Posts Tagged ‘Andrew Haigh’

CTVNEWS.CA: THE CROUSE REVIEW LOOKS AT “RAMPAGE” & MORE!

A weekly feature from from ctvnews.ca! The Crouse Review is a quick, hot take on the weekend’s biggest movies! This week Richard looks at the angry ape movie “Rampage,” the timely and touching drama “Indian Horse” and the boy-and-his-horse drama “Lean on Pete.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!

RICHARD’S WEEKEND MOVIE REVIEWS FROM CP24! FRIDAY APRIL 13, 2018.

Richard joins CP24 anchor Nathan Downer to have a look at the weekend’s new movies including the giant ape movie “Rampage,” the touching drama “Indian Horse,” the Middle East thriller “Beirut” starring Jon Hamm and Joaquin Phoenix in “You Were Never Really Here.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!

“It isn’t about the horse,” says “Lean on Pete” director Andrew Haigh.

By Richard Crouse

“In all honesty if I heard about a film about a boy and his horse I wouldn’t want to go see that because I would think it was a family movie,” says English director Andrew Haigh. We are talking about his newest film Lean on Pete, which is, ironically, a film about a boy and his horse.

Based on the book by Willy Vlautin, it sounds like family fare but it is anything but. The cast should be the first clue. Steve Buscemi, Chloë Sevigny and Steve Zahn, all edgy 90s indie virtuosos, are the above-the-title stars, hinting that this isn’t going to be another National Velvet retread.

“The book is sad at times and tragic at times so the movie felt like a faithful adaptation of that. Oddly, I think that’s why I liked it because it was seemingly playing with more traditional ideas but telling the real life version of that. There could be a family movie about a boy on the road with a horse but it not going to be real. It was only after I finished the film that I realised, ‘This is going to be quite a challenge.’”

Charlie Plummer, last seen as John Paul Getty III in All the Money in the World, plays Charley Thompson a fifteen-year-old looking for permanence in his hardscrabble life. To pass the time he gets a job tending to an aging Quarter Horse named Lean On Pete. When the horse’s owner, a crusty old horse trader played by Buscemi, decides to get rid of Pete, to “send him to Mexico”—i.e.: the glue factory— Charley makes off with the horse, embarking on a road trip in search of a better life for both of them.

“It isn’t about the horse,” says Haigh. “It is about Charley’s desperate need for some stability, some security, someone to care for him, someone to care about him. That’s what’s driving him.”

As Charley the eighteen-year-old Plummer is magnetic, quietly creating the character of a desperate young man who does bad things for mostly the right reasons.

“It is not easy trying to cast someone about that age. Especially someone who has to both physically feel right, that they are still a kid but very nearly an adult. I knew I wanted him, in a frame, to look like a kid and then suddenly go older, then younger.

“There a lot of good boys that we had seen but Charley had something different. He approaches scenes in a different way. He doesn’t go the easy emotional way. He finds something a more challenging which sometimes keeps you at even more of a distance but then sometimes pulls you in with that amazing face he has.”

Haigh, who next project is The North Water, a sprawling TV movie about a disgraced ex-army surgeon now working as ship’s doctor on a whaling expedition, hopes people respond to Lean on Pete’s messages of kindness and compassion.

“If people leave the cinema and they feel for that kid and think about him that is all I can really hope for,” he says. “I hope it speaks to the importance of the need to help people who are suffering. I don’t know if people will take that away or not but it is certainly in the DNA of the film.”

LEAN ON PETE: 2 ½ STARS. “effective portrait of a lonely boy.”

The boy-and-his-horse story of “Lean on Pete” sounds like family fare but it is anything but. The cast should be the first clue. Steve Buscemi, Chloë Sevigny and Steve Zahn, all edgy 90s indie virtuosos, are the above-the-title stars, hinting that this isn’t going to be another “National Velvet” remake.

