The Couch Potato Report – December 19th, 2009
This week The Couch Potato Report peels two of my favourite films of the year and when this report is done, we’ll be gone with the wind.
Here, right now, this morning, we are having a heat wave, a movie from Quebec called HEAT WAVE!
HEAT WAVE is a movie about Gisele, a youth-center social-worker in her early fifties, who finds out after her husband’s death, that he’d been having an affair for many years.
She them meets a 19 year-old kleptomaniac, who attempts to get to know her better…and despite the many obstacles their romance faces, they try to be together.
I don’t think that HEAT WAVE is a great movie by any stretch of the imagination, but I like how the characters in the film are afraid, but they take chances anyway.
Sometimes, in life, and in the movies, taking chances works…just ask Quentin Tarantino.
This man has been taking those aforementioned chances pretty much since his first film – RESERVOIR DOGS – came out back in 1992, and now his most recent release has become his highest grossing film ever.
This spectacular movie picture takes place in Nazi-occupied France during World War II and is partially about a group of Jewish-American soldiers who are known as “The Basterds”.
The film is also about a French-Jewish teenage girl who runs a movie theater in Paris that will soon be hosting a movie screening that Hitler himself will be attending, and a detective who travels the countryside hunting Jewish people for the Third Reich.
His nickname is The Jew Hunter
I mentioned that I think INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS is spectacular, and I do…it is unlike any World War II movie I have ever seen, and that is primarily due to Tranatino’s affinity and passion for film, and his attention to detail.
For instance, in most War movies everyone speaks English. In this one, Germans speak German, French people speak French, and so on.
Plus, the film features Canada’s own International Man Of Mystery, Mr. Mike Myers, in a small role.
Now, truth be told, history buffs might like this film as it does re-write how the war ended, and it will be a little graphic for some people, but I had no problems with it, and I still don’t.
INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS is one of my absolute favourite films of the year.
I am a huge fan of Quentin Tarantino and his work, and so I own all of his films, but if you are just starting to get into his work, you are in luck!! Alliance Films have just released a great Six Box Set called QUENTIN TARANTINO – THE ULTIMATE COLLECTION.
In the set are RESERVOIR DOGS, PULP FICTION, JACKIE BROWN, KILL BILL – VOLUMES ONE AND TWO, and DEATH PROOF.
Now, with the exception of DEATH PROOF, all of these films are classic in my world, and even DEATH PROOF has enough cool moments to watch it again from time to time, so if you don’t already own them, then QUENTIN TARANTINO – THE ULTIMATE COLLECTION is something you should pick up.
If you do already own them, there is no need to buy them again as the set doesn’t have any exclusive features. Still, it is pretty cool!
From my Tarantino worship, let me switch now to saying some very positive things about one of the funniest films of the year.
That film is THE HANGOVER
This is one of those great movies that comes out of nowhere and finds an audience. THE HANGOVER grossed almost $280 million at the Box Office and is the fourth most popular film of the year.
It is about four friends who head to La Vegas for a bachelor party, but when they wake up the next morning, the groom-to be-is gone, there is a tiger in their trashed hotel room, and they can’t remember what happened the night before…including why they are in possession of a cop car.
THE HANGOVER is from Todd Phillips, the same guy who gave us OLD SCHOOL and it is another film that stays funny upon multiple viewings, but more importantly it is funny the first time.
THE HANGOVER has a great cast, lots of surprise comedic twiests and turns, and it offers plenty of laugh-out loud moments.
It is rated 18A, so some of the comedy is a bit out there, but if you like to laugh, here is a hangover that won’t hurt the next morning.
I’ve had a lot of positive things to say so far this morning, but unfortunately that ends with this next film.
Because of the talent involved, and the subject matter, I wanted to see this movie, and I was looking forward to it, but what a letdown.
TAKING WOODSTOCK is the latest film from Ang Lee, who gave us THE ICE STORM, BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN and CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON, among others, and it is about Woodstock.
Specifically, it is about a man working at his parents’ motel in the Catskills who steps in when the original site can’t be used and inadvertently sets in motion the events that will allow the concert to take place in the summer of 1969.
