The Couch Potato Report – July 28th, 2012
Inside this week’s Couch Potato Report are frights and scares, some sushi, and The Next Generation in HD.
I have several new releases to tell you about this week, even a really good one, but you should know up front that I am saving the best for last.
I will conclude with SEASON ONE of STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION, now in HD on blu-ray, but I will start with a made-in-Winnipeg dramatic thriller from director Guy Maddin that just doesn’t work.
Guy Maddin has given us a wide variety of films, including TALES FROM THE GIMLI HOSPITAL, THE SADDEST MUSIC IN THE WORLD and the love letter to his hometown MY WINNIPEG. His films are distinctly his films, he has a style all his own that can only be described as abstract. He doesn’t do anything using the tried and true, some would say stereotypical movie making way, and that is definitely true with his latest movie KEYHOLE.
I could offer up a synopsis of KEYHOLE, but the story here isn’t the focus, it is the way the film looks and unfolds…in an odd, very weird way. It’s look and feel are what this movie is all about…and that is why I ultimately didn’t care for it and don’t recommend it. Too often it seems as if it is a student film project and not a real movie.
KEYHOLE is unique failure, but a failure nonetheless. And you should skip it.
Here is a film now that I can recommend…the very well done psychological thriller SILENT HOUSE.
A very talented young actress named Elizabeth Olsen stars here as a woman who finds herself trapped inside her family’s cottage with at least one unwelcome intruder. But…as the movie goes on…you will start to wonder…is she really trapped and is there really an intruder or intruders?
SILENT HOUSE has some very good frights and jumps and scares and as the story turns from one type of horror film to another it kept me interested all the way and the ending wasn’t a letdown.
I won’t be silent about this house, I enjoyed it! It is a very good flick!!
A documentary now, about an 85-year-old sushi master who has a tiny restaurant in the lower level of a Tokyo office building. This is JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI.
Jiro is a man who loves what he does, and enjoys his job, but his eldest son – who works with his Dad and respects him – wants him to retire…and that provides some drama. Plus, we are told that most restaurants fail when the sushi master retires, no matter how good the new person is, or what their relationship to the master is.
JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI is a very interesting documentary that I really enjoyed and can easily recommend, especially to people who love sushi.
I have a trio of foreign language films to share with you now, and the first one – the Spanish film CASA DE MI PADRE – stars one of the biggest comedy stars in the world, American Will Ferrell…from ANCHORMAN and TALLADEG NIGHTS, yes…that Will Ferrell.
Yes, Will Ferrell stars in CASA DE MI PADRE speaking only Spanish, and this movie is hilarious…not because he is speaking a different language, he is taking his work seriously, but the film is an overly dramatic semi-tribute to Mexican soap operas – or telenovelas – and since their quality is never very high, neither is the quality here.
CASA DE MI PADRE has bad continuity – a pretty woman is in a room handing out drinks, but in the next shot a man’s hairy arm is doing it, the sets often don’t look real, in close-ups it is obvious the actors are not actually on horses – and all of that, and much more, makes the film a visual treat.
CASA DE MI PADRE is not for everyone, it is a bit too cheesy and goes too far on occasion, but the story is entertaining, the actors all do a great job, and I found it very entertaining.
A Spanish movie I didn’t really enjoy was the pseudo-sci-fi flick EXTRATERRESTRIAL. A guy wakes up one morning in the apartment of a beautiful woman…an apartment she shares with her boyfriend, who is missing, along with almost everyone else. There is no one on the streets, because high in the sky is a spaceship that is six kilometres wide.
Eventually the boyfriend returns home, and we also meet the guy who lives across the hall, a guy who has a huge crush on the aforementioned beautiful woman.
So to lay it all out there, EXTRATERRESTRIAL has a love triangle…a guy with a crush on a woman…part of a spaceship…no actual aliens, some attempts at comedy that don’t really work, and lots and lots and lots and lots of talking.
EXTRATERRESTRIAL is occasionally interesting, but it is far too slow and borders on boring at times. I didn’t dislike it, but I didn’t really like it either. It is only okay. Search it out if you enjoy chatty Spanish films.
The footnote to the trio of foreign language films is the Academy Award nominated Best Foreign Language film FOOTNOTE from Israel.
This is a film about a father and his son who are rival professors in Talmudic Studies.
