WIN Appropriate Behaviour on DVD

WIN Appropriate Behavior on DVD | Competition | SHELF HEROES

Desiree Akhavan's wonderful Appropriate Behaviour is out on DVD and Blu-ray this week, and to celebrate we have a 3 copies on DVD to give away.

For Shirin (Desiree Akhavan), being part of a perfect family isn’t easy. Acceptance eludes her from all sides: her family doesn’t know she’s bisexual, and her ex-girlfriend, Maxine (Rebecca Henderson), can’t understand why she doesn’t tell them. Even the six-year-old boys in her moviemaking class are too ADD to focus on her for more than a second. Following a family announcement of her brother’s betrothal to a parentally approved Iranian prize catch, Shirin embarks on a private rebellion involving a series of escapades, while trying to decipher what went wrong with Maxine.

Writer/director Desiree Akhavan, best known for her cult web series The Slope, stars in this story of a bisexual Iranian-American woman trying to find her way in modern-day Brooklyn. Appropriate Behaviour is an intelligent, engaging comedy that heralds an exciting new voice in indie cinema.

Read our ★★★★☆ review here.

APPROPRIATE BEHAVIOUR is released by Peccadillo Pictures on DVD and On-Demand. You can order now from Peccadillo Pictures, Amazon, iTunes and all good retailers.

To be in with a chance of winning, simply complete the form below by liking us on FACEBOOK, answering the simple question or with one of the other easy methods.

Winners will be notified on 2nd August. Open to UK residents only.

WIN Appropriate Behavior on DVD

West

West | 2013 | Film Review | SHELF HEROES

★★★☆☆ 

An authentic 1970’s feel echoes throughout Christian Schwochow’s West, the tones and mood of a divided Germany evocatively replicated on screen. And for its first half at least, the film retains this same verisimilitude and honesty around its narrative – an intriguingly unintroduced tale of a mother, Nelly (Jördis Triebel), smuggling her young son, Alexej (Tristan Göbel), from East to West in an escape from the memories of her deceased husband, the intrusion of the Stasi regime and a hard life best forgotten.

The land of sweets, free meals and neon lights awaits – but it is in a loud, unwelcoming refugee centre that Nelly and Alexej must make their home. Far from leaving behind the probing questions of the Stasi she is swiftly picked up by American agents who determinedly delve into every facet of her past, keeping citizenship – and the opportunity of work – beyond her reach. Life in the East has prepared her for such formalities - flatly refusing answers and avoiding lines of questioning come as second nature – but when seeds are planted about the true nature of her husband’s work and his ultimate fate, her levels of mistrust and paranoia push her to the edge of sanity, isolating herself from Alexej and those who are trying to aid her.

As they make their way through the border crossing Nelly is stripped of her clothes and jewellery, her ring forced off her finger with soap and water. She is visibly distraught at leaving Alexej for a few minutes. This abrasive, harrowing start is indicative of the paranoia that ripples throughout Nelly’s journey. Conflict is a generation away, but suspicion and deceit still plague both sides of the wall.

You can already see the syrupy, soulless American remake that is sure to follow. All the requisite elements are there: a period setting, a cute child and enough driving paranoia thrills to counterbalance its emotional core. The one thing any remake will not have is the presence of Jördis Triebel. She is the rock that everything else is sketched around. It matters little that West deviates into laboured conspiracy thriller territory when Triebel is dominating the screen and holding its every moment together. Strong leading roles for women are a rare occurrence in mainstream cinema – so it falls to these bold imports to demonstrate the vitality and variation that a female presence can bring to modern cinema. Nelly is not a whimpering foil to men; she defines her own fate.

Triebel aside, as the story unfolds West begins to suffer from a paceless central section and the aforementioned inflections of espionage thrillers which feel wholly at odds with where the film begins tonally. It is at its most captivating when looking at Nelly, her relationship with her son and her deep rooted personal mistrust. Deviations away from these areas are never able to beat with the same impressive personal connection. 

[ 2013 — Dir: Christian Schwochow — 102 mins — IMDb ]


The Man Who Saved the World

The Man Who Saved the World | 2014 | Film Review | SHELF HEROES

★★☆☆☆ 

How do you make a 110-minute film about a man who decided not to push a button? Answer: Not like this. I briefly read up on the impressive story of Stanislav Petrov on Wikipedia before seeing The Man Who Saved The World, and I had more engagement reading those 200 crowd-edited words than watching Peter Anthony’s utterly bizarre and dull mix of documentary and fiction. The actual events break down thusly: at the height of the cold war, Soviet nuclear early warning centre Serpukhov-15 received a report of several incoming missiles from the US. Protocol dictated that any show of aggression should be immediately reciprocated with a Soviet missile strike. Thank God, then, that Lieutenant Colonel Petrov was at the helm on September 26, 1983 and, despite growing pressure from his men, chose not to bring about World War III and turn the globe into a nuclear wasteland. Correctly assuming the missiles were a glitch, Stanislav bravely decided to do nothing – saving countless millions of lives in the process and, as the title suggests, the world.

A buzzy title. A staggering true story. A painfully dull film. What is most jarring is the lack of clarity in fact or fiction. The documentary elements, comprising an elderly Stanislav touring around the United States to belatedly receive the World Citizen Award from the United Nations, feel incredibly staged. Has it been so poorly shot and edited that these touching personal moments appear to be wooden dramatisations? It’s hard to tell. With this niggling doubt of sincerity eating away at the film’s every second, it becomes impossible to engage with. And that’s before Stanislav has had his dream meeting with Robert De Niro and Kevin Costner (and an utterly bemused Ashton Kutcher) in one of the most surreal episodes this film – or any other – has to offer. This odd uncertainty may sound almost intentional, or perhaps intriguing, but when it comes down to it it’s just plain weird.

As it tries to flesh out this concise occurrence over the feature length, director Peter Anthony is forced to rely on a melodramatic subtext of an estranged elderly mother and a wider analysis of nuclear threat. Problem is, with no honest emotional hook to Stanislav and his life, or any comprehensive political context, it just passes by in a bemused dirge. The period reenactments are passably entertaining – and perhaps a real-time thriller could’ve captured the monumental weight and stress of the endeavour more eloquently? But the film is what it is: a disorderly well-meaning documentary that wrings every second from its subject – yet simultaneously fails to tell his story. 

[ 2014 — Dir: Peter Anthony — 110 mins — IMDb ]

WIN Ex Machina on Blu-ray

WIN Ex Machina on Blu-ray | Competition | SHELF HEROES

Yet another one of our 2015 picks of the year so far, Ex Machina, arrives on DVD and Blu-ray this week, and to celebrate we have a copy on Blu-ray give away.

24 year old coder Caleb (Gleeson), who works at the world’s largest internet company, can hardly believe his luck when he wins a competition through work to spend a week at a private mountain retreat with his CEO Nathan (Isaac). Caleb arrives at the remote location and is eerily forced to sign an NDA to take part in the week-long project with the reclusive Nathan. The project is revealed to be a strange and fascinating experiment, where Caleb must interact with the world’s first true artificial intelligence, housed in the body of a beautiful robot girl (Vikander) to test if she can pass as human.

To be in with a chance of winning, simply complete the form below by liking us on FACEBOOK, answering the simple question or with one of the other easy methods.

Winners will be notified on 9th July. Open to UK residents only.

WIN Ex Machina on Blu-ray

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