02nd Apr2016

The Lobster (DVD)

by timbaros

IMG_0214.CR2Imagine a world where if you can’t find a parter in 45 days you will be changed into the animal of your choice. That’s what ‘The Lobster’ is all about.

Colin Farrell plays David. He looks like he could be an accountant; glasses, a bit overweight, squarish nerd type, and just been dumped by his wife. Him and a few dozen other people check into a hotel. It’s not just any hotel, it’s a hotel where men and women are expected to find a compatible partner during their stay there. They’re deemed compatible if they both have something in common; for instance a favorite color or a favorite pastime. And homosexual couples are also part of the mix in a world in the future where society has changed, and so has it’s requirements.

The hotel manager is played by Olivia Colman – she runs the hotel like it’s a prison. And in way it is. The rules are lengthy, complex and must be adhered to. All those detained are issued uniform clothes to wear so that no one stands out. They also must follow a rigorous schedule that includes eating meals at set times. And of course the one main rule is that the ‘guests’ must find a suitable partner amongst the other hotel guests by the end of their stay.

David instantly makes friends with two other men who are also staying at the hotel; John C. Reilly plays ‘Lisping Man,’ (lots of characters in ‘The Lobster’ don’t have proper names, just adjectives to describe them). He’s overweight and is a schlub. Ben Whishaw plays a character also known for his trait; Limping Man. These men form a friendship of sorts and it’s a bit of a race between them to see who can find a partner before ‘their time is up.’

It’s Limping Man who finds a partner first. She’s got a constant nosebleed (Jessica Barden – Nosebleed Woman). So in order for Nosebleed Woman to fall in love with him, Limping Man causes his nose to bleed by hitting his nose, thereby creating a characteristic trait that makes them both compatible. They get married and are ‘assigned’ a child to make their relationship stronger. Meanwhile, various animals walk around and near the hotel and at some point these animals were human beings who were not able to find a suitable partner.

The Maid of the hotel (Ariane Labed) takes an intense liking to David. Their relationship turns sexual and emotional, and since she can’t leave the hotel, she helps David to escape. He escapes into the woods and is soon in the hands of the renegade Loners. They’ve dedicated their lives to everything that the Hotel isn’t. But this group has rules as well – it’s everyman for himself. There is no coupling of any sort, and actually there’s very little freedom amongst the members of the group – with it’s leader (Lea Seydoux) being very dictatorial, and cruel and cold. David has run away from an authoritarian society to another. And when he falls in love with a fellow Loner member Short Sighted-Woman (Rachel Weisz), the rules that they have to adhere to make it harder for them to live the lives that they want.

The idea for the very unusual script for ‘The Lobster’ came about through discussions with the writer and director and about how people feel like they always needs to be in a relationship; how other people see those who can’t make it; how you’re considered a failure if you can’t be with someone; and the lengths people go to in order to be with someone. Director (and co-writer) Yorgos Lanthimos (Dogtooth), with fellow co-writer Efthimis Filippou, tells a tale of two different worlds; one where couples live, and one where singles (loners) live, it’s a parallel world, one that takes a look at how we are as a people. ‘The Lobster,’ which won the Jury Prize at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, is a highly unusual film – one with great humor, and with great sadness, and with some violence. It’s unusual and that’s what makes it unique.

The Lobster [DVD] (DVD)

Director: Yorgos Lanthimos
Starring: Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, Jessica Barden, Olivia Colman, Ashley Jensen
Rating: Suitable for 15 years and over

United Kingdom released, PAL/Region 0 DVD: LANGUAGES: English ( Dolby Digital 5.1 ), English ( Dolby Digital Stereo ), English ( Subtitles ), WIDESCREEN (1.85:1), SPECIAL FEATURES: Behind the scenes, Featurette, Interactive Menu, Scene Access, Trailer(s), SYNOPSIS: Starring Colin Farrell, Rachel Weisz, Olivia Colman, Ashley Jensen, John C Reilly, Lea Seydoux, Michael Smiley and Ben Whishaw, THE LOBSTER is a darkly funny love story set in a near future where finding love is a matter of life or death... According to the rules of The City, single people are arrested and then transferred to The Hotel. There they are obliged to find a matching mate in 45 days. If they fail, they are transformed into an animal of their choosing and released into The Woods. A desperate Man (Farrell), escapes from The Hotel to The Woods where The Loners live and falls in love, although it is against their rules. Unconventional, original and hilarious, The Lobster is one of the must-see film releases of the year. SCREENED/AWARDED AT: BAFTA Awards, British Independent Film Awards, Cannes Film Festival, European Film Awards, ...The Lobster (2015)
New From: £5.32 GBP In Stock
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02nd Apr2016

The Program (DVD)

by timbaros

the_program_132489Director Stephen Frears brings us the rise, and fall, of cycling champion Lance Armstrong in the new film ‘The Program.’

We all know Armstrong’s story: winner of the Tour De France for a record seven times after surviving what was supposed to be a fatal diagnosis of stage 3 testicular cancer; and suspicion and later a confession by him that yes, he did dope on every tour that he had won. Based on the book called ‘Seven Deadly Sins: My pursuit of Lance Armstrong’ by Sunday Times Journalist David Walsh, ‘The Program’ takes us through Lance’s career highs, and eventually, his very low lows. But for being a cycling film about competition, stamina, drugs, celebrity, and money, its not a very exciting film.

Walsh is played by Chris O’Dowd, and ‘The Program’ is his story told through his eyes and how he uncovered what is the biggest doping scandal in sports history. It’s about how he pursued and investigated Armstrong and was persistent in finding evidence that Armstrong was doping.

