Richard sits in on the CTV NewsChannel with host Anita Sharma to have a look at the new movies coming to VOD, streaming services and theatres including Chloë Grace Moretz’s action thriller “Shadow in the Cloud” and the poignant documentary “Sing Me a Song.” Then we look at the top five movies to stream right now!
This year sucked. But you already know that. Every day felt like Groundhog Day, a repeat of bad news from the day before.
I know every year enters itself into the history books one way or another but I have the feeling entire encyclopedias will be written about the events of this annus horribilis.
It has been exhausting but as we near the end of this tumultuous year I’m trying to feel optimistic. I think of my grandmother who lived through both the Halifax Explosion and the 1918 Influenza Pandemic. She’s been gone for many years now, so I can’t ask her, but I think it was her optimistic spirit that got her through the rough spots. It was her secret power. This new year my resolution is to use optimism as antidote to the loneliness and cynicism 2020 has inspired.
With that in mind I am hopeful that what many in the arts experienced during the pandemic lockdown will lead to exciting new ideas for movies, shows, and music. Creative minds never stop working so somewhere innovative television shows are being written, movies that don’t have a number in the title are being conceived, and songs that will reflect the times we live in right now are being recorded. I am excited and optimistic for what will come out of our collective pandemic experience.
We may not be feeling great right now, but I’m counting on us to rediscover our optimism and let our hopes, not our hurts, shape the future.
One of the things that helped us through the long days and nights of 2020 was the stream of interesting movies that found a way to be seen despite theatres being closed. This is my list of 21 must sees for 2020, but keep in mind that in keeping with the weird year, this list is kinda weird as well. Several titles will not be available until 2021 but qualify for includion because they played at film festivals and are eligible for Academy Awards this year.
I didn’t make a list of the worst of the year because, frankly, there’s enough bad in the world right now.
So, without further ado, here, in alphabetical order, is my list of the Best Movies of 2020.
THE ASSISTANT: Based on hundreds of interviews with real-life assistants, this is more than just a movie, it is a timely document of abuse of power and complicity. As the assistant to a high-flying New York movie mogul, Jane (Julia Garner) floats around the office, silently collating papers, cleaning up mysterious stains from her boss’s casting couch—“Never sit on the couch,” her co-workers joke—wordlessly doing the jobs nobody else will do. An aspiring filmmaker with hopes of one day producing her own movies she sees the job, low level as it is, as a stepping stone. “The Assistant” is anchored by a subtle yet devastating performance from Garner. The hard-edged bluster she brings to her character on “Ozark” is missing, replaced by anxiety as she realizes the extent of the exploitation happening around her. It’s quiet, restrained and heartbreaking to watch how she is beaten down.
BLOODY NOSE, EMPTY POCKETS: Like a Cassavetes film, “Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets” is an experimental combination of documentary and fiction that favours characters and a sense of place over traditional story-telling. It’s rough and tumble, like the people it portrays. The rough-hewn sound and the hand held camera work creates the feel of having been sitting at the bar from morning to night. Conversations overlap, the images blur as a growing sense of melancholy settles over the film in its closing minutes.
THE BOOKSELLERS: Author Maurice Sendak said, “There’s so much more to a book than just the reading.” A documentary, “The Booksellers,” is a Valentine to books and the people who understand that the printed word is just the beginning of our relationship to a book. We also learn how collecting has changed. “Collecting is about the hunt,” says one seller. “The internet has killed the hunt.” Another mentions how the internet changed the way collectors speak about what is rare and what is not.
BORAT SUBSEQUENT MOVIEFILM: The action begins with Borat (Sacha Baron Cohen) released from prison, cleaned up and once again sent to “Yankeeland” on a mission. His job is to earn the respect of Donald Trump by giving the gift of a monkey to “Vice Premier Pence.” When Borat arrives though, the monkey is gone from its packing crate. In its place is daughter Tutar (Maria Bakalova). “My daughter is here,” Borat reports back to Kazakhstan. “Should I give her as a gift?” Thus, begins the journey that will see Borat and Tutar meet with a real-life cast of characters that offers cringe worthy insight into Western culture. Just like the year it is being released “Borat Subsequent MovieFilm” is a chaotic, uncomfortable experience. It will make you laugh but is geared to also make you think.
