The Couch Potato Report

Movies, movies, movies!!!

The Couch Potato Report – August 2nd, 2008
This week The Couch Potato Report peels some films that are interactive, and a five part biography of Earth.
Our first two films this week are being billed as INTERACTIVE. If you don’t like what is happening on screen at certain times, you just push ENTER on your remote and the story line and scene changes.
Unfortunately this unique idea can’t save either film, as no matter how many times you hit enter the end result is still a mediocre movie.
That is ceratinly the case with this week’s HOT POTATO…the Canadian made, National Film Board release that is LATE FRAGMENT.
LATE FRAGMENT has several plots and due to the fact that it is non-linear – and interactive – it give you the choice to watch the stories of three strangers. Faye, Kevin and ThÈo.
They – and their stories – all come together in a restorative justice group therapy session, after each has become involved in a crime, either as perpetrator or victim or both.
In the sessions the victims and offenders share their stories in hopes of finding wholeness, balance, forgiveness, redemption and a sense of safety.
There are 380 available opportunities for you to hit the ENTER button, and for me the concept of an interactive movie just overshadowed the film itself.
I kept pressing ENTER, because you can’t just sit and watch the film…you have to push ENTER in order to prevent the film from staying in a loop…and each time I pressed the button I hoped that the movie would engage me…but it didn’t.
LATE FRAGMENT isn’t a happy movie, and I wasn’t interested in the characters, so even though I had several different choices literally at my fingertips…I just didn’t care.
I am 100% sure that there will be people who will love this movie, and will watch it repeatedly, in order to see all of the different ways it can play out, but that person is not me.
After eventually getting to the film’s conclusion, I just couldn’t wait to press one more button…eject.
The interactive film LATE FRAGMENT is an interesting concept…but not an interesting movie.
And that is true with the other film featuring some interactivity that I have for you this week, the “comedy” HAROLD AND KUMAR ESCAPE GUANTANAMO BAY
You know I liked the first HAROLD AND KUMAR film…2004’s HAROLD AND KUMAR GO TO WHITE CASTLE. It was a fun little film about two stoner friends who just want to get some hamburgers, and the problems that prevented them from getting them. It was fun, stupid and an entertaining time at the movies.
This sequel is none of that. It is not funny, it is actually racist at times, always profane and even though I don’t usually have a problem with those sort of things in an out and out comedy…I just hated this movie!
And like LATE FRAGMENT, HAROLD AND KUMAR ESCAPE GUANTANAMO BAY has an interactive element to it.
Using the bonus feature “Dude, Change the Movie!,” you can alter the direction of the film at various moments.
Some of the changes merely add a quick joke or two, while others send the film in a completely different direction, including drastically changing the ending, and one change even eliminates the plot of the film.
If the studio green lights a third HAROLD AND KUMAR film, I hope they remembered the low budget origins of the first movie, and skip the expensive high budget path that this second movie took.
It is just a bad movie, no matter what your frame of mind is at the time you press play.
Up next this week is the BBC series EARTH – THE BIOGRAPHY, from the same folks who gave us the PLANET EARTH and the BLUE PLANET series.
Yes, EARTH – THE BIOGRAPHY is a five-part series that look at how our our planet was formed, and how it is changing.
While not as completely compelling as the PLANET EARTH and BLUE PLANET series, EARTH THE BIOGRAPHY is still an exceptional series and very worthy of your time.
The made in Toronto movie HUSTLE – about baseball player Pete Rose and his gambling problems that lead to his banishment for life from the sport – is also worthy of your time…but only if you are a huge baseball fan, or fan of the history of the game.
The made-for-TV movie is not great by any stretch of the imagination…but the Special Features certainly are.
Those truly Special Features include that press conference where Rose’s suspension was announced, interviews with the man during and after the scandal broke, and much more.
HUSTLE is good stuff for baseball fans like me.
Now, as you may know, due to the millions of dollars that has been spent to promote and advertise it, there is a new film in the MUMMY series that is now in theatres.
The latest one is called THE MUMMY: TOMB OF THE DRAGON EMPEROR, and because there is a new one, Universal has released the two previous MUMMY MOVIES starring the Canadian raised Brendan Fraser in Two Disc Deluxe Editions.
The first Fraser MUMMY film is still a fun and entertaining movie, and THE MUMMY RETURNS – while not as great, is also still pretty good. Both of them are certainly better that THE MUMMY: TOMB OF THE DRAGON EMPEROR…but I will have more on that when the DVD comes out in December.
PLUS, also new on DVD, as a tie in to this new MUMMY movie is the very first movie starring a Mummy…the 1932 classic THE MUMMY starring Boris Karloff.
Now this DVD is the true discovery for fans of these types of films…it is truly a conematic classic, and it has never looked better in any home viewing medium!!
Pick it up and enjoy!!
Finally, it is time once again for THE FOREIGN FILM FESTIVAL ON DVD, this week starring CHAOTIC ANNA from Spain.
CHAOTIC ANA is about a woman named Ana and it tells the story of her life from the ages of 18 to 22.
But it might not necessarily be her life…her existence seems like a continuation of other lives of young women who all died in a tragic way, and we experience it all through through her hypnosis.
CHAOTIC ANA is a visually provacative and engaging film, that is exotic at times, erotic at others, and yet it is also horrific at times as well.
It is a very interesting picture that had me really wanting to find out what was really going on…and why….and because of that, and Manuela VellÈs, the actress who plays Ana…I really enjoyed it.
The Spanish movie CHAOTIC ANA, the 1932 Boris Karloff classic THE MUMMY, Brendan Fraser’s 1999 THE MUMMY and 2001’s THE MUMMY RETURNS, the Pete Rose TV-Movie HUSTLE, the engaging EARTH THE BIOGRAPHY, the non-comedy HAROLD AND KUMAR ESCAPE GUANTANAMO BAY and the failed Canadian interactive film LATE FRAGMENT are all available now on DVD.
Coming up in three weeks – on August 23rd – on the next Couch Potato Report
The CBC series MVP – THE SECRET LIVES OF HOCKEY WIVES will be out on DVD along with the action films DOOMSDAY, ROGUE and PROM NIGHT.
Plus, the FOREIGN FILM FESTIVAL ON DVD will continue with the Chinese film STILL LIFE
I’m Dan Reynish. I’ll have more on those, and some other releases, in twenty-one 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!