The Couch Potato Report

Its freezing, so here are some movie suggestions for you to enjoy instead of going outside.

The Couch Potato Report – January 25th, 2014

Prior to the announcement of the Academy Award nominations on January 16th, Tom Hanks was considered by almost everyone to have a lock on another nomination for Best Actor. His performance in the action adventure CAPTAIN PHILLIPS was so strong, everyone expected to hear his name called that morning.

But it wasn’t.

Oh sure, Bale, Dern, Leo, Chiwetel and McConaughey all gave great performances…but none of them are as beloved as Tom Hanks is. He is Hollywood royalty, and his work in CAPTAIN PHILLIPS is amazing, well deserving of an Academy Award nomination, and well worth your time.

Hanks stars in this great film as Captain Richard Phillips and it is based on the true story of the 2009 hijacking of the Maersk Alabama by Somali pirates.

CAPTAIN PHILLIPS is intense and interesting and so well acted!! The film did receive six Academy Award nominations, including one for Best Picture and Best Supporting Actor for Barkhad Abdi – who plays one of the pirates – but I’m still surprised that Tom Hanks wasn’t nominated, and that Director Paul Greengrass, who gave us the two best JASON BOURNE films, wasn’t nominated either.

But even if the Academy didn’t recognize Hanks and Greengrass’ efforts, I sure did, and I recommend that you check it out as well. This is a great film!

Woody Allen’s latest film also features a tremendous lead performance, and the Academy got it right when they nominated Cate Blanchett for Best Actress in BLUE JASMINE, and don’t be surprised if she wins, come Oscar night on March 2nd. She is brilliant in the role.

BLUE JASMINE is about a once rich Manhattan socialite named Jasmine who loses everything when her wealthy businessman husband is exposed as a fraud and sent to jail for stealing people’s money. After falling into poverty and homelessness she moves to San Francisco to live with her working class sister Ginger, someone who had been swindled by Jasmine’s husband.

Comedian Andrew Dice Clay plays her former Brother-In-Law. Sally Hawkins is the sister and she was justly nominated as Best Supporting Actress for her work. Woody Allen was also given a nod for Best Original Screenplay, and BLUE JASMINE is original. It doesn’t fall upon clichés.

Due to her situation Jasmine is a drowning woman clutching at straws as she is now living a life she feels is beneath her. But as her downward spiral goes on, Jasmine doesn’t just have something wrong with her that can be explained and maybe fixed, she continues to fall and make those around her suffer because of the bad choices she’s made.

Ultimately she has to live with the consequences of her actions and even though it isn’t a happy film, BLUE JASMINE is tremendous. It has a great script and some wonderful – Academy Award nominated – performances.

I can easily recommend it, even to people who don’t usually like Woody Allen’s movies.

A pair of releases now that aren’t great, but I will – and do – mildly recommend them both.

The supernatural horror story CARRIE was first turned into a film in 1976. Based on the 1974 novel of the same name by Stephen King that film was directed by Brian De Palma and received two Academy Award nominations, one for Sissy Spacek in the title role and one for Piper Laurie as her abusive mother.

In the new made-in-Toronto remake, Chloë Grace Moretz from HUGO and KICK-ASS stars as the daughter and Julianne Moore of THE BIG LEBOWSKI is the abusive mother.

If you don’t know the story of CARRIE, she is a shy girl in a small town with no friends who has been sheltered by her very religious mother.

One day Carrie realizes that she has telekinetic powers and she unleashes that terror after being pushed too far at her senior prom.

I have read Stephen King’s book, but can’t remember seeing the original film…so this version of CARRIE stands alone for me. It wasn’t great, but it is a good enough horror film. Fans of the genre will enjoy it. Others should just ignore it.

There isn’t a member of the cast of the comedy IN A WORLD that I don’t like watching in movies or on TV.

From Lake Bell and Demetri Martin to Michaela Watkins, Ken Marino, Rob Corddry and Nick Offerman I enjoy them all.

This great cast all star in a film directed, written, co-produced by and starring Lake Bell as a woman in her twenties who wants a career doing voice-over work for film trailers.

Her arrogant father and his protégé are just two of the roadblocks standing in her way of becoming the voice who brings the classic line IN A WORLD… back to the big screen.

IN A WORLD is never great, but it – and the cast – are always likeable. Plus, it’s fun and quirky and offers an interesting insight into how movie trailers are made.

Love the cast, like the movie, so consider that a mild recommendation.

We’re off to Edmonton for our final release this week, where the action/thriller FREEZER was made.

Dylan McDermott from AMERICAN HORROR STORY and THE PRACTICE plays Robert, a seemingly ordinary man who wakes up after being knocked out and finds himself locked in a meat freezer by Russian thugs.

They believe that he owes them 8 million dollars. He has no idea what they’re talking about.

Or does he?

FREEZER is a small, low budget film that sort of falls apart as it goes on, but still kept me interested, and the cast are all very good.

I didn’t love it, but I enjoyed it enough to give it a mild recommendation.

The made-in-Edmonton action thriller FREEZER; the not great, but likeable comedy IN A WORLD; the made-in-Toronto only okay remake of CARRIE; the great Woody Allen three-time Academy Award nominated comedic drama BLUE JASMINE; and the great action film CAPTAIN PHILLIPS, which has six Oscar nods, but not one for Tom Hanks or Director Paul Greengrass, 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!