” Bonpensiero takes some beating. Don’t stop believin’...

*****

The Two Faces of January (12) Hossein Amini, DVD/Blue-ray. 96 mins

Three dissemblers bond before falling out terribly in early Sixties Greece in Hossein Amini’s attractive Patricia Highsmith adaptation. Viggo Mortenson’s swindling businessman, Chester, is holidaying with his fragrant wife (Kirsten Dunst) when he attracts the unhealthy interest of a local tour guide and fraudster, Rydal (Oscar Isaac). The three leads compel, particularly Dunst, but this thriller feels flimsy and doesn’t leave a trace.

***

Pompeii (12) Paul WS Anderson, DVD/Blue-ray. 104 mins.

Paul WS Anderson’s agreeably bonkers disaster movie has Kit Harington (Jon Snow in Game of Thrones) beefing up as slave-turned-gladiator Milo. The hunk is besotted with a wealthy merchant’s daughter (Emily Browning) but she’s engaged to a senator (Kiefer Sutherland). Meanwhile, Mount Vesuvius is about to erupt. A daft blast of tosh.

***

Only Lovers Left Alive (15) Jim Jarmusch, DVD/Blue-ray. 123 mins.

It’s long time since Jim Jarmusch felt vital – around the release of 1991’s Night On Earth, perhaps – and this arch vampire flick, starring Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston as ancient, bloodsucking lovers, is unforgivably ponderous, with sixth-form references to Marlowe, Byron and Jack White thrown in. Life-draining.

*

The ’Burbs (12) Joe Dante, DVD/Blu-ray. 97mins

Joe Dante’s wildly under-appreciated comedy from 1989, in which Tom Hanks’s uptight suburban father convinces himself his new neighbours, the Klopeks (led by a suitably creepy Henry Gibson), are devil-worshipping cannibals. They are. Hanks, channelling an anarchic Cary Grant, has never been funnier. Carrie Fisher and Bruce Dern co-star.

****

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