The Couch Potato Report – April 9th, 2011
This week The Couch Potato Report hopes youíll stay, enjoys a series that never left, and catches a 35 year old cab.
Leading off this week is the Quebec made French film RESTE AVEC MOI or ñ en Anglais ñ STAY WITH ME.
This very dramatic film offers up five stories about several seemingly unrelated characters ñ who, as it turns ñ out are all related through tenuous connections that are poorly explained ñ and these peopleís once happy lives are all now falling apart.
But they wonít give up easily and that is why a little girl and her mother, an old man and his wife, and three couples are all fighting to stay together and recapture what they once had.
STAY WITH ME would like to be an engaging and emotional story that takes viewers on a winding road through a series of individual stories with unique twists and turns, but it isnítÖand one of those ìtwistsî, the one that happens near the very end of the film, is just a lazy piece of writing concocted to bring all of the characters together and it does not work.
The whole film didnít work for meÖyes, life can toughÖit can be really tough at timesÖbut watching this movie about tough lives is tougher!!
Stay away from STAY WITH ME!!
Hey, not to sound like Goat Boy or anything, butÖdo you remember the 80s?!?
If so, you probably remember how cool the movie TRON looked in 1982 with its computer graphics!! Yeah, TRON did look cool!! It still looks cool!!
TRON stars the great Jeff Bridges as a computer programmer and hacker who is literally abducted inside a computer ñ through ‘quantum teleportation’ ñ and is forced to participate in gladiator-like games and his only chance of escape back to the real world is with the help of a heroic security program.
The computer graphics and animation might look a little dated to some today, but to a 14 year old boy in 1982, this movie was AWESOME!!!
Aww, who am I kidding, to a 43 year old boy at heart in 2011, I still love it!!
The reason I am gushing about a twenty-nine year old movie is because the long gestating sequel to the film is now available to watch at home, and it too is great!!
There had been rumours of a sequel to TRON ever since the first one came out and did well at the box office and as itís status within the pop culture realm continued to grow over the years, more rumours popped upÖand now we have it!
TRON: LEGACY now features Jeff Bridges characterís son going inside the computer world that his father designed to try and find him.
The kid meets his father’s alter-ego who has turned bad, and he meets unique ally who was born inside the digital domain of The Grid.
TRON: LEGACY was filmed in and around Vancouver, and it is a great film, and a worthy successor to the first film.
No, not all the computer animation is perfect, and the young Jeff Bridges character that they have digitally created looks very unreal at times, but it all still worksÖand watching these two films, back to back, on Blu-ray this week was a real treat!!
The first MEET THE PARENTS film back in 2000 was a real treat as well!! Ben Stiller starred as a man named Greg Focker who fell in love with a woman who had a very suspicious and untrusting father, played by Robert DeNiro.
It was followed in 2004 by a film that introduced us to Stillerís side of the family and while MEET THE FOCKERS had a few laughs, it was not as entertaining a film.
However, in retrospect, the second one is a classic compared to the third ñ and hopefully final ñ film in the series.
LITTLE FOCKERS is just not funny.
What was funny the first time, and less funny the second time, is just not funny here and while I can understand why everyone involved would have agreed to make it ñ namely the huge paycheques ñ I wish they hadnít.
Just skip LITTLE FOCKERS. You will be happy you did!!
Now, if you would like to see a great Robert DeNiro film, one that has some huge laughs, and tremendous action, then pick up 1988ís MIDNIGHT RUN.
DeNiro plays a bounty hunter in this film who is given the task of bringing a bail jumping former mob accountant back to Los Angeles.
The great Charles Grodin plays the accountant and along the way they are chased by other bounty hunters, the FBI, and the Mafia.
The original MIDNIGHT RUN is a fantastic combination of action and comedy and it was followed by three made-for-television movies that tried to be as good, but are not.
Those films donít have much in common with the first one, DeNiroís role is filled by character actor Christopher MacDonald ñ who played Shooter McGavin in HAPPY GILMORE ñ yet all four films are available now on a two DVD set called MIDNIGHT RUN ñ 4 MOVIE MARATHON.
