The Couch Potato Report – December 13th, 2008
This week The Couch Potato Report peels a no hit summer, the biggest hit of the summer and a man on a wire.
By pure coincidence, three of my favourite films of 2008 were all released on DVD this week, and I am very excited to tell you about all of them!
In just a moment, I will rave about THE DARK KNIGHT and the documentary MAN ON WIRE, but this week’s HOT POTATO is a film that made me feel like a kid again, and I absolutely love it when a movies does that!
So, our HOT POTATO this week is the made in Montreal film A NO HIT, NO RUN SUMMER.
In this film it is the Summer ’69 and the city of Montreal has a new baseball team.
Twelve-year-old Martin and his friends all love the game and the spanking new Expos.
With all of his passion toward the game pushing him forward, Martin tries out for his neighbourhood team.
When he is cut, when he and all of his friends are cut, Martin’s usually distant father starts up a separate team for them,… all of those kids who need to find another route to the big league.
A route that features kids playing baseball in hockey sweaters.
And since it is 1969, A NOT HIT NO RUN SUMMER also features man walking on the moon and Woodstock, in addition to Les Expos…so it has baseball, music and space travel!!
For me, this film had everything!
No, it isn’t perfect, because at times there are too many stories being told, but I still loved it, and I highly recommend it!!
At it’s core A NOT HIT NO RUN SUMMER is about the loss of childhood innocence and the transition into adulthood, but it isn’t one that rushes that transition. This is a great little movie that looks back at a time and place where possibilities seemed endless.
A time and place where The Expos would be in Montreal forever, for as one or Martin’s friends tells him – “A baseball team is for life.”
A NO-HIT NO-RUN SUMMER was shot in Montreal in July and August of 2007 and it was made for $4 million.
By comparison, THE DARK KNIGHT was filmed in London, Hong Kong and Chicago last year, and it’s budget was an estimated $185 million.
To date this second Batman film from Christopher Nolan has brought in over $530 million and is now the second highest grossing film of all-time, behind only TITANIC.
I loved A NO HIT NO RUN SUMMER and THE DARK KNIGHT, but if I was picking my favourite film of 2008, let me tell you that I choose THE DARK KNIGHT.
It is my belief that even people who don’t consider themselves to be fans of comics and comic books, usually still have a favourite comic book character.
Whether it is “Garfield”, “Peanuts”, “Spider-man”, “Andy Capp”,”Foxtrot”, “House Of M”, “New Avengers” or “Dennis The Menace”, I think we all have a favourite comic book character.
I love “The Far Side” and “Calvin And Hobbes”, “Underdog” and “Bugs Bunny”, but my favourite all-time cartoon character is still “Batman.”
Throughout the years I have been able to enjoy Batman in comic books, television shows, and movies, especially the movies lately, thanks to what Christopher Nolan has acheived with 2005’s BATMAN BEGINS and now this year’s THE DARK KNIGHT!!
This film, like almost all of the Batman movies over the years – except for the abysmal 1997 film BATMAN & ROBIN, directed by Joel Shumacher – sees batman as a dark character who walks a very fine tightrope between hero and vigilante.
Christian Bale is back as the caped crusader and THE DARK KNIGHT is primarily about how Batman – and his alter ego Bruce Wayne – District Attorney Harvey Dent, Assistant D.A. Rachel Dawes, and Police Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) struggle to find way to keep Gotham safe from The Joker.
The late Heath Ledger is absolutely spectacular in the film, and Nolan keep us guessing by never giving us the character’s back story.
It is a bold move that pays off, and when Ledger gets an Academy Award nomination, to follow up his Golden Globe nod, don’t be surprised!!
Yes, if you were to say you saw THE DARK KNIGHT and you found it a bit too long, or you thought that Bale’s Batman voice sounded too forced when he had the mask on, I could be convinced to agree with you on those points, but I still maintain that the film is the most entertaining and engaging cinematic thrill ride of 2008, and it has some great drama too.
I obvioulsy recommend it, unapologetically, and think that it has something to offer almost everyone and so, and you can quote me on this, “THE DARK KNIGHT is my favourite film of 2008!!”
Now, if the thought of watching a man dressed up as a bat strung up on digitally removed wires doesn’t appeal to you…how about a documentary about a man ON a wire.
