The Couch Potato Report

Lest we forget!!!

The Couch Potato Report – May 28th, 2011
This week The Couch Potato Report storms Juno, goes inside the last days of World War 2, and looks back on a platoon.
D-Day is a term often used in the military to denote the day on which a combat attack or operation will start.
The best known D-Day is June 6th, 1944 — the day of the Normandy landings — initiating the Western Allied effort to liberate mainland Europe from Nazi occupation during World War II.
Juno Beach is the code name for one of the five sectors of the Allied invasion in the Normandy landings on D-Day… and just ahead of June 6th, 2011 – and the Memorial Day Holiday in the States – several titles have come out with a connection to World War II, and the first one I have for you helps tell the Canadian side of the story that took place over there.
STORMING JUNO, a half film/half documentary project completed with the help of real veterans.
STORMING JUNO is based on the true events of some of the Canadian troops who went ashore on D-Day.
Theirs is a story that must continue to be told, and STORMING JUNO works best at telling that story when it lets the veterans tell it…something that occurs during the last 30 minutes of the project.
The first hour is the movie part as we go into battle with three young Canadian soldiers. Their stories are told concurrently so we can see first-hand what our soldiers went through – from the Channel crossing, to the landing, into the heart of battle.
I easily recommend STORMING JUNO, almost in spite of itself. The re-creations of the war are well done, but the acting is a bit wooden at times, and the meshing of the three stories doesn’t always work. The result is a good, not great film, but I think it should be seen because this is our history and it is important everyone knows it.
If you are interested in a more comprehensive look at the events of – and leading up to June 6th, 1944 – the two-disc set D-DAY: THE TOTAL STORY provides that.
D-DAY: THE TOTAL STORY shows us war room strategies, combat, and battles and does it using war footage that has to be seen to believed, along with conversations from soldiers, survivors, and medical staff.
D-DAY: THE TOTAL STORY offers up a very insightful and thorough look at that one day, while this next release – also exceptionally well produced by The History Channel – takes us inside THE LAST DAYS OF WORLD WAR II.
THE LAST DAYS OF WORLD WAR II presents several documentaries in a two disc set, and while they are primarily told from an American point of view, they still examine the war’s final days, showing us amazing footage from ground battles and the last Allied ship sunk by the Nazis, to the drama of the Nuremberg trials and much more.
The footage and storytelling included here is awful to look at, hard to believe, but also fascinating.
THE LAST DAYS OF WORLD WAR II and D-DAY: THE TOTAL STORY are must own releases for war buffs.
The final title that has come out ahead of D-Day this year  is actually brand new on DVD, even though it was originally produced in 1978.
THE UNKNOWN WAR is hosted and narrated by Academy Award winner Burt Lancaster and is all about World War II and the epic battles of the Russian front.
THE UNKNOWN WAR is a twenty part series that is now available in a five disc box set and it shows us rare and awful footage recorded by Soviet camera crews on the front lines, and most of it hasn’t been seen since the series first aired…I know I hadn’t seen most of it, and I watch almost every War documentary that comes out.
This series shows us the struggles of the Soviet army as they fought, and ultimately helped win victory over the Nazi war machine. We see strategies, suffering, and heroism, much of it told through first-hand accounts.
THE UNKNOWN WAR is an incredible set, about a time in humankind’s history that must never be forgotten.
Let’s focus on love now, not war, with WILLIAM & KATE – PLANNING A ROYAL WEDDING.
And there you go, that is almost all of the words spoken directly by Prince William in this television special…instead, we get childhood friends, schoolmates, and former Royal Family staff, as well as designers, chefs, and stylists. We also meet journalists who have covered The Royals over the years….and not one of the talking heads we meet – not one of them – were actually invited to the wedding.
The royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton on April 29th, 2011was a major event, and so this DVD – and the others that are also now available – will be thoroughly enjoyed by Royal followers…and ignored by the rest.
And that is about right…that’s how it should be.
Someone who was invited to the Royal Wedding, someone who actually knows William, and has since he was a boy because he was close friends with his mother – Princess Diana – is Elton John.
Elton is a co-producer of the animated film GNOMEO & JULIET and his music is featured throughout this retelling of Shakespeare’s classic ROMEO & JULIET, told using garden gnomes as the lead characters.
Yes, in GNOMEO & JULIET the neighboring gardens of Montague and Capulet are at war, but the gnomes, Gnomeo and Juliet, are in love…and the results are fun. Yes, it is far too long, there is too much fighting, and the Elton John music seems out of place…especially since it is wall-to-wall…but it is fun, and full of clever jokes.
It isn’t a classic, but it is fun.
Yes, GNOMEO & JULIET is fun, and so is the 1994 western romp MAVERICK, starring my beloved Jodie Foster and Mel Gibson, when he was still an actor we liked.
Director Richard Donner, Gibson, Foster and everyone involved with this film – which is based on the 1950s television series – all seem to be having fun in this Wild Western a roguish gambler trying to make it to a big game.
Gibson is Bret Maverick, and James Garner – who played Maverick on TV – plays a lawman who travels alongside Gibson and Foster, who plays the love interest.
MAVERICK is full of satire and broad jokes and it looks and sounds great in high definition on Blu-ray. There aren’t any new features – everything here is carried over from the previous DVD releases, but I am still happy to recommend it, it is just so much fun!
THE BLU-RAY BEACON continues to shine now on another film new to the format, TIGERLAND – director Joel Schumacher war movie starring Colin Farrell as one of a group of recruits going through Advanced Infantry Training at a camp called Tigerland, the last stop before Vietnam for tens of thousands of young men in 1971.
Farrell plays a draftee who is opposed to the war, and he wants out.
TIGERLAND was released in 2000 and I have never thought that it was a great war movie. It is engaging and interesting at times, but it is never great.
The final title I have for you this week is not a war documentary, although it is globally revered as a film that is about as close to war as an audience can get.
It is Oliver Stone’s 1986 Academy Award winning Best Picture…PLATOON.
PLATOON stars a young Charlie Sheen as a recruit in Vietnam who is dealing with the horrors of war, and what it does to his fellow soldiers and officers.


PLATOON also stars Tom Berenger, Willem Dafoe, Forest Whitaker, Keith David, Kevin Dillon and Johnny Depp and it is the definitive movie about the Vietnam war, and this new Blu-ray release is now THE definitive way to watch it.
The picture is crisp and clear, and the sound is amazing!!
Simply put, the movie is a classic.
PLATOON, TIGERLAND, MAVERICK, KABOOM, GNOMEO & JULIET, WILLIAM & KATE – PLANNING A ROYAL WEDDING, the twenty part documentary series THE UNKNOWN WAR, The History Channel documentaries THE LAST DAYS OF WWII and D-DAY – THE TOTAL STORY and the Canadian docu-drama STORMING JUNO are all available now in stores and online.
Those latter four have been released ahead of the Anniversary of D-Day on June 6th.
Coming up on the next Couch Potato Report
Two straight to DVD films – ALL GOOD THINGS with Ryan Gosling and Kirsten Dunst and PASSION PLAY, starring Mickey Rourke, Megan Fox and Bill Murray.
Also next week, the classic films AMERICAN GRAFITTI and THE HUSTLER.
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!