The Couch Potato Report – January 8th, 2011
This week The Couch Potato Report friends a Facebook movie ñ not that one – has dinner with schmucks, and cuts up a machete.
There was a very popular movie made about FACEBOOK that came out last year. THE SOCIAL NETWORK has earned over ninety million dollars at the box office, and is expected to be nominated as one of the best films of the year on the 25th of this month when the Academy Award nominations are announced in Hollywood.
There was also a smaller film featuring the website last year ñ CATFISH has earned a little over three million dollars so far, and it wonít get any Oscar nominations.
THE SOCIAL NETWORK comes out on DVD and Blu-ray next week, and Iíll have more on it then, but right now, let me tell you more about CATFISH, which is available now.
CATFISH is a documentary about a photographer in his mid-twenties named Neev who becomes Facebook friends with an 8-year-old girl named Abby from Michigan after she sends him a painting based on one of his photographs that sheís seen online.
Soon, Neev is also friends with Abbyís Mom, and her older sisterÖand soon after that, he begins an online relationship with the older sister.
Their chats go from online, to on the phone, and he really thinks it is leading somewhereÖso he decides to pay her a visit, since he is in her areaÖsort of.
And that is all I will say about the plot, because I donít want to rob you of the chance to see what happens for yourself.
CATFISH exists because two filmmakers heard Neevís story and started to film him, and his interactions with Abby, her Mom and the older sister. The result is a very interesting movie. I had no idea where it was going, and I enjoyed that fact immensely!!
The film is not a classic, and once you know how it all plays out, you wonít ever need to see it again, but I recommend that you do see itÖand donít miss the interview with the filmmakers in the bonus features.
CATFISH is a film about making new friends, and so is the big budget comedy DINNER FOR SCHMUCKS, starring Paul Rudd and Steve Carrell, who have previously worked together in ANCHORMAN and THE 40-YEAR-OLD-VIRGIN.
In this one, Rudd is a businessman trying to get a promotion, when he is invited to a special dinner put on by his boss and superiors. The goal of this dinner is for each guest to find the biggest idiot, so they can make fun of them, and there are prizesÖand careersÖto be won.
When Rudd meets Carrell, he thinks he has found the perfect person to bring.
DINNER FOR SCHMUCKS is a remake of the French film Le DÓner De Cons, and it was directed by Jay Roach, who also made the AUSTIN POWERS films and the first MEET THE PARENTS movie, and this one co-stars Jemaine Clement of FLIGHT OF THE CONCHORDS and Zach Galifianakis from THE HANGOVER, so the film has a superb pedigreeÖbut it all doesnít add up to a classic comedy, one you need to see.
The farce is too broad, the story is based in a movie world ñ there are no real people here ñ and some scenes just fall flat and have no laughs at all.
HoweverÖit does also have some HUGE laughs, and ultimately I did enjoy it ñ even the second time ñ so I will recommend itÖjust donít expect it to be as good as you think it might, or even could be.
One film this week that I do love, that I do think is as good as it could have been, is an action movie called MACHETE.
MACHETE started off as a fake movie trailer that ran between the Robert Rodriguez-directed film PLANET TERROR and the Quentin Tarantino-directed DEATH PROOF in their very entertaining double feature GRINDHOUSE, back in 2007.
MACHETE is now a full-length feature film, and it is a heck of a lot of fun!!
MACHETE is an action movie ñ co-written and co-directed by Robert Rodriguez ñ that is a throwback to the exploitation films of the 70s and 80s and stars Danny Trejo from the SPY KIDS films as the title character, along with Robert De Niro ñ yes Robert DeNiro, Jessica Alba, Don Johnson ñ yes, Don Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez, Steven Seagal, Lindsay Lohan and Cheech Marin.
It is a about an ex-Mexican federale, now living life in Texas as an illegal immigrant, who seeks revenge against the powerful drug lord who killed his wife and daughter.
MACHETE is a very entertaining action filmÖthe cast all seem to be taking it all seriously, and I bought into it hook, line and sinker. It entertained me, made me laugh, and I just plain enjoyed it!!
It is a great filmÖand I highly recommend itÖbut if you are going to buy itÖbe warned, there are only a few special features on the disc, so there is bound to be another version somewhere down the road, since Robert Rodriguezís releases usually come jam-packed with features.
Should you enjoy MACHETE, or if you are already a fan Robert Rodriguezís films, there is another release this week that is a must ownÖTHE BLU-RAY BEACON now shines on EL MARIACHI and DESPERADO.
EL MARIACHI was Robert Rodriguezís debut film in 1992 and DESPERADO was the pseudo remake slash sequel that he made for Hollywood in 1995. Both are superb action movies about a guitar player who is mistaken for a hitman, and both are now available on Blu-ray on an inexpensive Double Feature disc.
Pick it up, and enjoy two great action movies!
There is another film from the nineties that is brand new on Blu-ray this weekÖthe 1999 horror film THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT.
