The Couch Potato Report

Here are some movie suggestions for the long weekend!!

The Couch Potato Report – August 31st, 2013

In 2007, in a small town near Saint John, New Brunswick, an 88-year-old man decided to build a single-storey house on his own property where he could look after his wife, who was suffering from Alzheimer’s.

The man was planning on doing all of the work himself, as he had done the previous four times he had built houses for his family, using lumber he produced at his own small sawmill.

It wasn’t long after he broke ground that he got into trouble with the law for the first time in his life, because he didn’t have permits, or blueprints, or any plans on paper. And he wasn’t using wood, windows or roof trusses that had been approved by the government.

Against a Stop Work Order, he continued working on the house, into his 92nd year. He fixed the inspectors’ long lists of defects, but they still fought him every step of the way, taking him to court on several occasions. But he was steadfast in his decision: he would not vacate the house. If the court found him in contempt, he would go to jail.

The true life story of Mr. Craig Morrison and his wife Irene is exceptionally well told in the made in New Brunswick and Ontario drama STILL MINE, and the performances of the two actors in the lead rolls are beautiful.

Legendary Canadian actress Geneviève Bujold stars as Mrs. Morrison, and James Cromwell – from L.A. CONFIDENTIAL and BABE – is her husband. Every scene that they are in is amazing!

STILL MINE received seven nominations for the 2013 Canadian Screen Awards, including Best Picture, and James Cromwell won the award for Best Actor.

He is great, she is great, the whole thing is great!! STILL MINE is a tremendous Canadian film, and I highly recommend it.

Whether you are talking about ROMEO + JULIET, AUSTRALIA or MOULIN ROUGE!, one thing can be said about director Baz Luhrmann’s films: They all come from his vision. In a day and age when too many films look like they could be directed by anyone, his movies continue to look, feel and sound like only he could have made them.

That is also true about his latest, his version of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s THE GREAT GATSBY, starring Leonardo Di Caprio in the title role.

Jay Gatsby is a mysterious, party-giving millionaire, and Tobey Maguire – from the recent SPIDER-MAN TRILOGY – plays his working class neighbor and fast friend. Tobey is also the cousin of a woman named Daisy, THE woman who Gatsby wasn’t rich enough to marry five years earlier.

Having now amassed his wealth, he has returned to claim his love, even though she is married. But her husband is cheating on her, and so she falls in love with the attention Gatsby pays to her. She is played by Oscar nominee Carey Mulligan from AN EDUCATION and DRIVE.

This is at least the sixth filmed version of the story since the book’s publication in 1925 and no one has yet gotten it right. THE GREAT GATSBY remains better on the page.

But Baz Luhrmann’s version does offer the story without compromise. He tells the story his way, and the movie is never apologetic. At times that does amount to far too much style over too little substance, especially regarding his female lead. She doesn’t ever come across as a woman anyone would work that hard to be with.

Her inability to mesmerize me notwithstanding, I did get caught up in this version of THE GREAT GATSBY though, and the 2 hour and 22 minutes running time went by quickly enough, so I will mildly recommend it.

Sometimes a movie doesn’t have to be perfect, it can just be darn entertaining.

I have a trio of releases now that I have grouped together as I didn’t really like or dislike any of them. I watched them, they ended, and I moved on to the next release that I had to cover.

To that end, if any of them sound appealing to you, check them out…and I hope you like them more than I did.

I’ll start with the farm drama AT ANY PRICE.

Dennis Quaid stars as a farmer who is expecting his son – played by and Zac Efrom – to take over the land one day, but Zac wants to drive race cars, he wants to do anything but stay on that land in that small town for the rest of his life.

In addition to running his farm, Dad is also a salesman, selling seeds to people in the region, and competing to stay number one…at any price.

This is a fantastic looking movie, the land here is incredible to look at. The problem with AT ANY PRICE is that there are too many stories going on at once and not all of them are as compelling as the others.

I never disliked it…in fact, I could see myself recommending it to some friends of mine who are farmers, but it isn’t a movie that everyone needs to see.

I’m not sure who needs to see the animated film EPIC.

This is the story of a human teenager who becomes very, very small – bug size – and finds herself in the middle of a fight in the deep forest trying to save their world – and maybe even ours.

EPIC is too long and slow for kids, plus it’s derivative. It doesn’t seem to have an original moment in it as it creatively ”borrows” from THE LITTLES, AVATAR, LILO & STITCH, FERGULLY and several others.

But – in order to say something positive about it – it does have a great voice cast…EPIC features Amanda Seyfried, Josh Hutcherson, Beyoncé, Aziz Ansari and Colin Farrell. That voice cast is pretty good.

Sadly, they are wasted in a film that is in no way epic, it’s just a film you don’t need to see.

At the end of my review of SEASON ONE of the television show REVENGE I stated how excited I was for the second season of the show.

Now that I’ve seen it, I am so disappointed that I don’t even care of there is a third season.

The very beautiful Canadian born actress Emily VanCamp stars in REVENGE and she plays a young woman who becomes a part of a close-knit community populated by people who have no idea that she is only there to exact revenge on those who destroyed her family.

THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON of REVENGE was such a great guilty pleasure.

THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON is not. The plotting and scheming against people and each other went away for most of the second year, and instead people seemed to actually get along, or their problems weren’t interesting at all.

And too many of the show’s forgettable characters were given larger roles and more storylines, which completely erased all the fun I had when I originally watched the show.

I still want to see if Emily will get her revenge, but I’ll probably just read about it online instead of watching any more seasons of REVENGE!

Finally this week is THE FIRST SEASON of the television series ELEMENTARY, which takes the legendary detective Sherlock Holmes out of Victorian England and transplants him to modern day New York City.

There is nothing really wrong with ELEMENTARY, it is a very smart, well-written police procedural show with some great twists and turns. Jonny Lee Miller is very good as Sherlock Holmes and Lucy Liu is equally well cast as Dr. Watson…but, what works against it is that it pales in comparison to the other modern day reimagining of Sherlock Holmes, the BBC one starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Holmes.

Elementary also isn’t as great as the recent movies starring Robert Downey. Jr. as the title character either.

When held up alongside those two other recent, more iconic versions of Sherlock Holmes, this one just doesn’t compare, it just is not as good.

Comparisons aside…THE FIRST SEASON of ELEMENTARY isn’t bad, and if you’ve never seen those others, and you like police procedural shows, you will probably really enjoy it. So call that a mild recommendation.

THE FIRST SEASON of ELEMENTARY; the not-as-good COMPLETE SECOND SEASON of REVENGE; the not entertaining animated film EPIC; the okay farm film AT ANY PRICE; Baz Luhrmann’s impressive, but not great new version of THE GREAT GATSBY; and the very entertaining made-in-New Brunswick and Ontario drama STILL MINE are all available now, either on disc or on demand.

And that’s this week’s COUCH POTATO REPORT.

Enjoy the movies and I’ll see you back here again next time on The Couch!