Posts Tagged ‘Alexander Payne’


Fast reviews for busy people! Watch as I review three movies in less time than it takes to wind a clock! Have a look as I race against the clock to tell you about Paul Giamatti in “The Holdovers,” the biopic “Priscilla” and the documentary “Sly.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!


I sit in with NewsTalk 1010 host Jim Richards on the coast-to-coast-to-coast late night “NewsTalk Tonight” to play the game “Did Richard Crouse Like This?” This week we talk about Paul Giamatti in “The Holdovers,” the biopic “Priscilla,” and the documentary “Sly.”

Listen to the whole thing HERE!


I joined CP24 to have a look at new movies coming to VOD, streaming services and theatres.  Today we talk about Paul Giamatti in “The Holdovers,” the biopic “Priscilla,” the sports drama “NYAD” and the documentary “Sly.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!



I  join CTV NewsChannel anchor Renee Rogers to talk about Paul Giamatti in “The Holdovers” and the biopic “Priscilla.”

Watch the wholew thing HERE!


I sit in with CKTB morning show host Tim Denis to have a look at Paul Giamatti in “The Holdovers,” the biopic “Priscilla” and the sports drama “NYAD.”

Listen to the whole thing HERE!


I sit in on the CFRA Ottawa morning show to talk the new movies coming to theatres including Paul Giamatti in “The Holdovers,” the biopic “Priscilla,” the sports drama “NYAD” and the documentary “Sly.”

Listen to the whole thing HERE!

THE HOLDOVERS: 4 STARS. “a warmhearted coming-of-all-ages movie.”

“The Holdovers,” a new drama starring Paul Giamatti and now playing in theatres, does such a good job of transporting the audience back to when a pint of Jim Bean only set you back $2 and it was still OK to smoke a pipe at a movie theatre, you’ll swear it’s a long-lost artefact from the Nixon era.

The setting is Barton Academy, a New England old-money stop over for wealthy boys on their way to the Ivy League school of their choice. They are the future, or, as Ancient Civilizations professor Paul Hunham (Giamatti) calls them, “entitled little degenerates.”

Universally disliked by staff and students alike, Hunham is by-the-book, the kind of teacher who assigns heavy reading over the Christmas break, with the promise of an exam on the first day back. “Our one purpose,” he says, “is to produce young men of character.”

Every year there are a handful of students who stay on campus over the two-week Christmas holiday, which means a teacher has to stay behind as chaperone. This year the duty falls to Hunham, who plans an intensive fortnight of studying, physical fitness and discipline for five boys abandoned by their parents.

“You should go easy on them,” says the school’s cook Mary (Da’Vine Joy Randolph).

“Oh please,” Hunham snorts. “They’ve had it easy their whole lives.”

When four of the five get a last-minute invite courtesy of a rich dad with a helicopter, the impromptu Breakfast Club is narrowed down to one, Angus Tully (Dominic Sessa), a smart but troubled young man whose mom chose Christmas break to run off on a honeymoon with her new husband.

As the days pass, and Christmas approaches, the odd couple find common ground, and discover they aren’t as different as they thought.

“The Holdovers” has a fairly simple set-up—a Scroogey character discovers his humanity by making a connection with a younger person, just in time for Christmas—but it’s the film’s warmth, once you scratch through its icy facade, that’ll win you over.

When he is referring to his students as “hormonal vulgarians,” Giamatti is at his curmudgeonly best but there is more to him than fancy insults (although his put-down, “you are penis cancer in human form” is rather memorable) and walleyed glare. He’s a man deeply damaged by life, who now finds himself waging class warfare on the privileged kids he teaches at what is, essentially, a depository for rich boys.

A man out of time—“The world doesn’t make sense anymore,” he says.—he’s quick to anger, with a bubbling rage roiling just under the surface at all times, and even when he tries to be charming, he comes off as awkward at best. His idea of light, Christmas party conversation? “Aeneas carried mistletoe when he went into Hades,” he says to blank stares.

Giamatti keeps him watchable by making sure to access the character’s brokenness. His bluster is a mask for his heartache, and as he gradually makes connections with Angus and Mary, his defenses lower, revealing his true self. It’s a touching and warm, and Oscar worthy, performance hidden beneath an inch or two of insolence.

He is ably supported by newcomer Sessa, whose character’s actions lead to emotional growth as he forms an unlikely family as one third of a trio of misfits. It’s a touching performance, part swagger, part shattered, that hints at more great thing to come from the young actor.

