Posts Tagged ‘Angels & Demons’


screen-shot-2016-10-29-at-10-18-16-amRichard and CP24 anchor Jamie Gutfreund have a look at the weekend’s new movies, Tom Hanks as symbologist Robert Langdon in “Inferno,” two of the best movies of the years, “Moonlight” and “The Handmaiden” and Ewan McGregor’s directorial debut, “American Pastoral.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!


screen-shot-2016-10-28-at-10-36-44-amRichard sits in on the CTV NewsChannel morning show to have a look at the weekend’s new movies, Tom Hanks as symbologist Robert Langdon in “Inferno,” two of the best movies of the years, “Moonlight” and “The Handmaiden” and Ewan McGregor’s directorial debut, “American Pastoral.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!

Metro In Focus: The fraught relationship between faith and film

screen-shot-2016-10-25-at-10-18-04-amBy Richard Crouse – Metro In Focus

This weekend professor of religious iconology and symbology Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) returns to theatres in Inferno, the third movie in the Da Vinci Code franchise.

In 2006 the fictional Harvard prof made his big screen debut, uncovering the complicated personal life of Jesus Christ in The Da Vinci Code. Three years later he used his knowledge of symbology to unravel the mystery of a secret brotherhood called the Illuminati and thwart a terrorist act against the Vatican.

In between those two movies I received dozens of outraged emails, long tracts regarding Dan Brown’s books, the up-coming movie, The Illuminati and the veracity of the stories.

In response to the anxious folks who contacted me, concerned the film, which had not been released yet, would be a dangerous piece of anti-Catholic propaganda, I wrote a forward to my Angels and Demons review, pointing letter writers toward the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano. They described Angels and Demons as “harmless entertainment which hardly affects the genius and mystery of Christianity.” Their review noted it is filled with historical inaccuracies but went on to suggest that one could make a game of pointing out all of the film’s historical mistakes.

In other words, don’t take it seriously and you’ll have a good time. Despite the Vatican newspaper’s warm embrace, the film still ignited a firestorm of criticism from people upset about the story’s alleged anti-Catholic sentiments, “malicious myths” and churches being associated with scenes of murder.

Inferno sidesteps religious controversy with a tale of a deadly virus that threatens all of humanity, but cinema and religion have often made for uncomfortable pairings.

In 1999 the Catholic League denounced Dogma’s tale of two fallen angels (Ben Affleck and Matt Damon) trying to get back into heaven as “blasphemy.” More recently uproar erupted over Darren Aronofsky’s unorthodox take on the story of Noah. Jerry Johnson, president of the National Religious Broadcasters, loudly objected to the film’s “insertion of the extremist environmental agenda.”

Perhaps the most controversial religious film ever was The Devils, based on Aldous Huxley’s nonfiction book The Devils of Loudun. Years before Ken Russell made the movie, a filmmaker approached Huxley wanting to turn the story of a radical 17th century French Catholic priest accused of witchcraft and burned at the stake, into a film. Huxley said, ‘Don’t do it. Don’t make a movie out of this.’ He thought there was no way the story could be presented in an entertaining way without short-circuiting people’s minds. Turns out maybe he was right.

Forty-five years after its release Russell’s film is little seen but much talked about. Banned, censored and still unavailable in its complete form on Blu-Ray, the movie’s graphic church orgy offended many—and was cut to pieces and removed by censors—but it’s more than shock and titillation. It’s a film that makes a serious statement about the struggle between church and state but does so in an entertaining and provocative way.

Lots of movies contain violence or sex or religion, but Russell mixed all three together in one toxic cocktail. If released today The Devils may not inspire riots in the streets, as it did in 1971, but if presented in its complete form the following indignation would make the Angels and Demons protests seem tame.

INFERNO: 2 STARS. “clueless? No, it’s overstuffed with clues, just not thrills.”

screen-shot-2016-10-25-at-10-17-04-amA better title for “Inferno,” the latest big screen exploits of symbology professor Robert Langdon, might have been “The Da Vinci Code: This Time it’s Personal.” Not only must Langdon, once again in the form of Tom Hanks, confront an old love but he also must dig deep into his shattered memory to piece together the clues of his greatest mystery ever.

Or something like that.

The convoluted story begins with bioengineer and billionaire Bertrand Zobrist (Ben Foster) spewing his extreme theories on the planet’s problems. “Every ill on earth can be traced back to overpopulation,” he says. In the space of just twenty four hours Zobrist drops out of the picture, and Langdon is found disoriented and put under the care of Dr. Sienna Brooks (Felicity Jones). “What am I doing in Florence?” he asks. Suffering from retrograde amnesia and terrifying visions of a hellish nature, people with heads twisted back to front, seas of fire, pools of blood and serpents, he struggles to remember the events of the last forty-eight hours.