DAVID BYRNE’S AMERICAN UTOPIA: Filmed during the show’s 2019 Broadway run at New York’s Hudson Theatre, the film captures the cerebral but exuberant concert that features Byrne, alongside eleven musicians, all dressed alike in skinny grey suits, and all unfettered from amplifiers and the like. With wireless guitars, keyboards and all manner of other instruments on an empty stage with no other gear or risers, Byrne and Company fill the space with intricate choreography, eclectic songs, new and old, and an uplifting social message of fellowship and faith in humanity. Byrne’s enthusiasm is infectious and Spike Lee, using a combination of you-are-there camera angles, including a beautiful overhead shot, captures the jubilant postmodernist performance in glorious fashion. Highlights, and there are many, include “Everybody’s Coming to My House,” Byrne’s ode to inclusivity and a potent cover of “Hell You Talmbout,” Janelle Monae’s protest song about police brutality. The latter song, a call and response featuring names the names of African Americans killed by police, is given extra clout by the addition of Spike Lee’s graphics that update the names mentioned in the song to include dozens of others. It is a powerful moment and an urgent call for change.
DA 5 BLOODS: Spike Lee movies are like onions. Peel off a layer and there’s a new one beneath. Take that off and another reveals itself. His latest, “Da 5 Bloods,” now streaming on Netflix, is even more multi-faceted than usual. The director calls it a “gumbo,” a rich stew of varied ingredients. It’s a two-and-half-hour Vietnam War legacy film featuring a Trump supporter in a leading role. It’s a searing look at how African American soldiers fought in a war for a country that didn’t support them and it’s an adventure film, à la “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre” with action scenes and even buried treasure.
THE FATHER: This is a family drama about taking care of a loved one with dementia that manipulates reality to tell the story from two very different points of view, the caretakers and the patient. “The Father” is a sensitively made portrait of a failing mind anchored by a towering, emotional performance from Anthony Hopkins. The Oscar winner has made a career playing characters etched in ice; cool and collected. Here we see the vulnerable side, the lion in winter slowly losing himself to the vagaries of disease. It’s a tour de force of a performance that is often a difficult watch but his control of the character, particularly in the film’s final heartbreaking moments, as Anthony’s real and illusory lives intersect, is astonishing.
GREYHOUND: Set during the onset of the United States’ involvement in World War II, Tom Hanks plays Commander Ernest Krause, a stoic sailor on his first command. His mission is to lead an international convoy of 37 Allied ships across the North Atlantic with a wolfpack of German U-boats in hot pursuit. Running out of depth charges and fuel, the convoy needs air cover which is hours away. In a breathless ninety minutes director Aaron Schneider ratchets up tension, creating an old-fashioned action movie that mines a life and death situation for real cinematic thrills.
HIS HOUSE: Bol (Sope Dirisu) and Rial (Wunmi Mosaku) are refugees from war torn South Sudan. Their journey to freedom is fraught. They’re crammed into busses and pick-up trucks, then loaded on to a leaky boat in rough waters. At sea they lose their young daughter who drowns when the boat flips. They survive and land in an English detention centre. While they wait on their claim of asylum, they’re moved into a dilapidated community housing. “You will be sent to a home of our choosing,” they are told. “You must reside at this address. You must not move from this address. This is your home now.” The filthy fixer-upper (to put it mildly) has holes in the walls, garbage piled out front and an evil secret, possibly a spirit from their former country. What follows is a classic haunted house film with a deep subtext that breathes new life into the genre’s desiccated old lungs. Set against a background of cultural displacement, survivors’ guilt, and the psychological wounds of a life spent in trauma, “His House” is no “Amityville Horror.” Sure, strange things happen in the home. Voices come from behind the drywall, a spirit appears and dreams manifest themselves in the most horrific of ways, but the context is different.
