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Join us for the latest on the best in extraordinary fictional television and film from the past, present and future, and analysis on its cultural impacts.

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Blu-Ray

The latest winner in the format wars, we look at both television and movies that are hitting the shelves in this pristine new technology.

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Sunday, 24 September 2017

Gotham - Season 3 out now on Blu-ray and DVDAnarchy reigns in Gotham as escapees from the Indian Hill research lab run riot, whilst Jim Gordon has left the GCPD and become a lone bounty hunter. Adding to the chaos is murderous hypnotist The Mad Hatter and the mysterious Court of Owls who are pulling strings throughout the city. Meanwhile, an adolescent Bruce Wayne is slowly but surely gaining in experience, strength and a sense of purpose as a future Batman.

Released on home video in the before its broadcast on other channels and streaming services, it has been a frustratingly long wait for UK Gotham fans. Has it been worth it? On balance I would have to say yes. The show has a more confident feel to it now, with characters that are slowly but surely developing into the comic book supervillains and superheroes we know and love (or love to hate).

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Monday, 18 September 2017

Journey to the Center of the Earth - out now on Blu-rayBased on Jules Verne’s classic novel, “Journey to the Center of the Earth” is an old-school, globe-trotting adventure story. Reminiscent of the escapades of Indiana Jones and Tintin, the film stars James Mason as Sir Oliver Lindenbrook, a Scottish scientist who stumbles on a secret route to the Earth’s core, following in the footsteps of a legendary long-lost explorer.

Lindenbrook initially has student Alec McEwan (singer Pat Boone) for company on their trip to an Icelandic volcano, with the duo picking up Hans - a towering blond local (Peter Ronson) - and Carla (Arlene Dahl – The Love Boat), the Swedish wife of a fellow scientist en-route. Oh, and Han’s savvy pet duck, Gertrude. If the journey into the planet was not dangerous enough, they also have to contend with a murderous, despicable rival.

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Monday, 18 September 2017

The Red Turtle - out on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital DownloadNominated for 2017’s Best Animated Feature Film Oscar, “The Red Turtle”, is another jaw-dropping release from Studio Ghibli (“Spirited Away”, “My Neighbour Totoro”). A man awakens on the beach of a deserted island after being shipwrecked. With nothing but the native wildlife to keep him company, he attempts to escape but is repeatedly obstructed by an unseen force from beneath the waves.

Eventually the man discovers a large red turtle is responsible for the destruction of his many rafts. If that fact was not strange enough he soon finds out there is much more to the turtle than he could possibly imagine, and his life on the island takes a dramatic turn that will change him forever. The writer/director is Michaël Dudok de Wit (“Father and Daughter”).

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Monday, 24 July 2017

Der Mude  Tod out now on Blu-rayThis is the film that gave hugely influential writer/director Fritz Lang (“Metropolis”,”M”) his breakthrough at the age of 30. Four tales in one, the primary story traces the misfortunes of a young woman (Lil Dagover – “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari”), whose fiancé is taken by Death soon after they arrive at a village inn. Overcome with grief, the woman pleads with the Grim Reaper to let her either join her lover in death or bring him back to life.

Death (Berhard Goetzke – “Dr Mabuse: The Gambler”, “Die Nibelungen”) offers her a glimmer of hope if she can save one of three characters in separate narratives, each dealing with doomed lovers in different tragedies. The first is a Persian escapade featuring a Caliph who hunts his sister’s infidel partner; the second is a Shakespeare-light tale set in Venice where a woman plots her husband-to-be’s murder. Lastly, we have a more humorous adventure set in mystical China.

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Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Slaughterhouse-Five out now on Blu-rayBilly Pilgrim is unstuck in time, bouncing from one end of his tragic life to the other and to random, key points in between. If that was not strange enough, he also spends time on the planet of Tralfamadore, caught beneath a small glass dome and verbally prodded by aliens like a flea in a circus. This wild story is based on a book by Kurt Vonnegut entitled ‘Slaughterhouse Five-Or The Children's Crusade A Duty-Dance with Death’.