With the help of Brooks he goes on the run from a determined assassin (Ana Ularu) and the World Health Organization until he can gather the clues that will lead him to the Inferno Virus, a plague planted by Zobrist to cull the world’s population by half. “Humanity is the disease,” he cackles, “Inferno is the cure.”

Add in close calls, narrow escapes and clues hidden in Italian antiquities and you have “Inferno,” the thriller with no clue how to be thrilling. Instead it’s two hours of exposition, a lesson in Botticelli and Dante. Whatever thrills there were to be mined from David Koepp’s script are blunted by director Ron Howard’s habit of showing and telling clues and info over and over, not trusting the viewer to be able to follow along. With convoluted clues and lots of Italian names and places to keep track of “Inferno” repeats information ad nauseam.

This is the third time Hanks has played Langdon but in the fullness of time I don’t think we’ll look back on the symbologist as the actor’s most memorable character. He carries the movies, which have made hundreds of millions of dollars, but he’s less a character then he is an exposition machine, an explainer of obscure history, a purveyor of aha moments. Hanks is a charmer, but he’s done in trying to wade through the movie’s scripting mire.

Sharing the screen is Jones, soon to be seen in “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.” As Dr. Brooks she is Langdon’s intellectual match and one of the dual engines that keeps the story plodding along, but spends most of the film nodding in agreement to Langdon’s sudden, remarkable realisations.

As the villain Foster’s few appearances—he’s peppered throughout usually appearing in video clips, is further proof that Hollywood doesn’t know what to do with this talented actor.

More fun is Irrfan Khan as the calm, cool and collected head of a mysterious group that manages risks for high profile clients. He’s deadly, duplicitous and James Bond villain suave.

The obvious joke here is that “Inferno” is clueless. But it’s not, it’s overstuffed with clues, just not thrills.

The world’s most wonderful film set Angels & Demons joins the many films that use Rome as a backdrop RICHARD CROUSE FOR METRO CANADA May 13, 2009

storymaker-trevi-fountain-1205225-514x268From Anita Ekberg and Marcello Mastroianni splashing around in the waters of the Trevi Fountain in La Dolce Vita to Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck’s romantic street tour in Roman Holiday the Eternal City has provided some of the cinema’s most unforgettable images.

According to Italian director Federico Fellini, “Rome is the most wonderful movie set in the world.” Now with the release of Angels & Demons, shot on location in Rome, a new industry has emerged from the ancient city — movie tourism.

Patrizia Prestipino, head of Rome’s provincial department of tourism told the New York Times that “a film like this could re-launch American tourism. For us it’s like free advertising.” And it’s marketing that seems to be working. Tour groups like the Angels & Demons Path of Illumination Tour,, Sienna Reid’s Angels and Demons Tour,, and the Rome Angels and Demons Half-Day Tour,, have been enjoying brisk business with packages that range from $75 per person to $550 for a personal excursion.

If you’re not a tour group kind of person you can arrange your own expedition of Rome’s Angels and Demons locations and other cinematic sites with a good map from your hotel’s concierge.

(Take note that several of the places mentioned in the book are not geographically accurate. It’s best to do some internet research before hitting the streets.) Here are some good starting points:

Castel Sant’Angelo
Built between 135 and 139 by the Roman Emperor Hadrian Castel Sant’ Angelo not only figures in the climax of Angels & Demons, but also has a spectacular panoramic view of Rome. The castle can also be seen in Roman Holiday’s barge scene.

Santa Maria della Vittoria
Santa Maria Della Vittoria is the setting for Angels &?Demons’ most gruesome and exciting scene — the “fire” killing — but in reality is the home to the beautiful Bernini sculpture of the ecstasy of St. Theresa.

Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi
Located at the center of Piazza Navona the ornate The Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (“Fountain of the Four Rivers”) is one of Bernini’s most famous works and the backdrop for the film’s “water” assassination.

Other Rome movie must-sees include:

Mouth of Truth
The Mouth of Truth located in the portico of the church of Santa Maria in Cosmedin. The carved, grinning stone face which purportedly bites off the hands of liars most famously appeared in Roman Holiday but can also be seen in Only You starring Robert Downey Jr.

Trevi Fountain
At almost 26 metres high the Trevi Fountain is the largest Baroque fount in Rome and the inspiration for the 1954 hit song and movie Three Coins in the Fountain. Every day tourists throw almost 3,300 euros into the fountain — legend says that visitors who toss a coin into the fountain are guaranteed a return to Rome—money that is donated to charity.

Movie lovers will find much to see in Rome and many memories to take home. As Audrey Hepburn said in Roman Holiday, “I will cherish my visit here in memory for as long as I live.”