If you have never seen the original, I highly recommend that you do, but if you pick up this set, know that you will never watch the other three a second time.
But you will watch the first one many timesÖit is just that great!!
Also great is Ken Burns nine part 1990 documentary series that offers up a comprehensive look at the American CIVIL WAR.
I have seen this series three times now, and even though it is primarily told through old photographs, it remains compelling and exceptionally informative.
And now KEN BURNSí THE CIVIL WAR Box Set is available in a 150th ANNIVERSARY EDITION and this set includes some never-before-seen special features including a new interview with Ken Burns, and a bonus 16-page collector’s booklet featuring a selection of photos and battle details.
The new items just make a great thing better!!
If you have never seen it, set aside ten hours and enjoy!!
From a 150th anniversary re-release, here now is one celebrating a 10th anniversary. This is BATMAN director Christopher Nolanís fantastic MEMENTO!!
I absolutely LOVE this film, from the very first time I saw it I have loved it, MEMENTO is filmmaking at itís best!!
Guy Pierce from THE KINGíS SPEECH stars as a man, suffering from short-term memory loss, who uses notes and tattoos to hunt for the man he thinks killed his wife.
MEMENTO is a great film that is a modern day classic and I find it engaging and interesting each and every time I watch it!!
If you have never seen it, pick up the 10th ANNIVERSARY EDITION of MEMENTO and enjoy!!
It is a fantastic piece of work!!
As passionate as I am about how good MEMENTO is, and how bad LITTLE FOCKERS is, I know that there are people who are just as passionate ñ good and bad ñ about the films contained in the three disc set called THE RIDDICK COLLECTION, namely 2000ís PITCH BLACK, 2004ís THE CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK and the Animated film DARK FURY.
Those who love them, love them a lot!!
THE RIDDICK COLLECTION has all of the science fiction exploits of the character Richard B. Riddick – portrayed or voiced by Vin Diesel ñ living and killing in the 28th century.
I have seen each of these films a few times now, and I still donít think they are very good. I love sci-fi, even bad sci-fi sometimes, but THE RIDDICK COLLECTION isnít a keeper.
They arenít bad, but they arenít good either.
Another sci-fi film that I know people love, and I think is only mediocre is new to Blu-ray this week.
A.I. ñ ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE is a 2001 film directed, produced and co-written by Steven Spielberg that was based on Brian Aldiss’ short story “Super-Toys Last All Summer Long”.
Starring Haley Joel Osment, Frances O’Connor, Jude Law and William Hurt it is set in the near future and is about a child-like android that is given the ability to love.
Production of A.I. originally began with director Stanley Kubrick in the early 1970s and in 1995, Kubrick handed the project to Spielberg, who did not make it until after Kubrick’s death in 1999.
For me, that has always been the problem. Kubrick is the man who gave us 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY and Spielberg E.T. ñ THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL and CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KINDÖall exceptional worksÖbut these are filmmakers who have very different styles.
A.I. ñ ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE suffers from not quite being a Steven Spielberg film and not quite being a Stanley Kubrick film.
It is interesting, but never great, and even boring at times. Plus, the Blu-ray is not a pristine transfer, so ultimately it is for true fans only.
Now if you wantÖneigh, if you NEED a sci-fi fix this week, pick up the fantastic IMAX documentary HUBBLE, narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio.
HUBBLE centres on the Space Shuttle Atlantis crewís mission in May of 2009 to make vital repairs and upgrades to the Hubble Space Telescope, the world’s first space-based optical telescope.
An IMAX camera captured amazing footage of the five intricate spacewalks required, as well as close-up images of the effort to grasp the orbiting telescope with the shuttle’s mechanical arm — and an unexpected problem that could sabotage the entire mission.
I love these types of documentaries, and so I ate this one up!! It was only 44 minutes, and it could have been two, even three times that length!!
The IMAX film HUBBLE looks crisp and clean on Blu-ray, the film itself is amazing and so I highly recommend it!!
Okay…if you need a laugh – and you will laugh both at it and with it, just pick up the great modern day comedy ñ 2005ís WEDDING CRASHERS.
