The Couch Potato Report

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The Couch Potato Report – November 7th, 2009
This week The Couch Potato Report peels Canada, from above and beyond,
the botany of desire and the great SAY ANYTHING.
I have some great stuff to talk about this week, and I’ll get to that,
up first is a series that was produced by CBC that I thought would be
It’s okay, it’s not bad, but I thought it would be spectacular!!
CBC and Radio-Canada produced this four-part documentary series to
commemorate the centenary of flight in Canada and it focusses on how
Canadian aviation has transformed the country and linked its citizens
over the years.
CANADA – ABOVE AND BEYOND features some spectacular footage and lots of
interesting stories, however I was expecting a chronological documentary
on where and how flight started in Canada, and where it is today, and
where its going, with a comprehensive look at our highs and lows.
And there is some of that, but the series is primarily about the people
who use, need and fly planes, and isn’t really about the planes
I love planes, flying and aviation, so I enjoyed a lot of this series,
but in the end – and I hate to bite the hand that feeds me – this series
is just okay. It could have been a lot better, but it isn’t.
I would only recommend this to people who love aviation, but go in
knowing it is not great.
Oh, and yes…it does feature The Snowbirds!!
Like I said, CANADA – ABOVE AND BEYOND is okay, it’s not bad, it’s just
Paul Gross movie PASSCHENDAELE is bad. As I said back in February when
it first came out on DVD: “It can serve as a great history lesson to
every Canadian…and for that reason it is very worthy of your
time…but as a film…this is such a missed opportunity.”
The actual Battle of Passchendaele – or Third Battle of Ypres – was one
of the major battles of World War I. It was a series of operations
starting in June 1917 and petering out in November 1917 in which troops
under British command attacked the Imperial German Army.
The battle was fought for control of the village of Passchendaele near
the town of Ypres in West Flanders, Belgium.
The film PASSCHENDAELE was written, produced, directed by and stars
Paul Gross, and – just in time for Remebrance Day on Wednesday – there
is a new 2 DISC SPECIAL EDITION of his mediocre film.
The reason I highly recommend this release is not that because it
features a better version of the film, but because of the very
interesting footage of the actual Passchendaele, and the Canadian troops
who fought in the war, that is contained on the second disc in a
documentary called FRONT LINES.
Paul Gross provides some of the narration over this historical footage,
and he is good at it, I actually like Paul Gross and his work, just not
the film he made called PASSCHENDAELE – 2 DISC SPECIAL EDITION.
However, as I have been saying since it first debuted in our theatres a
year ago, PASSCHENDAELE is about a piece of Canadian history that we
should all know, so while the film is not a MUST SEE, it is a SHOULD
SEE…especially now with the extra features in the 2 DISC SPECIAL
Lest we forget.
Switching gears now, THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON of Michael J. Fox’s 1996
to 2002 televisions series SPIN CITY is now available on DVD.
This is the show about the Mayor of New York City and his staff and in
this season Fox dated Heidi Klum for a while, and there was a BACK TO
THE FUTURE reunion, of sorts, as Christopher Lloyd guest starred in an
I love SPIN CITY, so I enjoyed THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON as well!
From one fictional New York Mayor to another now. Barry Bostwick plays
the mayor in SPIN CITY and James Gandolfini from THE SPORANOS plays his
honour in the remake of the 1974 heist film THE TAKING OF PELHAM 1,2,3.
John Travolta and Denzel Washington also star in this movie about armed
men who hijack a New York City subway train, holding the passengers
hostage in return for a ransom, and turning an ordinary day’s work for
dispatcher Walter Garber into a face-off with the man behind the crime.
I love the original version of THE TAKING OF PELHAM 1,2,3, and I must
admit that I like the remake too! There is lots of action, suspence and
drama, and a great cast.
Plus, the DVD and blu-ray both feature some great special features.
This is a very good film, and it makes a great rental!
The films of John Highes will always be great rentals…I will
recommend movies like Uncle Buck (1989), She’s Having a Baby (1988),
Planes, Trains & Automobiles (1987), Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986),
The Breakfast Club (1985), Sixteen Candles (1984) for as long I am
talking about movies.
Sadly, John Hughes died on August 6th, and even though he hadn’t
directed a movie since 1991, his loss was felt by many people who
watched and loved movies, including me.
At the time of his death, a small Canadian documentary about four
filmmakers who went searching for Hughes, to find out why he stopped
making movies, was looking for a distributor.
After his death, they found one, and their movie is now available on
DVD. Named after the Simple Minds song from THE BREAKFAST CLUB, it is
DON’T YOU FORGET ABOUT ME features interviews with filmmakers Kevin
Smith and Jason Reitman and some of Hughes’ collaborators and cast
members like Ally Sheedy, Andrew McCarthy, Judd Nelson, Kelly LeBrock,
Alan Ruck and Mia Sara, and that part of the film is great!
Hearing these people who knew and worked with him talk about the man is
Where this movie fails, is when it spends too much time with the four
filmmakers as they search for Hughes.
