The Couch Potato Report

Another weekend, another batch of reviews!!

The Couch Potato Report – August 10th, 2013

We’re heading to Schenectady via London inside this week’s Couch Potato Report AND we’ll head back to Ishtar.

Schenectady is a city located in upper New York State with a population of 66,135. The name “Schenectady” is derived loosely from a Mohawk word for “on that side of the pinery,” or “near the pines,” or “place beyond the pine plains.”

For the purposes of the latest film starring London, Ontario, born actor, Ryan Gosling the name Schenectady is translated to mean “The Place Beyond The Pines.”

Gosling – from DRIVE, BLUE VALENTINE and THE NOTEBOOK – stars in THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES as a motorcycle stunt rider from a traveling carnival who decides to stay in the title city when he finds out that he has an infant son.

Unable to support the boy and his mother, played by Eva Mendes, he turns to robbing banks.

His decision to turn to a life of crime allows the film to introduce us to an ambitious rookie cop played by Bradley Cooper from SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK. Then, not long after we meet him, the film switches gear and starts to tell us the cop’s story, and then the story of his son.

Eventually it all leads back to Eva Mendes and the characters we met at the start of the story.

THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES is a very slow moving, but very engaging film. It definitely isn’t like every other film that is available for you to watch this weekend, and that works both for it and against it. I was totally wrapped up in the first and last stories, but the middle one – with Bradley Cooper – wasn’t that great.

That said, I’ll still recommend THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES, but only mildly.

I’ll also mildly recommend the Tom Cruise post-apocalyptic science fiction film OBLIVION this morning, primarily because I really liked seeing a sci-fi flick that takes place during the day.

Set in the year 2077, Cruise plays one of the last drone repairmen stationed on Earth. Yes, basically he is a human WALL*E.

According to our hero in OBLIVION, the planet was nearly destroyed sixty years earlier, during a war against a race of alien invaders known as Scavengers.

As the film goes on, Cruise begins to question what he knows about his mission, himself, the woman he works with and lives with, and the mysterious woman he keeps seeing in his dreams.

OBLIVION has some very good twists, great special effects and CGI, and – as I mentioned – it is a sci-fi flick that primarily takes place during the day!! When was the last time you saw that?

Admittedly I never loved it, but I did enjoy it enough to mildly recommend it to you. Go in with low expectations – as I did – and you might enjoy it too.

TV on DVD is what I have for you now…specifically SEASON 3 of the great guilty pleasure DUCK DYNASTY!

DUCK DYNASTY is a reality series about the Robertsons, a Louisiana bayou family who became millionaires because of the Duck Commander, a top-of-the-line duck call, and the decoys they make out of salvaged swamp wood.

But these millionaires don’t live in huge mansions, they do have pretty big houses, but they still live in the backwoods and go fishing and hunting, sometimes in the middle of their workday and in SEASON 3 they even bring their wives.

The best part of SEASON 3 of DUCK DYNASTY continues to be the commentaries offered by the guys to explain things to us viewers.

This show is very funny at times and always interesting because the Robertsons are who they are and haven’t let success change them that much. I really like that about the show.

DUCK DYNASTY is very entertaining, and if you’ve never seen it, check it out. This is a great guilty pleasure full of some very interesting people!

From the Louisiana bayou, we head now to Australia, specifically Australia in the 1960s.

It is 1968 and four musically talented Aboriginal women form the soul-singing girl group The Sapphires under the tutelage of an alcoholic, Irish talent scout named Dave Lovelace. He is played by Chris O’Dowd from BRIDESMAIDS.

The four women face racial prejudice on and off stage, just about everywhere they go, but no matter what happens they believe that they’re destined for fame.

THE SAPPHIRES end up getting a job entertaining the troops in Vietnam and are well on their way to success, until infighting and jealousy threatens to tear them group apart.

There are times when THE SAPPHIRES is exactly like every other movie about a band – especially THE COMMITMENTS – but at other times its unlike anything else you’ve ever seen.

I didn’t love THE SAPPHIRES, but I did like it. It’s based on a true story I didn’t know, has some great music, and I liked it.

Search this one out.

Finally this week is a film that is so notorious, and was such a box office flop, that it was never released on DVD in North America. Even twenty-six years after its release just the mention of its name makes even people who have never seen it think about how bad a movie it is.

That name, is ISHTAR.

Warren Beatty and Dustin Hoffman star in ISHTAR as two terrible New York City lounge singers who manage to get a gig playing in a Moroccan hotel and become a part of international power play between the CIA, the Emir of Ishtar, and the rebels trying to overthrow his regime.

Doesn’t sound that awful…right? That could work…right? Nope.

Even in the days prior to the internet ISHTAR received plenty of media attention in 1987 because of substantial cost overruns on top of a lavish budget, and reports of clashes between the director, the producer, and the cinematographer.

A change in studio management during post-production also led to professional and personal difficulties that undermined the film’s release. And as a result, it became one of the most notorious flops ever.

ISHTAR was a flop, and there is no denying that or the film’s place in Hollywood history and I wish the new blu-ray had some retrospective features that had the cast and crew either defending it or trying to distance themselves from it.

Unfortunately there are no features on the blu-ray at all, there is just the film…a film that I’ve never thought was great – no it is not great at all, in any way – but it also isn’t as bad as people always say it is either.

The never great, but occasionally funny eighties flop ISHTAR; the likeable but not great Australian musical comedy THE SAPPHIRES; the great guilty pleasure that is SEASON THREE of DUCK DYNASTY; the good – never great but good – Tom Cruise set in daytime sci-fi flick OBLIVION; and the very slow but engaging crime drama THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES – co-starring London, Ontario born actor Ryan Gosling – are all available now, either on disc or on demand.

Coming up inside the next Couch Potato Report

Another London, Ontario born performer – Rachel McAdams co-stars with Academy Award winner Ben Affleck in director Terrence Malick’s romantic drama TO THE WONDER; ON THE ROAD is a partially filmed in Quebec adaptation of the 1957 novel of the same name by Jack Kerouac; and I’ll happily review THE NEARLY 35th ANNIVERSARY EDITION of THE MUPPET MOVIE.

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!