The Couch Potato Report

Once again this week, there is some good stuff!!!

The Couch Potato Report – September 17th, 2011

Inside this week’s Couch Potato Report is the greatest film of all time, and the best Canadian film of last year.

Our usual way of doing things here on The Report is to begin with a review of the most recent Canadian film that is available, and end with a title that has been re-released in High Definition on Blu-ray.

However this week, I am doing the re-release first and the Canadian film last…and it isn’t just any Canadian film…it is the Academy Award nominated Genie Award winning film INCENDIES!!

Yes, the film that was named the Best Canadian Film of 2010 will be last this week, but certainly not least…and that is only because the greatest film of all-time has been re-released in a new 70th Anniversary Edition.

Orson Welles’ CITIZEN KANE.

CITIZEN KANE is a movie that I still watch at least a couple of times each year, and it never fails to impress me with its cinematography, music, narrative structure and exceptional performances. The film is so fresh I am constantly surprised that it is seventy years old!!

CITIZEN KANE features Wells as Charles Foster Kane, one of the world’s richest men, and the story is about his ongoing desire to be loved. It is also about a group of reporters who are trying to discover what the last word Kane ever spoke – “Rosebud” – means.

The 70th Anniversary Ultimate Collector’s Edition of CITIZEN KANE doesn’t come with any new Bonus features, but it does come with all of the ones included on previous DVD releases, including the fantastic documentary THE BATTLE OVER CITIZEN KANE, which takes a look at the real life battle that took place as newspaper mogul William Randolph Hearst tried to have the film destroyed. He thought it was meant to be an unflattering portrayal of him, and the woman he loved…and it just may well have been.

I have seen CITIZEN KANE so often that I know each and every frame of it, and I have never seen it look or sound better than it does on Blu-ray.

It is a masterwork, it is a masterpiece, it is the definition of the word classic…it is the greatest and my favourite film of all time!!

Three other of my favourite films of all-time are included this week in another new Blu-ray Box Set…along with three other films that I have always been lukewarm toward.

A NEW HOPE – once known as just STAR WARS – THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK and RETURN OF THE JEDI are the keepers, THE PHANTOM MENACE, ATTACK OF THE CLONES and REVENGE OF THE SITH – while they all do have some good moments in them – are the lesser of the six.

They are all available now in High Definition in the nine-disc set STAR WARS – THE COMPLETE SAGA.

Sadly, the versions of the original three films are not the ones we saw in theatres…George Lucas has tinkered with them repeatedly…and once again…so in addition to Greedo still shooting first, and Jabba the Hutt confronting Han Solo in the Millennium Falcon’s launch bay…in the new versions, the Ewoks now blink.

Bottom line, if you – or your kids – love these films – these Blu-rays look and sound great and this is now the best way to watch them.

Eventually we’ll get to see the original version in HD…but this is what we have for now…and while I am not completely satisfied, I still love STAR WARS – THE COMPLETE SAGA…the good, and the bad.

From STAR WARS…it is time for STORAGE WARS now!

STORAGE WARS is a reality television series about some guys – and a woman – who travel throughout California to buy storage lockers…because when rent is not paid on a storage locker for three months in California, the contents are sold by an auctioneer. You get the whole thing, no matter what is in it…and there can be good and bad.

The people on the show are professional buyers, and they are very good at what they do. Their goal is to turn a profit on the merchandise they buy, and they usually do that…and when the show is about the lockers and the stuff they find, I enjoyed SEASON ONE of STORAGE WARS.

Why I don’t recommend it, and ultimately didn’t like about it is the fact that some of these “professional buyers” are awful human beings…they are complete jerks on occasion…and I get that it is just business, but that doesn’t make an awful person likeable.

Some of STORAGE WARS – SEASON 1 is very entertaining…but not enough for me to suggest you pick up the three-disc set. Instead, if you catch an episode while you are flipping around, check it out.