Michael Sacks (“The Sugarland Express”, “The Amityville Horror”) stars as Billy, a man who gets caught by the Germans in World War II and sent to a harsh prison camp before being relocated to the disused, titular slaughterhouse in Dresden for forced labour. This is just before the infamous bombing, which is just one of the monumentally disastrous moments in his life. Billy’s family life later on is less traumatic, at least for a time!

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Monday, 26 June 2017

Sea of Love - out now on Blu-rayAl Pacino, Ellen Barkin and John Goodman star in this steamy thriller about couple of detectives trying to solve a multiple homicide in New York. Det. Frank Keller (Pacino – “The Godfather”, “Heat”) has been on the force 20 years and he is jaded, frustrated and lives alone. A new case comes along where the male victims have all been shot in the back of the head whilst naked in bed, and there seems to be a link to a lonely-hearts advert in the paper.

Keller and Det Sherman (Goodman – “The Big Lebowski”, “10 Cloverfield Lane”) come up with a crazy plan to flush the killer out by placing a similar ad in the singles page, and then dating the respondents. This is how Keller meets Helen (Barkin – “This Boy’s Life”, Animal Kingdom), a very fiery and confident suspect with whom the detective gets a little too personally involved.

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Sunday, 07 May 2017

Born Free - out now on dual format Blu-ray and DVDBased on a true story and book by Joy Adamson, “Born Free” is the story of a married couple who raise an orphaned lion cub to adulthood and then attempt to prepare the tamed animal for release into the Kenyan wilderness. Virginia McKenna (“A Town Like Alice”) and Bill Travers (“Ring of Bright Water”) star as Joy and George Adamson, and the film won a couple of Oscars thanks to John Barry’s fantastic score and closing credits song sung by Matt Monro.

Treading a careful line between realism and sentimentality, the movie sucks you in with countless shots of cute and majestic animals that interact with the Adamsons like they are domestic cats or dogs. Anyone with a household pet will delight in seeing Elsa the lion cub play, destroy furniture, steal food and bond with her keepers. It is a relationship that cannot last because an adult lion cannot be controlled, and therein lies the film’s central theme.

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Monday, 24 April 2017

Drunken Master - out now on dual format Blu-ray and DVDJackie Chan stars in this 1978 hit about a young, pretentious kung fu student who is taught the art of drunken boxing as a punishment for shaming his father. Freddie Wong (Chan – “The Karate Kid” remake, the “Police Story” saga) tries to impress his mates by getting into fights and tricking a girl into kissing him. When his father hears the news he sends Freddie to sensei So Hi, a master feared for his infamously harsh training regime.

So Hi (Siu Tin Yuen – “Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow”) is an alcoholic whose deceptive combat skills depend on his inebriation. Never separated from his flask of booze, So Hi teaches Freddie the fighting styles of ‘The Eight Drunken Immortals’. He also puts the upstart through many gruelling physical trials to boost his strength, endurance and balance. Meanwhile, a deadly assassin is prowling nearby and our duo eventually stray onto his radar.

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Sunday, 23 April 2017

Hard Times - out now on dual format Blu-ray and DVDSet in early 1930s New Orleans, “Hard Times” stars Charles Bronson (“The Great Escape”, “The Dirty Dozen”) as Chaney, a mysterious, uncomplicated drifter who turns to illegal bare-knuckle boxing to earn some cash. The loner falls in with an unscrupulous manager called Speed (James Coburn – “Our Man Flint”, “Cross of Iron”) who, thanks to his serious vice issues, always finds himself in debt to some very unpleasant loan sharks.

Mr Speed wants to use Chaney to take on a rival’s unbeaten fighter but first he must scrape together enough money to qualify, by setting his sights a little lower. Tagging along is drunkard medic Poe (Strother Martin – “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”, “Cool Hand Luke”). The movie marked the directorial debut of Walter Hill (also co-writer), renowned for “The Warriors”, “48 Hrs” and “Southern Comfort” amongst other hits.

