The Couch Potato Report

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

The Couch Potato Report – May 26th, 2007
This week The Couch Potato Report peels some Inuit journals, a few Oscar nominees and a moustache.
Another very busy week with five new films to talk about, so let me get right to them!
The original Inuktitut language is spoken in THE JOURNALS OF KNUD RASMUSSEN, a Canadian film about an Inuit shaman and his headstrong daughter.
This is the latest release from the people who gave us the superb THE FAST RUNNER back in 2001.
THE JOURNALS OF KNUD RASMUSSEN is told from the views of a man who traveled the Arctic in the 1920s. There is no narration, but what he sees and discovers is what we experience as well.
And these experiences are very uique.
This is a movie with some great stories, and some superb acting, from a mostly unknown cast of actors.
There is a point in the film where the shaman is explaining how he survived his birth, despite a curse on his mother, and became the leader of his people.
It is all done in one extremely long take, one that goes on for almost twenty minutes.
I’d like to see some of the biggest names in Hollywood do that!!
My only complaint with THE JOURNALS OF KNUD RASMUSSEN is that it has some of the worst subtitles I have ever seen.
There are many times when people on screen are talking, mostly in groups to other people, and instead of telling us what is being said, the subtiles just read “lamenting”, “murmuring” and “chattering”.
I wanted to know what was being said so I could understand the characters even more, but I didn’t get it.
And unless you speak Inuktitut, you’ll never get it either, because the subtitles don’t tell us.
And you may not even want to, THE JOURNALS OF KNUD RASMUSSEN isn’t the type of film that is for everyone because it is very, very slow moving.
But, this film that takes place in the Canadian Arctic in January of 1912 does feature several things in it that you aren’t going to see in many films – like the construction of an igloo, for instance – and that is why it is worth seeing.
It is not an exceptional film, but it is exceptionally interesting from start to finish.
Up next this week is VENUS. This movie features screen legend Peter O’Toole in his Oscar Nominated role as an aging actor who finds a new friend in a young woman who becomes his ideal of female beauty
Peter O’Toole has starred in some of the greatest films ever made – including Goodbye, Mr. Chips, The Lion in Winter, and Lawrence of Arabia – and in VENUS he plays a famous actor who – not unlike the man himself – is in the twilight of his career, and life.
His “Venus” is the niece of his friend.
At first she ignores him as she does her elderly Uncle.
But then they come to a mutally beneficial arrangement.
He spends money on her, and she makes him feel young.
O’Toole and the other actors in VENUS do a great job, but I was ultimately disappointed by the film.
The emotions and relationships seem real, but parts of the story feel forced. There is also a subplot about a boyfriend for the neice that is completely unnecessary.
VENUS isn’t a bad film, but it isn’t good enough to recommend.
And that is true about THE GOOD GERMAN as well.
Tobey Maguire, George Clooney and Cate Blanchett star in THE GOOD GERMAN.
Clooney is an American military journalist in post-war Berlin who is drawn into a murder investigation involving his former mistress, his driver, and a man named Emile Brandt.
The film tries to answer the question: Who is Emile Brandt, while the question that I have is how did director Steven Soderbergh let a film with this many flaws get released. The story moves from one uninteresting plot point to another with no sense of momentum, the acting is unfocussed and even though the film was shot in black-and-white, there is nothing special about that either.
If you are the type of film lover who always laments that “they don’t make ’em like they used to”, then you might enjoy the look and feel of THE GOOD GERMAN.
Usually I am that type of person, but this film just didn’t do it for me. I am glad I saw it, but I won’t ever see it again.
I will see our next film this week again…in fact, I have seen it three times already.
That film is Clint Eastwood’s Academy Award nominated LETTER FROM IWO JIMA.
Originally envisioned as a companion piece to Eastwood’s FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS this second movie is no companion. It surpasses that movie!
FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS is a very uninteresting movie that tells the life stories of the six men who raised the flag at The Battle of Iwo Jima, those men have been seen millions of times in the iconic photograph that was taken of them.
LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA tells the other side of that Battle…a side unseen in a Hollywood film until now.
This film shows us the Battle from the perspective of the Japanese.
Whereas FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS was over long, boring at times, and a complete waste of my time, LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA is engaging, full of interesting characters, and with it’s unique perspective, I enjoyed it immensely.
The film was nominated for 4 Academy Awards including Best Writing, Original Screenplay for Canadian Paul Haggis’ original story, and Best Picture.
It certainly was one of the best films of 2006.
And since it is in Japanese with subtitles, it gives me a great segue into our FOREIGN FILM FESTIVAL ON DVD.
The action filled, very loud, very hyped, check-your-brain-at-the-door summer movie season is upon us in theatres, this week’s entry is the very loud, very explosive and very hyped sequel PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN – AT WORLD’S END.
So, if you would like something different, I’ll be offering you an alternative every week.
This week’s selection is the French film LA MOUSTACHE.
This film begins in a bathtub as a man is washing and shaving.
He tells his wife that he is thinking about shaving off his moustache and her immediate reply is “I don’t know you without it.”
So as she goes out to get some food, he shaves it off.
Once she returns home he playfully hides his face and the reveals his newly shaven face to he, and waits patiently for his wife’s reaction.
But neither she nor his friends seem to notice.
Then, he calls them on it, and they all insist he never had a mustache.
Is he going crazy?!?
Is he the victim of some elaborate conspiracy?!?
Or has something gone terribly awry with the world just because he has shaved off his moustache?!?
Well, I am sure not going to tell you.
LA MOUSTACHE is a very interesting film because it doesn’t provide an easily understood ending with everything explained and a bow on top.
Instead, it will leave you with more than a few questions, and you can fill in the blanks any way you’d like.
Watch it with someone you enjoy talking about movies with, because you will definately want to discuss it when it is over.
It is another must see entry in the FOREIGN FILM FESTIVAL ON DVD
LA MOUSTACHE, the engaging LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA, the not very special THE GOOD GERMAN, and VENUS, and the not exceptional, but exceptionally interesting, Canadian film THE JOURNALS OF KNUD RASMUSSEN are all now available on DVD.
Coming up in the next Couch Potato Report
THE MICHAEL J. FOX COMEDY COLLECTION features four of his best known films not named BACK TO THE FUTURE, including THE SECRET OF MY SUCCESS.
We will also meet a cinematic monster in HANNIBAL RISING and a real one in the documentary DELIVER US FROM EVIL. Plus, Season Two of teh superb television series THE CLOSER is now on DVD and the FOREIGN FILM FESTIVAL on DVD continues with the Finnish film FC VENUS, a romantic comedy about men, women and soccer.
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!