The Couch Potato Report

Sooooo many good releases…which ones will you pick?!?

The Couch Potato Report – October 29th, 2011

Inside this week’s Couch Potato Report is face blindness, Captain America and a trip back to Jurassic Park.

Prosopagnosia– or face-blindness – is a disorder of face perception where the ability to recognize faces is impaired.

People who suffer from this affliction can still recognize voices, objects, colours, and body shapes, but they can’t recognize people’s faces.

Face-blindness is a real condition, and the basis for the made-in-Winnipeg wannabe thriller FACES IN THE CROWD.

Milla Jovovich from the RESIDENT EVIL films stars as a woman who survives a serial killer’s attack, but during her escape she falls off a bridge and hits her head, and is diagnosed with face-blindness.

Because of her condition Milla can’t recognize her boyfriend, her close friends faces, and sometimes not even herself.

She also can’t recognize the killer…but he knows exactly what she looks like…and he is after her.

I think the premise behind FACES IN THE CROWD is fantastic…but this movie is anything but. For a supposed thriller there is little to no tension, due to poor continuity and bad lip synching it comes across as poorly made at times, and you absolutely won’t care whether anyone in it lives or dies.

I still think the idea here would make a great movie…but this is not it. Skip FACES IN THE CROWD.

There were four movies released this summer based on comic book superheroes – THOR, X-MEN: FIRST CLASS, GREEN LANTERN and CAPTAIN AMERICA – THE FIRST AVENGER.

GREEN LANTERN was a mess, and I really liked THOR and X-MEN: FIRST CLASS, but my favourite of the four is the one starring the Captain.

The Captain is a member of the Marvel Universe who first appeared in Captain America Comics Number 1 – cover dated March 1941. He was created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby.

CAPTAIN AMERICA – THE FIRST AVENGER is set in the original time period of the comic book – World War II – and stars Chris Evans from the FANTASTIC FOUR FILMS and SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD as Steve Rogers, a small bodied and sickly man with a big heart and a desire to fight for his country. who is deemed unfit for regular military service, even after several attempts to enlist.

When a scientist offers him the chance to be part of a top secret research project, he jumps at it, and is transformed into a Super Soldier who becomes known as Captain America.

CAPTAIN AMERICA – THE FIRST AVENGER is a fun, entertaining comic book film that is exceptionally well made and features some seamless special effects. It also has a great cast, a superb villain, and you will care about the people in the film, and what happens to them.

I was completely entertained by it, and easily recommend it!!

I also recommend the TV series BARNEY MILLER, set in a New York City police station. The show is a comedy about a police captain, his squad, and the criminals and visitors who come and go from the squad room.

BARNEY MILLER ran from 1975 to 1982, and you can now own every episode of the series in a fantastic 25-Disc Box Set.

BARNEY MILLER – THE COMPLETE SERIES features all 168 episodes of the show, over an hour of new interviews with cast members Hal Linden – who played Barney Miller – Max Gail – Detective Stan ‘Wojo’ Wojciehowicz – and Abe Vigoda – who will always be better known as Fish.

This set also comes with the first season of FISH – Abe Vigoda’s spin-off series, a 32-page book, the original unaired pilot, and some audio commentaries.

I used to watch this show with my Father and my Grandfather, and so I could easily recommend BARNEY MILLER – THE COMPLETE SERIES just because of the memories I have of those times.

In addition to that, I can also easily recommend it is because of the characters, the writing and its humour. This is one of the greatest sitcoms of all time, and it has been given the Box Set it deserves…one you should search out!

TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER, SPY is up next…the six-part 1979 television mini-series based on the 1974 British spy novel by John le Carré, featuring George Smiley, an intelligence expert in forced retirement who is recalled to hunt down a Soviet mole in the “Circus”, the highest echelon of the Secret Intelligence Service.

The great Alec Guinness stars as George Smiley.

TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER, SPY is intriguing and involving, slow and smart and I enjoy it every time I watch it.

If you have never seen it, search this three disc set out…I highly recommend it!!

The very good documentary THE SHOCK DOCTRINE is up next.

It is based on Montreal author Naomi Klein’s book “The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism” and is an investigation of disaster capitalism, and the proposition that neo-liberal capitalism feeds on natural disasters, war and terror to establish its dominance.

It tells the story of an attempt to re-make people, shocking them into obedience.

THE SHOCK DOCTRINE is a very interesting film, and it is highly effective…however, it never presents an opposing view, so I was left wondering if what had been presented to me was all true…or just the opinions of the filmmakers.

I still recommend it…just know that you don’t get both sides of the story.

One of this week’s releases that I don’t recommend…in fact – and I know that HATE is a strong word – but I will use it in this instance…I absolutely hated this next release, a piece of junk called HESHER.

HESHER is about a homeless guy who moves into the garage of a family that is trying to get over the pain of losing a loved one. They are so wrapped up in their grief that – while they question why he is in their house – they never ask him to leave.

It is also about the family – a man, his mother and son – and their grief, and the woman who works at the grocery store who saves the kid from being beaten up by a bully…and you absolutely will not care!!

