The Couch Potato Report – April 26th, 2008
This week The Couch Potato Report peels a man and a mannequin, a boxer and a reporter and the made-in-Quebec film Summit Circle.
Had anyone…anyone else played the lead role in this week’s Hot Potato, the film could have been dismissed as an interesting premise, poorly realized or a stupid high concept comedy.
But since the lead in LARS AND THE REAL GIRL is played by Canadian Ryan Gosling, a tremendous actor who has played a drug addicted inner-city teacher in HALF NELSON, a Jewish man who develops a fiercely anti-Semitic worldview in THE BELIEVER, and a guy with a broken heart who hopes to win back the love of his life in THE NOTEBOOK, since Gosling is playing Lars, what could have come off as a lewd, crude or just disturbing film instead plays as one that is very believable, smart and thoughtful.
I really liked this movie!
So, all that said, let me tell you what LARS AND THE REAL GIRL is about.
Gosling plays Lars, a socially awkward man who spends his days working in a cubical and his nights alone in the garage-turned-apartment he lives in outside of his parents old house.
His brother Gus and sister-in-law Karin now live in that house, and he repeatedly turns down their invitations to eat with them.
But then, one night, Lars knocks on their door and announces that he has met someone, and when he asks Gus and Karen if she can stay in the extra room in the house they are overwhelmed…until they “meet” her.
You see, “Bianca” is actually a life-sized, anatomically correct doll – for adult use – one of the high priced ones, not the cheap blow-up models – and Lars talks to her and treats her as if she was real.
The local psychiatrist, believes that the best approach to Lars’ delusion is to play along with it, so the entire town starts to treat Bianca with respect, and act as if she is real.
As I said, I really liked this movie, and if you can suspend your disbelief that everyone in the movie’s small town would play along, then I think you will too.
Yes, it does get a little slow towards the end, but Gosling is so good that he pulls this premise off in a way that many actors could not.
Whether you watch it with friends, or with a “Bianca” of your own, I hope you enjoy LARS AND THE REAL GIRL as much as I did!
The made-in-Calgary film RESURRECTING THE CHAMP is our next challenger this morning.
This film, weighing in at 112 minutes, was inspired by a true story…or as the film’s tagline reads: Based on a true story, that was based on a lie.
In this picture, an up-and-coming newspaper sports reporter rescues a homeless man from some teenagers who are beating him up, only to find out that the man may just be a former heavyweight boxing contender who is long believed to have passed away.
Josh Hartnett from SIN CITY and LUCKY NUMBER SLEVIN plays the reporter, and Mr. Samuel L. Jackson is The Champ, but the newspaper story they tell – however compelling – just might not be true…and – if that is the case – they are both to blame for that
But, whether the story is or isn’t true made the film compelling enough for me to want to stick around to see how it ended.
Sadly, the ending of RESURRECTING THE CHAMP is a bit too Hollywood perfect, and along the way it does drag at times, but I still found the film interesting and engaging.
While not a technical knock out, this film still wins by a split decision on my score card.
Finally this week is the made in Quebec film SUMMIT CIRCLE.
It focusses on RÈjeanne – a long-time switchboard operator whose life is thrown into turmoil after her husband Gilles suffers a debilitating stroke.
The movie takes place in both the past and in the present, with the latter revolving around a police lieutenant’s attempts to solve Gilles’ murder and the former storyline dealing dealing with RÈjeanne and Gilles’ crumbling relationship after his troke, and the eventual loss of their home on Summit Circle.
As the movie plays out, and RÈjeanne’s difficulties increase, it becomes increasingly difficult not to sympathize with her plight, and the time-shifting structure employed by the director is very effective…but unfortunately it all builds to an ending that isn’t completely satisfying, and as such, I enjoyed SUMMIT CIRCLE, but I can’t completely recommend it.
The made-in-Montreal, good but not great SUMMIT CIRCLE, the made-in-Calgary split decision RESURRECTING THE CHAMP and the filmed-in-Toronto LARS AND THE REAL GIRL, which I really enjoyed, are all available now on DVD.
Coming up on the next Couch Potato Report
The Academy Award nominated foreign film THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY debuts on DVD along with the would-be fantasy epic THE GOLDEN COMPASS, Disney’s CLASSIC CABALLEROS COLLECTION featuring SALUDOS AMIGOS and THREE CABALLEROS; and also next week is a Canadian Classic…the FIRST Canadian film with sound, in fact…the made in Newfoundland THE VIKING.
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 have time to watch something this weekend!!
The Couch Potato Report – April 26th, 2008