Posts Tagged ‘Almost Famous’


Screen Shot 2015-05-29 at 4.20.46 PMRichard’s CP24 reviews for “San Andreas,” “Aloha” and “I’ll See You in My Dreams.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!


Screen Shot 2015-05-29 at 9.54.41 AMRichard’s “Canada AM” reviews for “San Andreas,” “Aloha” and “I’ll See You in My Dreams.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!

Metro In Focus: Say Aloha to all Cameron Crowe’s less successful films

Screen Shot 2015-05-29 at 10.11.35 AMBy Richard Crouse – Metro In Focus

For years Cameron Crowe could do no wrong. As the screenwriter of Fast Times at Ridgemont High (based on his book of the same name) and director of Say Anything and Singles, he became what The New York Times called, “a cinematic spokesman for the post-baby boom generation.”

His biggest hit, Jerry Maguire was a romantic comedy that gave Renée Zellweger a career, Cuba Gooding Jr an Oscar and us the catchphrase, “Show me the money!”

Then came his acknowledged masterpiece Almost Famous. The semi-autobiographical story of a young music journalist on the road with a band at an age when most kids still had a curfew.

He was a critical darling with box office clout but then came a string of films that failed to connect with audiences.

This weekend he’s back with Aloha, an “action romance” starring Bradley Cooper as a military contractor stationed with the US Space program in Honolulu who reconnects with a past love (Rachel McAdams) while developing feelings for a stern Air Force watchdog (Emma Stone).

Pre-release the film may be best known as the subject of a brutal Amy Pascal e-mail. In the Sony hack leaked correspondence from the former SPE co-chairman suggested she was not happy with the movie. “I don’t care how much I love the director and the actors,” she said, “it never, not even once, ever works.”

Variety recently reported that the film has been recut since Pascal’s scathing review and quotes a current Sony executive as saying, “Is it Say Anything or Jerry Maguire? Probably not, but is it a really entertaining movie for an audience? Yes, it is.”

Moviegoers will decide the fate of Aloha, but its release begs for a reassessment of Crowe’s recent, less successful films.

A remake of the Spanish film Open Your Eyes, 2001’s Vanilla Sky starred three of Hollywood’s hottest stars of the moment, Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz and Penelope Cruz in a dark thriller about a self-obsessed playboy whose life is turned upside down after reconstructive surgery on his face. The surreal blend of romance and sci fi threw critics off but a another viewing a decade after its release reveals a daring movie that examines regret, desire and mortality.

An enjoyable darkly comic romance, Elizabethtown got trounced by critics (it currently sits at 28% on Rotten Tomatoes) but is a great showcase for star Kirsten Dunst. She is frequently good in films, but here she really steals this movie as the cute and kooky stewardess who has several unforgettable moments—when she tells Bloom (Orlando Bloom) to stop trying to break up with her and her giggly reaction when Bloom asks her a personal question on the telephone. Without her performance the trip to Elizabethtown wouldn’t be nearly as much fun.

Finally, We Bought a Zoo, the story of a widower who swallows his grief by buying a zoo and finding love, shouldn’t work. It’s too sentimental and manipulative by half but luckily Matt Damon is there to ground the flighty story. Even a postscript (and no, I’m not going to tell you what it is), that even Steven Spielberg would find schmaltzy, works because star Damon hits all the right notes and Crowe’s dialogue sings. A father and son argument is a showstopper and you’ll likely never use the word “whatever” again without thinking of this movie.

ALOHA: 2 STARS. “didn’t have me at hello. Or goodbye for that matter.”

Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 3.08.49 PMI am a fan of Cameron Crowe. Not only did he live out my childhood dream of being a teenage rock journalist and touring with Led Zeppelin but he also wrote “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” and gave us the sublime “Almost Famous.” So when it comes to his new film, “Aloha,” it gives me no pleasure to report, in a paraphrase of one of the master’s greatest lines, it didn’t have me at hello. Or goodbye for that matter.

