The Couch Potato Report – May 24th, 2006
This week The Couch Potato Report shines the spotlight on a performance that should have won an Oscar, and one of the greatest filmmakers ever.
Several moths ago I correctly predicted that Reese Witherspoon would win the Best Actress Academy Award.
My reasoning at the time was that her work in WALK THE LINE was so good, and that she was so likable as a performer and person that the category would play out more like a coronation than a contest.
However, if the Academy Awards were actually given out each year to the actors and filmmakers who produce the best work, Witherspoon wouldnít have an Oscar now.
Instead, Felicity Huffman – normally seen on televisionís DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES – would have one for her work in TRANSAMERICA.
Huffman doesnít just play Bree, a pre-operative male-to-female transsexual awaiting gender-reassignment surgery, she is Bree.
Huffman transformed herself for the role. The way she moves, the way she speaks, the way she acts, and all of it is new and interesting.
She gave a superb performance and she deserved to win the Academy Award for her work.
In the film, as Bree is waiting for the surgery, she finds out she fathered a son, seventeen years ago, and she heads to New York, to bail her son out of jail.
The pair end up going on a cross-country journey and together they find the answers to some of lifeís questions that have been plaguing them.
TRANSAMERICA is heartfelt, honest, funny, painful, and Felicity Huffman is incredible in it, but the rest of the film just isn’t as good as she is.
That is primarily due to the pacing. While some might enjoy the length of time the film takes to get where itís going, I found it too drawn out.
Plus, while it has superb acting at itís core, TRANSAMERICA never seems to aspire to be brilliant.
The filmmakerís are content to tell their main story, with a few side stories along the way, but in the end, one person finds out another oneís secret and they arenít happy about the fact that that person has a secret.
That sense of familiarity hurts TRANSAMERICA, but otherwise, I highly recommend the film, primarily due to Felicity Huffmanís Oscar worthy performance.
No, TRANSAMERICA isnít perfect, but if you accept it – and itís subject matter – for what it is, you will witness a very good film.
And if you pick up THE CECIL B. DEMILLE COLLECTION you will witness 5 very good films!
Cecil B. DeMille was one of the world’s most successful filmmakers during the first half of the 20th century.
DeMille directed hundreds of silent films, before coming into huge popularity during the late 1910s and early 1920s, when he reached the apex of his popularity with such films as Don’t Change Your Husband (1919), The Ten Commandments (1923), and The King of Kings (1927).
DeMille was one of the first directors in Hollywood to become a celebrity in his own right, and he is regarded as a man who knew what the movie-going public wanted, and gave it to them over and over.
Gloria Swanson immortalized DeMille with the oft-repeated line, ìAll right, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-upî in Billy Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard, wherein DeMille played himself.
DeMille is probably best known for his 1956 film The Ten Commandments, which is very different from his 1923 film by the same title.
Cecil B. DeMille is one of the innovators who made moviemaking what it is today.
Inside THE CECIL B. DEMILLE COLLECTION you get his 1934 film CLEOPATRA, with Claudette Colbert as the man-hungry Queen of Egypt who leads Julius Caesar and Marc Antony astray.
This is the definitive CLEOPATRA, far superior to the Elizabeth Taylor version.
The set also includes 1935ís THE CRUSADES with Loretta Young; 1932ís THE SIGN OF THE CROSS with Fredric March; 1939ís UNION PACIFIC with Barbara Stanwyck, Joel McCrea and some great train wrecks; and the 1934 release FOUR FRIGHTENED PEOPLE about four passengers who escape their bubonic plague-infested ship and land on the coast of a wild jungle.
THE CECIL B. DEMILLE COLLECTION is a superb set of films, unfortunately all you get are the films.
There are no vintage short subjects, making of features, audio commentaries or behind-the-scenes documentaries.
The films are superb, yes, but had they been supplemented with some special features, if could have given us a unique look inside the films of one of Hollywoodís true legends.
As it is though, THE CECIL B. DEMILLE COLLECTION is still worth watching because we might not have some of the films we love today had Mr. DeMille not lead the way.
ìAll right, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up.î
THE CECIL B. DEMILLE COLLECTION featuring CLEOPATRA, THE CRUSADES, THE SIGN OF THE CROSS, UNION PACIFIC and FOUR FRIGHTENED PEOPLE is available now at a store near you along with the very good modern day film TRANSAMERICA.
Coming up on the next Couch Potato Report
The Canadian film WHOLE NEW THING is about a boy who is enrolled in high school after years of being home schooled by hippie parents. The intelligent and androgynous youth confounds his classmates and captures the attention of his English teacher, which leads to problems for everyone involved.
The SPECIAL EDITION of the 1977 classic SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT features a remastered version of the film, a new ìMaking `Smokey And The Bandit’î feature and a CB Radio Tutorial.
And the JOHN WAYNE – AN AMERICAN ICON COLLECTION is a two-disc set that features five of The Dukeís films.
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 24th, 2006