The Couch Potato Report

I could watch documentaries all day!!

The Couch Potato Report – January 19th, 2013

Inside this week’s Couch Potato Report are some great music related new releases, including one from 1927!!

The quintessential Canadian Band The Tragically Hip formed in 1983 at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, and since then they have won 13 Juno Awards and been nominated 41 times.

Their sixth album “Phantom Power” was released in July of 1998 and it features a Juno Award winning “Song Of The Year” called ‘Bobcaygeon’, which was named after a small town about 160 kilometres northeast of Toronto.

In June of 2011 The Hip played a show in the small town of 2500 that inspired the tune and 25,000 fans travelled from around the world to be there.

They travelled to hear ‘Bobcaygeon’ in Bobcaygeon and the documentary THE TRAGICALLY HIP IN BOBCAYGEON takes us there as well and introduces us to some of the fans.

Now, many of us will never get to hear Stompin’ Tom Connors sing “Sudbury Saturday Night” in Sudbury, the Guess Who perform “Runnin’ Back to Saskatoon” in Saskatoon or Rush do “YYZ” in Toronto…but on the night of June 25th, 2011, 25,000 people heard The Tragically Hip sing “Bobcaygeon” in Bobcaygeon!!

The fans are excited, the locals are excited, and while watching the documentary THE TRAGICALLY HIP IN BOBCAYGEON this week, I was excited!! The only ones who don’t seem that excited about hearing “Bobcaygeon” in Bobcaygeon are the members of the band. To them, it seems like just another gig.

But for the fans…this is the show of a lifetime!

With The Hip starting another cross Canada Tour this weekend, THE TRAGICALLY HIP IN BOBCAYGEON is a great souvenir from a special summer night in a small Canadian town on their last tour, and it is very cool to go behind the scenes and hang out on their tour bus with them.

It isn’t perfect, but I really enjoyed this documentary, especially when the audience starts singing along. This is great stuff!!

Even if you think you don’t know who entertainment industry mogul David Geffen is, over the course of the past four plus decades you have heard music that he has released and seen films and plays he’s produced.

No, you might not know the man’s name, but David Geffen has given the world many hours of entertainment as he helped foster the early careers of such talents as Joni Mitchell, Jackson Browne, Tom Cruise, Guns N’ Roses, Crosby, Stills & Nash and The Eagles.

David Geffen has been an agent, manager, record industry mogul, Hollywood and Broadway producer, and philanthropist and in the insightful, informative and spectacular documentary INVENTING DAVID GEFFEN we hear his whole life story – warts and all – told by Geffen himself, along with Steven Spielberg, Cher, Yoko Ono, Elton John, Tom Hanks, Calvin Klein and Neil Young.

INVENTING DAVID GEFFEN features dozens of great stories about the entertainment industry of the seventies and eighties and I loved every second of it and highly recommend it!

I also recommend the beautiful documentary SAMSARA. If one picture is worth a thousand words, this mostly silent film has billions of words in it!!

SAMSARA was filmed over the course of nearly five years in twenty-five countries on five continents and it features some beautiful and interesting scenes, shown in regular speeds, slow speed and through time lapse.

We get to see things such as a full play shown in 60 seconds, irons being made on an assembly line, boats, motorcycles and computers being crushed and much more, with no dialogue, just music and natural sound.

SAMSARA is not really a travelogue and not really a documentary, but it is all visually stunning. It is colourful and beautiful to look at and I can easily recommend it as well!!

I have a quartet of new releases for you right now, and not all parts are equal, in fact…by the time I get to the last of the four I will have very little positive to say, if any.

Our lead title is a pretty good martial arts called FLYING SWORDS OF DRAGON’S GATE.

This is a sequel to the 1992 flick DRAGON INN. It takes place three years after that one as a new Inn has been built as bad people masquerading as law-abiding citizens look for the fabled lost city buried in the desert.

But the story isn’t the most important thing here…it is a martial arts flick, what matters here is the fighting.

And the fighting is mostly good!!

FLYING SWORDS OF DRAGON’S GATE isn’t the greatest martial arts movie I’ve ever seen as it relies on computer generated characters and images far too often – far, far, far too often!! – but the sets are impressive, the fight scenes inventive at times, and it was all pretty good.

So call that a mild recommendation…but only to people who love martial arts flicks.

If this next film were any longer, I would probably have very few positive things to say about it, and I’d likely simply call it boring.

