Vin Diesel is a Witch Hunter in the appropriately named “The Last Witch Hunter,” Christopher Plummer hunts Nazis in “Remember,” while Brie Larson searches for freedom in “Room” and Bill Murray looks for redemption in “Rock the Kasbah.” Richard reviews them all with “Canada AM” host Beverly Thomson.
Dean Norris is best known for portraying police officers. “I play DEA, CIA, FBI, LAPD; I got ‘em all,” he once said. He became instantly recognizable to a generation of TV fans as the boisterous DEA agent Hank Schrader on Breaking Bad, and in his new film he’s once again playing a cop, but with a twist.
“You almost feel sorry for him,” says Norris, “until you realize who he is.”
The film is Remember, a road movie of sorts. Christopher Plummer plays Zev, a man on a journey to justice, a quest to find the Nazi guard who killed his family 70 years before. Along the way he meets Norris as Officer Kurlander, a sad and lonely man with a connection to one of Zev’s suspects.
Their explosive meeting is difficult to discuss without giving away a plot point, but suffice to say Norris reveals when he had a chance to watch it he did so with his hands covering his face.
“We had three cameras going and I was like, ‘Just run them and let me hit it,’” says the fifty-two-year-old actor. “It was one of the few times where I almost felt out of body. You know when you see red and get kind of blinded? I’m not even sure what I said some of the time.”
Norris credits his director and co-star with making the five-day filming of the wild sequence possible.
“(Atom Egoyan) does what the good directors do,” he says, “and makes a comfortable space for you to play in and feel safe, which was important on this damn thing because it is so crazy. You want to feel safe to be able to go to wherever you have to go to, and I did with him.”
Norris describes Plummer as one of the greats. “It was like working with Laurence Olivier.”
“It was a pleasure to watch him,” he says. “There would be moments where I’d be in the scene and saying to myself, ‘I’m looking into the eyes of a man who has been in these scenes for decades. Been in the moment with unbelievable people in unbelievable movies.’ It’s like I wanted that to seep into me. Steal his essence.
“It’s a memory I’ll have for the rest of my life.”
With a cast headlined by Christopher Plummer and Martin Landau, Atom Egoyan’s new film “Remember” brings over 150 years of acting experience to the screen. Plummer is Zev, a man set on delivering justice to the Nazi guard who killed his family 70 years before. Plummer and Landau are both Academy Award winners and early buzz suggests they may both earn Oscar attention again for this film.
Revenge is on Max’s mind of (Martin Landau). After a lifetime of bring Nazis to justice with the Simon Wiesenthal Center, he’s now an octogenarian living in a senior’s home confined to a wheelchair. An Auschwitz survivor, he has made it his life’s work to “find the man responsible for the murder of my family,” but time is running out and there is one last name left on his list, Rudy Kurlander. Trouble is, there are multiple Kurlanders who fit the profile. In the dying days of World War II SS soldiers stole the identities of their victims and four Rudy’s emerged in the aftermath. One is an alias for the man responsible for the deaths of Max’s family.
To track down and dispatch Kurlander Max recruits Zev (Christopher Plummer), a ninety year-old widower from the senior’s home. Like Max, Zev was at Auschwitz and as the last living survivors from the prison block is, as Max tells him, “the only person left who can recognize the face of the man who murdered our families.” Despite a failing memory—“Sometimes I forget things,” Zev says.—Zev embarks on the search for Kurlander, armed with a detailed letter from Max to remind him of the operation’s details and a loaded Glock.
“Remember” is a road movie, a journey to justice. Along the way we meet several Rudy Kurlanders, a neo Nazi with a dog named Eva and several very helpful hotel clerks. Despite the constantly changing scenery and situations the constant is Christopher Plummer in a remarkable performance as a man on a mission. Struggling, he methodically works his way through the list, years of anger bubbling under the surface. He’s genteel—“Let us not argue,” he says while holding a gun on one of the Rudys. “We are too old for lies.”—but deeply wounded by events that he can now barely remember. Plummer conveys it all, confusion, anger, fear, resignation and in one extraordinary scene, deep sorrow as he shares a tender moment with one of the Kurlanders.
