Posts Tagged ‘Audra McDonald’


Richard joins Jay Michaels and guest host Deb Hutton of the NewsTalk 1010 afternoon show The Rush to talk about the morbid history of the Sourtoe Cocktail and some new releases in theatres, the Ryan Reynolds action comedy “Free Guy” and the Aretha Franklin biopic “Respect.”

Listen to the whole thing HERE!


Richard joins CP24 to have a look at new movies coming to VOD, streaming services and theatres including Ryan Reynolds in the action comedy “Free Guy,” the Aretha Franklin biopic “Respect” and the Robert De Niro Hollywood satire “The Comeback Trail.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!


Richard and CTV NewsChannel morning show host Angie Seth chat up the weekend’s big releases including the new Ryan Reynolds action comedy “Free Guy,” the Aretha Franklin biopic “Respect” and the Robert De Niro Hollywood satire “The Comeback Trail.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!


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 new Ryan Reynolds action comedy “Free Guy,” the Aretha Franklin biopic “Respect” and the Robert De Niro Hollywood satire “The Comeback Trail.”

Listen to the whole thing HERE!


Richard joins NewsTalk 1010’s Jim Richards on the coast-to-coast-to-coast late night “Showgram” to play the game “Did Richard Crouse like these movies?” This week we talk about the new Ryan Reynolds action comedy “Free Guy,” the Aretha Franklin biopic “Respect” and the Robert De Niro Hollywood satire “The Comeback Trail.”

Listen to the whole thing HERE!

RESPECT: 3 ½ STARS. “a rousing tribute to Franklin’s lifeblood, the music.”

Two years ago, the documentary “Amazing Grace” showcased Aretha Franklin remarkable 1972 two-night stand at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles. It’s a soul stirring window into Franklin’s vocal ability as she caresses and stretches the notes of the songs to maximum effect.

A new film, “Respect,” starring Jennifer Hudson and now playing in theatres, broadens the scope, detailing Franklin’s life from her beginnings, singing in her father’s church, to the height of her fame.

We first meet Aretha as a ten-year-old (Sky Dakota Turner) phenom, blessed with a beautiful voice. “You have a talent,” her Baptist minister father Clarence (Forest Whitaker) says, “they call genius.” She’s ten, says a friend, but her voice is going on thirty. Her guiding light is mother Barbara (Audra McDonald), who tells her, “Singing in sacred and you shouldn’t do it because somebody wants you to. What’s important is that you are treated with dignity and respect.”

Despite that advice, her father controls every aspect of her life. Using his connections, Rev. Franklin secures a recording contact with music producer John Hammond (Tate Donovan) at Columbia Records. Four low-selling albums of jazz and blues standards follow as she struggles to find her voice on vinyl.

The climb to the top of the charts came with advice from a legend, Dinah Washington (Mary J. Blige), who told her, “Honey, find the songs that move you. Until you do that, you ain’t going nowhere,” and a new manager (and love interest) in the form of Ted White (Marlon Wayans). Taking the career reigns from Franklin’s father, White breaks ranks with Columbia, and gets a new record deal and a new sound with producer Jerry Wexler (Marc Maron).

As Franklin becomes known as the Queen of Soul, she and White struggle with personal demons that threaten to sidetrack her rise to superstardom.

First and foremost, “Respect” is a tribute to the genius of Aretha Franklin and the talent of Jennifer Hudson. Franklin left an indelible mark on several generation and styles of music, and her life’s work is well represented here, from her roots in the church, to her genre-bending chart toppers and the civil rights activism that defined her life off stage.

Hudson is given ample opportunity to showcase Franklin’s vocal stylings, and does so with a voice that sounds heaven sent. As a rousing jukebox musical “Respect” succeeds spectacularly well.

It’s in the telling of Franklin’s life that the movie hits a few sour notes. There is a lot of ground to cover, from alcoholism and racism to sexism and becoming pregnant at the age of 12, it’s a complicated story told in fits and starts, wedged between musical numbers.