Another television show that has just seen its FIRST SEASON released on DVD is BLUE BLOODS…starring Tom Selleck, Donnie Wahlberg, Bridget Moynahan, and Winnipeg born actor Len Cariou.

The show is about a family of New York City cops, their dealings on the street, and their dealings with each other.

THE FIRST SEASON of BLUE BLOODS is a well-written and well acted show, full of characters that you will actually care about. It isn’t the greatest cop show of all time…but it is very, very good.

I liked it.

I also liked a film from France that came out this week, one called POTICHE starring Catherine Deneuve and Gérard Depardieu.

POTICHE – en Anglais – mean “Trophy Wife” and when the husband of Deneuve’s “Trophy Wife” is taken hostage by his striking employees, she takes over the family business and becomes an effective and beloved leader.

But business and personal complications arrive when her ex-lover – played by Depardieu – gets involved, and her husband recovers.

Both Deneuve and Depardieu are great in the film and POTICHE is very good. I really enjoyed it!!

I have a release now for anyone who found the Academy Award winning film GLADIATOR too tame, and not violent enough.

SPARTACUS – GODS OF THE ARENA is a six-episode television mini-series that is a prequel to the show SPARTACUS – BLOOD AND SAND. That latter show is a series inspired by the historical figure of Spartacus (played by Andy Whitfield), a Thracian gladiator who from 73 to 71 BC led a major slave uprising against the Roman Republic.

When Andy Whitfield was diagnosed with cancer, the producers of the show decided to do a prequel while their star underwent treatment…and so there isn’t actually anyone named Spartacus in GODS OF THE ARENA, instead this show is about the time before Spartacus struck down his first opponent in the arena, and is about the other gladiators who fought in the sand.

Much like the SPATACUS series, SPARTACUS – GODS OF THE ARENA is exceptionally violent, profane and full of nudity…and while it is never great, it is exactly what it sets out to be…an exceptionally violent and profane show, that is full of nudity.

It isn’t classic television, but it is very entertaining.

The biggest theatrical hit that has been released this week is the Summer Blockbuster based on the Marvel comic THOR, about the god of thunder.

THOR is a powerful, but arrogant warrior. After defying his King – who is also his father – and played by Anthony Hopkins – Thor is cast out of the fantastic realm of Asgard and sent to live on Earth amongst humans.

When our planet is threatened, he becomes our defender.

THOR is not a spectacular action film based on a comic book – like THE DARK KNIGHT, SPIDER-MAN and IRON MAN were – but it is above average, has a great cast and is very funny at times.

It is a bit predictable, but I really enjoyed it and easily recommend it.

Finally this week…last but definitely and absolutely not least…is the Academy Award nominated Genie Award winning film INCENDIES!!

INCENDIES is about two Montreal twins who are given a task by their mother upon her death to find their Father.

They are also told that they have a brother they never knew about.

So they travel to the Middle East to discover their family history, and fulfill their mother’s last wishes.

INCENDIES received an Oscar Nod as Best Foreign Language film this year, and it won eight Genie Awards as Canada’s Best Film back in March. It also picked up Canadian film awards for writing and directing, for Denis Villeneuve…and it was a worthy winner of them all.

INCENDIES is a powerful, smart, one-of-a-kind film that will have you thinking and talking about it well after you have seen it.

I highly, very highly recommend it!!

The Academy Award nominated Genie Award winning film INCENDIES (Ehan-son-dee), the very entertaining THOR, the action packed SPARTACUS – GODS OF THE ARENA, the very good French film POTICHE, THE FIRST SEASON of the very good police family show BLUE BLOODS, SEASON 1 of the partially enjoyable reality series STORAGE WARS, STAR WARS – THE COMPLETE SAGA and the greatest film of all-time – CITIZEN KANE are all available now in stores and online.

Coming up inside the next Couch Potato Report

The Canadian film FAMILIAR GROUND, the blockbuster comedy BRIDESMAIDS, and DUMBO also turns 70!!

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!