The Couch Potato Report

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

The Couch Potato Report – September 15th, 2007
This week The Couch Potato Report peels the careers of some former child stars, including Canadian Sarah Polley.
There is an eerie concidence that coincides with this week’s Report.
You see, I plan which movies I am going to discuss week’s in advance. I look for ways to tie films together, in addition to consulting the studio’s planned release dates, and always attempt to attach a Saskatchewan and Canadian angle, whenever possible.
It had been decided that this week I would use the films AWAY FROM HER and GEORGIA RULE to talk about two former child stars who are now moving into very different positions as adults in the movie world.
And for all child stars, Jodie Foster has the career that most of them asprire to.
Jodie began her career at the age of three in a television commercial, and before long she made her debut as a television actress in a 1968 episode of Mayberry R.F.D.
After several TV movies, she then moved on to make films in her teens, including FREAKY FRIDAY and TAXI DRIVER, before winner her first Academy Award for Best Actress in 1988 for THE ACCUSED and her second in 1991 for THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS.
And then, in addition to starring in movies and winning Oscars, she started directing movies, including LITTLE MAN TATE and HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS.
And now, Jodie is back in theatres this weekend with her new film THE BRAVE ONE, just as Sarah Polley’s AWAY FROM HER and Lindsay Lohan’s GEORGIA RULE debut on DVD.
Maybe…maybe not.
Either way, between Polley and Lohan, the former star of ROAD TO AVONLEA is the one who seems most likley to follow in Jodie’s footsteps, especially with her spectacular directorial debut AWAY FROM HER.
Sarah Polley was born in Toronto and her film debut came at the age of four. At the age of eight, she was cast in the title role of the television series RAMONA, and starred in the Terry Gilliam film TEH ADVENTURES OF BARON MUNCHAUSEN.
Her next role was Sara Stanley in the CBC show ROAD TO AVONLEA, and she followed that up with roles in the films THE SWEET HEREAFTER, GO, MY LIFE WITHOUT ME and DAWN OF THE DEAD.
This year, she went behind the camera to direct Oscar winner Julie Christie of DOCTOR ZHIVAGO fame and the great Gordon Pinsent from THE SHIPPING NEWS in AWAY FROM HER, based on the Alice Munro short story “The Bear Came Over the Mountain.”
AWAY FROM HER is about Grant and Fiona, a couple who have been married for 45 years.
Their lives change forever when Fiona begins to suffer from Alzheimer’s.
Eventually Fiona moves into a nursing home, where she loses virtually all memory of her husband.
In addition to Christie and Pinsent, who both give unforgettable performances, AWAY FROM HER also stars seasoned actors like Olympia Dukakis, Michael Murphy, Wendy Crewson and Alberta Watson, and Polley uses the fact that these are actors we know to benefit her film.
Their experience in front of the camera benefits her behind it.
Had she cast actors who we aren’t as familiar, or as comfortable with seeing on screen, AWAY FROM HER could have been a completely different film.
Meaning, it could have been an uncomfortable film from an inexperienced director.
But it is neither of those things…AWAY FROM HER is a quiet and very confident film. It is a mature film, starring mature actors, for a mature audience…from a first time feature film director who is only twenty-eight years old.
It is a solid movie that is quite worthy of your time, even with it’s heavy subject matter.
If Sarah Polley aspires to have the career that Jodie Foster has, as most young actresses do, she is well on her way.
Lindsay Lohan, on the other hand, has become a cautionary tale for young actresses, and her film GEORGIA RULE, on the other hand, is not worth your time.
Lindsay Lohan started in show business as a child fashion model for magazines and television commercials. At age ten, she began her acting career in a soap opera; at eleven, she made her motion picture debut by playing both twins in the 1998 remake of THE PARENT TRAP, and soon she was playing the Jodie Foster role in the 2003 remake of FREAKY FRIDAY.
She rose to stardom with the 2004 film MEAN GIRLS, and she also released her first music CD that year as well.
Since then, she hasn’t made a film, or record worth mentioning.
Then, on January 18th of this year she checked herself in to a rehabilitation facility for drugs and alcohol.
In May and July she once again ran into trouble with the law, and went to rehab, and on August 23rd it was announced that Lohan would serve one day in jail and 10 days community service for both her DUI arrests.
In between all of the attention she received for her lifestyle, Lohan also got some mentions in the press for the two movies that she was in this year…but the two came together with the film GEORGIA RULE as the producer of the film publically criticized Lohan for excessive partying and showing up late to the set.
