Richard joins CTV NewsChannel and anchor Lois Lee to have a look at new movies coming to VOD, streaming services and theatres including the virtual reality of “The Martrix Resurrection,” the coming of age dramedy “Licorice Pizza” and Denzel Washington in “The Tragedy of Macbeth” and the jukebox musical “Sing 2.”
Richard sits in on the CFRA Ottawa morning show with guest host Matt Harris to talk the new movies coming to theatres, VOD and streaming services including the virtual reality of “The Martrix Resurrection,” the coming of age dramedy “Licorice Pizza” and Denzel Washington in “The Tragedy of Macbeth” and the jukebox musical “Sing 2.”
Can Richard Crouse review three movies in just thirty seconds? Have a look as he races against the clock to tell you about the Neo’s return to virtual reality in “The Matrix: Resurrections,” the coming of age dramedy “Licorice Pizza” and Denzel Washington in “The Tragedy of Macbeth” in less time than it takes to buy a pack of Twizzlers.
“Licorice Pizza,” the new slice-of-life drama from director Paul Thomas Anderson, and now playing in theatres, is a very specific movie. It transports us back in time to Los Angeles circa the 1970s. Nixon is president. In Hollywood the Tail o’ the Cock restaurant is the place to see and be seen and gas stations face country wide fuel shortages. But against that specific backdrop comes a story ripe with freewheeling charm, nostalgia and universal themes.
Cooper Hoffman, son of the late, great Philip Seymour Hoffman, is Gary Valentine, a cocky fifteen-year-old actor with a blossoming career and a back pocket filled with get rich quick schemes. At picture day at his high school he spots photographer’s assistant Alana (Alana Haim). She is ten years older than him, but he’s feeling lucky and asks her out on a date. She agrees, but says it isn’t a date, just dinner. He takes her to hotspot Tail o’ the Cock and at the end of the night tells her, “I’m not going to forget you. Just like you’re not going to forget me.”
It is the beginning of a mostly platonic relationship that sees them drift in and out of one another’s lives, start a water bed business and navigate maturity. “Maybe fate brought us together,” Gary says to her. “Our roads brought us here.”
“Licorice Pizza” (the name refers to a defunct Californian record store chain) isn’t a movie overly concerned with plot. Instead, it relies on the characters to keep things interesting.
Newcomers Hoffman and Haim, (she plays guitars and keyboards in the pop rock band Haim), do just that. Each are magnetic performers on their own, she is all glowering intensity, he’s got teenage swagger down to a tee—“I’m a showman,” he says, “it’s what I’m meant to do.”—but put them together and sparks fly. From their first exchange in the high school gym to the film’s closing moments they win us over. In the movie the characters experience the first blush of friendship and love. In the audience we get to experience another first, the debut of two new, very promising actors.
Later, after the film, I found myself daydreaming that perhaps we could revisit them every ten years or so à la the relationship trilogy “Before Sunrise,” “Before Sunset” and “Before Midnight.”
Some old-timers get to strut their stuff as well. Sean Penn plays a riff on hard drinking actor William Holden with equal parts smarm and charm and Bradley Cooper pulls out all the stops to bring Hollywood hairdresser-turned-movie mogul Jon Peters to vivid, excessive life.
It is an evocative rendering of a specific time and place, but it doesn’t all sit right. In his recreation of the 1970s, director Paul Thomas Anderson includes two scenes featuring John Michael Higgins as Jerry Frick, owner of the San Fernando Valley’s first Japanese restaurant, The Mikado. In his two scenes he is seen speaking with an over-the-top, buffoonish Japanese accent in conversation with his Japanese wives, played by Yumi Mizui and Megumi Anjo. Both scenes stick out like sore thumbs. I imagine that they are meant to represent the causal racism of the time but they break the movie’s magical spell with cultural insensitivity that adds nothing, save for a cheap laugh, to the story.
“Licorice Pizza” is kind of flipping through a diary. Some details are intense, some glossed over, but everything is relevant to the experience being written about. Like diary entries, the movie is episodic. Each passing episode allows us to get to know Gary and Alana a bit better, and just as importantly, remind us what it means to be young and in love.
Richard joins CP24 to have a look at new movies coming to VOD, streaming services and theatres including the family drama “Pieces of a Woman” (Netflix), dark satire “Promising Young Woman” (in theatres) and the documentary “The Dissident” (VOD/Digital).
Richard sits in on the CTV NewsChannel with host Anita Sharma to have a look at the new movies coming to VOD, streaming services and theatres including the intense drama “Pieces of a Woman” (Netflix), dark satire “Promising Young Woman” (in theatres) and the documentary “The Dissident” (VOD/Digital).
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 intense drama “Pieces of a Woman” (Netflix), dark satire “Promising Young Woman” (in theatres) and the documentary “The Dissident” (VOD/Digital).
“Pieces of a Woman,” now steaming on Netflix, begins with happy, loving couple Martha (Vanessa Kirby) and Shawn (Shia LaBeouf) on what should be one of the happiest days of their lives. In the scene, shot mostly in long takes, Martha is in labor, minutes away from giving birth to their daughter. With their midwife indisposed a replacement named Eva (Molly Parker), unfamiliar with their case, is sent in her place. By the end of the twenty five-minute pre-credit sequence tragedy has struck, and their lives are forever changed.
Director Kornél Mundruczó sets the bar very high in the opening moments of the film. It is riveting filmmaking, intimately showing Martha and Shawn’s anticipation, pain and anguish in real time. The bulk of the film deals with the aftermath as the couple are driven apart by grief and recrimination and it’s very strong, but cooler in tone than the opening.
It is interesting to note that “Piece of a Woman” was originally conceived as character sketches by Kata Wéber meant for the stage. You can feel the attention to detail that was lavished on each of the characters. They are richly drawn and carefully portrayed by the actors.
A trio of performances tell the story.
Kirby, best known as Princess Anne on “The Crown,” digs deep to create a portrait of a person devastated by the loss of her child; someone whose world stopped turning that day. As she looks for closure, there is an intensity that comes from her rage and sorrow manifesting themselves as heartbreak. It is layered, emotionally-draining, award worthy work.
LaBeouf plays Shawn as an attention hungry husband. A man trying to move on by forcing his attentions on Martha and when that doesn’t work, he looks elsewhere. LaBeouf is a bubbling cauldron of frustration, about to overflow.
As Martha’s mother, an imperious woman hell bent on assigning blame, Ellen Burstyn delivers a tour-de-force monologue about the way mothers raise their daughters that could be a short film all on its own.
“Pieces of a Woman” isn’t an easy watch. The performances are raw, real and uncomfortable that exhaust and exhilarate in equal measure.
Richard joins CP24 to have a look at the weekend’s new movies including the “Little Women,” the war epic “1917,” the courtroom drama “Just Mercy,” the animated spy flick “Spies in Disguise” and Adam Sandler’s surprising work in “Uncut Gems.”