THE PROTECTORS Mai Brostrøm and Peter Thorsboe, directors/ARROW While some of the films being brought to our attention as part of the Scandinavian crime wave are more quotidian in their achievement, there is still plenty which is intriguing and unusual to be found – such as The Protectors, which has (among its forceful dramatis personae) an interesting character in a young Muslim woman whose ambition is to be a bodyguard in an elite unit, in the teeth of opposition from her family (who clearly consider her activities to be unIslamic). It’s interesting to note that the writer Jussi Adler-Olsen also includes a well-realised Moslem character in his books — and in neither case are conventional expectations observed. Mai Brostrøm and Peter Thorsboe are also the co-creators of the Nordic Noir series Unit One, and the eponymous protectors are the Danish national police force in charge of personal protection, responsible for the safety of high profile figures including Politicians, Royal Family, VIPs and visiting dignitaries.

BLOOD SIMPLE (Directors’ Cut) Coen Brothers, directors/StudioCanal One of the great things about the DVD/Blu-ray revolution is the chance we are given to reacquaint ourselves with films that made a particular impact on first viewing. And it’s refreshing to note that Blood Simple remains (with a few reservations) almost as impressive as ever; as a harbinger of things to come from the Coen brothers, it is absolutely fascinating to view in the 21st century – even if (perhaps) the small part playing is more authoritative than the playing of the principals. What is also notable is how the machinations of the plot (already inspired by previous models) have in their turn inspired other films. And it is immediately apparent is the Coen Brothers’ fully formed command of the medium. This DVD release is a Directors’ Cut; unusually, it is three minutes shorter than the original 1985 theatrical release. The Coens have reduced the running time with tighter editing, shortening some shots and removing others altogether.

THREE STEPS TO THE GALLOWS John Gilling, director/Renown The director John Gilling is, of course, noted for some of the remarkable work he did for the Hammer studios, but his talents were also applied with intriguing results to the crime genre — as this lively effort proves. It’s no undiscovered masterpiece, but students of British cinema will find it well worth their while. This rarity from Gilling is something of a find. Imported American star Scott Brady plays a ship’s officer who discovers that his brother has been framed for murder by a smuggling gang.

BAISE-MOI Virginie Despentes & Coralie Trinh, directors/Arrow Let’s be honest: right from the start, it has always been the job of cinema to shock (along with its variety of other objectives) — and there is no question that this controversial, deeply nihilistic film (with nary a sympathetic character, male or female) does just that. If you prefer your cinema graphic and unstinting (and this one most certainly is — absolutely nothing is spared), then this is very much a piece for you. But if you like cosy Sunday night viewing, perhaps you should steer well clear. Arrow Video’s version of Baise-Moi is completely uncut, and is available (for the first time) in widescreen format. The film has been described as Thelma and Louise on acid. It was banned upon release in its native France in 2000 for its refusal to look away from any action (the sex, though explicit – is notably (and deliberately) joyless). Special features include a 40-minute "Making Of" Documentary with the directors and cast, a collectors’ booklet featuring writing on the film by Kier-la Janisse and Virginie Despentes and a Q&A with both directors.

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