Senna Takes Pole Position

Monday, October 10 2011
Senna Takes Pole Position

After outperforming expectations at theatrical, in terms both of box office and critical reaction, Senna arrived on DVD and Blu-ray with a pedigree behind it, but its performance in terms of reviews over the weekend should help it off the grid even faster this week, as our round-up of the week’s press coverage for home entertainment releases proves.

It got the coverage in terms of both column inches and the quality too, with near unanimously strong reviews. As the Daily Mirror itself noted: “Senna has been one of the best-reviewed films of the year. And rightly so.”

There was another round of strong coverage for George Harrison: Living In The Material World benefiting from both its London premiere as well as reviews. Also worth noting was The Beaver, which earned across the board coverage.

We’ll start, as ever, with Tuesday’s Metro newspaper, the free tabloid given out in London and other major conurbations. Its DVD Of The Week award went to Chalet Girl (Momentum), the previous week’s most reviewed title. There was further coverage for a number of titles that had already benefited from appearing on other newspapers, notably Point Blank (SPHE), which picked up another four star notice, “it’s faintly ludicrous but thrilling enough”. Also featured were Spartacus: Gods Of The Arena, The Bang Bang Club (eOne) and, as its Cult Vulture pick (Oddball Choices for Sofa Loafers, as it is dubbed), Bal (Drakes Avenue).

Point Blank picked up another rave review from the Evening Standard, another metropolitan freebie, which said it was “breathless stuff”. The paper also covered The Insatiable Moon (Blue Dolphin), The Bang Bang Club, Just Do It (Dogwoof), Red, White And Blue (Trinity) and Chalet Girl.

Spartacus and Point Blank both cropped up again in The Sun’s Something For The Weekend supplement on Friday, alongside slightly less familiar faces in the shape of Monty Hall’s Great Escapes (Acorn) and the first ever DVD release for Rastamouse (Universal). Alongside these reviews, there was a competition giveaway offering a TV and Blu-ray player, also giving away prizes of The Beaver (Icon).

There was a similar giveaway in The Daily Star, giving away the same prize and, alongside it, one of the film’s better reviews , “strange and oddly satisfying” reviewer Alan Frank called it. Further reviews took in Anchor Bay’s Blu-ray bow for The Adventures Of Tintin, as well as Quatermass And The Pit (Studiocanal) and the pairing of a brace of Clint Eastwood films, In The Line Of Fire and The Eiger Sanction (UCA).

The Daily Mirror’s The Ticket supplement featured The Beaver as its lead review, and, alongside it, a five-star review for George Harrison: Living In The Material World (Lionsgate). There were other reviews for Quatermass And The Pit (Studiocanal) and Senna. The bottom third of the page was devoted to TV DVDs. Doctor Who led the way, with some perceptive comments for 2 entertain’s release of Series 6 Part 2, which said it was “terrifying, complicated, but unmissable”. It also covered Trollied (Fremantle), House Season 7 (Universal Playback), Nature’s Miracle Babies (2 entertain) and The Only way Is Essex Series 2 (4DVD).

Moving up market and through the mid-market tabloids, the Daily Mail’s one and only review, and its DVD of the week, was Chalet Girl. Its rival in this sector, the Daily Express, featured Potiche, which it described as “true entertainment”, Senna, “spellbinding” and The Beaver.

Senna was similarly praised in The Independent (“spellbinding”), as was Potiche. The paper further covered Way Of The Morris, the Martin Scorsese directed George Harrison documentary Living In The Material World and The Beaver.

On to Saturday and first we’ll rattle through the weekend telly supplements that tend to give coverage to DVD reviews. This week’s crop included the Daily Mirror’s We Love Telly magazine, which had a competition for Anchor Bay’s The Adventures Of Tintin. The Daily Mail’s Weekend magazine featured the third season of The Mentalist (Fox).

In terms of the broadsheets, there was the usual support from all the quality press. These were again hugely fruitful for Senna, with the Universal documentary getting glowing reviews across the board .The Times’ Review section said it was “astounding”, while also praising Quatermass And The Pit (a “terrific 1967 Hammer sci-fi chiller,” it said), The Beaver and Intastella 555, the Daft Punk soundtracked anime adventure making its Blu-ray debut.

