Richard joins the NewsTalk 1010 afternoon show The Rush for Booze and Reviews! Today we talk about “Ambulance,” the video game flick “Sonic the Hedgehog 2” and Johnny Depp in “Minamata.” Then we take a sip of the Japanese favourite cocktail the Ginza Mary,.
Richard joins NewsTalk 1010 host David Cooper on the coast-to-coast-to-coast late night “Showgram” to play the game “Did Richard Crouse Like This?” This week we talk about the frenetic Beyhem (look it up) of “Ambulance,” the video game flick “Sonic the Hedgehog 2” and Johnny Depp in “Minamata.”
“Minamata” is a mix-and-match of a few different things. The story of celebrated “Life” photojournalist W. Eugene Smith as he documented the effects of toxic mercury poisoning in Japan is part, biopic and part exposé of corporate malfeasance with just a hint of “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” thrown in for color.
The story begins in 1971 in New York. Smith (Johnny Depp) is at the tail end of a legendary career. His reclusive and erratic behavior has eroded his relationship with “Life” editor Robert Hayes (Bill Nighy) and the years as a World War II photographer haunt his memory.
Aileen (Minami), a translator for Fuji film advertisement, suggests he go to Japan to witness and document the effects of mercury pollution in the city of Minamata. For a decade and a half, the locals have suffered a neurological disease caused by mercury poisoning, the result of toxic waste dumped into Minamata Bay by the Chisso chemical plant. Aileen wants the eyes of the world to focus on the problem.
The gruff Smith is initially reluctant, but his growing fondness for Aileen, an assignment from “Life” and his own sense of journalistic integrity change his mind. The resulting trip and story transforms both Smith and the perception of the situation in Minamata.
The long delayed “Minamata”—it premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival in February 2020—is an uneven film anchored by a rock-solid performance by Johnny Depp. He humanizes the curt Smith, milking out a redemption arc for the character as he atones for past transgressions by applying his craft to make the world a better place for the people of Minamata. His torment is made clear in a speech about the old belief that a photograph steals the soul of its subject. “What gets left out of the fine print,” he says, “is that it can also take a piece of the photographer’s soul.”
It is mature work, without a trace of Capt. Jack. A flash of Hunter S. Thompson peaks through in Smith’s abuse of methamphetamine, alcohol and general disregard for the niceties of being respectful to one’s editor, but overall, Depp digs deep and brings a rough-hewn mix of charm and compassion.
Depp shines in a movie that travels a well-worn path. Stories of activism vs. corporate malfeasance tend to follow a similar trajectory, and “Minamata” is no different. It hits familiar beats of corporate callousness but offers something new in the stunning recreations of Smith’s photos, specifically “Tomoko in her Bath,” the most famous picture from the portfolio.
“Minamata” takes liberties with historical timelines, but this isn’t a documentary, it is a dramatic recreation of Smith’s call to arms, and as such, delivers a compelling, if familiar, story.
Richard speaks to “CTV News at Six” anchor Andria Bain about television and movies to watch during the pandemic, including a show about collecting movie props, new movies on VOD–“Emma” and “Disappearance at Clifton Hill”–and why we’re going back and rewatching some old favourites.
Richard sits in on the CFRA Ottawa morning show with host Bill Carroll to talk the new movies coming to VOD and streaming services including Shia LeBeouf’s semi-autobiographical story “Honey Boy,” the eco-doc “Spaceship Earth,” the period dramedy “Emma,” the ripped-from-the-headlines “The Assistant,” the family drama “Ordinary Love,” the horror comedy “Extra ordinary,” the ugly divorce proceedings of “Hope Gap” and the neo-realist look at the gig economy “Sorry We Missed You.”
Like the offspring of Jane Austen’s original text and “Clueless,” the 1995 American coming-of-age teen comedy it inspired, the new version of “Emma,” now on VOD, is a period piece with a modern sensibility.
Anya Taylor-Joy is the title character, a young woman of high birth. As the opening credits say, she is “handsome, clever and rich and had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress or vex her.” She lives in a large manner house with servants and her father (Bill Nighy), a dour gent who constantly feels a draft. Next door is the wealthy and handsome George Knightley (Johnny Flynn), a landowner who is almost like a brother to Emma.