A man walking on a wire from one of the World Trade Centre Towers in New York, to the other one?
Well, on the morning of Aug. 7, 1974, after months of preparation and years of dreaming, a French daredevil named Philippe Petit stepped into the sky above Lower Manhattan.
For almost 45 minutes he walked back and forth on a metal cable strung between the towers of the World Trade Center.
MAN ON WIRE uses some footage that was shot while Petit and his team were working on the stunt and combines that with some great recreations and spectacular photographs.
The combination of those elements, and new interviews with Petit and his crew, has resulted in a film that is very interesting, good-natured, very funny, and it even features a really nice love story.
But the best thing about this movie is what it does not mention. We all know what happened to those World Trade Center towers, and so MAN ON WIRE doesn’t need to mention it.
Instead, we get to relive their glory, through the act of one man with a dream.
This is a superb film!!
MAN ON WIRE is a truly fascinating documentary, and I enjoyed it!!
Truth be told, I was also able to enjoy THE COMPLETE FOURTH SEASON of the television show LOST…and I wasn’t sure I would, since most of SEASON THREE was not very good, but luckily the show is back on track!
LOST is the once again very interesting and entertaining show about the survivors of a plane crash on a mysterious tropical island somewhere in the South Pacific.
Each episode usually features a storyline from the island, and as a secondary storyline from another point in a character’s life. Prior to SEASON FOUR they were flashbacks, but this season we were given flash-forwards as well!
SEASON FOUR of LOST is a 5-DVD set with 14 episodes, and two discs of Bonus Features.
This season focuses on the survivors dealing with the arrival of a team of people who may or may not be there to save them.
Yes, luckily LOST is back on track, and I am personally looking forward to the premiere of SEASON FIVE on Wednesday, January 21st!!
But for now, enjoy LOST – THE COMPLETE FOURTH SEASON…I sure did!!
Alright, it is time now for this week’s Blu-ray Beacon!!
If you are wondering why the newest home entertainment viewing method is called Blu-ray, well it is because a blue laser beam is used to read data from discs, rather than the red laser that is used for standard DVDs.
A blue laser can be focused more tightly, so disc makers can pack more data on a disc the same size as a DVD. Blu-ray Discs can hold up to 50 gigabytes, compared to a DVD, which holds less than 10 GB.
That added capacity can hold video up to six times the resolution of DVD, plus more bonus features and improved surround soundtracks.
And this week, that resolution and improved soundtrack allowed me to see one of my favourite movies of all time looking better than ever…even though the film is 66 years old.
Yes, this week the BLU RAY BEACON shines the spotlight on the ULTIMATE COLLECTOR’S EDITION of CASABLANCA.
The 1942 film CASABLANCA starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman is a classic film full of unforgettable lines and on Blu-ray it looks better than it ever has before!
Bogart is a man who must choose between his love for a woman and doing the right thing, and if you have never seen this film, well, the ULTIMATE COLLECTOR’S EDITION of CASABLANCA is a great version to start with, as it features a wealth of special features and collector’s items.
But mostly, it features one of the greatest films ever made, looking – and sounding – better than ever!!
This week’s Blu-ray Beacon is pointed straight at CASABLANCA and the BLU-RAY ULTIMATE COLLECTOR’S EDITION box set!
It is available now on Blu-ray and DVD, along with the DVD Box Set for THE COMPLETE FOURTH SEASON of LOST, the superb documentary MAN ON WIRE, the blockbuster THE DARK KNIGHT, which is also my favourite film of 2008, and the made-in-Montreal film A NO-HIT NO-RUN SUMMER, which I also highly recommend.
Coming up next Saturday AND Sunday on The Couch Potato Report
Yes, I will have two Reports for you next weeek that feature a combination of last minute gift ideas, and great DVDs to watch on a cold winters night.
On Saturday, THE BORDER, THE MUMMY – TOMB OF THE DRAGON EMPEROR, BURN AFTER READING and HAMLET 2.
And next Sunday, I will tell you about a wide array of DVD Box Sets including a 10-Disc set about the EDMONTON OILERS and a 4-Disc MUHAMMAD ALI package that will take you RINGSIDE.
I’m Dan Reynish. I’ll have more on those, and some other releases, in seven AND EIGHT 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 – December 13th, 2008