The Couch Potato Report

If it stays rainy and chilly out this weekend, why not watch a movie?!

The Couch Potato Report – April 14th, 2012

Inside this week’s Couch Potato Report are The Boy In Blue, The Iron lady and The Truth About Cats And Dogs.

Ladies and Gentlemen…it is time for a Canadian History Minute.

Edward “Ned” Hanlan was a professional sculler, hotelier, and alderman from Toronto. In 1880 he was the first Canadian athlete to become World Champion in an individual event, and he was also the first Canadian athlete to gain international recognition.

Ned success partially came from the fact that he was one of the first scullers to successfully utilize the “sliding seat”.

During the course of his rowing career, Ned Hanlan won more than 300 races, including exhibitions, and suffered fewer than a dozen defeats.

When he died of pneumonia in 1908, he was only 52. Ten-thousand people filed past his coffin to pay their respects, and tributes flowed in from around the world.

And that’s your Canadian History Minute.

Now, in 1986, Ned Hanlon’s story was told in the film THE BOY IN BLUE, starring a then very young Nicolas Cage who made the film in Ontario and near Montreal right before going off to star in PEGGY SUE GOT MARRIED, RAISING ARIZONA and MOONSTRUCK.

THE BOY IN BLUE also stars Canadian actresses Cynthia Dale and Melody Anderson, and Canadian acting icon Christopher Plummer.

THE BOY IN BLUE is a bit predictable, you can figure out how it is going to end long before the final race…even if you don’t know who Ned Hanlon is…but I have always liked this movie.

If you have never seen it, search out the new DVD and blu-ray…and for more on the life of Ned Hanlan, search out the book “Fire on the Water: The Red-hot Career of Superstar Rower Ned Hanlan” by Wendy Lewis.

Both are informative and entertaining.

Also informative, but not that entertaining, is the Academy Award winning biopic THE IRON LADY, starring Meryl Streep as former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

Meryl won her third Oscar for her work in this film, and she is fantastic. Yes, at times, she does sound a little too much like she did when she was playing Julia Child, but I still thought she was amazing!

Streep is great…the film – set around imagined conversations she has with her recently deceased husband as she struggles to come to terms with his death while scenes from her past life, from girlhood to British prime minister play out – doesn’t always work.

It is like a highlight reel of her life as we see a series of events, connected by her memories of them.

THE IRON LADY is not a great film, but I did find it interesting and – as I said – Streep is amazing. I probably won’t ever sit through it again, but I am glad that I have seen it.

One film I will sit through again in the documentary from the BBC called ONE LIFE. Admittedly it is really just an 85 minute edited version of the 10 part series LIFE, which I have seen several times already, but I still thoroughly enjoyed it and can easily recommend it.

Narrated by Daniel Craig, ONE LIFE is full of some incredible nature scenes and footage that you might not otherwise get to see…plus it is very well written and includes some very dramatic scenes.

ONE LIFE is a fantastic documentary! I highly, and easily recommend it!

From a film I really enjoyed, it is time now for one that I didn’t enjoy at all.

The Australian film SLEEPING BEAUTY kept me interested enough that I wanted to see how it would all end, but I didn’t really care and mostly I was just bored.

Emily Browning from SUCKER PUNCH stars in SLEEPING BEAUTY as a young university student who seems to be willing to do anything and try anything. So when she is offered a high paying job to sleep – just sleep – in bed beside paying customers…she jumps at the chance…and you won’t care.

This movie is meant to be an erotic drama, but it is just boring, not unlike Stanley Kubrick’s EYES WIDE SHUT.

Even though it was interesting enough that I wanted to see how it ended, SLEEPING BEAUTY is a waste of time.

Skip it, at all costs.

I have said it before here on The Couch Potato Report, and I will say it again – “I will watch any science fiction film or television show, good or bad!”

So – even though I didn’t expect much from it – I was pleased to take the time to sit down this week and watch THE DARKEST HOUR, about five people in their twenties in Moscow who lead the fight against an alien race who have attacked Earth via our power supply.

As I said, I didn’t expect much from THE DARKEST HOUR, and that is good because I didn’t get much from it.

The acting is wooden, it isn’t well written, and the special effects aren’t that great. Admittedly, it isn’t the worst science fiction film that I have ever seen, but it is far from the best.

I don’t recommend it, but because I will happily watch any sci-fi, good or bad, I have no regrets that I have seen it.

Legendary comedian Bob Newhart has two tremendously successful television shows – THE BOB NEWHART SHOW – which ran from 1972 to 1978 – and NEWHART – that aired from 1982 to 1990. Both of them are considered by many to amongst the greatest sitcoms of all time.

Then, in 1992 and 1993 he came back to star in a show called BOB…which is not a great show, in fact after the first season they whole show changed and Bob went from being a cartoonist, to running a greeting card company.

BOB started to get better in its second season, but that was only because they brought in a number of well-known performers to join the cast….including Betty White.

Both seasons of the show – all 33 episodes – are now available in a 4-disc set and while BOB – THE COMPLETE SERIES is never anywhere near as good as either of Bob Newhart’s other shows, but it has its moments. Not many, but some.

Plus, some of Newhart’s old co-stars pop up from time to time, and those moments are great.

Finally this week is a small film from 1996 that is new on blu-ray this week, Uma Thurman and Janeane Garafalo star in the very entertaining romantic comedy THE TRUTH ABOUT CATS AND DOGS.

Janeane stars here as a successful radio show host who meets a man she likes, but because of her low self-esteem she convinces him she looks like the model who lives next door, who played by Uma Thurman.

The man talks with Janeane, and loves who she is, but in their face to face meetings, Uma is front and centre and Janeane is just her friend.

THE TRUTH ABOUT CATS AND DOGS is pseudo-twist on the tale of Cyrano De Bergerac, done with women, and for me it works.

The cast is great, the film is fun, and even though you can see the ending coming a mile away, it all still works.

Unfortunately the new blu-ray doesn’t offer a pristine version of the film, and there are no special features, but I still love the movie.

And that’s the truth…about cats and dogs!

The very enjoyable romantic comedy THE TRUTH ABOUT CATS AND DOGS, THE COMPLETE SERIES of Bob Newhart’s not great, but okay nineties show BOB, the not great sci-fi flick THE DARKEST HOUR, the boring Australian film SLEEPING BEAUTY, the very entertaining BBC documentary ONE LIFE, the interesting but not great biopic THE IRON LADY – which deservedly won Meryl Streep her third Academy Award – and the 1986 made in Ontario and near Montreal film THE BOY IN BLUE, starring a young Nicolas Cage, are all available now, either on disc or on demand.

Coming up inside the next Couch Potato Report

The made-in-Winnipeg sci-fi horror thriller THE DIVIDE, the made-in-British Columbia drama GIRLFIGHT, the BBC documentary series FROZEN PLANET and Tom Cruise is back in the blockbuster action film MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – GHOST PROTOCOL.

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!