The Couch Potato Report – February 14th, 2009
This week The Couch Potato Report peels eleven films, that may not be about love, but many of them are films people actually love.
It is Valentine’s Day weekend, full of days to love. But it is also a day that some people are indifferent or apathetic to, because of the fact that love is seemingly forced upon them by retailers and the Greeting Card companies.
So, in order to cover both sides, I have some brand new releases for you this week, that I loved, and some that I am simply indifferent to.
Let’s start with the love, shall we? I love BEING THERE!
BEING THERE is the classic 1979 film starring the great Peter Sellers as Chance, a simple gardener, who has never been outside of his employer’s estate in Washinsgton, DC.
When the man dies, Chance does leave, and through a series of misunderstandings, he becomes one of the most sought after political minds in America.
Chance’s comments and passion towards plants, flowers and gardening are misunderstood as profound statements, and therin lies the comedy in this film.
Sellers’ career prior to BEING THERE had been full of over the top characters pieces – like THE PINK PANTHER films, DR. STRANGELOVE and THE PARTY – but in this film he played it straight and let the siuations around him provide the humour.
And it works!! BEING THERE – which features a small cameo from Saskatchewan’s own Buffy Saitne-Marie – is a classic!! And the brand new Blu-ray version is a must own!!
I love BEING THERE, and I also love THE DIRECTOR’S CUT of the Academy Award winning film AMADEUS.
AMADEUS is the 1984 Oscar winner for Best Picture that very loosely on the lives of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Antonio Salieri, two composers who lived in Vienna, Austria, during the later half of the 18th century.
This DIRECTORíS CUT adds about twenty additional minutes to the film, and while it didnít really need the extra time, it does enhance it, and thus a great film offers even more to enjoy!
Plus, this new Blu-ray edition comes with a 35-page booklet with the DVD on one side and a music CD on the other.
That glorious music!
YES, THE DIRECTORíS CUT of AMADEUS is another film I love, and to love, and for different reasons, I also love DONNIE DARKO.
DONNIE DARKO is the textbook definition of a film that is not for everyone. This is a great example of a cult classicÖand I am a happy member of that cult.
Jake Gyllenhaal from BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN and ZODIAC is Donnie, a troubled teenager who has visions of an evil, large bunny rabbit that convinces him to commit a series of crimes.
And it all happens after Donnie has narrowly escaping a very bizarre accident.
DONNIE DARKO is dark and trippy and some of it is waaaaaay out there, but I also found it a challenging and enjoyable film.
Both the theatrical version and the Directorís Cut are now available, and while I thought the original was great on itís own, I did prefer the latter, actually, I loved them both!!
Challenge yourself, this weird little film may just surprise you!
We are going from LOVE to INDIFFERENT on this Valentineís Day edition of The Report, and we are in between those two opposites now with three films I merely liked.
The Academy Award nominated film FROZEN RIVER is the first of those three.
FROZEN RIVER is a very small budgeted film that takes place near a little-known border crossing on the Mohawk reservation between New York State and Quebec.
Two women, both single mothers faced with desperate circumstances – are drawn into the world of border smuggling in order to provide for their kids.
Melissa Leo received an Academy Award nomination as Best Actress for her work in the movie, and she and the rest of the cast are very good.
The film is engaging, and interesting, and I liked it.
I also liked ANTWONE FISHER, when it first came out in 2002, and I liked it when I watched it again this week on Blu-ray.
This is the based-on-a-true-story of Antwone Fisher, an orphaned navy man, who comes to like himself, and put the pieces of his life back together, only after he is forced to see a psychiatrist.
Denzel Washington directed the film and co-stars as the doctor.
At times ANTWONE FISHER follows all the clichÈs of the patented Hollywood doctor who makes his patient better and learns about himself in the processÖbut the acting usually allows those scenes to stand above the clichÈs, and ultimately this is a film I liked.
I may never watch it again, but I liked itÖand that is true with DRUMLINE as well.
DRUMLINE is another film from 2002 and this one possesses some clichÈs as wellÖthe sports movie clichÈsÖbut since it takes place in a different setting, it is a likeable film.
This film is about a cocky Harlem street drummer who is recruited to play at a very strict ñ and quite serious – Southern university.
For me, DRUMLINE changed the way that I watched the musicians and cheer squads who appear on the field during games as I wasnít aware how hard they worked, and for that reason, and the fact that it is a pretty good movie, I liked it.
We have covered love and liked now, lets move to the opposite end of the spectrumÖindifference. I donít hate these next two movies, but I certainly didnít like them, so I am completely indifferent to them.
NIGHTS IN RODANTHE is the first of this weekís bottom of the barrel releases, and that is a bit of a surprise as it stars two likeable actors ñ Richard Gere and Diane Lane ñ and it is based on the book by Nicholas Sparks, who also wrote ìThe Notebookî, ìMessage in a Bottleî, ìA Walk to Rememberî, and several other very enjoyable books.
But this one doesnít add up to the sum of itís parts and thus NIGHTS IN RODANTHE is a movie to skip.
Gere plays a lonely doctor who is traveling to see his estranged son after a fatal operation.
He meets an unhappily married woman at a North Carolina inn.
Gere and Lane were so good together in the film UNFAITHFUL, but this movie just doesnít work. If you absolutely need something of a romantic cinematic nature today, then MAYBE you will get something out of it.
But I didnít care for it at all.
I also didnít care for Spike Leeís MIRACLE AT ST. ANNA. This movie is a mess!
After a very public battle with Clint Eastwood about the lack of African-Americans in Eastwoodís FLAGS OF OUR FATHERíS and LETTERS FROM IWO JIM films, Lee set out to tell this story about four black American soldiers who get trapped in a Tuscan village during WWII.
Spikeís intentions were great, but his film ñ based on fact and fiction – is not.
MIRACLE AT ST. ANNA is ñ at 160 minutes ñ way too long, it doesnít focus on the most interesting characters, and the ending of it is ridiculous.
Now, that said, I will admit that there are some interesting scenes, and a few good moments, but ultimately this is a waste of time.
Unless you LOVE war moviesÖskip this one too.
Finally this week, I want to end with a film that I loveÖactually three films that I love, the BACK TO THE FUTURE trilogy!!
Previously only available in one 3 DVD set with all films, now the 1985 original, 1989ís PART II, and the 1990 conclusion ñ BACK TO THE FUTURE, PART III ñ are all available individually.
Plus, the original film is now a 2-DVD Set with several all-new retrospective features, including an interview with the Canadian star of the series, Mr. Michael J. Fox!
I love all three of these films, even the third one, and I had a great afternoon this week watching all of them back to back to back to the future!
The BACK TO THE FUTURE films are all available now, only on DVD, with a Blu-ray version rumoured for later this year.
MIRACLE AT ST. ANNA, NIGHTS IN RODANTHE DRUMLINE, ANTWONE FISHER, FROZEN RIVER, DONNIE DARKO, BEING THERE and THE DIRECTOR’S CUT OF AMADEUS Are available now as new releases on Blu-ray, and they are all available on DVD as well.
Coming up in TWO WEEKS on the next Couch Potato Report
Clint Eastwood’s CHANGELING focuses on the crimes of Saskatchewan-born murderer Gordon Northcott, who was convicted in 1928 of crimes in California.
Russell Crowe and Leonardo DiCaprio star in BODY OF LIES, Robert DeNiro cinematically asks WHAT JUST HAPPENED, and we will conclude BLACK HISTORY MONTH with THE ULTIMATE MUHAMMAD ALI COLLECTION.
I’m Dan Reynish. I’ll have more on those, and some other releases, in fourteen 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 – February 14th, 2009