The Couch Potato Report

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The Couch Potato Report – December 20th, 2008
This week The Couch Potato Report peels a border, two summer hits, a cinematic treat, and HamletĂ–2!
It is the last Saturday edition of the Report for 2008, and to start off this conclusion, let’s head to the border!
THE BORDER is a television show that is set in Toronto, but features stories from all of the provinces about the people who come and go from our country.
It is a procedural drama and action show about agents of the ICS – Immigration and Customs Security Agency – as they make life and death decisions about who stays and who gets deported.
Now, I know you must be thinking that a show about the people who defend the Canadian border must be a bit slow, especially if you have ever gone into The United States through the borders in Southern Saskatchewan…those places look like nothing that si worthy of being on television ever happens there!!
BUT, this is a show that features a lot of action and some interesting stories and this 3-DVD set for THE BORDER features all 13 episodes from SEASON ONE.
Admittedly, some episodes are better than others…and a few episodes aren’t very interesting at all…but if you are looking for an action adventure show to entertain you until Jack Bauer returns to television in a few weeks, THE BORDER is an entertaining, and sometimes very good substitute!
Oh, while SEASON ONE of the show is now available on DVD, don’t miss new episodes as SEASON TWO is airing Monday Nights at 9 o’clock on CBC Television!!
THE BORDER deals with spies and espionage across all of Canada, if you are looking for something that only takes place in one city, I offer – and highly recommend the latest film from the Academy Award winning directors of NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN.
Yes, the latest film from Joel and Ethan Cohen takes place only in Washington, D.C. and it is called BURN AFTER READING.
In this film, which is one of my top three for 2008, a CD is found in a gym.
It contains the the memoirs of an unemployed CIA agent, and it ends up in the hands of two of the gym’s employees who decide to try and sell it.
Since this is a Coen Brothers film, nothing goes according to plan….AND since this is a comedy that is more in the vein of THE BIG LEBOWSKI and THE HUDSUCKER PROXY than NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, there are also some great secondary characters, like a womanizing George Clooney, who must get a run in after each affair, and the great John Malcovich – who plays the former CIA agent.
Not everyone will enjoy BURN AFTER READING, but I sure did!
It is funny, very profane, engaging and dramatic, and while it won’t win Joel and Ethan another Oscar, it sure did win me over! I love this movie, and highly recommend it!!
Now, while I loved BURN AFTER READING, and know that not everyone will enjoy it, I also know that the opposite will be true for some other movies…especially our next release this week!
I know there are people out there who LOVE this next film, absolutely love it!! In fact, in the U.K., it was announced this week that the film is now the Number One, highest grossing film of all time there, beating even TITANIC!!
But I just didn’t care for it…I wanted to, but I didn’t.
That movie? MAMMA MIA!
This film – for the uninitiated who have never heard of it, or the stage musical it is based on – is the story of a bride-to-be trying to find her real father so he can be with her on her wedding day.
It is all told using hit songs from the group ABBA.
Now, I lived in Europe for 6 years, so I grew up with ABBA, and I love almost every member of the cast of this film – including Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgaard and Amanda Seyfried – but I just didn’t get much out of this movie.
I do agree that it is fun, but it just isn’t MY type of fun….however, if you think you will enjoy it, you probably will.
And you are almost guaranteed a laugh when the former James Bond Pierce Brosnan tries to sing.
No, MAMMA MIA! isn’t for me, but I have another musical this week that completely is!
This one is stupid, and juvenile and immature and I loved it!!
I just loved HAMLET 2!!
HAMLET 2 is sort of parody of those “teachers who inspire kids” films like DEAD POETS SOCIETY, DANGEROUS MINDS, SCHOOL OF ROCK and MR. HOLLAND’S OPUS, and sort of a musical.
A failed actor turned High School Drama Teacher – played by the brilliant British comedia Steve Coogan, who most people in North America have never heard of – i trying to rally and inspire his Tucson, Arizona students as he conceives, writes and stages a very politically incorrect musical sequel to Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
Co-written by Pam Brady – who also worked on SOUTH PARK and TEAM AMERICA – HAMLET 2 is full of gags, very bizarre slapstick moments, celebrity cameos, and some real singing and dancing by a group of unknowns young actors.
No, HAMLET 2 will not appeal to the masses the way MAMMA MIA! has, but for those – like me – who don’t completely understand MAMMA’s appeal, HAMLET 2 is for us.
I loved this film, and it made me laugh out loud, so as a conclusion I say, This above all – to thine ownself be true; And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Finally this week are two action films that I didn’t care for at all, but…if either of these movies sound interesting to you…or someone you know…you…or they…might enjoy them.
Otherwise, neither THE MUMMY – TOMB OF THE DRAGON EMPEROR or DEATH RACE are very notable at all.
Since it stars Canadian Brendan Fraser, lets start with the latest MUMMY film.
The first Fraser MUMMY film from 1999 is still a fun and entertaining movie, and THE MUMMY RETURNS from 2001 – while not as great, is also still pretty good.
Both of them are certainly better that THE MUMMY: TOMB OF THE DRAGON EMPEROR…this is an unnecessary film!
The story is an odd series of ideas that are all poorly executed, and the dialogue is poorly written and the characters, as well as almost all of their actions, render this film – and the series, for now, uttely moot.
But, if you LOVED the first two films, I mean truly loved them, them maybe there is something in this mess for you.
Personally, I didn’t care for THE MUMMY – TOMB OF THE DRAGON EMPEROR at all…it isn’t even a good rental.
And neither is the new version of DEATH RACE…why did they bother with this?!? It is just awful!!
The original DEATH RACE film – DEATH RACE 2000 – came out in 1975, and it remains a low budget horror film with some interesting action and characters.
The remake, which stars Jason Statham from THE TRANSPORTER films, Academy Award nominee Joan Allen – from the last two THE JASON BOURNE films – and Ian McShane of the great television show DEADWOOD, has great actors, but bad acting, a bad script, and is just bad!
It wants to be a cross between the orginal film and THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION…it isn’t!
Now, as you might expect, I didn’t go into a film called DEATH RACE expecting high quality and a piece of art, I wanted action, dark and dirty, fun and frivolous action.
DEATH RACE did not deliver, and that is the bottom line, it is an action film that does not deliver.
But again, if you – or someone you know – loves all kinds of utterly mindless action films – I mean truly loves them, them maybe there is something in this remake for them.
The not very good action films DEATH RACE and THE MUMMY – TOMB OF THE DRAGON EMPEROR, the musicals HAMLET 2 and MAMMA MIA!, the superb Coen Brothers comedy BURN AFTER READING and SEASON ONE of THE BORDER are all available now on DVD.
The Blu-Ray Beacon Returns in January.
Coming up Monday on a Special Edition of The Couch Potato Report:
I will tell you about a wide array of DVD Box Sets and Special editions that might also be good gift ideas, including a 10-Disc set about the EDMONTON OILERS and a 4-Disc MUHAMMAD ALI package that will take you RINGSIDE.
Tomorrow’s Report will also spotlight KNIGHT RIDER, NIGHT GALLERY, THE MUNSTERS, JAMES BROWN IN THE 60s and more!!
Enjoy the movies and I’ll see you back here next time on The Couch!