No matter how big a fan you may be of any of the stars of it, including Joseph Gordon-Levitt of INCEPTION, Rainn Wilson from THE OFFICE and Academy Award winner Natalie Portman, you should not watch this film.

HESHER is a sad, awful, depressing, awful, poorly written, awful, piece of junk!

As I said, I hated this movie, and you should skip it all costs!!

One movie that adults should also skip, but kids may like, is the Kevin James movie ZOOKEEPER.

James – from PAUL BLART: MALL COP – stars here as a…wait for it…zookeeper, who – in order to marry the supermodel of his dreams…must leave the zoo to work at his brothers automobile dealership.

But since the animals know what’s best, they decide to break their code of no talking to humans in order to help him out, and keep him at the zoo.

For adults, ZOOKEEPER is a surprisingly boring and very predictable film that only has a few good scenes.

For kids, there are talking animals, people hitting their heads and falling and flying through the air…and talking animals!!!

Yes, kids might like this…adults, you should skip it!!

Adults AND kids should pick up this next film, as I think it is good for everyone…and we can how see SPACE JAM in High Definition of Blu-ray!!

SPACE JAM is the 1996 film where a now-baseball playing Michael Jordan agrees to help the Looney Tunes play a basketball game against some aliens who want to enslave them.

I have always loved this film, and it was a great treat to see it again this week!! Adults, kids, I highly recommend SPACE JAM!!

A great film for Halloween – or anytime of the year for that matter – is also new on Blu-ray this week, THE CROW is a still superb 1994 action adventure fantasy film based on the 1989 comic book of the same name by James O’Barr.

The late Brandon Lee stars as Eric Draven, a man brutally murdered who comes back to life as an undead avenger.

He is seeking retribution for his own murder, and for his fiancée.

THE CROW is dark, dirty, and very gothic. It is also a great love story…albeit one told with plenty of violence.

It looks great on Blu-ray, and is a film that I have always highly recommended!

I have also always recommended Francis Ford Coppola’s 1974 film THE CONVERSATION…just not as highly.

THE CONVERSATION came out in between THE GODFATHER and THE GODFATHER, PART II and it stars Gene Hackman as a paranoid and very secretive surveillance expert in San Francisco who suspects that a couple he is spying on will be murdered.

So he decides that maybe he shouldn’t hand over the information he’s collected on them, especially to a character played by a young Harrison Ford.

THE CONVERSATION is new on blu-ray this week, and it comes with a wealth of Special Features…including one showing the differences between San Francisco when the film was shot and today, and an interview with director Francis Ford Coppola and composer David Shire

This is a film that I have always admired and respected. If you have never seen THE CONVERSATION, you should. It is interesting, smart and has an ending that is incredible!!

Finally this week is a blu-ray set that I have been waiting for…THE JURASSIC PARK TRILOGY!!!

While it is true that not all of the JURASSIC PARK films are equal, I still enjoy all three of the entries in Steven Spielberg’s ultra successful series about the creation of dinosaur theme parks featuring non-animatronic creatures who fight back – 1993’s JURASSIC PARK, 1997’s THE LOST WORLD: JURASSIC PARK and the non-Spielberg directed 2001 edition – JURASSIC PARK III.

Yes, I still enjoy all three…but I absolutely love the first one!!

And in addition to the films, THE JURASSIC PARK TRILOGY BOX SET also comes with Return To Jurassic Park: a six-part documentary featuring all-new interviews with directors Steven Spielberg and Joe Johnston plus cast and crew.

Surprisingly, the films in THE JURASSIC PARK TRILOGY don’t look pristine and clear on blu-ray…but they do sound amazing!!

I highly recommend them all…especially the first one…it is one of the greatest action adventure films of all time!!

The second one is very good…and the third one…well, it is okay too.

THE JURASSIC PARK TRILOGY, Francis Ford Coppola’s THE CONVERSATION, the great action film THE CROW, the great comedy SPACE JAM, the mildly entertaining ZOOKERP, the awful HESHER, the insightful THE SHOCK DOCTRINE, the television mini-series TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER, SPY, the spectacular 25 disc set BARNEY MILLER – THE COMPLETE SERIES, the very enjoyable Summer action film CAPTAIN AMERICA – THE FIRST AVENGER, and the made-in-Winnipeg mess FACES IN THE CROWD are all available now, either on disc or on demand.

Coming up inside the next All-Star edition of The Couch Potato Report

Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Julianne Moore, Emma Stone, Marisa Tomei and Kevin Bacon all star in the great romantic comedy CRAZY, STUPID LOVE.

Lightning McQueen, Sally, Mater, Finn McMissile and Holley Shiftwell all appear in the Pixar’s CARS 2.

Reese Witherspoon, TWILIGHT’s Robert Pattinson and Academy Award Winner Christoph Waltz topline WATER FOR ELEPHANTS

And Canadian acting Icon Christopher Plummer co-stars with Ewan McGregor and Mélanie Laurent in the very entertaining film BEGINNERS.

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!