Robert Tanitch reviews the latest DVDs
Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool (Lionsgate), a major British film, is based on the true story of a 28-year-old actor, Peter Turner, having an affair with a woman who is 30 years his senior. She is the legendary film star of the Hollywood films noirs, Gloria Grahame, whose career is on the skids and she has come to England to appear in a play and hopes to persuade the RSC to let her play Juliet. She is not well. Jamie Bell as the young actor has his best role since Billy Elliott and he is heartbreaking. Annette Bening and he act so well together. There is such tenderness and warmth and love. The director is Paul McGuigan and the flashbacks are cleverly managed.
Shirley: Visions of Reality (Eureka) reproduces 13 of American painter Edward Hopper’s indoor oil paintings from 1931 to 1967 in a series of montages. It is fascinating to see how accurately in content and colour they have been reproduced and animated with actors. The story-line is not that interesting and even Hopper’s admirers my wish the film would get a move on. But if you saw and liked Loving Vincent, a biog of Van Gogh, seen through animated versions of Van Gogh’s paintings, you might be interested in Shirley. Gustav Deutsch animates Hopper’s bedrooms, office, cinemas, train carriage and puts them in their historic context with the aid of key radio news items.
Legend of the Mountain (Eureka). The complete director’s cut. An 11th century epic Chinese ghost story, directed by King Hu and filmed in South Korea’s spectacular scenery in 1979, is 3 hours of atmospherics, percussion, colour, smoke, Buddhism and boredom. It takes so long to get started (a very long walk into the forest to an isolated monastery) and then it takes even longer to finish, becoming more and more incomprehensible. There are long stretches when nothing happens. Chun Shih (with his toothy big smile) looks like a student who has failed his exams. Gullible and drugged, he is easily tricked into marriage by some ghostly demons.