DVD & Blu-Ray reviews: The Great Beauty, The Frozen Ground, Museum Hours, InRealLife, Riddick


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The Independent Culture

The Great Beauty (15), Paolo Sorrentino (141mins)

“This is my life, and it’s nothing,” maintains Jep (Tony Servillo, above) while surveying another coke-fuelled bash in Rome. The 65-year-old arts journalist is weary of the party scene and increasingly caustic with his shallow pals. He wrote a successful novel in his twenties but never attempted another one. His is a life unfulfilled and his one great past love has just passed away. The camera sweeps over the people and surfaces of this capital city in a way that mirrors Fellini’s Roma and La Dolce Vita. However, in tone this exquisitely composed drama is closer to 8½. There are many delicious satirical swipes at modern Rome, but it’s Jep’s regret and his gradual artistic re-emergence that compels here.


The Frozen Ground (15), Scott Walker (105mins)

An efficient and sufficiently grim police procedural, based on real-life events, in which Nicolas Cage’s soon-to-retire state trooper diligently tracks down John Cusack’s serial killer in Anchorage, Alaska. Cusack, once the charming teen in The Sure Thing and Say Anything, once again convinces as a psychopath who preys on twentysomething prostitutes. The Alaskan landscape adds to the gruesome atmosphere.


Museum Hours (12A), Jem Cohen (107mins)

Jem Cohen’s unusual drama stars Bobby Sommer as a gentle, lonely sixtysomething museum guard who takes a beleaguered Montreal woman (the singer Mary Margaret O’Hara) under his wing, showing her the sights of Vienna and his workplace, the grand Kunsthistorisches. Narratively, very little happens here, but Cohen’s mesmeric picture keeps you watching with its beautifully framed art images.


InRealLife (E), Beeban Kidron (90mins)

It’s another the world’s-gone-to-a-handcart documentary. This time it’s the internet/social media. All pernicious, essentially, and its creators were clueless about the world wide web’s potential. Film-maker Beeban Kidron focuses on a bright  19-year-old boy whose life has been taken over by gaming; and two teenage boys who are fixated with porn. More disturbing is the tale of a 15-year-old girl willing to provide sexual favours for a BlackBerry. It’s a grim and quietly hectoring experience, but interesting on the subject of solitude.


Riddick (15), David Twohy (119mins)

Pitch Black from 2000 was a perfectly serviceable slice of low-budget sci-fi hokum and Vin Diesel emerged as a creditable action star as the anti-hero, Riddick. However, this third dollop of the adventures of the fugitive outlaw is a soul-sappingly drab and humourless affair in which the lunk is fighting off ropey-looking reptiles on a bleak planet before a bunch of bounty hunters and military types arrive. No more, please.