The Couch Potato Report

It is another slow week for new releases.

The Couch Potato Report – January 11th, 2014

As I’ve said before on The Couch Potato Report, any movie being released right now – either in theatres or for home viewing – (with the exception of those with Academy Award buzz) should be met with low expectations, because if it was a better movie it would have come out during the Holiday Season in December, which is one of the busiest and most profitable times of the year, or in a few weeks, in the middle of Winter when people tend to stay home and watch movies.

So, with lowered expectations, I sat down to watch all of this week’s new releases, and that really helped as none of them are great, but all I can mildly recommend almost all of them, including the dramatic thriller CLOSED CIRCUIT.

CLOSED CIRCUIT begins with a terrorist attack in London. Two lawyers who’ve had an affair are put together on the defense team, but due to concerns about national security, they’re given different degrees of access to evidence.

But as the case plays out, and they start to think the presumed terrorist is innocent, or maybe even a double agent, the closed circuit cameras that are everywhere in London – inside and outside – start to keep a close eye on their activities. Someone is watching their every move, and that puts their lives in jeopardy.

CLOSED CURCUIT stars Eric Bana from MUNICH and Rebecca Hall of THE TOWN and they are very good – individually and together – but their film eventually gets away from the interesting legal side of the defence they are presenting and how British law works, and becomes a more standard-type cinematic thriller where it seems that they will eventually solve the case and end up in each other’s arms.

Once it becomes a chase movie, as they run from the bad people, it becomes less interesting…but I can still mildly recommend it because up until then it is a very intriguing movie.

CLOSED CIRCUIT is never brilliant, but with low expectations you just might enjoy it.

I originally thought I would more than mildly recommend a BBC mini-series called TOP OF THE LAKE. I thought I would maybe even love it, when I first heard of it. When I saw its release date on DVD and Blu-ray was January 7th, I lowered my expectations, and good thing I did as with high expectations I might have been very disappointed.

TOP OF THE LAKE is a seven episode series that stars Elisabeth Moss, who plays Peggy on MAD MEN, as a detective in a small town in New Zealand investigating the disappearance of a pregnant 12-year-old girl.

Academy Award winner Holly Hunter co-stars, and it was co-created and co-directed by Academy Award winner Jane Campion, who also gave us THE PIANO.

TOP OF THE LAKE features some great scenery and has some original moments, but long parts of it just comes across like a remake of TWIN PEAKS as it’s populated by a series of odd and eclectic characters, who all seem to have secrets and good reason to want the pregnant 12-year-old girl to stay missing.

There are also several storylines that don’t add up, for episodes at a time, and a love interest for the detective who doesn’t seem like he’d be anything other than a distraction, not someone she’d let get in the way of finding the missing girl, and possibly even spend the rest of her life with.

Great cast, great filmmaker, interesting story and amazing scenery…TOP OF THE LAKE offers all of that, but hold on and lower those expectations if you want to enjoy it.

The series is too flawed to be great, but it is interesting enough that I can – and do – mildly recommend it.

Here we have a film now that is utterly predictable in just about every way, but the stars of it are people we like, so it isn’t as bad as it should be.

We like Ben Affleck and Justin Timberlake, and they are the reason RUNNER RUNNER gets a mild recommendation from me.

Music superstar, and wanna be actor, Justin plays a poor college student doing whatever it takes to financially get by. One night, he goes from broke and plays online poker trying to win all the money he needs.

When he loses it all, he goes to see the sly offshore entrepreneur behind the site – played by ARGO’s Ben Affleck – to accuse him of cheating…and he ends up with a job and the lifestyle he’s always wanted, mostly.

Justin and Ben are Justin and Ben in RUNNER RUNNER, and of course the film has a love interest for JT, she is the lovely and talented Bond Girl Gemma Arterton from Quantum Of Solace.

You’ll see the ending of this one coming a mile away, but that didn’t bother me. I didn’t expect much from it, so I sort of enjoyed it.

RUNNER RUNNER is never great, but it’s okay.

I may never get to type this next sentence again, so I’m going to enjoy it this one time.

“This next movie isn’t as great as SHARKNADO, but BIG ASS SPIDER is fun in it’s own right.”


Cheesy, campy, super stupid…those are all words I will use to describe the low grade action flick BIG ASS SPIDER!, about…wait for it…a big ass spider!!

As happens in movies like this, a giant alien spider escapes from a military lab and attacks the city of Los Angeles.

After a massive military strike fails, it is up to a team of scientists and one clever exterminator to kill the creature before the city is destroyed.

BIG ASS SPIDER! is a low budget movie that – much like SHARKNADO last year – is supposed to look and feel low budget.

It is crazy, stupid fun and that’s all it’s supposed to be. I had a blast watching it. A complete blast!!

I was very excited for the would-be comedy I’M SO EXCITED when I first heard of it. After all, it was the latest from Spain’s Pedro Almodóvar, the Academy Award winning writer/director who also gave us ALL ABOUT MY MOTHER, TIE ME UP! TIE ME DOWN and WOMEN ON THE VERGE OF A NERVOUS BREAKDOWN.

But I’M SO EXCITED isn’t in the same league as those great films, it is an unfunny comedy that features drug scenes and even rape and is one of the biggest disappointments of 2013.

The story here focusses on the flight attendants, pilots and first class passengers of a plane. When it seems as if all is lost and they’ll all die because their plane can’t land, they decide to have some fun…no matter the consequences…and I just didn’t care.

I’M SO EXCITED was neither interesting or fun or funny and I couldn’t wait for it to end. The last thirty minutes of the film were absolutely painful to watch.

No matter how big a fan you are of Almodóvar, skip it, everyone needs to skip this mess.

I’m So Disappointed is more appropriate title.

From that HUGE disappointment, here now was a nice surprise, the television show THE FOLLOWING, starring Kevin Bacon as a former FBI Agent who is brought back to help catch a brilliant and charismatic, yet psychotic serial killer.

Bacon had caught him once before, but he has now escaped prison thanks to a cult of believers who are following his every command.

They are The Following.

THE FOLLOWING was created by Kevin Williamson – who also gave us THE VAMPIRE DIARIES and SCREAM – and I wasn’t expecting much from it – yes, I had low expectations – and they were rewarded.

THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON of the show is very good, and end with a great cliffhanger into SEASON TWO.

It is creepy, and interesting, and I can easily recommend THE FOLLOWING – with low expectations – to all horror fans.

We end this week with a final mild recommendation for SEASON THREE for STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE!!

ENTERPRISE takes place 100 years before the adventures of James T. Kirk and Spock in the original television series.

Scott Bakula from QUANTUM LEAP plays Captain Jonathan Archer of Earth’s first Warp 5 starship, the Enterprise….picking up, actually beginning STAR TREK’s adventures.

Of all the STAR TREK shows, ENTERPRISE has always been my least favourite, but I admit that I did really enjoy re-watching the series again this week on blu-ray.

It looks great in HD and features a wealth of brand new retrospective features, including the reason why the show adopted a season long storyline this time around.

Huge fans…don’t miss STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE – SEASON THREE on blu-ray. Casual fans, I’d maybe wait until the price goes down in a few months.

SEASON THREE of STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE; THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON of the very good television series THE FOLLOWING; the very disappointing Spanish comedy I’M SO EXCITED; the fun but very stupid action flick BIG ASS SPIDER!; the too predictable would be crime thriller RUNNER RUNNER; the interesting but flawed mini-series TOP OF THE LAKE; and the intriguing but not great dramatic thriller CLOSED CURCUIT are all available now, either on disc or on demand.

Remember to keep those expectations low…at least until next week.

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!