The Couch Potato Report – January 24th, 2010
This week The Couch Potato Report peels films about love, lying, departures and boogie nights. Do the hustle, if you need to.
One of the main reasons I continue to love movies is due to the fact that they take us places we may never get the opportunity to actually get to.
For instance, I have always wanted to see the Great pyramids and the Sphinx in Egypt, but alasÖI have yet to get there in person.
But this week, through a movie, I was able to see them!
That movie was a Canadian made film called CAIRO TIME starring Patricia Clarkson as a woman who travels to Egypt to meet up with her husband, who has been delayed due to his work.
The husband asks a long-time friend to pick her up at the airport, since it’s too dangerous for a single foreign woman to walk the streets of Cairo alone, and the two hit it off immediately.
And as the husband continues to be delayed, they continue to get closer.
CAIRO TIME would like to be as good as THE ENGLISH PATIENT or THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY, but while the two leads in the film have a nice chemistry together, it isnít quite in the same league as those films.
In the end, CAIRO TIME is a very good, but not great movie for grown-ups. However, if the only way you might ever get to see Egypt is through a filmÖthis movie will definitely show you the sights.
From Egypt, we cinematically head now to BostonÖa place that I have been to in real life, and through the moviesÖand that is the truth!!
This film is the latest from Ricky Gervais, the man who gave us the original BBC version of THE OFFICE and the show EXTRAS.
He is a comedian who never fails to make me laughÖI completely enjoyed watching him host The Golden Globes last SundayÖbut I know that his work is not for everyone, and that is definitely true for his latest film THE INVENTION OF LYING, which is set in an alternate reality in which no one has ever lied and where people speak their minds, blurting out very blunt remarks and opinions that people in the real world would normally keep to themselves.
Gervais plays a man who is broke, about to lose his job, and is head over heels in love with the great Jennifer Garner from GHOSTS OF GIRLFRIENDS PAST and JUNO, but she is not attracted to him at all.
And thenÖin a world where everyone can only tell the truthÖhe learns to lieÖand the world falls at his feet.
As I said, Ricky Gervais is someone who never fails to make me laugh, and laugh I did at this film. Plus, I adore Jennifer Garner, so the movie gets points for her being in it as wellÖand the supporting cast includes Tina Fey, Rob Lowe and Louis C.KÖ.people whose work I also enjoyÖso I loved this film! It made me laugh out loud.
However, after the lying begins and the film changes from an out & out comedy to a movie about a guy who basically invents religion by acting as a conduit for what he calls ìThe Man In The Skyî, it just isnít for everyone.
THE INVENTION OF LYING is a movie that I love and am glad I own, but if you donít like Ricky GervaisÖyou might want to skip it.
But I loved it!!
Prior to his work hosting The Golden Globes last week, the buzz around Hollywood was that Ricky Gervais would be a great host for the Academy Awards some day.
I thought he did a great jobÖbut the buzz around Hollywood this week is that he was good enough for the Globes, but not for the Oscars.
And that is the beauty of the Academy Awards, and everything surrounding it and Hollywood itself: The buzz can change in a heartbeatÖfor instance, this time last year, the buzz in Hollywood was that WALTZ WITH BASHIR would win the Best Foreign Film statuette.
However, when Liam Neeson opened the envelope and said the name of the winner, the buzz changed instantaneously as a movie called DEPARTURES actually won.
DEPARTURES is a funny, charming and interesting film about a newly unemployed cellist who answers a vague help wanted ad in a newspaper looking for someone to help with ìdepartures.î
When he shows up to inquire about the position, he finds out that he will be responsible for preparing the dead for funerals.
DEPARTURES is a little bit slow at times, but I think that works for the movie and itís subject matter.
I still think that WALTZ WITH BASHIR is better, but this is a very good movie.
From an Academy Award winner, we now move to movie that has no shot at such a prestigious honour.
WHITEOUT was filmed in and around Winnipeg and Gimli, Manitoba and Montreal and it stars Kate Beckinsale from the UNDERWORLD films as a U.S. Marshal who is tracking a killer in Antarctica.
Now, in addition to this happening during the last three days of her assignment, with the Antarctic winter drawing close, she must try and complete the investigation before the arrival of an incoming stormÖa whiteout.
WHITEOUT is based on the 1998 comic book of the same name by Greg Rucka and Steve Lieber, and the source material is great!
However, the film is notÖeven though it has a very interesting premise, and a very good cast, this is one of the most boring action films that I have ever seen.
Unless you are the biggest fan of Kate Beckinsale in the world, then you should skip this.
Unfortunately, the next film I have for you this week isnít much better.
Yes, I will admit that GAMER has some pretty cool action and stunts, but very little else.
This film – set in a future-world where humans can control other humans in a mass-scale, multi-player online gaming environment – is just awful!
GAMER stars Gerard Butler from 300 in what is basically an update and remake of the Arnold Schwarzenegger film THE RUNNING MAN, without any of the humour, personality or entertainment value.
If you are a fan of first-person shooter games and action movies that feature an abundance of pointless, over-the-top violence, then you mightÖand I mean MIGHT enjoy GAMERÖotherwiseÖstay as far away from it as you can.
