The Couch Potato Report – August 4th, 2007
This week The Couch Potato Report peels four foreign films and one Hollywood epic about some foreigners.
I’ll start The Report off this week with a question: Do you know who Johnny Halliday is?
Until recently, I had no idea who he was.
But I am not from France, I don’t live in Quebec, and I don’t listen to very much French music.
For if I did, I would have known that Johnny Halliday is an icon to our French friends.
Some even consider him to be the French equivalent of Elvis Presley.
Johnny Halliday has had a 40-year career in the music industry and is one of France’s biggest stars. He has made 400 tours, had 18 platinum albums, performed in front of 15 million people, and sold 100 million discs since the beginning of his career.
Yet Hallyday remains largely unknown outside of France and the French-speaking world, being often nicknamed in English-speaking countries as “the biggest rock star you’ve never heard of”.
As I said, I hadn’t heard of Johnny Halliday until recently, and I learned of him because of one of the most entertaining films I have seen this year.
The French film JEAN-PHILIPPE.
At the start of the movie we meet Fabrice. He is the biggest Johnny Hallyday fan in the world. He listen’s to Johnny’s songs as he travels to work, he carries an autograph around in his wallet, and he even has a room in his house full of memorabilia…complete with lifesize cardboard cut-outs of the man.
He’s a fan, his family knows he’s a fan and he work colleagues all know it too.
But one day he wakes up in a world that – on the surface – only seems a bit different. But in this new reality, it is a whole different world.
Instead of working on the right side of the office he shares, he works on the left, and his daughter now wants to be called Marion, and not Laura.
But the biggest difference is that fact that his music idol doesn’t exist!
In this new world no one has heard of Johnny Halliday.
So Fabrice tries to find out what happened to Jean-Philippe Smet, the man he knows as Johnny Hallyday.
And he finds him!
In this world Jean-Philippe is an ordinary average Joe running a bowling alley.
But Fabrice doesn’t want to live in a world without his beloved Johnny, so he makes it his mission to resurrect his idol, no matter the cost!
As I said a few minutes ago, JEAN-PHILIPPE is one of the most entertaining films of the year!
It was fun, charming, romantic, and if you have ever loved a singer so much that you can’t imagine your world without that person or their songs, then you will be able to relate to it.
Plus, Johnny Halliday plays himself, giving the movie an extra layer of enjoyment.
JEAN-PHILIPPE isn’t a film that you will find in every store you go into, but if you see it, watch it. It is that good!
Another movie you won’t find in every store is the remastered edition of the classic MOTHRA VS. GODZILLA.
But if you are a fan of this 1964 Japanese monster movie, you should search it out as well, becuase the new DVD features remastered versions of both the original movie and the English version.
MOTHRA VS. GODZILLA has great new packaging, the films look and sound tremendous, and the bonus features are all informative and entertaining as well.
Plus, the English version also features extra footage not in the Japanese version!
If you are a Godzilla fan, don’t hesitate to pick it up! Again, you may have to search for it, but it is worth your time!
The next two films this week are also worth your time, and the good news is you won’t have to search for them as they are everywhere!
I am referring to the hilarious British movie HOT FUZZ, from the makers of SHAUN OF THE DEAD, and the epic Hollywood action film 300 – based on Frank Miller’s graphic novel.
Let me start with HOT FUZZ.
Nicolas Angel is a highly decorated London police officer who is so good at his job that he is shunted off to an assignment in the country.
Sanford would seem to be an impossibly idyllic place, winner several times of the top village in England award. But it is a town that houses mysteries.
It also houses a wide array of unique characters.
HOT FUZZ is an action film…and a mystery…but it is primarily a satire on the genre of loud and explosive Hollywood action films.
The film also contains numerous references to other movies, making it a treat for those who love action movies.
Plus, it is incredibly well-written, kinetically edited, and very funny too.
HOT FUZZ is absurd, and priceless! It is one of the most entertaining films of the year!
And so is 300!!
The first time I saw this film all I said was: Wow! That was a unique cinematic experience.
The second, third, and now fourth times I saw it, I thought exactly the same thing!
300 is a spectacular cinematic experience…even it you are watching it at home!
Filmed primarily in Montreal 300 is based on Frank Miller’s graphic novel, and both are a retelling of a battle that took place in 480 B.C.
An inferior number of Spartan soldiers – 300 to be exact – under the command of King Leonidas fought a vastly superior Persian force – that was estimated to be anywhere between 200,000 and 2,000,000.
300 is a film about heroism in the face of insurmountable odds, but it is also so much more than that.
In order to try and duplicate the imagery of the original graphic novel, the filmmakers have created masterpiece of images, style, and testosterone.
It has soldiers, action, fighting and death.
It also has beautiful woman and men.
300 is not a film for you if you have a problem with action movies or bloodshed…but if you have no issues with those things, I think you will agree – it is a unique cinematic experience.
Finally this week is our FOREIGN FILM FESTIVAL ON DVD.
With movies already appearing from France, Japan and Britain, and 300 about warriors in Greece, this week’s selection is a little bit less of a Foreign film than some of our other selections.
RENAISSANCE PARIS 2054 is a Foreign film, it was also made in France so that fact makes it eligible, but the DVD also features an English language track with many well-known English speaking actors, including JAMES BOND’s DANIEL CRAIG, so it is more half and half than truly foreign.
But all of it is interesting to look at.
Set in the city of Paris in the year 2054, RENAISSANCE features a world that is not unlike the one established in the science-fiction classic BLADE RUNNER.
In the city, all movement is monitored and recorded and a giant corporation has a hold in every aspect of human life.
For the most part, RENAISSANCE PARIS 2054 is classic film noir – there is a lady in peril, a sister trying to find her, and an honest cop fighting for truth and justice.
RENAISSANCE is visually impressive, it is a black and white animated film with no grey…it is all black or white, but toward the end the story lets the visuals down.
I am not saying there aren’t any surprises, because there are a few inspired ones, but around the time the cop gets suspended – as cops do in these types of films – his story starts to be the least interesting one.
All that said, it is still a very interesting film, and you won’t see animation like this in any of this year’s summer movies, and that si why it is this week’s entry in our Foreign Film Festival on DVD.
RENAISSANCE PARIS 2054, the classic Japanese film MOTHRA VS. GODZILLA, the unique cinematic experience 300, the very entertaining HOT FUZZ and the French film JEAN-PHILIPPE, one of the most entertaining films I have seen this year, are all available now on DVD.
Coming up on the next Couch Potato Report
MANUFACTURING DISSENT is a Canadian made documentary that tries to distinguish what is fact, fiction, legend, and otherwise about American filmmaker Michael Moore.
The classic John Woo Hong Kong action film HARD BOILED is now available in a TWO-DISC ULTIMATE EDITION.
STARTER FOR 10 is a bittersweet comedy about life at a British university in the 1980s.
And our FOREIGN FILM FESTIVAL ON DVD continues with the Polish film GUYS DON’T CRY.
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!
In case you need something to watch (or avoid) this loooooong holiday weekend!!
The Couch Potato Report – August 4th, 2007