The Couch Potato Report

Movies, movies, movies!!!

The Couch Potato Report – April 20th, 2013

There is a great documentary about record stores – remember them – inside this week’s Couch Potato Report, and Django is unchained.

Record Store Day is an internationally celebrated day observed the third Saturday of April each year. Its purpose is to celebrate music and it brings fans and artists together at thousands of independent record stores across the world.

LAST SHOP STANDING – THE RISE, FALL AND REBIRTH OF THE INDEPENDENT RECORD SHOP is the official film of Record Store Day 2013 and it is an amazing piece of entertainment for all fans of music and record stores as it introduces us to some of the people who have survived, and continued to sell albums, even when the Record Companies tried to kill it off.

LAST SHOP STANDING is based on the book of the same name by Graham Jones and it features Jones having conversations with over twenty record store owners in the U.K., and some musicians who still love to shop in them, like Paul Weller, Johnny Marr, Norman Cook and Billy Bragg.

LAST SHOP STANDING is basically a love letter to people who work in and love record shops, but it is very entertaining and anyone who has ever worked in one will appreciate some of the stories.

LAST SHOP STANDING – THE RISE, FALL AND REBIRTH OF THE INDEPENDENT RECORD SHOP is a must see, not just for people who shop at Fred’s Records in St. John’s, Vertigo Records in Ottawa, The Vinyl Exchange in Saskatoon, Freecloud Records in Edmonton, or Beat Street Records in Vancouver, but for all music AND movie fans as it is informative, nostalgic and funny.

If you can’t find the film where you normally get your movies, visit your local independent record store as they may have it, especially if they are the last shop standing.

When I made my list of the top films of 2012, this next film was close to the top of the list. It’s Quentin Tarantino’s Academy Award winning DJANGO UNCHAINED.

Set in the antebellum era of the Deep South and Old West, Oscar winner Christoph Waltz plays a German bounty hunter here, who helps a freed slave – played by Jamie Foxx – rescue his wife from a brutal Mississippi plantation owner.

Leonardo DiCaprio plays the villainous Calvin Candie.

Like all Tarantino films, DJANGO UNCHAINED is an exceptionally well written film – he did win Best Original Screenplay for it back in February – and it has some fantastic scenes of people just talking. But it is also has some scenes that are exceptionally violent. There are two that are so over the top that even I – someone who isn’t squeamish all that often – have to turn away from.

As much as I love Quentin Tarantino and his movies, I can’t deny that DJANGO UNCHAINED is not his best film…but it is still better than the majority of movies released over the past year. His worst is still much better than most director’s best.

Due to the violence, and the profanity and language contained within, it isn’t for everyone, but I still highly recommend it.

As much as I love nature documentaries – and I do love nature documentaries – not all of them are created equal.

Almost all of them feature spectacular visuals of animals and creatures we’ve never seen before, and may never see again…but it is the narration that sets them apart. Is it meant to inform us, or preach to us about how these creatures will die is humankind doesn’t change their ways.

Now I don’t mind warnings about how we all must work hard to save the planet, even repeated warnings, but I don’t want to hear nothing but that for ninety minutes. I just want to see things I’ve never seen before, like an octopus changing its colour as it moves through the ocean. That is the stuff I love!!

PLANET OCEAN is a nature documentary that features some spectacular visuals that look amazing and I really enjoyed it…at least most of it.

Sometimes, it was informative.

Too often though, it was preachy.

However, that extra preachy fact aside, I still enjoyed PLANET OCEAN enough to recommend it, and I do recommend it, primarily because the images and what it shows us are amazing.

Sci-fi fans…HUGE sci-fi fans who love the genre, and I mean LOVE IT so that the cheesier the film gets, the better… YOU will need to see this next film. Everyone else needs to skip JOHN DIES AT THE END at all costs!

At all costs!!

This is a movie set in a world that needs a hero. When people take a new street drug – called Soy Sauce – they have an out-of-body experience…but once they come down, they’re no longer human.

Yes, a silent otherworldly invasion is underway, and mankind needs a hero.

Instead of a hero, or even heroes, what the world gets instead is John and David, a pair of college dropouts who can barely hold down jobs.

JOHN DIES AT THE END is never great, and if the whole thing sounds stupid to you…it is.

Sci-fi fans…as I said, this is one for you!! It is never great, but you’ll enjoy it enough to never feel like you are wasting your time.

Everyone else…you’ve been warned!!

Finally this week is a mostly made-in-Toronto-and-Northern Ontario drama called A DARK TRUTH, starring Academy Award winner Forest Whitaker, Andy Garcia from THE GODFATHER III, DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES’ Eva Longoria, Saskatoon’s Kim Coates, Toronto’s Deborah Kara Unger and Steven Bauer from SCARFACE.

All good actors, who have done good work, but with this film, even though the story is interesting at times, it seems that the main instruction director Damian Lee gave them was to be as boring as possible.

Andy Garcia plays a former CIA operative turned political talk show radio host in A DARK TRUTH. He is hired by a woman to expose her company’s cover-up of a massacre in a South American village.

A DARK TRUTH isn’t awful, but with everyone doing their best to under-act, and how predictable their actions are most of the time, it all doesn’t amount to much and so it isn’t worthy of your time.

If you see it on the shelf, or available to watch online, just skip it.

The made-in-Northern Ontario action thriller A DARK TRUTH, the goofy pretty good sci-fi flick JOHN DIES AT THE END, the informative but a bit too preachy nature documentary PLANET OCEAN, Quentin Tarantino’s DJANGO UNCHAINED, which is not his best, but is still very entertaining, and the official film of Record Store Day 2013: the very entertaining documentary LAST SHOP STANDING – THE RISE, FALL AND REBIRTH OF THE INDEPENDENT RECORD SHOP are all available now, either on disc or on demand.

Coming up inside the next Couch Potato Report

Toronto based director Deepha Mehta gives us a cinematic version of Salman Rushdie’s 1981 Booker Prize winning novel MIDNIGHT’S CHILDREN; Academy Award nominee Naomi Watts stars in THE IMPOSSIBLE – about the aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, Oscar winner Matt Damon stars in PROMISED LAND and JURASSIC PARK will be available for home viewing in 3D!!

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!