I got my hands on a few DVDs over the last couple of days. First of all, I received check discs of Spooks Season 5 for my upcoming review of the soon-to-be-released set for DVD Times. The only problem was that the public relations company responsible for supplying review samples neglected to send me a copy of Disc 1, instead providing an apology note to the tune that they didn’t have any left. All well and good, but unfortunately it’s rather difficult to review only part of the package and still feel that you’re providing readers with something approaching an authoritative perspective. Luckily, though, Disc 1 did turn up on Thursday, putting me somewhat behind schedule but thankfully now in a position to get the review done.
I also inherited a copy of Red Road, the Glasgow-based feature directing debut from Oscar-winning short director Andrea Arnold. I know next to nothing about the film, other than that the plot makes heavy use of CCTV, and that, when I saw a preview for it last year on Film 2006 (or a similar cinema television series), I thought it looked quite interesting. So, I’m looking forward to sitting down and watching it.
Oh, and, yesterday, while I was on my lunch break (I work Saturdays, remember), I decided to kill some time by wandering around Borders and looking at their overpriced books and DVDs. In addition to the discovery that they have a Blu-ray section (£24.99 per disc - as if!) but no HD DVDs, I came across the rather more reasonably-priced DVD release of Angel-A, which, when released in 2005, was the first film Luc Besson had directed in over seven years (after the debacle of The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc in 1999 he, somewhat wisely, some people might say, decided to concentrate on writing and producing). I’d been meaning to pick it up for some time but never got round to it.
Anyway, I’m exceedingly glad I did, because I watched it last night and enjoyed it immensely. I originally only popped it in to get some idea of how the transfer measured up (reasonably good, as it happens, although I’m increasingly finding it difficult to say anything positive about standard definition transfers unless I lower my expectations tremendously), but after watching the first five minutes, I found myself completely hooked. The plot, which involves a leggy angel (Ria Rasmussen) descending on high to help a hapless immigrant living in Paris (Jamel Debbouze of Amelie) overcome his debts and insecurities, is a bit hokey, but the whole thing is beautifully shot in breathtaking black and white (stylistically, this is a major departure for Besson), and it manages to be both funny and touching in its portrayal of this decidedly unconventional “odd couple”. It may be a little too obviously influenced by Patrice Leconte’s excellent La Fille sur le Pont (another French-language love story shot in black and white with an attempted suicide on a Parisian bridge as its inciting incident), but originality is overrated these days, and in any event the execution is hard to criticise. Highly recommended.