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Sunday, 09 April 2017

The Blue Lagoon - out now on dual format Blu-ray and DVDBased on the 1908 novel by Henry De Vere Stacpoole, “The Blue Lagoon” follows cousins Richard (Christopher Atkins – Dallas, “The Pirate Movie”) and Emmeline (Brooke Shields – “The Midnight Meat Train”, The Middle) as they learn to fend for themselves and experience a sexual awakening after being marooned on a tropical island. The movie’s director is Randal Kleiser of “Grease” and “Flight of the Navigator” fame.

Initially the pre-pubescent youngsters have the knowledge and company of Paddy, the ship’s cook (Leo McKern – Rumpole of the Bailey, The Prisoner) to support them, but the lure of a barrel of rum puts paid to that. Thereafter the kids must care for themselves, and hope that eventually someone will come looking for them. As their vessel went down in flames they do not know if anyone else survived, and they could be considered lost forever.

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Monday, 20 March 2017

The Chamber - out now on Blu-ray and DVDA small US special ops team commandeer a research submersible, searching for an unspecified object in hostile North Korean waters. The experienced pilot of the sub, Mats (Johannes Kuhnke – “Force Majeure”), reluctantly joins the covert mission and is kept in the dark. Mats expresses grave warnings about the aging sub’s capabilities and fears that without proper planning, the military team’s agenda could lead to disaster.

Red, the leader of the three-person spec ops team (Charlotte Salt – The Musketeers, Casualty) seems level headed but her colleague Parks (James McArdle – “’71”, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”) is twitchy and aggressive. The third member is Denholm (Elliot Levey – Da Vinci’s Demons, Man Down), a man with some piloting skills of his own. The writer/director is Ben Parker, shooting his debut feature.

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Tuesday, 07 March 2017

A Town Like Alice - out now on Blu-ray and DVDVirginia McKenna and Peter Finch star in this BAFTA-winning drama set in South East Asia during World War II, adapted from a novel by Nevil Shute. Jean Paget (McKenna – “Born Free”, “The Cruel Sea”) is a British secretary who is part of a group taken prisoner by the Japanese army. The men are trucked off to a prison camp whilst the women and children are ordered to march, under guard, across the region to either seek refuge or a means of getting to Singapore.

Aghast at the prospect of a 50 mile hike, the women then find they are not welcome at their destination and are told to continue walking for hundreds of miles, criss-crossing Malaya as it was then known. Exhausted, thirsty and hungry, members of the group fall ill and their future looks bleak. One glimmer of hope lies in a chance encounter with an Australian POW (Finch – “Network”, “Sunday Bloody Sunday”) who takes risks to come to their aid.

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Monday, 16 January 2017

Metropolis - out now as a Limited Edition DVD and Blu-ray and soon as a Standard release“Metropolis” is an anime film indirectly and loosely based on the 1927 Fritz Lang classic movie of the same name, by way of a 1949 manga reimagining. Written by “Akira” legend Katsuhiro Otomo and directed by Rintaro (“Galaxy Express 999”), the film portrays a humble boy’s relationship with a state of the art robotic girl as they make their way through the weird, wonderful and sometimes frightening city of Metropolis.

Metropolis is built on three levels, with janitor robots and the poorest of the poor at the bottom, and the rich elites living above ground in a towering skyscraper. A terrorist/vigilante organisation called the Marduk resent the encroachment of robots in every quarter of life and plan to fight back aggressively, whilst a powerful industrialist called Duke Red is constructing a weapon of mass destruction to enforce his rule over everyone.

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Monday, 09 January 2017

Fright Night - out bow on dual format Blu-ray and DVD“Fright Night” is a horror-comedy that riffs on Hitchcock’s paranoia classic, “Rear Window”. High school student Charley Brewster (William Ragsdale – "The Reaping") witnesses the arrival of his new neighbour… in a coffin! Then some prostitutes are murdered and Brewster is convinced that his strange neighbour (Chris Sarandon – “The Nightmare Before Christmas”, “The Princess Bride”) is responsible, but nobody will believe him.