WEDDING CRASHERS is new on Blu-ray this week and the two disc set ñ that also includes a DVD version ñ comes with a wide array of bonus materials ñ including two audio commentaries and it remains a very entertaining film!!
WEDDING CRASHERS stars Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn as a pair of committed womanizers who sneak into weddings to take advantage of the romantic tinge in the air.
But all of their ongoing plans go awry when Owen falls for the very beautiful, Canadian actress Rachel McAdams.
WEDDING CRASHERS still makes me laugh out loud and if you need a few laughs, pick it up.
Another comedy that still makes me laugh is Michael J. Foxís 1985 comedy TEEN WOLF. This film ñ about a high school student who discovers that he is a werewolf ñ should not be funny, it should not work as a film, and it should definitely not hold up twenty-six years after it has come out.
Yet, it does.
TEEN WOLF came out in 1985 after BACK TO THE FUTURE was already a huge hit, and so that is another reason this movie should have been forgotten long agoÖyet it remains a very entertaining 80s flick, and on Blu-ray it looks surprisingly good for a low budget film.
Iíve said it before, and I will say it againÖI LOVE TEEN WOLF!!
I think the primary reason I like TEEN WOLF is that I saw when I was a teenager, and it has stayed with meÖit makes me feel like a kid again, and I like that in a movie.
And that is why I like THE SANDLOT, a story about a group of pre-teens who enjoy life in 1962 by playing baseball every day of their summer break on a sandlot in their neighbourhood.
The drama in THE SANDLOT comes from beyond the fence at the back of the sandlot where a ñ reportedly ñ oversized ball-eating dog called The Beast lives.
When balls ñ or kids ñ go over that fence, the story is that they are never seen again!!
THE SANDLOT is sort of like STAND BY ME, with baseball and I always enjoy it. It is not a perfect film, but it is still one that I easily recommend.
I havenít even spoken about it for a few minutes now, butÖI still canít believe how bad LITTLE FOCKERS isÖand I am judging it on its own merits ñ or lack thereof ñ and not even comparing it to the other films that Robert DeNiro has made over his career…although that would be easy.
I wouldnít do that because there is no way that a third film in a comedy series could ever be as good as RAGING BULL, THE GODFATHER ñ PART TWO, GOODFELLAS, ANALYZE THIS, or especially TAXI DRIVERÖvery few films are.
TAXI DRIVER is not only good, it is great, and it is now available ñ and looking and sounding amazing ñ in High Definition ñ on Blu-ray!
TAXI DRIVER is director Martin Scorseseís 1976 classic starring DeNiro as Travis Bickle ñ a mentally unstable Vietnam Vet who works as a night time taxi driver in New York City because he canít sleep.
He’s a loner who has strong opinions about what is right and wrong with humankind and eventually he becomes violent.
TAXI DRIVER has one fantastic scene after another, and spectacular performances from DeNiro, Cybill Shepherd, Jodie Foster and Albert Brooks.
Due to its violence it is not for everyone, but this Blu-ray is now the ONLY way to watch the film, and its wide array of bonus and retrospective features!
The classic film TAXI DRIVER, THE SANDLOT, TEEN WOLF, WEDDING CRASHERS, ARTHUR & ARTHUR 2: LOVE ON THE ROCKS, Steven Spielbergís A.I. ñ ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE, the very good IMAX documentary HUBBLE, Vin Dieselís THE RIDDICK COLLECTION, Christopher Nolanís fantastic 10th ANNIVERSARY EDITION of MEMENTO, KEN BURNSí 150th ANNIVERSARY EDITION of THE CIVIL WAR, the MIDNIGHT RUN 4 MOVIE MARATHON, the awful LITTLE FOCKERS, the great TRON and TRON: LEGACY and the disappointing Quebec-made-film STAY WITH ME are all available now for you to watch and own.
Coming up on the next Couch Potato Report
We will travel through film to France, Russia, Italy, Antarctica, and NIMH. Plus, Gwyneth Paltrow is COUNTRY STRONG, and THE INCREDIBLES debut on Blu-ray.
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 – April 9th, 2011