Richard sits in on the CTV NewsChannel with news anchor Marcia MacMillan to have a look at the weekend’s big releases including “Frozen 2,” “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” “Marriage Story” and “Waves.”
A weekly feature from ctvnews.ca! The Crouse Review is a quick, hot take on the weekend’s biggest and most interesting movies! This week Richard looks at “Frozen 2,” Tom Hanks as Mister Rogers in “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” and Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson in “Marriage Story.”
Richard has a look at the new movies coming to theatres, including the icy charms of “Frozen 2,” Tom Hanks as television icon Mister Rogers in “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” two films from Adam Driver, “Marriage Story” and “The Report” and one of the year’s very best films, “Waves” with CFRA morning show host Bill Carroll.
Richard sits in on the CJAD Montreal morning show with host Andrew Carter to talk the new movies coming to theatres including “Frozen 2,” the highly icy sequel to one of Disney’s biggest animated hits, Tom Hanks as Mister Rogers in “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” and two films from Adam Driver, “Marriage Story” and “The Report.”
“Marriage Story” is not a first date movie. It is a three hankie, emotionally fraught movie about appealing but damaged people whose divorce is filled with a sense of loss and a growing shroud of incivility.
Adam Driver is Charlie, a hotshot avant-garde theatre director living and working in Brooklyn, New York with his wife Nicole (Scarlett Johansson). She is a former movie star with a list of teen comedies to her credit. They met at a party, instantly fell in love, had son Henry (Azhy Robertson) all was well until it wasn’t. Charlie may have slept with a stage manager but it’s Nicole’s growing dissatisfaction that widen the chasm between them. “I never really came alive for myself,” she says. “I was only feeding his aliveness.”
What begins as a simple conscious uncoupling becomes complicated when Nicole accepts a starring role on a television series based in Los Angeles, taking Henry to live with her. The family, stretched between two coasts and two careers, wears thin and soon the pressures of the split take their toll. “It’s not as simple as not being in love anymore,” says Nicole.
On my way into the press screening for “Marriage Story” a publicist handed me a small package of Kleenex branded with the movie’s logo. “I won’t need these,” I thought. “I’m a professional, here to dispassionately judge this film on its merits. I made it through ‘Kramer vs. Kramer’ like a dry-eyed superman and if I can do that, I can do anything.” I’m not too proud to tell you that I was glad I had the Kleenexes. “Marriage Story” is so agonizingly vivid, so without melodrama, that I felt at times as though I was a voyeur, that I shouldn’t be watching some of these emotionally charged scenes. As Charlie and Nicole drift apart and lawyers, like the ruthless Nora Fanshaw (Laura Dern in full beast mode), become involved the idea that they might have a chance of staying friends once this is all said and done becomes heartbreakingly remote.
Driver and Johansson convincingly play the bond that made them a couple and as it unravels both reveal the fatal flaws that drove a wedge between them. The two actors, unshackled from the constraints of the blockbusters that pay for their Italian castle retreats, dig deep, wallowing in their character’s self-absorption and anger.
Johansson, in full monologue mode, thrills in a lengthy speech detailing her state of mind. And do not even get me started by Driver’s final scene with his son as he reads a long-forgotten note. (NO SPOILERS HERE) Director Noah Baumbach keeps those scenes—and the entire movie for that matter—uncluttered. Simple and direct, he allows the actors to do the heavy lifting with naturalistic performances and both pack a wallop.
“Marriage Story” may not be a great choice for a first date but the emotional, sincere truth Baumbach and cast wring out of the material is best seen with a companion, or at the very least a package of Kleenex.
Novelist Nicholas Sparks is the current king of romance writers. His flowery prose even gives Harlequin a run for their money in the three-hanky tearjerker department. Who else could write a line like, “Love is like the wind, you can’t see it but you can feel it,” with a straight face?
He is to romance writing what Buckley’s cough syrup is to a tickly throat. They both get the job done, but leave a sickly sweet aftertaste.
His best-known novel adaptation is The Notebook, a cross-generational love story that spent over a year as a New York Times hardcover top seller. Inspired by the story of his wife’s grandparent’s sixty-year marriage, the novel became a 2004 movie starring Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams. The tale of love and Alzheimer’s is emotionally manipulative—writer Gary Panton called this passionate weepie “mushier than a mushed-up bowl of mushy peas that’s just been mushed in an industrial-strength mushifier”—but opening weekend it surfed a wave of tears to the box office top five.
Sparks, a former pharmaceutical salesman writes tales of love and loss, of mighty obstacles overcome and lip-locks galore, which he defines as “dramatic epic love stories” along the lines of “Eric Segal’s Love Story or The Bridges of Madison County… But you can even go all the way back. You had Hemingway write A Farewell to Arms, the movies of the forties—Casablanca, From Here to Eternity—Shakespeare, and that’s the genre I work in.”
He caught some flack for comparing himself to Shakespeare—one writer said, “If Sparks is like Shakespeare, then a housepainter is like Picasso.”—but the fact remains that his unconventional love stories, his parcels of passion, have made his name synonymous with the romance genre.
This weekend prepare for another flurry of Sparkisms—tearstained romantic letters, lines like, “Love requires sacrifice but it’s worth it,” and passionate make-out sessions—as The Longest Ride hits the big screen.
This time around “Two stories separated by time, connected by fate,” get Sparksified as the lives of a young couple, played by Scott “Clint’s son” Eastwood and Britt Robertson and older love birds Alan Alda and Oona Chaplin, interlace. “I wish I could tell you it’s all happily ever after,” says Alda’s character, “not everybody gets that.”
Expect unexpected poignancy.
Critics haven’t always warmed to Sparks’s stories on film—Safe Haven with Julianne Hough as “a young woman’s struggle to love again” has a paltry 12% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes while The Best of Me starring Michelle Monaghan and James Marsden as high school sweethearts reunited after two decades sits at a miserable 8% rating—but audiences can’t seem to get enough of his weepy tales of unrequited love, lost love, mature love and love in a time of trouble. Ten of his books have already been adapted for the movies, with one more, The Choice, scheduled for 2016.
His style of romance has caught on, but don’t call him a romance writer. “I write dramatic fiction. If you go into a further subgenre, it would be a love story, but it has its roots in the Greek tragedies. This genre evolved through Shakespeare. He did Romeo and Juliet. Hemingway did A Farewell to Arms. I do this currently today.”