Richard speaks to “CTV News at Six” anchor Andria Case about the best movies and television to watch this weekend including the poignant coming-of-age drama “Belfast,” the Dwayne Johnson, Ryan Reynolds and Gal Gadot action comedy “Red Notice” and the vicious Hollywood satire “The Beta Test.”
Richard joins CP24 to have a look at new movies coming to VOD, streaming services and theatres including director Kenneth Branagh’s poignant coming-of-age drama “Belfast,” the Dwayne Johnson, Ryan Reynolds and Gal Gadot action comedy “Red Notice, the searing Hollywood satire “The Beta Test” and the literary adaptation “Passing” starring Tessa Thompson and Ruth Negga.
Richard joins guest host Jim Richards and Jay Michaels of the NewsTalk 1010 afternoon show The Rush for Booze and Reviews! Today he talks about the origins of the Irish Coffee, the Kenneth Branagh coming-of-age film “Belfast” and the action comedy “Red Notice” on Netflix!
Richard joins CTV NewsChannel and anchor Merella Fernandez to have a look at new movies coming to VOD, streaming services and theatres including director Kenneth Branagh’s poignant coming-of-age drama “Belfast,” the Dwayne Johnson, Ryan Reynolds and Gal Gadot action comedy “Red Notice” and the literary adaptation “Passing” starring Tessa Thompson and Ruth Negga.
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 Kenneth Branagh’s poignant coming-of-age drama “Belfast,” the Dwayne Johnson, Ryan Reynolds and Gal Gadot action comedy “Red Notice,” the literary adaptation “Passing” starring Tessa Thompson and Ruth Negga and the Hollywood satire “The Beta Test.”
Richard joins NewsTalk 1010 guest host David Cooper 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 Kenneth Branagh’s poignant coming-of-age drama “Belfast,” the Dwayne Johnson, Ryan Reynolds and Gal Gadot action comedy “Red Notice” and the literary adaptation “Passing” starring Tessa Thompson and Ruth Negga.
“Belfast,” Kenneth Branagh’s look back at his early life in Ireland, now playing in theatres, is a story very much of its time, but it resonates with contemporary themes.
The movie opens with tourist bureau beauty shots of modern Belfast before jumping back in time to the film’s black-and-white vision of the city in 1969. The Troubles have come to 9-year-old boy Buddy’s (Jude Hill) street. There’s the Unionists, the Ulster Protestants, who want Northern Ireland to remain within the United Kingdom. They are in in violent dispute with Irish nationalists, mostly Irish Catholics, who want Northern Ireland to exit the United Kingdom to join a united Ireland. Buddy is inquisitive but he doesn’t understand what’s going on when an explosion sets his neighborhood, a mix of Catholic and Protestant households, on edge. He’s too busy being smitten with Catherine (Olive Tennant), the pretty girl who sits in front of him at school.
Buddy’s father (Jamie Dornan), a construction worker whose job takes him to England for weeks at a time, is very much aware of the situation. Local hardmen advise him to join the Unionist cause… or else.
For the rest of the tightly-knit family, Ma (Caitriona Balfe), older brother Will (Lewis McAskie) and grandparents (Ciarán Hinds and Judi Dench), life goes on, but the city’s increasing violence forces them to make a choice; Will they stay in the only home they’ve ever known, or relocate to safety in a strange city?
Seen through Buddy’s eyes, “Belfast” tackles big subjects like religious intolerance, senseless neighbor against neighbor violence and ethno-nationalism, but focusses on the effect of those elements, not the elements themselves. That perspective allows Branagh to set the scene with the dramatic opening, a series of period television news broadcasts and the concerned looks on the faces of the adults. But set against a time of upheaval, this is a family drama, but not a political one.
Branagh calls “Belfast” his most personal film, and it feels like it. Every frame radiates with the warmth of the connection Buddy shares with his family, and his family’s relationship to their home and country. Hill’s coming-of-age performance is the anchor that keeps the movie from drifting off course. His joy and infectious laugh when his grandfather cracks a joke is delightful, and you can really see the gears turning as he struggles to figure out why his once peaceful neighborhood isn’t the Eden it once was.
The performances are uniformly interesting, but Balfe, as Ma, shines as a steely, protective presence.
Hinds and Dench, as Buddy’s grandparents, are frisky, lovable and bring an intimacy to their portrayals of people who have been married forever, that is the very definition of heartfelt.
“Belfast” is a lovely, earnest movie that paints a vivid picture of a time, a place and, most importantly, its people. The scenes of Buddy and family at the movies, or crowded around the television also reenforce something many of us have realized during the pandemic, and that is the importance of art—in this case, the movies and television—as an escape from the stark realities of the world.
As day seven of TIFF finishes the Reel Guys talk Oscars and music.
Richard: Mark, I learned my lesson about asking actors if they think they’ll get nominated for Oscars a long time ago. They all think they will, but none will admit it on the record. It’s a waste of a question, so I didn’t ask Eddie Redmayne if he thinks he’ll get nominated for his performance as Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything, but I have to tell you, I think he’s a lock for a Best Actor nod. He takes control of the movie from the first frames and doesn’t let go, even in the latter half when he has no voice and speaks through a computer.
