The Couch Potato Report – May 14th, 2011
This week The Couch Potato Report turns blue, has a Bieber, is NSA, and then thereís the girl with the dragon tattoo.
A non-chronological love story gets us started this week, one featuring London, Ontario born actor Ryan Gosling from THE NOTEBOOK and Michelle Williams of BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN, who received an Academy Award nomination as Best Actress for her performance in BLUE VALENTINE.
The two very talented young actors play a married couple and their cinematic story moves back and forth in time between when they first meet, and the end of their marriage several years later.
We have seen many films over the years where people meet and fall in love, and BLUE VALENTINE is a falling-out-of-love-story, and it features some great, emotionally raw performances, which should have garnered nominations for both Williams AND Gosling.
Due to the way that their relationship unravels, and the emotions involved, it isnít always an easy film to watch, but it is a very good film.
Prior to this week, I had managed to avoid the majority of the music that has come from the juggernaut known as Justin Bieber. I had heard a few song snippets here and there, but the reason for the global success of the Stratford, Ontario teenager and his music was mostly unknown to meÖand I was happy about that.
That was prior to this week and the release of Bieberís concert film NEVER SAY NEVER for home viewing.
And now that I have seen the film, and heard the story about the kid at its coreÖI must admit, I get it. I get why people ñ including my niece Taylynn ñ love this guy and his music.
His tunes are catchy, and he seems like a nice kidÖbut more than that, he ñ and his music, like it or hate it ñ makes people happy, and that is a good thing.
Admittedly, JUSTIN BIEBERís NEVER SAY NEVER does come across ñ at times ñ as more of a marketing tool that a document of his tour, and you never hear from one detractorÖeveryone in it LOVES this kidÖbut ñ turning off the critic inside me ñ this film isnít for the detractors, it is for the fansÖand they will love it!!
Others be warned, this movie has some really nice moments featuring the fans, and you might even gain some respect for Bieber by the time it is over.
I didÖand I didnít think I would.
Love is also the focus of a movie starring Academy Award winner Natalie Portman from BLACK SWAN and Ashton Kutcher from THAT 70s SHOW. NO STRINGS ATTACHED is the story of a guy and girl who are trying to keep their relationship strictly physical.
Yes, they want to keep it simple, to keep it meaninglessÖbut it isnít long before they start to think that ñ maybe ñ they want something more.
NO STRINGS ATTACHED was directed by Canadian filmmaker Ivan Reitman and it is better than it should be. This should just be a throwaway romantic comedy, like just about all of Ashton Kutcherís films, but due to Reitmanís experienced hand, Portmanís presence, and a strong supporting cast that also includes Academy Award winner Kevin Kline from A WISH CALLED WANDA, I really liked this movie
Parts of it do not work and it is fairly predictable, but I still liked itÖwith no strings attached.
Natalie Portman won an Oscar back on February 27th in Hollywood, and THE ILLUSIONIST technically lost oneÖsince it did not take home the Best Animated Feature trophy it was up for.
Win or lose, this is still a very good movie from Sylvain Chomet, who was also Oscar nominated for his 2003 film THE TRIPLETS OF BELLEVILLE.
THE ILLUSIONIST is not as energetic as TRIPLETS and it wonít be seen by as many people because of that fact, but those who do sit down and take the time to take in this tale of an illusionist who ñ as time passes him by ñ finds himself unemployable and so he travels to Scotland, where he befriends a young woman.
Their meeting changes both of their lives forever.
I liked a lot about this film ñ the animation is so spectacular at times ñ but the thing about THE ILLUSIONIST that I didnít like was the fact that there are very little words, very few scenes of dialogue between the characters. The film and visuals are so strong that they arenít always needed, but there were a few times when they were.
I get that Sylvain Chomet wants to leave out dialogue so his films translate around the world, but had they included some talking here the film could have been better. I liked it ñ a lot ñ but it could have been better with just a few more words.
As it was, I enjoyed THE ILLUSIONIST and I look forward to having time to watch it again, but I still wish there had been more dialogue scenes!
I also liked another French film from Europe that came out this week, Melanie Laurent from INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS stars in THE CONCERT.
THE CONCERT is one of those films where a ragtag group of musicians all come together in the end to perform a show ñ for one reason or another.
We have seen this story dozens of times over the years ñ in THE COMMITMENTS, BRASSED OFF, THE ROCKER, GET HIM TO THE GREEK ñ and I have been entertained by almost each and every one of them, and THE CONCERT is no exception.
I was very entertained by this one!
THE CONCERT is about a group of Russian musicians who are impersonating the Bolshoi Orchestra in order to perform a concert in Paris they had been denied thirty years earlier, when the conductor refused to fire the Jewish musicians.
They use borrowed instruments, suits, shoes and get fake passports just to do the showÖbut ñ as happens in films like these ñ not everything goes as planned.
THE CONCERT is completely implausible, but very entertaining and I really liked it.
Yes, I liked THE CONCERTÖbut I did not like BLACK DEATH, a film set in 1348 during the time of the first outbreak of bubonic plague in England…here is the plot summary:
A young monk is tasked with learning the truth about reports of people being brought back to life, a mission that pulls him toward a village ruler who has made a dark pact with evil forces.
There it is, but youÖwonítÖcare.
BLACK DEATH is a film that didnít have enough story, action, or characters to keep me interested and so I suggest that you skip this awful film at all costs!!
Finally this week the BLU-RAY BEACON shines on a collection of three films ñ STIEG LARSSON’S DRAGON TATTOO TRILOGY ñ with THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE and THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNETS’ NEST, all based on the best-selling books of the same name.
For the uninitiated, the primary characters in this 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.
They work together to solve mysteries, murders and to try and keep each other out of jail.
The film series ñ like the books ñ starts off very strong and slows down considerably by the time we get to the end, but all of them still have great twists and turns, donít pull any punches, and they are utterly fascinating at times!
Due to some very graphic scenes, these movies arenít for everyoneÖbut if you can stomach some cinematic violence this is one box set that you should not missÖin fact see all of the films, AND read the books! This is entertainment at its finest!!!
STIEG LARSSON’S DRAGON TATTOO TRILOGY ñ with THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE and THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNETS’ NEST ñ BLACK DEATH, THE CONCERT, THE ILLUSIONIST, NO STRINGS ATTACHED, JUSTIN BIEBERís NEVER SAY NEVER and BLUE VALENTINE are all available now for you to watch and own.
Coming up on the next Couch Potato Report
LIFE BEGINS, weíll visit the DAYDREAM NATION, try and avoid THE MECHANIC, enjoy some nostalgia through SEASON TWO of the seventies series THE BIONIC WOMAN and the eighties action-comedy classic BEVERLY HILLS COP.
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 – May 14th, 2011