The Vatican rebuilt Landmarks replicated on L.A. soundstage for Angels &?Demons RICHARD CROUSE FOR METRO CANADA May 12, 2009

angels-and-demonsWhile sitting atop the Castel Saint Angelo in Rome waiting to interview Angels & Demons star Ewan McGregor, I had a panoramic view of the city and the beautiful chaos that makes life in the Eternal City tick.

The traffic is crazy and there are people everywhere. It’s an intense place, even more so, I imagined, if you were shooting a big budget Hollywood picture that takes place in some of the city’s busiest spots.

“The funny thing is I didn’t shoot any of it in Rome,” McGregor said when asked. “I shot in this place called Caserta. There’s a palace in Caserta that I thought it sounded really romantic, so I arranged for my wife to come over and spend a weekend with me, but it’s a dump, a horrible place. I’m sorry but it’s just a suburb of Naples that’s exploded around this old palace. It’s really nasty. Not a good place.

“Apart from that I did most of my stuff in L.A. because my character is mainly inside the Vatican and of course, the Vatican didn’t want us to shoot inside their buildings so they built the Sistine Chapel on the Sony soundstages in L.A. They also built the exterior of St. Peter’s Square, this huge, huge set, in the parking lot of Hollywood Park Racetrack in south L.A. That was cool. I saw it from an airplane. I was landing at LAX and I looked down and thought, ‘God, that’s a big set… look at that.’ Then I realized it was ours.”

Despite never having stepped foot in an actual church during the shoot, McGregor convincingly pulls off the roll of Camerlengo Patrick McKenna, a priest who acts as the pope’s right hand man in the film adaptation of Dan Brown’s novel.

“We had a priest from New Jersey who came over and was our religious advisor for any of the technical things,” McGregor said, “the ceremonies and the ritual stuff. But he also gave us a kind of idea of what would be going on behind the scenes during those ceremonies and humanized it for us.

“It looks so precise from the congregation’s point of view but in actual fact behind the table there is a guy with matches trying to light the incense. He put that into it for me which was great.”

The training paid off, he says, at least superficially.

“I didn’t get to understand the meaning of all the ceremonies; why everything is in a certain order, but I did learn enough to look like I knew what I was doing, hopefully.”

Demons ‘a different beast’ Director Howard dishes on follow-up to record-breaking Da Vinci Code RICHARD CROUSE FOR METRO CANADA May 08, 2009

angels_demons12Ron Howard, the flame-haired actor turned director of The Da Vinci Code, wasn’t surprised by the success of his adaptation of the best selling Dan Brown suspense novel.

“The idea at the centre of The Da Vinci Code was so provocative and such a hot button issue it really lived at the centre of popular culture for almost two years,” he said this week in Rome before the premiere of Angels & Demons, the follow-up to the record-breaking Da Vinci Code.

“Angels & Demons is a popular novel,” the director says, although he acknowledges that it isn’t as notorious as the other book. “What I’m finding, however, is if you like The Da Vinci Code you’re going to really like Angels & Demons. I feel like it could be a thrilling and exciting experience for audiences in of itself; separating itself from The Da Vinci Code movie or the novel.”

The new film, starring Tom Hanks in a reprise of his Da Vinci role as symbologist Robert Langdon, sees the Harvard professor work to solve a murder, unravel the mystery of an ancient secret brotherhood called the Illuminati and prevent a terrorist act against the Vatican.

The mix of intrigue and religious may sound familiar to Da Vinci Code fans but Howard maintains Angels & Demons is a different beast. “If I felt like it was a cookie cutter situation and I was being asked to repeat myself then it wouldn’t interest me,” he said, “but I just didn’t want to miss this next Robert Langdon adventure.

“I like the uniqueness of these Dan Brown stories. Sure they use the murder mystery genre, but in a way that is so fresh that these films stand on their own as something brand new.”

Something that certainly is new in Angels & Demons is the setting. Shot on location in Rome, the movie is a love letter to the Eternal City.

“For scheduling reasons we had to shoot in June,” Howard says.

“Everyone in Italy kept saying that we couldn’t have chosen a worse month but I’m very glad in a way it was so hectic and intense because it energized everything.”

• Angels & Demons opens across Canada next Friday.

‘Angels & Demons’ 101: 16 facts about this blockbuster Tue. May. 12 2009 Constance Droganes, entertainment writer,

angels-and-demons-113_mPoised to make an unholy sum at the box office this summer, “Angels & Demons” is generating sky-high hype, much like “The Da Vinci Code” did three years ago. Cryptic symbols, grisly murders, a race against time to save Vatican City and Rome from annihilation…The taut twists and brain-teasing clues that made Dan Brown’s book a bestseller should make Ron Howard’s new movie a helluva good time.

