The Couch Potato Report – July 24th, 2010
This week The Couch Potato Report peels a pair of new Canadian films, a global sensation, and some runaways.
After a couple of weeks vacation it is my pleasure to be back here on Saskatchewan Weekend, but unfortunately my return doesnít come attached to a spectacular batch of filmsÖin fact, most of this weekís films just arenít worthy of your time, and that includes CHLOE, the latest release from Canadian director Atom Egoyan, who also gave us EXOTICA, ADORATION and the Academy Award nominated film THE SWEET HEREAFTER.
CHLOE is an erotic thriller that stars Julianne Moore as a doctor who hires an attractive young escort ñ played by Amanda Seyfried of MAMMA MIA – to seduce her husband, whom she suspects of cheating on her.
Liam Neeson plays the husband.
CHLOE was filmed in Toronto, and it is a well made and acted film with a very good cast of actors, but this movie is so predictable that youíll be able to figure out whatís going to happen very early on.
Also working against it is the fact that there are too many things left unexplainedÖnamely some of the characterís motivations and decisions. Some of them are explained in the directorís commentaryÖbut I donít think we should have to listen to a commentary to get the answers to a filmís questionsÖa good film provides them for us.
CHLOE ñ unfortunately as I am a huge fan of Atom Egoyan ñ is not a good film.
You know what is also not a good filmÖ COOKING WITH STELLAÖin fact, this movie is awful!!
COOKING WITH STELLA was written by India-born Canadian filmmaking siblings Deepa and Dilip Mehta.
The great Canadian actor Don McKellar ñ who co-starred in the Saskatchewan made films The Englishman’s Boy and Prairie Giant ñ plays the husband of a Canadian diplomat in New Delhi.
In addition to being a stay-at-home Dad Don is also a cook, and heíd like to have the Embassy assigned cook Stella to help him get better.
Now, that all sounds pretty good, right? Sounds like a film you might want to see, I know I didÖI was very excited to see this one.
But what you donít know about the film until youíve seen it is that the Stella character is a liar and a thief.
She is a modern day Sgt. Bilko stealing from the family at every opportunity, and ripping off items from the supply closet to sell to the highest bidder.
In the special features the director describes his creation as an opportunist, and that may have been his intention, but she is just a thief and a liar and as such COOKING WITH STELLA is a wasted opportunity.
Yes, the cooking scenes were entertainingÖbut the rest of the time spent with Stella is not and so you should skip this one too!
From a pair of films I did not like, let me tell you now about one movie I did enjoyÖin fact, I thought the Swedish made film adaptation of the bestselling book THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO was fantastic!!
For the uninitiatedÖ THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO is the first book in the Millennium Trilogy by the late Swedish author and journalist Stieg Larsson.
The primary characters in the series are Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist. Lisbeth is an intelligent, eccentric woman with a photographic memory and bad social skills. Blomkvist is a well-known investigative journalist.
The other two books in the series are The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest.
In THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO Blomkvist is searching for a woman who has been missing — or dead — for forty years and he asks Lisbeth to help him.
THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO has great twists and turns, doesnít pull any punches, and is utterly fascinating at times! It is so good, I am now reading the books because I canít wait to see how it all plays out.
Due to some very graphic scenes, this is not a movie for everyoneÖbut if you can stomach some cinematic violence this is one that you should not miss!
There were a number of notable releases that came out over the past few weeks, while I was away on vacationÖso before we get to this weekís most notable new releases, let me briefly tell you about some of themÖstarting with the Academy Award nominated film A SINGLE MAN.
The great Colin Firth was nominated as Best Actor for his work here. He plays a gay English professor in the 1960s who ñ after the sudden death of his partner ñ tries to go onÖand even tells people that ìEverything is as exactly as itís meant to beîÖbut he is secretly saying goodbye to everyone.
A SINGLE MAN is an exceptional movie that is a little too stylish and artistic to appeal to a mainstream audienceÖbut I enjoyed it and I easily recommend it!
Back in 1980, I would have easily recommended the Academy Award winning film ORDINARY PEOPLEÖin fact, if you have never seen the film about a family who are suffering through the accidental death of an older son it remains a powerful film.
I easily recommend that movie, but just canít do the same for a new film called THE GREATEST that is a very predictable film that comes across as ORDINARY PEOPLE lite.
THE GREATEST stars Pierce Brosnan and Susan Sarandon as a struggling couple grieving after the death of their son in a car crash.
