The Couch Potato Report – June 20th, 2006
This week The Couch Potato Report shines the spotlight on Neil Young, some dogs and Alfred Hitchcock’s “rope.”
Neil Percival Kenneth Robert Ragland Young was born in Toronto, and he lives in Northern California now, but he grew up in Winnipeg.
He was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1982 and he has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice: first in 1995 for his solo work and again in 1997 as a member of Buffalo Springfield.
His credits – both in the music and humanitarian worlds – are unrivaled and unequaled, so I wonít list them. All I will say is this: Neil Young is a Canadian Icon.
On March 31, 2005, Young was admitted to a hospital in New York for treatment for a brain aneurysm. I am very happy to say that he was treated successfully by a minimally invasive procedure.
Sadly, Neil was forced to cancel a scheduled appearance at the Juno Awards in his hometown of Winnipeg.
Prior to undergoing the procedure, and then again after, he worked on a new album that he released in September of 2005 called ìPrairie Wind.î
In addition to the songs that were inspired by Young’s aneurysm, and the death of his father in June of 2005, ìPrairie Windî is also a beautiful ode to the Canadian prairies.
In the summer of 2005 Neil Young took that music inspired by Canada to Nashville’s famed Ryman Auditorium, the home of the original Grand Ole Opry.
Oscar winning director Jonathan Demme filmed the shows and the result is a superb new DVD called NEIL YOUNG: HEART OF GOLD.
Young and his band and friends perform ìPrairie Windî in its entirety in the 103 minute film, and they also give us some classics, including the filmís title song and ìHarvest Moon.î
If you are already a fan of Neil Young, I suspect that you already have HEART OF GOLD in your collection, and if you donít you should.
If you arenít a fan of Neil Young, and that is okay too, I still recommend this film as it offers a chance to listen to some beautiful music from a man who – by Godís grace – is still with us.
HEART OF GOLD stars the acoustic Neil Young, not the man who is known as The Godfather Of Grunge Music, and the music is full of beautiful backing vocals and simple, elegant melodies.
And at the end, it’s just Neil on the stage with no crowd and no bandmates for one last, beautiful song.
NEIL YOUNG: HEART OF GOLD is an incredible showcase of a great Canadian icon.
Neil, my friend, long may you run!
NEIL YOUNG: HEART OF GOLD is no dog, it is superb! Our next two movies arenít dogs either, but they do have dogs in them.
EIGHT BELOW is an Antarctic explorer who is reluctantly forced by brutal cold to leave his team of eight sled dogs behind as he fends for his own survival, and the survival of the other people at their base.
The humans in the film are good, but it is the dogs who are the stars of the film as they attempt to find food and stay alive in the harsh below freezing temperatures.
EIGHT BELOW is based on a true story and while it isn’t a superb film, due to the amount of time it takes for the humans to find a way to return to rescue the dogs, but it is an above average movie that the whole family can enjoy.
This week’s other dog movie is LADY AND THE TRAMP II: SCAMPíS ADVENTURE.
Scamp is the son of Disneyís legendary Lady & The Tramp.
Seeking the freedom to be a wild dog, the son of Lady and the Tramp runs away to join a gang of junkyard dogs.
The original film was released in 1955 and it remains a classic to this day.
The sequel came out in 2001 and while it isn’t anywhere near a classic it is pretty good.
If you could only see either LADY & THE TRAMP or LADY & THE TRAMP: SCAMPíS ADVENTURE I would suggest you stick with the original, but if you loved the original and want to see more, then check out the sequel as well.
Finally this week, Universal Home Video has re-released some of Alfred Hitchcockís classic films on DVD, calling each ìAn Alfred Hitchcock Masterpiece.î
Normally when a studio does that I just tell you that they have done it and then briefly recap the titles.
But I thought I would do something differently with these re-releases and them one at a time for the next few weeks.
I’ll start this week with ROPE, Hitchcockís 1948 film about two men who commit a murder just to see what it’s like.
After the murder the men hide the body in their large apartment, and then throw a dinner party.
The filmís thrills come not in the murder of the execution of it, but in the suspense of whether or not the body will be discovered.
ROPE is based on a play, and the film does play out like something you would see on stage. Credit for that is shared with Canadian born actor and writer Hume Cronyn who adapted it for the silver screen.
While ROPE it might not be one of Hitchcockís films that you can watch over and over again, it is still full of suspense.
Plus, this is the film where James Stewart made his first starring role for Hitchcock. That collaboration would eventually yield the masterpieces REAR WINDOW and VERTIGO.
ROPE, LADY AND THE TRAMP II: SCAMPíS ADVENTURE, EIGHT BELOW and NEIL YOUNG: HEART OF GOLD are all available now on DVD.
Coming up in two weeks in the next Couch Potato Report
ANNAPOLIS is set at the well-known Naval Academy and it centers on a young man from the wrong side of the tracks whose dream of attending becomes a reality.
Iíll continue our tribute to ALFRED HITCHCOCKíS FILMS with the Alfred Hitchcock Masterpiece THE TROUBLE WITH HARRY and take a look at the TV shows THE 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 fourteen 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 – June 20th, 2006