The Couch Potato Report

Here are some cinematic ideas for your looooong weekend!!

The Couch Potato Report – April 3rd, 2010
This week The Couch Potato Report takes us well above the Alberta Tar Sands and far under the sea.
I have a documentary made right here in Western Canada to get us started this first Saturday in April. IT is one that offers us an aerial view of a part of Alberta that has the whole world talking.
The Athabasca tar sands in Alberta are an oil reserve the size of England.
Extracting the crude oil that lies beneath the wilderness requires a massive industrialized effort, and ñ according to the movie PETROPOLIS ñ that effort has caused catastrophic damages to the land, air, water, and climate in the area.
I say ìaccording to the movie PETROPOLISî as this film doesnít tell both sides of the story, it just presents all of the bad things that are happening over there. Personally, I would have liked to hear both sides…good or bad.
Putting aside the fact that the movie doesnít offer the whole story, I have to admit that I found PETROPOLIS visually fascinating!! Director Peter Mettler shows us the Tar Sands from above, filming primarily from a helicopter to give us a very unique view, showing us industry, earth, and the barren lands that are being left behind.
PETROPOLIS is a 42-minute movie that has very little narration, but offers a unique view of a very contentious part of Canada. Even though it does not present both sides of the story, I found the movie interesting and very scary, and if it sounds interesting to you, I suggest that you pick it up.
You might find PETROPLIS on the shelf under the letter ìPîÖmeanwhile, three letters down at ìSî you wonít have to look very hard for this next release, because it will be every where!!
Yes, SHERLOCK HOLMES is everywhere!
Directed by Guy Ritchie, this version of SHERLOCK HOLMES is a vast departure the Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce “Holmes and Watson”. Instead we have Robert Downey, Jr. from IRON MAN as Holmes and THE TALENTED MR. RIPLEYíS Jude Law as Watson and they star in a film full of special effects, bare knuckled boxing and super-human stunts.
While not set in modern times, this is certainly a modern film. This version has no trench coat, deerskin cap, or magnifying glass, instead Holmes lives free and wild, almost like he is a frat boy or rock star ñ living in a trashed room and acting out whenever it suits him.
As for the plot, well that part of this new film is the same as ever, it is good versus evil as Holmes and Watson must work hard to save all of England from a man who practices the black arts, and may or may not be dead.
I admit that I didnít love this version of SHERLOCK HOLMES, there was too much sorcery and I would have liked more deduction, but I really, really enjoyed it! Downey, Jr. is fun to watch, and the supporting cast that also includes Canadian actress Rachel McAdams from THE NOTEBOOK are all very well cast.
While not perfect, this modern day SHERLOCK HOLMES was a rollicking good time!!
Now, if old school Sherlock Holmes is more to your likingÖand I mean really old school, like when Holmes was actually in schoolÖwell then there is another new release this week that might be more to your liking.
This one is about ñ and called – YOUNG SHERLOCK HOLMES…and it stays very true to the style of the books.
Released in 1985 YOUNG SHERLOCK HOLMES is about a teenage Holmes who begins to investigate when seemingly un-related people start having inexplicable delusions that lead to their deaths.
Even though it will go down in history as the very first film to ever feature computer animation, YOUNG SHERLOCK HOLMES isnít a classic, but if you are a “Holmesian” and you have never seen it, it is very good.
From a young Sherlock Holmes, we move now toward a young woman named Jenny. Jenny is the main character in a film where she receives an education, on life, love and much, much more.
Jenny is played by Carey Mulligan, and Carey received an Academy Award nomination for her work in this movie, one called AN EDUCATION.
Jenny is 16 going on 17, and is book smart, intelligent, quick-witted and self-confident. But she is also naive, particularly about menÖa fact that becomes important when she meets and falls in love with David, a man over twice her age.
But it isnít just Jenny who falls for David, he charms her parents too, so much that are willing to let their young daughter do almost anythingÖas long as she is with David.
AN EDUCATION was written for the screen by Nick Hornby, who as the author of the novels High Fidelity, About A Boy and the soccer memoir Fever Pitch is one of my favourite writers and it is his writing that I admired here, and I also liked the cast.
