The Couch Potato Report – February 16th, 2008
This week The Couch Potato Report peels a one-of-a-kind documentary about the men who have walked on the moon and five other films.
I have six releases to tell you about on this very busy week, so let me get right to it, starting with this week’s HOT POTATO, the spectacular documentary IN THE SHADOW OF THE MOON.
This hour and forty minute film 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 words.
In addition to the interviews with the astronauts, IN THE SHADOW OF THE MOON also includes footage that we have seen dozens of times over the years, and some NASA films and materials that had not even been opened in over 30 years.
Including a different look at Armstrong’s descent down the ladder that lead to this unforgettable moment.
In what I think was a wise choice, the former astronauts have the only speaking roles in the film, although occasional supplementary information is presented on screen with text.
There is also some archival television footage and news reports, and it all adds up to a superb film!!
Although it – SOMEHOW – did not get an Academy Award nomination as Best Documentary feature IN THE SHADOW OF THE MOON is by far the best film form the genre that I saw last year.
It is a tremendous film!!
No, IN THE SHADOW OF THE MOON did not get an Oscar Nomination, but Ben Affleck’s directorial debut did. Amy Ryan is nominated in the Best Supporting Actress category for her work as a mother whose four-year-old daughter Amanda gets abducted in the crime drama GONE BABY GONE.
Set in Boston, Ben’s brother Casey Affleck stars along with Michelle Monaghan from MISSION IMPOSSIBLE III as two private investigators hunting for the missing girl.
Along the way, they work alongside a police detective – played by the brilliant Ed Harris – and butt heads with a police captain, who is brought to life by Mr. Morgan Freeman.
GONE BABY GONE is full of tension and it is very dramatic. It is the kind of film where you never quite know what will happen next.
Unfortunately it doesn’t finish as strong as it starts, but it is still a film that is worthy of your time…if the subject matter doesn’t bother you.
Up next is BECOMING JANE, a film inspired by the early life of author Jane Austen – who is portrayed by the very beautiful and talented Anne Hathaway from THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA.
In this film, the character of Jane Austen wishes to be a writer – much to the dismay of her parents – and she also wants to be in love with her future husband, not just marry for money and because society demands it.
Eventually she meets a man and falls in love…but if they get married, they will lose their standing in society and be penniless…ah, the heartbreak of love!
BECOMING JANE is NOT a biography…it is simply BASED ON some facts about Austen’s life, and as such it plays like a watered down version of a Jane Austen story…specifically PRIDE & PREDJUDICE.
But, even though it is not historically accurate, and even though we have seen this story on film many times before…I still liked BECOMING JANE.
I am not sure of that is solely due to my admiration for Anne Hathaway or not, but I did like it.
No, BECOMING JANE does not re-invent the wheel…but sometimes you don’t have to be unique to be good.
And sometimes, unique just isn’t really all that good…which is certainly the case with the film MARTIAN CHILD.
John Cusack toplines MARTIAN CHILD and he used to be a reliable actor who only made quality films.
Films like SAY ANYTHING, SERENDIPITY, HIGH FIDELITY, GROSS POINT BLANK, and many others.
With MARTIAN CHILD he seems to have lost his way, playing a widower who decides to adopt a child.
A child who thinks he is from Mars.
MARTIAN CHILD is an awful film that is utterly predictable an dfeatures a child actor who brings nothing to the film. He isn’t cute, he isn’t a good actor…this kid doesn’t even have a good speaking voice.
MARTAIN CHILD is a waste of time and you should just skip it! Forget that John Cusack has made some classic films, and that you could once trust his choices.
Forget that and just keep walking down the video aisle to the “N” section, where you will find the film NO RESERVATIONS, starring Catherine Zeta-Jones and Aaron Eckhardt.
Zeta-Jones is a chef at a New York restaurant who is spectacular at her job, but her life is a mess.
When her sister dies in an accident, her life gets even further complicated as she becomes the guardian of her niece, played by Abigail Breslin from LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE.
Then, a love interest gets added to the mix as hunky sous-chef Aaron Eckhart starts working at the restaurant….and as you would expect, the two adults don’t get along… at first.
NO RESERVATIONS is neither good, nor bad. It is quite an innocuous little film that I didn’t mind. Admittedly, I thought it would be better…but ultimately I was satisfied with what it put on my plate.
I will also admit that I thought our final release this week would also be better…but as much as it did make me think, the people in debt documentary MAXED OUT just isn’t anything special.
YES, MAXED OUT will make you think about how much money you owe on your own credit cards…but it won’t make you tell anyone that they “…must see this film!”
MAXED OUT chronicles abusive practices in the credit card industry and features interviews with creditors, debtors, academics, and others to illustrate its story.
The real life people who have found themselves in debt tell some heartbreaking stories, and there are some great archival film footage, but not one of the “experts” they interview offer any truly unique insights…and they don’t really tell us anything we don’t already know.
Yes, banks give almost anyone a credit card, even university students who have no income.
We also know that banks and lending agencies make their millions each year off of the interest we pay…we know that.
BUT I will say this…after seeing MAXED OUT, I personally started looking into ways that I could lower my own personal debt and interest rates. So, if you are starting to worry about how much interest you are paying each month…maybe it will inspire you as well.
MAXED OUT isn’t spectacular, but it is engaging…and if it helps you refinance your debts and lower your interest rates from 21% to 8% as it did with me…now how many films can boast that?!?
The people in debt documentary MAXED OUT, the innocuous romance NO RESERVATIONS, John Cusack’s awful MARTIAN CHILD, GONE BABY GONE, featuring Best Supporting Actress Oscar nominee Amy Ryan, and the spectacular documentary about the men who stood IN THE SHADOW OF THE MOON are all available now on DVD.
Coming up on the next Couch Potato Report
If you thought this week was busy, wait until next week when I will have seven new releases, including the Academy Award nominated films IN THE VALLEY OF ELAH, AMERICAN GANGSTER and MICHAEL CLAYTON.
Plus, I will recommend a small Canadian film called SURVIVING MY MOTHER
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!
In case you need something to watch – or avoid – this looooong weekend!!
The Couch Potato Report – February 16th, 2008