The Couch Potato Report

FESTIVAL EXPRESS and WATERMARK are both fantastic!!

The Couch Potato Report – March 8th, 2014

In the Summer of 1970, some of the biggest names in music got on a train after a concert in Toronto and traveled to Winnipeg and Calgary to perform shows there as well.

Those big names on the train? The Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, Ian & Sylvia and The Band among others!!

The 2003 documentary FESTIVAL EXPRESS features amazing live footage shot during the concerts, as well as jam sessions recorded about the train itself, because there was no sleeping as the train rolled across Canada, they just played music and partied all night…until they ran out and had to stop to replenish their supply.

FESTIVAL EXPRESS also includes present-day interviews with some of the performers on the train, sharing their very entertaining memories of what happened.

FESTIVAL EXPRESS features beautiful footage of Canadian, Ian and Sylvia performing with the Grateful Dead, and the opportunity to see some classic rock stars we’ve lost – like Janis Joplin and Jerry Garcia – just having fun and playing music.

It is a tremendous film, and the brand new blu-ray is a must see and a way to see Toronto, Winnipeg, Saskatoon and Calgary again, as they were in the early 1970s.

At the conclusion of the 86th Annual Academy Awards last Sunday, Will Smith came on stage to announce the winner for Best Picture. It was no surprise that the Oscar went to heart-wrenching drama 12 YEARS A SLAVE.

This is the brutally violent and heartbreaking story of Solomon Northup, a free black man from upstate New York, who is abducted and sold into slavery.

He was 12 YEARS A SLAVE.

The cast of the film all give great performances, especially Lupita Nyong’o, who won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

The story is true, the performances amazing and the violence depicted in 12 YEARS A SLAVE is brutal. That makes it tough to watch at times, but I do highly recommend that you do watch it.

This is filmmaking at its finest.

Another movie that I’ll refer to as filmmaking at its finest is the documentary WATERMARK.

Parts of this film and the scenery and places it shows us will take your breath away.

WATERMARK is a Canadian documentary looking at the history and use of water and how it shapes humanity.

I was fascinated by the footage in WATERMARK, it is a visually stunning piece of work that features water in the desert, humankind’s attempts to move water and shape how it moves, fountains at play in Las Vegas and much more.

Search this one out, you will not be disappointed!

But you will, you absolutely will be disappointed if you watch Spike Lee’s latest film, especially if you know Park Chan-wook’s 2003 South Korean cult film that it is a remake of, but even if you don’t you’ll still be disappointed that such a great filmmaker has given us such a boring non-thrilling action film.

Josh Brolin from NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN stars in OLDBOY as a man who is kidnapped and locked into solitary confinement for 20 years.

When he is finally set free he seeks answers and wants to know why he was locked up, and by whom, and you won’t care.

The 2003 version was original, and interesting and had amazing fight scenes and a tremendous story twist. The remake is meant to be all of that, but never comes close.

Skip this remake of OLDBOY, at all costs, but seek out the original. Now THAT is a great flick that is very worthy of your time!

Finally this week is a film I’m reviewing not for fans of Suzanne Collins’ “The Hunger Games Trilogy”, but for movie fans. If you love the book, you’ll love the movie, but should movie fans spend almost two and a half hours watching THE HUNGER GAMES – CATCHING FIRE?

I say yes…mildly.

Much like the first film THE HUNGER GAMES – CATCHING FIRE lacks any immediacy in the story – they are involved in a contest where the lone survivor is the winner, yet they sit around and talk on an open beach instead of hunting down their opponents!!! – plus the special effects aren’t great, and members of the cast can’t act.

The reason I do mildly recommend it is because Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence is great as Katniss and veterans Stanley Tucci, Woody Harrelson, Canadian Icon Donald Sutherland and the late Phillip Seymour Hoffman are very entertaining in their roles as well.

So, movie fans, I do mildly recommend THE HUNGER GAMES – CATCHING FIRE to you…but you will need to see the first one first.

The pretty good sequel THE HUNGER GAMES – CATCHING FIRE, the awful and pointless remake OLDBOY; the visually stunning and fascinating documentary WATERMARK; the Academy Award winning Best Picture 12 YEARS A SLAVE; and the great 1970 music documentary FESTIVAL EXPRESS 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!