New Release Round-Up – “Tamara Drewe,” “Hideaway” and more

Tamara Drewe

A big week, at least in terms of numbers, so let’s get started, shall we?

Tamara Drewe” (Sony), directed by Stephen Frears, has a strange and wonderful pedigree: an adaptation of the graphic novel (by Posy Simmonds) inspired by Thomas Hardy’s “Far From the Madding Crowd” and whipped up with a light sex comedy froth by screenwriter Moira Buffini and the cast (headed by the Gemma Arterton as the gorgeous heroine with identity issues and Roger Allam as the philandering author who wants to bed her). Frears brings a light touch and a knowing compassion to this pastoral romantic farce, where true love wins out and false love is (quite literally) trampled out of sight. See my exclusive interview with director Stephen Frears here.

Gemma Arterton and Luke Evans, the terribly gorgeous young things destined for true love in the film, contribute a lively and entertaining (if not particularly insightful) commentary track. The quote of the week goes to Ms. Arterton and her observation: “It’s so hard acting with a chicken under your arm.” The disc (DVD and Blu-ray both) also includes a couple of featurettes: the general, and fairly generic, “The Making of Tamara Drewe” and the more interesting “Reconstructing Tamara Drewe,” which examines the adaptation of the graphic novel with comparisons between the film and the original pages. “It’s not a storyboard for the film,” explains Frears, “but you can see we captured the essence of it.”

Hideaway” (Strand) – The films of François Ozon constantly offer alternative family and this elusive French drama (originally titled “Le Refuge”) offers yet another. Isabelle Carré is the drug addict who discovers she is pregnant after surviving an OD that kills her boyfriend and heads out to her hideaway to have her child. Louis-Ronan Choisy is the gay brother of her dead boyfriend who shows up at the beach house escape and, for a time, enters her life with an intimacy that no one else is able. She’s both childlike and terribly experienced, removed and yearning, unwilling to put her trust in anyone else but hoping she finds someone to change her mind as she allows the pregnancy to envelope her like a tide. This young gay man is not necessarily that person, but for a brief moment they find a connection and a reason to care for another. In French with English subtitles.

Also new this week: Middle Men, Life As We Know It, You Again, It’s Kind of a Funny Story, For Colored Girls and more.

Continue reading at MSN Videodrone.

What’s in your DVD player, Stephen Frears?

Stephen Frears

The cover of the DVD and Blu-ray release of Tamara Drewe reads: “From the director of “The Queen” and “Dangerous Liaisons“,” which is true and certainly something to brag about—director Stephen Frears has a rich career and those are two of his most celebrated films—but doesn’t quite communicate the flavor of this mix of British pastoral and modern sex comedy. This is more like the Stephen Frears of “High Fidelity” and “Mrs. Henderson Presents” (the latter a lovely little piece which will live in infamy for offering a not-quite-so-lovely Bob Hoskins nude scene). The 69-year-old Mr. Frears, speaking by phone from his home in England, agreed. “It is a lighthearted film,” he says, but hasn’t much of an opinion either way on the advertising. “I just make them and let my personality come out in different ways.”

In fact, he doesn’t really seem to like talking about his films. A thoroughly pleasant and friendly gentleman, he is also modest and reticent to go into detail about the film. But he does have a sense of humor and a sense of pride in his co-stars. “They are very, very good actors,” he explains when I ask about the actors. “I mean, I don’t know. It wasn’t difficult to achieve an ensemble.” Perhaps not. There certainly is an ease that comes across in the little community that Tamara Drewe creates. I guess when you have the career that Stephen Frears has, you don’t feel the need to explain yourself. It’s all there on the screen.

What’s in your DVD player?

“Only Angels Have Wings.” I was asked to talk about Howard Hawks.

“Tamara Drewe” was based on a graphic novel, but understand it ran in the newspaper The Guardian before it was published in graphic novel form.

It ran in The Guardian as a strip, where I remember seeing it, and then it became a book, where I didn’t see it, and then it turned into a film script.

In an interview on the DVD, you said that you had read the strip and enjoyed it, but it was the script that excited you about the project.

I didn’t think you could make a film of it until I read the script.

Continue reading at MSN Videodrone.