Cracking The Code

Tuesday, August 16 2011
Cracking The Code

Director Duncan Jones, he of Moon fame, is one of those loved by critics – he’s making broadly mainstream movies but, like Christopher Nolan, is looking to challenge the viewers with something a little more taxing than the average blockbuster. This means he can pull in a good crowd too, so it’s no surprise to see that his latest outing, Source Code, was the best reviewed title of the weekend, as our regular review of the weekend’s coverage of DVD and Blu-ray shows.

We’ll start our weekly round up of  the week’s coverage in newspapers and their assorted supplements and magazines with metropolitan free morning newspaper the Metro. Its DVD Of The Week was the eOne release of Your Highness, although the two-star rating meant it was actually the worst reviewed title in the newspaper. The others that fared better included Camelot (also eOne), Resurrected (Second Sight) and Optimum’s wartime Ealing drama Went The Day Well. The Cult Vulture selection was the BFI’s excellent release of Here’s A Health To The Barley Mow: A Century Of Folk Customs And Ancient Rural Games (“If watching beardy men in antlers and/or rah=rah skirts waving hankies at each other is your bag, you’re in for a treat”).

On to Friday and over in another free newspaper, London’s Evening standard, featured among its number, Kaboom (Artificial Eye), Meek’s Cutoff (Soda), United (Revolver) and Your Highness. All four have received plenty of reviews across the board in the past week or two.

Over in the red-top tabloids,  Your Highness cropped up again in The Sun, alongside Sucker Punch (Warner) and Dark Matter, High Fliers’ true life tale of a college shooting in America starring Meryl Streep.

The Danny McBride, James Franco and Natalie Portman starring Your Highness cropped up again in the Daily Star, with a competition offering copies of the film as prizes as well as a review. Other review spots went to Source Code (Optimum), The Veteran (Revolver) and the Spy Kids Trilogy, issued to tie in with the bow of the fourth film at cinemas.

The DVD Of The Week slot in the Ticket supplement in the Daily Mirror was given to Source Code. Other titles reviewed included Mars Need Moms (Disney), Africa Unite (Network), Little White Lies (Lionsgate), Countdown To Zero (Dogwoof) and Quarantine 2 (SPHE). If that batch only one, documentary Africa Unite, actually got more than two stars.

There was nothing in the way of reviews in the mid-market tabloids, Dailies Express and Mail, although credit must go to Revolver for snagging a two page feature on it’s the Round Up, including a prominent plug for the DVD release.

In the qualities there were reviews for Source Code ( “Duncan Jones’s loopy sci-fi thriller makes little or no sense, towards the end especially, but it is such enormous fun and the acting is so thoroughly committed that it hardly matters”), Meek’s Cutoff and the BFI Flipside imprint’s Deep End.

Nothing DVD-wise in The Guardian’s Film & Music supplement, but Justified (SPHE) was the choice in the regular Your Next Box Set feature in its G2 section.

On to Saturday, and there are consistently a few TV supplements in the tabs that go on to cover DVD releases. Among those are the Daily Mirror’s We Love Telly, The Sun’s Buzz and the Daily Mail’s Weekend. This week the first two of those both them featured the Complete Fourth Season of Gossip Girl (Warner), the Mirror’s with a competition, while additionally The Sun’s Buzz also featured Source Code. The Mail covered NCIS: Los Angeles Season 2 (Paramount).

Source Code was equally prominent in the quality press on Saturday too, picking up a review in The Times’ Review section, alongside Countdown To Zero (Dogwoof) and Camp Victory, Afghanistan (Safecracker). Those three (the latter two are both documentaries, the former “utterly chilling” according to The Times, the latter “stirring, sad and occasionally comical”) all appeared in the weekend edition of the Financial Times, with an additional title in the shape of Kaboom.

Source Code led the way in the Daily Telegraph’s Review section too, earning one of its better reviews of the weekend, along with four stars (scored in spire of the admission that the plot was, well, “preposterous”). In a bumper crop of reviews in the Telegraph, there was further coverage for The Company Men (Universal), AC/DC Let There Be Rock (Warner), Dark Matter and another from Optimum, The Extraordinary Adventures Of Adele Blanc Sec.

That French flick was also featured in the round up of releases in The Guardian’s Guide supplement, ahead of the Miramax Kevin Smith Collection, Disney’s Mars Needs Moms and SPHE’s Vantage Point. Its lead review space was given over to Network’s The Strange World Of Gurney Slade.

Moving on to Sunday, and the People’s new column covering entertainment releases had disappeared from its pages already, although there was room for a brief mention for Gossip Girl on its TV pages.

In the rest of the tabloids, there were just a brace of reviews in the daily Star Sunday, for Source Code (“gripping if slightly far-fetched stuff”) and Mars Needs Moms.

Source Code led the way in the Sunday Mirror, followed by Camelot.

As for the broadsheets, The Sunday Telegraph had little of note, meaning only the ever-reliable Mark Kermode was writing about forthcoming releases. He covered Source Code (“a Memento-like puzzle with a rewarding Twilight Zone twist”), Countdown To Zero (“a wake-up call”) and Mars Need Moms (“nothing like as terrible as its massive box office losses would imply”). Philip French’s Classic DVD was A High Wind In Jamaica (Eureka). Its regular The Film That Changed My Life spot saw David Leland talking about Alan Clarke’s excellent Elephant, times to tie in with Network’s release of Tales Out Of School, which features four titles penned by the writer. Also worth noting that writer Jason Solomons, who pens the regular Trailer Trash column, found time to talk about the irony of receiving a press release for Optimum’s Attack The Block the Monday after riots swept through the country (not, of course, in a snide way, he was fully supportive of the film).

Attack The Block is, of course, an Optimum release, as is Source Code, which capped an impressive weekend with a strong showing in the Mail On Sunday. It, or rather director Duncan Jones, was on the front cover of the paper’s Live magazine, with an accompanying four page interview with the helmer, talking about, among other things, his famous dad (David Bowie) and featuring a full plug for the release. Meanwhile, the same title was also featured in the same magazine’s This Week’s Entertainment R@eleases column, which also plugged EV’s Scream 4 and The Vampire Diaries Season 2 (Warner).

Also in the MoS’ Review section was a column covering TV DVDs, the excellent Angry Boys (2 entertain) which got a full five stars, as well as Louse Theroux: The Odd, The Bad And The Godly (also 2 entertain) and Camelot.

And, finishing a bumper week in the MoS, there was a further Film DVDs section, taking in The Company Men, Oranges And Sunshine (Icon) and Unknown (Optimum), capping a fine week for the company.