DVD round-up: Tinker, Tailor; Victorian Farm; Little White Lies

The week's TV and film releases reviewed

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TV

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DVD of the Week
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy/Smiley’s People (Cert: 15)
5 stars
In a nutshell: two landmark TV dramas with Alec Guinness

The new big-screen Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy opens on 16 September but this release, featuring the original BBC version plus its sequel, Smiley’s People, should tide you over until then. Both dramatisations of John le Carré’s spy stories make for absorbing viewing, largely thanks to Alec Guinness’s meticulous performance as George Smiley, the sober spymaster brought out of retirement to hunt out a mole in the British secret service. Audiences used to fast-cut espionage hits like Spooks may find the many scenes featuring grey men staring through grey Venetian blinds or rooting through grey filing cabinets a little trying. But once the narrative casts its spell, you’ll find the atmosphere of Cold War paranoia hard to resist. David Brown

Format: DVD
Extras: None

Complete Victorian Farm Collection (Cert: Exempt)
3 stars
In a nutshell: living in the past

There’s a few solid weeks of blissful, bucolic escape here with Victorian Farm, Edwardian Farm, Victorian Pharmacy and the series that started the phenomenon, 2005’s Tales from the Green Valley. All involve re-creating life in eras past by living it, without recourse to modern technology or faddish, jittery “reality TV” clichés. Jack Seale

Format: DVD
Extras: None

Other highlights:
Vampire Diaries (season 2) – US drama that should satisfy Twilight fans
NCIS: LA (season 2) – LL Cool J keeps the peace

FILM

Little White Lies (Cert: 15)
3 stars
In a nutshell: Love and friendships get a Gallic going-over

This warm French ensemble effort plays out like an early Woody Allen comedy, with its bourgeois characters, witty banter and relationship intrigues. Marion Cotillard rises above cliché as an angst-ridden woman who is one of a group of friends invited to stay at the seaside home of high-flyer Max (François Cluzet). The holiday comes after a devastating accident that leaves one of their number (Jean Dujardin) in a critical condition. After garnering acclaim with his taut 2006 thriller Tell No One, director Guillaume Canet lets the reins hang a bit loose this time, but the easy rapport of the characters keeps it watchable. Stella Papamichael

Formats: DVD and Blu-ray
Extras: DVD includes a gag reel and a 25-minute making-of featurette, with an additional “Holiday Reel” on the Blu-ray

Red Riding Hood (Cert: 12)
2 stars
In a nutshell: Emo-friendly update for the Grimm fairy tale

Twilight director Catherine Hardwicke’s tween-friendly makeover of the classic folk legend veers between soapy romance and pantomime camp. Amanda Seyfried stars as the red-cloaked virgin torn between hunky suitors Shiloh Fernandez and Max Irons (son of Jeremy), while her snowy forest village comes under CGI werewolf attack to the sound of a chill-out music score. It’s pretty to look at, yet pretty banal in dialogue terms and performance levels. The presence of Gary Oldman and Julie Christie lends it some class, but you can’t help feeling that The Company of Wolves did it so much better back in 1984. Alan Jones

Formats: DVD and Triple Play (Blu-ray, DVD and digital download)
Extras: DVD contains deleted scenes, Blu-ray has a whole lot more, including an alternative cut featuring an all-new ending, picture-in-picture commentary from the director and cast, gag reel and a plethora of production featurettes

Scre4m (Cert: 15)
2 stars
In a nutshell: There’s another Ghostface-masked killer on the loose

After a 12-year break, Neve Campbell’s perpetual survivor is now on a tour to promote her book in this fourth instalment in the franchise. This, of course, brings her back to suburban Woodsboro, where Courteney Cox’s reporter and David Arquette’s sheriff still reside. And, as expected, a new generation of photogenic high schoolers – Emma Roberts, Hayden Panettiere – get sucked into the latest killing spree by a masked psycho, the mystery of whose identity props up a saggy, repetitive plot. Beyond more blood, coarser language and references to internet fame, this fails to convert cleverness into on-screen originality or daring. Andrew Collins

Formats: DVD and Blu-ray
Extras: Making of, alternative opening, extended ending, deleted scenes, gag reel

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Other highlights:
Winnie the Pooh – Amiable outing for the tubby little cubby all stuffed with fluff
Mammuth – Gérard Depardieu crisscrosses rural France by motorbike
The Referees – Documentary focusing on footie’s men in black