At the beginning of the story fifteen-year-old Charley Thompson (Charlie Plummer) and his single father Ray (Travis Fimmel) are starting their lives over in Portland, Oregon. Charley’s mom went out for cigarettes years ago and never came back. Since then father and son and moved around the country, Ray chasing work, Charley trying to find a place to fit in. They are more like friends than father and son. Ray offers up dubious fatherly advice—“The best women have all been waitresses at some point.”—and finds a new women in every new town.

To pass the time Charley gets a job tending to an aging Quarter Horse named Lean On Pete. Working for crusty old horse trader Del Montgomery (Buscemi) Charley finds purpose and despite the warnings of jockey Bonnie (Sevigny) not to get emotionally involved with the horse—“Don’t think of them as pets,” she says.—the teenager coddles the horse even as it becomes clear Pete isn’t going to win anymore races.

When Del decides to get rid of Pete, to “send him to Mexico”—i.e.: the glue factory— Charley makes off with the horse, embarking on a road trip in search of a better life for both of them.

There are many good messages here for kids about resilience and loyalty but again let me remind you this isn’t a kid’s movie. Del’s foul language and a scene where Charley beats a homeless man with a tire iron rule that out. What we’re left with is a story that feels like it was written for a young adult audience but made by someone weaned on mid-period Wim Wenders. Tonally it feels as though it has one hoof in YA, the other in more adult fare.

Tonality aside, the first hour works very well. Plummer is magnetic, quietly creating the character of a desperate young man who does bad things for mostly the right reasons. His scenes with Buscemi and Sevigny sparkle with a gruff warmth, setting up the lesson in resilience that dominates the second half. As Charley sets off into America’s hinterland Bonnie’s statement of fact, “There’s only so many times you can fall down, right?,” is proven wrong time after time. It’s a road trip of misery that sees Charley survive in very trying circumstances. Paced a little too leisurely in its second hour the road trip section, despite the dramatic events portrayed, is far less interesting than the character work of the first hour.

“Lean on Pete” is an effective portrait of a lonely boy but ultimately simply becomes a laundry list of Charley’s bad decisions.

RICHARD’S “CANADA AM” REVIEWS FOR JANUARY 22 WITH BEVERLY THOMSON.

Screen Shot 2016-01-22 at 12.45.06 PMRichard’s “Canada AM” reviews for the frat boy humour of “Dirty Grandpa,” the galactic party crashers of “The 5th Wave,” and the martial turmoil of “45 Years.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!

45 YEARS: 4 STARS. “an actor’s movie with Rampling & Courtenay front and center.”

Screen Shot 2016-01-20 at 10.15.13 AMCan you ever really know a person?

That is the question rattling around Kate Mercer’s (Charlotte Rampling) head as her forty-fifth wedding anniversary to Geoff (Tom Courtenay) looms on the horizon.

In retirement the couple have a comfortable life. He putters and reads, she makes arrangements for their anniversary bash. Their quiet, cozy life is disturbed when a letter arrives for Geoff with disturbing news; the body of Katya, his first love, has been discovered in the Swiss Alps, frozen and preserved, after falling to her death nearly five decades before. In the days leading up to the celebration of their relationship Kate begins to understand the depth of Geoff’s feelings for his long-ago love, leading to distrust and a re-examination of her “happy” marriage.”

Director Andrew Haigh knows this is an actor’s movie and puts Rampling and Courtenay front and center, showcasing them with unfussy and simple presentation. There is no soundtrack to set the scene or flashy editing to entertain your eye, just powerfully subtle performances. Rampling never overstates her devastation. Instead, she allows her nuanced facial expressions to speak volumes, filling in the unspoken parts of the story with tiny but effective looks and actions. It is the kind of introspective work that the big screen was invented to display.

“45 Years” is a master class in acting. It’s a mature story brought to life by two remarkable actors who aren’t afraid to trust the story’s emotional core and take the time to allow it to burrow deep into the viewer’s intellect and more importantly, heart.