Richard joins CP24 to have a look at new movies coming to VOD, streaming services and theatres including “Spiral,” the Chris Rock reboot of the “Saw” franchise, the Amy Adams thriller “The Woman in the Window,” the non rom com “Together Together” with Ed Helms and Patti Harrison and the trippy folk horror of “In the Earth.”
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 “Spiral,” the Chris Rock reboot of the “Saw” franchise, the Amy Adams thriller “The Woman in the Window,” the non rom com “Together Together” with Ed Helms and Patti Harrison and the trippy folk horror of “In the Earth.”
“In the Earth,” the latest film from Ben Wheatley, now on VOD, once again returns to the psychological horror that fueled his other movies like “Kill List” and “A Field in England” with a hint of the social commentary of his J. G. Ballard adaptation “High-Rise.” Add to that a dash of folk-horror and you have a truly timely and mind-bending film that is best avoided by the squeamish.
Most people see a walk in the woods as a quiet respite from the world. But when researcher Martin (Joel Fry) and ranger Alma (Ellora Torchia) head out to meet scientist Dr. Olivia Wendle (Hayley Squires) and perform some tests in the forest during a pandemic, they are sent off with some ominous advice. “People get a bit funny in the woods sometimes,” says Martin’s doctor Frank (Mark Monero). “It’s a hostile environment.”
Sure enough, things go wrong early on. They come across eerie, abandoned campsites, equipment breaks down, Martin becomes ill and they are even attacked in their tent on a tense, sleepless night. The next day help comes in the form of Zach (Reece Shearsmith), an eccentric loner who lives deep in the woods. He offers some painful but much-needed help—this is roughly where the squeamish may want to go make a sandwich and read a book—but soon begins acting erratically with a mix of metaphysical ramblings and homicidal tendencies.
By the time they contact Dr. Wendle, it is unclear who they can trust as their journey into the heart of darkness takes on an increasingly mysterious, psychedelic tone.
“In the Earth” is a trippy movie that nonetheless feels earthbound. No matter how weird the going gets, and it does get strange, masks, isolation, HAZMAT-suits and talk of quarantine and being outside for the first time in forever, ground the story in all too familiar terms. The postapocalyptic vibe is all too real, but the Pagan alchemist rituals, evil spirits and a dollop of paranoia provide the journey into the heart of darkness and the absurdist comedy integral to Wheatley’s style.
Some will call “In the Earth” a horror film, but it isn’t really. The repeated home surgery scenes are woozy-making, and the strobe effects are unsettling, but your pulse will never quicken. Then there’s the under developed characters. You may feel sorry for them when weird things happen, but it’s hard to be invested in them.
What that leaves you with is a movie that offers up a handful of ambitious notions about science vs. religion and some extra-ghastly visuals but, at best, it’s about intellectual dread; all ideas and no emotion.
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 “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm” (Amazon Prime Video), “Over the Moon” (Netflix), “American Utopia” (Crave), “The Curse of Audrey Earnshaw” (VOD), “Rebecca” (Netflix) and “The Haunting of The Mary Celeste (VOD).
What the new remake of Daphne du Maurier’s “Rebecca,” starring Lily James, Armie Hammer and Kristin Scott Thomas and now streaming on Netflix, lacks in gothic thrills it makes up for in eye candy.
Taking over as handsome widower Maxim de Winter, the role Laurence Olivier made famous in Alfred Hitchcock’s Oscar winning 1940 film, is Armie Hammer. Max is a charmer, a trust fund aristocrat with a beautiful estate, called Manderley, and a dead wife, named Rebecca.
On vacation in Monte Carlo a young woman (Lily James) catches his eye when she is refused service on the balcony of a fancy hotel restaurant. She is not a guest, she’s told, but an employee of a guest and therefore must eat elsewhere, anywhere but among the wealthy tourists enjoying their canapes and champagne. He invites her to join him and a whirlwind romance ensues. When her boss decides it’s time to travel to New York for debutant season, Max asks her to stay with a marriage proposal.
They move to Manderley, his family home on the windswept English coast. The sprawling home has been in his family for generations and is so grandly appointed it makes Downton Abbey look like an outhouse. At Manderlay the romance, which blossomed quickly, fades as the specter of Rebecca, the late lady of the estate, hangs heavy over the house and on Max’s mind.
Keeping Rebecca alive in heart and in mind is Mrs. Danvers (Kristin Scott Thomas), Manderley’s baleful housekeeper. She is not impressed by Max’s naïve new bride who she thinks is trying to take Rebecca’s place.
