Richard joins CTV NewsChannel anchor Beverly Thomson to talk about Jared Leto as a “living vampire” in “Morbius,” the wild ‘n wooly “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” Judd Apatow’s Hollywood pandemic movie “The Bubble” and the drama “Nitram.”
Richard sits in on the CFRA Ottawa morning show with host Bill Carroll to talk the new movies coming to theatres including Jared Leto as a “living vampire” in “Morbius,” the wild ‘n wooly “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” Judd Apatow’s Hollywood pandemic movie “The Bubble” and the hard-hitting gun control movie “Nitram.”
“Nitam,” a dramatization of the events leading up to the 1996 massacre at Port Arthur, Tasmania, that killed 35 people and wounded 23 others, mines the nihilism of its title character in an attempt to shed light on a senseless act.
In his telling of the story, Australian director Justin Kurzel has made a deeply unsettling film but not a violent one. He replaces the violence of the tragic real-life event with the uneasy trajectory of a killer in the making.
Known as Nitram—the movie never uses his real name—Caleb Landry Jones plays the title character as a twenty-something, impulsive, detached loner who lashes out at the slightest provocation. His mother (Judy Davis) is worn down after years of dealing with his antisocial and unpredictable behavior, but his father (Anthony LaPaglia) attempts to find a coping mechanism in compassion.
They are given a reprieve of sorts when wealthy recluse Helen (Essie Davis) hires him to cut her lawn and invites him to move in. She treats him kindly and becomes a stabilizing force in his life. When she passes away suddenly, followed by the death of his father weeks later, Nitam is cut loose with a large inheritance courtesy of Helen’s largess.
Nitram’s childhood fascination with fireworks translates into a love of firearms as an adult. In the film’s most chilling scene he purchases powerful automatic weapons from a gun shop owner only too happy to make a sale.
It is the first tangible step toward infamy.
The events of April 1996 are not portrayed in the film. In fact, there is very little violence on display. Instead, Kurzel has crafted a bleak but effective portrait of mundane evil. Jones embodies the character, playing him as a cypher with a deep well of rage. It isn’t a showy performance. It’s dark, hard to read and even harder to understand. Alienated, he is devoid of empathy or compassion, a ticking bomb ready to explode. It’s disturbing character work, so carefully rendered that, knowing how the story ends, will make your skin crawl.
There is little that is sensational or exploitive in “Nitram’s” storytelling but I had to wonder why a movie, even one that doesn’t name the killer by name, exists.
It’s one thing not to utter his name, it’s another to make a movie about a real-life man who became a monster, shattering dozens of families in the process. “Nitram” in no way glorifies him, but neither does it shed that much light on the hows and whys of his unspeakable acts. It is a well-made film that prefers to hammer home its indelible message of gun control but in its very existence provides an uncomfortable notoriety to someone best forgotten.
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 Muppets Gone Wild in “The Happytime Murders,” the escape-happy convicts of “Papillon,” and the happy-go-lucky surfers dudes of “Breath.”
Richard has a look at the raunchy puppet movie “The Happytime Murders,” the time-travelling rom com “Little Italy,” the “Papillon” reboot and the gritty crime drama “Crown and Anchor” with the CFRA Morning Rush host Bill Carroll.
“Breath,” directed by “The Mentalist” star Simon Baker in his helming debut, is a coming-of-age tale about two boys who learn about life and love through surfing is specific in its subject but universal in its themes.
Bruce and Ivan, a.k.a. Pikelet and Loonie (Samson Coulter and Ben Spence) are teenagers growing up in remote 1970s western Australian. Desperate for adventure they form an unlikely friendship with Sando (Baker), a former surfing star who now mentors young athletes. Sando is spiritual surfer who not only teaches the kids about how to glide across the water but also how to live their lives. Their idyllic life lessons are threatened when Pikelet has a brief affair with Sando’s wife, Eva (Elizabeth Debicki).
“Breath” is an enjoyably but languidly paced film that captures the slower pace of life in 1970s Australia. Baker displays a connection to the material, allowing the story to play out in its own time. The affair subplot dips into melodrama but the rest of the film is an evocative portrait of the time and place.
On a technical note, the cinematography—credited to “water cinematographer” Rick Rifici—adds much visual flair to the storytelling.
Australia, the new film from Moulin Rouge director Baz Luhrmann is big. It’s an epic with an ambitious running time of 165 minutes that covers a lot of ground; it’s part romance, part western, part thriller, part war drama and part civil rights story. Luhrmann has superimposed the best bits of The African Queen, Gone with the Wind and Giant against the majestic backdrop of the Australian Outback.
Set in World War II era Australia the story begins when plucky English aristocrat Lady Sarah Ashley (Nicole Kidman) impulsively decides to leave her pampered life in the UK to travel to Australia to check up on her husband who has been managing a large cattle ranch deep in the Outback. What was planned as a quick trip soon changes into a life altering journey as she finds she is a widow about to inherit a failing cattle business on a million acre ranch. With the help of Drover (Hugh Jackman), a rough-and-tumble Outback cowboy, she drives 1,500 head of cattle across the brutal Outback landscape to the trading town of Darwin. That would be enough story for most movies, but not an ambitious one like Australia. Once in Darwin Sarah and Drover must contend with their deepening feelings for one another, racism, their responsibility for a young farm worker of mixed race—a “creamy” the locals call him—named Nullah (Brandon Walters) and on top of it all, World War II.
It takes a big movie to introduce a wild bombing scene, complete with aerial acrobatics, in the last hour and not have it overshadow what has come before. When the Japanese bomb the town of Darwin Luhrmann’s camera dances through the sequence and it’s a show stopper but it doesn’t bring the movie to a halt because Luhrmann has carefully set up the story to be about the people and their relationships rather than the bombast of the bigger set pieces.
As I said, it’s big, but the intimate aspects of the story shine through—that’s Sarah Ashley’s feelings for both Drover and Nullah, her unofficially adopted son; Drover’s realization that he can’t live in the past and Nullah’s need to reconcile his heritage with his new life are the focus of the story. The rest is set dressing.
Kidman does a nice job transforming her character from prissy English aristocrat to plucky Australian cowgirl, and actually earns a few laughs along the way. She’s more naturally funny here than she ever has been in the alleged comedies she’s made in the past. Jackman, who has clearly been spending some time in the gym, plays a convincing cowboy. The most magnetic performance comes from newcomer Brandon Walters as Nullah. It’s a tricky role, one that requires the young actor to portray a mix of realism and the mysticism so crucial to his Aborigine culture.
It’s not all sunshine and light however. Nullah’s Jar Jar Binks-esque patois grates after a while and sparks don’t exactly fly between the two leads but overall Australia is a stylish film with old-fashioned storytelling that should lend itself to multiple viewings. (Also note: No dingos were harmed in the making of this motion picture.)