Their movie is meant to be about their trip to find John Hughes, and I
get that but in the aftermath of his death, their story is not the most
interesting one, the story of John Hughes is.
DON’T YOU FORGET ABOUT ME is not an awful movie, and I can easily
recommend it to anyone who is also a fan of John Hughes, but you will
foget about it as soon as it is over.
However, John Hughes…you will never be forgotten…may you rest in
I have two documentaries primarily about food for you now, FOOD, INC.
paints an unflattering look inside America’s corporate controlled food
industry, and while it is interesting and insightful, it doesn’t offer
anything else that we haven’t seen in the dozens of other food
documentaries that are out there.
FOOD, INC. made me think, and I enjoyed it, but it is just more of the
same warnings and fear mongering about big corporations.
THE BOTANY OF DESIRE, now this is a documentary that entertained me and
engaged me. This is one I can highly recommend!!
THE BOTANY OF DESIRE examines the effect that apples, the tulip,
marijuana and the potato has had on human civilization, and vice versa.
Each one has it’s story told in a half-hour segment, and I enjoyed it all!
THE BOTANY OF DESIRE could easily have been longer and each one of the
items has so much of a story to tell, but at two hours, it is still very
good. I really liked it!!
From documentaries, we head off to high school now with a modern day
release that will soon be forgotten, and one that is twenty years old
and going strong.
Hayden Panettiere from HEROES toplines I LOVE YOU, BETH COOPER. She is
the hottest and most popular girl in school who gets a surprise on
graduation day when the class valedictorian makes his speech.
Much to the valedictorian’s surprise, as is wont to happen in films
like this, Beth shows up at his party and shows him the best night of
his life.
Unfortunately, no one is likely to think of the time they spend
watching the movie as the best of anything. The filmmakers think they
have given us a unique twist on the high school outcast gets the girl
story…but they haven’t.
I LOVE YOU, BETH COOPER is mildly entertaining, but instantly
Now, if you want to see a high school movie about an outcast who gets
the girl done right, I have two words for you – SAY ANYTHING.
This movie was released in April of 1989, and it remains one of my all
time favourites!
John Cusak, Ione Sky and John Mahoney star in what was the directorial
debut of Cameron Crowe, and they all offer their thoughts on it in the
SAY ANYTHING is a spectacular movie, and if you have never seen it, it
is populated by charaters that seem like real people, not movie people
and it is both touching and funny.
I highly recommend it, and I have been doing that for twenty years now!
Here’s to twenty more!!
Yo, hey, I also highly recommend this next release, just not all of the
films inside of it.
This week the BLU RAY BEACON shines it’s light on the seven disc set
From the Academy Award winning Best Picture of 1976 ROCKY through the
2006 Sylvester Stallone comeback film ROCKY BALBOA, this set has them
all…yes, even ROCKY V.
I love all of these films…yes, even ROCKY V…and this set is a great
collection of them all, and it comes with a Bonus Disc full of a wealth
of special features.
In my house, this is a must have!!
Two other must have films will both be in stores on Tuesday, and both
of them are from the great minds at PIXAR. I thought I would mention
them for you this morning, as I will be away for the next couple of
Pixar’s 2001 film MONSTERS INC is new to Blu-ray, and their latest
movie – UP – debuts on Blu-ray and DVD.
MONSTERS INC. is about monsters who generate their city’s power by
scaring children, but are actually afraid of them, until they get to
know a girl named Boo.
UP is about 78-year-old Carl Fredricksen who ties thousands of balloons
to his home, and sets out to fulfill his lifelong dream to see the wilds
of South America.
Along the way, he finds a young boy who is a stow-away, and he meets a
wide array of people and animals, namely a dog named Dug.
MONSTERS, INC and UP are both perfect films for the whole family, and
they will both be available on Blu-ray and DVD Tuesday.
The 20th ANNIVERSARY EDITION of the spectacular film SAY ANYTHING, the
forgettable I LOVE YOU, BETH COOPER, the documentaries THE BOTANY OF
DESIRE and FOOD, INC., the enjoyable remake of THE TAKING OF PELHAM 123,
and the 2 DISC SPECIAL EDITION of the movie PASSCHENDAELE are all
available on Blu-ray and DVD right now.
Fox’s SPIN CITY, and CANADA – ABOVE AND BEYOND are all available now
only on DVD.
Coming up, in three weeks, on the next Couch Potato Report
Tom Hanks stars in – and runs from – ANGELS AND DEMONS, Adam Sandler
toplines Judd Apatow’s FUNNY PEOPLE, Vince Vaughan and Reese Witherspoon
take part in FOUR CHRISTMASES, there is the 50th ANNIVERSARY EDITION of
Alfred Hitchcock’s NORTH BY NORTHWEST…and then there is BRUNO, from
the folks who brought us BORAT.
I’m Dan Reynish. I’ll have more on those, and some other releases, in
twenty-one 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!