Archive for February, 2016


Screen Shot 2016-02-26 at 2.56.44 PMRichard and CP24 host Arda Zarkarian have a look at the weekend’s big releases, the dirty-cop actioner “Triple 9,” the inspirational uplift of “Eddie the Eagle” and Michael Moore’s “Where to Invade Next” and make some early Oscar predictions.

Watch the whole thing HERE!

Metro Canada In Focus: Are the Oscars still relevant or not?

Screen Shot 2016-02-23 at 5.01.07 PMBy Richard Crouse – Metro In Focus

A friend is boycotting the Academy Awards because his favourite film of 2015, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, didn’t make the Oscar’s Best Picture list.

The awards, he says, aren’t relevant because they ignore genre movies and in this particular case, have snubbed the most financially successful film of the year. In fact, the old canard that the Academy doesn’t honour genre movies with Best Picture nods has been shot down this year with nominations for The Martian and Mad Max: Fury Road.

The Oscar folks also gave The Force Awakens five nominations and in recent years Inception, Avatar, District 9, Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King and Django Unchained have all earned top nods with LOTR taking home the gold.

Genre movies do just fine with the Academy. No need for C-3PO to cry little metal tears. To the Academy’s credit, not recognizing the year’s box office behemoth while giving Room, a modestly grossing movie, Best Picture, Actress, Directing and Adapted Screenplay nods, actually suggests the Academy will not be wowed by wheelbarrows of cash.

Perhaps the truth is that the Oscars, and awards shows in general, are only as relevant as you want them to be. Are they as important as the Republican debates? It’s all just show biz, so maybe. Ultimately, unless you’re an actor, a director or a shareholder in a nominated film the Oscars are probably not extremely significant to your life. I pay attention to them as a function of my job, and I enjoy them, but this year I’m on board with my friend but for different reasons.

I’m disappointed in Oscar’s failure to acknowledge diversity. For the second year in a row all 20 acting nominations went to white actors. To be clear I’m not implying the Academy is overtly racist. There are too many voters for there to be a conspiracy to keep actors of colour out of the headline categories. Have you ever gone to a restaurant with more than 10 people and tried to get everyone to agree on an appetizer for the table? It’s nearly impossible. Now imagine trying to arrange collusion between 6,000 members of the Academy. Totally hopeless.

So if it’s not a conspiracy why were stellar performances from Creed’s Michael B. Jordan, The Hateful Eight’s Samuel L. Jackson, Sicario’s Benicio Del Toro, Beasts of No Nation’s Idris Elba or any of Straight Outta Compton’s top line cast not nominated? I think it’s a combination of studio decision makers, who tend to be white, male and older coupled with the same demographic of voters at the Academy.

It’s a systemic issue being addressed by Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs’ effort to mould the Academy’s membership to be more in line with the population.

Until the Oscars represent the full width and breadth of the best in Hollywood, regardless of race or gender, they will continue to slide toward irrelevancy. My guess is that the most interesting part of this year’s ceremony won’t be who wins Best Actor but host Chris Rock’s opening monologue, which, if the movie gods prevail, will address the situation in no uncertain terms. It’s a speech I’m predicting will be just as entertaining and provocative as any of the nominees, Star Wars: The Force Awakens included.

Metro Canada: Benicio Del Toro tackles tough topics in A Perfect Day

Screen Shot 2016-02-23 at 5.00.12 PMBy Richard Crouse – Metro Canada

The last time we saw Benicio Del Toro on screen he was starring in Sicario as a mercenary who collected a handsome paycheque while quenching his thirst for revenge against drug cartel leaders.

He was vicious and malicious, a supreme badass doing the right thing for the completely wrong reason.

That movie’s dark and gritty examination of the drug-fuelled Mexico-U.S. border war stands in stark contrast to his new movie, the optimistically titled A Perfect Day.

“I do believe there is hope in A Perfect Day,” he says. “I agree with you that Sicario is hopeless but in this one there is hope. I was finishing A Perfect Day when I went into Sicario. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons Sicario was interesting, because it was the dark side of the coin.”

Set in 1990s Balkans, Del Toro plays Mambrú, a misfit aid worker whose team (played by Tim Robbins and Olga Kurylenko among others) begin their day in the former Yugoslavia trying to remove a bloated corpse dumped in a well to contaminate the water.

