The Couch Potato Report – September 3rd, 2011
Inside this week’s Couch Potato Report is a true cross Canada tour, and I feel the need, the need for speed!
It is very rare that a band goes on a true cross Canada tour…the major acts don’t do it, you’d never see Katy Perry, Eminem, or The Rolling Stones go from Newfoundland to British Columbia, stopping in every single province along the way – and maybe even a territory or two…it just doesn’t happen.
A few years back The White Stripes did it, but they are the exception….it rarely happens that an artist with the support of a major label and sponsors go coast to coast to coast, let alone any small, independent banda who don’t have a label or any sponsors.
Yet, that is exactly what the Winnipeg band The Weakerthans did, they went from St. John’s to British Columbia, and then all the way up to Whitehorse, and a good portion of their tour is captured in the documentary WE’RE THE WEAKERTHANS, WE’RE FROM WINNIPEG.
he Weakerthans follows the band from big-city venues to tiny small-town taverns, and shows us their happiness and frustrations along the way, and it also offers up plenty of their music!
he Weakerthans are a great group of guys, and I like their songs, so I really enjoyed WE’RE THE WEAKERTHANS, WE’RE FROM WINNIPEG and I think that even if you’ve never heard of them, you’ll enjoy it too.
It is both a coast to coast to coast travelogue and concert film from one of our country’s best home and native bands.
uring their career The Weakerthans have won two Western Canadian Music Awards, and it is possible that this documentary could receive an Academy Award nomination.
One film that did get an Oscar nod last year is the Danish movie IN A BETTER WORLD. It was nominated as Best Foreign Language Film.
Unfortunately IN A BETTER WORLD beat the Canadian film INCENDIES (Ehan-son-dee) for the Oscar, but I will talk more about that film when it is released on September 13th, right now let me try and tell you more about IN A BETTER WORLD, a compelling film with some fantastic twists and turns.
IN A BETTER WORLD has so much going on that there is no easy was to sum it all up…at times it is a movie about friendship and love, other times it is about violence and eye-for-an-eye justice. It is also a movie about sorrow and loss, and it is also about revenge and forgiveness.
Primarily it is about two bullied boys who become friends, the violence that is the result of their friendship, and their parents – who may be the cause of it…because of their own neglect or pacifism
Like I said, there is no easy way to sum it all up, except to say that it is engrossing.
IN A BETTER WORLD is not a perfect film – there are parallel storylines that take the movie to Africa, where one of the boys’ parents works as a doctor, and during one extended period there the movie slows down a lot – even though what is happening there is important to the story.
But that said, I still highly recommend it. It is one of the most impressive films I have seen this year.
Let’s stay in Europe now for another very good foreign film.
WINTER IN WARTIME is from the Netherlands and it was chosen by the Dutch Critics as the best Dutch film of 2008, and was shortlisted at the Academy Awards as Best Foreign Language Film. It didn’t actually get an Oscar nod, but it is still worthy of your time.
This movie is set in Holland in 1945, near the end of World War II, and it is about a 14-year-old boy who becomes part of the Resistance against the Nazis after helping a wounded British soldier.
The boy resents his father, a mayor, seemingly only interested in maintaining the status quo between the town and the German Army and he worships his uncle Ben, a mysterious adventurer with ties to the Resistance, and through his choices he is forced to discover the difference between adventure, fantasy and the realities of war.
I really enjoyed WINTER IN WARTIME, it also has some unexpected twists and I also easily recommend it.
I do so enjoy recommending movies, I love movies and wish they could all be good and all worthy of our time.
Unfortunately, some are not. Some…like the wannabe detective thriller THE BIG BANG are a complete waste of time and must be avoided at all costs.
And in case I wasn’t clear… the wannabe detective thriller THE BIG BANG is a complete waste of time and must be avoided at all costs.
Antonio Banderas – who hasn’t made a non-animated film worth watching in years – stars in THE BIG BANG as a private detective who is searching for a missing dancer, but his simple job gets complicated when everyone he questions turns up dead.
THE BIG BANG does have a few good scenes, but not many of them and most of the film is laughably bad…especially any scene using computer graphics or animation. The CGI here is so awful…so, if you see this film on the self or now available for download…ignore it!!
