The Couch Potato Report – September 10th, 2011
Inside this week’s Couch Potato Report are films made in Saskatoon, and British Columbia, and say hello to my little friend!!!
It is my position, it is my contention, it is my stand that in order for a movie to be considered good, it has to contain all the facts necessary to the story within the running time of the movie.
If I have to watch the bonus features, or read the book the film is based on, in order to understand the movie, then – as far as I am concerned – that film is a failure.
And I am not talking about a subtle nuance that is shared between two characters, or a portion of the story that is left up to the imagination…those I like, and usually admire.
No, what I am referring to are movies that never explain a characters motivation for something…in those instances I consider that film to be a failure.
Martin Scorsese’s SHUTTER ISLAND from last year failed for that very reason, and this year, the made-in-Saskatoon, Saskatchewan wannabe thriller STAINED also gets a failing grade because unless you watch the bonus features, you won’t know why a seemingly meek, book store owner suddenly – and very violently – kills someone.
Ok…sure…even without watching the behind-the-scenes featurette, you could draw your own conclusions…but why should you have to…why should I have to?!?!?!?!
STAINED primarily fails for that reason, but it is also unworthy of your time because, it’s just boring. Yes, I get it, the filmmakers want to build up dramatic tension prior to the killing scenes, and that is why the story seemingly takes it’s time getting where it is going, but it doesn’t work.
This whole movie is a failure…and you don’t have to watch the Couch Potato’s bonus features online at www.cbc.ca/couchpotato to have my finals thoughts revealed to you…just SKIP IT!!
The star of STAINED is Tinsel Korey, a Canadian actress from Vancouver.
South West of Vancouver, located on Vancouver Island approximately fifteen kilometres from Victoria is the city of Colwood, where Professor Xavier’s school is located in the very entertaining Summer film X-MEN: FIRST CLASS…but then again, since this one is a prequel that actually takes place before the X-Men formed their superhero team, technically I guess he isn’t Professor Xavier yet…so Colwood, British Columbia, is simply where his house is located, in real life.
In the movies it is located in New York State and it starts off as Xavier’s home, but eventually becomes the school where he trains young mutants to use their powers for the benefit of humanity, and to prove that mutants can be heroes.
Yes, X-MEN: FIRST CLASS is a prequel to the billion dollar film franchise, based on the Marvel Comics superhero team of the same name, and it is set in 1962, as the government enlists the help of Xavier, Magneto, and the first wave of mutants with superhuman abilities.
They need to stop a man – who is also a mutant – from starting World War III.
I am a huge fan of these X-MEN films, but I have to admit that the first time I saw FIRST CLASS in a theatre, I didn’t care for it. I didn’t think it offered up anything new, and it didn’t present us with any new characters worth rooting for.
But upon seeing it again this week, I really enjoyed it…the new characters still might not be worth rooting for, but it does offer up a few new things and is a very good action film, with a great cast, and some nice moments thrown in for long-time fans of the series.
Yes, I easily recommend X-MEN: FIRST CLASS. No, it isn’t as good as the first one, or X2: X-MEN UNITED, but it is way better than X-MEN: THE LAST STAND and X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE.
I also recommend…highly recommend in fact – the latest film from the director of LA FEMME NIKITA and LEON: THE PROFESSIONAL…Luc Besson.
This is a science-fiction-fantasy adventure film from France called THE EXTRAORDINARY ADVENTURES OF ADELE BLANC-SEC
Loosely based on the comic book series of the same name by Jacques Tardi, the film is set in Paris in the 1910s and is about a journalist and writer who constantly finds herself in unique situations…including entering a tomb to find a mummified doctor who might be able to save her comatose sister, and a hatched 136 million year-old pterosaur egg.
It would be easy to just call THE EXTRAORDINARY ADVENTURES OF ADELE BLANC-SEC a female Indiana Jones, and so I will. Add in a touch of fun, a great cast, and a bit of je ne sais quois, and you have an entertaining movie that I really liked!
