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John Payne

John Payne

Tuesday, 31 May 2016 23:00

The Call Up on VOD and DVD

The Call Up -out now on DVD and VODA select group of video gamers is lured to an imposing skyscraper by the opportunity to win £100,000 in a virtual reality competition. Donning state of the art haptic body suits and head sets, the players are enrolled in a military shooter featuring 25 floors of increasingly difficult challenges. If they get shot in the game the players can instantly be healed by a med-pack, but the pain will feel real. Playing online from your couch is one thing; this is real warfare.

Written and directed by Charles Barker, the film stars Morfydd Clark (“Love & Friendship”), Parker Sawyers (“Zero Dark Thirty”), Max Deacon (“Into the Storm”), Tom Benedict Knight (“Kick-Ass 2”), Ali Cook (“The Anomaly”), Adriana Randall (“Triple 9”) and Douggie McMeekin as the gamers, with Chris Obi (“Snow White and the Huntsman”) as a very scary drill Sergeant. The producers have been involved with movies such as “The Machine”, “Monsters: Dark Continent” and “Dracula Untold”.

Sunday, 01 May 2016 23:00

Wonder Years: complete on 26 DVDs

The Wonder Years - complete 26 DVD box set out nowThe year is 1968, the place a typical middle-class, American suburb. For 12-year-old Kevin Arnold (Fred Savage – “The Princess Bride”, “Austin Powers in Goldmember”) it is the centre of his universe as he grows up and grapples with life’s many lessons. This complete 26-DVD set, including four bonus discs, contains all 115 episodes from six seasons of the multi-award-winning show, and a staggering 23 hours of exclusive bonus material.

Kevin is not alone on his journey to adulthood, as indicated by the theme tune (Joe Cocker’s unforgettable rendition of The Beatles’ "With a Little Help from My Friends"). His parents Jack and Norma have got his back, and Kevin shares his experiences at school with best friends Paul and Winnie. His older brother Wayne and sister Karen have their own agendas, however.

Monday, 25 April 2016 23:00

Nature Boy on DVD

Nature Boy - out now on DVDNature Boy is a marvellous mini-series starring Lee Ingleby (The A Word, The Five) as David, a free-spirited and restless 17-year old who was taken into care as a young boy and is now desperate to track down his father. David has a special affinity with the natural world that makes him unique; it also puts him on a collision course with companies that wish to despoil the land for commercial gain.

The excellent cast also includes Paul McGann (“Withnail & I”, Doctor Who) as David’s absent father, Joanne Froggatt (Downton Abbey, “Filth”) as Jenny, a driven environmental campaigner who takes a shine to David, and Vicky Binns (Coronation Street, Emmerdale) as a wayward teen also taken in by David’s carers. The series was directed by BAFTA winner Joe Wright (“Atonement”) and written by Bryan Elsley (Skins).

Monday, 11 April 2016 23:00

Three Days of the Condor on Blu-ray

Three Days of the Condor - out now as a dual format Blu-ray and DVD setRobert Redford and Faye Dunaway star in this conspiracy thriller about a CIA researcher who uncovers top secret information that puts his life in mortal peril. Joe Turner (Redford) pops out of the office to get some lunch and returns to find his colleagues at the American Literary Historical Society have been brutally murdered. Shaken to his core, Turner contacts his employers seeking sanctuary but things go south and he is forced to go on the run.

Thinking on his feet, Turner kidnaps a complete stranger (Dunaway) and, from the relative safety of her home tries to convince her that his far-fetched story is true. Meanwhile, a professional hitman (Max von Sydow – “Flash Gordon”, “Minority Report”) is closing in. This Oscar-nominated movie was directed by Sydney Pollack (“Tootsie”, “Out of Africa”), and also stars Cliff Robertson (“Spider-man”) as a CIA chief.

Sunday, 03 April 2016 23:00

Jeruzalem on VOD and DVD

Jeruzalem - out now on DVD and VOD“Jeruzalem” is a found-footage horror movie about the opening of one of the gates of Hell. Two American tourists on their way to Tel Aviv are persuaded by a handsome historian to take a detour to Jerusalem, just as the ancient city is about to mark Yom Kippur, also known as the Day of Atonement. Their holiday is interrupted by some disturbing goings-on and rapidly descends into a supernatural nightmare.

Rather than using traditional video camera or mobile phone footage, this time events are witnessed through Google Glass-style smart eyewear that Sarah (Danielle Jadelyn) is trying out. As we follow her and friend Rachel (Yael Grobglas), facial recognition, Facebook posts and other social media windows pop up in ‘our’ field of view, helping to drive the story forwards and also add some occasional humour.