‘The Program’ begins in France in 1993 where 21-year old Armstrong (played by a determined Ben Foster) is riding his first Tour de France. He’s young, cocky and confident, but two years later he’s diagnosed with cancer. Determined to come back better than ever, Armstrong pushes himself to the limit, and he fully recovers enough to go back to professional cycling. But he starts taking EPO (Erythropoietin), a drug that makes athletes go faster. It’s a drug that he procured from a French pharmacy and later from French doctor Michele Ferrari (Guillaume Canet). But Armstrong makes one mistake while he’s in the hospital for his cancer treatment; he tells the attending doctor about all the drugs he is taking or taken, including the EPO. His friends, fellow rider Frankie Andreu (Edward Hogg) and his wife Betsy (Elaine Cassidy) overhear this and Betsy questions Andreu who has told her that he as well has taken EPO. During this time a team doctor has been caught with performance enhancing drugs, which leads the police to raid the Tour only to discover that drug use is normal.

Armstrong fully recovers and is asked to be part of the U.S. Postal Tour de France Team. Armstrong, and the rest of team, are blatantly doping. In ‘The Program’ we see deliveries to their trailer, needles put into shoes and, after injected, put into soda cans. Meanwhile, Walsh is hot on the tails of Armstrong. He tries to convince his editor that his instincts are correct, and says “Is it real or is it dope?” At the same time, Armstrong creates a cancer charity called Livestrong, where we see, in the film, him giving speeches to raise money for the charity.

Armstong wins not just one, not just two, not just three, but seven Tour de France championships in a row – the most ever wins in a Tour de France. In the meantime, Dr. Ferrari is arrested by the police for his illegal drug dealings. And Walsh finds a link between Ferrari and Armstrong that makes his case, and story, more credible. Fellow teammate Floyd Landis (Jesse Plemons), who was part of Armstrong’s team and who doped as well, and who wins the Tour de France in 1995, has his blood tests come back positive for testosterone. He’s stripped of his title, and Armstrong doesn’t accept him into the next year’s team, which becomes the catalyst for Landis to confess about the Armstrong, and the rest of team’s dope usage. Meanwhile, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency starts investigating Armstrong. At press conferences, Armstrong vehemently denies doping. But almost everyone in the rooms knows he’s lying. And Eventually Betsy (former rider Frankie Andreu”s wife), and others seek out Walsh to tell him all they know about Armstrong. Insurer Bob Hamman (Dustin Hoffman) has been hearing rumors about Armstrong, and if the rumors are true, will save his company $5 million in payouts to Armstrong for his win. It’s 2009, and Armstrong wants to make a comeback, and Landis ask to be let back onto the team, but Armstrong says no because he got ‘caught’ which becomes the Lloyd’s catalyst for Landis to confess about the rest of team’s (and Armstrong’s) dope usage. Meanwhile, Armstrong takes third place, very bitter that the new star on his team, Alberto Contador, has beat him. And Finally, we see Armstrong, after all these years, and allegations, on the Oprah Winfrey show, in which he tells her, and us, that yes, he’s been doping on every tour that he’s won. And hence his downfall, not just from racing, but from everything. Sponsors drop him right and left and his career, and perhaps his life, is left in tatters.

‘The Program’ follows the meteoric rise and dramatic fall of one of the biggest celebrities in the world of sport. But somehow director Frears misses his mark. Frears, who brought us the fantastic ‘Philomena’ and ‘The Queen,’ – both movies about two determined, strong and powerful women, doesn’t quite know how to grasp the story of a man who is conflicted by his quest for winning versus his choice to dope. His Armstrong is a bit of a cartoon character, a man who seems more possessed and less determined. And the women in his life are non-existant. There is Armstrong’s 2008 marriage to Anna Hansen in the film, but there’s no introduction to his first wife Kristine (with whom he had three children), nor his 2003 relationship with singer Sheryl Crow, nor his 2007 relationship with designer Tory Burch. Foster is fine as Armstrong, if a bit too passionate and overwhelmed, while O’Dowd is his usual self, dramatic and comedic when needed. But screenwriter John Hodge appears to have taken Walsh’s timeline of what’s in the book line by line without creating any dramatic license to make the film a bit more lively. And while there is exciting footage of bike races (and actual footage from the Tour de France), it’s not enough to make ‘The Program’ worth a view as it does not present us with anything new about Armstrong.

The Program [DVD] [2016] (DVD)

Director: Stephen Frears
Starring: Ben Foster, Chris O'Dowd, Lee Pace, Dustin Hoffman, Guillaume Canet
Rating: Suitable for 15 years and over

United Kingdom released, PAL/Region 2 DVD: LANGUAGES: English ( Dolby Digital 5.1 ), English ( Subtitles ), WIDESCREEN (2.35:1), SPECIAL FEATURES: Interactive Menu, Scene Access, SYNOPSIS: Ben Foster and Chris O'Dowd star in this sports drama about the Lance Armstrong doping scandal which was the subject of David Walsh's book 'Seven Deadly Sins'. Irish sports journalist David Walsh (O'Dowd) grows suspicious of professional cyclist Lance Armstrong (Foster)'s success, certain that he has been taking performance-enhancing drugs. As Walsh investigates, looking for evidence to prove his theory, Armstrong continues to deny his consumption of banned substances. The cast also includes Lee Pace, Dustin Hoffman and Guillaume Canet. ...The Program (2015)
New From: £5.29 GBP In Stock
Used from: £0.09 GBP In Stock