The Couch Potato Report – May 17th, 2008
This week The Couch Potato Report peels 32 DVDs, including a great Canadian film that is making it’s DVD debut.
Lots to get to this week, yes, you read that right, I have 32 DVDs to cover, so I
will jump right in with this week’s Hot Potato – the DVD debut of the 1995 film
Dance Me Outside.
Based on a book by W.P. Kinsella, this is the cinematic story of life on a First
Nations Reserve in Northern Ontario.
Lifelong friends Silas and Frank are drifting through life trying to get into
college in Toronto, but they find themselves having to deal with girls, family …
The DVD’s Special Features include the original theatrical trailer, interviews with
the cast, and a commentary with director Bruce McDonald and some of the cast and crew.
If you have never seen DANCE ME OUTSIDE, you should check it out as it is a very entertaining film.
Also very entertaining is SEASON THREE of SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE!
This seven disc box set features the shows from 1977 and 1978 as it is completely hitting it’s stride!
The cast – featuring John Belushi, Canadian Dan Aykroyd, Gilda Radner, Laraine
Newman, Garrett Morris, Jane Curtain, and Bill Murray – are at their best, The
Coneheads and Belushi’s Samurai return, and some of the show’s most beloved
characters were introduced to us for the very first time, including The Blues
Brothers, The Festrunk Brothers, Roseanne Roseannadanna, Point Counterpoint, and the folks at The Olympia Restaurant.
Toronto’s Lorne Michaels created the show, and as a result, he was awarded the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor in 2004, becoming the first non-American to earn this honour.
Some of the guest hosts during the THIRD SEASON of SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE were Steve Martin, Hugh Hefner, Charles Grodin, Ray Charles, Robert Klein, Chevy Chase, O.J. Simpson, Michael Palin and Buck Henry and they are all featured on this great box set.
Ottawa’s Matthew Perry hosted Saturday Night Live as well. He was the host on
Saturday October 4, 1997, and now that Universal Studios are planning on releasing two of these SNL Sets a year, we should have the set with his show on it sometime around 2017.
If you don’t want to wait until then to see the former FRIEND on DVD, well Matthew Perry has a new film out right now on DVD.
He plays a chronically depressed screenwriter that suffers from acute
depersonalization disorder who meets the girl of his dreams in the made-in-British Columbia drama NUMB.
NUMB is one of those small films, released direct-to-DVD that has some good
moments…, moments when it isn’t bad, but it also have a few scenes when it just is bad.
Those moments prevent me from completely recommending it, however, due to Perry’s always reliable work, and a very good supporting cast, including up and coming actress Lynn Collins, I didn’t dislike this movie.
If you don’t see anything else on the shelf that you are interested in, give it a look.
Now, this week’s next film is one that you will probably be very interested in, due to the fact that Cate Blanchette received an Oscar nomination for her work in it, and because it features six different characters who embody a different aspect of Bob Dylan’s life and work.
But let me tell you, I’M NOT THERE is not for everybody.
It is fascinating and interesting, with some great performances and that incredible Bob Dylan music…but this is the textbook definition of an art film – a typically serious, noncommercial, independently made film that is aimed at a niche audience, rather than a mass audience.
I’M NOT THERE tells its story by trying to use the same non-traditional techniques that Dylan uses in his poetic narrative style of songwriting, and it is because of that that it’s appeal is limited.
However, if you are a huge fan of Bob Dylan and his music, or if you have ever
wanted to see the great Cate Blanchett playing a character like Dylan in a film,
then you may enjoy this film a lot.
Personally, I am glad I had the chance to see it, but I will never sit through it
I am just not the niche audience that it is meant for.
Up next is THE GREAT DEBATERS.
This is a film that is inspired by a true story from DIRECTOR Denzel Washington.
The director also plays a professor at a historically Black college in Texas who in
1935 inspired students to form the school’s first debate team, and they went on to challenge Harvard in the national championship.
THE GREAT DEBATERS isn’t a bad film, and it features a story that should be told, as the young students on the debate team face and rise above some horrific injustices, but this movie is way too dramatic, and at over two hours, I would argue that it is also much too long.
I neither recommend it, nor think that you should avoid it.
No, on the topic of the film THE GREAT DEBATERS, I posses neither a negative – or con – or even a positive – or pro – position.
However, when it comes to the cinematic work of Mr. Frank Sinatra, I am
all-pro…just as he was!
It was ten years ago this week that we lost The Chairman Of The Board and in
cooperation with his estate, Warner Home Video has released four sets of his movies – many never before available on DVD – and a few other DVDs to coincide with the anniversary of his passing.
The most notable of the four sets is the five film THE GOLDEN YEARS, containing
Sinatra’s Oscar-nominated performance as a drug-addicted drummer in Otto Preminger’s hard-hitting and taboo-busting 1955 film “The Man With the Golden Arm”, which was previously available only on poor-quality public domain DVDs.
There is also THE EARLY YEARS COLLECTION, a 5-DVD set devoted to Sinatra’s 1940s work in Hollywood, and THE FRANK SINATRA & GENE KELLY COLLECTION has the three lavish MGM musicals he did with with Gene Kelly, and then there is the new collectors’ edition of four “Rat Pack” comedies with Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford and Joey Bishop – including the debut of “Sergeants 3,” a mock Western long unavailable because it plagiarized “Gunga Din” without permission – and the original version of OCEAN’S 11.
And, in addition to the four new fantastic Sinatra box sets, SINATRA: THE MINISERIES from television is also now out and so is THE FIRST DEADLY SIN, his film with Faye Dunnaway where he plays a New York detective coping with his wife’s mysterious and incurable illness – and hunting an ice hammer-wielding killer.
All of these releases help us remember that – in addition to his music – Frank
Sinatra was also a very talented actor, and they let us see his work before he
largely turned his back on acting a quarter century before his death, when he backed out of the title role in “Dirty Harry” and temporarily retired from show business.
Frank is a true legend, the type we may never see again….enjoy these sets!! I sure did!!
SINATRA: THE MINISERIES, THE FIRST DEADLY SIN and The Frank Sinatra Box Sets THE EARLY YEARS COLLECTION, THE GOLDEN YEARS COLLECTION, THE FRANK SINATRA & GENE KELLY COLLECTION and THE RAT PACK ULTIMATE COLLECTOR’S EDITION are all available now on DVD along with the earnest, but very flawed THE GREAT DEBATORS, the artsy-fartsy Bob Dylan tribute I’M NOT THERE, the mediocre, but okay NUMB starring Matthew Perry, the
fantastic COMPLETE THIRD SEASON of SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE and the great Canadian film DANCE ME OUTSIDE.
I told you I had a lot to cover this week!
Coming up on the next Couch Potato Report
The Canadian film WALK ALL OVER ME is about a small town girl runs into big time trouble as she takes on her roommates identity as a dominatrix to pay the bills; NATIONAL TREASURE 2 – BOOK OF SECRETS picks up where the original one left off – with Nicolas Cage as a treasure hunter; and THE MUPPET SHOW – THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON features Roy Clark, Gilda Radner, Alice Cooper, Loretta Lynn, Liberace, Raquel Welch, Danny Kaye, Sylvester Stallone, Roy Rogers & Dale Evans, Cheryl Ladd…oh, and The Muppets!!
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!
Should you need a film to watch this Long Holiday Weekend (In Canada, anyway!!)!!!
The Couch Potato Report – May 17th, 2008