DVD reviews: Sightseers | Vito

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StudioCanal, £19.99

Having made the pitch-black hitman horror Kill List, Brit director Ben Wheatley changes tack slightly with Sightseers, a darkly amusing road movie about a pair of caravan enthusiasts who discover a shared love of serial killing while touring low-key heritage sites such as Crich Tramway Village and the Keswick Pencil Museum. The incongruity of the setting and the subject matter is just one of the things that makes co-writers and co-stars Steve Oram and Alice Lowe’s high concept idea such a uniquely funny proposition, functioning as a metaphor for the trials and tribulations of a new relationship. The film is also blessed with Wheatley’s mastery of tone: Oram and Lowe’s wry performances as the ginger-faced Chris and the not-as-meek-as-she-seems Alice tease out the psychological nuances of two lonely people beaten down by life, and Wheatley uses this to offset the Grand Guignol horror of their outrageous responses to antisocial behaviour, infusing proceedings with an air of disquieting weirdness.


Peccadillo Pictures, £16.99

The film critic, historian and gay rights activist Vito Russo is the compelling subject of the Bryan Singer-produced Vito, a simple, well-crafted documentary that functions as a moving and fascinating tribute to Vito’s life, and a pointed social history of the gay rights movement from the Stonewall riots in the late 1960s to the devastating emergence of Aids in the 80s. Reasoning that “nothing that feels this natural could be wrong”, Vito knew from an early age there was no reason to feel ashamed of being gay, but only began to see a political dimension to this instinctive feeling after the Stonewall riots and similar incidents exposed how punitive society could be towards gay people. The film, the usual mix of talking head interviews and archival footage, is good at showing how this political awakening led to his defining work, The Celluloid Closet, a series of lectures, and eventually a book, that connected his love of film with his activism by exposing how gay culture had been suppressed or demonised within mainstream cinema. But the film, which was directed by Jeffrey Schwartz, also movingly shows how Vito used the minor celebrity he achieved from this to intelligently further the gay rights cause, especially during the Aids crisis – a disease that would cut Vito’s life tragically short at the age of 44.

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