The Couch Potato Report

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

The Couch Potato Report – June 2nd, 2007
This week The Couch Potato Report peels a comedy collection, two monsters, and our FOREIGN FILM FESTIVAL will continue on DVD with a Finnish film about soccer.
From 1982 until he retired from acting in 2000 Canadian born Michael J. Fox was one of the biggest and most succesful stars in the world, and he remains one of the world’s most beloved performers to this day.
That is due to the fact that he was Alex P. Keaton in the TV show FAMILY TIES, Marty McFly in the BACK TO THE FUTURE films, Mike Flaherty in television’s SPIN CITY and the cinematic voice of STUART LITTLE.
And now, four of Fox’s films are available in THE MICHAEL J. FOX COMEDY FAVOURITES COLLECTION.
My favourite of the group is 1987’s THE SCRECT OF MY SUCCESS about an educated boy from a small town who moves to New York City to make his name in the business word.
Twenty years later, I still love this movie!!
In 1991’s THE HARD WAY Fox stars as an actor who goes undercover as a police officer to research a role that he is dying to play.
James Woods is the cop who is ordered to tak ethe actor under his wing, and he is none too thrilled.
1993 saw Michael J. Fox teams up with the lovely Gabrielle Anwar as he plays a hotel consierge with big dreams in the romantic comedy FOR LOVE OR MONEY.
And in GREEDY from 1994 Fox is part of an all-star cast as he stakes his own claim on his rich Uncle’s fortune. The cast also includes another well-known Canadian icon, the late, great Phil Hartman.
Sadly, for Michael J. Fox, those films made him wander from a direct or straight course.
At the time of thier releases, none of them were as successful, as well-liked, or as good, as some of the work Fox had done before them.
It seemed that Fox was just taking any roles that were offered to him.
Years later, in his autobiography – LUCKY MAN – A MEMOIR, he admitted that once he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease that he did just accept everything that came along because he wanted to focus on his work while he still could.
Now that time has passed, and Fox hasn’t had a major role on televison or in the movies in the better part of this decade, I have to admit that while I didn’t have fond memories of these movies from their initial release, with the exception of THE SECRET OF MY SUCCESS which is one of my all-time favourite films, it was fun to go back and watch them all again.
We have to switch gears now for this week’s next two releases.
These films feature a cinematic monster in HANNIBAL RISING and a real life monster is at the centre of the documentary DELIVER US FROM EVIL.
Let me begin with the fake one…and in this film Hannibal Lecter is fake.
The trend in movies these days is to take a succesful film franchise and reboot it, taking us back to the origin of the character and story.
It worked very well in BATMAN BEGINS and CASINO ROYALE, sort of well in SUPERMAN RETURNS, but – sadly – it doesn’t work at all in HANNIBAL RISING.
Hannibal Lecter is one of the greatest screen villains of all time, but this attempt to reboot the frenachise with an origin story doesn’t work.
And that is both a huge surprise, and a major disappoinment, as Thomas Harris, the man who created the character in his 1981 book RED DRAGON, wrote the screenplay for HANNIBAL RISING.
The story is HANNIBAL RISING is this – after the death of his parents during World War II, young Hannibal Lecter moves in with his uncle and his beautiful wife and begins plotting revenge on the people responsible for his sister’s death.
That is how be became the monster we know him as today.
But, you don’t need to see this film to learn that. Hannibal Lecter is a perfect villain as he is, and fortunately, as bad as HANNIBAL RISING is, it cannot change that fact.
Another fact that cannot change is the fact that there is nothing entertaining in the documentary DELIVER US FROM EVIL.
I was uncomfortable during every minute of it’s 103 minute running time.
In the 1970s Father Oliver O’Grady was a Priest who moved from one parish to another in Northern California and quickly won each congregation’s trust and respect.
Unfortunately, while he was earning the trust and respect of the parents, he was ruining the lives of some of their children.
DELIVER US FROM EVIL features an extended, deeply unsettling interview with O’Grady himself, and we meet some of his victims and their families as they share their tragic stories of molestation and abuse.
We also find out, that O’Grady’s superiors knew what he was doing, and had done, and they did nothing to stop it.
DELIVER US FROM EVIL is a heartbreaking movie. There were times that it actually brought me to tears as the children, now grown up, and their parents tell their stories.
But ultimately, this film is about love. The love that the parents have for their children, and the love for life that keeps the victims going from day to day, no matter how that might be sometimes.
Because of it’s subject matter, and how unpleasant some of the stories in it are to hear, this is not a movie for everyone, but it is a look at a real life monster that you will not see every day.
Originally, I wasn’t going to talk about that film, because of how uncomfortable a subject it is, but I decided to include it here because as a piece of cinema, it has it’s place.
But lets move away from that subject matter now to once again celebrate a film from another country as our FOREIGN FILM FESTIVAL ON DVD continues.
This summer I will be telling you about a different film each week in a foreign language.
This week the FOREIGN FILM FESTIVAL ON DVD features the Finnish film FC VENUS, a romantic comedy about men, women and soccer.
This film is about a group of men who are huge soccer fans.
It starts off at a wedding, and even the vows contain refereneces to their beloved game.
Luckily, their wives, girlfriends and partners are understanding of their partner’s love of the game, up to a point.
Once they cross that line, something has to be done.
So the wives, girlfriends and partners make a bet. Theyw ill play the men in a game. If they win, the men have to stop watching, loving, and talking about soccer forever.
If the women win, the men will pay for them to travel to Germany for a vacation, and give them their tickets to the World Cup Soccer Tournament.
FC Venus isn’t just about some people’s love for soccer though, it is also a love story between men and women, and it is very funny at times as well.
I found this movie from Finland to be good from start…to finnish.
Sorry, I couldn’t resist that.
I also can’t resist saying that this is another must see entry in the FOREIGN FILM FESTIVAL ON DVD
The very entertaining FC VENUS, the uncomfotable DELIVER US FROM EVIL, the useless HANNIBAL RISING, and the very entertaining films in THE MICHAEL J. FOX COMEDY FAVOURITES COLLECTION, are all available now on DVD.
Coming up in the next Couch Potato Report
The made-in-Saskatchewan horror film THE MESSENGERS debuts on DVD; as does CBC’s Coverage of the Vimy Ridge Memorial in April on the superb VIMY REMEMBERED.
I’ll also tell you about the Two-Disc Ultimate Collector’s Edition of the 1959 classic RIO BRAVO, which might make a great Father’s Day gift; and our FOREIGN FILM FESTIVAL ON DVD continues with the Austrian film ANTARES, about three women, whose paths cross in a building complex.
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!