Monday, 15 February 2016 08:29

Fixed Bayonets! DVD and Blu-ray

Fixed Bayonets - comes to dual format Blu-ray and DVDThe Korean War (1950-1953) is the setting for Samuel Fuller’s “Fixed Bayonets!” Starring Richard Basehart (Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, “La Strada”), Gene Evans (“Shock Corridor”, “The Steel Helmet”) and Michael O’Shea (It’s a Great Life, “Lady of Burlesque”), the film focuses on a platoon of 48 reluctant soldiers tasked with holding a doomed, rear-guard action to buy time for the retreat of 15,000 troops.

Facing the imminent arrival of overwhelming Chinese forces, the American platoon bed into a snow-laden, cramped valley between two sheer cliff faces, laying mines, digging fox holes and generally planning to make life as difficult as possible for the enemy. Fuller (“The Big Red One”, “Pickup on South Street”) had strong views about the futility of war and consequently the movie aims for a tone of restrained realism.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016 00:00

Friends of Eddie Coyle DVD/Blu-ray

The Friends of Eddie Coyle - out now on a dual-format Blu-ray and DVD releaseBased on a novel by crime writer George V. Higgins, this movie stars Hollywood tough guy Robert Mitchum (“Cape Fear”, “The Night of the Hunter”) as the eponymous aging gangster. Coyle is due to be sentenced for a recent misdemeanour and is desperate to avoid another stretch. As a gun runner he has a lot of criminal contacts and senses he can buy a pardon by turning a few of them over to the police, but at what price?

Directed by Peter Yates (“Bullitt”, “Krull”), the film is fashioned in a very naturalistic, believable style that is aided by Mitchum’s relaxed, slightly burnt-out performance. Eddie Coyle is an experienced criminal whose edges have been dulled and he seems more interested in providing for his family than he does getting rich through a dangerous lifestyle.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016 00:00

Last Shift on DVD

Last Shift - now available on DVDA rookie cop is assigned caretaker duties at a defunct police station on its final night before closure. Office Loren (Juliana Harkavy – The Walking Dead, “Dolphin Tale”) is led to expect a quiet night with no calls or visitors. The reality is a little different, and before long she is assaulted by all manner things that go bump in the night. The old facility has a particularly nasty history and it is seeping into the present.

Playing a little like a supernatural version of “Assault on Precinct 13” combined with “The Evil Dead”, the film feels simultaneously innovative and derivative. The clean and brightly-lit station provides a welcome change from the traditionally grimy cabin in the woods or dilapidated asylum settings featured in other films of this ilk, and the contrast when the lights go out is all the more stark and effective.

Sunday, 10 January 2016 00:00

Return of the Pink Panther: Blu-ray

Return of the Pink Panther - out now on Blu-rayThe world’s largest and most valuable diamond has been stolen and that can only mean one thing: Peter Sellers is called on to reprise what is probably his most famous role as the bumbling Inspector Jacques Clouseau. The detective is on back the trail of master cat burglar The Phantom, aka Sir Charles Litton (the iconic Christopher Plummer – who has played everything from Chang in “Star Trek VI – The Undiscovered Country” to Captain Von Trapp in “The Sound of Music”). All may not be what it seems however, as Litton is engaged in his own hunt for a thief.

All of the usual ingredients of Blake Edwards’ hit comedy are present: Herbert Lom plays Clouseau’s twitching, nervous wreck of a boss, Burt Kwouk’s Cato keeps us and the Inspector in suspense as his servant and sly martial arts plaything, and Henry Mancini’s timeless and sublimely slinky theme tune sets the tone. Effortlessly glamorous Catherine Schell (Maya in season 2 of Space: 1999, and Countess Scarlioni in the classic Doctor Who story “The City of Death”) co-stars as Lady Claudine Litton.

Tuesday, 08 December 2015 00:00

Detectorists Series Two on DVD

Detectorists - Series 2 on DVD nowIn series two of the hit BBC Four comedy Detectorists, Andy and Lance have new challenges to deal with. Epic procrastinator Andy (Mackenzie Crook – Almost Human) has a baby son and the prospect of an exciting opportunity in Africa, whilst Lance (Toby Jones - Capital) has mysterious meetings with a young woman. Their metal detecting club also has to contend with an enigmatic young German seeking the location of his grandfather’s downed war plane.

This second set of six episodes does not mess with the winning formula, and fleshes out some of the background characters. The excellent mixture of quirky comedy and heartfelt character drama makes for very fulfilling viewing, and the beautiful countryside, evocative soundtrack by Johnny Flynn and depiction of tranquil village life lends the series a very relaxing tone. Detectorists is quite unlike anything else on television.

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