The Couch Potato Report

More this week on SOUND CITY, and if you haven’t seen it yet…why not?!?

The Couch Potato Report – March 16th, 2013

Inside this week’s Couch Potato Report a boy named after a swimming pool, a late quartet and a trip back to Sound City.

LIFE OF PI is a fantasy adventure novel by Saskatoon based author Yann Martel that was first published in 2001.

The book, and now the Academy Award winning film, tell the story of a 16-year old boy from India named Piscine Molitor Patel, also known as Pi, who in the lone human survivor of a shipwreck that was bringing his family to Canada in hopes of a better life.

Pi’s whole family died in the shipwreck, and he becomes stranded for 227 days on a lifeboat in the Pacific Ocean with his only companion a fully grown Bengal tiger.

LIFE OF PI had eleven nominations at the most recent Academy Awards, including one for Best Picture. It won four, including the Oscar for Best Director for Ang Lee, who is featured in the extensive special features available on the blu-ray…and so is author Yann Martel.

LIFE OF PI is stunning to look at, features an interesting and engaging spiritual story, some incredible special effects that make the tiger look very real, and I really enjoyed it. It does have its flaws as this is a story you have to buy into at times and be willing to believe, but I think you will believe in it and enjoy it as well and that is why I highly recommend it.

And I do, highly recommend it.

I also recommend and completely enjoyed the drama A LATE QUARTET, co-starring Philip Seymour Hoffman from MONEYBALL, Christopher Walken of PULP FICTION and Catherine Keener from WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE.

In A LATE QUARTET they play members of a world-renowned string quartet who are struggling to stay together as they face their 25th anniversary together, and are dealing with death, passion, lust and competing egos.

A LATE QUARTET is a movie made by adults for adults and it is very confident, it never tries to appeal to everyone, just an older audience who can relate to the changes that come along later in life.

This is a great film that I really enjoyed. You won’t find it everywhere, so you might have to search it out, but it will be worth the extra effort.

Another film made by adults for adults doesn’t quite work as well.

The intention of the real life drama HITCHCOCK was to show both the dedicated yet occasionally strained love story between legendary director Alfred Hitchcock and his wife Alma AND give us a look at the making of Hitch’s classic 1960 film PSYCHO, but the dramatic stuff isn’t as interesting as what’s happening on the film sets.

HITCHCOCK has an incredible cast that includes Anthony Hopkins as Hitch, Helen Mirren as his wife and Scarlett Johansson, Toni Collette and Jessica Biel, and the majority of what takes place is interesting and even fascinating at times as the man risks everything to make a movie that only he – and his wife – believe in.

But when it creatures situations, scenes events and things that might have happened – like the imaginary conversations Hitchcock has with notorious serial killer Ed Gein, whose crimes inspired the book PSYCHO is based on – at those times the movie doesn’t work at all.

Most of the time, though, HITCHCOCK does work and so – while it isn’t great – I liked it. Consider this a good rental, especially for movie fans.

Instead of telling you about the three films I have for you right now from best to worst, I will start with the worst…a film that isn’t necessarily terrible, it just never grabbed me…I never got into it and as it wandered on…and wander it does.

Sean Penn stars in THIS MUST BE THE PLACE as a retired and soft spoken former Goth music superstar living in Ireland who goes on a search for the Nazi war criminal who humiliated his father during World War II.

Honestly, that is what it’s about.

As Sean Penn is searching for his father’s tormentor, I kept expecting him to change character, to allow the poor tortured soul hidden beneath the Goth make-up and clothes to come out…but that doesn’t happen…instead, as he searches for the man the only interesting thing that happens is a question anyone watching this film will pose: If he finds the guy, will he be able to pull the trigger?

THIS MUST BE THE PLACE is the textbook definition of an odd film. It is interesting at times, but the end result is nothing special.

I never disliked it, but I don’t recommend it either.

Here now is the Academy Award nominated documentary HOW TO SURVIVE A PLAGUE, which takes us back – through old interviews and news stories – to a time not that long ago when being diagnosed with AIDS was a death sentence.

Facing impending death, public fear, and rampant homophobia during the 1980s and 1990s a group of mostly HIV-positive men and women decide to fight back. They took on the pharmaceutical industry despite having no training in order to get medication to patients in need.

HOW TO SURVIVE A PLAGUE is the story of two coalitions who turned AIDS from a death sentence into a manageable condition.

HOW TO SURVIVE A PLAGUE is an exceptional film that is moving, informative, and hard to believe that it took so long for the necessary drugs to be released to those in need.

Search this one out, it is very worthy of your time!!

Yes, of these three releases, I have saved what I perceive to be the best one until the last…although I know others will not like it at all!!

THE INBETWEENERS is a British show about four friends trying to navigate life in and out of high school and I think it’s amazing!!

THE INBETWEENERS is a situation comedy that aired for three series from 2008 to 2010and now the six episode COMPLETE SECOND SEASON is available for us in Canada to watch or own.

Since the show is all about adolescent boys it is very profane at times and features storylines about things you can imagine high school boys would be interested in and all of it done honestly, and it is very, very funny.

I do and will always love shows about friends just hanging out and doing stuff, even doing nothing, and that combined with the quality and well written situations offered up in THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON of THE INBETWEENERS is why I can say that I really enjoyed it, and can highly recommend it.

Because of how profane it is, the show is not for everyone, but I am really looking forward to seeing the third season, and re-watching the other two and the movie they’ve made again!! This is great stuff!!

Finally this week is the documentary that I referred to as the “greatest documentary ever” just over a month ago. At that time the film SOUND CITY was only available for digital download, and now that it’s available on disc, I get to talk about it again, and the artists who made classic records in the legendary California studio.

Yes even Bachman-Turner Overdrive recorded at Sound City Studios and Dave Grohl, of the bands Nirvana and Foo Fighters has put together this loving look at the place and the people who worked and made music there on the Neve recording console…including Neil Young.

The first hour of SOUND CITY gives us the history of the now closed studio complex that couldn’t survive in the digital age. Those stories courtesy of the superstars who recorded there and the people who worked there, and in the final thirty-plus minutes Grohl allows us to be a fly on the wall as he collaborates on a new album with Stevie Nicks, Rick Springfield, Trent Reznor, Lee Ving and Paul McCartney!!

The DVD and blu-ray of SOUND CITY feature almost 45 minutes of additional materials, and that stuff is great, but I wanted more…and will never get enough of the stories told in this film.

Dave Grohl’s SOUND CITY will easily make my list of the best films of the year. I enjoyed every second of it and wish it was twice as long!! This is one of the greatest documentaries ever and I will likely watch it again this weekend!!

The spectacular music documentary SOUND CITY; THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON of the profanely funny British show THE INBETWEENERS; the Academy Award nominated documentary HOW TO SURVIVE A PLAGUE; the odd Sean Penn drama THIS MUST BE THE PLACE; the occasionally fascinating HITCHCOCK; the very enjoyable adult drama A LATE QUARTET; and the Academy Award winning LIFE OF PI, based on the novel by Canadian author Yann Martel, are all available now, either on disc or on demand.

Coming up inside the next Couch Potato Report

The latest installment of CBC’s LOVE, HATE AND PROPAGANDA series this one takes a look at THE WAR ON TERROR, also next week the Academy Award winning films ZERO DARK THIRTY and LES MISERABLES, and Peter Jackson returns to the Shire with THE HOBBIT – AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY.

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!