Archive for May, 2016

Richard to host the inaugural Inside Out BravoFACT Pitch Competition!

Screen Shot 2016-05-31 at 6.26.43 PMInside Out Toronto LGBT Film Festival is excited to partner with BravoFACT for the inaugural Inside Out BravoFACT Pitch Competition. We are looking for teams of two who are passionate about making Canadian films for and about the LGBT community. Five teams will be selected to pitch their short narrative film projects in front of a jury of industry experts and a live audience at the 2016 Toronto LGBT Film Festival.

The winning team will receive a cash prize of $50,000 from BravoFACT to complete the project and will screen it at the 2017 Toronto LGBT Film Festival.

Screen Shot 2016-05-31 at 6.29.38 PMThe finalists for the Inside Out BravoFACT Pitch Competition are:

Night Swimmer
Bretten Hannam (Director) and Jessica Murwin (Producer)
Three teenage boys go camping deep in the woods. A dark secret is revealed, turning an innocent adventure into a nightmare.
Plus One
Peter Knegt (Director) and Milda Yoo (Producer)
Two strangers form an unlikely bond when they meet at the singles table of a lesbian wedding.
Porn Again Christian
Austin Wong (Producer, Director) and Sonya Di Rienzo (Producer)
A comedy about a closeted gay teenager who goes to a Christian camp in an attempt “to change”, only to find the camp filled with straight Christian hotties.
Small Minds
Rowan Nicole Nielsen (Director) and Charlie David (Producer)
Attending her daughter’s school speech teaches a lesbian mother the true wisdom in keeping an open mind and provides her daughter with the confidence to speak up in front of the whole class.
What About Shelley
Kyle Reaume (Director) and Carolyn Reznik (Producer)
A friendship is threatened when a man comes out as gay to his girlfriend’s best friend.
Join us on Saturday, June 4 at 11:00AM at the TIFF Bell Lightbox during the 2016 Toronto LGBT Film Festival as the finalists pitch their short narrative film projects in front of a jury of industry experts, moderated by CTV film critic Richard Crouse. Tickets for the event are FREE but can be reserved at the TBLB Box Office. More info HERE!

Richard to host Q&A with “Into the Forest” star Ellen Page and dir Patricia Rozema!

Screen Shot 2016-05-30 at 1.25.17 PMRichard will host a Q&A with “Into the Forest” stars Ellen Page and director Patricia Rozema at the Varsity Theatre on Tuesday May 31, 2016 at 7 pm. Later in the week keep your eye on “Canada AM” to see Richard’s sit down interview with Page and co-star Evan Rachel Wood!

Learn more about the movie HERE!


Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 1.42.28 PMWelcome to the House of Crouse. Fifty episodes! Over 100 interviews! That’s a lot of talking. We continue the HoC tradition of bringing you the best in wordy ramblings and informative recitations as we welcome Emilia Clarke and Jojo Moyes, the star and author, respectively of “Me Before You,” a three hanky romantic film in theatres now and Phillip Norman, the legendary biographer who tells us everything we need to know about Mick Jagger. Stop by, have a listen and get some satisfaction.


Screen Shot 2016-05-27 at 3.54.23 PMRichard and CP24 anchor Nneka Elliot talk about the weekend’s big releases, “X-Men Apocalypse,” starring Michael Fassbender and Jennifer Lawrence, Johnny Depp in “Alice Through the Looking Glass” and “Mr. Right,” starring Anna Kendrick and Sam Rockwell.

Watch the whole thing HERE!


Screen Shot 2016-05-27 at 11.44.11 AMRichard and “Canada AM” host Beverly Thomson talk about the weekend’s three big releases, “X-Men Apocalypse,” starring Michael Fassbender and Jennifer Lawrence, Johnny Depp in “Alice Through the Looking Glass” and “Mr. Right,” starring Anna Kendrick and Sam Rockwell.

Watch the whole thing HERE!

Posted in Canada AM, Film Review | Comments Off on RICHARD’S “CANADA AM” REVIEWS FOR MAY 20 WITH BEVERLY THOMSON.

Metro: Wasikowska returns to Wonderland in Alice Through The Looking Glass

Screen Shot 2016-05-23 at 8.30.44 AMBy Richard Crouse – Metro In Focus

Alice Through The Looking Glass, the six-years-in-the-making sequel to Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, takes place in a world where chess pieces come to life and the Cheshire Cat’s grin is as toothy as ever. It’s a flight of fantasy, based on a story published by Lewis Carroll in 1871, but grounded by the very human character of Alice Kingsley.

Mia Wasikowska has played Alice since the 2010 film, signing on to the first movie when she was just 18 years old.

“There is always a little bit of trepidation especially when you’re dealing with a character who is so iconic and so beloved by so many people and so many generations,” she told me on the release of the first film.

