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 Harry Styles in “My Policeman,” the Jennifer Lawrence drama “Causeway, the music doc “The Return of Tanya Tucker featuring Brandi Carlile.”
I joined CP24 to have a look at new movies coming to VOD, streaming services and theatres. Today we talk about Harry Styles in “My Policeman,” the Jennifer Lawrence drama “Causeway, the music doc “The Return of Tanya Tucker featuring Brandi Carlile,” the coming of age story “Armageddon Time” and the drama “The Swearing Jar.”
I sit in on the CFRA Ottawa morning show with host Bill Carroll to talk the new movies coming to theatres including Harry Styles in “My Policeman,” the Jennifer Lawrence drama “Causeway, the music doc “The Return of Tanya Tucker featuring Brandi Carlile,” the coming of age story “Armageddon Time” and the drama “The Swearing Jar.”
Another semi-autobiographical movie adds itself to the ever-growing list of films about filmmakers. Recently movies like “Belfast” and “The Fablemans,” lovingly detailed the young lives of Kenneth Branagh and Steven Spielberg. Now, “Armageddon Time,” starring Anne Hathaway, Anthony Hopkins and Jeremy Strong, and now playing in theatres, treads similar ground, as an edgy Reagan-era period piece about director James Grey’s early life.
Set in Queens, New York, the story takes place over two months in the run-up to Reagan’s election in 1980. Red-headed sixth-grader Paul Graff (Banks Repeta), is an artistically inclined kid, who lives with his second-generation Jewish American parents, Ester and Irving (Anne Hathaway and Jeremy Strong). His older brother Ted (Ryan Sell), now studying at private school, is an over-achiever, whose example has set the bar very high for the head-in-the-clouds Paul.
Only his doting grandfather Aaron (Anthony Hopkins) seems to understand him, and support his artistic ambitions. “You can be an artist if you want to be,” Aaron says. “Nothing’s going to stop you.”
At school his stuffy teacher Mr. Turkletaub (Andrew Polk) doesn’t appreciate a caricature Paul draws of him and punishes him, along with African-American classmate Johnny Davis (Jaylin Webb), a more worldly youngster, who dreams of being an astronaut. The two dreamers hit it off, forming a friendship that teaches Paul difficult lessons about the nature of friendship and family.
“Armageddon Time” draws its name from a Ronald Reagan news interview, seen in the film, where the former “Bedtime for Bonzo” star warned that, unless he is elected to straighten the world out, “We might be the generation that sees Armageddon.”
On a more direct level, the titular Armageddon refers to the battle Paul wages between his good intentions and evil deeds. The impulsive sixth-grader is torn between Ester and Irving’s desire for him to excel at anything, it seems, except for the thing he loves most, his grandfather’s advice to always be a mensch and his friendship with Johnny, and it pushes him to act out, without regard for the consequences.
It is in that push-and-pull that Paul makes the mistakes that will shape the film’s study of race and class, and inform his relationships and, presumably, his future.
The melancholy movie finds its drama within that push-and-pull. At the start Paul and Johnny are goofy troublemakers, bonded by a shared enjoyment of walking their own path, but as their stories become intertwined, their innocence is soon stripped away as the disparity of their life situations is highlighted. Both young actors bring a palpable sense of confusion, disappointment and eventually resignation, to their roles. It is remarkable work from each, performances that shine a harsh light on adolescence, rather than the usual coming-of-age wistful glimmer.
“Armageddon Time” features predictably interesting work from the entire cast, who come together in an ensemble that often feels like a real, dysfunctional family. There is also a subtle showstopper of a scene between Hopkins and Repeta that packs an emotional punch by what it doesn’t say, rather than what it does, but director Grey’s biggest achievement may be the uncompromising, unsentimental and uncomfortable approach to his own coming-of-age story.
Richard joins CP24 to have a look at new movies coming to VOD, streaming services and theatres including the Apple TV+ Anne Hathaway series “WeCrashed,” the coming-of-age story “Beans” on Crave and Amy Schumer’s Disney+ comedy “Life & Beth.”
Richard has a look at the new movies coming to theatres, including “Knives Out” with Daniel Craig and a cast of n’ere do wells, the Disney+ revamp of “Lady and the Tramp,” the odd couple picture “The Two Popes,” the corporate legal drama “Dark Waters,” and the thought provoking “Queen & Slim” with CFRA morning show host Bill Carroll.
The only thing big and green in Mark Ruffalo’s new film “Dark Waters are the hulking wads of cash a major corporation is willing to pay to cover up an ecological disaster.
Based on true events, Ruffalo plays corporate defense lawyer Robert Bilott, a native West Virginian now working for an upscale Cincinnati firm. He makes a living defending big companies but when Wilbur Tennant (Bill Camp), a friend of his grandmother shows up complaining that chemical giant Dupont is poisoning his livestock, Bilott is at a loss for words. “I defend chemical companies,” he stuitters. “Well, now you can defend me,” replies the plainspoken Wilbur.
Bilott knows the farm. As a kid he rode horses and milked his first cow there and even though the he doesn’t think he can help, he agrees to have a look. On the land he finds horrifying things. 190 cows dead, many born with birth defects and tumors. Wilbur is convinced that runoff from a nearby landfill is responsible. What was once a pastoral paradise is now a poisoned plot of land.
To paraphrase the famous John Denver song, country roads lead Bilott back home to place he belongs, defending a farmer done wrong by a conglomerate more concerned with profit than people.
“Dark Waters” is about accountability. Bilott spends more than a decade of his life, putting his health and family life at risk to take a corporate Goliath to task for their irresponsible behavior. Ruffalo does a good job at portraying the Bilott’s decline as he is worn down by the tactics of his foe, the impatience of the people he is trying to help and his inability to force the power brokers to play fair. It humanizes a story that otherwise would be a high level legal procedural.
Director Todd Haynes shoots the story in drab tones that echo much of the colorless work—i.e. cataloguing the mountain of paper sent over by Dupont in the form of discovery. It doesn’t make for a compelling looking film but it helps set the scene and tone. Fighting back isn’t glamourous work. It’s about late nights, crappy food and a constant feeling of exhaustion.
“Dark Waters” isn’t a thriller. From the first frame there is no question about who is guilty. The question here is how guilty and will they ever pay for what they have done? It is geared to outage and infuriate, to underscore that the big guys don’t always win. It is marred by a leisurely approach and some paper-thin characterizations, but the David and Goliath story is compelling.
Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Marcia MacMillan to have a look at the weekend’s big releases including the Matthew McConaughey neo-strangeness “Serenity,” the Arthurian adventure for children “The Kid Who Would Be King” and the Oscar nominated “Cold War.”
Richard has a look at looks at the mind-bending Matthew McConaughey film “Serenity,” the Arthurian adventure for children “The Kid Who Would Be King” and the Oscar nominated “Cold War” with CFRA Morning Rush host Bill Carroll.