Monday, 9 August 2010

DVD & Blu-ray Round Up - The Infidel

The Infidel is top of the pile this week, a light-hearted and enjoyable British comedy written by David Baddiel. It stars Omid Djalili as Mahmud Nasir a semi-observant British Muslim of Pakistani least that’s what he believes himself to be as the action gets under way. He soon discovers that he was adopted as a child though, and intrigued to discover his true parentage, he toddles off to the town hall to find out. After a heated encounter with the ubiquitous Miranda Hart, Mahmud is told that he was born to Jewish parents. What ensues is really, a comedy of manners, as Mahmud struggles to live up to both his Jewish heritage, and the Muslim life he has been living.

The subject matter could easily have been controversial, indeed it could have been played deliberately to reach for controversy, but that isn’t Baddiel’s style. Instead, we are taken through a knockabout romp, which never feels forced and doesn’t rely (too much) on one-deminsional stereotypes. Djalili is an endearing screen presence, and the cameos from various other British comedy stars are pleasing.

Elsewhere this week there’s The Blind Side, for which Sandra Bullock won her Best Actress Oscar. This is typical awards-bating fare, touching earnestly on racial and social issues, simultaneously massaging the ego, and tweaking the nose of white middle America. It would ordinarily have been a fairly unspectacular ‘true story’ TV movie, but somehow managed to attract the major studio and A-list actors that catapulted it into Oscar territory.

Definitely not made with Oscars in mind was The Stranger, starring WWE wrestler "Stone Cold" Steve Austin. Those almost subliminal 10-second TV adverts aside, my knowledge is a little sketchy here, so I shouldn’t judge. But when the only review I could find of it summed it up thus:

"If you are in the market for a Steve Austin straight-to-video release, I would pick Damage over this one"
...well it’s hard not to be a teeny little bit judgmental. Even in the straight-to-video-Steve-Austin-movie sub-genre, we are told, this is one of the lesser lights.

Uninspiring stuff, but fear not film fans, Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho gets a 50th Anniversary re-release this week, repackaged in snazzy new packaging, and available on Blu-ray for the firt time. There is an absolute raft of special features here, not to mention the remastered picture, and new 5.1 digital surround sound mix, to really bring that famous shower scene into the 21st century.

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