DVD and Blue-ray film reviews: From Two Days, One Night to Maleficent

Sandra (above) is an increasingly heroic figure in this compassionate and quietly angry exploration of modern capitalism

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The Independent Culture

Two Days, One Night (15) Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne DVD/Blu-ray. 95mins

The Dardenne brothers’ understated employment drama brings to mind the Who’s “The Dirty Jobs”: “My life’s fading/ But things are changing/ I’m not gonna sit and weep again.” At first, Marion Cotillard’s soon-to-be-made redundant solar-panel worker, Sandra, (above) weeps quite a bit. The depression sufferer has good cause, as her Belgian firm have fired her and given every other employee a bonus after putting it to a vote. However, encouraged by her husband (Fabrizio Rongione) she spends the weekend trudging (armed with Xanax pills and water) to her fellow workers’ homes to make them change their minds for a second ballot. Sandra is an increasingly heroic figure in this compassionate and quietly angry exploration of modern capitalism.

****

Maleficent (PG) Robert Stromberg DVD/Blu-ray. 97mins

This nimble subversion of Disney’s Sleeping Beauty maintains that Maleficent is more victim that villain.  A young Maleficent falls for a young human thief, but as they grow up he becomes a venal rotter who imperils her kingdom. So the older Maleficent (Angelina Jolie, impressive despite some unnerving bellowing) takes revenge by putting a curse on Princess Aurora (Elle Fanning), the child of her enemy’s successor. A smart, good-looking update from the screenwriter Linda Woolverton.

***

Belle (12) Amma Asante DVD/Blu-ray. 104mins

“I had no idea she’d be so black,” sneers Miranda Richardson’s Lady Ashford on spotting Dido (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), the daughter of a naval officer and a mixed-race woman raised at the Kenwood House Estate by  her uncle, Lord Mansfield (Tom Wilkinson, excellent). It’s 18th-century England and social restrictions/bigotry dictate that Dido is alienated; she’s deemed “too good” to dine with servants but “not good enough” to sit at dinner with “refined” guests. Belle is a conventional, heartfelt period drama, inspired by the 1779 painting of Dido Elizabeth Belle and her cousin Lady Elizabeth Murray.

***

Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Season One (12) various directors DVD/Blu-ray. 450mins

“I’m wired to thrive on dysfunction,” claims bolshy police administrator Gina (Chelsea Peretti) in this gentle cop comedy, which is in the vein of Parks and Recreation but not quite as good. Adam Samberg stars as a cocksure detective brought into line by his new, gay captain (Andre Braugher). Like all decent sitcoms, it grows on you.

***

Seve: The Movie (PG) John-Paul Davidson DVD/Blu-ray. 119mins

Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus won more, but no one played golf like Seve Ballesteros. This hagiography charts the genius’s rise from playing with a broken three iron on the beach to becoming one of the sport’s most exhilarating players. Mixing reconstructions of Seve’s childhood with (best of all) footage of his Major triumphs, it’s too long and a bit cloying but a pleasure for golf fans.

***

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