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 the drama “Judas and the Black Messiah” (Theatres), the psychological thriller “St. Maud” (digital and on-demand), Robin Wright’s directorial debut “Land” (in theatres), the cheesy action flick “Skyfire” (VOD) and the dark comedy “Breaking News In Yuba County” (VOD).
Like Rodney Dangerfield, Sue Buttons (Alison Janney) gets no respect. In the new dark comedy “Breaking News in Yuba County,” now available on VOD, she discovers that with respect and unwanted attention comer hand in hand.
A help-desk operator, Sue is verbally abused by random callers, her half-sister Nancy (Mila Kunis) doesn’t remember her birthday and even shopkeepers talk down to her. “You’re important. You’re strong. You matter,” she says into the mirror, despite all the evidence to the contrary. When her husband Karl (Matthew Modine), who has been laundering money for crime boss Mina (Awkwafina), goes missing after a tryst with his mistress (on Sue’s birthday no less), people begin to take notice of Sue. Elevated to local celebrity status, Sue weaves a web of lies to keep policewoman (Regina Hall), deadbeat brother-in-law (Jimmi Simpson) and reporter Nancy from discovering what really happened to Karl.
“Breaking News in Yuba County” is part suburban satire, part character study. As a satire it aims to peel back the soft underbelly of big box stores, small town attitudes and middle-age angst.
As a character study, it follows Sue as she blossoms from wallflower into the anxious center of attention.
In a well-oiled machine, these two elements would sit comfortably side-by-side but here the satire doesn’t cut and the characters don’t compel.
The performances, particularly from Janney, tap every ounce of interest from the script, but the underwritten story from Amanda Idoko doesn’t dig deep enough for the satire. Mean spirited instead of insightful, it attempts the kind of juggling act Joel and Ethan Coen perform in films like “Fargo,” where crime, character and satire blend to unveil a more universal truth. Here, Sue’s search for acknowledgement and fame is as uninspired as her oft-repeated mantra, “You’re important. You’re strong. You matter.”
Richard joins CP24 to have a look at the weekend’s new movies including the final instalment of the Skywalker Saga, “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” the weirdest movie of the year, “Cats” and the ripped from the headlines drama “Bombshell,” starring Charlize Theron as Megyn Kelly.
Richard sits in on the CTV NewsChannel with news anchor Todd van der Heyden to have a look at the weekend’s big releases including the end of the road for the Skywalker Saga, “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” the weirdest movie of the year, “Cats” and “Bombshell,” featuring Charlize Theron as Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly.
Richard sits in on the CFRA Ottawa morning show with host Bill Carroll to talk the new movies coming to theatres including “Cats,” the weirdest movie of the year, the lightsaber action of “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” and “Bombshell,” the inside story of Gretchen Carlson’s sexual harassment suit against Roger Ailes.
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 the conclusion of everybody’s favourite space opera, “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” “Cats,” starring a collection of half human-half cat rejects from The Island of Dr. Moreau and “Bombshell,” the inside story of sexual harassment at Fox News.
“Bombshell,” the new film starring Charlize Theron, Nicole Kidman and a cast of thousands, is set at a time when dinosaurs roamed the earth. The T-Rex in the room in this story is Roger Ailes (John Lithgow), the chairman and CEO of Fox News. Much of the action is set in 2016 but the attitudes on display are positively prehistoric.
Ailes died on May 18, 2017, aged 77, but when we first meet him, he reigns supreme. He helped elected presidents, walked the halls of power with confidence and, most importantly for the purposes of this story, created the conservative cable news juggernaut Fox News. Specializing in covering stories that, according to producer Jess Carr (Kate McKinnon), “will scare your grandmother and piss off your grandfather,” Fox became Ailes’s mouthpiece to counter “liberal” CNN.
Ailes altered how Americans consumed the news, making stars out of Greta Van Susteren, Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity and the two women at the heart of “Bombshell’s” story, Gretchen Carlson (Nicole Kidman) and Megyn Kelly (Charlize Theron). Kelly is one of the network’s biggest stars, an outspoken lawyer engaged in a war of words with then candidate Donald Trump. The feud was good for ratings, so despite his pro-Trump stance, Ailes allowed it to continue. Not as good for the ratings was Carlson, a former prime time anchor demoted to midafternoons following disagreements with her boss.
Eventually fired, Carlson levelled accusations of sexual misconduct against her former boss, alleging she had been fired for rebuffing Ailes’ advances. When the expected support from other women inside Fox who had been auditioned by Ailes with the words, “stand up and give me a twirl,” or “lift your skirt up higher so I can see your legs,” Carlson fears her allegations will fall on deaf ears.
On the insider Kelly weighs her options. Despite a “Support Roger” campaign from colleague Jeanine Pirro (Alanna Ubach) she bides her time before opening up about her own experiences.
