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If you need something to watch this long weekend, maybe this will help!!

The Couch Potato Report – May 19th, 2012

Inside this week’s Couch Potato Report – a made-in-Alberta western, an Academy Award nominee and World War II.

If you have been looking to get away from it all, why not take a break from the twenty-first century and travel back with me to 1865 where the made in Southern-Alberta series HELL ON WHEELS is set.

This is a show that is set after The Civil War and is about the people who live in the settlement that is created as the construction of the first transcontinental railroad goes on. The settlement is known as “Hell on Wheels” by the company men, surveyors, support workers, labourers, prostitutes, mercenaries and others who call the moving town their home.

THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON of HELL ON WHEELS is also about revenge as a former Confederate soldier searches for the men responsible for the death of his wife.

As far as modern day western television series are concerned, HELL ON WHEELS is nowhere near as good as DEADWOOD…but it is a very good show nonetheless. It is populated by great characters and storylines that don’t always go where you’d expect them to and I liked it and easily recommend THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON.

When this year’s Academy Award nominations for Best Actress were announced on January 24 it was no surprise that Glenn Close received a nod for her performance as a man named Albert Nobbs.

ALBERT NOBBS is set in late 19th century Ireland. Since women aren’t encouraged to be independent, she poses as a man so she can work as a butler in a Dublin hotel.

Everything changes for Albert upon meeting a handsome painter as she decides to try and to escape the lie she has been living.

ALBERT NOBBS features some tremendous performances – namely from Glenn Close and Best Supporting Actress nominee Janet McTeer – but the film as a whole is nothing special. There are moments of episodes of the period series DOWNTON ABBEY that are more intriguing than this whole film.

Yet, while I didn’t love it, and don’t think it is great, I do respect it…so call that a mild recommendation.

I would like to be positive now and tell you about a film that I think is above average. It is a science fiction thriller called CHRONICLE.

Partially filmed in Vancouver, CHRONICLE is about three high school friends who gain superpowers after making a discovery in a field.

As their powers continue to get stronger, the bond between them weakens because they don’t know how to handle what they have been given.

Even though the special effects are cheesy at times, and the movie breaks its own rules on occasion, CHRONICLE still has some very cool scenes and I really enjoyed it.

This is a sci-fi, found footage, action, thriller that I easily recommend!!

One for the money, two for the show, if you see this next release on a shelf, skip it and go, go, go!!!

“One For the Money” is a 1994 novel by Janet Evanovich. It was Janet’s first book of eighteen to feature a bounty hunter from New Jersey named Stephanie Plum, who is described as a spunky combination of Nancy Drew and Dirty Harry.

Katherine Heigl is an actress who is best known for her role as Dr. Izzie Stevens on Grey’s Anatomy, and for the romantic comedies KNOCKED UP, 27 DRESSES and THE UGLY TRUTH.

There is nothing about Katherine Heigl’s career that indicates that she could portray a character who is a spunky combination of Nancy Drew and Dirty Harry…let alone one with a New Jersey accent…and that is the main problem with the film version of ONE FOR THE MONEY.

They cast Katherine Heigl as New Jersey bounty hunter Stephanie Plum!!

ONE FOR THE MONEY wants to be a crime drama, and a romantic comedy, and it all fails because the lead character is so poorly miscast. Heigl’s accent comes and goes, she is supposed to be tough but is never believable as tough, and I couldn’t wait for the movie to end.

I have read a couple of the Stephanie Plum books, and they are very good. This movie version of ONE FOR THE MONEY is just awful and you should skip it, at all costs.

No, I did not buy Katherine Heigl as a New Jersey Bounty Hunter at all…but I did buy Woody Harrelson from ZOMBIELEAND and NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN as a renegade cop in Los Angeles in the film RAMPART.

Harrelson plays a veteran police officer who is doing what he feels is right to take care of his family as he struggles for his own survival, but when he is caught on video beating a suspect, the brass finally feel they have what they need to get rid of him.

But they don’t.

RAMPART also stars Ice Cube, Cynthia Nixon, Sigourney Weaver, Robin Wright and Steve Buscemi and while it isn’t ever a great film…and I didn’t care for the ending at all…it has a great cast and is interesting.

So call that a mild recommendation for RAMPART.

The final title I have for you this week is one of the most amazing documentaries that you will ever see.

KEN BURNS’ seven part series THE WAR.

THE WAR shows us World War II through the eyes of four towns and recounts the experiences of people from these towns as they were a part of the war in the Pacific, Africa and Europe.

THE WAR also brings us the stories of the friends, families and communities left behind.

From The Civil War (1990), Baseball (1994) and Jazz (2001) through The National Parks: America’s Best Idea (2009) and Prohibition (2011) Ken Burns and his team have become one of the most renowned documentary filmmaking teams in the world, and THE WAR is possibly their crowning achievement.

It is horrific and heartbreaking, yet also uplifting at times as well. But mostly it is real.

The new six-disc blu-ray version offer the documentary in crisp high definition and the sound is incredible.

I highly, very highly recommend KEN BURNS’ THE WAR.

KEN BURNS’ spectacular documentary series THE WAR, the okay crime drama RAMPART, the poorly cast Katherine Heigl film ONE FOR THE MONEY, the above average sci-fi thriller CHRONICLE, the Academy Award nominated ALBERT NOBBS – with a great performance from Glenn Close and not much else, and THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON of the made-in-Southern Alberta Western series HELL ON WHEELS are all available now, either on disc or on demand.

Coming up inside the next Couch Potato Report

The made in B.C. wannabe action romantic comedy THIS MEANS WAR, Daniel Radcliffe from the HARRY POTTER films stars in THE WOMAN IN BLACK, and Liam Neeson heads up the cast of the made in Northern Alberta and British Columbia action adventure THE GREY, about a group of men stranded in the wilderness and being hunted by a pack of wolves.

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!