The Couch Potato Report

More bad than good this week…unfortunately!!!

The Couch Potato Report – November 12th, 2011

Inside this week’s Couch Potato Report are some well-known Canadian musicians and the last Harry Potter releases…for now.

Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson, Neil Peart are better known as the band Rush…the Canadian band Rush who – since they formed back in 1974 – have won a number of Juno Awards, and have been inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame.

Rush’s most recent road trip was The Time Machine Tour, which offered fans the chance to hear their hits, along with their 1981 album MOVING PICTURES played live – in its entirety – for the first time. They also offered up some new tunes, from their in progress next studio album Clockwork Angels, due in 2012.

If you missed seeing the tour, RUSH – TIME MACHINE 2011 – LIVE IN CLEVELAND is now available, and in addition to the music, it also features the guys dressed up in costumes for the very funny skits they play between some songs.

RUSH – TIME MACHINE 2011 – LIVE IN CLEVELAND is a fantastic concert film from one our country’s greatest bands, and it offers up not only the music…but some great footage of Geddy, Alex and Neil having a blast on stage.

I easily recommend it!

I also easily recommend another release featuring Canadian musicians, GERRY, the mostly-made-in-Montreal biography of Gerry Boulet, the talented and personable lead singer of the Quebec rock band Offenbach.

Offenbach was the first Québécois band ever to headline at the Montreal Forum, and the film features that triumphant show, in addition to telling us the story of Gerry’s youth and the formation of a band with his brother.

The group was very successful in Canada, and in France – where they lived and toured for over two years.

Gerry – the man – was not always a likeable guy – and there are plenty of those moments in GERRY – the film. It does not shy away from showing his life – warts and all.

GERRY is a love letter to a beloved Quebecois musician, and his band…who were considered by some to be the Rolling Stones of Quebec…and it is also a very entertaining film.

Whether you have ever heard of Gerry Boulet – or Offenbach – or not, I easily recommend it.

There have been two releases I easily recommend so far this week, but we won’t get to a third. I wanted to – really wanted to like THE CHANGE UP, the latest body swap comedy, but I didn’t. Sadly, the film is just not very good.

THE CHANGE UP is exactly like FREAKY FRIDAY, BIG, 13 GOING ON 30, DREAM A LITTLE DREAM and LIKE FATHER LIKE SON – where one person switches bodies with another, learning something along the way, before ultimately switching back – so it has a great premise, and a fantastic cast – including Canada’s Ryan Reynolds, Jason Bateman, Olivia Wilde – but the movie will bore you at times.

YES, there are a few HUGE laughs in THE CHANGE UP, and some nice scenes between friends, but we have seen this story done before, and done better, so skip it…you don’t need to see it this time.

Another release that isn’t worthy of your time is THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON of the set-in-Ottawa, made-in-Regina CBC series INSECURITY.

The show wants to be a funny, tongue in cheek comedy about some bumbling agents at the fictional National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA), who work at keeping Canada safe, but they aren’t always very good at it.

This is a show that should have worked, a modern day group of bumbling secret agents – a gaggle of 21st Century Maxwell Smarts protecting Canada…but it doesn’t.

The characters are likeable, and it is exceptionally well made, but the tone of the show and the jokes just don’t work. Too often I found myself bored…and for a 22 minute show that is supposed to be a comedy, that is not good.

I wish I could – since it is a CBC show and I work for CBC – I wish I could recommend it, but I just can’t. I can’t, so you should skip THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON of INSECURITY.

Here’s hoping SEASON TWO of INSECURITY is better than the first…and you can see all-new episodes of the show Monday night at 8:30 pm only on CBC Television!!

Let’s head to THE BRIDGE now…that is the name of a Canadian police show that started off with stories that were more about the cops that the criminals…it wasn’t really ever a procedural drama…but even after an interesting start to the series, I lost interest in the show.

I like my cop shows to be about the life of cops and the solving of crimes, but this show is about the head of a police union who is working to clean up the force, and that includes cleaning it up from the people who run it.