“But there is also a certain amount of realism to it because you know you can’t please everyone and not everyone is going to be pleased so it is more just making the character your own and feeling comfortable in the decisions you make.”

Originally imagined by Carroll in 1865, the little girl who found a world of wonder down the rabbit hole has become one of literature and film’s more enduring and malleable characters.

She was the insane character of America McGee’s video game Alice and the martial arts instructor of a Syfy channel adaptation. In 2010 Wasikowska said she thinks the stories have lasted because people relate to the strange characters and situations.

“I don’t believe in normal,” she said. “Nobody is normal. Everyone is crazy in his or her own way. So although these are extreme characters I think that just makes them more identifiable.

People want to see these characters, understand these characters, love these characters, feel comfortable with these characters because they are like everybody in this world who are kind of crazy. Everyone has felt like an outsider at some time in their life so it is a very identifiable story.”

Alice first got the big screen treatment in 1903 in a 12-minute silent version starring Mabel Clark, who was also employed on the set as a “help-out girl,” making costumes and running errands.

In 1966 director Jonathan Miller cast Anne-Marie Mallik as the lead in Alice, a mad-as-a-hatter made-for-BBC movie. Miller called Mallik, who auditioned by reciting a poem, a “rather extraordinary, solemn child.”

Not everyone agreed. Peter Cook’s biographer described the teenager’s take on Alice as “sullen, pouting, pubescent with no sense of bewilderment.” Mallik later said she wasn’t impressed with her illustrious co-stars — John Gielgud as the Mock Turtle and Peter Sellers as the King of Hearts — because she had grown up surrounded by the very accomplished friends of her “much older” parents.

After production wrapped she “retired” from acting and afterward the BBC had trouble paying her a royalty because they couldn’t find her.

It’s hard to know what Alice Liddell, the young girl who inspired the character would have thought of any of the wild and wacky versions of the story, but we do know she enjoyed the 1933 Paramount version.

“I am delighted with the film and am now convinced that only through the medium of the talking picture art could this delicious fantasy be faithfully interpreted,” she told the New York Times. “Alice is a picture which represents a revolution in cinema history!”


LOVE & FRIENDSHIP: 4 STARS. “the feeling of the piece is very modern.”

Screen Shot 2016-05-23 at 8.28.16 AMWhit Stillman has made just five films since his 1990 debut Metropolitan, but those movies, despite being set in various countries and time periods, are remarkably consistent in theme. Fascinated by privilege, he has chronicled the lives of young, beautiful rich people in art house movies like “Barcelona,” “The Last Days of Disco” and “Damsels in Distress.”

His latest film, “Love & Friendship,” fits snugly beside the others. Based on the Jane Austen novella “Lady Susan” it is places the action in the 1790s, but the subversive glimpse at upper class society is pure Stillman.

Kate Beckinsale is Lady Susan Vernon, a broke, recently widowed aristocrat whose scandalous behaviour in London has whittled down opportunities for social advancement for her and her daughter Federica (Morfydd Clark). “We don’t live,” she says, “we visit, entirely at the convenience of our relatives.” An acid-tongued schemer, Lady Susan survives on the kindness of her former sister-in-law Catherine Vernon (Emma Greenwell). Opening the doors of her country estate to Susan only exposes the hostess to the widow’s Machiavellian dealings, the attempted seduction of Catherine’s brother Reginald de Courcy (Xavier Samuel) and a plan to marry off Frederica to the wealthy but di-witted Sir James Martin (Tom Bennett).

“Love & Friendship” is a comedy of manipulation and ill-manners that must be the funniest Austen adaptation since “Clueless.” Stillman regular Beckinsale (she appeared in “Last Days of Disco”) is letter perfect as the seductively icy, pennilessly haughty Lady Susan, “the most accomplished flirt in England.” Rattling off the breezy dialogue with ease, she’s an anti-heroine who at one point admonishes a man for approaching her on the street, threatening to have him whipped if he says another word. “I know him well,” she says to her American confidante Alicia (Chloe Sevigny, another “The Last Days of Disco” alum), “I would never speak to a stranger like that.” She’s fantastically unrepentant, a paragon of self-absorption who looks down on everyone.

A uniformly strong cast—including the scene stealing Tom Bennett whop hands in one of the great comedic performances of the year—help Stillman bring the world to life. The set decoration and costuming is very “Masterpiece Theatre,” but the feeling of the piece is very modern.

X-MEN: APOCALYPSE: 3 STARS. “lacking surprises, it makes up it for in bombast.”

Screen Shot 2016-05-23 at 8.29.55 AM“Hope for the best,” says Hank McCoy a.k.a. Beast (Nicholas Hoult) midway through “X-Men: Apocalypse,“ “but prepare for the worst.”

