The Couch Potato Report

Yes, even if you don’t like baseball, you should watch MONEYBALL!!

The Couch Potato Report – January 14th, 2012

Inside this week’s Couch Potato Report is one of the best of 2011, even if you don’t like baseball, and the best of all time!!

When I sat down and compiled my list of the best films I saw in 2011 – of the 624 of them I watched – here is the top five…5) BARNEY’S VERSION, 4) PEARL JAM: TWENTY, 3) THE HELP, 2) SUPER 8 and 1) Woody Allen’s MIDNIGHT IN PARIS.

In at Number Six…was MONEYBALL…and after watching it again this week, I have to admit I am a bit surprised that it didn’t place higher!! I love this movie!!

MONEYBALL is based on the book “Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game” by Michael Lewis. It is about the Oakland Athletics 2002 season and their general manager Billy Beane.

As the GM it is Beane’s job to assemble a competitive team, but he only has thirty-eight million dollars to spend, compared to the New York Yankees, who have one-hundred-and-seventeen million dollars.

And before you say “I don’t like baseball or baseball movies!!”…let me assure you that – while it has baseball in it, and is about baseball – MONEYBALL is not a baseball movie.

No, MONEYBALL is not your typical baseball film about a player or team struggling against the odds who – through the magic of the game – finds redemption or a championship. Instead, this is a movie about a man who discovers a new way to field a team, changing what has been done for over a hundred years, and he does it because he believes in it…and himself.

Brad Pitt leads the cast of MONEYBALL and he gives a spectacular performance that seems effortless. He is almost guaranteed an Academy Award nomination for it, he’s just that good…and so is this film.

No, it is not perfect, it has a few historical mistakes, but you will care for the characters in it, and you will root for them all to succeed…yes, even if you don’t like baseball.

MONEYBALL is a fantastic film!!

Up next is the best show on television about underworld characters since THE SOPRANOS went off the air.

Set in the 1920s during the during the Prohibition era BOARDWALK EMPIRE stars Steve Buscemi from FARGO and THE BIG LEBOWSKI as Nucky Thompson, the undisputed ruler of Atlantic City, who is part politician and part gangster.

Not unlike that other gangster filled show set in New Jersey, BOARDWALK EMPIRE also features a supporting cast of characters you will want to see get away with their crimes on occasion.

BOARDWALK EMPIRE is a great show, that is exceptionally well made, written and full of engaging characters and performances, but what works against it is the fact that it is the type of show you never need to see it again…once you’ve seen it, you’ve seen it.

I’ve seen it, I liked it, I’ll never watch it again…but I do recommend that you see it too!

We’ll stay in the underworld now for KILLER ELITE, an action film starring Jason Statham from the TRANSPORTER films as a retired mercenary who is forced back into action when his mentor is taken hostage.

Robert DeNiro is the mentor, and Clive Owen from THE BOURNE IDENTITY is the mysterious man from a secret society who is sent to try and clean up the mess this whole situation has caused.

KILLER ELITE offers up some great action scenes, the cast give good performances, and the result is a pretty good action film.

It’s not a classic, but it will make a good rental.

The Irish comedic crime thriller THE GUARD is also pretty good, but it doesn’t have as much to offer to as many people, primarily because of its dark, borderline racist humour…and because we’ve seen this story before, especially during LETHAL WEAPON and 48 HOURS.

This one is about an Irish police officer with a confrontational personality who is forced to work with an uptight American FBI agent to investigate an international drug-smuggling ring.

THE GUARD is exceptionally profane…and I mentioned the dark humour…but it is also an engaging comedy with plenty of good moments. It’s never great, but I liked it.

For these next four releases, you won’t hear me use the words good or great…instead I’ll use the word “useless”…and I certainly won’t call any of them a good rental.

Even if you love members of the cast, the filmmakers or their concepts, skip them all…they are useless, especially THE SCORPION KING 3 – BATTLE FOR REDEMPTION.

The first SCORPION KING was a spin-off from THE MUMMY franchise and while it wasn’t a classic, it was an okay action flick. The sequel, minus most of the original cast, was awful, and this third one – is useless. Yes, some of the fight scenes are not bad, but it isn’t worth it to bother.

THE SCORPION KING 3 – BATTLE FOR REDEMPTION is a useless sequel, and I hope it is the last one in the franchise.