HONEY BOY: Written as an exercise while in rehab, Shia LeBeouf’s script for “Honey Boy” is a biographical piece about growing up as a child actor with an addicted former rodeo clown and Vietnam Vet father who didn’t always have his child actor son’s best interest in mind. By turns touching and bleak, tender and therapeutic, the film is a testament to art as a tonic to heal wounds. “Honey Boy” is about a terrible relationship but it isn’t an angry movie. LeBeouf’s script and the direction of Alma Har’el, capture a heartbreaking melancholy of a father who never recovered from having his dreams shattered. The young son may say “The only thing my father gave me of any value was pain,” but there is empathy in the words and in LeBeouf’s portrayal of James. He’s abusive, drunk, prone to violence, but he’s broken and knows no other path. It’s not an excuse, simply an observation. “Stop bringing up the past,” James tells Otis. “I can’t get out from under it.”
MANK: “Mank,” directed by David Fincher, isn’t a making-of story about “Citizen Kane,” but more the unmaking of its screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz (Gary Oldman). Shot in luscious black and white, the story is told on a broken time line, à la “Citizen Kane,” as the action springs back and forth between the past and the present. Oldman staggers through the movie causing a scene at a costume dinner party at Hearst’s San Simeon estate and platonically courting his friend, movie star Marion Davies (Amanda Seyfried), who also happens to be Hearst’s mistress. He’s poured into bed by his long-suffering wife (Tuppence Middleton) and goes to war with Louis B. Mayer (Arliss Howard), professionally and politically– “If I ever go to the electric chair,” he says of Mayer, “I’d like him to be sitting in my lap.”—while ignoring potentially career saving advice from his brother (Tom Pelphrey). Each vignette adds DNA to the portrait, as his disillusionment with Hollywood, politics and power grows by the moment. Oldman is suitably ragged and ribald, bringing a lesser-known historical figure to bawdy life but it is Seyfried who almost steals the show. As Marion Davies he is the epitome of old Hollywood glamour but behind the sequins and wide eyes is a deep well of intelligence that Seyfried slyly imbues into her character. When she and Oldman are side-by-side, the movie sings.
MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM: Set in the roaring 1920’s Chicago, Viola Davis plays the titular character, a real-life musical trailblazer known as “Mother of the Blues.” On a sweltering day in a dank basement recording studio, the band, pianist Toledo (Glynn Turman), trombonist Cutler (Colman Domingo), and string bassist Slow Drag (Michael Potts) and Levee (Chadwick Boseman in a career high performance), rehearse as they wait for the fashionably late Ma to arrive. The heat, claustrophobia, frayed egos and twitchy Levee’s insistence on changing tried-and-true musical arrangements, fuel a war of words and wills as they attempt to put Ma’s signature “Black Bottom” song to disc. Although set in the 1920s and written in the 1980s, the ideas and the anger in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” feels of the moment and indispensable. The dialogue crackles and the context resonates because Wilson’s source material has not only stood the test of time, but transcends it.
NEVER RARELY SOMETIMES ALWAYS: At the NYC clinic seventeen-year-old Autumn (Sidney Flanigan) is asked to answer a series of questions like, “Has anyone made her have sex against her will?” regarding her sexual history and partners. Each is answered with one word, never, rarely, sometimes or always. As the questionnaire continues the scene becomes fraught with meaning as each answer brings up a wellspring of feelings. “Never Really Sometimes Always” was billed as an abortion drama but is really a story of class, gender and the bond between two young women. It is a quiet, keenly observed movie that avoids the pitfalls of pathos to present a story on the topic of bodily autonomy. Stark and naturalistic, it relies on subtlety and nuance to comment on a topic that is frequently the subject of histrionics. Director Eliza Hittman allows Autumn’s anxiety to be the focus of the story, giving us a powerful, nonjudgement window into the inner workings of her decision. The title is key to one of film’s most riveting scenes of emotional honesty.
NOMADLAND: A blend of fiction and nonfiction, “Nomadland,” the melancholy Frances McDormand drama, is a timely story of a woman who learns to adapt and survive after losing everything she held dear. At times “Nomadland” feels like a documentary. Director Chloé Zhao and McDormand have created a beautiful character study about the flipside of the American Dream. As Fern makes her way from gig to gig Zhao decorates the screen with eye-popping visuals courtesy of Joshua James Richards’s cinematography of the landscapes that form the backdrop to Fern’s journey. The story is poetic but never cloying and always reaching for the horizon.
ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI: We’ll never know exactly what was said between Cassius Clay, Nation of Islam leader Malcolm X, soul singer Sam Cooke, and football superstar Jim Brown behind closed doors in a Miami hotel room on February 25, 1964, but THIS film by Oscar winner Regina King in her directorial debut, offers up a fascinating what-if scenario. It’s a snapshot of the cultural importance of this quartet; a history lesson made even more potent in the era of Black Lives Matter. “Power,” says Clay, “is a world where it’s safe to be ourselves.”
PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN: It would be easy to suggest that “Promising Young Woman,” a new drama starring Carey Mulligan, is simply a “Falling Down” for the #MeToo era but it is much more than that. It has elements of that but it is also an audacious look at rape culture and male privilege that weaves dark humour and revenge into the ragged fabric of its story. One of the pleasures of “Promising Young Woman” is in its ability to surprise and shock with the story’s twists and turns. There is a lot in play here. The action here is fueled by Cassie’s (Mulligan) trauma but writer-director Emerald Fennell keeps the action off kilter with the introduction of dark satire, revenge, an exploration of toxic masculinity and even some rom com-esque scenes. The culmination of all these disparate components is a film with a strange tone but a clear-cut point of view. It’s social commentary as art and it works.
SHE DIES TOMORROW: A surreal horror film, “She Dies Tomorrow” is a timely and unsettling story where the fear of death is passed from person to person like a virus. Fittingly the film has a hallucinogenic, experimental style. Throbbing, flashing swaths of colour fill the screen as the virus—or whatever it is—attaches itself to a new host. It’s trippy, slightly psychedelic and may test the patience of less adventurous viewers but in a time where COVID-19 has spread worldwide, bringing with it angst and unease, a movie that examines human behavior in the face of transmittable trauma is, perhaps, a nightmarish artistic inevitability.
SOUL: Like the jazz music that dots the score, “Soul” is free-form, inventive and sometimes just a little hard to understand. It’s an existential riff on a buddy comedy. Or maybe “Freaky Friday” as directed by Frank Capra. Either way, it has a lot on its mind although it never digs too deep. Ultimately the ethereal action boils down to a simple message of mindfulness, of being aware of the simple joy life offers. Despite typical cartoony touches, like a toffee-nosed accountant soul and some feline slapstick, “Soul” is a life-affirming, poignant look at what it means to be human.
THE SOUND OF METAL: The story of a heavy metal drummer (“Rogue One’s” Riz Ahmed) who loses his hearing is specific in its setting but ultimately is a story of accepting the curveballs life throws at you. “Sound of Metal” makes you walk a mile in Ruben’s shoes. Applying immersive sound design, writer-director Darius Marder toggles between Ruben’s point-of-view and real-world sounds. The muffled sound of the world filtered through his damaged ears portray his sensory deprivation in an intense way. As his desperation and frustration grow the sound design hammers home the devastating effects of hearing loss.
TENET: For blockbuster starved audiences Nolan delivers the kind of spectacle we’re used to seeing in the summer months. As per usual, he avoids CGI wherever possible in favor of practical effects. The results are eye-popping. The big set pieces—like an airplane driving through a building—don’t have the kind of digital disconnect that often comes with computer generated action. The show-stopping sequences are busy, exciting but most of all, organic, and the sense of peril (and pageantry) that comes with that is undeniable. Add to that Nolan’s use of IMAX cameras and you have wild action that fills the big screen in every way.
TOTALLY UNDER CONTROL: “Totally Under Control,” the title of the new Alex Gibney now on VOD, is a bad joke. Kind of like nicknaming a tall guy Tiny it’s an ironic, sarcastic comment on President Donald Trump’s repeated denial of the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic. Made in secret over the five months leading up to the U.S. Presidential Election, it features damning interviews with scientists, medical professionals and government insiders. It’s a haunting collection of facts that would be unbelievable if it wasn’t true. Gibney, Harutyunyan and Hillinger’s aim to expose “a system-wide collapse caused by a profound dereliction of Presidential leadership,” is methodical and urgent, digging behind the headlines to reveal a timeline that should be of concern to everyone reading this or watching the film. It is a difficult watch, not because it isn’t slickly made but because it an infuriating reminder of how we got into this situation.
Richard speaks to “CTV News at 11:30” anchor Andria Case about movies on VOD and in theatres to watch this weekend including Amazon Prime’s “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm,” the Netflix animated movie “Over the Moon) and Crave’s joyful concert film “American Utopia.”