The premise

Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon is summoned to CERN, a Swiss research facility known, to analyze a cryptic symbol seared onto the chest of a murdered physicist.

Langdon links the murder and theft of a container of antimatter to a vendetta against the Catholic Church orchestrated by the Illuminati, a 400-year-old secret society.

The inspiration

Reporting live from Rome, Canada AM’s film critic Richard Crouse revealed Dan Brown’s inspiration for “Angels & Demons.” Published in 2000, the idea came to the American author while touring the secret pathways under Vatican City. The walkways were built as escape routes should the Vatican ever be attacked.

Prequel or sequel?

Even though “Angels & Demons” was published three years before “The Da Vinci Code” Ron Howard treated this thriller as sequel to his previous film, not a prequel. Howard liked the idea that Robert Langdon, Brown’s hero, had been through one big adventure. It made Langdon a more confident character to bring to the screen.

More chances, less reverence

According to producer Brian Grazer, he and Ron Howard were too “reverential” when they adapted “The Da Vinci Code” to the big screen. Not this time. Here antiquity, technology and faith clash with some modern artistic liberties. The result, says Grazer, won’t be long or boring.

Hank’s big pay day

Looking impressively toned in a Speedo in this new flick, 52-year-old Tom Hanks will reportedly surpass his US$25 million-dollar “Da Vinci” paycheque. His rumoured take for “Angels & Demons” falls between US$29 and US$49 million. That makes Hanks the highest-paid actor in Hollywood.

Hanks’ new leading lady

So long Audrey Tautou (aka Agent Sophie Neveu). For this new instalment, director Ron Howard cast Israeli actress Ayelet Zurer, 39, as Vittoria Vetra, Robert Langdon’s brilliant physicist side-kick.

As the adopted daughter of “A&D’s” murdered physicist Zurer is ballsy. She’s tenacious. And the way this raven-haired beauty runs across Rome in heels is miraculous.

‘Angels & Demons’ budget mystery

Shrouded in secrecy, “Angels & Demons” exact production costs are a mystery. “The Da Vinci Code” cost US$125 million to make. Some scenes for “Angels & Demons” required filming in Rome at the height of summer. That alone should make this movie just as costly, if not more so.

Vatican blues

In April 2009, Ron Howard told The Associated Press that the Vatican interfered with efforts to get permits to shoot certain scenes of “Angels & Demons’ in Rome. The Vatican denies the charges. They have called them “a publicity stunt.”

The Illuminati

Whether you call them the heroes or hell raisers of Dan Brown’s book, the Illuminati, or “Enlightened Ones,” spawn all the action in “Angels & Demons.”

The underground group is based on fact. Its origins lie with the Bavarian Illuminati, which was founded in May of 1776. Since then conspiracy theorists have called this shadowy sect the “power behind the throne.” They believe the Illuminati infiltrated monarchies, governments and corporations to control world affairs and establish a New World Order.

Ambigram huh?

Used to convey key clues in this fast-paced thriller, the ambigrams in “Angels & Demons” use typographical designs to spell out words or phrases.

The design is usually very symmetrical and can hold two very different readings of the word or phrase depending on the viewpoint or directions from which they are viewed.

The most common way to read ambigrams is flipping them horizontally or turning them upside-down.

Location, location

Some scenes for “Angels & Demons” were filmed at Rome’s Piazza del Popolo and the Pantheon. The production had to build a scale replica of St. Peter’s Square since Vatican officers banned the movie from being filmed on its grounds.

Writer’s block

This movie became the first big-screen casualty of the Hollywood writer’s strike in 2007. Akiva Goldsman’s script still needed work when he went on strike with the Writers Guild of America. As a result, the production of “Angels & Demons” had to be postponed.

The Path of Illumination

To solve this new mystery, Langdon attempts to retrace the steps of the so-called Path of Illumination. It’s an elaborate process once used by the Illuminati to induct new members. The test involved following a series of subtle clues left in various landmarks in and around Rome.

The Altars of Science

Langdon’s chase through “Angels & Demons” takes him through four locations called the Altars of Science. Each represents the four elements: earth, air, fire and water.

Box office estimates

Ron Howard’s film adaptation of “The Da Vinci Code” earned more than US$750 million worldwide. Early predictions say “Angel’s & Demons” will make between $70 and $80 million in its opening weekend in North America.

Vatican reviews

Top church officials strongly objected to “The Da Vinci Code.” Its premise that Jesus married and fathered children was deemed blasphemous. Its unfavourable portrayal of the Opus Dei, the conservative Catholic movement, also added to the Church’s concerns.

Reviewers at the Vatican’s newspaper, however, have passed judgment on “Angels & Demons.” They call the religious thriller “commercial and inaccurate” but conclude it is “harmless” entertainment and no a danger to the church.