If you missed the hype ñ and there was a ton of hype ñ when the film came out, THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT features a narrative is presented as a documentary pieced together from amateur footage, filmed in real time as three young student filmmakers hike into the woods to film a documentary about a local legend known as the Blair Witch, and subsequently go missing.
We are told that the three were never found, although their equipment ñ along with most of the footage they shot ñ was discovered a year later, and that footage is presented as the film the viewer is watching.
THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT is a horror film that still creeps me out, and I love to be creeped out by horror films. Since it was made on such a low budget, the quality of the Blu-ray is not pristine, but the film itself still clearly has thrills and chills to share!
If you have never seen it ñ and you have enjoyed the recent PARANORMAL ACTIVITY films ñ this is a must see!!
I have a couple of other horror films for you this week, one starring an Academy Award winning actress in straight aheadÖand right now, let me talk with you about THE LAST EXORCISM.
The story behind THE LAST EXORCISM is that a documentary crew is following a preacher who sidelines in exorcisms, and he allows them to film what he is saying will be his last one as they journey to backwoods Louisiana to try and save a possessed girl.
As a horror fan, once it was over, I didnít find THE LAST EXORCISM very satisfying. It is an okay flick, but it isnít anything special. Yes, there are a few good jumps and scares, but this one is for those of you who must see every scary movie that comes out.
Now, if you are someone who needs to see every scary movie that comes outÖyou should still skip CASE 39, which was filmed in and around Vancouver and stars Academy Award winner RenÈe Zellweger as a social worker who fights to save a girl from her abusive parents, only to discover that maybe the parents are the ones who might have needed saving.
CASE 39 is an unoriginal film with less than impressive performances from everyone in it, including Zellweger, Bradley Cooper from THE HANGOVER and Ian McShane of DEADWOOD. This one is a complete waste of time, and you should skip it at all costs!!
MOTHER & CHILD is up next on this weekís edition of The Report. It is an ensemble film starring Naomi Watts, Annette Bening, Kerry Washington, Samuel L. Jackson, Jimmy Smits and S. Epatha Merkerson from LAW & ORDER.
It is a film that is primarily about three women whose lives have all been affected by adoption. Annette Beningís character placed a baby for adoption at age 14 and has been haunted ever since by the daughter she never knew. Naomi Watts plays a woman who grew up as an adopted child, and the third woman ñ Kerry Washington ñ and her husband are trying to adopt a baby, desperate for the opportunity to become parents.
MOTHER & CHILD is a very, very good movieÖfull of characters that you will actually care aboutÖbut at times it is also very, very boring, and it moves very, very slowly. It is actually only 2 hours and six minutes long, but it plays like it is four hours long.
I didnít dislike it, and Iím glad Iíve seen it, but I wonít ever watch it again.
Another film I am glad Iíve seen is the latest from the director of CINEMA PARADISO, one of my favourite movies of all time!!
Giuseppe Tornatoreís latest is an Italian film called BAARIA, which is slang for Bagheria, a town in the Province of Palermo in Sicily, Italy.
The film is an autobiographical epic about three generations in the Sicilian village where Tornatore was bornÖand even though I love his work, and this film is beautifully shotÖthis is a long, empty film. When it was over, the only thing on my mind was:
BAARIA does have some nice scenes, and it is well acted, and looks amazingÖbut even now, as I think about it againÖall I can think is:
Finally this weekÖis the latest from two-time Academy Award nominated director Bruce Beresford ñ who also gave us DRIVING MISS DAISY and TENDER MERCIES.
MAOíS LAST DANCER is based on the true story of ballet dancer Li Cunxin who ñ at the age of eighteen ñ was given the opportunity to leave communist China to train with the renowned Houston Ballet.
That opportunity allows him to trade a life of poverty and oppression for a life in America, where he becomes a star, meets the love of his life, and decides to defect.
But that decision comes with a heavy price…for many people.
In addition to itís Australian cast, MAOíS LAST DANCER stars Canadian actor Bruce Greenwood and Kyle Maclachlan from SEX AND THE CITY and TWIN PEAKS.
It is a beautiful film, with an engaging story and I really, really enjoy it.
This is a film made for adults, and I easily recommend it.
MAOíS LAST DANCER, BAARIA, MOTHER & CHILD, CASE 39, THE LAST EXORCISM, THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, Robert Rodriguezís EL MARIACHI, DESPERADO and MACHETE, the fun, but not fantastic DINNER FOR SCHMUCKS, and the Facebook film ñ CATFISH ñ are all available now for you to watch and own.
Coming up on the next Couch Potato Report
The OTHER Facebook film ñ THE SOCIAL NETWORK ñ the late great Leslie Neilsenís last film ñ STONERVILLE ñ the surprisingly entertaining horror film PIRAHNA, and the documentary JOAN RIVERS ñ A PIECE OF WORK.
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 8th, 2011