But at only one hour and forty minutes the made-in-France historical drama FAREWELL MY QUEEN isn’t long enough to be boring…although there are too many characters are far too much going on.

At its core, FAREWELL MY QUEEN is a story about the relationship between Queen Marie-Antoinette and one of her readers during the first days of the French Revolution.

And had the story just been about that relationship, it might have been okay.

But we see and hear about all the turmoil from the people staying and working at the Château de Versailles, and we meet King Louis XVI and as news of the storming of the Bastille reaches them, panic sets in and then the story shifts to the people who are all trying to get away from the sinking ship, leaving the Royal Family practically alone.

There is just too much going on!!

FAREWELL MY QUEEN is interesting at times, I just wasn’t totally invested in all of the stories it tells and so that is why I can’t fully recommend it. It was okay…and that’s all.

Also okay, and that is all, is SEASON ONE of the television series ANGER MANAGEMENT, starring Charlie Sheen as an anger management therapist.

Sheen plays a former baseball player in the show who gave himself a career-ending injury when he tried to snap a bat over his leg in anger.

He has a successful private practice now and is on very cordial terms with his ex-wife and their teenage daughter, and both he and everyone in this show, are the type of people you meet on television shows. They’re not real people, they are stock television characters.

I don’t dislike Charlie Sheen, in fact he has entertained me many times in the past on television and in movies like MAJOR LEAGUE and FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF, but there isn’t much in SEASON ONE of ANGER MANAGEMENT to like, or recommend.

It’s a comedy that just isn’t funny, I didn’t laugh once at anything in any of the ten episodes in SEASON ONE…not once…so I suggest you skip it. I have nothing against it, it just isn’t good entertainment.

The last of this quartet has arrived, and I am out of positive things to say, which is good as HIT & RUN doesn’t deserve any.

What a complete waste of time this thing is!!

HIT & RUN stars Dax Shepard from the television series PARENTHOOD and Kristen Bell of FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL.

They star as a couple…one of those movie couples, who are together…but there is no reason why as all they seem to do is fight and fight and fight and fight.

When he decides to risk his Witness Protection Plan identity in order to help her get to Los Angeles, her ex-boyfriend, police officers and the guys he ratted out all begin to chase him…and you won’t care.

Yes, there are some cool cars and chase sequences, but the movie isn’t funny at all, you won’t want to spend time with any of the characters in it, and I couldn’t wait for it to end.

But end it did, and I was very happy!!

HIT & RUN is awful and you should just skip it. It isn’t worth any of your time.

The end of The Report this week, takes us back to the beginning…to 1927 and the beginning of talking in movies, all started by Al Jolson.

There are many positive things to say about the great things about THE JAZZ SINGER.

As a movie, this story of a son who must decide to follow in his Father’s footsteps or follow his own dreams is timeless, and as a production…at a time when most movies were silent and accompanied by a piano player in a theatre…this one had dialogue and songs and so much more.

This was the first feature-length motion picture with synchronized dialogue sequences…the first “talkie”!

And there is also a lot of positive things to be said about the impressive new three disc set for THE JAZZ SINGER, which features the movie looking better than ever, an 88 page book full of pictures and stories, and there is also a spectacular documentary that shows us how the ability to make people talk in movies was invented, and the first short films to do it.

This release of THE JAZZ SINGER features both a great movie and a fantastic history lesson on film itself.

I enjoyed every second of it all, and highly recommend it to everyone who loves movies!!

The 1927 classic THE JAZZ SINGER, the awful wannabe action comedy HIT & RUN, the unfunny SEASON ONE of Charlie Sheen’s ANGER MANAGEMENT, the okay French film FAREWELL MY QUEEN, the pretty good martial arts flick FLYING SWORDS OF DRAGON’S GATE, the amazing visual treat SAMSARA, the spectacular and insightful documentary INVENTING DAVID GEFFEN, and the music souvenir THE TRAGICALLY HIP IN BOBCAYGEON are all available now, either on disc or on demand.

Coming up inside the next Couch Potato Report

Academy Award nominee Jennifer Lawrence stars in the Ottawa made horror thriller HOUSE AT THE END OF THE STREET, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren are back fighting again in UNIVERSAL SOLIDER: DAY OF RECKONING; and I’ll tell you about the amazing Academy Award nominated documentary SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN.

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!