Standing Up For Themselves

Wednesday, November 23 2011
Standing Up For Themselves

Comedy is the new rock ‘n’ roll, as the old cliché goes (it was one of the first “new” things as the phrase gained credence some 20 or so years ago), and if you needed any proof that the old saying still stands up, then have a look  at the past week’s newspapers.

As our weekly round-up of DVD and Blu-ray coverage in the national press and a selection of magazines shows, comedy DVDs are all the rage this year. They were reviewed alongside feature films and, crucially, coverage seeped through into papers and particularly their glossy weekend supplements. The fact that most are UK and even better still, London-based, means they’re on hand to give interviews, which they did, with a vengeance. (The sheer volume accounts for the length and lateness of this feature.) It’s tough to pick a particularly strong performance, although Sarah Millican seemed to be everywhere.

Feature films-wise, Cars 2, Horrible Bosses and Zookeeper all appeared everywhere, although their reviews were somewhat mixed.

We were still wading through the previous week’s coverage when the new round of activity kicked off. With this volume of interviews going on, you’re bound to miss one or two things or pick them up late, and that’s how we neglected to mention major interviews with Sarah Millican and Reginald D Hunter in The Observer and The Sunday Times’ art and magazine supplements, with each crediting their DVD releases (from 4DVD and Universal respectively).

The week’s activity now starts on a Thursday after metropolitan freebie the Metro shifted its home entertainment section (or home cinema as it now calls it) from Tuesday. The good news is that the rejigged page has now become a spread, one which this time around led off on Bridesmaids (Universal), continuing its strong run from the week before. Other titles covered included four star reviews for Dogwoof’s newspaper doc Page One (“given our own current journalistic woes it seems even more profoundly important”), DreamWorks/Paramount’s Kung Fu Panda 2 (“still rewards rewatching for its subtle visual themes, jokes and allusions”), SPHE’s Community Season 1 (“screwball anything-goes idiocy on display is closest in feel to 30 Rock”), as well as Larry Crowne (Studiocanal) and Beginners (Fox). Its Lost Treasure column (Forgotten Classics Dug Up) was Takeshi Kitano’s Hana-Bi, tying in neatly with his current Studiocanal release Outrage. There’s a Five Films section, in which Ashley Walters picked his five favourite adventure movies (The Goonies, Stand By Me, Lost Boys, Back To The Future and Flight Of The Navigator, if you’re wondering) and Five Questions piece, asking Wendi McLendon-Covey, er, five questions tying in with the release of Bridesmaids. The Metro’s coverage was strong before the redesign, it’s now even better and among the best across newspapers.

The other city freebie, London’s Evening Standard, had Page One: Inside The New York Times, Outrage, Touch Of Evil (Eureka’s Masters Of Cinema), Pianomania (Crabtree) and Larry Crowne.

Bridesmaids cropped up again in The Sun’s Something For The Weekend section with a four star review (“could be billed as The Hangover with ovaries, but it’s a more savage beast”), alongside Beginners and another four star performer, Kung Fu Panda 2 (“top notch panda-monium”). There was a further competition for a batch of Disney Digital 3D Blu-ray releases and top prize of a 3D TV and, further into the entertainment supplement, an interview with Milton Jones for his title going out through Spirit Entertainment.

More comedy in the Daily Mirror’s The Ticket entertainment section, with a full page interview with Jimmy Carr and supporting plug for his Being Funny DVD from 4DVD. Cars 2 was the lead title on its reviews page opposite, but, in keeping with much of its coverage, the review was somewhat mixed. Still, at least it fared better than SPHE’s Zooekeeper, which picked up one star,  and the epithet “awful”. Others picking up more stars (in ascending order) were A Better Life (eOne), Tales From The Darkside Season 1 (Revelation), Artificial Eye’s A Separation (“a small triumph”), Horrible Bosses (“packed with big, dirty laughs and one-liners you’ll be quoting for months”) and, best of all, the maximum-scored One Life (Kaleidoscope), its “sheer visual beauty… makes it such a visual beauty”.

The Daily Star had a competition and review for Horrible Bosses,  with further reviews for the Fast And Furious Collection (Universal), Cars 2 and Beginners.

Moving to the mid-market tabloids, the Daily Express had reviews for Horrible Bosses (Warner), Cars 2 (Disney) and, giving a nice balanced and diverse feel to its reviews, The Three Colours Trilogy from Artificial Eye, released on Blu-ray for the first time and earning a full five stars, with Krzystof Kieslowski’s trio described as “one of the great achievements in world cinema”.

The Daily Mail gave a similarly glowing review to the 65th anniversary edition of It’s A Wonderful Life, rightly praising what it called “Capra’s masterpiece”.

Moving further upmarket, The Independent slated Horrible Bosses and Larry Crowne, although it was nicer about A Better Life.

No specific reviews as ever, in The Guardian, although there were a couple of points of interest. Adding to its impressive performance thus far, The Guardian’s Your Next Box Set feature plumped for Community, while there was a sizeable feature in its Film & Music section on Francis Ford Coppola’s Zoetrope studio, flagging up all of Studiocanal’s recent batch of Coppola-related releases.

Moving on to Saturday, and we normally rattle through some of the tabloid newspapers that feature DVD mentions and the likes, this week it took a lot longer than normal given the amount of coverage given to comedy releases and the sheer volume of releases.

The Daily Mail’s Weekend magazine featured an interview with Tim Vine in its My School Photo regular feature, publicising his latest release distributed via Spirit Entertainment. It also featured the complete Doctor Who series six box set in its regular box set release.