The title “Bombshells” is a double entendre, referring to Ailes’ objectification of his on-air talent and to the accusations leveled against him, which sent ripples throughout the male dominated corporate world of news.
“Bombshell” echoes the story recently told in the mini-series “The Loudest Voice.” Both tell of a toxic workplace where one man ruled by intimidation, sexual harassment and micromanagement. “We have two, three and four donut days,” says Ailes’ executive assistant (Holland Taylor). “These aren’t donuts he eats. They’re donuts he throws.” His, “if you want to play with the big boys you have to lay with the big boys,” credo is dramatized in his interactions with Kayla Pospisil, a composite of several Fox employees, played by Margot Robbie. It was the days before #MeToo and the film does a good job of showing the apprehension some of the abused women feel about revealing their lurid treatment by Ailes.
At the film’s helm is Theron, with the aid of an incredible make up job, disappears into the role of Megyn. She pierces the icy demeanor of Kelly’s on-air persona to reveal a heroine torn between loyalty to a man she knows has done terrible things and doing the right thing. It’s tremendous work that humanizes a character often portrayed in the real-life press as a divisive figure.
“Bombshell” is a torn-from-the-headlines story about the people behind the headlines that serves as a reminder of the importance of the #MeToo movement in shining a light on the kind of inappropriate behavior that placed women in peril in the workplace. Good performances, aided by makeup and prosthetics bring the story to vivid life.
“I, Tonya” explores the seedy underbelly of a sport you didn’t think had a seedy underbelly. A darkly humorous look at the defining moment of figure skater Tonya Harding’s career, it’s a tale of death threats, broken blades and attempted hobbling.
Margot Robbie is Harding, an elite athlete who sums up her career with, “I was loved for a minute. Then I was hated. Then I was a punch line.” As a young child all she wanted to do was skate. A rink rat from age four, she began winning figure skating awards at a time when her friends were still learning cursive. Her embittered mother LaVona Golden (Allison Janney), the kind of person who stubs out her cigarette out in her mashed potatoes, is a punishing presence, pushing her relentlessly to be the best. “You’re not here to make friends,” she screeches when young Tonya pauses to say hello to a fellow skater. “That girl is your enemy.”
With the help of trainer Diane Rawlinson (Julianne Nicholson) Harding rises through the ranks, developing an aggressive and athletic style that sees her out skate most of her competitors to become the first skater to complete a triple axel combination with the double toe loop. Trouble is, her homemade costumes, Trashy Tonya nickname and hair trigger temper are not accepted by the skating establishment. “You’re not the image we want to portray,” she’s told. “You’re representing our country and we want a wholesome American family.”
To even the playing field husband Jeff Gillooly (Sebastian Stan) hatches a plan to unnerve Tonya’s biggest threat on the ice—Nancy Kerrigan (Caitlin Carver). What starts off as psychological warfare against a competitor snowballs into “The Incident,” a scandalous affair vaults Harding’s name into the headlines. On January 6, 1994, just six weeks before the Lillehammer Olympics, unbeknownst to Harding, a thug, hired by Gillooly’s friend and co-conspirator Shawn Eckardt (Paul Walter Hauser), broke Kerrigan’s knee as she walked through a corridor at Cobo Arena immediately after a practice session. “The Incident” made front page news and eventually saw Harding ousted from the sport she loved.
Director Craig Gillespie keeps the tone light and lively but presents Harding in a light never before seen. Framing her as an abused woman, first by her mother, then Gillooly and finally, devastatingly, by the press and the public—“You’re all my abusers,” she says directly to camera.—creates sympathy for a woman who has been widely vilified and mocked.
Robbie dons blue nail polish, perms her hair, chants her “It wasn’t my fault” mantra and hits a career high as the self-described redneck skater who had a shot at the big time. Bold and brassy, it’s a fourth wall breaking performance that could have slid into caricature but doesn’t. It’s a warts and all portrayal that doesn’t try and pull on your heart-strings or pander to easy theatrics. In Robbie’s hands Harding is still rough around the edges—“Nancy gets hit one time,” she complains, “and it’s life altering event.”—but “I, Tonya” looks beyond the Trashy Tonya image so often portrayed in the press to transform the punch line into a person.
In a movie full of showy roles Janney shines brightly. As the chain-smoking LaVona she’s a foulmouthed force of nature that belittles her daughter at every turn. “She skates better when she’s enraged,” she hacks. When its own style occasionally bogs the movie down Janney shows up like a bad penny to keep things interesting.
“I, Tonya” is “based on irony free, often contradictory interviews” with the main players in Harding’s life. As a result it’s messy, but this is a messy story about a woman who paid a heavy price for daring to be herself. Not conforming cost her everything but you get a sense, by the end of the film, it’s a price she was willing to pay.