The Couch Potato Report – August 23rd, 2014
Alice Munro is an Ontario born author who – in 2013 – became the first Canadian to win the Nobel Prize for literature.
Various adaptations of her stories have been filmed over the years, including Sarah Polley’s Academy Award nominated/Genie Award winning AWAY FROM HER in 2006, which was based on Munro’s “The Bear Came Over the Mountain,” from her 2001 collection “Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage”.
Novelist Mark Poirier recently mined Alice Munro’s “Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage” as well to write the screenplay for a movie simply called HATESHIP LOVESHIP, co-starring Kristen Wiig of SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE and BRIDESMAIDS in a dramatic role.
Oscar nominee Hailee Steinfeld, of the Coen Brothers’ remake of TRUE GRIT, co-stars as a teenage girl who – with a friend – writes a love letter to Wiig’s lonely housekeeper. The letter is from the girl’s father, and isn’t the only one the teenagers send. There are so many, in fact, that the housekeeper quits her job and moves to Chicago to be with him, only to find out she was misled and is now stuck with nowhere to go.
Guy Pierce from MEMENTO and THE KING’S SPEECH is a recovering addict who is living in a hotel he’s hoping to fix up and run. And he is great in the role. Kristin Wiig is very good in HATESHIP LOVESHIP as well.
This is a mature, smart, well-written film that takes it’s time getting where it’s going, and I had no problem waiting, even when it got predictable. I enjoyed HATESHIP LOVESHIP and can easily recommend it.
I don’t, on the other hand, I do not recommend the Summer Blockbuster THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2. This thing is as far away from amazing as a superhero movie can be.
The worst Spidey movie ever made is still Sam Raimi’s 2007 mess SPIDER-MAN 3, back when Tobey Maguire was still playing the web-slinger, and if I have anything positive to say about THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 it is that this film isn’t as bad as that one.
But it comes close at times.
THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 has too many storylines and villains, is slow and very boring in the middle, tries to be too cute too often, and Andrew Garfield has never been good as Spider-man…and he is especially not good here.
I love superhero movies but THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 just isn’t amazing in any way, so unless you are a hardcore fan too, because I know you have to see it, but everyone else should just skip it.
BOARDWALK EMPIRE has been the best show on television about underworld characters since THE SOPRANOS went off the air in 2007, but after watching THE COMPLETE FOURTH SEASON this week, I glad that it’s going off the air after one more season. I’d rather have a show end while it is still good, instead of losing interest in a once great show.
BOARDWALK EMPIRE stars Steve Buscemi from FARGO and THE BIG LEBOWSKI as Nucky Thompson, the undisputed ruler of Atlantic City, who started off as part politician, part gangster…but he is mostly gangster now.
BOARDWALK EMPIRE is a great show, that is exceptionally well made, written and full of engaging characters and performances, but what works against it is the fact that it is the type of show you never need to see it again…once you’ve seen it, you’ve seen it.
Plus, during THE COMPLETE FOURTH SEASON there are several characters that are no longer necessary, they could be written out or killed off and they wouldn’t be missed.
But, even though I’ll never watch any episode of the show a second time, I always enjoy the first viewing. I like this show, I respect this show, and I can easily recommend THE COMPLETE FOURTH SEASON of BOARDWALK EMPIRE.
I haven’t highly recommended anything yet this week. Well, that changes now with TOY STORY OF TERROR!
This is the 22 minute TOY STORY program that airs at Halloween on television, featuring all of our favourite toys, trapped in their very own scary movie. In classic horror movie form, they disappear one by one and it’s up to Jesse to overcome her fears and save the day.
The Halloween show would be great as is, but this superb Blu-ray release also features the Toy Story Toons – Small Fry, Partysaurus Rex and Hawaiian Vacation.
TOY STORY OF TERROR is a great release that is jam packed with quite a few extras. It is fun for the whole family and I highly recommend it!
Unfortunately, I can only mildly recommend the nature documentary BEARS…and I love nature documentaries!!
Filmed in Alaska, the footage of the bears is spectacular as the film showcases a year in the life of a bear family, mother Sky and cubs Amber and Scout.
What does not work in BEARS is the narration. Done by the great comedic actor John C. Reilly of TALLADEGA NIGHTS and WRECK-IT-RALPH it is meant to be playful and fun, but it didn’t work for me. I don’t want playful and fun with my nature documentaries…I want facts and great footage.
So they got it half right, and as such I’ll mildly recommend it.
For me, the best part about the 1999 animated Walt Disney film TARZAN is the Academy Award winning songs and music of Phil Collins, which all sounds great on the new blu-ray.
Based on the story “Tarzan of the Apes” by Edgar Rice Burroughs, this version is the only one that’s been animated, thus opening up the story to allow the title character – a man raised by gorillas – to do some amazing things.
Sadly, the filmmakers don’t create enough sights to capitalize on those amazing possibilities.
This TARZAN features the voices of Tony Goldwyn, Minnie Driver, Glenn Close, Rosie O’Donnell, and Wayne Knight and the age old story of the difficult decision of where he really belongs once Tarzan discovers he is a human.
TARZAN is a very good, but never great animated film the whole family can enjoy together. But the kids may get bored before the full story has played out.
Finally this week is a movie where nothing really happens for two hours, but I couldn’t take my eyes off of writer/director Jim Jarmusch’s ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE.
Jim Jarmusch is the independant, mostly non-commercial filmmaker who has given us many unique films that only cinephiles will have heard of…like DOWN BY LAW, DEAD MAN, GHOST DOG, BROKEN FLOWERS and THE LIMITS OF CONTROL.
Here we have the story about a depressed musician who reunites with his lover. Their love has already endured several centuries, because they’re vampires. He lives in Detroit, and he convinces her to come visit.
Tom Hiddleston, Loki from THE AVENGERS and THOR and Oscar winner Tilda Swinton from MICHAEL CLAYTON star as the two leads in ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE and they are great, just talking and thinking aloud…as I said, nothing really happens here, but I still really enjoyed it.
ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE is artsy and slow and hypnotic. Cinephiles shouldn’t miss it, and I also recommend regular film viewers search it out as well, should you be looking for something a little different
Jim Jarmusch’s slow but entertaining drama ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE; Disney’s very good 1999 animated version of TARZAN; the just okay documentary BEARS; the great TOY STORY OF TERROR – which also features the short films made featuring the gang; the very good, but slipping, COMPLETE FOURTH SEASON of BOARDWALK EMPIRE; the never amazing, quite awful sequel THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2; and mature, smart, well-written drama HATESHIP LOVESHIP, co-starring Kristn Wiig and based on a short story by the Nobel Prize winning Canadian author Alice Munro 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!