The Couch Potato Report

Just in case you need something to watch this week!

The Couch Potato Report – February 10th, 2008
This week The Couch Potato Report peels some slings and arrows, throws some slings and arrows, and there is no end in sight.
Our Hot Potato this week is the 7-disc DVD Box Set for the show that won the Gemini Award as Best Dramatic Series at the 2007 Gemini Awards held last October in Regina.
SLINGS & ARROWS is set at the fictional New Burbage Festival, a troubled Shakespearean festival similar to the real-world Stratford Festival. The program stars Paul Gross from DUE SOUTH, Kids In The Hall member Marck McKinney, Rachel McAdams from THE NOTEBOOK, TWITCH CITY’s Don McKellar, 2008 Academy Award nominee Sarah Polley and Canadian Theatre Legend William Hutt.
SLINGS & ARROWS does focus on Shakespeare, and at times it is very dramatic, but it isn’t all highbrow and overly literary, it is often very, very funny.
Three seasons of six episodes each were filmed in total and each season was devoted to a different Shakespearean tragedy – Hamlet in the first, Macbeth in the second and King Lear in the third.
Each and every episode of SLINGS & ARROWS is equally represented with two DVDs in this new box set, and there is a bonus disc of extras as well, but the seasons are far from equal on the screen.
SEASON ONE of the show is by far the series’ best…I loved SEASON ONE.
SEASON TWO is a bit less entertaining as their are too many characters and storylines and that hurts the show immensely, but by the end of SEASON THREE the show is back on track, and the series finale is exceptionally well acted and written.
Out of all the shows nominated as Best Dramatic Series at the Regina Geminis, SLINGS & ARROWS was a worthy victor.
And now that the series has finished, and gone into that long goodnight, you can always have this DVD set in case you decide to go once more unto the breach, dear friends.
Up next this week are three major film releases from the past year, and all of them have moments of brilliance…but ultimately none of them are worthy of your time.
And I’ll start with Jodie Foster’s latest THE BRAVE ONE….and it actually pains me to tell you that a Jodie Foster film isn’t worthy of your time, as I love Jodie! I have been a fan of hers for over 30 years, but THE BRAVE ONE just isn’t very good…yes, JODIE is good, as always, but the film turns into just another revenge thriller.
Jodie plays a radio host who loses her fiance during an attack in New York’s Central Park.
Unhappy with the police response to her tragedy, she takes matters into her own hands…repeatedly.
I mentioned that these three films all have moments of brilliance…well, in THE BRAVE ONE that moment comes from a scene between Jodie and Academy Award nominee Terrence Howard set in a diner. The acting here is spectacular!
THE BRAVE ONE is not a total waste of time, as any film with Jodie Foster in it will always be worth your time…says a big fan of hers…but with the exception of that one scene in a diner, you have seen all of this before.
Sadly, we have also seen all of the contents of THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD before, and that is too bad because I had high hopes for this western that was filmed right here in Western Canada – in Alberta and Manitoba.
Casey Affleck received a well-deserved Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Actor for his work is this picture as Robert Ford, a ninteen year old who has idolized Jesse James since childhood.
Ford tries hard to join the reforming gang of the world renowned outlaw, but over time he starts to be resentful of him.
Brad Pitt stars as Jesse James, and although he didn’t get an OScar nod, he is very good in the film as well.
Plus, the scenery looks great…but at two-and-a-half hours the film is way too long, and since the film is called THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD you know what is going to happen, so get me there already!!
I wanted to see this film, and I am glad I did, but I will never sit through it again. If you also have been waiting for this one to come out, I suspect you will feel the same way I do.
No, THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD is nothing special…and neither is ELIZABETH – THE GOLDEN AGE starring Cate Blanchett.
With her Academy Award nomination as Best Actress in ELIZABETH – THE GOLDEN AGE Cate Blanchett is the first woman to be nominated for an Oscar twice for playing the same role in two separate films.
She was also nominated for Best Actress for ELIZABETH in 1998, and while she did deserve those nominations both times, this second time to the well comes up dry.
There is some silver, but there isn’t very much gold in THE GOLDEN AGE, my friend.
This time around we get a look at the relationship between Elizabeth and the adventurer Sir Walter Raleigh. Clive Owen from INSIDE MAN and KING ARTHUR does a great job as Raleigh, and he is matches Blanchett’s brilliant performance step for step.
Plus, the sets are very opulent and lush, there are great special effects, and in addition to Blanchett and Owen, the rest o fthe cast is great too.
But the script lets all of that down and ELIZABETH – THE GOLDEN AGE just doesn’t work. I wasn’t bored when I watched it, but I almost was.
What saved it for me was Cate Blanchett. She won’t win another Oscar for her work here…but she completely deserved the nomination.
Finally this week is another Academy Award nominee, this one in the Best Documentary Feature category, this is a film called NO END IN SIGHT.
NO END IN SIGHT focuses on alleged serious mistakes made by the Bush administration in the two-to-three-month period following the invasion of Iraq in March of 2003.
The film portrays these errors as the cause of ensuing problems in Iraq, such as the rise of the insurgency, a lack of security and basic utilities for many Iraqis, sectarian violence and, at one point, the risk of complete civil war.
NO END IN SIGHT doesn’t feature any new information, facts or figures, but it is the first time that I have seen it all collected and shown together in one film.
That makes it informative, but it just isn’t a compelling movie in any way.
So, if you are like me, and you have seen a dozen documentaries on Iraq over the past year, then this will probably come across as just another one.
That is how I saw it…but I am glad I saw it…there might be NO END IN SIGHT, but we can hope…can’t we?
The Oscar nominated documentary NO END IN SIGHT, the not as good as the first film ELIZABETH – THE GOLDEN AGE, the I-wish-they-were-a-better-movies THE ASSASSINATION OF JESSE JAMES BY THE COWARD ROBERT FORD starring Brad Pitt and Jodie Foster’s THE BRAVE ONE, and the Shakespearean based Canadian television series SLINGS & ARROWS are all available now on DVD.
Coming up on the next Couch Potato Report
I have six releases to tell you about, starting with the spectacular documentary IN THE SHADOW OF THE MOON that features interviews with all of the surviving astronauts who went to the moon – with the exception of the reclusive Neil Armstrong – and lets them tell their story in their own, awe-inspiring words.
Also next week are GONE BABY GONE, featuring Best Supporting Actress Oscar nominee Amy Ryan; BECOMING JANE, starring the lovely and talented Anne Hathaway as Jane Austen; the romance drama NO RESERVATIONS; John Cusack toplines MARTIAN CHILD; and the sixth and final film next week is the people in debt documentary MAXED OUT.
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!