Mark: Not to be a cynic, but playing a character with a disability helps. Playing a famous character with a disability REALLY helps. But I’ve seen some other Oscar-worthy performances at the festival. Steve Carell as the unhinged Dupont heir in Foxcatcher for one. When comedians turn serious they can be devastating, if you remember Jackie Gleason in The Hustler. Carell puts on a weird nose for the role and turns in a role of repressed genius.
RC: Carell isn’t the only the only person who transforms himself in Foxcatcher. Jutting out his jaw changes Channing Tatum from movie star handsome to thick-necked gym rat. It’s a remarkable transformation and shows Tatum’s range. He may be best known as the stripper in Magic Mike, but like Johnny Depp and Brad Pitt before him, he’s working past his good looks to become a serious actor. Who else do you think might get Oscar attention form this year’s festival?
MB: Kevin Costner may get a nod for his sad, angry alcoholic lawyer in Black and White, and Robert Duvall for his sad, angry alcoholic judge in The Judge. Notice a pattern here? The real question is which Brian Wilson in Love and Mercy will prevail at Oscar time. John Cusack is wonderful as the older version, but I think Paul Dano will get the nomination for playing the younger Brian, if only for the more interesting haircut.
RC: Ha! If it’s musical movies with Oscar potential you want, TIFF has one that I’ll bang the drum for. Whiplash is part musical—the big band jazz numbers are exhilarating—and part psychological study of the tense dynamics between mentor and protégée in the pursuit of excellence. The pair is a match made in hell. Teacher Fletcher, played by J.K. Simmons is a vain, driven man given to throwing chairs at his students if they dare hit a wring note. He’s an exacting hardliner who teaches by humiliation and fear. This movie doesn’t miss a beat.
MB: The Last Five Years probably has no Oscar potential, but it doesn’t mean it isn’t a wonderful movie. Based on the off-Broadway musical, it has only two characters belting their hearts out about their relationship. The twist is, the girl’s story moves backward and the boy’s story moves forward. Jeremy Jordan is very good but Anna Kendrick is just great. But the real stars here are Richard LaGravanese’s direction and the songs by Jason Robert Brown. “Hey Shiksa Goddess” is sure to become a classic or something.
Metro’s Reel Guys columnists Richard Crouse and Mark Breslin take a look at this year’s crop of potential crowd pleasers at the festival.
Richard: Mark, every year I look forward to covering the festival with a mix of dread and anticipation. The dread part comes from knowing how I’m going to feel once the 10 days of 18-hour shifts is finally over. The drooling anticipation part comes along with the slate of films TIFF offers up. This year the new David Cronenberg film is top of my list. In Maps to the Stars, he showcases the stupid, venal and stratospherically self-involved behaviour that goes on behind the scenes in Beverly Hills’ gated communities. The idea of debuting a jaundiced look at Hollywood at the biggest film festival in North America appeals to my rebellious side.
Mark: Can’t wait, Richard, for this or any other Cronenberg! I’m also a big fan of Jason Reitman, who consistently delivers movies that plumb the abyss of the zeitgeist. His latest, Men, Women, and Children, should be no exception. Based on one of my favourite novels by Chad Kultgen, it’s a look at how the Internet is warping families, twisting our sexuality and mediating our desires. Oh, and it’s a comedy.
RC: Mark, the sci-fi musical genre has been sadly overlooked at TIFF in past years. That changes with Bang Bang Baby, starring Jane Levy as a 1960s teenager whose dreams of rock ’n’ roll stardom are dashed when a chemical leak in her town causes mass mutations and “threatens to turn her dream into a nightmare.” Then there’s The Editor, a giallo-comedy tribute to the films of Mario Bava and Dario Argento about a one-handed film editor who becomes the prime suspect in a brutal series of murders.
MB: Sounds great, Richard! I’ll stand in line to see the new Denys Arcand film, An Eye For Beauty. Here’s a director not afraid to take a satirical look at our modern mores, but he’s never tackled a love story before. Some of it takes place in Toronto, so I’m expecting a sly gimlet-eyed view from this great Québécois director.
RC: Speaking of great Québécois directors, Jean-Marc Vallée, the Canadian Oscar nominee for Dallas Buyers Club, returns to TIFF with Wild, starring Reese Witherspoon in the story of a woman who finds an escape from her self-destructive ways on a 1,100-mile solo hike along the Pacific Crest Trail. I’m also psyched about Haemoo. With a script by Snowpiercer penner Bong Joon-ho, this movie about a fishing crew smuggling illegal immigrants from China to Korea promises wild action and unexpected thrills.
MB: Richard, do you realize all our picks inadvertently turned out to be Canadian directors? I’m looking forward to Black and White by Mike Binder. It promises to be a heartfelt drama about an interracial family with issues. Binder is from Detroit but went to summer camp in Muskoka, so he qualifies as an honorary Canuck.