Mildred Cooks Up A Storm

Wednesday, November 30 2011
Mildred Cooks Up A Storm

Another week, another bumper crop of releases and another weighty amount of reviews covering DVD and Blu-ray releases. And in addition to that, as we’ve noted in previous weeks in our weekly round-up of press coverage for home entertainment, there was lots of other material beyond this too. So plenty of interviews with stand-up comics to support their releases and, in addition to that, a decent amount of gift guides plugging key releases.

And as our regular look at reviews and beyond proves this week, HBO proved that DVD reviewers are just as in thrall to HBO as their television counterparts – the company’s Emmy-award winning miniseries Mildred Pierce beat off competition from a wealthy of blockbusters to become arguably the week’s best reviewed title. Among the feature films performing well was Transformers: Dark Of The Moon, while it was another strong week for 4DVD’s clutch of live releases, with the likes of Sarah Millican and Frankie Boyle pulling in feature coverage and interviews.

We’ll start with the Metro newspaper, which continues to provide its exemplary, recently revamped coverage. A Separation (Artificial Eye) was the release of the week, getting a full five stars and a rave notice, being described as a “taut drama”. Also covered were An Idiot Abroad 2 (2 entertain), Mildred Pierce (HBO), another poor review for SPHE’s Zookeeper  (“it’s a shame the secret committee of straight-talking zoo animals that provide all the moments in this witless romantic comedy from producer Adam Sandler were brought into script development meetings”) and more middling ones for Cars 2 (Disney) and Horrible Bosses (Fox). Its supporting features included Five Films, looking at modern Middle East masterpieces. Its Five Questions column quizzed Jennifer Aniston tying in with Horrible Bosses, while its Lost Treasure (“forgotten classics dug up”) was Office Space (Fox).

Friday now and the Evening Standard gave another glowing review to A Separation, before taking in Magic Trip (Studiocanal), Horrible Bosses, Cars 2, Eureka/Bounty’s The Human Centipede 2 (“for those who like to watch a short. fat sweaty guy knocking out someone’s teeth with a hammer”), L’Amour Fou (Studiocanal) and Soda’s excellent The Black Power Mixtape (“patchy but evocative, essential and mundane”).

On to the tabloids, and the Daily Star had a competition and review for Transformers: Dark Of The Moon, offering copies of the DVD as prizes. Its other reviews were for The Lion King (“still looks terrific”), Mildred Pierce (“gripping drama”) and a somewhat belated 10 out of 10 review for Paramount’s Thor (“a comic book adaptation of the highest quality”). Over on its regular wrestling page, Fightin Talk, there was a competition for a clutch of the latest releases from Silver Vision, incidentally.

The Sun’s Something For The Weekend supplement had interviews with Gorillaz and comic Patrick Monahan to mark the release of their respective DVDs, the former a greatest hits package through EMI, the latter a debut live release from 2 entertain, while its review coverage took in Horrible Bosses (one of its more positive notices), Cars 2 (“running on empty”), but was far more complimentary about Frankie Boyle’s Tramadol Nights (4DVD) and Disney’s Toy Story Trilogy. All this coverage was further enhanced by a competition offering copies of the latest instalment of Merlin (Fremantle) and a 3D TV as top prizes.

The Daily Mirror’s The Ticket supplement kicked off what is expected to be a storm of publicity over the coming week for Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2 (Warner), a week ahead of its release, earning itself four stars and comments such as “the thrills never let up, while the conclusion brims over with emotion”.

Transformers: Dark Side Of The Moon (Paramount) fared less well, with a mere two stars and the likes of “it’s a familiar brew of things blowing up very loudly”. Even more scathing was its thoughts on Horrid Henry (eOne), which somewhat undeservedly drew a mere one star and the fairly obvious epithet of “horrid”. Its three other titles were all four star reviews, Studiocanal’s Sarah’s Key (“It’s both upsetting and very powerful), Enemies Of The People (Old Street Films) and eONe’s TT: Closer To The Edge. Later in that same supplement, there was a half page competition offering prizes of a home entertainment system and copies of Transformers: Dark Of The Moon.

Moving through to the mid-market newspapers, and the Daily Mail took in a couple of titles that have already been extensively covered elsewhere in recent weeks, taking in The Lion King (Disney) and Bridesmaids (Universal). The ever-esoteric Daily Express took in Mildred Pierce, Sarah’s Key (Studiocanal) and Poetry (Arrow/eOne).

The Independent featured Transformers: Dark Of The Moon, which “damned it by faint praise”, saying that it was better than the last one and, somewhat amusingly, referring to its star as Rosie Modelling-Emptyhead, alongside Mildred Pierce, Magic Trip (Studiocanal), Cars 2 and A Separation.

The Guardian’s G2 section featured How To Make It In America as its Your Next Box Set choice, while the paper’s Film & Music section took in Magic Trip, flagging both its theatrical and DVD releases.

Saturday now and there was plenty in addition to the broadsheet and quality press review sections. The Daily Mirror’s We Love Telly had competitions for the mammoth 34 disc box set for Criminal Minds (Disney) as well as a full half-page offering for Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas (Fox), offering home entertainment kit as well as a weekend in London. The Sun’s Fabulous magazine featured a hefty near-page devoted to dissecting the Harry Potter films ahead of the release of Deathly Hallows Part 2 and the Daily Mail’s Weekend supplement featured the latest release from Spooks (Universal Playback).

As in previous weeks and oft-mentioned here, there was plenty of coverage beyond the normal review sections.

