A Star Is Born

Tuesday, August 5 2014
A Star Is Born

It’s not often violent, brutal homegrown dramas get the nod over star-ridden, gentler Brit fare, but that was the case this week as our weekly round up of coverage for DVD releases shows.

For Starred Up edged ahead of The Double to become the best-reviewed film of the weekend across the national press, the quality of the reviews just about shading it.

Given there was at least one other critic-friendly release to cover this week, it was impressive to see the relatively lesser-known fare pinch it in terms of column inches in the national press, even if we are big fans of Richard Ayoade’s sophomore outing.

Elsewhere, Rio 2 was the biggest major release of the weekend, with a strong performance in terms of column inches, kudos too to Soda’s Half Of A Yellow Sun and, perhaps more surprisingly, Studiocanal’s newly remastered Swallows And Amazons also fared well.

The Evening Standard kicked off its reviews with Starred Up (Fox) given a glowing notice (“drama with attack, grit and a surprise in the showers”), moving through to Studiocanal’s The Double (“a Gilliam-esque nightmare”), Network’s Blu-ray of Black Narcissus (“surely one of the most beautifully shot films ever”), Soda’s Half Of A Yellow Sun (“fine ingredients, so-so results”), Paramount’s Labor Day (“totally bonkers”) and Arrow’s Pioneer.

The Sun’s DVD Of The Week was We Are The Best (Metrodome), which concluded that “as ragged and energetic as any punk band’s first rehearsal, this strikes a simple, resonant chord”, although the lion’s share of the space was given to Paramount’s Noah (“not a total washout, but far from an epic of biblical proportions”). Also reviewed were A Long Way Down (Lionsgate) and Venus in Fur (Curzon).

The Daily Mirror plumped for Rio 2 as its DVD Of The Week, although the Fox film wasn’t given a rave review (“not as much fun the second time around”). Faring better was Fox’s Starred Up (“exceptionally brutal… earns points thanks to its startling performances”) alongside Labor Day (“a melodrama, but an emotionally sophisticated one”). Worst reviewed of the week was The Double (“bleak and grimy”).

Starred Up led the way in the Daily Star with a competition and a five-star review (“this extraordinary movie packs a punch… the script is gripping, the direction powerful and it boasts superb performances”). Also reviewed were Labor Day (“brilliantly blends suspense with emotion”), Rio 2 (“gaudy, giddy, giggle-making animated comedy”) and Universal’s Clint Eastwood The Collection box set.

The ever-eclectic Daily Express gave its highest rating to Starred Up (“a raw compelling tale”), followed by reviews for Half Of A Yellow Sun (Soda) and Swallows And Amazons (Studiocanal).

And the ever excellent Your Next Box Set feature in the Guardian took in Inside No 9 (BBC Worldwide) noting: “Here’s something about these short, sharp shockers that gets under the skin. The BBC has already repeated A Quiet Night In, the remarkable, almost dialogue-free instalment of the series, which is starting to accrue awards. This DVD release should help spread the word: it’s very lendable.”

The normal mentions for DVD releases were found across assorted weekend TV supplements within the Saturday tabloids. So there, in the Sun was Starred Up as its DVD Of The Week, alongside Duck Dynasty Season 4 (Fox), Labor Day was in the Daily Express’ S Magazine as its Must See selection, the Daily Mirror’s We Love TV had a competition for Episodes (BBC Worldwide).

On to the quality press’ selection where there was some of the best coverage of the weekend to be found: the Independent’s Radar magazine had a full page devoted to a look at Twin Peaks to tie in with Paramount’s release of the Blu-ray box set, as well as reviews for The Double (“it’s derivative, but also ambitious, flu of wit and brimming with lovely cameos”), Starred Up (“brutal, visceral drama”), Half Of A Yellow Sun, Labor Day ad Rio 2.

Over in The Times there was a page interview with Richard Ayoade to tie in with the release of The Double, which was also reviewed. Starred Up received another rave (“move over Scum for the new daddy of British clink-flicks”), there was a further review for Half Of A Yellow Sun.

The Guardian’s Guide gave over the bulk of its coverage to Noah. with mentions for A Long Way Down, We Are The Best and Cheap Thrills (Koch).

Sunday and the tabloids took in their usual breadth of coverage – Braquo (Arrow) on the TV page of the Sunday People, Labor Day, Rio 2, Starred Up, The Double and Calvary (eOne) on its film page.

The Daily Star Sunday also led with Starred Up, giving it another five-star notice (“the best Brit flick of the year”), running into Rio 2 (“kids should love it”), Labor Day (“unintentionally hilarious”) and Believe.

The Sunday Mirror had a somewhat belated review for The Lego Movie (Warner) on its Staying In page.

The similarly named page in the Mail On Sunday’s Event magazine featured Jules Et Jim (Artificial Eye), Swallows And Amazons and the lavish film and CD box set that is Elvis That’s The Way It Is (Sony). The reviews page n the same magazine featured Labor Day (“for the first 20 minutes I found it hard not to giggle,. By its end I was holding back the tears”) as well as Pioneer and The Double. In a separate section under a Best Family DVDs For Summer it outlined just that, taking in The Lego Movie, Rio 2, Escape From Planet Earth, Tinker Bell And the Pirate Fairy (Disney), Khumba A Zebra’s Tale (Kaleidoscope), I Declare War and The Rocket.

Nothing in the Sunday Telegraph’s Seven magazine, but the Independent On Sunday featured The Double, Rio 2 and Starred Up in its reviews, looked at Humpday in its Take Two column and also had a Swallows & Amazons competition.

The Observer had L’Assassino (Arrow) as Philip French’s Classic DVD, while Guy Lodge’s column took in Starred Up (“bruising prison drama that defamiliarises every cliche of the genre with its tough, tactile attention to environmental detail.”), Labor Day (“risible”), Half Of A Yellow Sun, The Double (“a beguiling experiment”), Jealousy (Studiocanal) and, as its Netflix choice, Episodes.

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