The Couch Potato Report – February 19th, 2011
This week The Couch Potato Report has a Quebecois film about a monstrous ten year old, along with all the Presidentís men.
When I sat down to watch a film called 10 1/2 this week I knew that it was made in Montreal, I knew that it had received eight Genie nominations ñ including one for Best Picture ñ and I knew that it was about a ten and a half year old kid who is considered a danger to society, so he is locked up in a youth centre.
What I didnít know, what I could not have known, was that I would not care about this movie ñ or the kid at itís center ñ at all!!
Yes, of all the Canadian films that came out last yearÖthis one, 10 1/2, has been nominated by our home and native landís film industry as one of the five bestÖalong with BARNEYíS VERSION, INCENDIES, LES AMOURS IMAGINAIRES and SPLICE.
Yet I didnít like it, and I donít recommend it, primarily because I felt no compassion towards the boy, and I was never made to understand why he behaved like he did. He is always throwing tantrums, and he is always mad, sometimes for seemingly no reasons whatsoever. They seem unmotivated and too random to me.
Now, I know that kids sometimes overreact and act upÖI know thatÖbut at 10 1/2?!?! And even if it was just a kid being a kid, the filmmakers then partially try and explain his reasons, showing us that heís a product of his environment because his parents were less than loving. So they attempt to offer an explanation, but they leave a lot of questions unanswered. Does he have a disease? Is he mentally ill?
For most films I have no problems making up my own mind when answers arenít provided, for with this one I didÖI expected answers.
Another reason I didnít care for this film is due to the fact that guardian at the youth centre, where the kid is locked up, is always thereÖtwenty-four hours a day, whenever the kid acts up, or goes on a rampage, this guy ñ the kidís caseworker ñ is always there!!
That was extremely hard to believeÖthat the guy would always be there!!
Now, in real life, I will always recommend help for a child in need, and tell you that people who work with troubled kids are exceptional people, but ñ in this cinematic world ñ I do not recommend that you spend any time with them.
Yes, I will always recommend help for a child in need, whatever the situationÖand in the documentary WAITING FOR SUPERMAN there are hundreds of kids in need. They are all in need of a good education.
Can you imagine if you had no chance at being a doctor or a lawyer, would never be rich or famousÖthat you would never be able to do anything other than menial labour, and that decision was statistically proven? Can you imagine that your life would be devoid of dreams coming true, just because of the elementary school you went to?
There are actual situations like that happening right now, and in WAITING FOR SUPERMAN we meet some families who are trying to give their kids a chance at a future by getting them into better schools.
WAITING FOR SUPERMAN follows a handful of promising pre-teens who are going to school in a system that inhibits, rather than encouraging, academic growth. We also hear about schools ñ in major American cities such as Washington D.C. and Los Angeles ñ that are known as ìdrop-out factoriesî and ìacademic sinkholesî.
And all the while, you wonít believe what you are seeing.
WAITING FOR SUPERMAN is heartbreaking at times, and while you watch it you will wish it wasnít true. Sadly it is.
It is also a must see!!
We have arrived now at the fifth film collaboration between director Tony Scott and actor Denzel Washington. They have previously teamed up for CRIMSON TIDE, MAN ON FIRE, DEJA VU, the remake of THE TAKING OF PELHAM 1 2 3, and their latest is UNSTOPPABLEÖan action movie about a veteran railway engineer ñ Denzel ñ and a young conductor ñ played by Chris Pine of the new STAR TREK.
They are racing against all odds to try and stop an unmanned, half-mile-long freight train that has a highly toxic cargo from derailing and exploding in a highly populated area.
UNSTOPPABLE is not a great film, but it does have some great suspense and the usually reliable Denzel Washington, so this one will make for a good rental.
Yes, as long as you turn off your brain and donít ask why these two guys are the only two in the whole world who can stop the train, it will make for a good action rental.
Another film I enjoyed this week, and think it might make for a quirky, good time rental, is the British film TAMARA DREWE, based on the newspaper comic strip of the same name, about a young and attractive journalist who returns to her small hometown to try and sell her now-deceased mother’s house.
Gemma Arterton ñ who played Strawberry Fields in the James Bond film QUANTUM OF SOLACE ñ is the title character and when she gets home, everyone there is amazed at how great she looks, because ñ you see – Tamara has had a nose job.
In addition to being about a confident and sexy woman, TAMARA DREWE is also about rekindling childhood love, a cheating husband, a boy-band drummer, a dog that enjoys chasing cows, and two local schoolgirls who repeatedly cause havoc because they are bored, and for me, that all added up to a really enjoyable movie. I loved all the characters in the filmÖwith the possible exception of the schoolgirlsÖand I will definitely watch TAMARA DREWE again one day.
Like I said, I think this one is also a good rental.
We are in the middle of this weekís Report now, so appropriately enough, here is a clip from the film MIDDLE MEN.