Search this one out!!
I mentioned that Luc Besson was the director of LA FEMME NIKITA…a 1990 movie about a young female criminal who is captured by the authorities, but instead of sending her to jail, they decide to train her as a government assassin.
That film was remade by Hollywood in 1993 and called POINT OF NO RETURN, and the 1991 Hong Kong action film BLACK CAT was “inspired” by it, following the original film’s storyline very closely.
It was also the basis for the 1997 television series LA FEME NIKITA, and a show that debuted this time last year simply called NIKITA….starring Maggie Q from LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD and MISSION IMPOSSIBLE III.
This series focuses on Nikita, after she escaped from the secret government-funded organization. Instead of doing their bidding, she is now working to bring it down.
However, in the years since the original film 21 years ago, we have had dozens of shows like this – including ALIAS and DOLLHOUSE – so the show isn’t always fresh.
That said…much like it’s previous incarnations, THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON of NIKITA features lots of action, gunplay and violence and I liked it. While never great, it is a very good show.
From the action of NIKITA, let’s shift gears now to a documentary about a man who I thought was just a shampoo maker.
As it turns out, Vidal Sassoon is that…and so much more, as I found out in VIDAL SASSOON – THE MOVIE.
Prior to watching this movie, when I heard the name Vidal Sassoon, all I thought about was shampoo and his commercials.
I had no idea that Vidal Sassoon cut hair, or that he created the bob hair style…no idea at all!! But now I do, I know that…and more about the man.
VIDAL SASSOON – THE MOVIE does – at times – play like a commercial for the man and his products, and if he did anything nasty or underhanded toward any of his competition this movie doesn’t cover it, but what it does cover is a man who was and remains interesting, and is an artist with a pair of scissors.
I enjoyed this documentary!!
Finally this week, are two films, worthy of your attention, newly available in High Definition on Blu-ray.
Each film will be difficult for some people to watch – for completely different reasons – but both are destined to stand the test of time.
This first one already has…it is 1983’s SCARFACE, starring Al Pacino!
SCARFACE is set in Miami in 1980 and stars Pacino as Tony Montana, a Cuban immigrant who rises from nothing to become the head of a drug cartel.
Eventually he gets too big for his own good, and is forced to fight his enemies and the authorities.
SCARFACE is very violent at times, and that is why some people never warmed to it upon its initial release, or since. Personally I love it!! As scripted by Oliver Stone and directed by Brian DePalma, it is an action slash gangster slash mob movie that works!!
And the new Blu-ray sounds amazing, and features a very good version of the film in High Definition, and it comes in a Limited Edition Steelbook case, along with a copy of the 1932 version of the film on which this story was based.
If violence doesn’t bother you, and you have never seen it…I highly recommend it!!
This next film is one that I wish didn’t exist, on Blu-ray or otherwise, because the events it is based on…which happened ten years ago this weekend…are horrifying.
UNITED 93 is a real time account of the events on United Flight 93, one of the planes hijacked on 9/11 that crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania when passengers foiled the terrorist plot.
The story of UNITED 93 remains a heroic and heartbreaking one.
The film based on it remains compelling, and worthy of watching.
And may they people on that plane, and al the victims of 9/11, rest in peace.
The powerful UNITED 93, the classic Al Pacino/Brian DePalma/Oliver stone collaboration SCARFACE, THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON of the latest version of NIKITA, VIDAL SASSOON – THE MOVIE, the very entertaining French film THE EXTRAORDINARY ADVENTURES OF ADELE BLANC-SEC, the very good, partially filmed in British Columbia X-MEN: FIRST CLASS, and the made-in-Saskatoon failed thriller STAINED are all available now in stores and online.
Coming up inside the next Couch Potato Report
The greatest film ever made, Orson Welles’ masterpiece CITIZEN KANE, the Sumer Blockbuster THOR, SEASON TWO of GLEE and the Academy Award nominated, Genie Award winning Canadian film INCENDIES.
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!