The Couch Potato Report

Movies, Movies, Movies!!!!

The Couch Potato Report – June 4th, 2011
Inside this week’s Couch Potato Report are two mediocre direct to DVD films, and two fantastic classics!
Direct-to-DVD is a term used to describe a film that has been released without being released in movie theaters or broadcast on television.
Most of them deserve that fate as they are pretty awful, but sometimes…on the odd occasion… you can find a very good film that gets released this way, but the results are usually mediocre at best.
And that is definitely true with one of the two – COUNT ‘EM – two direct-to-DVD films that I have for you this week starring well-know performers.
The first one has London, Ontario born actor Ryan Gosling from THE NOTEBOOK and Kirsten Dunst of the SPIDER-MAN films.
ALL GOOD THINGS features the two very talented young actors at the centre of a love story and murder mystery that is based on one of the most notorious unsolved murder cases in New York history.
he story is set in 1970s New York City and Gosling plays the son of a powerful and corrupt real estate tycoon who marries a working-class student, played by Dunst.
Together – very much in love – they flee the city for country life in Vermont – only to be ordered back by David’s father.
Then, after their return, the love seems to fade and David  mysteriously turns violent and controlling.
Soon, his young wife disappears without a trace…and she remains missing until this day
LL GOOD THINGS uses newly discovered facts, court records and speculation as the foundation for a story of family, obsession, love and loss and while it is never great, it is pretty good. It is slow moving at times, but for a direct-to-DVD film, which usually means mediocre, this one is pretty good!
While ALL GOOD THINGS is a pretty good direct-to-DVD film, PASSION PLAY is mediocre at best…yet I couldn’t look away!!!
PASSION PLAY stars Mickey Rourke, Megan Fox from the TRANSFORMERS films and Bill Murray. It did get some theatrical screen time as it debuted at the 2010 Toronto International Film Festival, but not much, and it isn’t deserving of much…but even though it is an awful movie, man is it interesting!!
And…in this movie…Megan Fox plays a woman with wings!!
I told you it was interesting!!
Just like he did in the 1993 film MAD DOG & GLORY Bill Murray plays a ruthless gangster in PASSION play and Mickey Rourke is a down on his luck trumpet player…who stumbles upon a woman with wings at a circus freak show.
Is she a freak? Just a woman with wings? Or actually an angel?!?
They don’t really care, both men just want to control her….and you won’t care too much either because this is an awful film…interesting, but awful.
PASSION PLAY is a cinematic car crash, happily no one got hurt, but it should be seen by curious onlookers only.
I AM NUMBER FOUR isn’t direct-to-DVD, it received a huge theatrical release back in February, but it is no better than the majority of them…it too is mediocre.
As I have said many times in the past, I love science fiction films, and I will watch anything that comes out in the genre…and I can appreciate what the filmmakers were going for here as they created a world for an extraordinary teen with super powers – most of them unknown even to him – who must mask his true identity and pretend to be a typical high school student to elude a deadly enemy seeking to destroy him.
I can see what they were going for, but they didn’t pull it off. Most of the film just doesn’t work, and comes across as just a big budget episode of either BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER or SMALLVILLE.
Three like him have already been killed … he is Number Four…and while the young cast – including Dianna Agron from GLEE is good, and the film does have some interesting stuff, this is not a great movie.
You might get something out of I AM NUMBER FOUR if you have absolutely nothing else to do…and I mean absolutely nothing else.
And that is true with THE ROOMMATE as well…this virtual remake of the 1992 film SINGLE WHITE FEMALE stars Leighton Meester of the television series GOSSIP GIRL as a college student who develops an unhealthy obsession with her new roommate…played by  Minka Kelly, from the show FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS.
There is absolutely nothing new or original in THE ROOMMATE that we have seen in dozens of other average wannabe suspense thrillers…or in SINGLE WHITE FEMALE…this is a film for those with absolutely nothing else to do.
And I mean nothing!!