MIDDLE MEN stars Luke Wilson from OLD SCHOOL and it is the story about Jack Harris, one of the pioneers of internet commerce, as he wrestles with his morals and struggles not to drown in a sea of conmen, mobsters, drug addicts, and adult film stars.
MIDDLE MEN is set in the early days of the internet, and I found that part of it very interestingÖbut the rest of it just isnít as interesting, and ultimately the film is good, but not great.
I donít highly recommend it, but it isnít the worst film this week.
That title goes to an experimental mess called ENTER THE VOID, which wants to be provocative and challenging, and some people might find it just that, others might even consider it ìa good trip, but I couldnít wait for it to end.
It is just an awful, awful movie!!
ENTER THE VOID is about a drug-dealing teen in Japan who is killed and reappears as a ghost to watch over his sister.
Interesting idea, and the film does have some interesting graphics and scenes, but at 2 hours and 41 minutes you will not care.
The director has called his film ìpsychedelic melodramaî, and he can think what he wants. As for me, I call it a waste of time.
Skip this one, it is the worst film this weekÖalthough, Wes Cravenís latest horror film MY SOUL TO TAKE is a close second.
Wes Craven is the man who gave us Freddy Kruger in the NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET films, and the SCREAM series. He knows how to make good horror films, but from time to time it seems he also knows how to make bad ones.
This is one of those times.
The premise here is easily explained ñ a serial killer returns to his hometown to stalk seven children who share the same birthday as the date he disappeared ñ but it is the execution of the story where Craven fails this time.
MY SOUL TO TAKE is poorly made, badly acted, and even if you like these types of films ñ which I generally do ñ you wonít care.
Donít give your time ñ or your soul ñ to this one.
Now, should you absolutely NEED a horror film fix this weekend, the Montreal made THE HAIR OF THE BEAST might work for you.
This one is about werewolves in Quebec in the year 1665Öand when I heard that premise, I thought: ìWell, I havenít heard that one before.î
There is a story in this film, several of them, and they are all entertaining enough, but primarily this is a film for people who the concept of ìwerewolves in Quebec in the year 1665î appeals to. Should that be you, pick it up. THE HAIR OF THE BEAST is not great, but it is interesting at times.
Plus, it has werewolves in Quebec in the year 1665!!!
From werewolves in Quebec in the year 1665, lets head to modern day Australia so I can tell you about the mostly uninteresting, and fairly boring western RED HILL.
RED HILL offers up the tale of a young police officer in a small, remote town who must survive his first day on the job when a jailbreak occurs and a criminal returns to try and get some justice.
Sounds cool right?!? Maybe even engaging and interesting?!?!
NOPE!! It is none of those, instead, RED HILL is just a snore!!
Luckily it was only 95 minutes, or I may have made this one the worst film of the week.
And you should also skip the latest from writer director Woody Allen. The Woodman has given us many classics over the years, but lately he has been hit and miss. YOU WILL MEET A TALL DARK STRANGER is definitely a miss.
Woody’s latest features Anthony Hopkins, Naomi Watts, Josh Brolin, Freida Pinto, Antonio Banderas and is about a pair of married couples as their passions, ambitions, and anxieties lead them into trouble and out of their minds.
Now I adore Woody Allen and his films, and so I had to see YOU WILL MEET A TALL DARK STRANGER, but unless you also admire his, skip it. This is not one of his best.
Finally this week, THE BLU-RAY BEACON shines on the Academy Award winning 1976 film ALL THE PRESIDENTíS MEN.
ALL THE PRESIDENTíS MEN is the political thriller based on the 1974 non-fiction book of the same name by Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, the two journalists investigating the Watergate scandal for The Washington Post.
It stars Robert Redford, Dustin Hoffman and a great supporting cast.
The Blu-ray for ALL THE PRESIDENTíS MEN doesnít contain any new supplemental materials, instead it merely imports all the items from the 2006 special edition DVD, but it does come in the book style packaging and has forty pages of text and photos.
But primarily it has the fantastic, engrossing filmÖa film I continue to love, and continue to highly recommend!!
ALL THE PRESIDENTíS MEN, the Quebec-set Werewolf film THE HAIR OF THE BEAST, the Australian western RED HILL, the awful ENTER THE VOID, Woody Allenís YOU WILL MEET A TALL DARK STRANGER, Wes Cravenís MY SOUL TO TAKE, the early internet film MIDDLE MEN, the entertaining TAMARA DREWE, the good rental action film UNSTOPPABLE, the sad and insightful documentary WAITING FOR SUPERMAN and the not very good, Genie Award nominated Montreal-made film 10 1/2 are all available now for you to watch and own.
Coming up on the next Couch Potato Report
The music movie RISING STARS, starring Saskatoonís Kyle Riabko and Edmontonís Catherine Mary Stewart, the animated comedy MEGAMIND featuring the voices of Will Ferrell and Brad Pitt, DUE DATE ñ starring Robert Downey Jr. and Zack Galiafinakis and we will also GET LOW with Robert Duvall and the one and only Bill Murray.
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 – February 19th, 2011