Loads of mentions in The Sun’s Fabulous magazine too, taking in The Pussycat Dolls 2 Dancer’s Body Workout (Anchor Bay) on its contents page; its Night In page had a ticker tape-style note featuring a batch of new releases, Patrick Monahan Live (2 entertain), Horrible Bosses and Mildred Pierce (HBO). Best of all, its inside back page had an interview with Shooting Stars comic Angelos Epithemiou, mentioning his …And Friends release from  2 entertain.

The Daily Mirror’s We  Love Telly featured a competition for the latest Supernatural release from Warner.

Moving on to the quality press, and there were more interviews and other features with comics and the likes. The Times Review featured an interview with comic Mark Watson, giving full credit to his Universal release. Titles covered in its standard reviews section included Take That: Progress Live (Polydor), Cars 2 and the Three Colours Trilogy. Its Weekend supplement had an interview with Cliff Richard to publicise the release of The Soulicious Tour: Live At The O2 release.

The Guardian’s Guide magazine featured loads, taking in advertising aplenty, with editorial on A Separation (“it’s not so much world cinema as world class”) and mentions for Deadly Blessing (Arrow), The Lion King, Horrible Bosses and, our favourite review, for Eureka/Bounty’s The Human Centipede 2 – (Full Sequence), which merely stated “No comment”. Its Comedy page featured a full review for Tim Vine’s latest outing, saying it offered “the best return in terms of laughs per pound”.

The same paper’s glossy Weekend magazine had a gift guide which mentioned DVD releases throughout its different price ranges, taking in Bridesmaids, Downton Abbey 1 n& 2 (Universal Playback) and The Killing Season 2 (Arrow, due in December).

More in the Daily Telegraph’s Review supplement, which also interviewed Reginald D Hunter and plugged his latest. Its DVD reviews took in Cars 2 and Horrible Bosses.

The weekend edition of the Financial Times took in a quartet of classier titles, including the Yves St Laurent film L’Amour Fou (Studiocanal), A Separation, A Better Life and the Three Colours Trilogy 

Sunday now and more reviews and more feature coverage. The Daily Star Sunday featured Cars 2, Horrible Bosses and the DreamWorks How To Train Your Dragon spin-off double bill of Dragons Gift Of The Night Fury and Book Of Dragons (Paramount).

The Sunday Mirror featured Kung Fu Panda and, at the opposite end of the scale, the Masters Of Cinema Blu-ray release of the excellent Silent Running. Its Celebs On Sunday magazine had a major interview with Eve Myles tying in with 2 entertain’s Torchwood: Miracle Day.

More feature material in the Sunday Telegraph’s Seven magazine, taking in a two page interview with Jimmy Carr, publicising his Being Funny DVD release through 4DVD. Its reviews were slightly more diverse, taking in A Separation (Artificial Eye) and Larry Crowne (Studiocanal), the former earning four stars (“deservedly won a sheaf of awards”), the latter a mere one star (“a tired and fairly implausible romance”).

The Mail On Sunday’s Live magazine had featured Carr the previous week, this time its only coverage was in its This Week’s Entertainment Releases, where, nestling between the books, CDs and films in the top 10 were the Three Colours Trilogy Blu-ray, Billy Connolly’s You Asked For It (Universal) and Tour Of Duty (Fremantle). Its Review section there was a sizeable round-up of comedy DVDs. “As the relentless march of stand-up advances unchecked, practically every comedian known to the British market has a DVD release coming out this Christmas,” it began, before tipping John Bishop Live Sunshine (2 entertain) as “doubtless the biggest seller this season”. It gave a five star review to Tommy Tiernan Crooked Man (PIAS), saying it was a “superb piece of work, capturing Tiernan at his magical best”. It also covered Andy Parsons Gruntled Live (Universal).

The Sunday Times doesn’t cover DVD releases normally, but in a pre-Christmas TV boxset round-up it had almost two pages devoted to Friday Night Lights, the American football spin-off of the feature film released by Universal Playback,  which it called “quite simply some of the best television ever made”. It went on to list other essential box television on DVD, asking “You’ve got The Wire, The Sopranos and Mad Men. So which other box sets should you have?” It then listed them, taking in Second Sight’s Heimat (“one of the great TV dramas”), Sons Of Anarchy from Fox and Justified, which, it noted, features “a delicious cast of semi-grotesques”. We’ll be featuring more of this on our website shortly, as we round up all the chart-based DVD gift-buying selections from  assorted magazines and newspapers.

The Observer magazine interviewed Jason Manford for its regular This Much I Know slot (he openly discussed his, ahem, problems) and it also plugged his Universal live stand-up release.

Over in its Review section, Mark Kermode reviewed Cars 2, describing it as Pixar’s “first fully-fledged false step”. He wasn’t much nicer about Horrible Bosses, although he was even more vitriolic discussing Zookeeper (“Imagine DreamWorks’ Madagascar with all the jokes taken out, redone as a poo-throwing live-action pantomime and then staged as part of a massive advert for the bonhomie of TGI Friday’s – for kids!”) and equally dismissive of The Human Centipede 2. Philip French’s Classic DVD was Hammett.

We’ll end where we started, with comedy DVDs. The Radio Times covered Cars 2, Zookeeper and Horrible Bosses in its films at home section, and Doctor Who was its boxset choice. But it was interesting to see not only more coverage for the second series of The Killing, but also Miranda Hart discussing her love of Strictly Come Dancing at the same time as plugging the second series of her sitcom. 

Time Out’s standard review section also featured Hart, as well as comedy from Horrible Bosses and slightly less cheery stuff in The Theo Angelopoulous Collection (Artificial Eye) and 4 Days Inside Guantanamo (Dogwoof), but over on its comedy pages it was talking about stand-up DVDs. In its print version it took in Tommy Tiernan, Greg Davies, Tim Minchin and Sarah Millican. More on this on our website later.

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