The Couch Potato Report – November 22nd, 2008
This week The Couch Potato Report peels a film with a maple flavour, a tremendous animated film, and a Blu band of brothers.
As you may already know, each week, this Report is the only place you can go to hear about the latest Canadian films and films starring Canadian actors on DVD.
Sure, I am boasting when I say that…but I also say it with a lot of pride. I might not always like the films made here in our home and native land, but I will always support them, watch them and give you my honest feelings and opinions about them.
Such was the case back in December of 2006 when I reviewed a film that was made in and around Toronto called SIDEKICK.
I concluded my comments that week by saying:
“SIDEKICK is – and looks – low budget, and that is part of it’s charm. At one point there is actually scene where there is dirt on the lens. It isn’t great, but with low expectations, you might enjoy SIDEKICK. I know I did.”
And now the folks who made that film are back with something new…a documentary called MAPLE FLAVOUR FILMS.
This is a movie that I not only liked, but I think all film lovers should see, just so everyone can see the sorry state of the Canadian film industry firsthand.
SIDEKICK’s writer, producer and several other members of the cast and crew drive across Canada with their movie trying to find an audience and a distributor.
As they show their film, they also spend time talking with people about our nation’s film industry.
Now I’ll be honest with you, I didn’t see MAPLE FLAVOUR FILMS in a theatre, and I didn’t even see it the first time in my house on a DVD. Nope, I first saw it when I was on a plane this summer, and it is the type of movie that most people might not ever hear of, unless someone tells them about it.
And on this day, that someone is me!
The simple truth here is that the Canadian film industry has it easy. There are very few laws and rules it must follow when it comes to showing Canadian films.
The Investment Canada Act requires Canadian content and ads in foreign magazines sold here, and the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission ensures that Canadian radio and television broadcasters must air a certain percentage of content that was at least partly written, produced, presented, or otherwise contributed to by persons from Canada.
Yet – somehow, theatre owners are not required to show our nation’s films on their screens.
In addition to the road trip Sparaga and his crew take to show SIDEKICK to people, MAPLE FLAVOUR FILMS also features Canadian studio heads and distributors discussing the state of the film industry in our country, and giving their opinions on why it is so hard to get a film like SIDEKICK into our theatres.
I highly recommend MAPLE FLAVOUR FILMS because it is a thought provoking documentary, but it isn’t a release that is going to be available everywhere.
But you can buy it online, or ask your local library to get it. For more details on how to do that, just go to www.cbc.ca/saskweekend and look under LINKS.
And stay tuned to Saskatchewan Weekend for ongoing coverage of the Canadian Film Industry and Canadian films…after all, Canada Lives Here.
Now, in addition to Canadian films, I also shine the spotlight on some other notable releases each week, and on this Saturday morning, THE most notable non-Canadian film of the week is the spectacular Pixar film WALL*E!!
WALL*E is the latest film from the Pixar Animation Studio, the same folks who also gave us Toy Story 1 & 2, A Bug’s Life, Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Cars, and Ratatouille, and for me, just seeing the name Pixar on a film is enough to recommend it…but once you see their films there is many other reasons, and WALL*E is no exception!!
The Pixar winning streak continues!!!
WALL*E takes place in the distant future, where a small waste collecting robot who is a Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-class, meets a robot named Eve and accidentally embarks on a space journey that may ultimately decide the fate of mankind.
WALL*E is magical, beautiful, fantastic and it is one of my favourite films of 2008!! The love story is very sweet, the animation spectacular, and there are some great inside jokes hidden in it as well!!
WALL*E is a modern day classic that I highly recommend.
And if you want to see some classics from the 1950s and sixties that I also highly recommend there are three new releases this week in the superb WALT DISNEY TREASURES collection.
The WALT DISNEY TREASURES are two-disc DVD sets of classic Disney works, covering work from the studio’s earliest days to more recent work and this time out the studio has released DR. SYN: THE SCARECROW OF ROMNEY MARSH, which originally ran on TV Show “World of Disney” in 1963; THE MICKEY MOUSE CLUB PRESENTS ANNETTE, yes the world’s most popular Mousekateer stars in her own series from the 1957-1958 Season, and then there is THE CHRONOLOGICAL DONALD, VOLUME 4 with cartoons from the years 1951-1961.
All three of these releases come in collector’s tins, and there numbers are very limited, so if you remember these shows and caroons from your childhood, don’t miss your chance to own them!!
And the great bonus features and behind-the-scenes footage and retrospectives that they include. This is good stuff!!
Up next this week is the summer action film HELLBOY 2 – THE GOLDEN ARMY.
Directed by Guillermo del Toro, the man who gave us the Oscar winning film PAN’S LABYRINTH, this second film in Big Red’s transition from comics to the silver screen isn’t as great as the first one, but del Toro’s work is always so visually interesting that I am prepared to sit through whatever he does!!
In THE GOLDEN ARMY the mythical world starts a rebellion against humanity in order to rule the Earth, so Hellboy and his team must save the world once again.
Simply put, if you liked the original film, or like most films based on comic book characters, you will enjoy this one too.
If you have never heard of the character, and don’t like comic book action films, then you should probably skip it.
Finally this week is a new feature here on the report – the BLU RAY BEACON.
Blu-ray is the next step in DVDs and the disc itself has the same physical dimensions as standard DVDs and CDs.
Plus, a two-layer Blu-ray Disc can store almost six times the capacity of a two-layer DVD, or ten times that of a single-layer DVD.
That extra space allows these films to have superior quality over regular DVDs and gives the filmmakers and studios the chance to include more Special Features and material that isn’t possible on DVD.
So each week for the next little while, as the format continues to take off, and the number of films available in Blu-ray increases, I will spotlight one new release each week, and share more information about the format, in this forum – The BLU-RAY BEACON.
Up first is the spectacular Blu-ray version of the HBO war series BAND OF BROTHERS.
BAND OF BROTHERS is a superbly done ten-part television World War II mini-series based on the book of the same title written by historian and biographer Stephen Ambrose.
Co-produced by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks it centers on the experiences of “Easy Company” of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, from their basic training through the airborne landings in Normandy and on to the end of the war.
The DVD set debuted in November of 2002 and it has a wealth of special features, which are all on this new release, and exclusive to the Blu-ray Box Set is an interactive field guide with timelines and maps that takes you in the field through onscreen text with the real men of Easy Company, and a picture in picture commentary from the actual veterans that appears from time to time during the action.
The BLU-RAY BEACON this week shines on BAND OF BROTHERS, a great series that is available now – for the first time – in a spectacular 6 disc Blu-Ray Box Set.
It is also out on DVD, along with the visually interesting sequel HELLBOY 2 – THE GOLDEN ARMY, the fun WALT DISNEY TREASURES releases THE CHRONOLOGICAL DONALD, VOLUME 4 – 1951-1961, THE MICKEY MOUSE CLUB PRESENTS ANNETTE – 1957-1958 Season and DR. SYN: THE SCARECROW OF ROMNEY MARSH, the spectacular Pixar film WALL*E, that is great for all ages, and the eye opening Canadian documentary MAPLE FLAVOUR FILMS.
Coming up on the next Couch Potato Report
I will tell you about the made-in-Quebec film CRUISING BAR 2, the sequel SLAP SHOT 3, GONZO – THE LIFE AND WORK OF DR. HUNTER S. THOMPSON, and the BLU RAY BEACON will shine on THE BBC EARTH COLLECTION.
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!
The Couch Potato Report – November 22nd, 2008