Richard sits in on the CTV NewsChannel with host Marcia MacMillan to have a look at the new movies coming to VOD, streaming services and theatres including “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” (Amazon Prime Video), “Over the Moon” (Netflix) and “American Utopia” (Crave).
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 “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” (Amazon Prime Video), “Over the Moon” (Netflix), “American Utopia” (Crave), “The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw” (VOD), “Rebecca” (Netflix) and “The Haunting of The Mary Celeste (VOD).
Jonathan Demme’s “Stop Making Sense,” his movie of an iconic a 1983 Talking Heads live show is considered one of, if not the greatest concert films of all time. Elegant and exciting, it made everything before it seem old fashioned and everything that came after feel like an imitation.
What “Stop Making Sense” was to the 1980s a new concert film, also starring Talking Heads frontman David Byrne, is to these uncertain times. “American Utopia,” directed by Spike Lee and now playing on HBO Max, is a joyful film about everything from protesting injustice and police brutality to optimism and the celebration of life.
It’s got a good message and you can dance to it.
Filmed during the show’s 2019 Broadway run at New York’s Hudson Theatre, the film captures the cerebral but exuberant concert that features Byrne, alongside eleven musicians, all dressed alike in skinny grey suits, and all unfettered from amplifiers and the like. With wireless guitars, keyboards and all manner of other instruments on an empty stage with no other gear or risers, Byrne and Company fill the space with intricate choreography, eclectic songs, new and old, and an uplifting social message of fellowship and faith in humanity. Byrne’s enthusiasm is infectious and Spike Lee, using a combination of you-are-there camera angles, including a beautiful overhead shot, captures the jubilant postmodernist performance in glorious fashion.
It is so much more than a Talking Heads greatest hits package. There are familiar songs like “Burning Down the House,” “This Must Be the Place” and “Once in a Lifetime,” but they seamlessly blend with Byrne’s originals, written for his 2018 solo album of the same name.
Highlights, and there are many, include “Everybody’s Coming to My House,” Byrne’s ode to inclusivity and a potent cover of “Hell You Talmbout,” Janelle Monae’s protest song about police brutality. The latter song, a call and response featuring names the names of African Americans killed by police, is given extra clout by the addition of Spike Lee’s graphics that update the names mentioned in the song to include dozens of others. It is a powerful moment and an urgent call for change.
“American Utopia” is a gem. A concert film that, like “Stop Making Sense” redefines what live performance can be.
The red carpets are rolled up and in storage and the lineups outside the Bell TIFF Lightbox, usually a hotbed of activity in early September, have slimmed but there is still plenty of activity at the Toronto International Film Festival this year.
With the usual distractions taken out of the mix, the George Clooney sightings, parades of limousines and the star gazing gossip, the focus this year has been on the movies.
I’ve been streaming the fest’s picks at home and here’s a rundown of my personal highlights from the most unusual TIFF ever.
OPENING NIGHT FILM: Jonathan Demme’s “Stop Making Sense,” his movie of an iconic a 1983 Talking Heads live show is considered one of, if not the greatest concert films of all time. Elegant and exciting, it made everything before it seem old fashioned and everything that came after feel like an imitation. What “Stop Making Sense” was to the 1980s, a new concert film also starring Talking Heads frontman David Byrne is to these uncertain times. “American Utopia,” directed by Spike Lee and now playing on HBO Max, is a joyful film about everything from protesting injustice and police brutality to optimism and the celebration of life. It’s got a good message and you can dance to it.
THE BREAKOUT FILM OF THE FIRST WEEKEND: Just as Fern (Frances McDormand) cuts herself off from the norms of regular society, “Nomadland” is not tied to traditional storytelling structures. Its unhurried 107-minute running time is leisurely, not plot driven but utterly compelling. Director Chloé Zhao follows the widowed Fern as she leaves Empire, Nevada, a small company town now bleeding residents after the closure of the U.S. Gypsum Corporation factory. So many people have fled to greener pastures that the post office discontinued the local zip code. Leaving all that she has known behind, Fern loads up her beat-up old van and hits the road, crisscrossing America looking for seasonal work at every stop. She’s not homeless, just unencumbered, solo but not solitary. Along the way she discovers a community of fellow nomads, people who teach her the ropes of life on the road. Here’s what I learned: If you have bad knees you need a taller bathroom bucket for your van.
