The Couch Potato Report

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The Couch Potato Report – February 2nd, 2008
This week The Couch Potato Report peels a pair of Canadian made films, a pair of TV shows on DVD and The King Of Kong.
This week, the Hot Potato, the main release I would like you to know about is a a film that received 12 Genie Award nomination last Monday, including one for the Best Canadian Motion Picture of 2007 Award.
That film is a dramatic adaptation of retired general RomÈo Dallaire’s experiences in Rwanda, and like the book it is based on, the film is called SHAKE HANDS WITH THE DEVIL.
By now I am sure you are aware of who RomÈo Dallaire is, and I am just as sure that you know of his fateful months as Force Commander of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Rwanda, during which he witnessed the 1994 Rwandan Genocide.
So this morning, I will focus on the film that was made of Dallaire book, a film that stars the great Roy Dupuis as RomÈo Dallaire.
The story of Dallaire’s time in Rwanda is so compelling, tragic, and ultimately hard-to-fathom, that seeing it dramatised in a film is a bit unusual…and because it is a film, and not a documentary, when some of the atrocities are taking place, they didn’t actually seem real to me.
I don’t know if that is because I am so familiar with this story, and what took place in Rwanda, that in a movie I was more distanced from them that I would be in a documentary, but I was well aware at all times that I was watching a movie.
Was this really how it happened, I kept wondering…or was this scene or that scene done just for dramatic affect?
Yes, I was skeptical about the film version of SHAKE HANDS WITH THE DEVIL…until I listened to Romeo Dallaire’s commentary on the DVD, and heard him comment on it’s realism.
For me, a film should stand on it’s own, and not need a commentary to save it…so ultimately, while Roy Dupuis does just as spectacular job playing Dallaire as he did portraying Maurice Richard in THE ROCKET a few years ago, and he might just win the Genie Award as Best Actor, just as he did portraying Maurice Richard.
SHAKE HANDS WITH THE DEVIL is not a bad film, it is exceptionally well made and acted, and deserves all of it’s Genie Award nominations, and if you are not aware of who RomÈo Dallaire is, and don’t know about the 1994 Rwandan Genocide, then you should definately see it.
But you should also see the documentary SHAKE HANDS WITH THE DEVIL: THE JOURNEY OF ROMEO DALLAIRE, and read the book “Shake Hands With the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda”, because not once during either of those will you question if what you are being exposed to really happened.
SHAKE HANDS WITH THE DEVIL is a Canadian film that was released last year.
THE APPRENTICESHIP OF DUDDY KRAVITZ is a Canadian film that came out in 1974.
THE APPRENTICESHIP OF DUDDY KRAVITZ is a comedy-drama film based on the 1959 novel of the same name by Mordecai Richler, and the DIRECTOR’S CUT is now available, a version that is 15 minutes longer than any other previous DVD release.
Duddy Kravitz is a confident kid from Montreal who is determined to “make it”, no matter what it takes. Lie, cheat, steal…whatever it takes.
So he plans and schemes and dreams and he finally finds what he thinks is his meal ticket: a lakeshore property in the Laurentian mountains.
However, he never seems to realize what he is sacrificing, and by the time he does, it may be too late.
THE APPRENTICESHIP OF DUDDY KRAVITZ has been designated and preserved as a “masterwork” by the Audio-Visual Preservation Trust of Canada, a charitable non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the preservation of Canada’s audio-visual heritage, and if you have never seen this film on video, in it’s previous incarnation on DVD, or late at night on CBC television, then I think you shoudl check out this new DIRECTOR’S CUT DVD.
Sadly, there are absolutely no Special Features….not one…but it is still a great Canadian picture.
PLUS, it stars a young Richard Dreyfus who made the small Canadian film THE APPRENTICESHIP OF DUDDY KRAVITZ in 1974, in between two Hollywood films, themselves reveared as classics, AMERICAN GRAFFITI and JAWS.
Up next is a 2-disc TV on DVD set that might help you, if you are still missing your favourite American Television shows due to the ongoing Hollywood writer’s strike, now in it’s 12th week.
This set is for THE COMPLETE SIXTH SEASON of Larry David’s classic show CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM.
After he finished working as the executive producer and main writer on SEINFELD, a show he co-created, Larry David debuted a new show, one about a man named Larry David, who is a semi-retired multi-millionaire living in the world after he worked on SEINFELD.
Now, the character of George Costanza in SEINFELD was based on Larry David, and if you have ever wanted to see a show that was just about GEORGE then this is it.
CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM is pure George Costanza.
It is also a show that doesn’t use scripts, instead the cast get detailed scene outlines and then they improvise their dialogue.
Dialogue that is usually very, very funny. While admittedly not for everyone, if you need some TV comedy these days, then CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM is a show for you.
Finally this week is another one of my favourite films of 2007, a documentary called A FISTFUL OF QUARTERS – THE KING OF KONG, a film about the world’s two best arcade players – of Donkey Kong!
Even if you have never played a video game, either at home or in an arcade, and think that a film about two people who do play them wouldn’t interest you at all…I advise you to think again.
THE KING OF KONG is incredibly fascinating as it follows Steve Wiebe as he tries to take the world’s high score for Donkey Kong away from reigning champion Billy Mitchell.
Steve Wiebe is our hero, reigning champion Billy Mitchell is the villain, and he is pure evil. If someone created him in a screenplay, you would not beleive this was a real person, but he is real, and he does not like to come in second.
THE KING OF KONG is entertaining, it is funny, and it provides a great insight into the world of people who love videos games, maybe a little bit too much.
DONKEY KONG remains my favourite arcade video game of all time, but the entertaining THE KING OF KONG is a movie that can easily stand on it’s own,…just like the DONKEY KONG JR. arcade game.
A FISTFUL OF QUARTERS – THE KING OF KONG, THE COMPLETE SIXTH SEASON ofthe superb CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM, and the Canadian made films THE APPRENTICESHIP OF DUDDY KRAVITZ and SHAKE HANDS WITH THE DEVIL, based on the memoirs of Romeo Dallaire’s time in Rwanda, are all available now on DVD.
Coming up on the next Couch Potato Report
Paul Gross stars in SLINGS & ARROWS a Canadian TV series that takes place at a troubled Shakespearean festival. It won the Best Dramatic Series Gemini Award last year.
Previous Oscar winner Jodie Foster stars in THE BRAVE ONE, and with the Oscars taking place in three weeks, I will tell you about three of this year’s nominated films: THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD – which was made right here in Western-Canada; ELIZABETH – THE GOLDEN AGE starring Cate Blanchett and the documentary NO END IN SIGHT, which features a comprehensive look at the the Iraq war and the United States occupation of the country.
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!