It is a complete waste of your time!!
This next release isn’t a complete waste of your time – the series OFF THE MAP does have some good moments and episodes – but ultimately it isn’t anything special either.
OFF THE MAP is a medical drama set in a remote South American village, where seven doctors fight to keep people alive using primitive equipment and anything they can find, all while searching for love, and the reasons they became doctors in the first place.
I like the cast of OFF THE MAP – which includes Canadian actresses Caroline Dhavernas and Rachelle Lefevre, and Mamie Gummer – who is Meryl Streep’s daughter – and I am a huge fan of Medical Dramas, but this show just doesn’t work. The pieces just don’t add up, and the result is nothing special…which is probably why the show has been cancelled and there won’t be a second season, and definitely why OFF THE MAP – THE COMPLETE SERIES is now out on DVD.
Hey, how about a show now for the adults in the house.
COUGAR TOWN is a television series starring Courteney Cox from FRIENDS as a recently divorced woman with an 18-year-old son who is looking to put some fun into her dating life…or at least that is what the show was about when it first began.
As the first year concluded, the show had morphed into an ensemble comedy about a group of six older friends…and then – during the second season – it became even more like FRIENDS…if Monica and Joey ended up together, instead of Monica and Chandler.
That COMPLETE SECOND SEASON is now out on DVD and I really enjoyed it…much more than the first one.
COUGAR TOWN was co-created by Bill Lawrence, the man who also co-created SPIN CITY and SCRUBS…and those are two shows I absolutely love!!
COUGAR TOWN isn’t one I love, but if they keep making it this good, I will keep watching as Courtney spends time with friends – old and new – talking, drinking and just hanging out.
This is now a very good show!
Very good can’t begin to describe the show DEXTER…not at all!!
DEXTER is a multiple Emmy Award winng show about Dexter Morgan – played by Emmy winner Michael C. Hall of SIX FEET UNDER. He is a bloodstain pattern analyst who uses forensic science to help the Miami Metro P
olice Department catch criminals.
olice Department catch criminals.
Oh, and he also moonlights as a serial killer.
In The FIFTH SEASON of DEXTER Julia Stiles from THE JASON BOURNE FILMS plays Lumen, an abused victim who escapes her abusers and decides to help Dexter with his “moonlighting.”
DEXTER is a smart police procedural drama, that is exceptionally well written and if you have never seen it, you should.
This is an amazing show, and THE FIFTH SEASON is fantastic!! It just keeps getting better and better!!!
I can’t wait for SEASON SIX!!!
Finally this week… feel the need…the need for speed!!
In May of 1986 a film about fighter plane pilots was released, starring Tom Cruise as MAVERICK, a cocky pilot. At the time Cruise had yet to star in THE COLOUR OF MONEY, COCKTAIL, RAIN MAN or BORN ON THE FOURTH OF JULY…this was the film that made him a super star.
TOP GUN also starred Anthony Edwards, who would go on to greater success on the television series ER than he ever would in films, and his wife in the movie was played by a young Meg Ryan, who was three years away from global success in WHEN HARRY MET SALLY.
TOP GUN was the biggest film of 1986, and it is now available in a new Blu-ray, which – for some reason – doesn’t include any brand new extra features…but it does have some good older ones, including a 2.5 hour/six-part making of documentary.
TOP GUN is still a very entertaining popcorn film, and in High Definition it looks and sounds amazing!!
I love this movie and this Blu-ray will stay in my library forever!!
The still great TOP GUN, the fun COMPLETE SECOND SEASON of COUGAR TOWN, OFF THE MAP, THE FIFTH SEASON of the twisty and impressive series DEXTER, THE BIG BANG, WINTER IN WARTIME, the exceptional Academy Award winning Foreign Film IN A BETTER WORLD, and the coast to coast to coast Canadian concert film WE’RE THE WEAKERTHANS, WE’RE FROM WINNIPEG are all available now in stores and online.
Coming up inside the next Couch Potato Report
The made-in-Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, wannabe – but failed – thriller STAINED
Also next week, X-MEN: FIRST CLASS, Steve Carrell’s last season – SEASON SEVEN – of THE OFFICE, and the classic gangster film SCARFACE debuts 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!