I am not sure if the resulting film would have been any different had she stopped partying, and showed up on time, and it really doesn’t matter. This just isn’t a very inventive movie.
In GEORGIA RULE, a rebellious uncontrollable teenager is sent to live with Georgia, her unrelenting, non-flexible grandmother who has a series of rules that she, and anyone who knows her, has to follow.
This is all done in an attempt to settle the teenager down….but maybe there is a larger problem at the core of her rowdiness….and as teh film goes on, we find out that her step-father might have been making late night visits to her room.
In addition to Lindsay Lohan, GEORGIA RULE also stars legendary actress Jane Fonda, the great Felicity Huffman from DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES, and it was directed by Garry Marshall, who gave us HAPPY DAYS, LAVERNE & SHIRLEY, PRETTY WOMAN, and BEACHES.
So, this film’s pedigree is top notch, but the film just does not work.
The scenes that are supposed to be funny, are not funny, and the dramatic stuff doesn’t work either…and for me that was primarily die to the fact that I wasn’t able to see Lohan as an actress playing a role.
Instead, I saw a young troubled woman in real life, playing a young troubled woman in a movie.
So what I was left with was a one-hour and fifty-three minute film that wasn’t worth my time, and I don’t think it is worth yours.
But, let me conclude by saying that I think Lohan is an actress with talent, so here’s hoping that she can get her life back on track, so her career can follow.
And maybe some day, she will have a career like Jodie Foster’s…or even Sarah Polley’s.
Okay, I have two other new releases to quickly tell you about this week.
These days Sam Raimi is known around the world as the man who directed the SPIDER-MAN trilogy of films.
But before that trio of movies, he was involved with the great DARKMAN TRILOGY.
The original DARKMAN movie came out in 1990 and starred a pre-SCHINDLER’S LIST Liam Neeson as a scientist working on skin replacement technology who is beaten up by a group of mob hitmen and left for dead.
He survives, but is left disfigured, and he uses his replacement skin to mold a new face for himself, and other ones that will allow him to get revenge on the men who attacked him.
DARKMAN did well enough at the box office to warrant two direct-to-video sequels – DARKMAN II: THE RETURN OF DURANT and DARKMAN III: DIE DARKMAN DIE – both of which were filmed in Toronto.
The sequels weren’t anywhere near as good as the original, as both Raimi and Neeson had moved on to other projects, and eventual huge success.
Now all three films are available in THE DARKMAN TRILOGY, an inexpensive package that is very worthy of your time.
And if you are a fan of the SPIDER-MAN films that Raimi has made, you should definitely see DARKMAN because he set the stage for a lot of what he did in those films in it.
Finally this week is a film called EVEN MONEY.
EVEN MONEY has a cast that includes Oscar winners Kim Basinger and Forest Whitaker, along with Danny DeVito, Kelsey Grammer, Nick Cannon, Ray Liotta, Carla Gugino and Jay Mohr.
That cast, and the description on the back of the DVD case might tempt you into renting or buying this movie, but I am here this morning to tell you not to bother.
The film is about how gambling addiction ruins three unconnected people’s lives….but those lives, teh people and all of it is just a…slow…moving…melodrama.
Unless you are on the verge of a gambling addition, and you need a movie to show you how your life can change forever if that happens, then don’t bet on EVEN MONEY.
Just remember, the casino always wins!!
The medicore EVEN MONEY, the THE DARKMAN TRILOGY with one great film and two mildly entertaining sequels, the Lindsay Lohan film GEORGIA RULE and the great AWAY FROM HER directed by Canadian filmmaker Sarah Polley are all available now on DVD.
Oh, and the new Jodie Foster film THE BRAVE ONE, is in theatres now!
Coming up in Two Weeks on the next Couch Potato Report
BURY MY HEART AT WOUNDED KNEE is the Emmy winning film that was made right here on teh prairies and adapted from the book of the same name by Dee Brown; KNOCKED UP is the comedy hit of the summer, starring Vancouver’s Seth Rogan.
I will also talk about Quentin Tarrantino’s latest film, his half of the GRINDHOUSE double feature called DEATH PROOF; the football movie WE ARE MARSHALL; the poker movie LUCKY YOU; and SEASON TWO of the hilarious TV show ROBOT CHICKEN.
I’m Dan Reynish. I’ll have more on those, and some other releases, in fourteen 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!