To make matters worse, Jerry - the fanged freak - turns up on his doorstep, endangering both Brewster, his family and friends. Desperate to protect them, he approaches one of his idols, a washed-up TV horror star called Peter Vincent (the iconic Roddy McDowall – of the original “Planet of the Apes” and “The Poseidon Adventure”) who he prays will be able to transfer his on-screen skills into the real world.

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Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Miami Vice - The Complete Collection - out now on UK Blu-rayMiami Vice is a 1980s cop show featuring one of the most charismatic detective duos ever – James ‘Sonny’ Crocket and Ricardo Tubbs. Crockett (Don Johnson – “Django Unchained”, Nash Bridges) is an eagle-eyed Southerner with immaculately coiffured hair, linen suits and a sleek Ferrari. Tubbs (Philip Michael Thomas – “Sparkle”, Lance Vance in “GTA: Vice City”) is a streetwise, medallion-wearing New Yorker driven to Miami by vengeance.

Created by Anthony Yerkovich (a writer on Hill Street Blues) and executively produced by Michael Mann (“Heat”, “Manhunter”), the show ran for five seasons and saw early guest performances from the likes of Bruce Willis, Michael Madsen, Viggo Mortensen, Laurence Fishburne and Wesley Snipes. Iconic for both cool and alarming 80s fashionwear, brilliant tunes and flashy vehicles, the show now gets a new lease of life in remastered high-def.

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Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Magnum PI - The Complete Collection now available on UK Blu-rayTom Selleck will forever be known as Magnum PI, a Vietnam veteran who leaves the Navy to take up position as a private eye and security adviser to famous author Robin Masters, never seen but heard on occasion and voiced in the main by the iconic Orson Welles. Set in the picture postcard region of Oahu, Hawaii, with adventures first broadcast between 1980 and 1988, he lives the high life in Master’s beachfront mansion, driving his Ferrari, and taking private detective cases. AND YOU COULD HAVE WON A COPY OF THE COMPLETE COLLECTION OF THE SERIES ON BLU-RAY IN OUR PRIZE COMPETITION, fully restored and in high definition!

In charge of the Robin Masters estate is Jonathan Quayle Higgins III (John Hillerman), a British ex-Army Sergeant Major, with two Doberman Pinschers, Zeus and Apollo, known as ‘the lads’ helping keep order. There’s a buddy-feel to it all, with two fellow veterans also being ever-presents in the series - Theodore ‘TC’ Calvin (Roger E Mosley), who runs the ‘Island Hoppers’ helicopter charter service, and Orville Wilbur Richard ‘Rick’ Wright (Larry Manetti – the only one of the four leads without a moustache), who owns ‘Rick’s Place’, a local bar, the name inspired by movie “Casablanca”.

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Tuesday, 13 December 2016

The Incredible Hilk - The Complete Collection out now on UK Blu-rayThe Incredible Hulk - The Complete Collection consists of all 82 original episodes from the five seasons of the show (two of them feature-length) and a wave of bonus material which puts the adventures into context. Indeed, creator Kenneth Johnson’s audio commentaries are some of the best single-person narratives that you will ever hear. He describes how he took the comic book out of the comic character, bringing forth a series which appealed as much to women as men. The episode prints are fully restored and high definition in this 16-disc Blu-ray set.

After being exposed to gamma radiation, mild-mannered research scientist David Banner (Bill Bixby) finds extreme anger or stress transforms him into the terrifying and enraged Hulk (Lou Ferrigno). This format draws inspiration from a trio of works from classic literature. Original creator Stan Lee notes the transformed Hulk was inspired by Frankenstein’s monster, while the alter ego of Dr Banner came from Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Kenneth Johnson added the element of news hack Jack McGee (Jack Colvin) pursuing the creature. It chimed with iconic 1960s series The Fugitive with its stories of a man forever on the run.