The film’s early scenes, featuring the wonderful Skye Dakota Turner as the ten-year-old “Ree,” are nicely developed and paint a vivid picture of Franklin’s young life. It’s when “Respect” adopts the Wikipedia bullet point approach to quickly cover a lot of ground that the movie loses some of its dramatic thrust.

“Respect” skims the surface of a long, interesting life—the story ends rather abruptly in 1972 with the recording of Franklin’s landmark “Amazing Grace” gospel album—but presents a rousing tribute to Franklin’s lifeblood, the music.


Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Marcia MacMillan to have a look at the big weekend movies, the live action version of “Beauty and the Beast,” the drug addled “T2 Trainspotting” and the no-holds-barred “Goon: Last of the Enforcers.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!


Richard and BNN anchor Jon Erlichman of “Business Day AM” chat about the possibility of “Beauty and the Beast” becoming the highest grossing film so far this year.

Watch the whole thing HERE!

Metro In Focus: The real beauty of Beauty and the Beast is found in its humanity

By Richard Crouse – Metro In Focus

Poet Paul Éluard said that to understand Jean Cocteau’s 1946 version of La Belle et la Bête — Beauty and the Beast — you must love your dog more than your car. His comment is baffling only if you haven’t seen the movie.

Once Cocteau’s film is seen, it’s apparent that what makes his version rewarding is that it values the organic over the mechanical — even the special effects are handmade. It refuses to allow the technical aspects of the film to interfere with the humanity of the story.

This weekend Disney will have their collective fingers crossed that audiences will favour their poodles over their RVs as they release the big-budget, live-action version of Beauty and the Beast starring Emma Watson.

Director Bill Condon says the animated 1991 Disney classic was an inspiration for the new film, but adds he also drew from everything from Twilight and Frankenstein to a 1932 musical comedy called Love Me Tonight when creating the look for the new movie.

He also mentions La Belle et la Bête. “A film I really love.” His take on the Beast looked back to the movie, cribbing the character’s combination of ferocity and romance from Cocteau.

Before taking in the new version this weekend, let’s have a look back at the little-seen 70-year old Cocteau classic.

Loosely based on the timeless Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont fairy tale, the action in La Belle et la Bête begins when a poverty-stricken merchant pilfers a rose from a grand estate owned by a strange creature. The Beast strikes a deal with the man.

He’ll spare the life of the merchant in return for the hand of one of the man’s daughters. Reluctantly the merchant offers Belle, a beautiful girl who had been courted by the oafish Avenant.

At first she is repulsed by the Beast, who looks like the love child of the Wolf Man and Mrs. Chewbacca, but over time his tender ways and nightly offers of marriage warm her heart and she learns to love him for his inner beauty.

Cocteau’s version strays from the original story and Condon’s adaptation with the addition of a subplot involving Avenant’s scheme to kill the Beast and make off with his treasures and an unexpected magical personality switcheroo.

It’s meant to be a happy ending, but not everyone loved the new coda. When Marlene Dietrich saw an early cut of the film at a private screening, she squeezed Cocteau’s hand and said, “Where is my beautiful Beast?”

Other audiences embraced Cocteau’s vision. In his diary the poet wrote of a test screening held for the technicians in the Joinville Studio were the film had been made. “The welcome the picture received from that audience of workers was unforgettable,” he wrote.

Others criticized La Belle et la Bête for its straightforwardness, complaining that the characters are simply drawn, the story one dimensional. Taking that view, however, misses Cocteau’s point.

At the beginning of the film he asks for “childlike simplicity,” inviting the viewer to connect with their inner child, eschew cynicism and embrace naiveté for the film’s 96-minute running time.

In 1946 the request was meant as a salve for a post-occupation France that was still dealing with the aftermath of a terrible war.

Today, in an increasingly contemptuous world, the message still seems timely and welcome.