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The Couch Potato Report

In case you need something to watch (or avoid) this weekend.

The Couch Potato Report – April 6th, 2007
This week The Couch Potato Report shines the spotlight on one of the world’s greatest directors, a “classic” Canadian film and more.
Back in the late 1970s and early 1980s – when I was a kid – I loved going to the movies! Yes, in the winter I also played hockey, and baseball was also my summer past time, but all year ’round, I went to the movies.
I have many great childhood memories of sitting in a theatre, with my pop and candy, and being taken to different places around the world through films, and those experiences are one of the reasons why I am as passionate about movies as I am today.
It was at the movies that I got to know the works of some of the world’s greatest filmmakers, including Martin Scorsese, Alfred Hitchcock, Steven Spielberg, and Robert Altman.
Especially Altman.
He is a filmmaker who was born on February 20th├ľand we share a birthday. In 1970 Robert Altman made a movie called MASH, about some doctors in the military…I am sure you’ve heard of it, it was a huge hit and they even made a long-running TV series about it.
The reason his military movie appealed to me, was because my Dad was in the military, and as a kid who looked up to his father, I was always interested in things that were connected to him.
Robert Altman had great success in the early 1970s, but as the eighties began, that success waned.
However, he had a career renaissance that started in the early 1990s with a spectacular film called THE PLAYER.
And now all eight films that he made, starting with that comeback film, during the remaining years of his life are available in the spectacular eight film box set THE ROBERT ALTMAN BOX.
Those films are THE PLAYER, READY TO WEAR, SHORT CUTS, COOKIE’s FORTUNE, DR. T AND THE WOMEN, KANSAS CITY, A PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION and the Academy Award winning film GOSFORD PARK.
Of the eight films THE PLAYER, SHORT CUTS and GOSFORD PARK are the classics, but each movie is distinct in it’s own way, especially since Altman doesn’t seem to waste a single moment on screen, and the diaglogue in each of his movies is not only well written, but the people in his films talk the way people in the real world do.
Their not just characters, they are humans.
THE ROBERT ALTMAN BOX is a great way for you to get to know the work of a master of filmmaking, a man who in 2006 was given an Honorary Academy Award for a career that has repeatedly reinvented the art form and inspired filmmakers and audiences alike.
This BOX SET is available in stores now, and I think you should check it out so you can begin making some cinematic memories of your own…childhood or otherwise.
Yes, let me talk about something other than Hollywood as I recap some other notable releases this week.
A naive barber is the main character in the new-to-DVD “classic” Canadian film HIGHWAY 61.
Don McKellar from TWITCH CITY and THE RED VIOLIN is the aforementioned barber and the film allows us to spend some time with him one summer as he travels down highway 61 with a mysterious red-haired woman who asks him for a ride.
HIGHWAY 61 is a classic in the sense that if you saw it when it first came out in 1991 and loved it, then you will still love it today.
Otherwise, you probably won’t get much out of this rock and roll road show.
I am not the world’s biggest fan of the film, but I had a great time watching it again on DVD.
I also had a great time watching the latest screen performance from a woman who doesn’t act in very many movies these days.
The great Ashley Judd from KISS THE GIRLS, DOUBLE JEOPARDY and DE-LOVELY is back, and she is playing a woman searching for love in COME EARLY MORNING.
This movie is not a classic, but it is a very interesting story about a woman who just can’t seem to allow herself to be happy…unless there is alcohol involved.
However, the film does respect it’s lead character, and I am happy to report that this isn’t your usual “girl meets boy, boy loses girl, boy wants girl back” Hollywood film.
Everything that happens makes sense, and for that reason, and the presense of Ashley Judd, I enjoyed COME EARLY MORNING
I have two other releases to quickly tell you about this morning, the Academy Award winning Best Animated Feature HAPPY FEET has tap danced it’s way onto DVD.
If you are looking for a film for the kids the Easter Weekend, this story about a penguin who can’t sing, but can dance, will definately entertain the younger ones.
But if you are an adult, this film loses steam at around the 55 minute mark when it goes from an upbeat, very entertaining movie about some dancing and singing penguins, to a message film.
Now I am not saying that there is anything wrong with message films, but when HAPPY FEET starts to preach about saving the world’s oceans and protecting teh environment it all just seems out of place…especially in a film about some singing and dancing penguins.
I think kids will enjoy the film from start to finish, but I only enjoyed the first half.
But…for that first 55 minutes HAPPY FEET is a great film and worthy of the Oscar it won.
Finally this week is the three DVD Box Set for part one of season three of the spectacular TV series ENTOURAGE.
This show is about film star Vincent Chase, his group of friends from New York, and his agent who live and work in and around the movie business in Hollywood.
This series features great work by Canadian actress Emmanuelle Chriqui, and Oscar winning filmmaking Canucks James Cameron and Paul Haggis.
ENTOURAGE does a great job of taking us behind the scenes of the movie business, but it does a much better job at allowing us to spend time with four guys who are enjoying life.
Due to it’s language and content, ENTOURAGE isn’t a series for everyone, but it is a show that I love, and I enjoyed watching this DVD set again this week.
ENTOURAGE – SEASON THREE, PART ONE, the Oscar winning HAPPY FEET, Ashley Judd’s COME EARLY MORNING, the “classic” Canadian film HIGHWAY 61, and the eight film DVD set THE ROBERT ALTMAN BOX are all now available on DVD.
Coming up in the next Couch Potato Report
I will talk about the engaing and entertaining CBC series AT THE HOTEL.
Also next week, I will share my thoughts on teh very interesting film CHILDREN OF MEN; the eye opening A CRUDE AWAKENING; and the latest DVD releases of the classic 1980’s series MIAMI VICE.
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!