Take The Times Review section, as well as its standard reviews (“this sensitive moving drama” Sarah’s Key, the “absolutely tremendous” TT: Closer To The Edge and the “more tedious metal-mangling” of Transformers: Dark Of The Moon), it also featured a Six Of The Best comedians as chosen by Sarah Millican, promoting her Chatterbox Live release (4DVD) and an interview with Owen Wilson under its Five Minutes With… banner, promoting Cars 2.

The Guardian’s Guide supplement continued that trend, with Frankie Boyle being its cover star, accompanied by a three page interview to highlight his Tramadol Nights release (4DVD). And nestling between the DVD ads (Mildred Pierce, The Rolling Stones live Some Girls title out via Eagle Rock and TT: Closer To The Edge) there were reviews for Brazil (Fox), offering a perceptive commentary on the classic Terry Gilliam “masterpiece” and further plugs for Happy People (Second Sight), Sarah’s Key and the low-price release of The Secret In Their Eyes (Metrodome).

The Daily Telegraph’s Review section featured two rave reviews for Poetry, which it called “an absolute treasure” and Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2, adding that “Potterheads shouldn’t lost heart – they could spend most of the next decade lapping up all the special features”.

Over in the Weekend edition of the Financial Times there were reviews for titles that had all been picking up reviews elsewhere, namely Mildred Pierce, Sarah’s Key, Horrible Bosses and Poetry.

And while the Saturday edition of The Independent doesn’t normally cover DVDs, its Magazine featured an interview with Sarah Millican, again plugging her DVD, which we highlighted last week, but has been, by our reckoning, the best reviewed comedy DVD thus far, 4DVD’s batch all performing well alongside it.

Sunday now and we’ll whiz through the tabloids, starting with the People, which featured Universal’s latest Dancing On Ice release as well as Cars 2.

The Sunday Mirror reviewed Transformers: Dark Of The Moon and Mildred Pierce, while its Celebs On Sunday magazine had a half page competition tying in with Universal’s latest live Peter Kay release.

The Daily Star Sunday reviewed Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2 (“best Potter of the lot”), T: Closer To The Edge (“It’s been a year of great sporting documentaries but this still manages to stand out from the crowd”), Spooks Series 10 and Sarah’s Key. Elsewhere in the paper there was more for Harry Potter, with a competition on its pop pages offering copies of Deathly Hallows Part 2 as prizes.

The Mail On Sunday’s Review section had a half page devoted to comedy DVD releases, with lead title going to Billy Connolly: You Asked For It (Universal), which got five stars and a rave review, which said “this is one to treasure”. It went on to look at Angelos Epithemiou And Friends (2 entertain) and Chris Addison Live (Universal). Its Live section regularly has a top 10 billed This Week’s Entertainment Releases and this week was chock full of DVD and Blu-ray releases, with pole position going to TT: Closer To The Edge, with further down the list spaces going to Spooks Series 10, the Harry Potter Complete Collection (“perfect for hi-def TV”) and Transformers 1-3 Box Set. We also noticed, in the same section, a well-placed HMV ad for DVD titles, containing QR codes for easy ordering, in the middle of its gift guide.

The Sunday Times again featured some DVD mentions in its pages, no longer a regular guarantee, but  now more prevalent given the volume of releases; Mark Watson was interviewed to tie in with his Universal stand-up release, while in its magazine, Rebbie and Tito Jackson were in the Relative Values regular feature, with the piece crediting Universal’s Michael Jackson: Life Of An Icon release.

The Sunday Telegraph and its Seven arts supplement took in Mildred Pierce, giving it a full five star rating (“as taut and graceful as a film”), Sarah’s Key and Happy People: A Year In The Taiga.

The Independent On Sunday was another publication featuring a gift guide, among the items contained in its Culture suggestions (“cool collectibles for those at the cutting edge”, it said) were Community (SPHE) and Mildred Pierce. The IoS’ critics, meanwhile, plumped for a brace from eOne, TT: Closer To The Edge, which was “an enthralling documentary”, and Horrid Henry, on the end of more of a critical mauling, with poor Henry called “an authentically obnoxious little git”, which seemed a tad harsh.

More gift guides over in The Observer, Blue Valentine (Studiocanal), The Elizabeth Taylor Collection (Warner) and Mildred Pierce were all recommended as potential presents. And its Reviews section featured Mark Kermode’s thoughts on TT: Closer To The Edge (“judicious editing adds to the overall impact, allowing this intelligent documentary to cut to the chase with both drama and compassion”), Sarah’s Key (provides “Scott Thomas with the chance once again to prove her mettle as a mesmerising presence who can carry a complex drama shoulder-high”), A Separation (“this deftly blends life-and-death issues with down-to-earth drama to construct a portrait of good people driven apart by the clumsy mechanics of a rigidly ordered society”) and, predictably his latest missive against Michael Bay’s Transformers: Dark Of The Moon, echoing his previous pronouncements (“every bit as head-bashingly boring as its predecessor”). We’ll end, as ever, with two of our favourite magazines – and regular supporters of DVD – the Radio Times and Time Out.

The former featured Kung Fu Panda 2, TT: Closer To The Edge and Transformers: Dark Of The Moon as its film selections, the latter as DVD Of The Week, while the TV box set of the week was the mammoth 34 disc Criminal Minds complete package.

Over in Time Out, the DVD Of The Week spot went to the Talking Heads Chronography (“a terrific package sure to light up the face of any fan this Christmas”), Mildred Pierce, Happy People, Pianomania (Crabtree) and A Separation. There was also a two page interview with Stephen Merchant, promoting his current Universal stand-up release.

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