Aaron Douglas from BATTLESTAR GALACTICA stars here and he – and the entire cast – are all very good…I just didn’t care about the show they were in.

THE BRIDGE isn’t the worst cop show ever, but I wasn’t surprised to hear that SEASON 1 will be the one and only season. The show has been cancelled, and it won’t be missed.

SMILEY’S PEOPLE is up next…it is the six-part 1982 television mini-series based on the 1979 British spy novel by John le Carré, featuring George Smiley, an intelligence expert in forced retirement who is recalled one final time to help settle the affairs of an old friend…and – as you might expect – his investigation uncovers some potentially deadly secrets.

The great Alec Guinness once again stars as George Smiley.

SMILEY’S PEOPLE 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, and its predecessor TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY!!

This quartet of television programs concludes now with the fourth season of the series CALIFORNICATION…once again starring David Duchovny from THE X-FILES as a sex addicted novelist with “loose morals” whose need to be with every woman he meets, complicates his relationships with his long time girlfriend and daughter.

Season Four picks up right where Season Three left off as the bad-boy novelist is getting out of jail, with his home life in ruins, and as the season goes on he is facing trial for statutory rape of a minor.

Duchovny’s character in CALIFORNICATION is utterly unlikeable, but as an actor Duchovny is so likeable that you do not dislike him…you sort of root for him.

THE COMPLETE FOURTH SEASON of CALIFORNICATION isn’t as good as the third season, which wasn’t as good as the second season, which wasn’t as good as the first one. The show is getting tired, and there are even a few episodes that I would describe s awful during THE FOURTH SEASON…but when Season Five comes out next year I will watch it…I just like the show, even when it is bad.

Bad is a word I could use to describe THE KATE LOGAN AFFAIR, but I will primarily use the word awful…a few times.

THE KATE LOGAN AFFAIR is an awful, awful, awful, awful movie!!!

Alexis Bledel from GILMOUR GIRLS Stars here as a young police officer who manages to get a married French businessman to have an affair with her and then…you…won’t…care!!

This movie is totally unbelievable – on absolutely every level – and the acting, writing and all of it – all of it, is awful!!

Skip THE KATE LOGAN AFFAIR at any cost!!

You should also skip SNOW FLOWER AND THE SECRET FAN, even though it does have it moments.

Based on the novel of the same name by Lisa See and directed by Wayne Wang – who also gave us THE JOY LUCK CLUB – the story here partially takes place in 19th century China and is about the lifelong friendship between two girls who develop their own secret code as a way to contend with the rigid cultural norms imposed on women.

It is also about two friends here in the 21st century, and it is the latter story that bogs this film down because they aren’t as interesting.

The book of SNOW FLOWER AND THE SECRET FAN doesn’t have the modern day story, just the 19th century one, and it is a very interesting read.

The film is sappy, but not sentimental, and you aren’t likely to feel emotionally involved with any of the characters…I know I wasn’t.

Skip the movie…check out the book.

SNOW FLOWER AND THE SECRET FAN was filmed in China, and we leave that world for another foreign film… Y TU MAMA TAMBIEN, set in Mexico, where two teenage boys go on a road trip with an attractive older woman, and learn a few lessons about life, friendship, sex, and each other.

Y TU MAMA TAMBIEN is a very entertaining film that I have always really enjoyed. It is smart, funny, fun and the scenery is beautiful!!

If you have never seen it, I suggest you search it out.

I have three films for you now that are all available now in the Limited Edition Steelbook packaging that is preferred by some collectors…including me!!

I love steelbooks, the case is made of metal and features unique artwork, and when the films I love are in them, they are must have additions to my blu-ray library!!

Especially the Academy Award nominated 2000 film REQUIEM FOR A DREAM about four drug addicted New Yorkers whose lives fall apart when their drug addictions become stronger.

REQUIEM FOR A DREAM was the first film that garnered Oscar attention for director Darren Aronofsky and he followed it up with the also nominated THE WRESTLER and the Academy Award winning BLACK SWAN.