Bradley Cooper plays Brian Gilcrest, a disgraced defense military contractor hired by his old boss, billionaire Carson Welch (Bill Murray), to supervise the launch of a satellite in Hawaii. He’s a brilliant but troubled guy—he’s described as a “sad city coyote”—with a history who is immediately confronted with his romantic past in the form of his former flame Tracy (Rachel McAdams). At his side is the stern Air Force watchdog (Emma Stone) assigned to keep him out of trouble. Romance blooms as international intrigue brews with Gilcrest at the center of each scenario.

“Aloha” is part rom com, part industrial thriller and part redemption tale. Crowe covers a lot of ground here but the story elements are as flavourless as a Virgin Mai Tai and just about as potent. The director attempts to mix the various components together under the soft sheen of Hawaiian mythology and spiritualism but the film still feels disjointed as though it’s two different stories mashed into one.

Crowe’s dialogue occasionally sparkles—“You’ve sold your soul so many times nobody’s buying anymore,” is a great line—but it’s not enough to connect us to the situation or the characters. As a result it’s a film with good actors who feel disconnected from one another.

“Aloha” is a sweet natured misfire, a movie that, to once again paraphrase Crowe, does not show us the money.

WISH I WAS HERE: 2 ½ STARS. “plays like two movies in one.”

zach-braff-wish-i-was-hereIn a recent interview Mel Gibson said he’s out of the business of financing his own films because, “I’m not a fool.”

Neither is Zach Braff.

Both must be worth big bucks—Gibson from the movies, Braff from starring on 175 episodes of “Scrubs”—and could likely use some of their own capital to make their own movies but Gibson says he’s out of the game completely while Braff used the popular crowd sourcing site Kickstarter to raise money for his latest.

“Wish I Was Here” is part of the small—but growing—trend of celebrity driven films paid for by contributions from the general public. The almost-mid-life crisis story raised $2 million in just forty eight hours (ultimately procuring $3.1 million of a reported $5.5 million budget), attracted an all-star cast—Kate Hudson, “Frozen’s” Josh Gad, Mandy Patinkin and “The Big Bang Theory’s” Jim Parson—and some backlash from critics who felt that crowdsourcing should be left for artists who aren’t also starring in giant Disney movies.

Fact is, “Wish I Was Here’s” backstory is a bit more interesting than the story on the screen.

Braff plays Aidan, an underemployed actor whose life is unraveling. His kids are about to be kicked out of Hebrew school because his father (Patinkin), who has been paying the bills, has been diagnosed with cancer and can no longer afford the monthly payment. His wife Sarah (Hudson) is supportive of his acting dream but nearing the end of her tether. Brother Noah (Gadd) prefers cos play over actual emotions and his two kids (Joey King and Pierce Gagnon) are maturing faster than he is.

“Wish I Was Here” plays like two movies. The first forty-five minutes is a cleverly written comedic look at Aidan as a manboy with far more responsibility than he can handle. It’s ripe with gentle character based laughs that emerge from the situations and don’t feel forced.

It’s only in the second half when Braff (who co-wrote the script with his brother Adam) allows sentiment to get in the way of the movie’s momentum. Despite Patinkin’s line, “Eventually when things get tragic enough they circle back to comedy,” the final forty-five minutes, which deal with the loss of Aidan’s father, takes a darker tone. That’s OK, life sometimes changes on a dime, but the cleverness of the set-up is replaced with mawkishness.

Sometimes it works. Hudson’s heartfelt “tell your sons you love them” speech to her-father-in-law is shot simply with lingering close-ups on the actor’s faces. The scene has an intimate in-the-moment feel and is very moving.

Less so is Gadd’s big moment, (VERY MILD SPOILER ALERT), a Comic Con sequence that is a bit too quirky to fit the tone of the film that surrounds it.

By the end credits the movie worked for me more often than not, but I wished that there were fewer clunky moments. For every scene that rings emotionally true—and there are quite a few of them—there is another that feels forced. The beauty of “Wish I Was Here” lies in the former, and certainly not in the passages that feel left over from another, lesser quirky indie comedy.