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Monday, 14 November 2016

The day has finally arrived, and those who have pre-ordered UFO, the first live-action television series from the creators of Thunderbirds, Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, are beginning to find the first UK Blu-ray release of the entire run of episodes popping through their letterboxes. The popularity of the show has even caught out Network Distributing as the first print run has sold out, and more are being rushed through to production as we speak. Network’s attention to detail has certainly been a key reason for this – a landmark series in so many ways, the restoration work on UFO is absolutely awe-inspiring, and new for this UK release. Not a film scratch in sight, not a blemish to make you twitch. In these days of Netflix, you can guarantee those who have purchased will be seduced into ‘binge viewing’ like never before.

UFO arrives on UK Blu-ray - and demand is huge

The sensibilities of the series rightly receives a ‘12’ certificate from the BBFC. At the time of first broadcast back in 1970, the ITV network was bemused that the puppet makers had come up with such an adult series. Watching the show now definitely benefits from original production order (for the majority of the run), as we see the characters and situations progress and evolve. Some faces might not stay with us for long, but it makes the show more credible for doing so. What we have here is pure television gold, serious in aspect but bright and colourful in terms of the world view we witness. And all this with the option of listening with a brand new and house-quaking 5.1 surround sound audio track!

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Monday, 07 November 2016

Kes - out now on Blu-rayDavid Bradley (“Hummingbird”, “All Quiet on the Western Front”) stars as Billy Casper, a scruffy young teenager living in a broken, working-class home, and who struggles at school thanks to apathy for education and widespread bullying. Billy finds his calling, however, when he catches sight of some fledgling kestrels and decides to catch one and train it. Having studied falconry, the lad slowly and patiently builds a rapport with his wonderful bird of prey.

Directed by Ken Loach (“The Wind That Shakes the Barley”, “Sweet Sixteen”), the film is shot in a very realistic, natural style that often feels more like a fly-on-the-wall documentary than a work of fiction. The story is based on a novel by Barry Hines (“Threads”, “Looks and Smiles”), and the production won two acting BAFTAs for Bradley and Colin Welland, who plays a teacher sympathetic to Billy’s plight.

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Monday, 07 November 2016

Knight Rider - The Complete Collection now available on Blu-rayTV supremo Glen A Larson followed up hits such as the original Battlestar Galactica and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century with one of his most fondly-remembered smashes: Knight Rider. On the surface, this tale of a man and his car defending the innocent and vulnerable against evil tycoons and corrupt officials might sound a little corny, but not when your star is David Hasselhoff and this is certainly no ordinary car!

Hasselhoff (Baywatch, “Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!”) plays Michael Knight, an ex-cop rescued from near-death and given a new identity under the auspices of a private foundation. His somewhat unorthodox partner is KITT (voiced by William Daniels), aka the Knight Industries Two Thousand, a souped-up Pontiac Firebird Trans Am sporting self-aware and very sarcastic AI, a nearly indestructible shell and a large array of gadgets to help get Michael out of almost any scrape.

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Monday, 31 October 2016

Twilight's Last Gleaming - out now in the UK as a dual format Blu-ray and DVD releaseBurt Lancaster and Richard Widmark star in this post-Vietnam political thriller from 1977, out now on home media for the first time in the UK in a Dual Format Blu-ray and DVD edition from Eureka Entertainment. Considered a peak in director Robert Aldrich’s catalogue of work, “Twilight’s Last Gleaming” is a race-against-time doomsday scenario which will have annoyed the establishment in seeing Vietnam as a huge mistake by the USA, and was conceived as such right from the start of hostilities. Powerful, challenging, and enlightening stuff indeed.

