Guest Stays Over For Christmas

Wednesday, December 31 2014
Guest Stays Over For Christmas

With 2014 top 10s, year-end Best Of lists, strange printing deadlines, supplements missing and other seasonal occurrences, it’s been a strange couple of weeks of coverage for DVD and Bu-ray releases, as our regular round-up of home entertainment reviews shows.

There’s two weeks’ worth of coverage here, taking in both before and after Christmas. One of the clear winners was Icon’s The Guest, off to a bright start in terms of reviews and paving the way for a strong 2015 for the rejuvenated label.

In terms of year-end lists and charts, these will be covered in a separate feature, so keep an eye out for that.

Two weeks’ worth of coverage (patchier than normal, it must be noted, due to the Christmas break), begins with The Evening Standard and its December 19 issue (the newspaper didn’t publish on Boxing Day), with its column starting with ”ambling bromance” Are You Here (Lionsgate) on its digital bow, sandwiched between another Lionsgate title, Nurse (“a refreshing throwback to Seventies sexploitation,” it noted), was Metrodome’s The Guvnors (“‘andsome”), As Above So Below (Universal), 4DVD’s The Keeper Of Lost Causes (“yes, it’s familiar, though undeniably nicely done”), God’s Pocket (Arrow) and sister label Arrow Video’s The Killers (“restored spectacularly”).

With The Sun plumping for a year-end round-up (see elsewhere for our look at the best of the year’s best), the Daily Mirror led the way selecting a number of Boxing Day releases, choosing Sex Tape (“even the most technically inept viewer can spot how the couple can solve their problems at a keystroke”) as DVD Of The Week, despite giving it a hammering. God’s Pocket (Arrow) fared little better (undeservedly in our humble opinion), although Let’s Be Cops (“criminally unfunny satire… move along, nothing to see here”). Best marks went, surprisingly, to Universal’s As Above, So Below.

There’s new faces on the Daily Star, with Mike Ward replacing stalwart reviewer Alan Frank. Good to see the paper’s marking system is still wilfully idiosyncratic, however, with lead title Sin City 2: A Dame To Kill For (also the recipient of a competition, further upping its column inches) getting five stars, alongside five for Icon’s The Guest (“Dan Stevens is on cracking form”) and four apiece for ITV’s Remember Me (“”satisfyingly unsettling”) and the digital release of Universal’s Lucy (“bordering on barmy… crazed but gripping”.

Moving upmarket, albeit only marginally, the Daily Express, had three titles alongside its films reviews – 4DVD’s The Keeper Of Lost Causes (“a cleverly plotted treat for lovers of tense, twisted Scandinavian thrillers”), Disney’s Million Dollar Arm (“one of the year’s most undervalued feel good films”) and SPHE’s Sex Tape (“tired, dated and barely raises a smile”).

Under a heading of “unwrap the year’s best box sets”, the Daily Mail ran through its selections of the year’s highlights, choosing Universal’s Steven Spielberg’s Director’s Collection (“one for the whole family”). SPHE’s Breaking Bad: The Heisenberg Collection “one of the very best things [I] have ver seen on television… I am proud – if also slightly embarrassed to say I have sat through every absorbing minute”).

The Guardians Your Next Box Set feature took in the rather excellent Twin Peaks: The Entire Mystery, with reviewer Phelim O’Neill concluding: “There’s never been a better time to get acquainted (or reacquainted) with Twin Peaks, and not just because Lynch and Frost are working on a nine-episode new season for 2016. The recent Blu-ray is the most comprehensive and highest quality – combining, for the first time, both seasons, the pilot and the movie prequel, Fire Walk With Me, as well as hours of deleted and expanded scenes (some 90 minutes from the feature film alone, virtually an extra movie’s worth), and ephemera such as network promos, wonderfully cryptic Log Lady episode introductions and new actor interviews conducted by Lynch (some done, creepily, in character). Everything you’d want, except, of course, answers.”

On to the final Saturday before Christmas and The Daily Mirror’s We Love TV plumped for The Fall (Acorn) for a competition in its special double Christmas issue, while The Sun’s TV Magazine had two titles, with Million Dollar Arm (Disney) as its DVD Of The Week, The Fall its Box Set Of The Week.

The Daily Express featured Where We Are: Live From San Siro Stadium, the latest sony release featuring One Direction as the Must See title in its Saturday magazine.

Instead of a traditional year-end round-up, The Guardian’s Charlie Lyne, ever attempting to catch the pop culture zeitgeist, elected to do a “2014 online video roundup”, choosing clips and giving us his views on things such as Grand Theft Auto Pacifist and #gamergate.

The Times, meanwhile, chose its “best of the year”, picking a selection of DVD boxsets, plumping for Fargo Season 1 (“did remodelling the Coen brothers 1996 modern classic into a quirky TV show actually work? You betcha”), SPHE’s House Of Cards (“as classy as TV gets”), BBC Worldwide’s The Trip To Italy (“an ideal gift for anyone who wondered how Woody Allen might sound doing Les Dawson mother-in-law jokes”) and Warner’s “bells and whistles two disc collection” The Wizard Of Oz 75th Anniversary.

Standard reviews from the Independent’s Saturday Radar magazine, which kicked off with Sin City: A Dame To Kill For (Lionsgate, moving on to The Guest (Icon), The Guvnors (Metrodome), Battlestar Galactica: The Complete Original Series (Universal) and, faring worst among some relatively poor scores, Sex Tape (SPHE), which, it concluded, was a “deeply unpleasant sex comedy”.

