The Couch Potato Report

Have a great Family Day!! Why not grab something to watch for the whole clan!!

The Couch Potato Report – February 18th, 2012

Inside this week’s Couch Potato Report is trash, the future, some rum, a lady, a tramp, and Malcolm X.

There is a wide variety of films out this week, and I’ll begin by bringing in the TRASH.

Made-in-Montreal, TRASH is about a former drug abusing street kid who has cleaned up his ways and is now in his forties, running a successful garbage collection business, with a beautiful wife and family.

One night, while out trying to keep his neighbourhood safe, he finds a drug addicted prostitute – in the trash – and decides to make it his mission to help her…no matter what it costs him…his business, his family, his life…whatever it costs.

TRASH really held my interest for the first hour, but the last part of it – as our hero’s downward spiral goes on and on and on – lost me, and that is why I can’t strongly recommend it…but I did think it was pretty good.

So, call that a mild recommendation.

We are off to Calgary now, where the majority of the wannabe intellectual drama THE FUTURE IS NOW was shot.

This one has good intentions, as it features several artists sharing their creative views on the world while it asks about the importance of art and culture in society.

But what ultimately dooms it is the premise used to get us into the story – an female journalist – who isn’t likeable – meets an man who, while also unlikeable is a responsible citizen, but he’s disengaged from greater society. He believes once he’s dead nothing more matters. So, as an experiment to see if she can turn his pessimistic views around, she sends him on a journey…which is where he meets the philosophers, art creators and others he talks to.

Since the two lead characters – both played by actors – are people you don’t care about, and are just not likeable, that ultimately makes their actions, motivations, and conclusions moot.

Now, when THE FUTURE IS NOW goes away from the two leads, and lets the architect, activist, poet and other people speak, then it has something to offer. Not enough to make me recommend it, but something.

I really didn’t like THE FUTURE IS NOW…and I couldn’t wait for it to end. That isn’t me being pessimistic, this movie is just a waste of time.

Dear diary…this week I watched a film that I really wanted to like…one called THE RUM DIARY that was based on a novel by the great writer Hunter S. Thompson – who I love – and starring Johnny Depp – an actor whose work I usually love…and you know what diary? I did, I really liked it. It was never great, but it was very smart, very funny at times, and ultimately very good. I am glad I saw it, diary…and I will see you again tomorrow.

Depp stars in THE RUM DIARY as a man who travels to Puerto Rico to write for a run-down local newspaper. He quickly learns to like the rum soaked life the Island offers, and the beautiful fiancé of a relocated American entrepreneur.

THE RUM DIARY – not unlike FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS – is really meant for true Hunter S. Thompson aficionados…and it is to you whom I highly recommend it! To everyone else, know going in that this is not a movie for everyone…and if you like it, make sure you read everything Thompson ever wrote…it will open your mind!

William Shakespeare is widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world’s pre-eminent dramatist. He has given us lines such as: “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?”; “O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo?”; “Now is the winter of our discontent.”; “If you prick us, do we not bleed? if you tickle us, do we not laugh? if you poison us, do we not die? and if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?”; “This above all: to thine own self be true.”; and – of course – “To be, or not to be: that is the question”.

But…what if he didn’t write those lines…what if someone other than William Shakespeare wrote them, and the works attributed to him?

What if Shakespeare of Stratford was a front to shield the identity of the real author or authors, who for some reason did not want or could not accept public credit?

That is the premise for the film ANONYMOUS.

ANONYMOUS is as pseudo-historical drama that is a fictionalized version of the life of Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford, a playwright, poet and patron of the arts.

It presents him as the true author of Shakespeare’s plays, and also tells the story of the succession of Queen Elizabeth and the Essex Rebellion against her.

ANONYMOUS works best when it focuses on the Shakespeare authorship question, and whether the Queen declares that de Vere will never be known as the author of his plays and poems. That stuff I really, really enjoyed.

The other stuff…the attempt to make it a political thriller…didn’t appeal to me as much, but I still enjoyed the film.

It has a great cast – including Rhys Ifans, Vanessa Redgrave, Joely Richardson and David Thewlis – the costumes and sets are very good…and it also features Shakespeare’s timeless words.

ANONYMOUS is not an exceptional film…but it is very good. I enjoyed it, and I easily recommend it.

Something else I also recommend is THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA AT THE ROYAL ALBERT HALL!

In celebration of the 25th Anniversary of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical a lavish production was undertaken and filmed, inspired by the original staging. This fully-staged production features most of what you’ll remember from the well-known versions that have traveled the world, but the main difference is that is set in London’s legendary Royal Albert Hall.

THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA AT THE ROYAL ALBERT HALL features a cast and orchestra of over 200, plus some very special guest appearances, and if you love this show it is a must own!!

THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA AT THE ROYAL ALBERT HALL and ANONYMOUS are both very entertaining releases.

And – for different reasons – so is VOLUME 4 of Mike Judge’s animated series BEAVIS AND BUTTHEAD.

Beavis and Butthead are two socially awkward, metal loving teenage delinquents who were the stars of an animated show that originally aired from March of 1993 to November 1997. In addition to stories about their lives and mis-adventures, their show also featured them commenting on music videos…and being very, very funny in the process…and after too many years away, they are back!!

New episodes began airing last October 27, and those episode make up VOLUME 4.

The boys no longer make fun of just music videos, they – and their show – also mock reality shows like 16 AND PREGNANT and JERSEY SHOW, among others.

Times have changed since BEAVIS AND BUTTHEAD first aired, so the new stuff doesn’t feel as clever or fresh as it did in the old days…but it is still funny, laugh out loud funny at times…and VOLUME 4 is for those who enjoy a good, cheap laugh.

One television show that feels just as fresh – to me – as it did when it first aired – because I remember seeing it when I was a kid – is Dr. Seuss’ THE LORAX…based on his book of the same name.

This 1972 television special has been released ahead of the new theatrical film based on Dr. Seuss’ book that will be released March 2nd, and while a whole new generation will discover the story of a useless but versatile fashion product made from trees that kills a forest, the new one has a lot to live up to, as this original version is still amazing to watch.

I love THE LORAX…he speaks for the trees!

It is worst release of the week time!! This week that “honour” goes to a failed crime drama called TEXAS KILLING FIELDS. In this movie – totally devoid of tension or drama – a Texas homicide detective teams up with a cop from New York City to investigate a series of unsolved murders….and you…won’t…care.

TEXAS KILLING FIELDS has a great cast that includes Sam Worthington, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Chloë Grace Moretz, and Jessica Chastain from THE HELP, but they can’t help this boring movie, which was inspired by true events.

Skip this one…it is a complete waste of your time.

We have arrived at STORAGE WARS now…the 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 enjoy STORAGE WARS.

Why I didn’t recommend SEASON ONE when it was released last year was because – quite often – these “professional buyers” are awful human beings…even complete jerks on occasion.

But the reason I will now recommend SEASON TWO is because the producers seem to have realized that their cast of characters were too unlikable, and so they have produced a more likeable series of shows.

STORAGE WARS – SEASON TWO is very entertaining, and I recommend you check it out. Skip SEASON ONE, but this one is great!!

Hey…do you remember the classic movie scene where the dogs named Lady and The Tramp are eating spaghetti and meatballs in a back alley? It is a classic scene, and Walt Disney’s 1955 film LADY AND THE TRAMP looks and sounds better than ever now, with its release on blu-ray.

This romantic tale of an uptown Cocker Spaniel who falls for a streetwise downtown Mutt comes with a wealth of special features, but the primary reason to pick it up is for the timeless film itself.

I love LADY AND THE TRAMP, always have, and I always will.

Finally this week, Spike Lee’s masterful 1992 film about the life of controversial and influential Muslim minister and human rights activist MALCOLM X.

Denzel Washington gives a great performance in this film, and it is a spectacular piece of work, and the new blu-ray comes housed in a 40-page book containing production photos from and information on the film. It also includes the Academy Award nominated 1972 documentary…also called MALCOLM X.

Both films are worthy of your time, and I easily recommend you pick up this tremendous package!

Spike Lee’s still impressive biopic MALCOM X, the Disney classic LADY AND THE TRAMP, the very entertaining SEASON TWO of the show STORAGE WARS, the useless TEXAS KILLING FIELDS, Dr. Seuss’ fun 1970’s television special THE LORAX, VOLUME 4 of the insightful and funny BEAVIS AND BUTTHEAD, the performance film THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA AT THE ROYAL ALBERT HALL, the entertaining ANONYMOUS, Johnny Depp’s very good Hunter S. Thompson inspired THE RUM DIARY, the awful partially-filmed-in-Alberta pseudo-documentary THE FUTURE IS NOW, and the pretty good made-in-Montreal film TRASH are all available now, either on disc or on demand.

Coming up inside the next Couch Potato Report

The punk rock movie THE OTHER F WORD, the Academy Award nominated PUSS IN BOOTS, the failed TOWER HEIST and Clint Eastwood’s J. EDGAR and UNFORGIVEN.

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!