As Mary, a woman traumatized by the death of her only son in Vietnam, Randolph, who displays her comedic chops on “Only Murders in the Building,” brings a poignant edge to the story as the glue that binds this impromptu family together.

“The Holdovers” is a warmhearted coming-of-all-ages movie, but never succumbs to cheap melodrama or saccharine sentimentality. It’s an uplifting tale of, as Armistead Maupin put it, embracing your logical family instead of your biological one, that avoids the pitfalls of so many other movies about broken people.


A weekly feature from from! The Crouse Review is a quick, hot take on the weekend’s biggest movies! This week Richard looks at “Downsizing,” “I, Tonya” and “The Greatest Showman.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!

DOWNSIZING: 3 STARS. “like a light-hearted “Twilight Zone” episode.”

“Downsizing,” the new satire from “Sideways” director Alexander Payne, offers up a proposition that is almost too good to be true. His movie asks, What would you do if you could simultaneously help save the environment and improve your personal finances?

Set in the near future, overpopulation is the biggest issue facing the world. In Norway a team of scientists come up with an inventive, and just a little wacky, way to solve the problem, cellular reduction a.k.a. shrinking. It is, they say, the only safe and humane way to resolve the curse of overpopulation. “Life is unsustainable at this current mass and volume,” says Dr. Jorgen Asbjørnsen (Rolf Lassgård).

It’s a medical procedure known as downsizing whereby a person’s current mass and volume are shrunk by .0634%. They take up less space, produce less waste—four months of bathroom waste for a family of four takes up less than half of one garbage bag—eat less and generally are less a drain on the planet’s resources. The kicker? It’s cheaper to live. $83 is an average food budget for two months or could buy a matching conflict-free diamond bracelet, earring and necklace set.

When we meet Omaha couple Paul and Audrey Safranek (Matt Damon and Kristen Wiig) they are at a financial crossroads. He wanted to be a surgeon but when his mom got sick he dropped out of pre med to take care of her. Now he works “in-house at Omaha steaks and “tweeting repetitive stress injuries. She wants to buy a new house but they can’t afford it.

Top realize Audrey’s dream of a new house and life, they decide to get small. The capper on the deal? Their equity of $150,000 translates into $12.5 million at the dollhouse-sized city called Leisureland Estates.

But what happens when one chickens out? “You’re upset!” says Paul. “You’re upset! I’m the one who is 5 inches tall!”

As Paul begins his new miniature solo life he meets his neighbour Dusan (Christoph Waltz), a Siberian wheeler-dealer who brings luxury items to the new small communities and Ngoc Lan (Hong Chau), a shrunken dissident from Vietnam, jailed for political and environmental activity, who smuggled herself into the United States in a television box.

Paul’s journey into smallville changes his life in more ways than he ever could have imagined. Damon plays Paul as an everyman, a good guy who massages his wife’s neck and gave up his dream to look after his mother. The enlightenment he (eventually) finds comes with the realization that Leisureland Estates isn’t a brave new world but a continuation of the world he left, complete with class struggles, race issues and poverty. “That’s the thing about becoming small,” says Dusan’s friend Konrad (a wonderful Udo Kier), “you become rich. Unless you were poor. Then you’re just a small.”

Downsizing, the procedure, not the movie, it turns out isn’t the answer to the world’s problems. Healing the world is simpler, more primal. It’s about building communities, looking after one another and learning to appreciate what we have.

At least that’s what I think it’s about. “Downsizing,” for all its ingenuity gets bogged down in its second half. The opening hour is inventive, like a light-hearted “Twilight Zone” episode. There are nice details—following the shrinking procedure the newly small adults are scooped up by nurses with spatulas and deposited on to tiny gurneys—and several belly laughs stemming from the situation. When the film halfway abandons the less-is-more concept—in a world where everything is miniature, the opportunity for the kind of sight gags that drew laughs in the first half disappear—it becomes slightly muddled. Is it a romance? Sort of. Is it social commentary? Yes, but about what exactly? The environment? (There’s even an allusion to Noah’s Ark.) Racism? Illegal immigration? They are all touched on but the film flits from one issue to another so quickly it’s like channel surfing between CNN and MSNBC every forty seconds or so.

“Downsizing” may bite off more than it can chew but its an indictment of how man has broken the environment isn’t all doom and gloom. With Paul’s new world, friends and outlook also come a hopeful gaze to the future. You may wonder about the appropriateness of the comic tone of Ngoc Lan’s broken English but will can never speculate on whether the film has its heart in the right place or not.