Richard on Philip Seymour Hoffman with Humble and Fred.

humblefred_-_E1T3882Entertainment reporter Richard Crouse calls in to talk about Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Woody Allen. Humble and Fred discuss the Superbowl and Rob Ford. Super Fan Sarah Twomey records a song about Chairman Mow and Eileen does the news.

Listen to the whole thing HERE!

Richard on Canada AM: Philip Seymour Hoffman’s demons and legacy

Screen Shot 2014-02-03 at 4.10.35 PMCanada AM film critic Richard Crouse on the life and legacy of Hoffman, his lengthy battle with addiction and the impact of his death on Hollywood.
Watch the whole ting HERE!

NewsTalk 1010: Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman dead at 46 by Siobhan Morris

Hoffman at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2014
(Danny Moloshok/AP)

Critically-acclaimed actor Philip Seymour Hoffman died Sunday from a suspected drug overdose.

The 46-year-old was found dead in his Greenwich Village home in New York Sunday morning. Hoffman has three children with his partner of 15 years, Mimi O’Donnell.

Sources tell the Associated Press Hoffman had a syringe stuck into his arm when he was found by a friend who called 911. There were also envelopes of heroin in the apartment. An autopsy to determine Hoffman’s cause of death is expected to take place Monday.

Hoffman spoke candidly over the years about his past struggles with addiction. After 23 years sober, he admitted to falling off the wagon with prescription pills and heroin. That led to a stint in rehab.

In a 2011 interview with the Guardian, Hoffman described his addictions as “pretty bad”. “I had no interest in drinking in moderation. And I still don’t”, he told the paper. “Just because all that time’s passed doesn’t mean maybe it was just a phase.”

Hoffman’s family released the following statement Sunday afternoon.

“We are devastated by the loss of our beloved Phil and appreciate the outpouring of love and support we have received from everyone. This is a tragic and sudden loss and we ask that you respect our privacy during this time of grieving. Please keep Phil in your thoughts and prayers.”

Movie critic Richard Crouse told Newstalk 1010 Sunday Hoffman had “an incredibly diverse career and knocked it out of the park virtually every time.”

Hoffman won a Best Actor Oscar for his portrayal of writer Truman Capote in the 2005 biopic “Capote”. He received three nominations in the Best Supporting Actor category for The Master, Doubt and Charlie Wilson’s War.

Crouse says Hoffman brought a soulful-ness and a believability to his performances. “When you saw him on screen, there was nothing really false about it, you never really saw the acting.”

One of Hoffman’s breakthrough roles was as a gay member of a porno film crew in “Boogie Nights”, one of several movies Paul Thomas Anderson-directed movies that he would eventually appear in.

Hoffman often took on comic, slightly off-kilter roles in movies like “Along Came Polly”, “The Big Lebowski” and “Almost Famous”, in which he plays real life rock critic Lester Bangs. Crouse says Hoffman’s turn as Bangs is his favourite performance by the actor.

“He seems like such a huge part of it and he’s just such a great shining white light in the middle of this movie, even though it is a relatively small part. And that’s a testament to his talent”, says Crouse.

Hoffman was set to reprise his role as Plutarch Heavensbee in the next instalment of the “The Hunger Games” franchise, “Mockingjay. Showtime recently announced Hoffman would star in “Happyish,” a TV comedy series about a middle-aged man’s pursuit of happiness.

Crouse says in interviews, Hoffman wasn’t interested in talking about his craft as an actor, but would speak passionately about books.

Hoffman began his acting career on stage. He studied theatre as a teenager with the New York State Summer School of the Arts and the Circle in the Square Theatre. He then majored in drama at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.

Hoffman performed in revivals of “True West,” “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” and “The Seagull”, a summer production that also featured Meryl Streep and Kevin Kline. In 2012, he was more than equal to one of the great roles in American theatre, Willy Loman in “Death of a Salesman”.

Hoffman was three times nominated for a Tony, but never won.