The Couch Potato Report – January 31st, 2009
This week The Couch Potato Report peels a super line-up of films, unfortunately some are less than stellar, and Groundhog Day.
I actually have nine films for you this week on this super-sized edition of The Report, but unfortunately, several of them are not really worthy of your timeÖbut some of there are good rentals, so let’s get to the nine, starting with three films that were mostly filmed in Canada.
Up first is CLOSING THE RING which was filmed in and around Dundas and Port Perry, Ontario, and in the Toronto Film Studios.
CLOSING THE RING is primarily the story of love…love lost and unrequited love, and it is told in both the present day and through flashbacks.
It is also about a young man who is searching for the rightful owner of a gold ring that he found buried deep in a mountainside.
CLOSING THE RING has a great cast that includes Shirley MacLaine, Christopher Plummer, Mischa Barton, Neve Campbell and Pete Postlethwaite, but it moves at too slow a pace, and even though I did sort of like it…I never once felt emotionally involved.
However, if you loved THE NOTEBOOK, with Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams…then you may really enjoy this a sthe two do share more than a few similarities.
CLOSING THE RING isn’t great, but there will be people who love it!
There will also be those who love the made-in-Toronto and Hamilton action film MAX PAYNE, based on the video game of the same name.
As of last March the Max Payne gaming franchise has sold over 7 million copies, and I suspect this film will be rented by fan boys at least that many times.
Mark Wahlberg stars in this film as a DEA agent in New York City who is trying to find out who murdered his family. He teams up with an assassin out to avenge her sister’s death and the duo are hunted by the police, the mob, and that great fallback movie cliche “a ruthless corporation.”
Mila Kunis from FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL plays the assassin and the beautiful newest Bond girl Olga Kurylenko is the murdered sister, so the cast is good…and I guess I would also use that word to describe this film too…good.
It is what it is.
Those who love action/revenge films will love it, own it, and watch it again and again…but most people will just walk past it on the shelf.
So, to surmise…if you enjoy stylistic action films based on video games, then MAY PAYNE is for you!!
If you don’t, then maybe you will enjoy a comedy that may be implausible, but still has some great moments.
That comedy is THE ROCKER!
The director of THE FULL MONTY and Rainn Wilson, who plays Dwight Schrute on the American version of THE OFFICE are the two biggest names connected to this made in Toronto film.
Wilson is Robert ‘Fish’ Fishman, a dedicated and passionate drummer who gets kicked out of an eighties heavy metal hair band, just before the group goes on to worldwide success and glory.
And he isn’t too happy about that.
Twenty years later, while he is living in his sister’s attic, his teenage nephew asks him to play drums in his band…at the prom…and the aging rocker gets a second chance at success!!
THE ROCKER has some great, almost all original music, some great young stars, and more than a few laughs…a few even huge out loud ones. I didn’t love it, but I liked it and I will watch it again some day…this one is a good rental.
Oh, and watch closely in the scene at the bus stop as it features a cameo from a man who knows what it is like to be kicked out of a band who then go on to worldwide fame and acclaim.
None other than Pete Best, who was kicked out of The Beatles, is the man on the bench reading Rolling Stone magazine…and there is also a great interview with him in the discs’ Special Features.
Let’s move now from the films made in Canada, to a man we all consider a Canadian, Keifer Sutherland stars in the wannabe suspence thriller MIRRORS.
Now I love the premise of this film – something evil gets trapped inside some mirrors and can’t be avoided once you are cursed by looking into those mirrors and you can’t escape them because mirrors are everywhere!!!
And I am, and will always be, a huge fan of Keifer Sutherland!! From DARK CITY tO STAND BY ME and THE LOST BOYS he has played many different and unique rolls over the years…but in this movie, he is just playing a variation of Jack Bauer, the character he plays on the TV show 24.
The mannerisms are all the same, the speech patters are all the same, and even the yelling and way he holds a gun are the same….so, sadly, even with a star and supporting cast I like – one that also incudes Amy Smart who was the co-star of the made-in-Saskatchewan film JUST FRIENDS – and a premise I think is great…MIRRORS isn’t worthy of your time.
There is very little suspence, if any at all, the basic story itself was done better in the movie THE RING and most of the special effects are awful!
I admit that I wanted to know how it ended, but I didn’t care. MIRRORS, the film, like mirrors, the mirrors, will be available in almost every store you go in to, but don’t stop to look.
The reflection just isn’t worth it.
Up next this week is the police drama PRIDE & GLORY, about a multi-generational family of New York City Police officers.
It stars Edward Norton and Colin Farrell, two great actors, but the film offers no suspence at all, and it is snoreing – that unique combination between a snore and utterly boring!!