Egoyan parcels out the story carefully, building tension to an explosive climax. The thrills come with the search, but “Remember’s” main buzz comes from Plummer’s heartfelt and assured performance as a man struggling to reconcile the past with the present.
Richard sits in with Stephen LeDrew to talk about the recent announcements from the Toronto International Film Festival. They talk about Atom Egoyan’s new film “remember,” Jake Gyllenhaal in the opening night film “Demolition” and much more.
“Canada AM” film critic Richard Crouse says “The Captive has good tension, but never really seems to gel,” and chats up a TIFF called “Red Alert.” It’s a 6 strar out of 5 movie… mostly because Richard is in it.
The critics hammered “The Captive,” a new crime drama from director Atom Egoyan, when it played at the Cannes Film Festival. Reaction at the French fest was swift and brutal for a film that features some good thriller elements but is sunk by plot holes, logic lapses and simultaneous under and over acting.
Set in Niagara Falls, Ontario the beginning of the movie is a slow burn, using a broken timeline to weave the stories of a young detective (Scott Speedman) transferring from homicide over to the Special Victims Unit run by Nicole (Rosario Dawson) with the mysterious disappearance of Cass (Alexia Fast) who was taken from the backseat of her father’s (Ryan Reynolds) truck as he picked up some food at a diner.
Held captive for eight years by a pedophile (Kevin Durand), the girl is locked in a hidden apartment where she plays piano and watches streaming video of her mother (Mireille Enos) at work as a hotel maid. When she isn’t on lockdown she’s used as online bait for a pedophile ring, a recruiter for other young girls. The police investigation is a dead end until a clue from an unlikely source breaks the case.
“The Captive” has an interesting enough premise, but in an effort to differentiate itself from a score of similarly themed police procedurals, it makes a few wrong turns. The choppy timeline works well enough, helping to build some drama, and the pedophile’s habit of planting mementos from Cass’s life—a hairbrush, a figure skating trophy—in the hotel rooms her mother Tina cleans, and then watching her reactions, is unspeakably cruel.
But, like so much of the movie, there is bad along with the good. Tormenting Tina is creepily effective but it is played strictly for dramatic effect, leaving a major logic hole in the story. Tina doesn’t call the police until she has enough mementos to open a junk shop even though it would have been the best and easiest way to catch the bad guys… unless you’re in a movie called “The Captive.” On “Law and Order” they would have nailed this creep in no time flat.
But this isn’t “Law and Order,” it’s an attempt at a more nuanced style of storytelling, but for us to care about the grace notes of the story we have to care about the characters. The premise is heartbreaking, no parent could be expected to hold up when their child is taken but the parents never become characters. They stop just short, instead acting out the broad strokes of grief. Reynolds is a loose cannon, prone to lashing out while Enos redefines listless, handing in a performance that borders on somnambulistic.
Then there is the Durand problem. A good thriller needs a good baddie but Durand’s performance, which I suppose is meant to be eerily otherworldly, comes across like an Ed Wood Jr. villain, all pursed lips and whispered dialogue. It’s strange and ineffective work that plays in stark contrast to Enos’s understated performance.
Unlike the best of Egoyan’s films “The Captive” doesn’t work on any level other than the surface. Sure, there are multiple stories—a 90’s style police procedural, the aftermath of the kidnapping, the parent’s devastation and the opera singing deviant and his ring of pedophiles—but none are developed past the superficial.
Bruce Greenwood first met director Atom Egoyan in a singles bar. “Atom was alone in the corner and I felt sorry for him,” says Greenwood. “We were introduced by a mutual friend.”
