The Couch Potato Report

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The Couch Potato Report – April 4th, 2009
This week The Couch Potato Report peels a documentary about a Canadian tragedy, and three films that were Oscar’s Best Picture.
I have some very entertaining, heartwarming and fun releases to tell you about this week, but we begin with something a bit more serious…a documentary about a tragic part of Canadian history.
Air India Flight 182.
That crash happened on June 22, 1985.
The bombing was the result of a Vancouver-based conspiracy whose members were under investigation by Canadian Intelligence in the months leading up to the explosion.
The documentary film AIR INDIA 182 is based on court transcipts, wire taps, declassified CSIS intelligence reports, and interviews with family members of the victims.
Those interviews give this film overwhelming emotion, and are very moving.
This is a very thorough documentary, so there are many unsettling stories and images of the crash and victims in AIR INDIA 182, so you shouldn’t search it out if you have a weak disposition.
But if you ever wanted to know about the events that ocurred leading up to this disaster, which remains the largest mass murder in modern Canadian history, then this documentary somes highly recommended.
And may all the victims of Air India flight 182 continue to rest in peace.
From a moving and very interesting documentary about a tragic event in Canadian history, let me now switch gears completely.
The Academy Award winning Best Picture SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE is up next this week, in fact, I actually now have three films that won the Academy’s Best Picture statuette coming up for you!
I will get to the ones from 1951 and 1958 in a moment, but right now, let me rave about the one that took the top prize this year, back on February 22nd.
SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE is about a teenager named Jamal, who grew up in the slums, and becomes a contestant on the Indian version of the game show “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?”
The film starts off with his arrest under suspicion of cheating, and it is during his interrogation that we flashback to events from his life…event sthat all explain how he knows the answers.
Now I have met and spoken with people who didn’t care for the film because it features too many instances of coincidence, and I have disagreed with them all, ususally stating that coincidences happen in films all the time, even in the classics.
At it’s core, SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE is a love story…and for me, that is why I liked it when I first saw it, and when I saw it for a second time, a third and even a fourth.
And you know what, even after that fourth time, it still put a smile on my face.
SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE beat The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Frost/Nixon, Milk and The Reader to win Best Picture…and I wholeheartedly agree with the Academy’s choice!
Back in 1951, the Academy named An American in Paris the Best Picture. It beat Decision Before Dawn, A Place in the Sun, Quo Vadis and A Streetcar Named Desire.
And now AN AMERICAN IN PARIS has debuted on Blu-ray, and it looks and sounds spectacular!!
AN AMERICAN IN PARIS is a musical that stars Gene Kelly as Jerry Mulligan, a struggling American painter in Paris, who is discovered by an influential heiress with an interest in more than Jerry’s art.
Unfortunately for her, Jerry falls for someone else.
AN AMERICAN IN PARIS has romance, singing, fantastic costumes, and so much dancing that there is even an 18 minute ballet at the end. It is a true classic!! I am not sure if it deserved to win Best Picture in 1951…but I sure do enjoy the film everytime I see it.
I usually also enjoy the film that won Best Picture in 1958, and it too is now available on Blu-ray, and it too looks spectacular!!
In 1958, Gigi beat Auntie Mame, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, The Defiant Ones and Separate Tables to be named Best Picture, classics one and all!!
GIGI stars Louis Jourdan as a rich playboy who has become friends with a youthful courtesan-in-training, played by the always radiant Leslie Caron.
The two enjoy a platonic friendship, full of singing and dancing, but it may not stay platonic for long.
GIGI won Nine Academy Awards back in 1958, and in 2009 I highly recommend the new Blu-ray version, which is full of special features and a great retrospective look back.
It also includes some great songs!
None of those best picture winners are dogs, they are all great films.
I must admit, before I watched it, I expected that I would have called this next film a dog, with my tongue placed fully in my cheek…but….somehow…I liked it.
I didn’t think I would, but I did…in fact, at times I loved it.
Yes, I am about to give a positive review to the Owen Wilson, Jennifer Anniston film MARLEY & ME.
MARLEY & ME is a movie that can be divided into two equal halves.
The first half, is full of cute puppies and slap stick humor, which is good for younger viewers, and the second half is the story of how marriage and having a family isn’t easy, a story that might appeal to the more mature viewers and especially parents.
MARLEY & ME is sappy and for a while it relies too much on how cute the dog is….but then it becomes funny and the characters grow into real people, and not just movie people…and I liked it…somehow!
I honestly didn’t think I would, but I did…and thus, I have no problems recommending it!
I also have no problems suggesting these next two releases to you…especially if you saw the WATCHMEN film in theatres, or love the Graphic Novel.
WATCHMEN: THE COMPLETE MOTION COMIC and WATCHMEN: TALES OF THE BLACK FREIGHTER are two great titles that supplement the recently released film, and help bring the graphic novel to life.
TALES OF THE BLACK FREIGHTER features an animated short film that is well done, and was very interesting to watch, and it also features a fake documentary on the book UNDER THE HOOD which is featured in the original WATCHMEN comics.
The BLACK FREIGHTER animation will eventually be included in a Director’s Cut of the WATCHMEN film, but for now it is a fun stand alone, and THE COMPLETE MOTION COMIC takes all of Dave Gibbons comic Panels from the novel and brings them to life. There is no new animation…the items and characters in the panels just move around…but… they move.
Sadly, there is only one narrator, so even the Silk Spectres are male, but it was still very cool to watch.
I have two more titles to get to this week, and I will start with SEVEN POUNDS…the latest film starring Will Smith.
Will Smith is an engaging actor and whether he is doing drama – in ALI or THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS – out out and out action – in MEN IN BLACK, INDEPENDANCE DAY or BAD BOYS I am a fan of his work.
But I am not a fan of SEVEN POUNDS.
In it Will plays a man with a fateful secret who is trying to help change the lives of seven strangers, but it is utterly predictable, full of pure melodrama and it takes itself way too seriously. Sure, when the film ended, and all of it’s secrets were revealed, that was rewarding…but I lost interest in it several times along the way.
If you love Will Smith and feel the need to see everything he is in, perhaps that is a reason to sit through SEVEN POUNDS…otherwise….SKIP IT!!!
The man has done better, and I trust that he will do better again!
Finally this week, is some very funny, not politically correct stand-up comedy from the man who created the classic BBC shows THE OFFICE and EXTRAS.
No, not all of it is riotous, and much of it will offend, but if that doesn’t bother you, then look for this one in stores or online because it is hilarious!!
Offensive…but hilarious!!
RICKY GERVAIS – OUT OF ENGLAND – THE STAND-UP SPECIAL and the tragic Canadian documentary AIR INDIA 182 ARE BOTH available now on DVD.
The useless SEVEN POUNDS, the great supplements WATCHMEN: THE COMPLETE MOTION COMIC and WATCHMEN: TALES OF THE BLACK FREIGHTER, the surprisingly entertaining MARLEY & ME, AN AMERICAN IN PARIS – the Best Picture winner from 1951, GIGI – the Best Picture winner from 1958 and this year’s Academy Award winner for Best Picture – SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE – are all available now on DVD and in High Definition on Blu-ray!
Coming up on the next Couch Potato Report
Canadian Jim Carrey tries to be funny again in YES MAN.
Canadian Keanu Reeves appears in two sci-fi films: THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL and THE MATRIX; and the BLU-RAY BEACON shines a light on the modern day classic THE PRINCESS BRIDE.
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!