I appear on “CTV News at 6” with anchor Andria Case to talk about the best movies and television to watch this weekend. This week I have a look at the theatrical release of “Amsterdam,” starring Christian Bale, Margot Robbie and John David Washington, the period comedy “Catherine Called Birdy” and the Netflix docuseries “Eat the Rich: The Gamestop Saga.”
I joined CP24 to have a look at new movies coming to VOD, streaming services and theatres. Today we talk about the all-star “Amsterdam,” the period piece comedy “Catherine Called Birdy” and the kid’s flick “Lyle, Lyle Crocodile.”
I sit in on the CFRA Ottawa morning show with host Bill Carroll to talk the new movies coming to theatres including the all-star “Amsterdam,” the period piece comedy “Catherine Called Birdy” and the kid’s flick “Lyle, Lyle Crocodile.”
I join NewsTalk 1010 host David Cooper on the coast-to-coast-to-coast late night “Showgram” to play the game “Did Richard Crouse Like This?” This week we talk about the all-star “Amsterdam,” the period piece comedy “Catherine Called Birdy” and the kid’s flick “Lyle, Lyle Crocodile.”
Watch as I review three movies in less time than it takes to write the name Amsterdam three times! Have a look as I race against the clock to tell you about the all-star “Amsterdam,” the period piece comedy “Catherine Called Birdy” and the kid’s flick “Lyle, Lyle Crocodile.”
“Amsterdam,” a quirky new film starring John David Washington, Margot Robbie and Christian Bale and now playing in theatres, is a convoluted story fueled by everything from fascism and birding to murder and music. If there ever was an example of a film that could have benefitted from the KISS rule, Keep It Simple Silly, this is it.
The madcap tale begins in 1933 New York City. WWI vet Dr. Burt Berendsen (Christian Bale), once a Park Avenue physician, he now runs a downtown clinic where he caters to the needs of soldiers who came back from the war broken and in pain.
When Berendsen and his best friend, fellow vet and lawyer Harold Woodsman (John David Washington), are hired by Liz Meekins (Taylor Swift), the daughter of their beloved commanding officer, to ascertain the cause of his death, they are drawn into a murder mystery involving secret organizations, ultra-rich industrialists and a crusty Marine played by Robert DeNiro.
In a flashback to the final days of WWI, we learn their backstory and meet Valerie (Margot Robbie), a nurse who treats their wounds, physically and mentally. As a trio, they swear allegiance to one another during an extended bohemian get-a-way in Amsterdam, a city that becomes a metaphor for freedom and friendship.
Reviewing “Amsterdam” stings. The production is first rate, from Academy Award nominated director David O. Russell, to the a-list cast to the ambitious script that attempts to link events of the past to today’s headlines. But, and this is what stings, the film is definitely less than the sum of its parts.
From the off-kilter tone, part screwball, part deadly serious, to the glacial pacing, which makes the already long two-hour-and-fifteen-minute running time seem much longer, and the script, which casts too wide a wide net in hope of catching something compelling, “Amsterdam” flails about, lost in its own ambition. This is the kind of story, it’s easy to imagine, the Coen Brothers could make look effortless, but Russell does not stick the landing.
He does, however, forward some lovely ideas about embracing kindness and the full experience of being alive, but even those are muddied by the inclusion of heavy-handed, and not particularly original, warnings about domestic terrorism and authoritarianism. Ideas get lost in a sea of exposition and narration, that not even these interesting actors can bring to life.
There may be an interesting story somewhere within “Amsterdam,” but it is hidden, lost in the movie’s epic ambitions.
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 timely period piece “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” “On the Rocks,” the re-teaming of Bill Murray and Sofia Coppola, the cerebral sci fi of “Possessor Uncut” and the unusual Gloria Steinem biopic “The Glorias.”
We have seen movies about assassins and we’ve seen movies about mind control but “Possessor,” the new film by Brandon Cronenberg (yes, he’s David’s son and seems to share some of his obsessions) now playing at select theatres and drive ins, mixes and matches the two in an unsettling, surreal hybrid of sci-fi and horror.
Anyone with trypanophobia—fear of needles—may want to cover their eyes during the film’s opening minutes as a young woman (Gabrielle Graham) impales herself with a long needle, right through the cranium. The needle is attached to a box with a dial. A twist of the dial and soon she is gruesomely stabbing a man in the neck, in public.
Turns out, it’s not really her brandishing the knife but a mercenary named Tasya (Andrea Riseborough), a mind control assassin who “possesses” people’s minds via brain-implant technology and forces them to do her bidding. Her handler, Girder (Jennifer Jason Leigh), helps her find her way back to her own identity after sublimating herself in someone else’s brain.
Tasya’s latest gig involves parasitically getting into the mind of former cocaine dealer Colin (Christopher Abbott), a trainwreck of a man whose girlfriend Ava’s (Tuppence Middleton) father (Sean Bean) is John Parse, a high-powered executive. A rival wants Parse dead and Colin is the perfect patsy to do the deed.
From the film’s savage opening minutes through the sex and gore splattered landscape of the middle section to the climax “Possessor” is like a nightmare. Surreal visuals of Tasya and Colin as one hideous being or a severed hand unfurling its fingers are direct from night terrors, but Cronenberg takes pains to ensure that, unlike nightmares that are disconnected scenes that play in our heads, his psychodrama has depth and meaning. His highly developed visual sense—and a bloody colour palette that would make Dario Argento envious—is eye-catching and consistently interesting but it is the film’s ideas that linger like the unsettled feeling after you wake from a nightmare.
The movie’s exploration of how technology and humanity intersect is an increasingly timely question. “Possessor” takes that crossroads to a narrative extreme but Tasya and Colin’s technological melding is a terrifying vision of a future that feels like it might be right around the corner.
Cronenberg’s sophomore movie, after 2012’s “Antiviral,” is disturbing and ambitious with an icy, cerebral veneer that will linger in your mind for a long time afterward.