Two Films By Vera Chytilová (PG)

Second Run, £12.99

A giant of feminist film-making, a pioneer of the European avant-garde and one of the few women directors working in cinema in the early 1960s, V?ra Chytilová remains best known for Daisies (1966), still regarded as a seminal work of the Czech New Wave.

This pleasing release from the always-excellent Second Run brings two earlier films to DVD for the first time - Chytilová's 1963 debut Something Different, and her startling 43 minute featurette A Bagful Of Fleas, shot in 1962 - and provides a terrific entrée into the world of a film-maker who was still working in her 70s.

Both are ostensibly shot in documentary style, though even here Chytilová subverts the form. In A Bagful Of Fleas, which follows a group of young, semi-delinquent women living and working in a textile factory, she uses her camera as a character - in this case a new girl called Eva - and even gives that character a narrative voice, though Eva spends as much humming along to songs on the radio as she does commenting on her co-workers. But what Chytilová shows is a vibrant, sassy and funny community of women, a rare thing in the macho cinema of the time and even rarer given the social and political backdrop of patriarchy and Communist Party.

In Something Different, meanwhile, Chytilová intercuts footage of famous Czech gymnast Eva Bosáková with a fictitious story involving V?ra, a bored young mother. Barring the opening scene in which V?ra watches Eva competing on television, they never meet. Instead, Chytilová presents two lives running separate but in tandem as Eva trains hard for the 1962 World Championships (she wins gold) and V?ra starts an affair with a younger man. A more puzzling work than A Bagful Of Fleas, but an equally beguiling and unflinching portrait of women and the choices and sacrifices they make.


Brooklyn (12)

Lionsgate, £9.99

Directed by John Crowley and adapted by Nick Hornby from Colm Tóibín's 2009 novel of the same name, Brooklyn tells the story of Eilis Lacey (Saoirse Ronan), a young Irish immigrant to New York in the early 1950s. Of course the Irish experience of emigration is well trodden filmic territory - see Angela's Ashes or Jim Sheridan's In America - but in Tóibín's novel Hornby has some pretty superior source material. Still, the role of Eilis is getting on for the Meryl Streepy, so it's no surprise that Ronan was nominated for an Oscar. She lost out in Sunday's awards to Brie Larson.

Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict (15)

Dogwoof, £15.99

Directed by Lisa Immordino Vreeland and a partner of sorts to the 2011 documentary she made about her husband's grand-mother, legendary Vogue editor Diana Vreeland, this film tells the story of an equally famous New Yorker: heiress and art collector Peggy Guggenheim. The list of people she knew reads like a who's who of 20th century Western culture - everyone from James Joyce to Jackson Pollock - but the biographical details are fascinating too. Her wealthy father died on the Titanic, her daughter committed suicide and Peggy herself had seven abortions because she didn't want to have a child by her married British lover. What makes it all even more fascinating is that while researching the film Immordino Vreeland discovered a cache of interview tapes made by Guggenheim's biographer Jacqueline B Weld in the 1970s and subsequently thought lost. And so we hear her subject's voice alongside a roster of interviewees which includes John Richardson, Edmund White, Marina Abramovic and even Robert De Niro, whose parents were painters. Guggenheim doesn't come across as a particularly pleasant or sympathetic character, but then that's hardly the point.

Suffragette (12)

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, £14.99

Having worked together on a 2007 adaptation of Monica Ali's novel Brick Lane, director Sarah Gavron and playwright-turned-screenwriter Abi Morgan (Sex Traffic, The Hour) reunite for this politically-charged recreation of the events leading up to Suffragette Emily Davison's death under the hooves of George V's horse at the 1913 Epsom Derby. Natalie Press plays Davison and Meryl Streep is Suffragette leader Emmeline Pankhurst, but it's around the fictitious Maud Watts (Carey Mulligan) that most of the action coalesces. Also included in the rather starry cast are Anne-Marie Duff, Romola Garai and Helena Bonham Carter, great-granddaughter of the Prime Minister of the time, Herbert Asquith.

Dickensian (12)

BBC/2entertain, £19.99

Despite being one of those brilliant, why-have-they-never-done-it-before? ideas, the BBC's Tony Jordan-scripted drama based around Charles Dickens's literary characters divided critical opinion when it aired on BBC One recently. Some found it too soapy - Jordan spent 20 years writing for EastEnders, after all - but others loved its shameless appropriation of characters from across Dickens's canon, with the more knowledgeable obsessing over timelines and connections and saying things like: “But Honoria's baby can't die, she has to grow up to narrate Bleak House!”. There's no confirmation yet that there will be second series, but the small fortune the BBC spent building the set and the fact that it was only in the last couple of episodes that Oliver Twist was finally unveiled suggests it's only a matter of time. Until then, gorge yourself on this four-disc set of the 20 episode series.