The Couch Potato Report – May 9th, 2006
This week The Couch Potato Report shines the spotlight on a German city, a British Nanny, an American flop, and one classic disaster film that always satisfies.
When I hear that there is a new film coming to theatres that was directed by Steven Spielberg, well that is a film I want to see!
After all, this is the man who gave us JAWS, CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND, JURASSIC PARK, THE INDIANA JONES TRILOGY, SCHINDLERíS LIST, E.T. – THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL, SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, and many other superb and wonderful films.
Unfortunately, even great filmmakers have their off days, and even though his MUNICH was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Director and Best Picture, the film represents an off day for Steven Spielberg.
A very, very off day. There are parts of the film that are actually absurd.
The film begins during the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, where eleven Israeli athletes were taken hostage and murdered by a Palestinian terrorist group known as Black September. In retaliation, the Israeli government recruits a group of Mossad agents to track down and execute those responsible for the attack.
MUNICH is – as the movie says as it opens – ìInspired By Real Eventsî and it looks at the story of the Black September aftermath. Specifically about the five men chosen to eliminate the ones responsible for that fateful day.
MUNICH is not a documentary, as Spielberg himself states in a 4 minute opening segment recorded specifically for the DVD, thus once the real life events at the Olympics ends, the ìinspired by real events partî takes over.
But this movie just isnít inspired at all.
MUNICH wants to be a thriller, and I will admit that – at times – it does possess thrilling elements. But most of the time it is a very slow moving, by the numbers dramatic movie with hints of action.
Then, at other times, it is absurd. For instance, there are several times when one of the main characters is thinking about what happened to the eleven Israeli athletes. He was never anywhere near Munich, and we never see him discussing the specifics of the event with anyone who was there.
Yet somehow he is able to envision the events in their entirety. I know this is called ìdramatic licenseî and the filmmakers put those flashbacks in there to help them tell their story, but these instances are absurd.
There is nothing memorable about MUNICH, and like A.I.: ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE, ALWAYS, WAR OF THE WORLDS, AMISTAD, and THE TERMINAL, it is a Steven Spielberg film you should just stay away from.
But, you can expect to see me back in line when Spielbergís Abraham Lincoln Project and INDIANA JONES 4 open in theatres in 2007.
After all, when I hear that there is a new film coming to theatres that was directed by Steven Spielberg, well that is a film I want to see!
I also like to see all of Emma Thompsonís films.
From HOWARDíS END to SENSE & SENSIBILITY, THE TALL GUY and PETERíS FRIEND she is very reliable if you are looking for a good performance in a movie.
NANNY MCPHEE features Emma Thompson as a magical nanny who magically arrives to try and take care of seven children who behave so badly that all of their other nannies have run away.
I have to be honest, I didn’t expect to like NANNY MCPHEE as much as I did.
It is a film aimed for kids, but I watched the whole thing and enjoyed it. I wouldn’t say that adults should watch it without a child being present, it isn’t that good, but if you have to see it with them it won’t be a waste of your time.
I even enjoyed the predictable fairy-tale ending.
Nanny MCPHEE was fun!
On the other hand is RUMOUR HAS IT.
Jennifer Aniston from TVís FRIENDS is a woman who attends her sister’s wedding and learns family secrets. Secrets like the fact that her family was the inspiration for the book and film THE GRADUATE, and that she just might be the offspring of the well-documented event.
In addition to Jennifer Aniston, RUMOUR HAS IT also stars Kevin Costner from DANCES WITH WOLVES, Shirley MacLaine of TERMS OF ENDEARMENT and Mark Ruffalo from ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND. AND it was directed by Rob Reiner, the man who gave us STAND BY ME, THE PRINCESS BRIDE, THIS IS SPINAL TAP and A FEW GOOD MEN.
So with that pedigree, RUMOUR HAS IT should be pretty good, right?
Well it isnít. It isnít funny, it isnít engaging, and itís boring.
The only way that this film would ever be worth your time is if you are on a 5 or 8 hour flight and you just canít sleep. Maybe then, and only then, would RUMOUR HAS IT be worth your time, simply because you would have nothing else to do, and no where else to go.
But, if you donít have a flight planned for the near future, RUMOUR HAS It just isnít worth your time.
Finally this week is the DVD re-release of the “classic” 1974 disaster film EARTHQUAKE.
The remake of POSEIDON has prompted the studios to re-release some of the “great” disaster films of the 1970s, including 1972’s original THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE, 1974’s THE TOWERING INFERNO, and the aforementioned EARTHQUAKE.
These are the type of films that I will always stop and watch when they are on TV late at night, especially EARTHQUAKE.
They might look a little fake by todayís standards, but they always entertain me as they are star-studded fun.
EARTHQUAKE stars Charlton Heston, Ava Gardner, George Kennedy, Lorne Greene, and is about how all of their lives are effected when a major earthquake rips through Los Angeles and reduces the city to ruins.
EARTHQUAKE might not be high art, but it does earn high praise from me, and it is available now at a store near you, along with RUMOUR HAS IT, NANNY MCPHEE, and MUNICH.
Coming up on the next Couch Potato Report
THE PRODUCERS is the film of the Broadway musical based on the original 1968 Mel Brooks film. This new version stars Matthew Broderick, Nathan Lane, Uma Thurman and Will Ferrell.
SCRUBS – THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON features all 22 episodes from the series’ third year, and the episode called MY CREW UP is one of the best half hours I have ever seen on television!
Finally next week, DINOSAURS – THE COMPLETE FIRST AND SECOND SEASONS is the set for the 1991-1994 show about the life of a family of Dinosaurs who live in a modern world.
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!
The Couch Potato Report – May 9th, 2006