The Couch Potato Report

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

The Couch Potato Report – July 14th, 2007
This week The Couch Potato Report peels two Canadian films and we learn Esma’s secret.
On Friday in Chicago, a jury of nine women and three men found former Canadian media baron Conrad Black guilty of three counts of criminal fraud and the serious charge of obstruction of justice — but cleared him of racketeering, wire fraud and tax evasion.
The convictions mean Black faces a maximum sentence of 35 years, if served consecutively, and $1 million US in fines.
Sentencing will take place at a later date and as expected, Black’s attorneys announced they will appeal the guilty verdicts.
New on DVD this week is CITIZEN BLACK – a documentary that chronicles Conrad Black’s downfall.
And this isn’t one of those documentaries that only features interviews and comments friends, relatives, and former co-workers of Mr. Black’s.
No, CITIZEN BLACK features the man himself.
Black didn’t actually sit down for a one on one interview with filmmaker, and former CBC employee, Debbie Melnyk but she did correspond with him by email, and she did follow him around as he promoted his book about Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the 32nd President of the United States.
CITIZEN BLACK isn’t a spectacular documentary as too often it tells Debbie Melnyk’s story and not Conrad Black’s, but it is very, very good.
It is a movie with a great sense of humour, and it also gives us a look at Mr. Black’s personal life and some of the eccentricities that he and his wife posess.
Debbie Melnyk is no Michael Moore, but through all of her films flaws, I respect her tenacity in trying to get Mr. Black to sit down for an interview as she chases him from one book signing to another.
And the film was always interesting, so ultimately I think CITIZEN BLACK is a film that is worth your time.
Up next this week is the Canadian film PARTITION.
Generally, a partition is a splitting of something into parts.
The Partition of India led to the creation of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan on August 14th, 1947, and the Republic of India on August 15th, 1947, upon the granting of independence to British India from the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
The movie PARTITION is about these events, but it is primarily a love story played out against a backdrop of political and religious upheaval.
Determined to leave the ravages of war behind, a Sikh soldier resigns from the British Indian Army to a quiet life.
His world is soon thrown in turmoil, when he suddenly finds himself responsible for the life of a young Muslim woman, traumatized by the events that separated her from her family.
Slowly, resisting all the taboos, they fall in love.
Canadian actresses Kristin Kreuk (Kroook) from the televison series SMALLVILLE and Neve Campbell of the SCREAM films atar along with the Indo-British actor Jimi Mistry in PARTITION, and they all give great performances.
Plus, the locations in British Columbia and Northern India where the movie was made look incredible, but in the end the film just never caught my attention.
I am a huge fan of TITANIC and THE ENGLISH PATIENT, and several other films that use actual historical events as a background for a love story.
But as much as PARTITION strives to be a good as those films, it just isn’t.
There are just too many side stories that ultimately have no relevance, and at one point a period of five years passes, and no one seems to change or age at all.
So, if you enjoy very romantic love stories set against turbulant times, perhaps you will enjoy PARTITION more than I did.
I didn’t dislike it, but I can’t fully recommend it either.
Finally this week, the action filled, very loud, check-your-brain-at-the-door summer movie season continued in theatres this week with HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX.
If you’d prefer an alternative, each week during the summer movie season I will tell you about at least one current release on DVD that you’ll need your brain to enjoy.
This week’s entry is ESMA’S SECRET, a movie from Austria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Germany and Croatia.
ESMA’S SECRET focuses on the Balkan War’s painful aftermath on a Bosnian woman named Esma and her daughter Sara who live in a quarter of the Bosnian capital Sarajevo.
Esma works several jobs and does laundry and tailoring for her friends and neighbours to earn money and when Sara wants to go on a school trip, her mother struggles to find the money.
Esma has told her daughter that her father is a war hero, and even though a certificate proving that would allow her a discount for the trip, Esma tries to find a way to pay the full price.
The reason why, is Esma’s secret.
ESMA’S SECRET doesn’t show any scenes of the horrific war and genocide in the former Yugoslavia, but by the end of the movie you will know what the pain of war feels like.
It is a very interesting film that features people and locations that we don’t normally get to see, either in films or in real life, and it all adds up to a movie that will get you thinking.
Like I said, you’ll need your brain to enjoy the selections I have for you in this summer’s FOREIGN FILM FESTIVAL on DVD!
The very interesting ESMA’S SECRET, the Canadian film PARTITION and the documentary CITIZEN BLACK are all available now on DVD.
Coming up on the next Couch Potato Report
GRAY MATTERS stars Tom Cavanagh and Heather Graham as a brother and sister who both fall in love with the same woman.
FACTORY GIRL tells a fictionalized story of mid-sixties socialite and Andy Warhol superstar Edie Sedgwick; Billy Bob Thornton stars in THE ASTRONAUT FARMER as a farmer who builds his own rocket; and our FOREIGN FILM FESTIVAL ON DVD continues with the British documentary BLACK GOLD about the international coffee trade and its ramifications for the farmers who grow coffee.
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!