Richard speaks to “CTV News at Six” anchor Andria Case about the best movies and television to watch this weekend including Steven Spielberg’s finger-snapping remake of “West Side Story,” the Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence satire “Don’t Look Up” and the story of one very bad week in the lives of Lucy and Desi in “Being the Ricardos.”
Can Richard Crouse review three movies in just thirty seconds? Have a look as he races against the clock to tell you about Steven Spielberg’s much ballyhooed remake of “West Side Story,” the dark satire “Don’t Look Up” starring Jennifer Lawrence and Leonardo DiCaprio and Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem as Lucy and Desi in “Being the Ricardos.”
Richard joins CP24 to have a look at new movies coming to VOD, streaming services and theatres including Steven Spielberg’s finger-snapping remake of “West Side Story,” the Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence satire “Don’t Look Up” and the story of one very bad week in the lives of Lucy and Desi in “Being the Ricardos.”
Richard joins Jim Richards and guest host Tamara Cherry of the NewsTalk 1010 afternoon show The Rush for Booze and Reviews! Today they play a round of Did Richard Crouse Like These Movies? We review Steven Spielberg’s finger-snapping remake of “West Side Story,” the Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence satire “Don’t Look Up” and the story of one very bad week in the lives of Lucy and Desi in “Being the Ricardos.” For the boozy portion of the show we talk about the drink “Sex and the City” made famous.
Richard joins CTV NewsChannel and anchor Akshay Tandon to have a look at new movies coming to VOD, streaming services and theatres including Steven Spielberg’s remake of West Side Story, the star-studded “Don’t Look Up” and the story of one very bad week in the lives of Lucy and Desi in “Being the Ricardos.”
Richard sits in on the CFRA Ottawa morning show with host Bill Carroll to talk the new movies coming to theatres, VOD and streaming services including Steven Spielberg’s remake of West Side Story, the star-studded “Don’t Look Up” and the story of one very bad week in the lives of Lucy and Desi in “Being the Ricardos.”
“Being the Ricardos,” the new Aaron Sorkin directed look at the most famous television couple of the 1950s, in theaters this weekend and on Prime Video December 21, is a character study that examines one very bad week on the sitcom set of “I Love Lucy.”
In 1953 “I Love Lucy” was watched by 60 million people a week. The show was so popular that department stores had to change their hours. The big box stores used to stay open late on Mondays but switched to Thursdays because no one shopped on Monday nights while Lucy, Desi, Fred and Ethel were on.
Real life couple Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, played in the film by Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem, are television’s biggest stars as they prepare to shoot episode four of their second season. Tension hangs heavy over the set, the result of two news stories about the couple.
First is Confidential Magazine, a sleazy tabloid that specializes in scandal and exposé journalism, who accuses Desi of having an affair in a lurid article titled “Desi’s Wild Night Out.” More damningly, another report suggests Lucy is a communist, under investigation by the FBI and the House Un-American Activities Committee.
The accusation against Desi causes trouble at home but even a whiff of communism around Lucy could lead to a stink that could ruin both their careers. The Hollywood blacklist looms.
“You and me have been through worse than this,” Desi says reassuringly.
“Have we?” she asks.
Set up like a pseudo-documentary, modern day talking heads keep the story moving forward while flashbacks flesh out the action. We learn about how the couple met, their volatile relationship—”They were either tearing each other’s clothes off,” says writer Madelyn Pugh (Linda Lavin), “or tearing one another’s heads off.”—and how the show and Lucy’s perfectionism are more than just a professional concern. “I Love Lucy” was the glue that held her marriage together, especially during troubled times.
It can be tricky portraying familiar figures on screen. Through endless re-runs Lucille Ball’s face and comedy are iconic, but Kidman and Bardem, wisely chose not to do imitations of the stars. They have the mannerisms and a passing resemblance to Lucy and Desi but this is about character not caricature. For the most part this is a backstage drama, and wisely stays away from restaging scenes from “I Love Lucy” that are burned into people’s imaginations. What we get instead are interpretations of these characters that corral their collective charisma, hot tempers and talent.
What emerges is a scattershot portrait of fame, creative control and the power of the press. Sorkin juggles a lot of moving parts, but by the time the end credits roll it’s difficult to know exactly what point he is trying to make. Ball is given the credit she deserves as a trailblazer and Arnaz’s business acumen is celebrated, but the other, colliding plot points feel cobbled together. Any one of them—the communism scare, Desi’s alleged infidelity, Lucy’s pregnancy or the cast in-fighting—could have sufficed as a compelling backdrop to the Lucy and Desi story. Instead, the movie feels overstuffed.
“Being the Ricardos” does justice to the legacy of its subjects, and features pages of Sorkin’s trademarked snappy dialogue, but splinters off in too many directions to be truly effective.
Early on in their relationship Blaze Foley’s (Ben Dickey) girlfriend and muse Sybil Rosen (Alia Shawkat) asks, “Are you going to be a big country star, like Roger Miller?” The singer-songwriter replies, “I don’t want to be a star. I want to be a legend.”
Texas singer, songwriter Foley did indeed lead a legendary life. The “Let Me Ride in Your Big Cadillac” singer, who died at in obscurity age 39, wore duct tape on the toes of his boots to mock wannabe cowboys with silver-tipped cowboy boots. Later, the master tapes from his first studio album were confiscated by the DEA. Lucinda Williams dedicated the tune “Drunken Angel” to him and Ethan Hawke was inspired to co-write and direct the movie “Blaze” based on the novel “Living in the Woods in a Tree: Remembering Blaze” by Rosen.
“Blaze” is as non-traditional as its subject. Non-chronological and bold, it’s a study of creativity, relationships and struggle. The backbone of the story is a radio interview with Foley’s friend, musician Townes Van Zandt (Charlie Sexton). Chain-smoking, he details the events of Foley’s life as a musician and companion to Sybil. As mythmaking takes over Van Zandt’s storytelling another friend, Zee (Josh Hamilton), jumps in, bringing the story back to earth. Zee’s influence grounds the story. Far from justifying the usual bad behaviour essayed in music bios, “Blaze” looks to examine why Foley acted out.
Playing Foley in the flashback scenes is newcomer Dickey. The heavyset Dickey captures Foley’s lost soul status in a performance that is equal parts charisma and kindness. Because the singer died in virtual obscurity for most audiences there is no deeply etched idea of who Foley was. That gives Dickey the opportunity to take all the elements that formed Foley—creativity, a vein of self-destruction tempered by sweetness and talent—and bundle them into a portrait that captures what the singer was all about. It’s a lovely, edgy performance that is the soul of the film.
Like the man himself, there is nothing standard about “Blaze,” the story of his life. Hawke takes chances narratively and stylistically, fracturing the timeline of Foley’s life to make a film that proves, once and for all, that music biopics don’t just have to be about famous people.
Richard and CP24 anchor Nneka Elliot talk about the weekend’s big releases, the comedy of “Keanu,” the maudlin humour of “Mother’s Day,” the kid’s sci fi of “Ratchet & Clank,” the punk rock fury of “Green Room” and the b-movie action of “Precious Cargo.”