The Couch Potato Report

Let the Canada Day Long Weekend continue with some Canadian films!!!

The Couch Potato Report – July 2nd, 2011
Inside this week’s Couch Potato Report are four fantastic films, all based on fantastic books, and a sucker punch!
It is the Canada Day Long Weekend and I am happy to report that a superb Canadian film is our first title this week: BARNEY’S VERSION is based on the 1997 novel written by Canadian author Mordecai Richler.
The film stars Genie and Golden Globe Award winner Paul Giamatti from SIDEWAYS as Montreal based television producer Barney Panofsky. Throughout the story we see him in present day – dealing with the publication of a book accusing him of murder – and through flashbacks from his troubled first marriage to his best friend sleeping with his second wife to meeting his one true love.
Barney Panofsky is an exceptionally well-written character and the performance by Giamatti vividly brings him to life, warts and all.
Montreal actress Rachelle Lefevre – from the first two TWLIGHT films – GOOD WILL HUNTING’s Minnie Driver, and Rosamund Pike from the James Bond film DIE ANOTHER DAY star as the women in BARNEY’S VERSION, and they are all great as well…but the best supporting performance comes from Dustin Hoffman, who plays Barney’s father.
He is spectacular in every scene he is in, and justifiably won the Best Supporting Actor Genie Award for his work.
BARNEY’S VERSION is fun and funny, it is filled with characters who seem real. It has heart…and at times it is also heartbreaking. It is a beautiful movie that I absolutely loved, and very…VERY highly recommend!
See the movie AND read Mordecai Richler’s book…they are both fantastic!
Also…when watching BARNEY’S VERSION…look for cameos by Canadian directors Atom Egoyan, David Cronenberg, Paul Gross, Denys Arcand and Ted Kotcheff.
The movie is a treat on so many levels!!
BARNEY’S VERSION was set in Montreal, and it was filmed there as well, and in Rome and New York. SUCKER PUNCH was filmed in Vancouver and it is set in the mind of a young woman who is institutionalized by her abusive stepfather.
She retreats – again, in her mind – to an alternative reality as a way to cope with her life and misery, and while there she envisions a plan which will help her escape from it all.
Scott Glenn from THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS is the Wise Man she imagines as her guide.
SUCKER PUNCH is an action-fantasy thriller musical and it was co-written and directed by Zach Snyder, the man who also gave us 300 and WATCHMEN, and like those films this one features a superb music soundtrack and some really great action and action scenes.
But even though I did think it looked really cool, and was interesting at times, I never felt involved with the lives of any of the main characters.
Live? Die? Succeed? Fail? Whatever. I neither liked nor disliked SUCKER PUNCH, but I will watch it again some day…and for you collectors, it is available for a limited time in Steelbook packaging!!
It is a take as old as time, but it is a tale that will continue to be told for the rest of time…the story of beauty and the beast.
The first published version of the fairy tale was published in 1740 in France, and the latest cinematic re-telling of it is the made-in-Montreal film BEASTLY.
Set in New York City, Alex Pettyfer from I AM NUMBER FOUR is a pretty-boy/self-centered teenager who is transformed into a hideous monster by a witch in order to find true love.
Vanessa Hudgens of the HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL films plays the young woman whose love may be able to save the beast.
BEASTLY is not an awful film, but we have seen this classic story told much better – the 1991 Academy Award winning Walt Disney animated version comes to mind.
This version is primarily aimed at teenagers, so if you know any, mention it to them. Everyone else should just skip it.
With the Royal Visit to Canada of Prince William and Kate now underway the timing is right for a new DVD of their wedding to come out for all royal watchers to pick up and enjoy!
This celebratory film is a great recap of all the official coverage of the day and it is all brought together in less than an hour and includes: The arrival of Kate at the Abbey, the reveal of her dress, the bridesmaids, Prince Harry as Best Man, the service itself in full, the triumphant drive through the crowds back to Buckingham Palace, the balcony kiss, and much more.
THE ROYAL WEDDING is a must have for all fans of the monarchy.
We are off to Los Angeles, California, now because that is where the film ELEKTRA LUXX is set and it is a pseudo-sequel to a movie from 2009 called WOMEN IN TROUBLE.
And even though I love all of the women who appear in this movie as well…once again the film they are in is absolutely awful!!
The women in the film include Canadian actress Emmanuelle Chriqui from ENTOURAGE, Carla Gugino of SIN CITY, Adrianne Palicki from FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS and Toronto’s Malin Akerman from WATCHMEN.
The main story here is about Gugino’s character, an adult film actress named Elektra Luxx whose life gets turned upside down when she finds out she’s pregnant.
ELEKTRA LUXX does feature actresses I like – many of who play interesting characters – and there are some interesting topics of conversation, but this movie is awful.
I think the filmmakers think they have given the world a comedy with some dramatic moments…but I know the end result is a waste of our time.
Unless you absolutely love one or more of the actresses, just skip ELEKTRA LUXX.