And he does it much to the chagrin of some of the locals.
Yes, I was looking forward to TAKING WOODSTOCK, and then I watched it, and I was looking forward to it being over.
This is a movie that doesn’t know if it want sto be a comedy with drama, or a dramatic film with comedic moments, and it doesn’t work being both.
It isn’t the worst film I have ever seen, but it just isn’t very good.
If you have been craving a way to commemorate the 40th Anniversary of this great concert, check out the WOODSTOCK film itself.
Ignore TAKING WOODSTOCK, it is a misfire from a usually reliable team of filmmakers.
Woodstock brough three days of peace love and music to the world, and a couple of decades later, a man born Jason Mizell helped bring rap music to the masses.
Jason was better known as Jam Master Jay and he was a member of the influential rap group RUN-DMC, the first rap group to have a mainstream hit with WALK THIS WAY in 1986.
Sadly, on October 30th, 2002, Jay was killed while working at a recording studio in Queens, New York. It is a crime that remains unsolved.
The murder, and who Jay was are now profiled in a documentary called TWO TURNTABLES AND A MICROPHONE – THE LIFE AND DEATH OF JAM MASTER JAY.
That was Kid Rock, and in addition to him, the film features some of the biggest names in Hip Hop talking bout how Jay influenced them, and how his death was a tragedy. Those names include LL Cool Jay, 50 Cent, Jermaine Dupri, DJ Hurricane and many others, but infortunately the filmmakers – some of whom are related to Jam Master Jay – only got one half of RUN-DMC to participate and weren’t able to license any of the band’s music.
And so, instead of a tribute to a great man and musician, the film slowly becomes a diatribe againts the police for not solving the case, and calls out those who may have done it.
So ultimately, TWO TURNTABLES AND A MICROPHONE – THE LIFE AND DEATH OF JAM MASTER JAY is an insightful film, but it is not the definitive biography of a man who helped give the world some great music, but most importantly, never forgot where he came from.
Rest in Peace, Jay!! Rest in peace!!
I love his music!!
I also love TV shows that you just sit and watch…and don’t really know why.
ICE ROAD TRUCKERS is one of those shows for me…I LOVE THIS SHOW!!
ICE ROAD TRUCKERS is about the people who have the treacherous job of driving trucks over frozen lakes, or ice roads…roads that at any minute could be covered with snow, in temperatures that could freeze up your brakes, and did I mention that the roads are made of ice…nothing but ice?!?!
The first two seasons of the show charted the lives of men who haul vital supplies to diamond mines and other remote locations over frozen lakes that double as roads.
And in SEASON THREE there was a woman driver too!!
ICE ROAD TRUCKERS – THE COMPLETE SEASON THREE is available now in a great four-disc box set, and if you love the show as I do, check it out.
If you have never heard of it before…enjoy!!
I mentioned how THE HANGOVER was rated 18A, and thus is not for kids…so how about one for the kids now?!
This one is only for the kids, it is G-FORCE!
G-FORCE is about a group of specially trained guinea pigs who work for a secret division of a government agency.
And as happens in movies like this, they are dispatched to stop a diabolical billionaire from taking over the world.
G-FORCE is for kids, as I said, and it is a pretty good action film for them. There is some fun stuff here that will definitely entertain them.
And when the kids are watching their film, the adults can watch something on their TV as well…and I have two great suggestions now for adults inside The Blu-Ray Beacon.
The first one is the 9 disc box set THE MEL BROOKS COLLECTION.
I grew up on Mel Brooks’ films, and so I highly recommend this great set that includes BLAZING SADDLES, HIGH ANXIETY, TWELVE CHAIRS, ROBIN HOOD: MEN IN TIGHTS, SPACEBALLS, SILENT MOVIE, TO BE OR NOT TO BE, YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN and who could forget HISTORY OF THE WORLD, PART I?!?
THE MEL BROOKS COLLECTION is a fantastic box set that offers hundreds of laughs and some of the greatest comedies ever filmed, and they all look great in High Definition on Blu-ray.
