DVD Round-up, 7 September 2009

Bypassing UK cinemas after a US release in August 2008, Hamlet 2 (Momentum Pictures) finally comes to DVD in the UK from Monday.

Steve Coogan stars as Dana Marschz, a drama teacher in Tucson, Arizona famed for staging terrible adaptations of well known movies such as Erin Brockovich.

Threatened with the sack, Marschz decides to write an original play in the shape of Hamlet 2, a time travelling sequel to the original with musical numbers such as Rock Me Sexy Jesus.

Coogan is fantastic here, gloriously OTT as a teacher with little quality control over his work. He’s also joined by Catherine Keener as his wife who doesn’t take him seriously, while David Arquette pops up in almost a cameo as their silent lodger.

Director Andrew Fleming may not have an eye for exciting visuals, the barrage of outrageous sequences and one-liners making this a joy to watch – it’s a shame it didn’t get the recognition it deserved on the big screen over here.

A director’s commentary and behind-the-scenes interviews complement the main film, Coogan overacting for Britain throughout.

As the madness of the summer blockbusters fades it’s good to see decent, low-budget British films making it to DVD, such as the award-winning Helen (New Wave).

Set in the aftermath of a young girl’s death, the film shows what might happen if the person who portrays her in a Crimewatch-style dramatisation starts to integrate with the deceased’s family.

Slowly we watch Helen come to terms with the role she’s taken on, time taken by director’s Christine Molloy and Joe Lawlor to set the tone of grief and pain.

Newcomer Annie Townsend makes an impressive debut in this elegant and often thought-provoking film.

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