The Couch Potato Report

Enjoy a DVD or two!!

The Couch Potato Report – May 30th, 2009
This week The Couch Potato Report peels reality, an Atlantic Canadian outlander, and the FOREIGN FILM FESTIVAL ON DVD returns with a film from Norway!
I have said it before and I will say it again…I am a fan of documentaries! I watch them proudly and I watch them often…good and bad, I watch them!
So when I heard that there was a film coming out that was a documentary about making documentaries…well…you can imagine how excited I was as I sat down to watch CAPTURING REALITY – THE ART OF DOCUMENTARY!
This National Film Board Of Canada production features 33 filmakers from 14 different countries who all share the same passion for documentary films.
Albert Maysles (rhymes with “hazels”), Errol Morris, Nick Broomfield and Werner Herzog are just some of the people who offer their insight into their craft while they reflect on the films that they have made, and the people who have appeared in them.
CAPTURING REALITY – THE ART OF DOCUMENTARY features more than 100 clips from dcumentaries such as Grey Gardens, The Thin Blue Line, The Day I Will Never Forget and Darwin’s Nightmare and I found it insightful and very interesting.
However, if you have never heard of Grey Gardens, The Thin Blue Line, The Day I Will Never Forget or Darwin’s Nightmare or Albert Maysles (rhymes with “hazels”), Errol Morris, Nick Broomfield or Werner Herzog then you might not get as much out of this film as I did.
But, if you do decide to pick this film out, I still think you will enjoy it, and you might even discover some new documentaries that you’d like to see.
Yes, reality is bizarre and weird and compelling, and yes, most fiction films, even the good ones, can’t compete with that when it comes to real life, but it is sure fun to watch them when they try…isn’t it?
Take for instance the film OUTLANDER.
By definition, an outlander is a person from a foreign country; a foreigner, a stranger.
Now, what if I told you there was a fiction film that featured an outlander, as well as aliens and vikings?
Would you want to see that?
Well, you are in luck! Let me tell you about the made-in-Newfoundland and Nova Scotia film OUTLANDER.
Oh, did I mention…it has dragons too!!
Hee hee hee…now I know, you must be thinking…Dan, a film with aliens and vikings and dragons filmed in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia?!? Why are you even mentioning this?!?! Did people you know work on this film?!?
Well, yes, my cousin Mark O’Neill was the second assistant camera: “b” camera, second unit and my friend Victoria Rockwell was the costume supervisor: second unit, but I didn’t know that until after I started watching it…and I started to think, “This is not half bad.”
And it isn’t…OUTLANDER is not half-bad!
Jim Caviezel from THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST, Sophia Myles from the Doctor Who Episode The Girl in the Fireplace, the legendary John Hurt and HELLBOY’s Ron Perlman all star in OUTLANDER, a movie I got so caught up in, that I forgot I had to put my clothes in the dryer!
Now, all that said, OUTLANDER is not a classic film, by any stretch of the imagination, but if you like science-fiction films, aliens, dragons, or even Norse mythology, then I think you might, possibly, enjoy it.
Unless comedies that try too hard to be funny and fail more than they succeed are more to your liking…then maybe you should ignore OUTLANDER and just search out PAUL BLART – MALL COP.
Kevin James, of the TV series THE KING OF QUEENS is the aforementioned PAUL BLART – MALL COP.
When his mall is taken over by a gang of organized crooks, it’s up to the a mild-mannered security guard to save the day.
PAUL BLART – MALL COP only worked for me because Kevin James is such a likeble actor. Most of the jokes aren’t funny, the story is utterly predictable, but James is good at playing this role, the role of a guy you root for, that I was mildly entertained by it.
I’ll never sit through PAUL BLART – MALL COP again, mind you, but I didn’t think it was awful…so call it a good rental.
I’m not sure what to call this next film. I know that the filmmakers would like me to call it, “A crime film in the vein of THE DEPARTED and MYSTIC RIVER…” but it doesn’t deserve mention alongside those Boston based movies.
WHAT DOESN’T KILL YOU may be a true story about a pair of childhood friends from Beantown whose life of crime puts a strain on their friendship and lives, but the film is too slow to offer any entertainment value, and as such, it doesn’t have much to offer.
It has a great cast including Mark Ruffalo, Ethan Hawke and Amanda Peet, but the story – even if this one is true – is one that we have seen before on film, and seen done better.
WHAT DOESN’T KILL YOU is for crime film fans only…I mean if you absolutely have to see everything crime related that shows up on film!!!
If that isn’t you, skip it.
This next film is a small, mature, smart romantic film for adults.
Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson star in LAST CHANCE HARVEY.
Hoffman is a man who travels to London for his semi-estranged daughter’s wedding. Nothing is going right for him, personally or professionally, but then he meets Thompson at the airport and the meeting could change both of their lives…but they both may be too set in their ways to let it!
LAST CHANCE HARVEY is a film – for grown-ups – that I really enjoyed!!
A BUG’S LIFE is a film for kids, that I also really enjoyed!!
A BUG’S LIFE was Pixar’s second film, it followed TOY STORY in 1998, and so I won’t spend much time reviewing it as I am sure your kids, and maybe even you have seen it.
If not, it features the voices of Kids In The Hall member Dave Foley and Seinfeld’s Julia Louis-Dreyfuss and it is now available on Blu-ray, looking and sounding better than ever!
And there is also a weath of special features and information too!! Here’s director John Lassiter.
I love A BUGS LIFE, and I also still love another film from 1998 – THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY, which is also now availbale in high definition on Blu-ray!
This Ben Stiller/Cameron Diaz film remains a comedy classic!
Finally this week, it is the return of the FOREIGN FILM FESTIVAL ON DVD!!
While loud films explode at theatres across the province during the Summer Movie Season, I will tell you about a film from a foreign land each week now through labour day.
This year’s Festival begins in Norway with the comedy KILL BULJO.
Easily explained KILL BULJO is a Norwegian parody of Quentin Tarantino’s KILL BILL.
Some of the humour is stupid, and some of it is very funny, and some of it just isn’t funny at all, but…maybe that is just because I don’t get Norwegian humour.
KILL BULJO is not a classic but it is interesting to watch and it is the very first entry in this year’s FOREIGN FILM FESTIVAL ON DVD! It and CAPTURING REALITY – THE ART OF DOCUMENTARY are both available now on DVD.
A BUG’S LIFE, THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY, LAST CHANCE HARVEY, WHAT DOESN’T KILL YOU, PAUL BLART – MALL COP and the made-in-Newfoundland and Nova Scotia film OUTLANDER are available now on DVD and in High Definition on Blu-ray.
Coming up on the next Couch Potato Report
Keifer Sutherland stars in SEASON SEVEN of the TV series 24, a wealth of people whose names you know star in HE’S JUST NOT THAT INTO YOU, and then there will be FAN BOYS, FARGO, THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY, and the FOREIGN FILM FESTIVAL ON DVD features FAUBOUG 36, from France.
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!