The Daily Telegraph’s Review section was equally complimentary about Senna, saying that it was a “deftly edited sensitively handled deeply moving documentary”. It also reviewed The Beaver.

The Guardian’s guide completed a trio of lead reviews, devoting the bulk of its coverage to Senna and also reviewing the second series of Eastbound And Down, Quatermass And The Pit (Studiocanal) and Erik The Viking (Arrow).

Predictably, Senna led the field in the weekend edition of the Financial Times, with the weekend’s other favourites, The Beaver and Potiche, as well as a newcomer in terms of coverage, New Wave Films’ Le Quattro Volte.

Sunday now, and running through the tabloids who cover DVD and Blu-ray releases on their pages. The People gave some of the first coverage we’ve seen to the Tesco exclusive release of DreamWorks and Paramount’s Halloween-themed Shrek title, Scared Shrekless. And it had upped the coverage on its TV pages too, covering two titles instead of the normal one, Billy Connolly’s Route 66 (Universal) and Prison Break (Fox).

It was all positive reviews in the Daily Star Sunday, with two four-star reviews for Senna (“pure gold”) and Living In The Material World, with five stars for the second series of Eastbound And Down, saying that Kenny Powers was “as a comedy character up there with Alan Partridge, David Brent and Joey Barton” and adding that it was “even better than the first”.

The Sunday Mirror plumped for Spartacus: Gods Of The Arena (“a thrilling series”) and Flypaper (Lionsgate), which it said was “a delightfully quirky comedy-heist movie”.

The Mail On Sunday’s coverage was somewhat less than normal, no separate coverage in its Review section and, in what is usually a safe bet for mainstay for a good few mentions, only two titles were mentioned in The Week’s Entertainment Releases in the Live magazine, The Beaver and Chalet Girl.

The Independent On Sunday covered the weekend’s two mainstays, the Beaver and Senna.

In the Sunday Telegraph’s Seven magazine Senna actually received one of its only blemishes on an otherwise spotless record over the weekend, giving it three stars and saying that some elements were “insufficiently explored”. It was more complimentary about Potiche, however.

We’ll end the newspaper coverage with a look at The Observer. As dependable as ever, critic Mark Kermode spent almost half his column struggling to find the best way to describe Le Quattro Volte without putting potential viewers off (“calling or a ‘near-silent goat farming film, for example, clearly does director Michelangelo Frammartino’s extraordinary vision few favours… labelling it a ‘meditation on life, the universe and everything’ is even worse”), before settling on it as an “indefinable and utterly unmissable gem”. He also reviewed Potiche and The Beaver (he’d done Senna last week, in case you’re wondering) as well as righting a wrong from September and belatedly reviewing Bobby Fischer Against The World, which should give heart to PR people frustrated at other reviewers’ common practice of refusing to even consider a title if it’s past its release date. Philip French’s Classic DVD column was given over to The Complete Humphrey Jennings Volume One, which he said was “invaluable”.

Looking lastly at a couple of magazines which always devote space to DVD releases and offer some of the best coverage around, to our eyes at any rate.

The Radio Times featured Senna, Thor and, as its DVD Of The Week, The Beaver. Its TV Box Set Of The Week was A Very Peculiar Practice (Network Releasing)

We always rave about Time Out’s coverage, thanks to the amount f coverage it gives to home entertainment, as well as the fact it doesn’t always make the most obvious choices. This week we’re praising it too for its genuine enthusiasm, picking titles it generally raved about: most of its titles were four or five-star reviews. These took in Senna (“the definitive last word… I’d be gobsmacked if this coruscating, supremely fashioned film isn’t nominated for a Best Documentary featurette”), The Iron Horse (Eureka Masters Of Cinema), The Simpsons Season 14 (Fox), Le Quattro Volte (“very special”), Iggy And The Stooges Live (Wienerworld), The Peddler (Network), Potiche and Chalet Girl. Its Blu-ray Revivals section took in Quatermass And The Pit, Cape Fear (Universal), Arrow’s Ashes & Diamonds (“richly deserving of the Blu treatment”) and Hawaii Five-O Season One (Fox).