Lancaster is a former Air Force general, Lawrence Dell, who with a quartet of accomplices skips jail and seizes control of Silo Three, which contains a stockpile of nine ICBM nuclear missiles. While the others are in it for the money, Dell wants to force President David Stevens (Charles Durning) to tell the truth about the Vietnam War. As negotiations get ever-more complex and desperate, General MacKenzie (Widmark) tries to guide an elite fighting team into the bunker to disable Dell and his mercenary hoods.

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Monday, 24 October 2016

Stigmata - out now on dual-format Blu-ray and DVDPatricia Arquette (“True Romance”, Medium) stars as Frankie Paige, a young and carefree hairdresser whose life is turned upside down by the spontaneous infliction of a series of horrific wounds. These injuries, the stigmata, echo those suffered by Jesus Christ during his crucifixion. Frankie cannot understand why she is suffering, but religious investigator Father Andrew Kiernan (Gabriel Byrne – “The Usual Suspects”, Vikings) may have the answers.

A swift resolution is critical because Frankie’s mental as well as physical condition worsens with each new attack, and she starts behaving like she is not herself. Part supernatural horror, part conspiracy thriller, the film also stars Jonathan Pryce (Game of Thrones, “Brazil”) as a powerful Catholic Cardinal and Nia Long (“Big Momma’s House”, The Divide) as Frankie’s devoted best friend. Rupert Wainright (“The Fog” remake) directs.

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Wednesday, 19 October 2016

The A-Team - Out now complete on Blu-ray“In 1972, a crack commando unit was sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn't commit. These men promptly escaped from a maximum security stockade to the Los Angeles underground. Today, still wanted by the government, they survive as soldiers of fortune. If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire... the A-Team.”

It was one of the biggest ‘cult’ shows of its time, playing out over five seasons, and now it’s come to the UK in restored high definition. Hannibal, BA, Face and Murdock were seen in 97 episodes which are all available in a 22-disc Blu-ray set! And you had the opportunity to win a set, just for nominating your favourites in this year's Cult TV Awards.

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Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Brewster's Millions from 1985 is out now on Blu-ray“Brewster's Millions” is a 1985 comedy film starring Richard Pryor as Montgomery Brewster, the recipient of a bizarre request in a will, with John Candy as his slow-paced buddy Spike. Originally based on the 1902 novel of the same name by George Barr McCutcheon, it spawned several previous films, including ones in 1914 (directed by Cecil B DeMille!), 1921, 1935, 1945 and 1961 – and there was even a “Miss Brewster’s Millions” in 1926. There’s now a new version, called “Brewster’s Billions” which is in development. But in the case of this new Blu-ray version, it was directed by Walter Hill, who was on something of a roll at the time having recently helmed “Southern Comfort”, “Streets of Fire” and “48 Hours” (he would go on to produce the “Aliens” film franchise).

The plot sees a minor-league pitcher, Brewster, finding his services are no longer required, and then learns his great-uncle has left him $300 million. To inherit it, Brewster must spend $30 million in 30 days under a complicated set of rules that forbid him from donating too much to charity, or retaining any new assets when the period is over. Or, he can walk away with just $1 million if he doesn’t want the challenge. As he is not allowed to share details of the will's conditions with anyone, Brewster sets out to spend his money under the stern eye of paralegal Angela Drake (Lonette McKee – Maggie Davis in Third Watch).

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Sunday, 18 September 2016

Paths of Glory - out no on Blu-ray“Paths of Glory” is a searing critique on the futility of war, directed by Stanley Kubrick (“The Shining”, “A Clockwork Orange”) and starring Kirk Douglas (“Spartacus”, “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea”). Douglas plays Colonel Dax, a World War I French officer coerced into sending his troops on an impossible assault on a German fortified position, primarily to appease the media and public opinion back home.

The inevitable happens and the attack fails disastrously; countless soldiers are killed and the rest either retreat or refuse to go over the top in the first place. The top brass is incensed and orders the selection of three men to be court martialled as an example to the rest, with death by firing squad a near certainty. Dax, a lawyer by trade, demands to be their defending counsel, clinging on to the slender hope of saving them.

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