That’s the way I approach the X-Men movies. When a movie series spans a universe of stories—in addition to five X-Men flicks, this is the third “First Class” movie—caution is advised. The general rule of thumb is one of diminishing returns: the further away from the source, the weaker the story.

“Apocalypse” isn’t exactly the best of the X-Men movies, but it’s hardly the worst either. What it lacks in surprises, it makes up for in bombast.

“A gift can often be a curse,” we’re told in the opening narration. “Give them the greatest gift of all, power beyond imagination and they think they should rule the world.” Such is the case with En Sabah Nur (Oscar Isaac) an immortal Egyptian pharaoh betrayed a millennium or two ago, left in a fitful slumber under the rubble of a collapsed pyramid.

Cut to the early 1980s. Series regulars Magneto (Michael Fassbender), Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee), Angel (Ben Hardy) and Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) are going about life as usual… or as usual as they can while shape shifting and instantly transporting from place to place.

Their lives intersect again when En Sabah Nur, now nicknamed Apocalypse (no foreshadowing there) emerges from his sleep, eager to take his place as king of the world. The mutant god absorbs television news to learn about the modern world before assembling his disciples—his four horsemen—and unlocking the one last power he needs to control the planet. With the world’s fate resting in his hands Professor X (James McAvoy) brings a team of X-Men to do battle.

The first X-Men movies were allegories for all manner of twentieth century intolerance but gradually over time the civil rights elements of the story have become more lip service than social comment. “Apocalypse” distances itself even further from the core of what made the originals interesting, leaving behind a serviceable action movie that plays more like a Successories unleash-your-power platitude than a cry for universal liberties.

Instead we are given a villain who melodramatically says things like, “Come! Rescue your weakling!” and a CGI climax that feels lifted from “Batman v. Superman” or “Age of Ultron.” The dumbed down story of friendship and teamwork may not engage the brain but it does, however, have outlandish visuals to dazzle the eye. A show stopping Quicksilver (Evan Peters) scene has the faster-than-light mutant rescue a dozen people from a bombed out building, frozen in time by his supersonic speed. It’s cool and like the movie’s best images has the verve and invention the script lacks.

When the film’s biggest reveal is James McAvoy’s bald Professor X head you know the movie is light on new ideas but “X-Men: Apocalypse“ transcends the law of diminishing rewards by upping the action.

ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS: 2 STARS. “fantasy grounded by dull story.”

Screen Shot 2016-05-23 at 8.31.41 AM“Alice Through The Looking Glass,” the six years in the making sequel to Tim Burton’s $1 billion grossing “Alice in Wonderland,” takes place in a world where butterflies speak and the Red Queen applies her lipstick in a heart-shaped motif, but what should be a flight of fancy is grounded by a dull story.

The topsy-turvy world of Underland is more or less intact since the last time Alice Kingsleigh (Mia Wasikowska) visited. Chess pieces still come to life, Tweedledee and Tweedledumb (Matt Lucas) continue to speak in rhyme and the Cheshire Cat’s (Stephen Fry) grin is as toothy as it ever was.

One thing is different, however. The Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp), Alice’s greatest friend and ally in the otherworld, is having some problems. Call him the Sad Hatter. “He’s just not the same anymore.” Thinking of his family’s demise courtesy of the fiery breath of the Jabberwocky has thrown him into a depression. To help the Mad Hatter out of his funk Alice steals a time travel device from Time (Sacha Baron Cohen) himself (“I am time,” he says, “the infinite, the immortal, the measurable… unless you have a clock.”) ignores warnings about changing the past and careens across the ocean of time to find out what happened to Hatter’s folks. “Do try not to break the past, present or future,” purrs the Cheshire Cat.

“Looking Glass” is an epic fantasy artfully directed by James Bobin but lacking the effortlessly odd feel of Tim Burton’s work on the first film. It’s a trippy story that transverses time and space and should invite the viewer to ‎turn on, tune in and drop out but the true weirdness of the story, the unhinged voyages of imagination, are absent. Instead we’re thrown into a world that feels like we’ve seen it all before: familiar and not nearly whimsical enough. It’s a sea of CGI with a story cut adrift inside it.

It’s lovely to hear Alan Rickman’s voice, if only briefly, as Absolem the Caterpillar on screen again and Baron Cohen does his best to breath life into his character, but no one, not even the Mad Hatter—who should more rightly be called the Quirky Hatter—is interesting enough to merit the movie’s hour-and-forty minute running time. There is a high level of craft evident in the computer-generated images, the costumes and set decoration, everywhere, in fact, except the story that seems to value “time” puns over actual plot.

Perhaps in six years or so, if they decide to add another film to this franchise, they’ll take heed of a bit of “Looking Glass’s” theme about learning something from the past and give the next movie the excitement and story Lewis Carroll’s creation deserves.