The final Sunday before Christmas and The Sunday People covered Let’s Be Cops (Fox), As Above So Below (Universal), The Guvnors, The Keep Of Lost Causes (4DVD) and Sex Tape. Its TV page had Not Going Out (BBC Worldwide).

The Sunday Mirror’s Staying In page had Justified Season 5 as its DVD selection, noting that it was “one of the best cop series around”.

The Daily Star Sunday saved the best for last, for after giving two stars to Sex Tape, three to Let’s Be Cops (Fox), it dished out four stars to The Fall (“classy and utterly gripping”).

Into The Storm (Warner) was one of the trio of selections in the Must See section of the Sunday Express’ S magazine.

The Mail On Sunday’s Event magazine featured a brace from BBC Worldwide on its Staying in section, namely the latest Doctor Who and Citizen Khan, as well as, as a comedy choice, Jeff Dunham – All Over The Map (PIAS Comedy). Its DVD reviews page featured none too notable marks for The Congress (Studiocanal), Sin City: A Dame To Kill For, Sex Tape (the latter fared worst out of a low-scoring trio, with a further animation recommendation, taking in Studiocanal’s Hayao Miyazaki Collection, House Of Magic (Studiocanal), Mr Peabody & Sherman (Fox) and The Adventurer: The Curse Of The Midas Box (Signature). Reviewer Christopher Bray also selected his top 10, we’ll have more on that in our seasonal top 10 round up.

The Independent On Sunday filled the space where its DVD reviews would have been with a round-up of its music writers’ favourite choices of the year, although its regular The Watch List column looked at a few overlooked goodies from the past 12 months, taking in We Are The Best, The Invisible Woman, 20,000 Days On Earth and Life Itself.

The Observer’s Guy Lodge eschewed Christmas gift buying ideas (“if you’re still scrabbling around for last-minute gifts, you probably won’t find them in this week’s roster of DVD releases”), mentioning both The Keeper Of Lost Causes and The Kidnapping Of Michael Houllebecq, before sensibly and smartly going on to outline some vod choices for Christmas. These included the likes of A Christmas Tale via Curzon Home Cinema, The Discreet Charm Of The Bourgeouisie at Mubi, Holiday, When Harry Met Sally and A Charlie Brown Christmas (all iTunes) and Bambi and It’s Sich A Beautiful Day (Netflix). Few journalists did anything of this sort, so it was good to see someone having a bash. Philip French’s Classic DVD was DW Griffiths’ Intolerance (Eureka’s Masters of Cinema).

And now on to past Christmas, with the Boxing Day releases. Rather than the standard reviews on the Friday (Boxing Day) – and despite the rash of releases on and around December 26 – The Sun plumped for a selection of titles due in 2015 for its half page home entertainment coverage. This meant mentions of titles due out from January onwards, kicking off with Boardwalk Empire, moving to Before I Go To Sleep, Game Of Thrones, Fury, Alexander And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day, The Hunger Games Mockingjay Part 1, Nightcrawler, The Imitation Game and Interstellar, then mentioning some of the bigger theatrical releases for the summer and beyond.

More unusual marking in the Daily Star, with four stars (and a competition) for Sex Tape, with further coverage for the Christmas special of Universal’s Downton Abbey, The Prince (“action addicts will love this explosive thriller”) and Let’s Be Cops (“a laugh-out-loud action comedy”)
Nothing in the Daily Mirror, with its The Ticket supplement disappearing from the paper. But the Daily Express didn’t disappoint, with three titles appearing, as usual, moving through Lionsgate’s The Prince, Studiocanal’s Turning Tide plus The Guest.

The Daily Mail featured The Guest as its choice in its Vulture section.

The regular Your Next Box Set feature in The Guardian was taken up by an insightful look at The Strain (Fox), which noted: “Mysteriously absent from most critics’ end-of-year lists, The Strain earns a place alongside more celebrated current dramas The Leftovers, Intruders, Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead as it, too, is based on a literary source.”

Saturday December 27 and there was nothing in the Mirror’s We Love TV magazine, but its contemporary on The Sun, the cunningly titled TV Magazine, featured The Guest as ts DVD Of The Week, with Under The Dome its Box Set Of The Week selection.

The Daily Express’ Saturday magazine featured Sex Tape as its Must See selection.

Four stars for The Guest in The Times’ Review section (“a horrific throwback to those yuppies-in-peril films of the 1980s/early 1990s”) and Million Dollar Arm, but with no review sections in The Independent or Guide with The Guardian, there were slim pickings for other reviews.

Only one title featured in the Daily Star Sunday, with The Guest (“a blood-soaked treat”) earning itself four stars along the way. Nothing of note in the Sunday Mirror, but there were a trio of titles in the Sunday People, namely The Prince and The Guest, both making return appearances, and, in its first showing of the weekend, Montana (eOne).

The Sunday Express’ S Magazine had a Must See tag for The Missing (Acorn) in its opening pages.

The usual strong coverage in the Mail On Sunday’s Event magazine, with Gods Pocket, The Prince and The Guest all featured in its main body of text (the latter, fared best, with the conclusion that “you’ve seen it all before, but never perhaps carried off with such self-mocking élan”) and, under a Classic Corner headline, The Killers (“scrubbed up nicely for Blu-ray”) and Jigsaw (Renown).

The Observer’s home cinema correspondent Guy Lodge was missing from its pages, although there was still room for Philip French’s Classic DVD (he plumped for Six Gothic Tales, from Arrow Video)

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