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The September Issue DVD

Posted by: Matthew Turner 24/09/2009 @ 12:18
Subject: Film

Films seen so far this year: 325
Films seen this week: Huge, Gamer (both of which I unaccountably missed off the list last week), Jack Said, Fame, Driving Aphrodite (aka My Life In Ruins), Surrogates, The Invention of Lying

Trendspotting: Films that go straight-to-DVD, via a one week theatrical release
It all started so well. About a year or so ago, there was a press screening for a wonderful film that hardly anyone had heard of, called The King of Kong. Despite the fact that it was a National Press Show (meaning that most newspaper critics would be expected to attend), the screening was poorly attended, largely because the film was only going to be in cinemas for a week, before getting released on DVD. However, the handful of us that were lucky enough to be at that screening all ended up putting the film on our Best of 2008 lists and each of us will still cite the film as an overlooked gem that's well worth seeking out.

A similar thing has happened this week, with the DVD release of R.J. Cutler's superb documentary The September Issue (see DVD review below) coming just a couple of weeks after its limited theatrical release (see also Management, which is released theatrically on Friday and comes out on DVD on Monday). There's a definite trend at work here, with some distributors increasingly viewing a limited theatrical release as a way of garnering some advance publicity for an ultimately more profitable DVD release, the logic presumably being that more people are likely to read reviews of that week's theatrical releases than are likely to read reviews of which DVDs are out that week.

If only this were limited to good films, everything would be fine, but the problem is that this is happening more and more with frankly terrible films such as this week's dire Danny Dyer flick Jack Said or last month's so-bad-it's-bad Mega-Shark vs Giant Octopus. While the strategy works nicely with films that garner great reviews, it's placing a lot of faith in the adage that 'there's no such thing as bad publicity' to apply the same logic to films that everyone agrees are stinkers, so if anyone could explain it to me, I'd be very grateful.

Unmissable Short Films: Lift
About five years ago, I attended a delightful evening of short films hosted by the good people at FutureShorts.com. I saw several lovely films that night, but the best one, hands-down, was British director Marc Isaacs' wonderful documentary Lift. The premise is simplicity itself; in 2001, Isaacs set himself up in the lift of an East London tower block and filmed as many of the residents as would allow themselves to be filmed, for ten hours a day, over a period of several weeks. Over time, the residents gradually come to trust him and begin to reveal personal details about their lives, sometimes prompted by Isaacs' questions and sometimes of their own accord. What emerges is a frequently funny and genuinely moving portrait of a sort of vertical community, peopled with fascinating characters – it's the sort of film that'll make you want to get to know your neighbours. The film is nearly 25 minutes long, but it's well worth watching the whole thing if you have the time.

Top 10 Films On Release This Week (as recommended by me):
Three new entries this week, with Darwin drama Creation, riveting coming-of-age-and-becoming-a-freedom-fighter true story Heart of Fire and offbeat romcom Management all making it into the top ten, though I freely concede that Management, in particular, may not be to everyone's tastes. It is also technically still possible to see Big River Man, although it's on very limited release and won't be around much longer, so I've dropped it to 11th place. It's also still possible to see Adventureland (read our interview with star Jesse Eisenberg here) and that's only out of the top ten by virtue of the fact that there are so many good films around at the moment. Elsewhere, you can check out our interview with Hurt Locker star Brian Geraghty here, if you haven't already.

1. Fish Tank
2. (500) Days of Summer
3. Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs (3D)
4. District 9
5. Inglourious Basterds
6. The Hurt Locker
7. Heart of Fire
8. Creation
9. Away We Go
10. Management

DVD of the Week: The September Issue (out now, RRP £15.99)
This week's DVD of the Week is The September Issue, a behind-the-scenes documentary following editor-in-chief Anna Wintour and creative director Grace Coddington as they put together the September 2007 issue of Vogue magazine. Directed by R.J. Cutler, the film is a fascinating, frequently funny and highly entertaining documentary that's less a study of the inner workings of Vogue than it is a moving portrait of the relationship between Wintour and Coddington, not least because Grace is seemingly the only person at Vogue who's not actually terrified of Anna. The film is packed full of delightful moments and should appeal to fashionistas and non-fashionistas alike. Sadly, there are no extras on the DVD, which only makes the decision to rush it out straight after its theatrical release that much more baffling, but you can read our exclusive interview with director R.J. Cutler here. Well worth seeing.

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