Much like those two, this is not an easy film to watch. Aronofsky’s style is to push viewers and test their patience, and that was never more true that in REQUIEM FOR A DREAM. Some scenes in this film can only be described as unsettling, and that is why this is a film that I don’t love…and have never loved…but I respect it enough to keep it n my library.

I do love…and have always loved director Robert Rodriguez’ action film FROM DUSK TILL DAWN, and in its shiny new steelbook packaging – with star George Clooney on the front – this one is a proud addition to my library!!

This 1996 action film stars Clooney and Quentin Tarantino as two criminals who take hostages in order to get into Mexico, but they unknowingly stop and seek refuge in bar populated by vampires.

FROM DUSK TILL DAWN was written by Tarantino, and so it bursts with dialogue and the action – courtesy of Rodriguez – is fantastic!!

This is a great action flick, and I love having it on blu-ray in steelbook packaging!!

When it comes to blu-ray, and packaging in its entirety, there may be some who are indifferent.

And it is true…packaging doesn’t make a film better, it just makes it more collectible…but I like collectibles, and so I enjoy knowing that I can have – for a limited amount of time – a classic film like GONE WITH THE WIND in this style of packaging.

This classic 1939 film about Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler and their ongoing relationship set in the American south during the Civil War and Reconstruction would look great housed in just a cardboard sleeve…but I am glad to have GONE WITH THE WIND in a steelbook!!

It is a film, and a type of packaging, I continue to highly recommend!

The biggest film of 2011 is helping to close this edition of The Couch Potato Report.

HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS – PART TWO made $381 million at the Box Office since its release in July, and it is about to head straight to the top of the home viewing charts as well.

Based – as always – on the novel by J. K. Rowling DEATHLY HALLOWS was split into two movies and PART TWO allows us to follow Harry, Ron and Hermione as they try to destroy Lord Voldemort once and for all.

I enjoyed the Harry Potter books when I’ve read them, and – as with the other films – I liked HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS – PART TWO, but – for me – these films have never blown me away. They are very, very good, and the cast of young actors remain fantastic, but I have never highly recommend any one of them, and I don’t with this one either.

But – to those of you who continue to love them much more than I ever will – good for you, Muggles!!! We all have to have something we love!!

WARNING…WARNING…WARNING…while you are in the store picking up your copy of DEATHLY HALLOWS – PART TWO, you will see an 8 disc set called HARRY POTTER – THE COMPLETE COLLECTION – YEARS 1 – 7 on the shelf as well, and you can buy that if you’d like…HOWEVER, it only has the films, and very few Special Features. In 2012 a box set that is already been labelled THE DEFINITIVE COLLECTION will be released, and it is likely to be 19 or 20 discs, if not more.

You have been warned.

HARRY POTTER – THE COMPLETE COLLECTION – YEARS 1 – 7 and HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS – PART TWO, the classic GONE WITH THE WIND, the great action film FROM DUSK TILL DAWN, the odd Oscar nominee REQUIEM FOR A DREAM, Y TU MAMA TAMBIEN, SNOW FLOWER AND THE SECRET FAN, THE KATE LOGAN AFFAIR, THE FOURTH SEASON of CALIFORNICATION, the great mini-series SMILEY’S PEOPLE, SEASON ONE of THE BRIDGE, THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON of the CBC series INSECURITY, the wannabe comedy THE CHANGE UP, the biography GERRY – about Gerry Boulet and the Quebec band Offenbach, and the concert film RUSH – TIME MACHINE 2011 – LIVE IN CLEVELAND are all available now, either on disc or on demand.

Coming up inside the next Couch Potato Report

Kenny Hotz – from KENNY VS. SPENNY – is back with a new television series…in TRIUMPH OF THE WILL he is trying to change society, as we know it.

Also next week, Patrick Dempsey and Ashley Judd star in the heist comedy FLY PAPER, Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts topline LARRY CROWNE, and the LOONEY TUNES show up on blu-ray for the first time in the fantastic three-disc set – THE PLATINUM COLLECTION.

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!