Pulling Power

Monday, March 3 2014
Pulling Power

With Oscars dominating all the film talk and scores of predictions cluttering up the pages of the weekend’s national newspapers, Warner’s decision to release Gravity on the day after the ceremony was vindicated if our regular round up of the weekend’s press coverage is anything to go by.

For the Alfonso Cuaron-helmed tale was far and away the most reviewed title of the weekend, garnering not just the column inches amid scores of reviews, but also four and five-star notices.

It was head and shoulders above the rest of the weekend’s releases in terms of coverage, although some independents, such as Soda’s For Those In Peril and Axiom’s The Patience Stone picked up a fair few reviews. And after a second week of plentiful reviews, it’s worth lauding Studiocanal for the amount of coverage it earned for Dead Of Night, showing that catalogue titles can still enthuse reviewers.

As ever, our first port of call, the Metro, featured one of the previous weekend’s biggies as its first choice, so this week Thor: The Dark World (Disney) started off the Home Cinema page, although two stars was hardly a godlike mark. “It’s disappointing then,” it said, “that this sequel feels overblown and underwhelming by comparison, with striking visuals and design work let down by a weak script and an ill-conceived story.” It went on to give far better marks to its other titles, such as Mister John (Artificial Eye) and Arrow’s The Killers (“this handsome new package lets toy watch the film’s terrific hard-bitten kicks in either aspect”), while its Box-Set Blitz choice was five-star title Game Of Thrones Season 3 (“pretty much the best thing on TV and season three is its best yet”). Elsewhere, its My Top Five Films saw director Amit Gupta choose a quintet from the 1970s, at the same time as promoting Metrodome’s Jadoo Kings Of Curry, for which he was at the helm. (His choices, incidentally, were Three Days Of The Condor, Chinatown, Annie Hall, The Godfather and Sholay). There was also an interview with Joe Lawlor and Christine Molloy, talking about their Mister John, plugging the Artificial Eye release.

The Evening Standard started off a stellar weekend for Warner’s Gravity (“the best sci-fi movie for decades”), moving on to The Patience Stone (Axiom), Studiocanal’s Dead Of Night (“creepy and totally seminal portmanteau horror film”), For Those In Peril (Soda) and a brace of titles from Kaleidoscope, The English Teacher (“almost-good, almost-farce”) and Devil In The Woods.

Thor cropped up again in The Sun’s Something For The Weekend section, but although the superhero movie got the lion’s share of the space, it was panned (“Thor has become a bore”) and another title, Vertigo’s Safety Not Guaranteed (“this gentle amble of a science fiction-flecked romcom is worth your time”). Also covered were The Firth Estate (“The truth is out there… but who knows whether it’s in here”) and The Last Days (Metrodome).

Gravity earned the DVD Of The Week slot in the Daily Mirror’s The Ticket section, earning a full five stars (“nailbiting visually spectacular space thriller”), there was also room for Bob Dylan: 30th Anniversary Concert (Sony), The Haunting In Connecticut 2 (eOne) and Paramount’s Jackass Presents Bad Grandpa (“think of it as You’ve Been Framed with added drunkenness, swearing and incontinence”).

The Daily Express featured Gravity, with another five-star notice (“it puts cutting edge technology at the service of an awe-inspiring story… visually stunning and emotionally compelling this is a real game-changer of a blockbuster”), as well as The English Teacher (Kaleidoscope) and The Ealing Studios Rarities Collection Volume 11 (Network).

The Guardian’s Film & Music section had its regular Your Next Box Set feature, this time round it looked at Paradise Postponed (Fremantle).

Saturday and the usual mentions for TV titles in the television supplements of the tabloids, both red-top and mid-market. The Americans Season 1 (Fox) was in the Daily Mail’s Weekend, while Gravity was rated as a must see title in the Daily Express’ Saturday magazine. The Daily Mirror’s We Love TV had a competition offering prizes of This Is Jinsy Series 2 (Delta Music) and Gravity (“tense adventure, with astonishing CGI”) was DVD Of The Week in The Sun’s TV Magazine, The Americans was its Box Set Of The Week selection.

After our lengthy discourse about the disappearance of reviews from the pages of The Independent and Telegraph’s arts supplement in this column last week, it was good to see a reviews column return to the former. Kicking off with Gravity (“a very gripping, often disorientating, sometimes nauseating drama”), The English Teacher (Kaleidoscope), Mister John (“discerning, understated thriller”), Dead Of Night (“macabre”) and Seduced And Abandoned (Soda).

Even the Daily Telegraph’s Review section got in on the act too, with a feature by sports writer Jim White talking about his love for This Is Spinal Tap, flagging Fox’s anniversary edition release of the film (“80 minutes of total joy… I can hardly wait to watch it again”).

The Times had its usual coverage all present and correct, with four out five stars given to first the “cosmic nailbiter” Gravity, then Soda’s For Those In Peril and Axiom’s The Patience Stone (“small but entirely gripping”).

Mystifyingly, The Guardian’s Guide chose to cover a film available not entirely legitimately from youtube, partly, it appears, to tie in with “insipid slushfest Diana [which] hits DVD this week”. Although Diana’s not out until March 24; further negating the point of this. Elsewhere, it had mentions for Thor: The Dark World, Serpico and Dead Of Night.

Lots of high marks in the weekend edition of the Financial Times, which covered Gravity (“in 3D it soars, in 2D it’s just, well, a bit flat”), The Americans, Game Of Thrones Season 3 (“visually astounding piece of ultra bloody political theatre”) and Dead Of Night (“a gem best enjoyed with friends on a dark steamy night”).

Sunday and the Mirror had the “wonderfully tense Oscar nominated lost in space thriller” Gravity on its Staying In page, while the same film also appeared with a competition and review in the Sunday People on its Films page. The same paper’s TV page featured Fleming: The Man Who Would Be Bond (BBC Worldwide).

The Staying In page of the Mail On Sunday’s Event magazine had mentions for the Bob Dylan: 30th Anniversary Celebration and Gravity, it also had an excellent page feature on stars’ own Spinal Tap moments, again tying in with the release of the anniversary edition of the film. Its actual reviews page also covered Gravity, with a surprising lacklustre review, Safety Not Guaranteed (Vertigo) and its best-reviewed title, Enough Said (Fox). The Sunday Express’ S Magazine had a mention for Gravity too.

The Sunday Telegraph’s Seven magazine featured Le Week-end (“moving and joyous in equal measure”), Captain Phillips (SPHE) and Guns Of Darkness (Network).

The Independent On Sunday covered Gravity (“technical marvel”), The English Teacher and The Dukes Of September Live (429 Recordings), as well as a competition for Safety Not Guaranteed, while its The Watch List feature flight-related films tying in with the release of Studiocanal’s Non-Stop at cinemas.

The Observer’s regular Philip French’s Classic DVD this week was the “enduringly entertaining thriller” Serpico, while its regular Home Viewing column saw Guy Lodge looking at Oscar-nominated films available online, moving on to Gravity (“can it hold up in our living rooms shorn of its overwhelming physical scale and dizzying 3D? Yes”). It was good to see a reviewer making the effort to look at the “compensatory bells and whistles” with smaller mentions for Those In Peril and The Patience Stone.

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