The Couch Potato Report – May 10th, 2005
This week The Couch Potato Report features me being positive. Very positive, in fact.
When I go to the movies, or sit down at home to watch a film, I obviously want what I am watching to be good. After all, I don’t want to sit for ninety minutes to two hours – or longer – and not be entertained.
Now, after more than a few weeks of reviews that were mostly negative, this week I am happy to report that I have nothing but positive things to say.
Yes, with only a few exceptions, all of this week’s releases are great!
So let me start with the best of the best of this week’s releases, the DVD release of the complete first season of the television show ENTOURAGE.
ENTOURAGE is a about a young and up and coming Hollywood star named Vincent and his three childhood companions-turned-employees.
As Vincent begins his career we see how things work behind the scenes and that makes ENTOURAGE a very interesting show.
But the premise is only the second best thing about ENTOURAGE. The cast of young actors, rounded out by the seasoned Jeremy Piven of SERENDIPITY and OLD SCHOOL as Vincent’s foul-mouthed agent, is what makes this show a treat to watch. The four main actors are supposed to be old friends, and they seem like old friends.
Friends I like hanging around with, or watching, as it were.
The DVD of ENTOURAGE – THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON features all eight episodes and every one of them is worth watching, repeatedly. In fact, I watched all of them twice, just this week.
Admittedly, ENTOURAGE isn’t a show for everyone as the language is pretty raw and the morals of the characters are flexible, to say the least. But if you like smart, funny, well written shows, then spend some time with this entourage.
That show has a group of people who make up an entourage, whereas legendary actor Peter Sellers could be a group of people all on his own.
I must admit, that prior to seeing the autobiographical film THE LIFE AND DEATH OF PETER SELLERS I didn’t know much about the man. For many years I had laughed at his work in THE PARTY, CASINO ROYALE and DR. STRANGELOVE and THE PINK PANTHER films, and BEING THERE is one of my favourite films of all time, but I didn’t know anything about the man who was the cause of my laughter.
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF PETER SELLERS allowed me, and allows us all, to get to know him, warts and all. The explanation given, and endorsed by Sellers himself, was that he was so good at impersonations and mimicry because he was lacking a personality of his own.
That point is driven home quite well in this movie.
Oscar winner Geoffrey Rush does an incredible job in his performance as one of the cinema’s great chameleons, and the biopic allows us to get to know Peter Sellers a little bit more.
I don’t know if we need to know more about the real man in order to appreciate what his cinematic legacy is, but if you would like to learn more, or just see a very entertaining movie about one of the world’s most entertaining person, then THE LIFE AND DEATH OF PETER SELLERS is now available for you to do just that.
Peter Sellers was great at his job and he is deserving of a movie about his life.
Steve Zissou, on the other hand, might not be as deserving.
Yet, THE LIFE AQUATIC WITH STEVE ZISSOU is just that. A movie about the man’s life.
But it is also so much more.
And it is fictional, don’t let me omit that. Peter Sellers is a real person, Steve Zissou is not.
But THE LIFE AQUATIC WITH STEVE ZISSOU is a real movie, and it is the latest film from director Wes Anderson. Anderson made the classic film RUSHMORE in 1998 and he followed it up with the enjoyable, but not classic THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS in 2001.
Wes Anderson’s career trajectory continues downward with his latest film, but, THE LIFE AQUATIC WITH STEVE ZISSOU is still worthy of your time. It might be a slow character study in midlife detachment, but Anderson is just such an interesting filmmaker that even when his movies aren’t classics they are still worth seeing.
THE LIFE AQUATIC WITH STEVE ZISSOU is unique and different, and that makes it worth seeing. Plus, it stars Bill Murray! As far as I am concerned, his presence makes any film seeing.
In the film Murray plays Steve Zissou, a celebrated oceanographer, not unlike Jacques Cousteau.
Zissou and his crew set out on an expedition to find the mysterious, elusive, possibly non-existent Jaguar Shark that killed Zissou’s partner.
The team is joined by a young airline co-pilot who may or may not be Zissou’s son, a journalist who is writing a profile of Zissou, and Zissou’s estranged wife and co-producer, Eleanor.
Along the way they face pirates, kidnapping, bankruptcy, and several other dilemmas, and each and every one of them are unique and different.
No, THE LIFE AQUATIC WITH STEVE ZISSOU is not a perfect film, it is too quirky to be perfect. But in a day and age when every film and TV show follows a set formula, I love that Wes Anderson’s movies don’t!
THE LIFE AQUATIC WITH STEVE ZISSOU comes highly recommended and is worth your time.
Even if you don’t care for the movie at all, I assure you that you won’t see anything else like it until Anderson’s next movie – THE FANTASTIC MR. FOX – comes out in 2006.
I also assure you that you will see movies like IN GOOD COMPANY between now and 2006.
Movies where two people meet and immediate sparks fly between them until something happens to break them up, before they get back together with a swell of romantic music.
Yes, between now and 2006 you will see many movies like that, and IN GOOD COMPANY is a movie that has elements of that, but it also has so much more!
Topher Grace from THAT 70’S SHOW is a man in his mid-twenties with a failed marriage and a career that he knows he isn’t qualified to have.
Dennis Quaid from THE ROOKIE is a middle-aged man who has a career he’s qualified for, but ends up second-in-command to the youngster.
Eventually Grace meets Quaid’s college aged daughter and the pair seem to have something in common. Scarlett Johansson from LOST IN TRANSLATION is the daughter and she gives another great performance.
As the story goes on, both personal and professional relationships develop between Grace and his business colleague and between his colleague’s daughter. And I am happy to report that none of them go where you think they will.
Movies today always focus on a person’s strengths and we rarely get to see any weaknesses. IN GOOD COMPANY lets us see all sides, and it is an enjoyable film because of that.
It is enjoyable and unpredictable, and that is a great combination.
No, it isn’t unique and different like THE LIFE AQUATIC WITH STEVE ZISSOU, but it is different enough from most romantic comedies that it is worth recommending.
Wow, it feels good to say positive things about all four of this week’s releases!
Yes, I recommend IN GOOD COMPANY, THE LIFE AQUATIC WITH STEVE ZISSOU, THE LIFE AND DEATH OF PETER SELLERS and ENTOURAGE – THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON and they are all available now.
COMING UP IN THE NEXT COUCH POTATO REPORT is the complete first season of SCRUBS – one of my current favourite shows on TV – and the complete fourth season of SEINFELD, one of my all-time favourite shows on TV.
TV also gave us the show SOUTH PARK and that show’s creators now offer us the hilarious puppet film TEAM AMERICA: WORLD POLICE. Yes, for the record, I said “hilarious puppet film.”
KINSEY isn’t hilarious, instead it is the true story of sex researcher Alfred Kinsey. Liam Neeson and the always fantastic Laura Linney star.
And finally next week, Michael Keaton returns to films after a few years away. In WHITE NOISE he is a man who tries to contact his dead wife through the white noise that comes from television.
I’m Dan Reynish and I will have more about – and on – WHITE NOISE, KINSEY, TEAM AMERICA: WORLD POLICE, SEINFELD, SCRUBS, and some other releases in seven days.
For now, that’s this week’s COUCH POTATO REPORT.
Enjoy the movies and I’ll see you back here next week on The Couch!
The Couch Potato Report – May 10th, 2005