The Couch Potato Report

If it is too hot to go outdoors this first weekend of summer, here are some things to watch inside!

The Couch Potato Report – June 21st, 2008
This week The Couch Potato Report peels some muffins for Granny and asks if you feel lucky. Well, do ya? Punk?!?
Saturday is National Aboriginal Day.
It is an important day in our Country.
In cooperation with national Aboriginal organizations, the Government of Canada designated June 21 National Aboriginal Day. This date was chosen because it corresponds to the summer solstice, the longest day of the year, and because for generations, many Aboriginal groups have celebrated their culture and heritage at this time of year.
National Aboriginal Day provides an opportunity for us all to become better acquainted with the cultural diversity of Inuit, M√ątis and First Nations peoples, discover the unique accomplishments of Aboriginal peoples in fields as varied as agriculture, the environment and the arts, and celebrate their significant contribution to Canadian society.
One sad chapter of Canadian’s history that is bound to come up today is the Canadian residential school system, partially due to the Prime Minister’s recent apology on behalf of the Canadian Government in front of an audience of First Nations delegates in the House of Commons.
Perhaps, on a day of Celebration for Canada’s Aboriginal people, referencing the residential school system isn’t a good idea…but, those who forget their history are condemed to repeat it…and this sad chapter of our country’s history must never be forgotten!
And that is why the Hot Potato this week is MUFFINS FOR GRANNY.
MUFFINS FOR GRANNY is filmmaker Nadia McLaren’s story of her grandmother.
To tell her Granny’s story, she uses home movies, and animation.
She also features seven elders who talk openly and honestly about their experiences in residential school in Ontario, and how if affected them.
The stories in MUFFINS FOR GRANNY are so powerful and tough to hear, especially if you don’t know a lot about what happened in the residential schools, or have never spoken to someone who survived the experience.
The work of the filmmaker with a project like this is to not let the movie get in the way of the stories being told on screen, but unfortunately McLaren’s movie does get in the way at times.
Some of the Survivor’s stories are edited together with others, and they would have been much more effective had she just left the camera on the Elders until they were done telling their story, and there were times that silence would been more effective than adding music.
But, regardless of my “reviewer” issues with it, this one film that I feel stands above any criticisms I could offer.
MUFFINS FOR GRANNY is a documentary that everyone should see, so we can all find out what happened in the residential schools, and help the ongoing healing process…if we can.
You might not find MUFFINS FOR GRANNY in every store, but it is one that you should search out and watch with others.
Our next release this week, switching genres completely, is one that you will find in almost every store…it is THE DIRTY HARRY (START CLIP) ULTIMATE COLLECTOR’S EDITION.
This seven-disc box set features newly remastered versions of all five “Dirty Harry” films, as well as a wide array of new and old commentaries, special features and documentaries that take us deep into what Inspector Harry Callahan and Clint Eastwood have meant to pop culture.
The set also includes reproductions of telegrams related to the production, a 40-page souvenir booklet and the documentary “Clint Eastwood: Out of the Shadows,” a comprehensive look at Eastwood’s career that is narrated by Morgan Freeman and features many stars in their own right talking about the man.
THE DIRTY HARRY ULTIMATE COLLECTOR’S EDITION is a fantastically comprehensive set, and if you are a fan of these films, or Clint Eastwood…it is a must have!
This week’s next two films should have come together in a Box Set, or been released as a Two-Disc Special Edition, but they don’t…however, I am going to speak about them as if they are one.
And if you like music, especially the unique sounds that were being produced in the late seventies and early eighties, then do not miss the film CONTROL and the documentary JOY DIVISION!
Joy Division were a British band from Manchester who evolved from their initial punk rock influences, to develop a sound and style that pioneered the post-punk movement of the late 1970s.
Despite the band’s growing success, vocalist Ian Curtis was beset with depression and personal difficulties, including a dissolving marriage and his diagnosis with epilepsy and he found it increasingly difficult to perform at live concerts, and often had seizures during performances.
In May 1980, on the eve of the band’s first American tour, Curtis, overwhelmed with depression, committed suicide.
The film – CONTROL – is a profile of Ian Curtis, with some facts changed for cinematic effect, and the documentary JOY DIVISION is a fact filled chronological account of the band.
I love Joy Division, and so I completely enjoyed both of these releases.
If you love the group as well, or just enjoy films about musicians and music then you should see them as well.
I think the documentary is the better of the two, but they do go together, even if love will tear us apart.
Okay, let me quickly tell you about the romantic comedy FOOLS GOLD and the non-comedy BE KIND REWIND.
Quickly only due to the fact they are only worth seeing if there is absolutely nothing else available!
FOOLS GOLD is definitely the better of the two as Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughay reunite, and the chemistry they had in HOW TO LOSE A GUY IN TEN DAYS is still present.
In this film they play about a recently divorced couple who rekindle their romantic life while searching for a lost treasure.
Admittedly, I liked FOOLS GOLD, because I like Kate and Matt, but there is way too much plot and it gets less interesting as it plays out.
BE KIND REWIND is a film that I should have LOVED because it is about movies, but unfortunately it is a misfire from the same director who gave us the brilliant ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND!!
When all of their video tapes go blank due to a magnetic presence in co-star Jack Black, two hapless friends have to recreate the films as there are customers who are still looking for movies to watch, and the friends don’t want the store’s pwner to find out what they have done.
And – as it turns out – the recreations turn out to be more popular with customers than the originals.
There are some entertaining moments, and if you are a lover of films as well, there might be a few moments when you find yourself smiling at BE KIND REWIND, but ultimately it is a cliche filled film of scenes that we have seen many times before…and that is too bad as I wanted to love this movie, and I didn’t.
But if there is nothing else on the shelf, and you are in the mood for a film, it isn’t awful.
Faint praise, I know, but I have reserved the praise I have left this morning for this week’s entry in the FOREIGN FILM FESTIVAL ON DVD!
This week’s film is THOSE WHO REMAIN from France.
Bertrand and Lorraine are those who remain.
Those who try and find a way to live each day while their spouses are being treated for cancer.
To help each other bear the guilt they feel from being alive, Bertrand and Lorraine become friends and they help each other get through the days, until an attraction develops.
There are moments in THOSE WHO REMAIN when you may find yourself actually yelling at the characters as they make decisions that you might not agree with, and that is why – even though it is a very slow moving film – I think you should search this one out as well.
It is just so infuriating at times, but the French film THOSE WHO REMAIN is worthy of your time, and it is available now on DVD…, along with the non-comedy BE KIND REWIND, the okay rental FOOLS GOLD, the great CONTROL and the documentary on the band JOY DIVISION, the fantastic THE DIRTY HARRY ULTIMATE COLLECTOR’S EDITION and the residential school documentary MUFFINS FOR GRANNY, a movie that you might not find in every store, but it is one that you should search out and watch with others.
Coming up on the next Couch Potato Report
I will have five new films for your summer movie viewing, and the FOREIGN FILM FESTIVAL ON DVD rolls on with MY NAME IS JUANI from Spain
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!