I have a documentary now that is a must see for all music fans, fans of music, and music aficionados…it is called ROCKSTEADY: THE ROOTS OF REGGAE
Rocksteady is a music genre that originated in Jamaica around 1966. A successor to ska and a precursor to reggae, rocksteady was performed by Jamaican vocal harmony groups and this documentary features the music and stories of the legendary singers and musicians of the Rocksteady era.
These performers – many of whom you will have never heard of – all come together after 40 years apart to record an album of Rocksteady hits, and to perform together again at an All-Stars reunion concert in Kingston, Jamaica.
And we benefit from hearing their songs and their stories.
ROCKSTEADY: THE ROOTS OF REGGAE is a story you probably don’t know, told by people you have likely never heard of, about a type of music that doesn’t get made much anymore…yet I loved it and I highly recommend it!!
The name of this next film is KABOOM and it is a film that features an engaging and interesting young cast who give it their all in this sexually-aware-horror-comedy thriller.
Sadly, their all doesn’t always succeed.
KABOOM is a very low budget film with a mostly unknown cast that offers up the story of an ambisexual 18-year-old college freshman who stumbles upon a monstrous conspiracy and by the time the gunfight breaks out your probably won’t care anymore, but luckily it comes with about two minutes left…so it won’t bother you too much.
And that is the complete truth about KABOOM…it won’t bother you too much. It isn’t very good, but it – and the cast – are both likeable enough that sitting through it isn’t a chore.
I’ll never watch it again, but I didn’t mind it.
Another likeable film that I will probably never watch again…although I have been stating that I would probably never see it again since director Ridley Scott’s LEGEND was first released back in 1985.
LEGEND is a fantasy adventure film starring Tom Cruise, Mia Sara, and Tim Curry and it wasn’t a success when it debuted, but over the years it has found a cult following…so I keep watching it to see if I can find what I am missing…trying to discover if it is me, or is the film just not that good?
And I once again think that it is the film…while it does look and sound great in its new Blu-ray version, I just don’t care for the film about a young man who must stop the Lord of Darkness.
There are those who love LEGEND, and this blu-ray is for them…and them alone…and to you I say enjoy!!
Each of the next six releases can be paired in twos…two racing f
ilms, two Kubrick films, and two John Wayne movies…and all of these are now available in High Definition…so let the Blu-Ray Beacon shine!!
First up is my favourite of the six, in fact this is one of my favourite John Wayne Westerns of all time…1970’s RIO LOBO.
The Duke stars here as Cord McNally, a man who searches for a traitor after the Civil War who caused the defeat of McNally’s unit and the loss of a close friend.
RIO LOBO is a great western that is a very funny movie as well!! Sadly, the Blu-ray doesn’t offer up any extras, but the film itself looks great and if you have never seen it, I recommend it highly!!
I also recommend The Duke’s 1961 release THE COMANCHEROS, and the 50th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray of this one has a wealth of special features…including a 24-page book.
But primarily, it too has a great film for us to watch and enjoy, one that looks amazing in HD.
John Wayne is Texas Ranger Jake Cutter in THE COMANCHEROS and he arrests gambler Paul Regret, but soon finds himself teamed with his prisoner.
It is a very entertaining film as well, and I also easily recommend it!!
The two John Wayne films make way now for two of director Stanley Kubrick’s movies…1975’s BARRY LYNDON and 1962’s LOLITA based on the classic novel of the same title by Vladimir Nabokov.
The film stars James Mason as Humbert Humbert, the middle-aged college professor who becomes infatuated with a 14-year-old nymphet.
LOLITA has always been more interesting for what it doesn’t show, than for what it does. The majority of it takes place inside one’s imagination, and that is more due to the fact that there were stringent restrictions put on the filmmakers that their own creativity, but I have to be honest, this is a film that I have always found interesting, but slow. Too slow to enjoy, and too slow to recommend.
BUT…of the DVD, I must admit that it looks fantastic!! The black & white images are crisp and clear, so if you are a Kubrick fan, don’t miss this one!
And don’t miss BARRY LYNDON either. Personally, I have never been a huge fan of this one either, but I do admire it.
