The Couch Potato Report

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

The Couch Potato Report – May 12th, 2007
This week The Couch Potato Report peels a show about an apartment building in Vancouver and our Foreign Film Festival Continues!!
Robson Street is a major thoroughfare in downtown Vancouver.
Its name honours John Robson, a major figure in British Columbia’s entry into the Canadian Confederation, and Premier of the province from 1889 to 1892.
ROBSON ARMS is a Canadian anthology television series that takes place in and around the Robson Arms apartment building in Vancouver.
Each episode of the show focuses on a different tenant of the building.
The stories include a recently divorced Mother and her son starting a new life with a widower, newlyweds who are working hard to trust each other, a gay couple dealing with health issues, a teenager learning to get along with his grandmother, and one woman who is just looking for her place in life.
The show also has lots of Canadian music and references and in addition to a new story every week ROBSON ARMS also features a large ensemble cast of well known Canadian actors that rotates from week to week as well.
I really enjoyed seeing some of these folks on screen again, especially Anne of Green Gables herself – Megan Follows, who still has one of the world’s greatest smiles, William B. Davis from “The X-Files”, Mark McKinney from “The Kids In The Hall”, Margot Kidder, MadTV’s Will Sasso, Saskatchewan’s own Shirley Douglas, and almost all of the cast of CORNER GAS, including Brent Butt.
Unfortunately, while ROBSON ARMS is engaging at times, most of the episodes just aren’t that interesting, in fact…some of the characters are exceptionally unlikeable, and…in the end, I just didn’t find the show really isn’t all that entertaining.
To me, a television show, or a radio show for that matter, has to entertain. The people who put these show on the air can’t expect me to watch, or listen, just because they have spent the time to create it.
While I have always had a great time on Robson Street in Vancouver, the show ROBSON ARMS didn’t entertain me, and so I can’t recommend the two-disc set for SEASON ONE that is now available on DVD.
Up next this week are three new movies now on DVD, and the first of those is the wannabe romantic comedy MUSIC AND LYRICS.
Hugh Grant plays a washed up star from the eighties who used to be in one of the world’s biggest pop duos, before his partner left him for a tremendously succesful solo career.
He is given an opportunity to write a song for a Britney Spears-like pop star, but he only has a few days to get it done, and he doesn’t write lyrics.
Drew Barrymore walks into his apartment one day to fill in for the woman who normally waters his plants, and wouldn’t you know it, as it happens in movies like this, she becomes the one person who can help him in his work, and his love life.
Now I like Hugh Grant, and I love Drew Barrymore, but together they just don’t work. There is no chemistry, and absoluety nothing about the premise of the film seems in any way logical.
MUSIC & LYRICS is a cinematic love story that just doesn’t work on any level. It is best ignored.
Now, if you want to watch a love story that does work…well then, check out the wonderful film THE PAINTED VEIL.
Now this is a love story!!
Naomi Watts from THE RING films and KING KONG plays a spoiled upper-class woman in the mid-1920s who is in need of a husband as her parents no longer want to support her.
She meets and marries a middle-class doctor for the wrong reasons and after they move to Shanghai, she falls in love with someone else.
Edward Norton from THE ILLUSIONIST is the Doctor and when he uncovers her secret, he accepts a job in a remote village in China ravaged by a deadly epidemic as an act of revenge, and explains to her that she has no choice but to accompany him.
It is at this point that their love story begins, and even though the film moves very, very, very slow at times, it is that love story that made me love this film.
THE PAINTED VEIL is exceptionally made, full of beautiful people, and I completely enjoyed it, even though it is very, very slow at times.
I also enjoyed BREAKING AND ENTERING, but not quite as much.
This is the latest film from director Anthony Minghella – the man who gave us the Academy Award winning film THE ENGLISH PATIENT.
Jude Law from CLOSER and ALFIE is an architect working in the bad part of London who loves his job and long-time girlfriend and her behaviorally challenged thirteen year old daughter.
But after a series of unsolved break-ins he starts to re-evaluate his life.
Soon he is dating the mother of one of the teenagers who broke in to his office, and she finds out. Juliette Binoche from THE ENGLISH PATIENT is the Mother and once she realizes that this man holds the key to her son’s future she has to decide how far to go to protect her son.
BREAKING AND ENTERING is a a very interesting character driven movie that is also very slow moving.
It is not the type o fmovie that everyone will enjoy, but once you get used to the pace of the film, I think you will enjoy it.
It is another one of those movies that is good for mature people who love movies.
Finally this week, our FOREIGN FILM FESTIVAL ON DVD continues.
The action filled, very loud, check-your-brain-at-the-door summer movie season is upon us in theatres, this week’s entry is the zombie film sequel 28 WEEKS LATER.
So, if you would like something different, I offer you an alternative.
This week’s selection is the German movie INTO GREAT SILENCE.
If you want the opposite of loud, then this is your film.
INTO GREAT SILENCE is a documentary that takes place in a monastery in the French Alps.
The monks there have been praying in nearly-total silence and solitude for nearly a millennium.
It took the filmmakers over a decade to obtain permission to film at the monastery, but the results are incredible as it follows the monks through their day and over the course of a year, from the deep snows of winter, through the planting season, and around again to winter.
INTO GREAT SILENCE is a film that features very little talking, but does include long, lingering shots of the monks at prayer — favoring closeup shots of an ear, fingers, lips and eyes.
I started watching it in the morning of a day that was sunny and twenty-seven degrees. I thought I would start it, and then finish it after a day outside…but I watched it all the waythrough in one sitting.
I just found the sights, sounds and silence of it all, fascinating!!
The Foreign film INTO GREAT SILENCE is now available on DVD, along side the mature film BREAKING & ENTERING, the slow, but enjoyable THE PAINTED VEIL, the useless MUSIC & LYRICS, and SEASON ONE of the not very entertaining Canadian television series ROBSON ARMS.
Coming up in the next Couch Potato Report
JONI MITCHELL performs live in the 1983 concert film REFUGEE OF THE ROADS that is now available on DVD; THE FOUNTAIN is a very poetic cinematic failure; WHO THE BLEEP IS JACKSON POLLOCK is a documentary about a woman who may have bought a fifty million dollar painting for five dollars; and our FOREIGN FILM FESTIVAL ON DVD will continue with the Academy Award winning masterpiece PAN’S LABYRINTH.
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!