The task is complicated by United Nations bureaucracy and the lack of a strong enough rope forcing the crew to navigate not only landmine-ridden roads but their own complicated relationships in search of a solution.

Director Fernando León de Aranoa calls Del Toro the centerpiece of the film, adding, “Working with him means working with a creative partner.”

“There are some ideas that can come from anywhere that are golden,” Del Toro says on improvising on set. “I would like to say that I wish I could recognize good ideas when they are out there whether they come from another actor or they come from myself.

“If there is a good idea I do believe that if you don’t take advantage of it while you are making the film it’ll be gone forever. If there is a good idea I am game to explore.”

Del Toro, who is currently filming Star Wars: Episode VIII, says the script appealed to him because, it was about, “people trying to do good and just how complicated it can get, but with elements of humour…. It was like a riddle to solve,” he says.

“Can the movie balance these two things? I think it does. The darkness of the war and the job with the humour.”

One point of reference was Robert Altman’s black comedy M*A*S*H about medical personnel stationed at a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital during the Korean War.

The actor says he discussed the 1970 movie, “with the director and Tim Robbins a little bit but the other film we talked about was No Man’s Land by Danis Tanović. It takes place in that part of the world and deals with the comedy and the darkness. The comedy in a ridiculous way.”

More importantly, he met with his character’s real-life counterparts.

“I had met some aid workers and I will tell you, they all have a good sense of humour. They tell you some dark stories but they do have a sense of humour. It’s a way of dealing with the darkness of their experiences and the pain.

“At the end of the day when you do a movie like this you learn about how valuable these people are. How courageous they are. Aid workers. Doctors Without Borders. How much energy and compassion for humans they have.”


Screen Shot 2016-02-26 at 12.10.37 PMRichard and “Canada AM” host Beverly Thomson have a look at the weekend’s big releases, the dirty-cop actioner “Triple 9,” the inspirational uplift of “Eddie the Eagle” and Michael Moore’s “Where to Invade Next.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!


TRIPLE 9: 3 ½ STARS. “points the wheel to a menacing underworld.”

Screen Shot 2016-02-23 at 4.54.50 PM“Triple 9” is set in Atlanta on the side of the tracks where it’s not that hard to tell who the bad guys are… because pretty much everyone is some sort of villain. Including the cops.

The film begins with the first of several heart pounding action sequences. Unshaven tough guys— ex-special forces agents Michael (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and Russell (“The Walking Dead’s” Norman Reedus) along with Russell’s ex-cop brother Gabe (Aaron Paul), and a pair of dirty cops Marcus (Anthony Mackie) and Jorge (Clifton Collins Jr.)—use their connections and tactical training to pull off a brazen hold up Atlanta’s First City Bank and steal the safety deposit box of a wealthy Russian gangster.

It’s a special ordered by the elaborately coiffured Israeli mob boss Irina (Kate Winslet) who then demands the men do another job before any money changes hands. The second heist involves breaking into an unmarked homeland security building and stealing the computer files that contain the key to getting Irina’s husband out of jail. It’s dangerous, time sensitive—“The house is burning and the clock is ticking,” she says.—and damn near impossible. Completing the task calls for strong measures. The baddies decide to stage a triple 9, cop slang for a fallen constable, in the hopes that an “officer down” call will attract every police officer in Atlanta, leaving them free to do as they please across town. Their intended victim is a new by-the-book officer Chris Allen (Casey Affleck) but matters of family ties, loyalty and even a hint of ethics complicate matters.

“Triple 9” is perfect for those who like their cop stories tinged with nihilism. Cut from the same stained cloth as “Training Day” and “Street Kings,” it’s a down-and-dirty story where severed heads are a plot point, a lead detective smokes more dope than the people he’s arresting (and he’s one of the good guys) and tough guys say creepily poetic things like, “It’s quiet as a mother’s prayer.” The scent of testosterone hangs heavy in the air but director John Hillcoat embraces the dirty cop clichés but allows the actors to wallow in the filth in interesting of ways. Woody Harrelson’s sleazy-but-righteous cop is a ton of fun, the Collins Jr.’s Jorge is sheer b-movie evil and Winslet’s Irina is a villain ripped out of the pages of a pulp fiction novel.

We’ve seen it all before, and frankly, seen it better before, so while Hillcoat doesn’t reinvent the wheel he does point the wheel to a menacing underworld and doesn’t take his foot off the gas till me gets there.

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