Ryan O’Neil – hot off of his performance in the Academy Award winning film PAPER MOON – stars in this costume drama slash period piece as an Irish rogue who fights for and wins the heart of a rich widow. Then – as was the case in 18th Century aristocracy he assumes her dead husband’s position into a life of wealth and fortune.
With a running time of over three hours, BARRY LYNDON is really, really long…and it seems like it is much longer, actually…and I have never been a huge fan of it. It is a beautiful film, made by a visionary filmmaker, and the Blu-ray transfer looks amazing…so – once again – if you are a Kubrick fan, don’t miss this one!
And if you are a racing fan, don’t miss either one of these next two!!
The superb film LE MANS came out in 1971 and stars Steve McQueen as a race car driver who returns to Le Mans, France for the annual 24-hour race a year after he was involved in a horrific crash which claimed the life of a fellow driver.
And that is just the movie part of this film, which is a film, but at times also plays as a documentary about the world’s hardest endurance course.
LE MANS has never been a movie for movie fans, it is for race fans and car buffs and on Blu-ray it is stunning!! The only thing that makes it look like a forty year old movie are the cars and the fact that they don’t make ’em like that anymore.
Otherwise, it is superb…but it isn’t now, nor has it ever been as good as GRAND PRIX, the 1966 film starring James Garner from MAVERICK.
GRAND PRIX is also about a driver looking for redemption after a crash.
GRAND PRIX is almost three hours long, but there is so much going on that it never feels that long, and since it was shot in Cinerama there are times when there are twelve or more things to look at on screen
Both LE MANS and GRAND PRIX are great movies, but GRAND PRIX wins any race between them.
Especially on Blu-ray…man do these films sound great!! Don’t miss them!!
The final two releases this week are classics, have been classics since the day they were released, and years from now they will still be recognized as a standard of excellence in filmmaking.
Paul Newman’s THE HUSTLER is coming up, but this is George Lucas’ AMERICAN GRAFFITI.
This timeless film is about some high school grads who spend one final night cruising the strip with their buddies before they go off to college…and the cast includes some actors who would go on to become world famous…like Richard Dreyfuss, Ron Howard, Cindy Williams, Wolfman Jack, and Harrison Ford.
If you ever cruised the strip, or just drove around with your friends in a car on a Friday night, and you have not seen AMERICAN GRAFFITI…see it. If you remember the old days when the majority of the music we listened to came through our car radios…see it! If you love great movies…see it!!
AMERICAN GRAFFITI is a true cinematic classic!!
Finally this week is another film that the word “classic” can be used to describe, but having said that…the word might not be strong enough.
THE HUSTLER is a classic movie…yes, but it is also a black and white work of art.
Paul Newman stars as Fast Eddie Felson in this 1961 film as an up-and-coming pool player who takes on a long-time champion in a single high-stakes match…and when it ends, he can’t stop thinking about it.
The Great One, Jackie Gleason plays Minnesota Fats and the chemistry between the two of them is fantastic!!
THE HUSTLER was nominated for nine Academy Awards – including Best Actor – Paul Newman, Best Director, and Best Picture and the new Blu-Ray includes both new and old Special Features and comes housed with a twenty-four page book.
The packaging is fantastic, Newman is fantastic, Gleason is fantastic…and the result is a classic!
I very, very highly recommend this one!!
The classic films THE HUSTLER, AMERICAN GRAFFITI, the racing films GRAND PRIX and LE MANS, Stanley Kubrick’s LOLITA and BARRY LYNDON, the John Wayne westerns THE COMANCHEROS and RIO LOBO, Ridley Scott’s LEGEND, KABOOM, the music documentary ROCKSTEADY: THE ROOTS OF REGGAE, the useless THE ROOMATE and I AM NUMBER FOUR, and the interesting, but not great direct-to-DVD releases PASSION PLAY and ALL GOOD THINGS are all available now in stores and online.
Coming up inside the next Couch Potato Report
The made-in-Toronto-and-New York music series SPECTACLE: ELVIS COSTELLO WITH and The Coen Brothers Academy Award nominated remake of the western TRUE GRIT.
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!