Norton’s cop has to investigate a police scandal that may or may not involve his brother in law, and may also tarnish the family’s legacy and the entire NYPD….but you won’t care.
PRIDE & GLORY is 2 hours and 10 minutes long, and since I have seen it all, let me be the only one who suffers!! Skip this one!!!
And most people should also skip THE EXPRESS…even though it is a story that we should all know.
Ernest Davis was an American football running back and the first African-American athlete to win the Heisman Trophy.
Davis wore number 44 and played college ball for Syracuse University before being drafted by the Washington Redskins, and then traded to the Cleveland Browns in December of 1961.
Tragically, he never played a professional game as he was diagnosed with leukemia in 1962.
His story is tragic, but it is also an incredibly inspiring one!
A story that had really only been told before in Robert C. Gallagher’s book “Ernie Davis: The Elmira Express, the Story of a Heisman Trophy Winner”.
The book was the basis for the film, and the book is the real story of Ernie Davis’ legacy.
The movie version of THE EXPRESS may make for good “family viewing”, but this book explains the TRUE story of just how brave, unselfish and caring Davis was, right up until his death.
THE EXPRESS is another cliche filled Hollywood sports movie, and even though it’s intentions are good – telling the story of Ernie Davis…for me it was a huge disappointment. If you absolutely NEED to watch some football this weekend, well, luckily for you the Super Bowl is tomorrow!
But, if you would like to know more about a great human being…skip this film, and search out Robert C. Gallagher’s book “Ernie Davis: The Elmira Express, the Story of a Heisman Trophy Winner”.
Up next, how about a film with an Academy Award nominee in it? PenÈlope Cruz received a nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role for her work in Woody Allen’s fabulous VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA.
Cruz plays the less-than-stable ex-wife of Javier Bardem, the Oscar winner from last year’s NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN.
VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA also stars Scarlett Johansson and Rebecca Hall as two friends who travel to Spain on a summer holiday.
They both become enamored with Bardem’s painter, unaware that his ex-wife, with whom he has a tempestuous relationship, is about to re-enter the picture.
I mentioned that VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA is a Woody Allen film, but it is more like MATCH POINT than ANNIE HALL or any of the director’s earlier work.
It isn’t an exceptional movie, but the cast is great, the story interesting, and I liked it a lot! It’s a great little film!!
CITY OF EMBER, as we move along on this super-sized edition of The Couch Potato Report, is not a film I liked, and it is not a great little film…well, as far as I am concerned…I am sure there are people who enjoyed the book that it is based on who will like it…but I am not one of those people.
CITY OF EMBER is the story of the people who live in an underground city…named Ember. The original plan was for them to live there for 200 years, and with that time-frame long since past, the city and it’s power generator are starting to fail.
Two teenagers stumble upon information that may lead them, and the rest of the residents back above ground…and the film is primarily about their efforts.
Now, there are some good scenes in CITY OF EMBER, and the sets are quite impressive, but this isn’t a film for everyone. If you liked the book, or are searching for a film for the whole family, then this might be a good rental…but otherwise skip it.
Personally, I only watched it because Bill Murray was one of the co-stars, and I love Bill Murray…but luckily this wasn’t the only new release of a Murray Movie this week!!
His classic film GROUNDHOG DAY is now available on Blu-ray!!!
The BLU-RAY BEACON shines on the great GROUNDHOG DAY this week, this is the 1993 film where Murray plays a weatherman who finds himself living the same day over and over again.
In addition to the film itself, which is still laugh out loud funny, this new Blu-ray also features a Pop-Up Trivia Track that offers trivia and insight on the production and the film.
I love GROUNDHOG DAY, and I am glad that I now have it on Blu-ray as it looks and sounds terrific!!
VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA, THE EXPRESS, MIRRORS, THE ROCKER and MAX PAYNE are all also available now on Blu-ray and DVD.
And CITY OF EMBER, PRIDE & GLORY and CLOSING THE RING are all available now on DVD.
Coming up on the next Couch Potato Report
The Canadian film PASSCHENDAELE debuts on DVD and I will recommend it, even though I don’t like the film.
I will also talk about ZACK & MIRI MAKE A PORNO, NICK AND NORAH’S INFINITE PLAYLIST, I’ll commemorate BLACK HISTORY MONTH with the documentary BLACK MAGIC, and the legendary THE SECRET POLICEMAN’S BALLS debuts in a 3 DVD Box Set featuring music and comedy legends, like the members of Monty Python.
I’m Dan Reynish. I’ll have more on those, and some other releases, in seven days.
For now, that’s this week’s SUPER-SIZED COUCH POTATO REPORT.
Enjoy the movies and I’ll see you back here next time on The Couch!
Here are some flicks to watch, just in case you are not a football fan!
The Couch Potato Report – January 31st, 2009