The Couch Potato Report – October 14th, 2008
This week The Couch Potato Report peels a mountain, a rock, some meerkats, a visitor and a man who killed a Beatle.
On a weekend where we spend some time every year remembering the people and things we appreciate, how about being thankful for Canada, and our collective Canadian history this year?
Specifically, let us remember October 5th, 1982 when – at 9:30am local time – Laurie Skreslet scaled more than twenty-nine thousand feet to become the first Canadian to reach the summit of Mount Everest.
That 1982 Canadian Mount Everest Expedition had taken five years to plan, $3 million to finance and required 27 tons of equipment to outfit the party.
The expedition also experienced tragedy as four climbers perished.
If you didn’t experience the triumph and tragedy through the extensive media coverage in 1982, or the story is new to you, well you can remember it all through two new releases, the documentary THE CLIMB, and the CBC TV movie EVEREST ’82.
Filmed on location in Nepal, in the Rocky Mountains, and right next door in Alberta, in and around Calgary, EVEREST 82 looks very real and it does a great job bringing the story of the 82 expedition to film…the triumphs and the tragedies.
I didn’t completely remember all of the events that surrounded the climb, other than the fact that Laurie Skreslet was the first Canadian to reach the summit of Mount Everest, so many of the behind-the-scenes and on the mountain facts in the film seemed new to me, and so it wasn’t just a rehash of stories I already knew.
EVEREST 82 isn’t a perfect film due to some wooden performances by a few of the young leading actors, but William Shatner who plays a reporter and 90210’s Jason Priestly who has a small role as a fellow climber are very good, and the story itself overcomes any of the film’s shorcomings, so – to surmise – I did enjoy EVEREST 82 and I can easily recommend it to you.
And as a companion piece, let me also recommend THE CLIMB.
This is a documentary that takes Skreslet and fellow summiter Pat Morrow back to Base Camp at Mt. Everest to relive and discuss the traumatic and triumphant events of 1982.
In addition to the look back, THE CLIMB also features some new stories.
Just before the team leave for Nepal Pat Morrow – who – in addition to topping Everest – was the first person in the world to have climbed the highest peaks of all seven continents – comes down with a mystery illness that might prevent his return to the mountain and and Laurie Skreslet has brought his nineteen year old daughter, Natasha – a young woman who has hardly seen her father in ten years – so he can try and show her what he went through.
Truth be told, I preferred THE CLIMB documentary to the film EVEREST 82. The news footage it contains from the original attempt, the retrospective look back by the mountaineers, and the new stories make for a great 52 minute show, but both of them are worthy of your time.
And both of them may also give you an added sense of pride, just in case you want to be thankful for your country this Thanksgiving Day (START CLIP HERE) weekend.
Lets go from a montain now, to rock…30 ROCK in fact.
Executive produced by Toronto’s own Lorne Michaels, 30 ROCK is a show about what happens behind the scenes at a television variety show…not unlike Saturday Night Live…the iconic television show that Michaels created back in 1975.
But 30 ROCK isn’t just about the fictional TV show at it’s core, it is also about the people who work there.
The insecure, sometimes idotic, but always interesting people who work there, lead by it’s star, creator, and writer, the great Tina Fey as Liz Lemon.
The other reason for the show’s success is Alec Baldwin…he owns every scene he is in.
30 ROCK really hit it’s stride in it’s second season, which is now out on DVD, and if you have never seen it, I couldn’t reccomend it any higher. This is funny stuff!!
I also highly reccomend SEASON TWO of MEERKAT MANOR, just not as much as SEASON ONE.
A meerkat is a small mammal and a member of the mongoose family.
Timon, the character that Nathan Lane voiced in the film THE LION KING was a meerkat.
MEERKAT MANOR is a show that blends traditional animal documentary style footage with narration, making it sort of a Meerkat soap opera….one that at times is very dramatic.
I really enjoyed SEASON ONE of MEERKAT MANOR and I was really looking forward to seeing this SEASON TWO set.
Unfortunately, this season isn’t as dramatic, and it is very, very repetitive, but there is still some great footage, including scenes from a few well-placed underground cameras, and the meerkats are just so entertaining to watch, so while it isn’t as good, I still liked it.
Due to the fact that there is death involved in the show, it isn’t for very young or sensitive kids…but otherwise it is a very interesting for the whole family, and it is all completely real.
Yup, MEERKAT MANOR – SEASON TWO is good stuff!!
THE VISITOR is also good stuff!
In THE VISITOR a widowed college professor travels to New York City to attend a conference and finds a young couple, who turn out to be illegal immigrants, living in his apartment.
He decides to let them stay, and they all become friends, and the young man teaches the professor how to play the drums.
There are several unfortunate things that happen in the film, including some immigration issues, but that is all I will say about THE VISITOR as I think you should discover these plot points on your own.
THE VISITOR is a nice, small film that is big on emotion and very worthy of your time, especially if you like films that are populated by people and characters that seem real.
I liked it, and I recommend it.
Our last film this week isn’t one I can easily recommend, and I can’t tell you to stay away from it either. I must try and be objective with this one, and that is hard…especially this weekend.
You see John Lennon would have been 68 on Thursday.
CHAPTER 27 is a film about Mark David Chapman that takes place in the two days leading up to the former Beatle’s John Lennon.
Yes, I must stay objective.
Personally, as a John Lennon fan and member of the human race, I don’t think the world needs a film about Mark David Chapman, but professionally since the film was made, it is my responsibility to review it, no matter how uncomforable it made me, so review it I will, and so let me tell you that Jared Leto from FIGHT CLUB and PANIC ROOM stas as Chapman, and he gained 67 pounds to play the killer.
Lindsay Lohan also stars in the movie, she plays a Lennon groupie named Jude.
CHAPTER 27 is not poorly made, the acting is very good, the story about this killer’s final few days is somewhat interesting, and the filmmakers used the actual exterior of the Dakota building in New York City…so as a person who talks about movies, I should now tell you that CHAPTER 27 is a movie you should see…but…and I am losing my objectivity…who cares about Mark David Chapman?!?
He robbed the world of a man who tried to make the planet a better place…so who cares?!
All I will say in conclusion is this…Happy Birthday John Lennon! I wish you could have been here to celebrate with us.
Can you imagine?
The creepy film CHAPTER 27, the small and enjoayble film THE VISITOR, SEASON TWO of the fun TV show MEERKAT MANOR, SEASON TWO of the superb sitcom 30 ROCK, and the two new releases about the first Canadians to climb Mt. Everest – the documentary THE CLIMB and the movie EVERST ’82 are all available now on DVD.
Coming up on the next Couch Potato Report
Y.P.F. is a Canadian movie whose real name I can’t even say on the radio without being fired, but I will try to review the movie next week AND keep my job.
I will also talk about Orson Welles superb TOUCH OF EVIL and it’s 50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION, and we will remember Paul Newman with two new releases, THE PRICE OF SUGAR and the DELUXE EDITION of COOL HAND LUKE.
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 a DVD to watch today!
The Couch Potato Report – October 14th, 2008