The Couch Potato Report

“WOW!! Does he really, actually like the majority of the films this week?”

The Couch Potato Report – March 14th, 2006
This week The Couch Potato Report shines the spotlight on three great movies and 4 mediocre ones.
On March 5th George Clooney won the Academy Award in the Best Supporting Actor category for his work in the film SYRIANA.
He was also nominated in the Best Director and the Best Original Screenplay categories for his movie GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK.
Since SYRIANA isn’t scheduled for release on DVD until June, lets focus on the better of Clooney’s 2005 films, GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK.
This superb film is set in the early 1950s, a time when the threat of Communism created an air of paranoia in the United States.
Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin made his name exploiting those fears.
At the time, and in this film, real life television reporter Edward R. Murrow and his producer Fred W. Friendly took a stand and challenged McCarthy on their show.
As the pressure mounted for their network to fire them, and as their show lost it’s sponsors, both men decided to stand by their convictions, no matter the cost.
There are many great things that can be said about GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK, but the one I will focus on first is the fact that you don’t have to know anything about Senator McCarthy or Edward R. Murrow to appreciate the conflict between them.
It happened fifty years ago, and it seems incredibly relevant, even today.
I would also like to point out that Clooney made this film in glorious black and white. Sometimes it is just good to watch a film that way.
Finally, and I am limiting myself to three because I could go on and on about the great qualities in this superb film, Clooney and his cast are all superb!
The Oscar nominated David Strathairn stars and Edward R. Murrow and his supporting cast includes Patricia Clarkson, Jeff Daniels, Robert Downey Jr. and Ray Wise.
In addition to co-writing and directing the film George Clooney also plays Fred Friendly.
GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK is smart, well made, and very entertaining.
It was one of the best films of 2005, and the accolades given to Clooney and his cast are all well deserved.
Prior to those accolades being given out, many people thought that Canadian filmmaker David Cronenberg’s name would be heard as well.
After all his film A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE is another one of 2005’s best.
However, with the exception of winning kudos from Central Ohio Film Critics, the Chicago Film Critics Association, and France’s French Syndicate of Cinema Critics, the film only garnered a handful of nominations.
Yes, William Hurt was nominated for an Oscar in the Supporting Actor category, and Josh Olson’s script was nominated for Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published, but otherwise the Academy Awards overlooked this violent, but insightful, wonderfully acted, incredible film.
A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE stars Viggo Mortensen from THE LORD OF THE RINGS TRILOGY as a loving family man who is a well-respected citizen of a small town.
One night when two criminals show up at his diner, he defends himself and his staff. For his efforts he is branded a hero by his fellow residents and the media.
Suddenly, he has mobsters coming to see him, and the same people who loved him start to wonder if perhaps he isn’t who they think he is.
Perhaps he too is a mobster with a history of violence.
Now that is an awesome premise, and Cronenberg pulls it off.
Yes, some of the film’s violence may be a bit over the top for some people, but the story is so engrossing that it actually becomes secondary
A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE may have been passed over by the people who give out awards for movies, but I recommend you don’t do the same.
At one time, I would have also recommended any film that Spike Lee made. That time was 1989 and Spike Lee had just given us the masterpiece DO THE RIGHT THING.
Unfortunately after that masterpiece, Spike gave us MO’ BETTER BLUES in 1990, JUNGLE FEVER in 1991, CROOKLYN in 1994 and CLOCKERS in 1995. If you add the four of those films up, they don’t equal DO THE RIGHT THING.
However, each of them does have something original and unique that only Spike Lee could bring to them.
And now all five of those films are available in one low priced set called THE SPIKE LEE JOINT COLLECTION.
I recently watched all five again and MO’ BETTER BLUES, JUNGLE FEVER and CLOCKERS still aren’t great, but DO THE RIGHT THING is still a masterpiece.
And CROOKLYN?, well regardless of the film’s quality, it will always be the reason that I got to speak with Spike Lee on Larry King Live!
Ask me to see the tape sometime if you’d like.
If you are a fan of Spike Lee’s films, but you just haven’t wanted to spend a lot of money to own them, then THE SPIKE LEE JOINT COLLECTION is for you!
It is available now at a store near you along with the superb films A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE and GOOD NIGHT, AND GOOD LUCK.
Coming up on the next Couch Potato Report
Philip Seymour Hoffman’s work in CAPOTE is a must see; CHICKEN LITTLE isn’t brilliant, but it is fun; IN THE MIX features R&B singer Usher in one of the worst films of last year; SOUTH PARK – THE COMPLETE SEVENTH SEASON is the latest box set from the television show and Julianne Moore stars in the based on a true story film THE PRIZE WINNER OF DEFIANCE, OHIO as a woman who enters a commercial jingle writing contest to support her ten children.
I’m Dan Reynish. I’ll have more on those, 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 time on The Couch!