The Couch Potato Report – March 27th, 2010
This week The Couch Potato Report peels clouds, a fox, men who stare at goats, the blind side, and two toy stories.
The Academy Award winning film THE BLIND SIDE, starring Sandra Bullock is coming right up, and so is a movie I love, but first, I want to tell you about a Canadian film called CLOUDS OVER THE CITY.
Filmed in Montreal, CLOUDS OVER THE CITY is primarily the story of a bored public servant who is also a writer, longing for inspiration.
CLOUDS OVER THE CITY does have some interesting scenes and characters, and it is good, bad, slow, quirky and odd all at the same time.
What it is not is satisfying. It presents situations, but then offers no resolution to them and there are no solutions or answers.
I admired CLOUDS OVER THE CITY, but I didnít like it. If you want to support Canadian cinema, search it out, otherwise, just skip it.
CLOUDS OVER THE CITY was named BEST FILM at the Montreal Festival Of New Cinema last year.
This next release features the performance that won Sandra Bullock a Best Actress Oscar at The Academy Awards a few weeks ago.
Yes, Sandra won her Oscar back on March 7th for THE BLIND SIDE, and now the film is available for you to watch in the comfort of your own home, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Bullock plays Leigh Anne Tuohy, a wealthy and successful woman who invites a homeless High School student named Michael Oher to move into her home with her husband and children.
Leigh Anne pushes and mothers the boy, and he eventually wins a football scholarship to the University of MississippiÖand I donít think I am ruining the ending by telling you that he goes on to become a First Round Draft Pick in the NFL, and today he is an offensive lineman with the Baltimore RavensÖbecause this film is based on a true story.
The special features on the DVD and Blu-ray even feature an interview with the real Michael Oher.
Okay, so it is based on a true story, the Blu-ray and DVD features an interview with the real guy, Sandra Bullock won an Oscar for her roleÖbut how is the movie, you ask?
Well, it is sappy, sentimental, a bit slow at times and too much of it ñ even though it is based on real situations and a true story ñ plays like it is something you would only see in a movieÖlike the scene where Bullockís character walks on the football field during a practice to right all wrongs with one conversation.
Now, all of that saidÖI really liked THE BLIND SIDE, more to the point I enjoyed itÖand I also cried my eyes out!!
No, its not the greatest film ever made, but I liked it and I easily recommend it!
Oh, and one of the filmís co-stars is country singer Tim McGrawÖand if you are a fan of his, donít forget that he will be performing his music in Saskatoon on Sunday night at Credit Union Centre!!
Up next is a film that I also recommendÖeasily and highly recommend!!
FANTASTIC MR. FOX is a movie that I will keep forever!!
FANTASTIC MR. FOX is based on the Roald Dahl book of the same name and it is a stop-motion animated film directed by Wes Anderson, the always interesting filmmaker who gave us Rushmore (1998), The Royal Tenenbaums (2001), The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004) and The Darjeeling Limited (2007).
FANTASTIC MR. FOX is about a thieving fox who goes a little too far and so some angry farmers ñ who are tired of sharing their chickens, ducks and apple cider with a sly fox – look to get rid of their opponent and his family.
FANTASTIC MR. FOX features the voices of George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartzman and the one and only Mr. Bill Murray.
FANTASTIC MR. FOX is a fun film for the entire family that is engaging, interesting and visually fantastic!
It is a treat for the eyes and ears that I highly recommendÖeven to those of you who might otherwise dismiss it as just a kids film.
Donít miss this one!!
Last year, in addition to FANTASTIC MR. FOX, George Clooney also starred in a movie called UP IN THE AIR. Both of them are great, and very worthy of your time.
He also made a movie that isnít worthy of your timeÖyet it is one that is destined to become a cult classic because it is so odd and misses the mark so badly.
My friend, I am talking now about THE MEN WHO STARE AT GOATS.
In addition to Clooney, THE MEN WHO STARE AT GOATS also stars Ewen McGregor from TRAINSPOTTING, Academy Award winner Jeff Bridges from THE BIG LEBOWSKI, Oscar winner Kevin Spacey from THE USUAL SUSPECTS, and Stephen Root from OFFICE SPACE, but this film is nowhere near as good as any of those movies.