BEST ENSEMBLE: “One Night in Miami” began life as a stage play by “Star Trek: Discovery” staff writer Kemp Powers, who also penned the movie’s script. It takes the form of a conversation between Cassius Clay (Eli Goree), who had not yet officially changed his name to Muhammad Ali, and his three closest friends, mentor Malcolm X (Kingsley Ben-Adir), hit maker Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom Jr.) and athlete Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge). As such, there’s a theatrical feel to director Regina King’s staging of the scenes, most of which take place in the hotel room. She has opened up the play, adding new locations and a series of vignettes at the beginning of the film, but this isn’t about action, it’s about the verbal fireworks of Powers’ script and authoritative performances. It’s a snapshot of the cultural importance of this quartet; a history lesson made even more potent in the era of Black Lives Matter. “Power,” says Clay, “is a world where it’s safe to be ourselves.”
AWARD SEASON PERFORMANCE: “The Father” is a sensitively made portrait of a failing mind anchored by a towering, emotional performance from Anthony Hopkins. The Oscar winner has made a career playing characters etched in ice; cool and collected. Here we see the vulnerable side, the lion in winter slowly losing himself to the vagaries of disease. It’s a tour de force of a performance that is often a difficult watch but his control of the character, particularly in the film’s final heartbreaking moments, as his real and illusory lives intersect, is astonishing.
BEST VILLAIN: In “I Care a Lot” Rosamund Pike revisits the cold and calculating character that won her raves in “Gone Girl” but ups the ante to plumb the depths of depravity to play Martha Grayson. To describe the predatory Marla as a shark does a disservice to Great Whites. “Playing fair. Being scared, that gets you nowhere,” she says. “That gets you beat.” Seemingly born without a heart, she masks her viciousness with a veneer of professionalism and her well-practised mantra of “I care, a lot.” Pike is clearly having fun here playing cold and calculating, but never resorts to the usual villain schtick. Her composure is disarming but, like an Oleander bloom, cut her and she bleeds poison.
BREAKOUT PERFORMANCE: “Beans,” the directorial debut from “Anne with an E” and “Mohawk Girls” producer Tracey Deer is the coming of age story of Tekehentahkhwa, a 12-year-old Mohawk girl during the violent 78-day standoff between two Mohawk communities and government forces during the Oka Crisis in 1990. As Tekehentahkhwa, who everyone calls Beans, Kiawentiio hands in a breakout performance as a tween forced to grow up fast in a charged atmosphere of violence and racism. It’s accomplished, confident work that gives the movie a great deal of its heart and soul.
FOR THE BIRDS: “Penguin Bloom” is the based-on-a-true story of a woman paralyzed after a fall during a Thai family vacation. When her kids bring home an injured magpie, nicknamed Penguin because of her black and white colouring, she doesn’t want the bird in the house. Soon, however, Penguin becomes a guardian angel of sorts, giving Sam companionship and inspiration. If the bird can heal herself, Sam reasons, so can I. “Penguin Bloom’s” story of struggle and survival, both human and avian, is predictable but just as Penguin learns to take to the skies through trial and error, the film takes some wrong steps and ultimately makes your spirit soar.
EXHAUSTING AND EXHILARATING: “Pieces of a Woman” begins with happy, loving couple Martha (Vanessa Kirby) and Shawn (Shia LaBeouf) on what should be one of the best days of their lives. In the scene, shot mostly in long intimate takes, Martha is in labor, minutes away from giving birth to their daughter. With their midwife indisposed a replacement named Eva (Molly Parker), unfamiliar with their case, is sent in her place. By the end of the twenty five-minute pre-credit sequence tragedy has struck, and their lives are forever changed. “Pieces of a Woman” isn’t an easy watch but the performances are raw, real and uncomfortable that exhaust and exhilarate in equal measure.
“In these uncertain times TIFF kicks off with … a joyful film about protesting injustice, optimism and the celebration of life. It’s got a good message and you can dance to it!” — Richard Crouse, host of CTV’s “Pop Life” (Wild card: “Beans”)