Director Julie Taymor’s version of William Shakespeare’s THE TEMPEST won’t be the last, this immortal tale has been staged and filmed countless times over the years, and will be produced and filmed again, of that I am sure.

I am also sure that this one is one of the worst ever done!

This version of THE TEMPEST is so bad on so many levels, but it isn’t hard to point out the worst thing about it… Russell Brand performance as Trinculo was embarrassingly bad!!

Skip this version of THE TEMPEST, at all costs…it is awful!!

The cast of THE TEMPEST is very strong…it includes Helen Mirren, David Strathairn, Tom Conti, Alan Cumming, Chris Cooper and Alfred Molina…only Russell Brand is miscast.

The cast of I DON’T KNOW HOW SHE DOES IT – Pierce Brosnan, Christina Hendricks, Kelsey Grammer, Seth Meyers, Olivia Munn, and Jane Curtin – also looks good on paper, but on film it doesn’t work because the lead actress here is miscast.

Sarah Jessica Parker from SEX IN THE CITY should never have been cast as a finance executive who is the breadwinner for her husband and two kids.

She is utterly unbelievable in the role.

Based on Allison Pearson’s novel of the same name I DON’T KNOW HOW SHE DOES IT is smart and occasionally witty…but for a supposed comedy it isn’t funny, and ultimately isn’t entertaining and…you…won’t…care.

Forget I DON’T KNOW HOW SHE DOES IT…I don’t know why they made it!!

The final of this week’s four “useless” releases is a comedy starring an actress who could be good in movies…she is just rarely given material worthy of her talents.

Anna Farris has been good in the SCARY MOVIE films, and at times during THE HOUSE BUNNY, but too often she has starred in useless projects like OBSERVE AND REPORT, YOGI BEAR, TAKE ME HOME TONIGHT and now WHAT’S YOUR NUMBER?.

In this one she plays a woman who is looking back on the twenty men she has been intimate with and trying to decide if one of them may have been her true love…and you…won’t…care…because the movie also gives her a kind, fun, funny and sensitive hunk of a man she enjoys spending time with who just so happens to live across the hall from her, who eventually she has a disagreement with.

Gee, I wonder who she’s going to end up with?!?!

WHAT’S YOUR NUMBER? has a few laughs, but not many, and even though I do like the cast, I don’t care for their movie.

Skip it as well!!

I am fully aware that one person’s useless film is another person’s classic. To many – including the studio that originally produced it – Orson Welles’ 1942 follow-up to CITIZEN KANE was useless. To many, it isn’t as great as the Oscar winner that came before it, the characters aren’t totally fleshed out, and it seems as if the majority of the story is missing.

All of that is true as THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS was taken over by the studio before Welles’ truly finished it and was cut from a running time of over two hours to merely 88 minutes. They also shot and added a different, upbeat ending that Welles vehemently disapproved of.

Still, even with all the drama behind the scenes, Orson Welles’s adaptation of Booth Tarkington’s award-willing novel remains a very good film…never great because this isn’t the movie Welles wanted us to see and thus there are things missing…but it is still very good.

The story here is set during the late 19th century and follows the rise and fall of the wealthy Amberson family of Indianapolis, Indiana, and even though most of it seems lost on the cutting room floor forever, what does exist on DVD for the first time is a well made, visually brilliant film that is worth examining and seeing in the only form it does exist…this 88 minute version.

It isn’t a classic, but it still comes close. No matter how hard they tried, the studio couldn’t ruin THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS, Welles’ work is just too good!!

Finally this week what I consider to be the greatest film of all-time, Orson Welles CITIZEN KANE is now available in a 2-disc 70th Anniversary Edition blu-ray set that comes with a 48 page book.

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!!

The classic film CITIZEN KANE, its 1942 follow-up, THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS, the useless quartet THE SCORPION KING 3 – BATTLE FOR REDEMPTION, THE TEMPEST, I DON’T KNOW HOW SHE DOES IT and WHAT’S YOUR NUMBER?, the eclectic but fun Irish film THE GUARD, the pretty good action movie KILLER ELITE, THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON of the very good television series BOARDWALK EMPIRE and the fantastic film MONEYBALL…which I recommend even to people who don’t like baseball are all available now, either on disc or on demand.

Coming up inside the next Couch Potato Report

George Clooney and Canadian actor Ryan Gosling star in the political drama THE IDES OF MARCH and Taylor Lautner from the TWILIGHT films stars in ABDUCTION.

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!