When it is announced that the father will be given an award for his work – an award that he had been passed over for repeatedly for decades – their complicated relationship reaches new levels as the award was actually supposed to go to the son.
FOOTNOTE isn’t a great film, but it was interesting and even very clever at times. I didn’t love it, but I liked it.
Off we travel now to Australia for the modern day dramatic adventure THE HUNTER starring Willem Dafoe as a hired gun who is sent to search the wilderness for the last Tasmanian tiger, an animal that was thought to have become extinct in the 20th century, around 1930. A military biotech company wants its DNA for research.
Life is not easy for The Hunter. Upon arrival he receives a hostile reception from the locals, who believe he is an environmental protestors and don’t want him around. Plus, the company he is working for wants results no matter the costs.
I like Willem Dafoe as an actor. Whether his playing Green Goblin in a Spider-man film or serious drama in THE ENGLISH PATIENT he is usually an engaging performer, and that is true here as well.
But no matter how engaging Dafoe is here, THE HUNTER is boring. I did want to see what happened and how it ended, but the movie isn’t worthy of a recommendation. Unless you are a huge fan, just skip it.
Another movie to skip is a small made-in-Hamilton and Toronto slice of Canadian melodrama called JESUS HENRY CHRIST, about a very smart ten year old boy who was conceived in a petri-dish, raised by his feminist mother, and is now searching for his biological father.
This movie would like to be quirky and enjoyable odd, like a Wes Anderson film, and at times it achieves that, but ultimately JESUS HENRY CHRIST isn’t all that good. It isn’t awful in any way, it is just too melodramatic and not unique enough to recommend.
We have arrived at two television shows, which will conclude this edition of The Couch Potato Report, and the first one is BOSS starring Five-Time Emmy Award winner Kelsey Grammer from CHEERS and FRASIER.
In BOSS Grammer plays the deceptive, scandalous and very popular mayor of Chicago. At the start of the series he is diagnosed with a degenerative neurological disorder and since he loves being in charge the mayor hides the news from everyone around him except his own physician…and soon her life is in danger because she knows.
But BOSS isn’t just about the mayor, it is also about his advisors – who suspect something is up, but fear and respect him too much to ask – and it is also about the politicians running for Governor as they struggle to get the mayor’s support…or maybe take his job.
SEASON ONE of BOSS is very good. It is populated by a wide variety of characters – good and bad – and Grammer does a great job making an unlikeable character fairly likeable.
I enjoyed it!
Finally this week, as I said I would, I have saved the best for last. SEASON ONE of STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION has been re-created in High Definition and is now available on blu-ray.
This isn’t just the case of an old show being released in a new format, oh no, the studio has spared no expense hiring a team of people to work on this series to recreate it. They took all the original film, matte shots, picture elements, and materials used to make the shows and created something that now looks and sounds fantastic!!
Now, before you start to wonder if they have ruined your beloved Next Generation…the episodes are the same, they haven’t added anything that was there before, but they have cleaned it up and reproduced effects like transporter beams and phaser shots so it matches the look of the low-res images, but is more brilliant and eye-catching than ever before.
The blu-ray set for SEASON ONE of STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION also has some great retrospective features on the show’s creation, and some old interviews with the creator of the STAR TREK universe, Mr. Gene Roddenberry.
I have always loved this show, but watching it again, looking and sounding this good, gave me a new appreciation for it. It truly allows us to see it like no one has before.
SEASON ONE of STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION, SEASON ONE of the very good series BOSS starring Kelsey Grammar, the overly melodramatic Hamilton, Ontario, made JESUS HENRY CHRIST, the boring but interesting Willem Dafoe film THE HUNTER, the Academy Award nominated Israeli film FOOTNOTE, the okay Spanish film EXTRATERRESTRIAL, Will Ferrell’s very funny CASA DE MI PADRE – which is not for everyone, the very good Japanese documentary JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI, the very good psychological thriller SILENT HOUSE and the abstract made-in-Winnipeg wannabe dramatic thriller KEYHOLE are all available now, either on disc or on demand.
Coming up inside the next Couch Potato Report
The Northern Ontario filmed road movie I’M YOURS; seven of Marilyn Monroe’s films are put together in the FOREVER MARILYN box set; and Arnold Schwarzenegger heads back to Mars in a new Blu-ray version of TOTAL RECALL.
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!