Archive for October, 2016


screen-shot-2016-09-14-at-11-10-08-pmWelcome to the House of Crouse. Here edited audio from a press conference I hosted with ‘Gimme Danger” director Jim Jarmusch and his subject, Iggy Pop. By 1973 Iggy and the Stooges had imploded, leaving behind three commercially unsuccessful records and a slug trail of decadence and unfulfilled expectations across two continents. “Gimme Danger” is Jarmusch’s grotty documentary about the life, death and influence of The Stooges. It’s a first hand account of what the director calls “the greatest rock and roll band ever.” C’mon in and sit a spell!





screen-shot-2016-10-29-at-10-19-17-amRichard hosted a Facebook Live session with “Doctor Strange” star Rachel McAdams! Find out how the actress prepared for the suturing scenes, what she has to say about working with Benedict Cumberbatch and who her favourite Marvel superhero is! See the video on Marvel Facebook Page!


screen-shot-2016-10-29-at-10-18-16-amRichard and CP24 anchor Jamie Gutfreund have a look at the weekend’s new movies, Tom Hanks as symbologist Robert Langdon in “Inferno,” two of the best movies of the years, “Moonlight” and “The Handmaiden” and Ewan McGregor’s directorial debut, “American Pastoral.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!


screen-shot-2016-10-28-at-10-36-44-amRichard sits in on the CTV NewsChannel morning show to have a look at the weekend’s new movies, Tom Hanks as symbologist Robert Langdon in “Inferno,” two of the best movies of the years, “Moonlight” and “The Handmaiden” and Ewan McGregor’s directorial debut, “American Pastoral.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!

Metro In Focus: The fraught relationship between faith and film

screen-shot-2016-10-25-at-10-18-04-amBy Richard Crouse – Metro In Focus

This weekend professor of religious iconology and symbology Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) returns to theatres in Inferno, the third movie in the Da Vinci Code franchise.

In 2006 the fictional Harvard prof made his big screen debut, uncovering the complicated personal life of Jesus Christ in The Da Vinci Code. Three years later he used his knowledge of symbology to unravel the mystery of a secret brotherhood called the Illuminati and thwart a terrorist act against the Vatican.

In between those two movies I received dozens of outraged emails, long tracts regarding Dan Brown’s books, the up-coming movie, The Illuminati and the veracity of the stories.

In response to the anxious folks who contacted me, concerned the film, which had not been released yet, would be a dangerous piece of anti-Catholic propaganda, I wrote a forward to my Angels and Demons review, pointing letter writers toward the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano. They described Angels and Demons as “harmless entertainment which hardly affects the genius and mystery of Christianity.” Their review noted it is filled with historical inaccuracies but went on to suggest that one could make a game of pointing out all of the film’s historical mistakes.

In other words, don’t take it seriously and you’ll have a good time. Despite the Vatican newspaper’s warm embrace, the film still ignited a firestorm of criticism from people upset about the story’s alleged anti-Catholic sentiments, “malicious myths” and churches being associated with scenes of murder.

Inferno sidesteps religious controversy with a tale of a deadly virus that threatens all of humanity, but cinema and religion have often made for uncomfortable pairings.

In 1999 the Catholic League denounced Dogma’s tale of two fallen angels (Ben Affleck and Matt Damon) trying to get back into heaven as “blasphemy.” More recently uproar erupted over Darren Aronofsky’s unorthodox take on the story of Noah. Jerry Johnson, president of the National Religious Broadcasters, loudly objected to the film’s “insertion of the extremist environmental agenda.”

Perhaps the most controversial religious film ever was The Devils, based on Aldous Huxley’s nonfiction book The Devils of Loudun. Years before Ken Russell made the movie, a filmmaker approached Huxley wanting to turn the story of a radical 17th century French Catholic priest accused of witchcraft and burned at the stake, into a film. Huxley said, ‘Don’t do it. Don’t make a movie out of this.’ He thought there was no way the story could be presented in an entertaining way without short-circuiting people’s minds. Turns out maybe he was right.

