The Couch Potato Report

“Remember when he posted these every Tuesday? I used to enjoy that reliability!!”

The Couch Potato Report – January 30th, 2007
This week The Couch Potato Report shines the spotlight on a very engaging documentary, a very entertaining British Royle family and the Oscar nominations.
CHINA RISES is a four part CBC series from the same people who made HOCKEY: A PEOPLE’S HISTORY and it is a very interesting look at a country that
consists of one-fifth of the world’s population, uses a third of the world’s steel and almost half of it’s cement.
I must admit that even though I have many friends who are Chinese, I didn’t know that much about China before I started to watch this two-DVD Box Set.
And now I want to know more.
CHINA RISES does feature stories about The Great Wall, the forbidden city and Chinese food, and they all have their own merits, but the series primarily tells the stories of the people.
The people who have succeeded in the new China, those who are working hard to succeed, and the people who have been left behind.
The eyes of the world will be focused on China next year when the Beijing Olympics Begin on August 8th, or 8-8-08 as this documentary shows us, and if you want to take a unique look inside the country now, I suggest you check out CHINA RISES.
It is a superb series that gives you a look at the incredible transformation that the country is undergoing – for better and for worse.
Now, for more on CHINA RISES you can go online to
Next up this week is a surprisingly entertaining BBC series.
If you always thought that SEINFELD was a show about nothing, wait until you meet THE ROYLE FAMILY.
The Royles are a British family who appear to do nothing other than eat, drink tea, smoke, watch TV and talk…man do they talk.
Jim Royle is the family patriarch and his long-suffering wife is Barbara. Denise and Anthony are their kids and Dave is Denise’s fiance.
With the exception of a few neighbours and a grandparent, the five Royles are the only people you meet in this six-episode series.
Now, when I sat down to watch this show I had never seen or even heard of it.
And as I sit here with you this morning, I must tell you that I loved it!
Sure, THE ROYLE FAMILY are just a group of people who sit around the house and eat, drink tea, smoke, watch TV and talk, but unlike most North American series we see these days about families, there is no anger or negativity.
Sure, The Royles make smart-alec comments about each other, and they poke fun and tease, but they have genuine love and enjoy each others company.
But I enjoyed being in the company of THE ROYLE FAMILY.
Now, the other two films I have to tell you about this week are the horror films SAW III and THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE: THE BEGINNING.
I am not going to take up much of your time with these releases, other than to say if you have seen any of the other films in these series, and you enjoyed them, then you will probably enjoyed these two movies.
If you haven’t, then you won’t.
I am no longer a huge fan of the horror genre, I think I lost interest in it when I lost my twenties, but I will admit that SAW III and THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE: THE BEGINNING are worth your time.
If you enjoy watching films like this.
To the surprise of no one SAW III and THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE: THE BEGINNING were ignored when the nominations for the 79th annual Academy Awards were announced on last Tuesday morning.
Also to no one’s surprise, the nominations confirmed what all prognosticators already knew: the only open race is for “Best Picture.”
Even prior to the Golden Globes, and their nominations, the following five of the big six races were already determined, due to buzz, the fact that the people themselves were showing contrition regarding winning an Oscar, and their performances themselves.
It is true that these people can lose their Oscars between now and Tuesday, February 20th when the Oscar Ballots are due, but as of today, those guaranteed to win on Oscar night are:
Best Actress
Helen Mirren, THE QUEEN
Best Actor
Best Supporting Actress
Jennifer Hudson, DREAMGIRLS
Best Supporting Actor
Eddie Murphy, DREAMGIRLS
Best Director
Martin Scorsese, THE DEPARTED.
So now, out of the five nominees, who wins Best Picture?
Well, BABEL was a surprise Golden Globe winner, so it has to make the final two; THE DEPARTED has no buzz at all in this category, but it will (finally) give Marty his Award, and Mark Wahlberg’s nominations shows the academy notices a great performance – yes “Marky Mark” is now an Academy Award nominee – but no one thinks it was the Best Picture last year; the Academy loves Clint Eastwood, but LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA doesn’t have the momentum of his previous Oscar winners MILLION DOLLAR BABY or UNFORGIVEN; LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE was the surprise winner of the top feature film award presented by the Producers Guild of America last weekend, confirming that voters are aware of this wonderful little film, so that gives it momentum; and THE QUEEN is also wonderful, and the nomination for Best Director for Stephen Frears is proof again that voters are aware of the movie, but it is getting all of it’s buzz for Helen Mirren, not for the film itself.
So now, who wins Best Picture?
At this point, it looks like it is a race between BABEL and LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE, with the latter poised to be the only surprise on Oscar night, February 25th.
That is a surprise I would enjoy.
I will make my final predictions on the day of the Oscars, and if you have yet to see LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE, it is available now on DVD, along with the informative CBC documentary CHINA RISES, the somehow engaging BBC series THE ROYLE FAMILY, and the horror films SAW III and THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE: THE BEGINNING.
Coming up in the next Couch Potato Report
TALES OF RAT FINK is a Canadian film about the life and times of famed hot rod & custom car designer Ed “Big Daddy” Roth; JESUS CAMP is a documentary on kids who attend a religious summer camp and it received an Oscar nomination this week in the Best Documentary feature catagory; CATCH A FIRE is a drama about terrorism in Apartheid-era South Africa; and the foreign film THREE TIMES features three stories set in three times, 1911, 1966 and 2005.
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!