Cue the dirty tricks, withering glances and gothic tomfoolery.
“Rebecca,” directed by Ben Wheatley, is undeniably beautiful looking. From its good-looking stars to the sumptuous production design is by Sarah Greenwood, it will make your eyeballs dance. The set decoration at Manderley alone is “Architectural Digest: Baroque Edition” worthy, but this is a movie that wants to appeal to more than just your eye and that’s where it disappoints.
The bones of the story seem perfect for a 2020 revisit. du Maurier’s exploration of the power imbalance between a wealthy man and a woman who must fight to find her own sovereignty is timely but undone by a story that never takes hold.
Hammer’s take on Max misses the essential coldness of the character. He’s short tempered, snippy and brusque but the icy core necessary to freeze out the new Mrs. de Winter is missing. Without that character element his reactions to events don’t bring the friction needed to engage the audience. At the pivotal ballroom scene, where the new bride is (MILD SPOILER ALERT) tricked into making a serious error in judgement, Max seems irked, pouty but the wound that is unintentionally opened doesn’t seem particularly deep. If Max doesn’t care that much, why should we?
From that moment on Wheatley drifts through the story with none of his patented risk taking—think his daring adaptation of J.G. Ballard’s “High-Rise” or his edge-of-your-seat “Kill List”—relying Clint Mansell’s score to provide the emotional highs and lows.
Like the story’s female protagonist the new version of “Rebecca” is haunted, this time by the ghosts of the story’s previous incarnations.
Richard and CP24 anchor Jamie Gutfreund have a look at the weekend’s new movies, “The Lost City of Z,” starring Charlie Hunnam as an obsessed Amazonian explorer, the unforgivable “Unforgettable,” the wild and wooly “Free Fire” and the rom mon “Colossal” starring Anne Hathaway as a woman whose drunken stumbling has far reaching effects.
Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Marcia MacMillan to have a look at the big weekend movies, “The Lost City of Z,” starring Charlie Hunnam as an obsessed Amazonian explorer, the unforgivable “Unforgettable,” the wild and wooly “Free Fire” and the rom mon “Colossal” starring Anne Hathaway as a woman whose drunken stumbling has far reaching effects.
The worst part of writing reviews is regurgitating the synopsis. Perhaps that’s one of the reason I liked “Free Fire,” the new shoot-em-up from director Ben Wheatley, so much. His follow-up to the psycho sci fi movie “High Rise” can be described with an economy of words: Ten bad people meet, a grudge emerges, bullet fly. The End.
For those craving more detail, the story begins at a rundown warehouse in Boston with Irish Republican Army out-of-towners Chris (Cillian Murphy) and Frank (Michael Smiley) and their henchmen Bernie (Enzo Cilenti) and Stevo (Sam Riley) buying thirty rifles from Vernon (Sharlto Copley). Vernon’s team includes Martin (Babou Ceesay), Gordon (Noah Taylor) and Harry (Jack Reynor). Bringing them together are Justine (Brie Larson) and Ord (Armie Hammer) fixers who stand to make mucho bucks.
The deal goes south, however, when a beef erupts between Stevo and Harry. Words, then punches and finally bullets are exchanged as the situation spins out of control. Soon it’s every man or woman for himself or herself as everyone exchanges bullets and barbs.
The gun battle makes up the bulk of the film but this is no average bullet ballet. Wheatley and co-writer Amy Jump carefully calibrate the action, mixing gunfire with sharp dialogue and plenty of irreverent, dark humour. Their best trick is keeping it real. When people get shot in “Free Fire” they don’t shake it off like most action movie characters. Instead they shriek, whine, wince and in pain, putting the strong silent type clichés of most first person shooters in the rear view mirror. As the situation grows more desperate so do the characters as they struggle to stay alive long enough to grab the elusive suitcase filled with cash, settle old scores and trade schoolyard taunts.
It’s hard not to see echoes of “Reservoir Dogs” in “Free Fire.” The warehouse setting and sketchy characters suggest Tarantino but Wheatley has done something else here. He’s packed away all pretension, all sentiment and focussed on making a down-‘n-dirty but wildly entertaining b-movie.
Richard and “Canada AM” host Marci Ien talk about the weekend’s three big releases, the shady charm of “The Nice Guys” with Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling, the kid’s cartoon “The Angry Birds Movie,” and the Seth Rogen sequel “Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising” and the debauched “High-Rise” with Tom Hiddleston.