In the middle of their grief a woman played by Carey Mulligan shows up and tells them that she is pregnant with their Grandson, so they invite her to move in with them.
At first, her presence threatens to push the family further apart, butÖwouldnít you know itÖeventually she becomes the one thing that might bring them all back together.
THE GREATEST is anything but thatÖit is completely predictable and I ultimately didnít care what happened or how it all played out.
Yes, the cast is goodÖbut the film is not. If this sort of film interests you, just see ORDINARY PEOPLE instead.
Up next this week is the three disc set for SEASON ONE of the made in Toronto Science Fiction television series WAREHOUSE 13.
This show is about two Secret Service agents who are assigned to a secret warehouse that contains very special items that have been put away by the government for safe keeping due to the fact that they can cause death, mayhem and destruction.
The male and female agents ñ who are not named Mulder or Scully ñ are sent out each week to find and retrieve new items and artifacts.
WAREHOUSE 13 isnít the worst imitation of THE X-FILES that I have ever seen, in fact there is some interesting stuff here and the show isnít badÖbut youíd really have to be a fan of sci-fi shows to enjoy it.
So, if that is youÖenjoy!
If that isnít youÖif you prefer films that are interesting character studies about movie people who might not actually be all that likeableÖwell then you should check out GREENBERG, starring Ben Stiller.
Stiller plays Roger Greenberg, a New York man who recently had a nervous breakdown and decides to head to Los Angeles to house sit for his brotherÖand build him a dog house.
He also falls for the brotherís assistant Florence, a character played by a great young actress named Greta Gerwig. She doesnít really have her life together either.
GREENBERG is not a happy film, and it isnít great nor awfulÖI just found it interesting. As I said, if you prefer films that are interesting character studies about movie people who might not actually be all that likeableÖthen you should check out GREENBERG.
Should you find yourself in the mood for a European Thriller this Saskatchewan Weekend, I have one for you that you might enjoy. ESPION(S) is a bit slow, but this is a good movieÖone that is interesting and intriguing.
ESPION(S) is about Vincent, a smart, educated young man who finds himself in trouble after he and a colleague look inside diplomatic luggage at their airport jobs in the hope of finding something valuable to steal.
Instead of a score, his co-worker ends up dead and Vincent is pushed into the middle of an international terrorist conspiracy.
ESPION(S) has thrills, romance, drama and action and I liked itÖthis is a very good movie!
Finally this week, lets let THE BLU-RAY BEACON shine on a film about a group from the 1970s.
The Runaways were an all-girl teenage rock band that were formed in late 1975 and featured Joan Jett, Cherie Currie, Sandy West and at one point or another Micki Steele, Peggy Foster and Jackie Fox.
They only lasted from 1975 to 1979 and are best known for the songs “Queens of Noise”, “Rock n Roll”, “Neon Angels (On the Road to Ruin)”, “Born to Be Bad” and “Cherry Bomb”.
I always thought that the story of The Runaways formation and eventual split would make for a great filmÖbut this one, simply called THE RUNAWAYS is not that great film. This is such a missed opportunity!!
Dakota Fanning plays Cherie Currie and Kristen Stewart is Joan Jett, and she is so good that I actually mean that she IS Joan Jett!!
The film depicts the formation of the band in 1975 and focuses on the relationship between Currie and Jett until Currie’s departure from the band.
It tries to tell an engaging story and offer up the take of a band that continues to influence musicians to this day, but ultimately THE RUNAWAYS doesnít offer up the unique story that was this band.
And so while I didnít dislike the movieÖI donít recommend it either. If you are curious, check it out. If not, skip it.
That saidÖI do, and will continue to ñ recommend the bandís music!! IT is great stuff!!
THE RUNAWAYS, GREENBERG, THE GREATEST, A SINGLE MAN, THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO and CHLOE are all available on Blu-ray and DVD.
COOKING WITH STELLA, ESPION(S) and SEASON ONE of the television show WAREHOUSE 13 are all available now only on DVD.
Coming up in on the next Couch Potato Report
Ashley Judd stars in HELEN, Jude Law in REPO MEN, weíll go UNDER THE RED HOOD with BATMAN, Iíll tell you about the remake of CLASH OF THE TITANS, once again say how much I enjoyed the remake of BATTLESTAR GALACTICA and it will be SHARK WEEK.
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 again next time on The Couch!
The Couch Potato Report – July 24th, 2010