That was in the early 1990s, when Egoyan was on the brink of international acclaim as a director and Greenwood was a film and television star with a handful of movies and recurring roles on St. Elsewhere and Knots Landing under his belt. That chance meeting led to their first film together, Exotica, a study of loneliness and desire in a lap-dancing club that Roger Ebert called “a deep, painful film” in his four-star review. “We became good friends during that process,” said Greenwood, “and in the ensuing years.”
Three years later the pair collaborated on The Sweet Hereafter, an adaptation of the novel of the same name by Russell Banks about the effects of a tragic bus accident on the population of a small town. Greenwood earned a Genie Award nomination playing a grieving father and in 2002 readers of Playback voted it the greatest Canadian film ever made.
Next was a small role in Ararat, Egoyan’s story of a young man whose life is changed during the making of a film about the Armenian genocide, and then, in 2013, a cameo in Devil’s Knot. Greenwood played a judge in Egoyan’s retelling of the events leading up to the West Memphis Three murders and the “Satanic panic” that fuelled the hysteria surrounding the subsequent trial of teenagers Jessie Misskelley Jr., Damien Echols and Jason Baldwin.
These days Greenwood is best known for his work as Capt. Christopher Pike in the 2009 Star Trek film and its sequel, Star Trek Into Darkness, but he’s not too busy in Hollywood — the Quebec-born actor has lived in Los Angeles since the late 1980s — to reteam with his Canadian cohort. In Egoyan’s new psychological thriller, The Captive, Greenwood joins stars Ryan Reynolds, Scott Speedman, Rosario Dawson and Mireille Enos in a story of a child kidnapping. Egoyan says he and Greenwood share a shorthand that makes for easy work on set. As for Greenwood, he says he trusts the director, “more than anyone I’ve ever worked with. He can ask me to do anything and if my initial instinct is ‘Oh no,’ it ends up being the right idea. He’s a tremendous guy.”
Writing the screenplay for his new film was a tough experience for Atom Egoyan.
The Captive, starring Ryan Reynolds, is a fictional story about child abduction in the Niagara region but it has roots in reality.
Missing child posters in Egoyan’s hometown of Victoria, British Columbia haunted his dreams, giving him a heightened awareness of “this person who created this huge hole in another group of people’s lives.”
Those images, coupled with news of a pedophile ring in Cornwall, Ontario, inspired the hard-hitting story of a the mysterious disappearance of Cass (Alexia Fast), taken from the backseat of her father’s (Ryan Reynolds) truck as he picked up food at a diner. Held hostage by a pedophile (Kevin Durand), the girl is locked in a hidden apartment where she plays piano and watches streaming video of her mother (Mireille Enos) at work as a hotel maid.
“When the results of [the Cornwall case investigation] were announced I just found it so troubling,” he says. “I started writing this script in 2009 and put it aside for a while because it just felt too dark and then I began to think about it as three couples: A couple who are trying to understand what happened to their daughter. One couple who we aren’t sure should be together; the detectives (Scott Speedman and Rosario Dawson) who form a relationship over the course of the case. And then this other couple who you know should not be together, the pedophile who steals a child and holds her captive for eight years.
“When I began to see these three couples and examine the relationships it began to find a form.”
The next hurdle was finding a star. The Oscar nominated director, known for highbrow films like The Sweet Hereafter and Exotica found his leading man Reynolds at the movies.
“If I was to be honest,” he says, “I’d say the reason I was inspired to work with him was Safe House. There were elements in that film that were exciting to me.”
Reynolds says he’s always wanted to work with Egoyan, saying, “growing up as a Canadian kid who loved movies, you’ve got to understand that Atom Egoyan was a kind of Holy Grail to me.”
“That’s very sweet,” Egoyan says. “God, I’m not that much older than him. But I guess I am. I don’t think he saw Next of Kin and Family Viewing or Speaking Parts. He must be talking about starting with Exotica. I found that touching but I found his commitment and his desire to be in the film is what really brought the while film together.”