The Couch Potato Report

“Well, it is two days late, but it is extra long, so that is okay!”

The Couch Potato Report – June 17th, 2006
This week The Couch Potato Report shines the spotlight on three films that didnít get major theatrical distribution, and three re-issues of films that did.
This week, instead of focusing on THE PINK PANTHER, 16 BLOCKS, KISS KISS BANG BANG, DAVE CHAPPELLEíS BLOCK PARTY, or any of the other titles that are guaranteed to be available to rent and buy at your favourite movie store, I am going to focus on three smaller films.
Iím not doing that because these films are better than those high profile releases, Iím doing it because from time to time I like to bypass the mainstream and go the path less traveled.
And the films I have for you are definitely less traveled.
Which is a a bit of a surprise for the first release I have for you as it has a pretty good pedigree.
A GOOD WOMAN stars Oscar winner Helen Hunt of AS GOOD AS IT GETS and the very talented Scarlett Johannson from LOST IN TRANSLATION, plus, it is based on Oscar Wilde’s popular play ìLady Windermere’s Fan.î
Hunt plays a Manhattan socialite in the 30’s with both a questionable lifestyle and a great deal of debts.
To escape both she flees New York to Italy where she meets a young couple.
Specifically she meets the husband.
But is he helping her get back into respectable society, or assisting her with her questionable lifestyle?
And what will the young wife do when she finds out, no matter what he is actually doing?
Well, you’ll have all of your answers by the end of the film.
To itís credit, A GOOD WOMAN looks good and is always interesting.
Unfortunately, even though it retains the basic storyline of Wilde’s original, it doesnít have the majority of Wildeís impeccable original dialogue, thus if you didnít know this was Wildeís play, you might think the words could just have been re-written by an anonymous scriptwriter.
Also unfortunately, Helen Hunt is miscast as the socialite. I never once thought that she had the style, grace, and beauty that would make men give her money and ìtake care of her.î
However, those negative things aside, Tom Wilkinson from ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND is wildly fun as a rich man who hopes Hunt will warm his older years, and Scarlett Johannson continues to be an engaging and talented actress who brings something new to every role she plays.
A GOOD WOMAN might not be the best costume drama you see this year, and it certainly could have been a better film, but it is still unique enough to enjoy.
Oh and ONE LAST THING… , no not one last thing about A GOOD WOMAN, ONE LAST THING… is the name of our next film.
That film – ONE LAST THING… – features a premise that sounds worse than any teenage sex comedy that you have ever heard of or seen, even though it isnít a teenage sex comedy.
That premise is this: A teenage boy dying of cancer makes a last wish to spend a weekend alone with a supermodel.
Like I said, ONE LAST THING… isnít a teen sex comedy. Yes, it has an absurd premise, but somehow the film is not bad.
It isnít great, but it isnít bad.
Had ONE LAST THING… just been a teenage sex comedy, we could dismiss it as stupid and move on. But since it seems to aspire to be something better, I enjoyed it.
Cynthia Nixon from TVís ìSex And The Cityî plays the boyís mother. She is always supportive and understanding towards her sonís wish, yet underneath you can feel the pain of a mother knowing her son is going to die.
It is nowhere near a good or great film, but I enjoyed it, and it wasnít bad.
Now, on the other hand is TAMARA.
TAMARA is a made-in-Winnipeg film about a mousy and intellectual girl who is murdered and then returns from the dead to exact revenge.
In 1976 there was an American made film about a mousy and abused girl with telekinetic powers who gets pushed too far on one special night and so she seeks revenge.
That movie was called CARRIE.
TAMARA is a sister film to CARRIE, not a good sister, or a sister you should choose over the original, but a sister nonetheless.
As a fan of horror films, I sat down to watch this movie hoping it had some unique stuff in it.
It doesnít.
In the film evil doesnít win, but it does have a body count.
Actually, that would be a good tag line for a horror film! ì Evil doesnít win, but it does have a body count.î
Even though it is a bit cheesy, that just made up tag line is still more creative than anything in TAMARA.
Unless you have to see every horror film ever made, ignore the sister film and just watch CARRIE.
Those are three releases from the roads less traveled at your local video store.
Now, let me quickly tell you about three well traveled roads, or re-releases if you will.
The 1991 film FRIED GREEN TOMATOES is celebrating itís 15th year with an EXTENDED ANNIVERSARY EDITION.
Oscar winner Kathy Bates from MISERY plays a housewife who is unhappy with her life. She befriends an old lady in a nursing home and is enthralled by the tales she tells of people she used to know.
Oscar winner Jessica Tandy from DRIVING MISS DAISY, is the elder woman and her stories are about Idgie and Ruth and they are all interesting, heartwarming and fun.
Mary Stuart Masterson and Mary-Louise Parker play Idgie and Ruth – respectively – and they are just as well cast as Bates and Tandy.
This new EXTENDED ANNIVERSARY EDITION is about 7 minutes longer than the original and it also features a retrospective making of documentary and a wealth of other special features.
I wouldnít call myself the worldís biggest fan of the film, but I always enjoy watching FRIED GREEN TOMATOES as I like the memories it stirs up from my own life.
I also wouldn’t call myself the worldís biggest fan of the FAST AND THE FURIOUS FILMS, and that is because I am not what you would call a ìcar guy.î
Movies about fast cars and the people who drive them have never appealed to me, but I somehow always end up watching them and feeling a bit testosteroney when they are on.
Now, in THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS – THE FRANCHISE COLLECTION you get to see the original he original 2001 FAST AND THE FURIOUS film, plus itís 2003 sequel 2 FAST 2 FURIOUS, plus a bonus look inside the soon to be released THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS: TOKYO DRIFT.
Perhaps they arenít the greatest movies ever made, but this is good mindless summer fun, all in one DVD Box Set!
Whether you get testosteroney or not!
THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS – THE FRANCHISE COLLECTION, the EXTENDED ANNIVERSARY EDITION of FRIED GREEN TOMATOES, TAMARA, ONE LAST THING* and A GOOD WOMAN are all available now on DVD. They might not all be available at a store near you, but they are all available.
Coming up in the next Couch Potato Report
In the summer of 2005 Neil Young, having just survived a close call with a brain aneurysm, performed two concerts at Nashville’s famed Ryman Auditorium. In NEIL YOUNG: HEART OF GOLD it’s just Neil on the stage with no crowd and no bandmates.
EIGHT BELOW is about two Antarctic explorers who are reluctantly forced by brutal cold to leave their team of sled dogs behind as they fend for their own survival; and LADY AND THE TRAMP II: SCAMPíS ADVENTURE is only about one dog, the son of Disneyís legendary Lady & The Tramp.
George Clooney won an Oscar for his work in SYRIANA. Clooney plays a career CIA agent in this politically-charged movie about the state of the oil industry in the hands of those personally involved and affected by it.
I will also start to review the latest releases of ALFRED HITCHCOCK FILMS on DVD, starting with ROPE, and take a look at the TV shows ROCKFORD FILES – SEASON TWO and COACH – THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON.
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!