AN EDUCATION is not spectacular, but it is a nice little movie that I really liked.
The main character gets the education in that film, you can get one from this next oneÖan education about what life is like under water along the coastal regions of Southern Australia, New Guinea and the Indo-Pacific area of our planet.
Yes, this next film takes us UNDER THE SEA.
No, not under the sea with a little mermaid, under it with all types of real, fantastic creatures!
And yes, that was Canadian comedian Jim Carrey as the narrator, and his read is fairly straight-forward, but ñ at times ñ he brings his unique sense of humour with him.
UNDER THE SEA is a visually stunning, very interesting movie about our planet, the oceans and the creatures that live in them.
I highly recommend this one!! I loved it!!
From love, we go to the complete opposite side of the critical analysis scale now for this next releaseÖthe remake of the 1967 British series THE PRISONER.
The original remains a classic, this remake is absolutely and utterly pointless. It is complete garbage!!
This remake ñ simply called THE PRISONER ñ is a six part series about a government agent who is sent to a remote island known as “The Village” against his will.
And even though it is always sunny, the people are all friendly and nice, and everything seems perfect, he wants to go home.
THE PRISONER starts off strong, but by the third episode it is almost completely off the rails. By the fifth one I found myself barely able to pay attention I was so bored, and I only watched the six one at all because I had seen the other five and had to see how it endedÖbut I honestly didnít care by that point.
I love science-fiction, and so I will watch almost anything that comes outÖthis is one I wish I hadnít watched. Even with a great cast, that includes Ian McKellen from the LORD OF THE RINGS and X-MEN films, and a fantastic premise this version of THE PRISONER is a complete waste of time.
Skip it, and see the original instead! Now that is good TV!!
From a mini-series about a prisoner, we move now to a film about a man who is held captive after he sees something he shouldnít have. COLLATERAL stars Jamie Foxx and Tom Cruise.
COLLATERAL came out in 2004 and as directed by Michael Mann ñ who also made HEAT and MIAMI VICE ñ the film is a tight, tense thriller.
Foxx plays a cab driver who becomes the hostage of Cruiseís contract killer as he makes his rounds from hit to hit during one night in LA.
Foxx must try and save himself and Cruiseís last victim.
COLLATERAL debuted this week on Blu-ray and in addition to the film itself ñ a film I love ñ it also includes a wide array of special features, new and old.
If this is a film you enjoy, donít miss this new High Definition version of it. And if you have never seen it, check it out!! This is a great movie!!
Our final title this week is not only new to Blu-ray in North AmericaÖbut it is new to DVD as well. Prior to last week the 1951 classic THE AFRICAN QUEEN had only been available to us in non-authorized versions with grainy picture and less than perfect sound.
But now, it has finally come out!! And the old girl looks and sounds great!!
THE AFRICAN QUEEN was directed by John Huston and stars Humphrey Bogart ñ who won his only Academy Award for his work here as Best Actor ñ and Katharine Hepburn.
It takes place in Africa during World War I and Bogey is a gin-swilling riverboat captain who is persuaded by Hepburnís strait-laced missionary to use his boat to attack an enemy warship.
And wouldnít you know it, they also fall in love.
THE AFRICAN QUEEN has been described many ways over the years, but the explanation that I have always liked is the one that calls it a film about two losers who get together and win.
I donít think this movie will strike a chord with a modern day audience, but if you are someone who loves old movies and you have never seen THE AFRICAN QUEENÖpick it up. It is a true Hollywood classic!!
THE AFRICAN QUEEN, COLLATERAL, UNDER THE SEA, AN EDUCATION, and the rollicking good time that is the Robert Downey, Jr. version of SHERLOCK HOLMES are all available now on Blu-ray and DVD.
The awful remake of THE PRISONER, the very good YOUNG SHERLOCK HOLMES, and the one-sided film condemning the Alberta Tar Sands that is called PETROPOLIS are available now only on DVD.
Coming up on the next Couch Potato Report
The made in Regina and Moose Jaw film DOLANíS CADILLAC and the BLU-RAY BEACON will shine itís light on the theatrical versions of THE LORD OF THE RINGS TRILOGY as a new multi-disc Box Set is coming out.
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!