Itís based around a supposedly true story about ìpsychic warriorsî who are trained to fight terrorists. They are led by a hippie soldier, attacked by an arrogant Army officer, and infiltrated by a bored investigative reporter and a former psychic soldier.
Now, to meÖthat sounded like a great basis for a film, and with that castÖI thought this had the makings of a classicÖbut the script just doesnít bring it all together.
The acting is great, and there are some clever inside jokes ñ like when Ewen McGregor who co-starred in the latest three STAR WARS films asks what a Jedi is.
But the movie itself only has a few great moments, admittedly they are laugh out loud moments, but ther are just not enough of them to make THE MEN WHO STARE AT GOATS worthy of your time.
This one is for fans of the cast only!
From GOATS, and FOXES and BLIND SIDES, we move now to some brothers. A Canadian documentary about four Canadian siblings is coming up, but first a movie about them starring Tobey Maguire from the SPIDER-MAN series, Jake Gyllenhaal of BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN and Natalie Portman from CLOSER.
Jake plays a man who helps take care and offer comfort to his older brother’s wife and children after the brother goes missing and is presumed dead in Afghanistan.
However, the brother is not deadÖand soon he returns home.
BROTHERS is a remake of a Danish film of the same name and it starts off very strong, but it doesnít maintain that momentum and by the end it has lost almost all of itís steam.
There is nothing wrong with BROTHERSÖI think it tells the story it wants to tell, but the great performances seem wasted in a movie that is never boring, but also never quite worthy of our time or my recommendation.
Much like THE MEN WHO STARE AT GOATS, this one is for fans of the cast only!
I mentioned some Canadian brothers a minute ago, and when I did I was specifically talking about Harry, Albert, Sam and Jack WarnerÖthe Warner Brothers who emigrated from Poland to Ontario before heading down to start a movie studio that ñ to this day ñ bears their name.
The documentary THE BROTHERS WARNER lets us get to know the film pioneers who founded and ran Warner Bros. for over 50 years, and when it is about them, and their studio, this is a fantastic movie with some fantastic historical footage.
Unfortunately, it is not always about the brothersÖthe movie was written, directed and is narrated by Cass Warner Sperling, Harry Warnerís granddaughterÖand she goes from their story to her own search for family and family stories too frequently.
I just wanted the stories, and feel the movie should have just featured more of them and less of the person collecting them.
Still, there is enough in THE BROTHERS WARNER to recommend it to film buffs ñ even if there is never even one mention of the fact that they were Canadians!!!
This is a documentary not only about the Golden Years of Hollywood, but about some people who helped create itÖfor better or for worse.
Now that is a great Hollywood storyÖa phrase no one will ever utter about this next release, even though I kind of liked it.
GENTLEMEN BRONCOS is the latest release from the director of NAPOLEON DYNAMITE and NACHO LIBRE and it stars Jemaine Clement from FLIGHT OF THE CONCHORDS.
If Jemaine, the CONCHORDS, or those films mean something to you, then you absolutely need to see GENTLEMEN BRONCOS!! If not, do not!! Absolutely do not!!
GENTLEMEN BRONCOS is primarily about a teenager who idea for a sci-fi/fantasy book is stolen by an established novelist.
It is also about the re-writing of that book by the thief, and the filming of it by an aspiring movie mogul and his female lead slash business partner.
Nope, GENTLEMEN BRONCOS is not for everyoneÖthis is the textbook definition of a ìcultî filmÖbut like I said, if NAPOLEON DYNAMITE, NACHO LIBRE, Jemaine Clement or FLIGHT OF THE CONCHORDS mean something to you, then this is a odd little film full of very cheesy special effects that you absolutely must see!!
If not, donít go near it!!
I have a pair of television show Box Sets to cover now, starting with the Canadian series FLASH POINT.