Now something that is funny, and that does offer some entertainment value is the television series LOUIS starring comedian Louis C.K. as a comedian and single father in New York City.
The thing I liked about this show is that it isn’t your typical comedy. Instead of a typical sitcom that wraps up in 22 minutes this show consists of largely unconnected storylines and segments that revolve around Louie’s life on the show, and it is all punctuated by live stand-up performances.
Plus, the show has guest stars like Matthew Broderick and Ricky Gervais.
THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON of LOUIE made me laugh out loud, repeatedly, and I easily recommend it as I think it might do the same for you.
We are off now, to THE ISLAND.
THE ISLAND is director Michael Bay’s 2005 film, the last movie he made before he started making TRANSFORMERS movies and it stars Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson  as two inhabitants of an isolated compound. They – and everyone else there – are hoping to win the lottery as the prize is relocation to “the Island”, the only place on Earth not contaminated by a deadly pathogen.
But the truth is that the inhabitants of the compound are clones, and when the person they are based on needs their organs, they don’t actually go to “the Island”, they are killed and when Ewan and Scarlett find this out…they run.
And they run, and they run!
Since it is directed by Michael Bay THE ISLAND features some tremendous action scenes, and looks great in high definition on the new Blu-ray version, but –
like its main characters – it doesn’t seem to have much of a soul…it just runs, and runs and runs for 136 minutes.
This is one just for people who like to see things blow up, blow up real good!
My thoughts on the fifteen disc LORD OF THE RINGS EXTENDED VERSION Box Set is coming up, after two new Blu-Ray Double feature sets…starting with one that features two of Clint Eastwood’s lesser films from the eighties – 1982’s FIREFOX and 1986’s HEARTBREAK RIDGE.
In HEARTBREAK RIDGE Clint directs and stars as a  hard-nosed, hard-living old-school Marine who is given the task of reforming a less than ideal platoon of men, all with a serious need of an attitude re-adjustment.
In FIREFOX – which he also directed – he is a pilot sent into the Soviet Union on a mission to steal a prototype jet fighter.
As I said, both FIREFOX and HEARTBREAK RIDGE are two of Clint’s lesser works, but parts of them are still entertaining.
Not a lot of parts, but parts.
Double Feature Number Two has two films about clerks, people who – as the poster says – just because they serve us, doesn’t mean they like us.
In 1994 writer/director Kevin Smith gave the world CLERKS, a low budget black and white film set in a convenience store in New Jersey. It showed us a day in the lives of two convenience clerks named Dante and Randal as they annoy customers, discuss movies, and play hockey on the store roof…all while lamenting their status in life.
Then, twelve years later, he brought them back in CLERKS II, but instead of working in a store, they are working in a fast food restaurant.
I was working as a clerk when the first one came out and I could relate to what the characters were going through, but beside that I have just always enjoyed these movies. They made me laugh and they still do and I enjoyed watching them back to back again this week!!
Due to their very graphic language they are not for everyone, but CLERKS and CLERKS 2 are definitely for me!!
Finally this week, The Blu-Ray Beacon allows us to travel to Middle Earth for a trio of films considered to be modern day classics: THE LORD OF THE RINGS TRILOGY…and I am not just talking about the theatrical versions…no way, THE EXTENDED EDITIONS are now available in High Definition!!
There is no denying how great director Peter Jackson’s films are – 2001’s The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers from 2002 and 2003’s The Return of the King were all Academy Award winners and all remain fantastic cinematic achievements as well as tremendous adaptations of J.R.R Tolkien’s timeless books.
We can now own the far superior EXTENDED VERSIONS in HD through a fifteen disc Box Set, and unlike the theatrical versions on Blu-ray that came out last year, the video transfers here are spectacular!!
The only new features in this set are behind-the-scenes documentaries for each movie, so if you bought the original Extended Edition DVDs, you already own most of this Set…but if you love the films in THE LORD OF THE RINGS TRILOGY then you absolutely must see them in High Definition!!
They will become, your new preciouses!!
THE EXTENDED EDITIONS of THE LORD OF THE RINGS TRILOGY – featuring music composed, orchestrated and conducted by Toronto’s Howard Shore, the Blu-Ray double features for Kevin Smith’s CLERK/CLERKS 2 and Clint Eastwood’s FIREFOX/HEARTBREAK RIDGE, Michael Bay’s THE ISLAND, THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON of the very entertaining series LOUIE, the awful ELEKTRA LUXX, THE ROYAL WEDDING: HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS PRINCE WILLIAM AND MISS CATHERINE MIDDLETON, the made-in-Montreal BEASTLY, the made-in-Vancouver SUCKER PUNCH and the fantastic Canadian film BARNEY’S VERSION are all available now in stores and online.
Happy Canada Day Long Weekend, film lovers!!
Coming up inside the next Couch Potato Report
The made-in-Halifax film HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN starring Rutger Hauer from BLADE RUNNER.
And yes, this is a real movie!
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!