The Couch Potato Report

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

The Couch Potato Report – December 22nd, 2007
This week The Couch Potato Report peels a 4-DVD set for train enthusiasts, and my favourite film of the year!
With their only a few shopping days left, here are some ideas for your gift giving, and viewing pleasure…starting with a great box set that allows us to travel parts fo CANADA BY RAIL.
The 4-DVD Box Set CANADA BY RAIL features a stunning and quite unique look at our nation’s railways lines in Alberta, British Columbia and along the Yellowhead Highway.
In addition to the great visuals, there are also some very unique facts included on the DVDs.
Sure, many of those facts will only be appreciated by train enthusiasts, but since they are the primary audience for this set, it is a success!
CANADA BY RAIL doesn’t offer very much history on these rail lines, and I would have liked to see some footage of the railway in Eastern Canada as well, but as someone who likes to watch trains, I thoroughly enjoyed this set.
So get in the booth with the locomotive engineer and take a ride!
A ride through CANADA BY RAIL!
Up next this week is my favourite movie of the year!
This is a small, Irish film that never even played in a theatre in Saskatchewan, as much as I may have wanted it to….ladies and gentlemen, may I presnt to you a musical called ONCE.
And with that, ONCE begins. A busking musician on the streets of Dublin meets a young woman when she stops to listen to his song.
They become friends, write some songs together, and who knows, maybe more, after all…how often do you meet that special person in your life?
Yes, the title of this film is called ONCE.
Now, I mentioned that this film is a musical, but it is a modern day musical. They are no huge production numbers, no Bob Fosse style choreography, there are just two people who communicate with each other through songs.
And they aren’t singing alone in a room, stranded in fabulous sets while they pine away for one another…they are singing with and to each other.
I could point out that in a day of film budgets exceeding hundreds of millions of dollars, ONCE was made for only $160,000, and it was shot in 17 days.
But all of that is just secondary to the fact that this is a spectacular film! The characters are real, their story is involving and the songs are great!
Since it’s release in May, I have seen this movie – no word of a lie – over 20 times now, including twice this week, and it never once failed to engage me and move me.
ONCE is my favourite film of 2007.
If you are looking for a film to watch or give as a gift to someone you love, then I highly recommend it.
I have four more new releases to tell you about this week, and I will start with Canadian Director David Cronenberg’s latest – EASTERN PROMISES.
Naomi Watts stars as Anna, a midwife at a London hospital who delivers a baby girl from an unconscious and hemorrhaging fourteen-year-old.
The teenager dies during childbirth and has no identification other than a diary.
Anna wants to find the baby’s relatives, so she sets out to uncover the mother’s identity.
What she ends up uncovering, is a plot involving the Russian Mafia.
Viggo Mortensen from A HISTORY FO VIOLENCE co-stars in this absorbing and interesting film.
Personally, I would go see any movie that Cronenberg films, so I happily saw EASTERN PROMISES.
If you are also a fan of The Fly, Dead Ringers, Naked Lunch, eXistenZ, A History of Violence or any of his other films, then this one is also a must see.
Otherwise, EASTERN PROMISES is not a movie for everyone. There are some moments of great suspence, and interesting storytelling, but the violence might be a turn off to some.
EASTERN PROMISES isn’t Cronenberg’s best film, but even his worst is still better than the majority of movies made in Hollywood.
Even movies that are remakes of old 1960’s television cartoons…like UNDERDOG – THE MOVIE.
The movie version of the classic series isn’t awful…unless you love the series…then it is.
Jason Lee from MY NAME IS EARL voices the title-pooch, and he just seems to be reading, not performing, but reading the lines…and that bothered me.
No matter how inane the dialogue was during the TV series, Wally Cox, always gave it his all.
I think kids might like the live action UNDERDOG movie…but Jason Lee’s performance, the less-than-stellar computer graffics, and the fact that I have loved the cartoon since I was a kid, prevented me from enjoying ths movie at all.
BUT, after that film was over, I did enjoy sitting through the 3-DVD box set from the original show called UNDERDOG: THE ULTIMATE COLLECTION.
This set has eighteen COMPLETE EPISODES, as they originally aired, all digitally re-mastered, and yes, Tennessee Tuxedo, Klondike Kat, the Go Go Gophers, Commander McBragg, and all of the other characters you remember are all here too!!
I still love the cartoons! The movie…not so much!
Finally this week is another cartoon I loved as a kid, and one I am sure you did too!
Yes, the complete original series of PETER PUCK – HOW TO PLAY THE GAME is now available!
Peter Puck appeared on both NBC’s Hockey Game of the Week and CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada during the 1970s, explained hockey rules to the home viewing audience.
He also showed us things like pucks were made!
Peter Puck helped teach me all about hockey as a kid, and the nostalgia that I felt this week while watching this DVD made me feel young again!
I think this DVD would make a great stolking stuffer for hockey fans new, and old!
PETER PUCK, the 3-DVD set UNDERDOG: THE ULTIMATE COLLECTION, the live action movie of UNDERDOG, David Cronenberg’s EASTERN PROMISES, the 4-DVD Box Set CANADA BY RAIL, and my favourite movie of the year, a small film called ONCE are all available now on DVD.
Coming up on the next Couch Potato Report
72 COMPLETE is the ultimate collector’s edition 8-DVD Box Set of the 1972 Summit Series, with over 26 hours of hockey action, and some great retrospective looks back.
Also next week, with this year’s World Junior Hockey Tournament getting underway on Boxing Day, we will look back at past years with the new 4-DVD Set CANADA’S JUNIORS – THE GOLD STANDARD.
I also have two noteworthy, but non-exceptional films, RUSH HOUR 3 and INTERVIEW; plus I will tell you about the new 2, 4 and 5 disc editions of the classic 1982 film BLADE RUNNER.
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!