When she isn’t painting portraits of her friends Emma meddles in the life of her naïve protégé Harriet (Mia Goth). Harriet loves a local farmer, but Emma, hoping the young woman will marry up, pushes her toward the town vicar (Josh O’Connor). Romantic complications and status problems arise when the impossibly wealthy Frank Churchhill (Callum Turner), who catches Emma’s eye, and the poor but beautiful Jane Fairfax (Amber Anderson) return to town at the same time.
At the heart of every scene is Taylor-Joy. As Emma she is whip smart, arrogant, devious and charismatic even when she’s being unpleasant. Her journey toward self-awareness is an eventful one, speckled with manipulation, some kindness and casual cruelty. One of the film’s best scenes involves an offhand remark that deeply cuts a down-on-her-luck acquaintance (Miranda Hart). In this one scene Emma’s entire attitude toward class is laid bare. She can be cruel and unthinking because the subject of her insult is not of the same social strata. Taylor-Joy brings the mix of sophistication and brattiness necessary to understand why Emma is the way she is. She has lived a life with no fear of social reprisal but will not be able to move ahead until she learns about sensitivity. It’s in there, all Emma has to do is find it.
Every frame of “Emma” is sumptuous, like “Downton Abbey” on steroids, but this isn’t “Masterpiece Theatre.” It brims with life and mischievousness, becoming more alive as Emma inches toward adulthood.
Director Autumn de Wilde has assembled a top flight cast of character actors to decorate the already beautiful scenery. Nighy literally leaps into frame, delivering a deadpan performance tempered with some good physical humour. Hart is both annoying and vulnerable before her character’s circumstance takes a heartbreaking turn. The supporting cast isn’t always given much to do but each, particularly Goth as a young woman who wears her emotions on her sleeve, help us understand the mosaic of Emma’s life.
“Emma” is a tad too long as the mixed messages and missed connections build up, and the story’s inherent rom com format—there’s even a running to the airport, or in this case a carriage, scene—seems familiar, but retains the wit that has made the story a classic.
In climate change circles the term “hope gap” refers to people who worry about global warming but feel powerless to do anything about it. The new film “Hope Gap,” now on VOD, has nothing to do with the climate, but is all about change and a person who feels powerless to prevent it.
Bill Nighy and Annette Bening play mild-mannered Edward and firecracker Grace, a married couple of twenty-nine-years. Their cluttered home displays the earmarks of a life well-lived. Shelves overflow with books and knick knacks, photographs decorate the fridge. They have a seemingly comfortable relationship; they know how one another takes their tea and pad about the house working on their pet projects, his academic updating of Wikipedia history sites, her poetry projects.
When their son Jamie (Josh O’Connor) comes to their Sussex coast home to visit there is tension in the air. Grace, in an attempt to shock Edward out of what she thinks is his silent complacency, picks a brutal fight, overturning a table and slapping her husband in the face. “He should fight back,” she says to Jamie. “I want a reaction.”
The relative calm of the seaside home shattered, Edward announces that he has long felt inadequate in the marriage and that he’s leaving, immediately. Devastated, Grace wants to try and work things out as Edward begins his new life.
“Hope Gap” has moments of humour but make no mistake, this is downbeat story about two people who were living separate lives under one roof. The overall tone is one of melancholy but not melodramatic. Nighy and Bening give naturalistic performances, each feeling the pain of the other’s actions in a battle of wills. Bening is heartbroken, angry and yet hopeful for reconciliation. Nighy plays Edward like a wounded animal, skittish and afraid, a damaged man who has retreated from the relationship.
The beauty of the screenplay by Oscar-nominated writer-director William Nicholson, is that it doesn’t take sides. Complex characters are thrown into a complicated, almost unbearable situation with no real winners. It paints a vivid picture of Grace and Edward but doesn’t judge them.
“Hope Gap” is a portrait of middle-age angst. It may not make for a good date night movie but the nuance of the relationships on display is worth the price of admission.
A weekly feature from ctvnews.ca! The Crouse Review is a quick, hot take on the weekend’s biggest and most interesting movies! This week Richard looks at the kid’s action movie “My Spy,” the divorce drama “Hope Gap” and the political polarization of “The Hunt.”
Richard sits in on the CJAD Montreal morning show with host Andrew Carter to talk about the weekend’s biggest releases including “My Spy,” the odd couple flick for kids, the controversial “The Hunt,” the adult drama “Hope Gap” and the wild supernatural comedy “Extra Ordinary.”