It is just awful!!
No, I wasnít a big fan of GAMER or WHITEOUT, and I admit that Iím not a big fan of BIG FAN either, although I did enjoy this little sports movie better than those other two combined.
BIG FAN is about a hardcore New York Giants football fan who has to make some life altering decisions after he is beaten up in a bar by his favourite player.
His dilemma surrounding those decisions surrounds the fact that if he stands up for himself and his rights, his team will lose.
And it is a dilemma, as he is a big fan.
There are parts of BIG FAN that I likedÖespecially when the guys sit in the parking lot watching the games when they canít get ticketsÖbut in the end this movie is really only for people who are HUGE sports fans, as you may see a little of yourself in it.
I did, and that is what I liked about itÖbut this is really just an okay little film, it really isnít anything special.
Up next is ACROSS THE HALL, a film that stars Brittany Murphy, a young actress who died last month.
No, this movie isnít being rush-released to capitalize on her death, it had been scheduled to come out this week way before she diedÖhowever, now that it is available, itís too bad that it isnít a film that is a better fit with her cinematic legacyÖone that includes the films CLUELESS and 8 MILE, along with her voice work as Luanne on the television show KING OF THE HILL.
But unfortunately it too is just an okay little film that is nothing special.
ACROSS THE HALL is a wannabe thriller about a jealous boyfriend who thinks that his fiancÈe is having an affair, and his best friend who is trying to keep him from killing anyone.
I watched all of ACROSS THE HALL because I wanted to see what would happen, but I admit that I didnít really care because the main characters are one note movie people and the supporting cast is just a bit too quirky and oddball.
The film isnít a complete waste of time, but I was personally hoping for something that was better than okay.
There are a couple of TV Shows On DVD sets for me to tell you about nowÖand I will start with the once great show WEEDS.
When this series began in 2005 it was about a suburban mother turned marijuana dealer and it featured very interesting storylines and characters that werenít normally seen on TV.
But then, after a couple of seasons, it started to go downhillÖand I lost interest, so much so that I skipped all of the fourth season. I didnít even watch one episode.
But, after a year off, I sat down this week to watch the three disc set for SEASON FIVE of WEEDSÖand while the downward spiral has seemingly stoppedÖthe show still isnít as great as it once was.
What I had always liked about the show was seeing how the writers would get Mary-Louise Parkerís Nancy Botwin out of the scenarios they put her in. They used to come up with some unique and inventive stuff.
In SEASON FIVE, she just seems to get out of itÖand while I was still rooting for herÖI knew she would get out of trouble again and the episode would end. Nothing unique or inventive at all!
The one part I did really like about this season of WEEDS was guest star Alanis Morissette. Her characters is fun and interesting! The rest of the cast?Öwell, they used to be.
If you LOVE this show, this set is for you!! If you have never seen it, I recommend Seasons One and TwoÖand maybe the first episodes of Season Three.
Up next this week, is Chuck, an action-comedy series about an “average computer-whiz-next-door” who ñ in SEASON ONE – received an encoded e-mail from an old college friend now working for the CIA.
That message placed the only remaining copy of the world’s greatest spy secrets ñ the Intersect – into our heroís brain.
In SEASON TWO, the new Intersect is ready, and that means Chuck can go back to his old life, but in the spy game, nothing ever goes as planned.
CHUCK is one of those shows that I really like. It is smart, features a great cast, has some great spies and spy gear, and it is fun and funny.
If you are looking for something new to watch, give CHUCK a try!
CHUCK ñ THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON is available as a 6-DVD and 5-Blu-ray set.
Finally this week, the BLU-RAY BEACON shines ití slight on the great 1997 movie BOOGIE NIGHTS.
This still-great film garnered Academy Awards nominations for Burt Reynolds as Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Julianne Moore in the Best Actress in a Supporting Role category and Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen for writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson.
BOOGIE NIGHTS stars Heather Graham, John C. Reilly, Don Cheadle, William H. Macy and Mark Wahlburg as a young man who becomes a star in the adult film industry in Californian in the 1970s and 1980s.
It is a very entertaining and fun film, that might not be for everyone due to itís content, but I continue to enjoy it.
And now – in High Definition ñ it looks and sounds even betterÖeven when it isnít supposed to.
The Blu-ray also comes with a great Directorís Commentary that features some great insight and stories about the film.
The great film BOOGIE NIGHTS, THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON of CHUCK, SEASON FIVE of WEEDS, ACROSS THE HALL, GAMER, WHITEOUT, the Canadian film CAIRO TIME and Rickey Gervaisí THE INVENTION OF LYING are all available now on Blu-ray and DVD.
BIG FAN and the Academy Award winning Best Foreign Film DEPARTURES can be found only on DVD.
Coming up on the next Couch Potato Report are the Canadian films TIMEKEEPER and DETOUR and Nova Scotiaís Ellen Page stars in the roller-skating comedy WHIP IT.
Also next week, MICHAEL JACKSONíS ñ THIS IS IT, SAW VI and THE BLU-RAY BEACON will shine on WWII IN HD
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 again next time on The Couch!
The Couch Potato Report – January 24th, 2010