Forty-five years after its release Russell’s film is little seen but much talked about. Banned, censored and still unavailable in its complete form on Blu-Ray, the movie’s graphic church orgy offended many—and was cut to pieces and removed by censors—but it’s more than shock and titillation. It’s a film that makes a serious statement about the struggle between church and state but does so in an entertaining and provocative way.

Lots of movies contain violence or sex or religion, but Russell mixed all three together in one toxic cocktail. If released today The Devils may not inspire riots in the streets, as it did in 1971, but if presented in its complete form the following indignation would make the Angels and Demons protests seem tame.

Check out Marvel Canada Facebook Friday at 2:45pm for Rachel McAdams Live!

screen-shot-2016-10-27-at-1-30-19-pmHead over to the Marvel Canada Facebook page Friday October 28 at 2:45pm ET! Richard will be hosting Rachel McAdams LIVE.

INFERNO: 2 STARS. “clueless? No, it’s overstuffed with clues, just not thrills.”

screen-shot-2016-10-25-at-10-17-04-amA better title for “Inferno,” the latest big screen exploits of symbology professor Robert Langdon, might have been “The Da Vinci Code: This Time it’s Personal.” Not only must Langdon, once again in the form of Tom Hanks, confront an old love but he also must dig deep into his shattered memory to piece together the clues of his greatest mystery ever.

Or something like that.

The convoluted story begins with bioengineer and billionaire Bertrand Zobrist (Ben Foster) spewing his extreme theories on the planet’s problems. “Every ill on earth can be traced back to overpopulation,” he says. In the space of just twenty four hours Zobrist drops out of the picture, and Langdon is found disoriented and put under the care of Dr. Sienna Brooks (Felicity Jones). “What am I doing in Florence?” he asks. Suffering from retrograde amnesia and terrifying visions of a hellish nature, people with heads twisted back to front, seas of fire, pools of blood and serpents, he struggles to remember the events of the last forty-eight hours.

With the help of Brooks he goes on the run from a determined assassin (Ana Ularu) and the World Health Organization until he can gather the clues that will lead him to the Inferno Virus, a plague planted by Zobrist to cull the world’s population by half. “Humanity is the disease,” he cackles, “Inferno is the cure.”

Add in close calls, narrow escapes and clues hidden in Italian antiquities and you have “Inferno,” the thriller with no clue how to be thrilling. Instead it’s two hours of exposition, a lesson in Botticelli and Dante. Whatever thrills there were to be mined from David Koepp’s script are blunted by director Ron Howard’s habit of showing and telling clues and info over and over, not trusting the viewer to be able to follow along. With convoluted clues and lots of Italian names and places to keep track of “Inferno” repeats information ad nauseam.

This is the third time Hanks has played Langdon but in the fullness of time I don’t think we’ll look back on the symbologist as the actor’s most memorable character. He carries the movies, which have made hundreds of millions of dollars, but he’s less a character then he is an exposition machine, an explainer of obscure history, a purveyor of aha moments. Hanks is a charmer, but he’s done in trying to wade through the movie’s scripting mire.

Sharing the screen is Jones, soon to be seen in “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.” As Dr. Brooks she is Langdon’s intellectual match and one of the dual engines that keeps the story plodding along, but spends most of the film nodding in agreement to Langdon’s sudden, remarkable realisations.

As the villain Foster’s few appearances—he’s peppered throughout usually appearing in video clips, is further proof that Hollywood doesn’t know what to do with this talented actor.

More fun is Irrfan Khan as the calm, cool and collected head of a mysterious group that manages risks for high profile clients. He’s deadly, duplicitous and James Bond villain suave.

The obvious joke here is that “Inferno” is clueless. But it’s not, it’s overstuffed with clues, just not thrills.

MOONLIGHT: 4 STARS. “truthful and real, it’s one of the year’s best films.”

screen-shot-2016-10-25-at-10-16-01-am“Moonlight” is a film about a young man trying to find a place for himself in the world. “At some point you got to decide who you going to be,” says an early mentor. “Can’t let anybody make that decision for you.” Director Barry Jenkins splits the story into thirds, each examining a different time in the life of Chiron, a young, gay African-American man, as he comes to grips with who he is.