FLASH POINT is a show shot in and around Toronto about an elite tactical unit, called the Strategic Response Unit, that exists within a metropolitan police force who are tasked to resolve extreme situations that regular officers are not trained to handle.
That includes hostage-taking, bomb threats and heavily armed criminals.
FLASH POINT ñ SEASON 2, VOLUME 1 is available now and while this isnít a show I watch every week, I like it. I am a fan of almost all police shows and procedural dramas and FLASH POINT has good characters and stories.
If you are in the need of a new cop show to watch, you could do worse.
Lets go from present day Toronto, to 1960s Manhattan and SEASON THREE of Mad Men.
MAD MEN is the show set in the advertising industry on Madison Avenue in New York City and it centers on Don Draper and the people in his life – in and out of the office.
I remain a huge fan of MAD MEN, even though every episode in SEASON THREE is not a classicÖI find that the episodes that focus too much on Donís wife Betty are just too slow and uninteresting and take the program out of where it is itís strongestÖthe ad agency.
But that said, this 3-Blu-ray or 4-DVD set is still very much worth your time, and if you have never seen it, this is a show you should be watching!!
MAD MEN is great television!!
From great television, we head now to great melodramaÖif you like that sort of thing. I admit I get caught up in it from time to time, and that was almost true with EVERYBODYíS FINE, because I like every member of the cast of this filmÖa cast that includes Robert De Niro, Drew Barrymore, Sam Rockwell and Kate Beckinsale.
Yes, I almost got caught up in this oneÖalmostÖbut ultimately the film is only okay. Nothing special, just okay.
De Niro plays a widower in EVERYBODYíS FINE who realizes that his strongest connections to his family was through his wife.
When they all cancel on a visit with him during the holidays, she sets off on an impromptu road trip to try and rebuild the relationships he has with his now grown children.
EVERYBODYíS FINE is one of those movies that tugs at the heart strings, has some nice moments, and might even make you cry at times, but it just isnít a very good movie. It never rings true and always seems contrivedÖespecially during the hospital scene when the father figures everything out that his kids havenít been telling him.
I didnít dislike it, and I am glad Iíve seen it as I really like the cast, but I just canít recommend it.
Our final two titles this week allow THE BLU-RAY BEACON to shine itís laser on two spectacular movies that are now available in High Definition for the very first timeÖTOY STORY & TOY STORY 2.
The first story about Woody, Buzz and all of a boy named Andyís toys that come to life when humans arenít around came out in 1995. It was the very first full-length film computer animated film that was released. The second film, which is also spectacular, was released in 1999.
And now both have been re-released, and both look and sound fantastic on Blu-ray!!
Plus, in addition to the tremendous films, both TOY STORY releases include all of the Special Features that have come with the other releases of the films, AND a wealth of all new ones!!!
I love TOY STORY 1 & 2, and I really enjoyed watching them again this week!!
As I said, they are spectacular moviesÖand hereís hoping that TOY STORY 3 is as good, when it is released to theatres on June 18th.
The modern day classics TOY STORY & TOY STORY 2, the just okay melodrama EVERYBODYíS FINE, SEASON THREE of the great television series MAD MEN, SEASON TWO ñ VOLUME ONE of the Canadian series FLASH POINT, the failed, yet entertaining film GENTLEMEN BRONCOS, the documentary about THE BROTHERS WARNER, the film BROTHERS, the misfire that is THE MEN WHO STARE AT GOATS, the spectacular film FANTASTIC MR. FOX, and the very entertaining Oscar winning THE BLIND SIDE ñ which is a film that features football, but isnít necessarily a football film – are all available now on Blu-ray and DVD.
The okay but not great Canadian film CLOUDS OVER THE CITY is available now only on DVD.
Coming up on the next Couch Potato Report
PETROPOLIS gives us a look at the Athabasca tar sands in Alberta from above, filmed from a helicopter.
Also next week, the latest version of SHERLOCK HOLMES, weíll go UNDER THE SEA, the classic film THE AFRICAN QUEEN finally debuts on DVD and Blu-ray, and the Academy Award nominated movie AN EDUCATION
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 – March 27th, 2010