However, the most impressive film that I watched this week in the format is a film that celebrated a momentus birthday this year, but still looks brand new!
I am talking about GONE WITH THE WIND and the new 70th ANNIVERSARY ULTIMATE COLLECTOR’S EDITION
This true classic film is about a manipulative woman named Scarlett and a roguish man called Rhett who carry on a turbulent love affair in the American south during the Civil War and Reconstruction.
The new 70th Anniversary edition has the film looking better than ever on Blu-ray, and comes with a wealth of special features, including a commemorative 52-page photo and production art book, a bonus CD soundtrack sampler, over eight hours of extras, including more than three hours new to this collection, and much much more!
The GONE WITH THE WIND: 70th ANNIVERSARY ULTIMATE COLLECTOR’S EDITION is fantastic!
Okay, if you need a stocking stuffer for the movie fan on your list, these four films are new on Blu-ray, and they might make an excellent present.
The first one could be for the person on your list who loves a good cry, and I’ll admit it…I cried during MY SISTER’S KEEPER.
Based on the book by Jodi Piccoult, Abigail Breslin, Cameron Diaz, Jason Patric and Alec Baldwin star in this film about a teenager who wants medical emancipation from her parents, because they have been using her to help keep their leukemia-stricken daughter alive.
Yes, it is a bit unfocussed at times, there are too many montages and it is emotionally manipulative, but it is good for a cry.
And cry you will!!
You may also cry at Roland Emmerich’s 1998 remake of GODZILLA, but not because it is emotionally manipulative, but because it wasn’t very good…and still isn’t.
I love the Godzilla character, and I also love Emmerich’s brand of action films – like 2012 and INDEPENDANCE DAY – but this film was poorly cast and boring.
And sadly, on Blu-ray, even the special effects look uninspired.
If there is a Godzilla fan on your list, this is one of only a couple of the many films about him that is available on Blu-ray, so perhaps they will enjoy it.
Two very good films for adults conclude The Report this week, and we’ll start with a snatch and a film that takes place in London.
SNATCH is a fun film from director Guy Ritchie about unscrupulous boxing promoters, violent bookmakers, a Russian gangster, incompetent amateur robbers, and supposedly Jewish jewelers who are all trying to track down a priceless stolen diamond.
It is a great little movie!!
And finally this week, the great 1998 film THE MARK OF ZORRO starring Antonio Banderas as the sword wielding swashbuckler, Anthony Hopkins as the elder Zorro who is training him, and the great Catherine Zeta-Jones as the younger Zorro’s love interest.
The cast of this film is superb, and the chemistry between the two leads is fantastic!!
This is a Blu-ray that would make a great gift, for someone else, or even yourself.
THE MARK OF ZORRO, SNATCH, GODZILLA, MY SISTER’S KEEPER, the 70th ANNIVERSARY ULTIMATE COLLECTOR’S EDITION of GONE WITH THE WIND, THE MEL BROOKS COLLECTION, G-FORCE, TAKING WOODSTOCK, THE HANGOVER and the INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS are all available on Blu-ray and DVD.
ICE ROAD TRUCKERS – THE COMPLETE SEASON THREE, TWO TURNTABLES AND A MICROPHONE – THE LIFE AND DEATH OF JAM MASTER JAY, HEAT WAVE and QUENTIN TARANTINO – THE ULTIMATE COLLECTION are all available now only on DVD.
Coming up soon, on a special edition of The Couch Potato Report
Ho Ho Ho!!! Since we are so close to Christmas, I will tell you about some Holiday films that are new on Blu-Ray…like NATIONAL LAMPOON’S CHRISTMAS VACATION, MIRACLE ON 34th STREET and IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA: A VERY SUNNY CHRISTMAS.
Plus, The Couch Potato Christmas Report will also include the classic films IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE, A MUPPETS CHRISTMAS CAROL, A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS and Bill Murray’s SCROOGED.
I’m Dan Reynish. I’ll have more on those, and some other releases, soon!
For now, that’s this morning’s COUCH POTATO REPORT.
Enjoy the movies and I’ll see you back here next time on The Couch!
The Couch Potato Report – December 19th, 2009