Everybody’s Heard About The Bird
It’s oft been stated before, but the home entertainment release of a film provides a timely opportunity for reassessment, especially from critics. And, as our weekly round up of coverage for DVD and home entertainment releases highlights, that was the case this week.
Two titles were chief amongst those up for a second viewing, namely Mirror Mirror, one of two takes on the Snow White fairytale out in 2012, and The Raven, John Cusack starring in a loose take on Poe, were both watched by pretty much every reviewer on newspapers, both tabloid and broadsheet.
Neither were exactly what you could call warmly received at theatrical release, and while still drawing some flak, both earned some stronger notices too.
Traditionally the first port of call for our regular round-up is the Metro newspaper, and, similarly, as custom dictates, its lead title is usually the fulm that had picked up some of the best reviews in this very same column the week before. And this was the case again this week, as Wild Bill (Universal) picked up the plaudits and the stars, earning four out of five. In keeping with many of the reviews, it noted that Dexter Fletcher’s directorial debut was something “altogether more satisfying” than the average dire British gangster flick, concluding that it “has bags of charm and suggests great promise”. Also scoring well were Fremantle’s I Am Bruce Lee, Artificial Eye’s The Kid With A Bike and StreetDance 2 (eOne), all scoring some of their best marks over the previous week or so. There were further reviews for Bel Ami (Studiocanal), and A Cat In Paris (Soda Pictures). Its Lost Treasure title was Wonderful London, rightly noting that “if BBC2’s The Secret History Of Our Streets series whetted your lost London appetite, you’ll enjoy this series of 12 films from the mid-1920s”. Its Five Questions were asked of Wild Bill director Dexter Fletcher.
Moving on to Friday and our next destination is the other London metropolitan free newspaper, which plumped for the “great documentary: Salute (Arrow), the “complete treat” of Walking And Talking (BBC Worldwide), Bel Ami, The Raven (Universal) and Anchor Bay’s Blu-ray release of The Night Porter (“it’s been described as ‘nasty’, ‘disturbing’, ‘stupidly literal’ and ‘silly’, but at least you can now see it properly on this new digital transfer”).
The Daily Star featured a competition and review for the aforementioned The Raven, giving away books and DVDs. Also reviewed were “classic circus melodrama” Trapeze (Second Sight), Mirror Mirror (Studiocanal) and Barbarella (Paramount).
There were the usual pithy pay-off lines in the DVD column in The Sun’s Something For The Weekend entertainment section, with Bel Ami (“this tale of duplicity and desire should have smouldered [but is never in danger of catching fire”), The Kid With A Bike (“this meandering modern fable may be too much Belgian waffle for some”) and Wild Bill (“takes too long to turn from mild to wild”).
The Daily Mirror’s own entertainment supplement, The Ticket, is one of our favourite DVD reviews offerings, even when it is being harsh on some titles. This week was no different, with Mirror Mirror (“there are no surprises how it all ends and absolutely none before we get there apart from just how tedious the whole enterprise is”), The Raven (“a dour, shouty slog”), Studiocanal’s At The Earth’s Core (“it’s a movie that’s perhaps best forgotten”) and Arrow’s Who Dares Wins (“not a great film, but the extras are good”) all coming under fire, and Anchor Bay’s The Night Porter (“the most interesting [of 70s] arty but X-rated flicks about power and subjugation”), Salute and The Players (“loathsomely funny”) all faring better.
Moving on to the mid-market tabloids, there was nothing in the Daily Mail, its coverage being edged out, while there were more medals for Salute (“fascinating”) in the Daily Express, and kind words for Trapeze and Mirror Mirror too.
The Guardian’s regular Your Next Box Set went a few years back and plumped for John Adams (HBO), while the Film & Music section also had an interesting read on the work of the BBFC (you can see it here)
On to Saturday now and a creeping trend we’ve noticed is DVD coverage getting eased out of the way to make room for Olympic coverage. This was exemplified by the Daily Mail’s Weekend magazine. Always a supporter, by way of a weekly mention of a TV box set release, the slot made way for vast Olympic television coverage. The Daily Mirror’s We Love TV magazine still had room for its regular mention, by way of The Thick Of It featuring as a competition prize on its puzzle page.
Moving to the quality press, with the expected coverage in the weekly arts and entertainment supplements.
The Independent veered between the sublime – five stars for Fox’s Forever Marilyn box of Monroe films (“cinema’s most luminous blonde is exquisite in all four of these comedies”) – to the ridiculous (Mirror Mirror, with one star, is a “clumsy unfunny adaptation”), by way of Fox’s We Bought A Zoo (“I bought a corkscrew, which was marginally more gripping than this cloying tale and a brace of the Studiocanal Amicus titles, The Land That Time Forgot (“as cheap looking and silly as it undoubtedly is, it still has its pleasures”) and At The Earth’s Core (“deliriously daft Amicus adaptation”).
Over in The Times’ Review supplement there were mentions for Salute (“engrossing”), The Raven, The Land That Time Forgot and The Edgar Wallace Mysteries Vols 1 & 2 (Network).
The Daily Telegraph’s similarly titled Review supplement has seen its coverage edged out recently, but despite Edinburgh festival preview material there was still room to praise Mirror, Mirror (“Tarsem Singh’s ravishingly beautiful, exuberantly good-natured adaptation”), Wild Bill (“enjoyably warm and chewy”) and The Raven (“either a downmarket take-off of Seven or an upmarket take-off of Saw; I’m not sure which is worse”).
The Guardian’s Guide supplement had a two page feature on a DVD release – sadly it was for a Region 1 DVD and Blu-ray, Louie CK. Its DVD and Blu-ray Releases column focused on Barbarella (Paramount), concluding that “gr5oovy is a pretty good word to describe the entire movie”. Also covered were At The Earth’s Core and The Land That Time Forgot (including the classic line: “I’m Doug McClure. You might remember me from hugely entertaining 1970s creature features such as these”), The Night Porter, The Raven and Mirror Mirror. It’s the Planner spread featured Friday Night Dinner’s Tom Rosenthal picking, among other things, his favourite box sets (Community and Spaced among them), as well as mention of Reno 911’s arrival at LOVEFiLM.
Moving on to our final day, and we’ll rattle through the tabloids. The People featured Absolutely Fabulous 20 on its TV pages.
The Sunday Mirror reviewed Mirror Mirror (“beautiful, family-friendly live action version”) and “stylish period costume drama” Bel Ami.
Over in thye Daily Star Sunday, there were reviews for Mirror Mirror, The Raven and “powerful doc” Salute.
In the quality press, the weekend edition of the Financial Times covered Salute, Wild Bill, The Raven and In Darkness.
The Independent On Sunday, meanwhile, featured Mirror Mirror and The Raven.
The ever eclectic but sometimes belated reviews in the Sunday Telegraph’s Seven magazine featured Claude Chabrol “on peak form” in La Ceremonie (Artificial Eye), Fox’s Margaret (“gripping throughout”) and Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close (Warner).
We’ll end the newspapers with Mark Kermode in The Observer, where, above Philip French’s Classic DVD column (this week: Double Indemnity from Eureka’s Masters Of Cinema imprint), he gave The Raven one of its better reviews (“the whiff of fanboy enthusiasm does much to paper over the movie’s manifold cracks”). But he buried both Mirror Mirror (“anyone who felt a twinge of disappointment at the current cinema release Snow White And The Huntsman would do well to check out the altogether inferior [film] for proof of just how lame modern fairytale reinventions can be”) and The Players (“Honestly, this isn’t just on a par with the worst indulgences of French sex farce cinema, it’s down there with the dregs of Britain’s contributions to the genre”).
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