DVD & Blu-ray reviews: True Detective, The Past, Cuban Fury, If...., Robocop

 

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The Independent Culture

True Detective: Season One (18) Cary Fukunaga DVD/Blu-ray (480mins)

Eight episodes is just ideal for Nic Pizzolatto’s gripping, elegantly written HBO cop series, featuring Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson as mismatched cops, Rust and Marty, in three time periods. Rust is cerebral, depressive and alcoholic, Marty chirpy, unfaithful and uncomplicated. Marty is the loyal Watson to Rust’s prickly Holmes during a macabre investigation, spanning two decades, into a serial killer picking off youngsters in Louisiana. McConaughey has delivered some great performances of late but none better than this intense creation – and the series conclusion is satisfying and immensely moving.

*****

The Past (12) Asghar Farhadi DVD/Blu-ray (130mins)

“I thought you’d keep your promise for once,” snaps harassed mother Marie (Bérénice Bejo) to her former lover (Ali Mosaffa), who has returned to Paris from Tehran to sign their divorce papers. Gripes, snipes, meaningful glances and resentment are the order of the day in Asghar Farhadi’s fraught and compelling melodrama. Marie’s new lover, Samir (A Prophet’s Tahar Rahim), also has another half but she’s in a coma after a suicide attempt. It’s messy. A deftly handled examination of modern chaos with excellent performances.

****

Cuban Fury (15) James Griffiths DVD/Blu-ray (98mins)

This is the sort of corny rom-com that suggests British cinema is in the doldrums when it’s not. It’s thriving, with talents such as Ben Wheatley (Kill List) and Joanna Hogg (Exhibition) succeeding on tiny budgets. Cuban Fury, about Nick Frost’s bullied grunt trying to impress his fetching boss (Rashida Jones) with his salsa moves, is desperately average. Shoddy pacing, weak gags (the best is a two-second cameo from Simon Pegg looking quizzically out of a car window) and ill-defined characters. You can’t help rooting for Frost though.

**

If... (15) Lindsay Anderson Blu-ray (112mins)

From a British film with no ambition to one, made in 1968, that seethes with it, and rebellion and fury (“When do we live, that’s what I want to know”), too. Lindsay Anderson’s satirical masterpiece, set at a boarding school where young boys (the “scummers”) are asked to warm the older children’s toilet seats and where abuse is encouraged, is blessed by a blistering Malcolm McDowell as mutinous Travis. If.... remains a relevant and visceral howl at the “Establishment”.

*****

Robocop (12) Jose Padiha DVD/Blu-ray (118mins)

Whereas the remake of Total Recall felt dull and unnecessary, this take on another of Paul Verhoeven’s lurid sci-fi actioners is thoughtful and well made. Joel Kinnaman’s decent Detroit copper is blown to bits but Gary Oldman’s scientist has  the power to rebuild him as a part-machine police officer. Michael Keaton is effective as an oily CEO and Samuel L Jackson OTT as a chat-show host in this bleak future vision.

***

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