The Couch Potato Report

10395 – In case you need something to watch (or avoid) this weekend.

The Couch Potato Report – August 11th, 2007
This week The Couch Potato Report peels dissent, boiling, a starter and guys who don’t cry.
A few weeks ago, while I was reviewing Canadian filmmaker Debbie Melnyk’s documentary CITIZEN BLACK about Conrad Black, I said that it wasn’t a spectacular documentary as too often it told Debbie Melnyk’s story and not Conrad Black’s.
I also said that – when it comes to making documentaries – Melnyk is no Michael Moore, even though she really, really, really wants to be.
In the end, I stated that CITIZEN BLACK was always interesting, so ultimately I recommended the film as one that is worth your time.
Now, here we are five weeks later, and here we have another documentary from Debbie Melnyk and her husband Rick Caine.
And once again, she really, really, really wants to be Michael Moore, the celebrated filmmaker who gave us ROGER & ME, FAHRENHEIT 9/11, SICKO and the Academy Award winning BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE.
No, Melnyk is no Michael Moore, and her latest subject is the man himself.
This film is definitive proof that those who can’t do…do a documentary about who they aspire to be.
MANUFACTURING DISSENT is a documentary that tries to distinguish what is fact, fiction, legend, and otherwise about American filmmaker Michael Moore as he tours with his film FAHRENHEIT 9/11.
Because of his style, Moore is one of the most controversial figures to ever join the world of documentary filmmaking.
Moore is best known for his in-your-face-style interviews with high-profile politicians and actors and his now well-known use of editing to re-write the truth.
In MANUFACTURING DISSENT the filmmakers attempt to turn Moore’s own tactics against him.
They follow him around North America hoping for an interview, which he does not grant them, and they lie about their credentials to gain access to events he is holding, and they leave their cameras on after telling people they are off..
But none of those things lead up to what they want…a sit down interview with Michael Moore.
Since Moore won’t talk with them, the filmmakers then spend too much time interviewing his friends and colleagues…and way too much time telling their story as they follow him around.
No Debbie Melnyk is no Michael Moore, as much as she really seems to want to be, and she and her partner Rick Caine sure can’t make a film like Moore either.
But, in spite of itself – MANUFACTURING DISSENT is not that bad.
Much like CITIZEN BLACK it is always interesting, and has more than a few good interviews about Moore, so ultimately I recommended it as one that is worth your time.
And after you watch it, or any documentary for that matter, make sure you search out websites and books on the film’s topics so you can get the whole story.
Alright, let me quickly tell you about two of this week’s other new films, beginning with STARTER FOR 10 – a bittersweet comedy about life at a British university in the 1980s.
James McAvoy from THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND is a first year student at a high class British university whose main goal is to become a contestant on the popular game show “University Challenge.”
It is a show that is not unlike the legendary Canadian show “Reach For The Top.”
Since it is a film, our hero achieves his goal, but he has other road blocks ahead of him – namely, choosing between Alice and Rebecca – two women who both seem right for him, for different reasons.
Since STARTER FOR TEN takes place at a university in the eighties, the clothes, the attitudes of people, and the music will all seem familiar, and lead to some nostalgic moments for some.
I didn’t go to University, but I enjoyed the eighties, and it is that nostalgia that made me enjoy the film.
Yes, the plot is a little boring, the romances a little obvious, and some of the supporting characters seem pulled from bad sitcoms, but I did enjoy this movie.
STARTER FOR TEN isn’t the best film you will see this year, but if you are the same vintage as me, I think you will enjoy it. It is what people refer to as a “Good rental.”
The next release I have for you this week is the classic John Woo Hong Kong action film HARD BOILED.
It is now available in a TWO-DISC ULTIMATE EDITION and it must be said that director Woo made a film that contains some of the best action sequences ever filmed!
The great Chow Yun-fat plays a take-no-prisoners cop on the trail of the Hong Kong Mafia, when his partner is killed during a gun battle.
His guilt propels him into an all-out war against the gang, including an up-and-coming soldier in the mob – played by the also great Tony Leung – who turns out to be an undercover cop.
The two men must come to terms with their allegiance to the force and their loyalty to each other as they try to take down the gangsters.
HARD BOILED is smart, funny, well-written and features an incredible wealth of hard-to-believe action sequences!
Simply put, it is one of the greatest action films ever made!
I was originally going to make HARD BOILED this week’s selection in our ongoing FOREIGN FILM FESTIVAL ON DVD, but since it is a classic, I thought I would give it a seperate review.
I then chose the Polish film GUYS DON’T CRY as this week’s film from a foreign land to focus on.
GUYS DON’T CRY is about Kuba, a young violinist who tries to find a girl for his bumbling buddy Oscar.
With no luck, they call an escort service, but then they don’t have the money to pay, putting Kuba on the wrong side against the local Polish mafia. .
Luckily for him, these mafiosos are incompetent at best.
GUYS DON’T CRY is an action filled black comedy.
It is stupid at times, it is funny at times, and I enjoyed it from start to finish.
This is also the type of foreign film I always enjoy watching, because it shows up people and places we don’t usually see in North American films.
I guess that is why it is this week’s entry in the FOREIGN FILM FESTIVAL ON DVD.
GUYS DON’T CRY, the TWO-DISC ULTIMATE EDITION of the classic Hong Kong film HARD BOILED, teh good rental STARTER FOR 10, and the interesting Canadian made documentary MANUFACTURING DISSENT about American filmmaker Michael Moore are all available now on DVD.
Coming up on the next Couch Potato Report
THE LOOKOUT is a film made in Winnipeg about a once promising high school athlete whose finds himself caught up in a planned bank heist.
WILD HOGS stars John Travolta, Tim Allen, William H. Macy and Martin Lawrence as suburban biker wannabes who hit the open road looking for adventure; Canadian Oscar nominee Ryan Gosling takes on manipulative criminal Anthony Hopkins in FRACTURE; and the classic Jim Henson characters we grew up with are back on DVD in SEASON TWO of THE MUPPET SHOW.
Plus, our FOREIGN FILM FESTIVAL ON DVD continues with the very entertaining Spanish Film WELCOME HOME about a young couple trying to cope with moving in together, and having a baby.
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!