At the beginning of Part I Chiron (Alex Hibbert) is ten-years-old and on the run from schoolyard bullies. His small size and meek manner have made him a target. He finds refuge in an abandoned drug den where Juan (Mahershala Ali), an anything-but-stereotypical drug dealer with a heart of gold, discovers the boy cowering in a corner. The older man becomes a mentor and surrogate father, even as he sells crack to Chiron’s mother, nurse Paula (Naomie Harris).

Part II sees Chiron’s (now plyed by Ashton Sanders) high school years marred by homophobic slurs and the bullying that comes along with the name-calling. His mother has fallen deep into addiction but Juan’s girlfriend, Teresa (Janelle Monáe), picks up the slack, offering a kind face, a warm meal and a clean place to sleep. The introverted teen’s first sexual experience, with his childhood friend Kevin (Jharrel Jerome), does little to take the edge off the loneliness he feels even when he is with other people.

Part III focuses on Chiron (now played by Trevante Rhodes) as a gold-grill wearing drug dealing twenty-something, pumped up but still alone. A random phone call from Kevin (Andre Holland) gives the estranged friends a chance to catch up and confront the past.

“Moonlight” is a movie that beats with a very human heart while subverting expectations with almost every scene. Jenkins has placed obstacles in the way of the story telling—multiple actors playing the same characters, and a lead who is succinct almost to the point of being mute—but overcomes those hurdles with a combination of social conscience, fine acting and interesting characters who constantly defy pigeonholing.

Mahershala Ali, an actor best known as Remy Danton on “House of Cards,” is a standout as a drug dealer who allows the personal cost of his business to weigh on him. He’s a tough guy with a heart and his performance in Part I sets a high bar which is met by Harris and all three of the young men who play Chiron.

Each deliver performances characterized by deep inner work that reveals the truth behind the façade Chiron uses as a front. There’s a remarkable consistency in the trio of performances, so by the end of the film, when Chiron is asked, “Who is you man?” his answer, “I’m me. I don’t try to be nothing else,” rings true and real.

THE HANDMAIDEN: 4 STARS. “it doesn’t get much more enjoyably escapist.”

screen-shot-2016-10-25-at-10-20-32-amSet in 1930s Korea, “The Handmaiden” is an epic story of madness, con games, double crosses, double-double crosses, kinky sex, desire and more. Director Chan-wook Park adapts Welsh writer Sarah Waters’ novel “Fingersmith,” wringing every ounce of lascivious pleasure from its sprawling story of sex and intrigue.

When Sook-hee (Kim Tae-ri) is hired as a handmaiden to the reclusive Japanese heiress Lady Hideko (Kim Min-hee) she appears to be the perfect servant. Humble and subservient, she caters to Hideko’s every whim but all is not what it appears. Turns out Sook-hee is a shill, a thief sent to the countryside estate Hideko shares with her domineering Uncle Kouzuki (Cho Jin-woong) as part of a plan to steal her inheritance. Her job is to get close to her mistress and fan the flames of love between the heiress and Count Fujiwara (Ha Jung-woo), a handsome swindler who plans on seducing, marrying and then committing Hideko to an insane asylum before making off with her fortune.

That’s enough story for most movies, but it’s only part of the first chapter of three that comprise the two-and-a-half-hour film.

Chan-wook Park’s films have never shied away from lurid, sensational imagery, and “The Handmaiden” is no different. Unapologetically erotic and convoluted, the film revels in its ridiculousness, luxuriating in every plot twist and turn. Told from multiple points of view with an ever-changing character dynamic, it demands your attention.

What begins as a con game ends as a (SPOILER ALERT) a triumph of undervalued women who use the manipulation of the men in their lives as a weapon. It’s a complicated revenge story, ripe with detail and secrets. As vaguely trashy art house cinema goes, however, it doesn’t get much more enjoyably escapist than “The Handmaiden.”