The Couch Potato Report

Here are the newest releases for your long weekend viewing.

The Couch Potato Report – February 15th, 2014

In a day and age when we can set our PVRs and DVRs to record anything and just about everything that airs on television, we no longer need to remember when our favourite shows air or return from a break. Just set up the machine to record it whenever it airs and you can watch it whenever you have time.

That being true, there are still shows that I mark the return of on my calendar because I look forward to them and SHERLOCK is one of them. I had January 19th marked it on my calendar when it returned to the airwaves in North America and I had Tuesday of this week marked, as its now available on DVD and blu-ray.

Sherlock Holmes is a fictional detective created in 1887 by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. A television series featuring the detective – and his partner Dr. John Watson – solving cases and crimes in modern day, 21st century London, debuted on the BBC in the Summer of 2010.

Simply called SHERLOCK, each of the first two seasons featured three brilliant ninety minute episodes, and that is true with SEASON THREE as well.

Benedict Cumberbatch is Sherlock, returning from his death at the end of SEASON TWO, and having to explain how he died, and how he faked it to his partner Watson.

Martin Freeman is Watson, who is both trying to come to terms with Sherlock not being dead, and trying to spend as much time as possible with his new girlfriend Mary.

SHERLOCK is clever, smart, fun, funny, touching, and features a great new villain – Rest In Peace Moriarity!!

The writing is exceptional, the cast is perfect and the show is completely and utterly brilliant!!

SHERLOCK – SERIES THREE is a must see…and if you have never seen the first two seasons, head down to 221B Baker Street and investigate them as well!!

Here is a bit of cinematic history, now. WADJDA is the first feature film shot entirely in Saudi Arabia. It is also the first feature-length film made by a female Saudi director.

Haifaa al-Mansour is the director’s name, and she has given us an entertaining and informative film.

Wadjda is the name of a personable and smart 11-year-old girl who wants a bike – even though riding bikes is frowned upon for girls in Saudi Arabia – but she has her heart set on getting one, a specific one, a green one that has caught her eye.

So she enters a contest to try and win the money.

WADJDA is entertaining and informative and I really liked it. Search this one out, it is very worthy of your time.

Here’s another movie that has a bike as a part of its story.

THE ARMSTRONG LIE is a documentary about Lance Armstrong’s improbable rise and ultimate fall from grace while doping to win the Tour de France seven times.

There is nothing new is THE ARMSTRONG LIE, we’ve seen him admit that he took drugs to help him win many times before. What this movie does is tell his whole story, from start to finish, the good stuff, the warts and all, and it doesn’t try and make him look sympathetic in any way.

I thought THE ARMSTRONG LIE was a great documentary, but I’m not sure it’s a movie that anyone needs to see, unless they’re thinking about cheating to win a sporting event, then it should be seen as it is a great cautionary tale.

As we’ve seen lately with professional athletes such as Lance Armstrong and Alex Rodriguez in baseball, cheaters tend to get caught.

Sometimes, sometimes, when it comes to movies, sometimes when a film goes over the top – and I mean waaaaaay over the top of excess and violence – sometimes those movies can work and be entertaining. Sometimes.

The late director Tony Scott managed to pull over the top and violence off brilliantly in the 1993 film TRUE ROMANCE.

Unfortunately his brother Ridley does not pull that combination off in his bloated waste of time called THE COUNSELOR.

Michael Fassbender from SHAME and 12 YEARS A SLAVE stars here as a lawyer who gets in way over his head when he gets involved in drug trafficking.

The film co-stars Cameron Diaz, Javier Bardem, Penélope Cruz and Brad Pitt and the script is the first original film screenplay by novelist Cormac McCarthy…who wrote The Road, No Country for Old Men and For All the Pretty Horses…but you won’t care.

Even though it does have some interesting scenes, it is too over the top, too long, too boring and utterly unforgettable in almost every way.

Allow me to counsel you to skip THE COUNSELOR. You have better things to do with your time.

This next release doesn’t have an original moment in it, not a single genuine moment between its cast of movie characters – because none of these are real people, these are movie characters – and things only seem to happen, through coincidence to move the plot along. Yes, even though there is absolutely no reason for someone to have brought an iPad along with them on a drive to the store, they have it, just so the other person can see what is on it to move the plot along.

THE BEST MAN HOLIDAY is that movie, that unoriginal, not genuine in any way film, that made me laugh and cry. I don’t know why…but I did, I enjoyed it.

THE BEST MAN HOLIDAY is a sequel to the 1999 film THE BEST MAN and it has a great cast that includes Taye Diggs, Terrence Howard, Harold Perrineau, Morris Chestnut, Sanaa Lathan, Nia Long and Regina Hall, all reprising their roles from the original.

The story here is that they all reunite over Christmas and they reminisce, renew old aquaintances and rivalries, and loves. They eat, drink, be merry, love, hate, and fight. They seem to fight a lot.

But somehow, even though it doesn’t sound like I did, I did enjoy most of THE BEST MAN HOLIDAY. I do love films about friends spending time together, so that might be why.

Bottom line, know going in that it isn’t great, but – somehow – it’s better than it should be.

Let’s travel now, to a place for people obsessed with Pride and Prejudice. Yes, in the movies there is such a place, a theme park for those who love Jane Austen, a place where they can go to search for their perfect gentleman.

A place, called AUSTENLAND.

Keri Russell from FELICITY and THE AMERICANS stars here as the Austen obsessed woman, and she is okay in the role…everything about the movie is okay, just okay. It’s nice, but predictable, enjoyable for fans of the genre, but never anything special.

If you are looking for something new to watch this Valentine’s Day weekend, to watch either with or without your own Mr. Darcy, please allow me mildly recommend AUSTENLAND.

In the twenty-three years that The Couch Potato Report has existed in print, on television and radio I’ve reported on the release of this next film on video, laserdisc and DVD, in multiple releases for each format.

And now that it’s now available in HD on blu-ray, I will once again say what I’ve been saying for the last 2.3 decades: I love Disney’s THE JUNGLE BOOK! It is great for people of all ages!! And it features one of my favourite songs of all time, “The Bare Necessities”!

Inspired by the book of the same name by Rudyard Kipling, THE JUNGLE BOOK was the last animated film to be produced by Walt Disney himself, who died during its production, and he put his all in this one.

There is great music, fantastic animation, and the wonderful story of Bagheera the Panther and Baloo the Bear trying to convince Mowgli – The Man Cub – to leave the jungle where he was born and join humankind.

On Blu-ray, THE JUNGLE BOOK looks and sounds terrific and it comes with a wide array of Bonus Materials, new and old.

I highly recommend it – once again – to ages young and old. THE JUNGLE BOOK is one of my favourite animated films of all time and I can’t wait to share it in HD with an all-new generation.

The classic Disney film THE JUNGLE BOOK – that is a classic in any and all formats; the nice but predictable romance AUSTENLAND; the unoriginal, predictable, but mostly entertaining sequel THE BEST MAN HOLIDAY; the not worth any of your time wannabe crime thriller THE COUNSELOR; the exceptional, but stomach turning documentary THE ARMSTRONG LIE; the spectacular Saudi Arabian film WADJDA; and the exceptional SEASON THREE of SHERLOCK 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!