Posts Tagged ‘Bob Balaban’

RICHARD’S WEEKEND MOVIE REVIEWS FROM CP24! FRIDAY MARCH 16, 2018.

Richard joins CP24 anchor Nathan Downer to have a look at the weekend’s new movies including “Isle of Dogs,” “Unsane” and “Flower.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!

 

CTVNEWS.CA: THE CROUSE REVIEW LOOKS AT “ISLE OF DOGS” & MORE!

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 Wes Anderson’s animated political allegory “Isle of Dog,” Claire Foy as a woman trapped in a mental facility in “Unsane” and “Flower,” starring Zoey Deutch.

Watch the whole thing HERE!

Metro In Focus: Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs a labour of love and patience.

By Richard Crouse – Metro In Focus

Imagine the painstaking process that goes into making stop-motion animated films like Isle of Dogs. Instead of using computer-generated imagery, animators meticulously manipulate little puppets a centimetre or two at a time, shoot a frame or two and repeat the process until the film is done. On average, working at a good clip, a stop-motion animator can complete one or two minutes of film per week.

According to whom you speak, the process is either a labour of love or pure torture.

“People think it’s monotonous and tedious, but I think stop motion creates a dream quality,” said legendary animator Ray Harryhausen. “I never found it tedious or monotonous.”

Others, like The Boxtrolls producer Travis Knight, say “It’s the worst way to make a movie. It makes no sense.”

However you feel about the method, the results are beautiful. At its best, stop motion has a timeless quality and otherworldly charm born from the old-fashioned process that brings it to the screen. It’s handmade with a level of craftsmanship and soul that not even the most skilled programmer working on an advanced computer can imitate.

“There’s a strange quality in stop-motion photography, like in King Kong,” says Harryhausen, “that adds to the fantasy. If you make things too real, sometimes you bring it down to the mundane. In Kong, you knew he wasn’t real, but he looked like a nightmare, you know? He acted real, and the dinosaurs looked real. But there was something about them that had a magic that you don’t quite get yet in CGI.”

Director Wes Anderson says Harryhausen’s work and the stop-motion animated holiday specials of Rankin/Bass Productions inspired Isle of Dogs.

“I really liked these TV Christmas specials in America,” he said. “I always liked the creatures in the Harryhausen-type films, but really these American Christmas specials were probably the thing that really made me want to do it.”

A film still from Isle of Dogs Behind the Scenes (in virtual reality) by Paul Raphael, Felix Lajeunesse and the Isle of Dogs Production Team.

Isle of Dogs, which became the first animated film to ever open the Berlin Film Festival in February, tells the story of the exile of the dogs of Megasaki City to a vast garbage dump, and a 12-year-old boy who sets off to find his lost pet.

The film’s handmade technique is already earning rave reviews. Slate said that Anderson’s stop-motion animations, including 2009’s Fantastic Mr. Fox, “are the warmest, the most emotionally accessible, the most real” of all of Anderson’s films.

That’s the magic of stop motion. From its earliest usage in 1897’s The Humpty Dumpty Circus, to the pioneering work of Harryhausen and Willis O’Brien, to the advanced visions of Aardman’s Wallace and Gromit movies, the exquisite Coraline from Henry Selick, and Czech filmmaker Jan Švankmajer, who mixes stop motion with live actors, all stop-motion films have one thing in common — a humanity that shines through the technology. It isn’t perfect, it’s primal.

Animation, as Pixar’s Brad Bird says, is about creating the illusion of life. Stop motion, with its reliance on the animator’s hands-on skills, presents an imperfect but organic image that can ignite imaginations.

Harryhausen told me it was the stop motion of the original 1933 King Kong that changed his life. “I saw it when I was 13,” he said, “and I haven’t been the same since.”

ISLE OF DOGS: 4 ½ STARS. “cinematic & inventive, it’s a fairy tale with a bite.”

Ever wondered what would happen if stop motion master Ray Harryhausen and Japanese auteur Akira Kurosawa went to see “Benji” and then decided to make a movie? With the release of “Isle of Dogs” Wes Anderson, director of live action wonders like “Rushmore” and “Moonrise Kingdom” and the stop motion hit “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” offers up an idea of what that might have been like.

Once again working in stop motion, Anderson creates a fictional world, the Japanese city of Megasaki, twenty years from now. An epidemic of dog flu prompts the fear mongering Mayor Kobayashi (Kunichi Nomura) to forewarn that snout fever is about to spread to humans and order all dogs deported to a toxic wasteland called Trash Island.

Dog-zero is Spots (voiced by Liev Schreiber), the beloved pet of the mayor’s orphaned ward 12-year-old Atari (Koyu Rankin). When he is deported the boy makes the dangerous journey across the river in a prop plane to look for his dog. With the help of newfound mongrel pals, including the good-natured Rex (Edward Norton), former baseball mascot Boss (Bill Murray), King (Bob Balaban), the gossipy Duke (Jeff Goldblum), Chief (Bryan Cranston) and Nutmeg (Scarlett Johansson), Atari takes on the corrupt government.

“Isle of Dogs” is a fairy tale with a bite. Anderson, one of the most distinctive directors working today (or any day for that matter), brings a child-like wonder and unfettered imagination to bring this boy-and-his-dog story to vivid life. Gorgeous, soulful stop motion animation and Anderson’s trademarked banter combined with a timely story of deportation and exile makes for an unforgettable film.

The usual complaints about Anderson’s work, that it’s too detailed, too eccentric, will be levelled at this movie but I’d argue it is his obsessiveness that brings the creative magic. Subplots and flashbacks take the viewer on a wild journey but Anderson’s attention to every element, visual and narrative, guarantees the rambunctious story never loses itself in its own elaborate style.

There jokes throughout—even the title is a playful take on “I love dogs”—but just as important are the messages of tolerance. You will not see another film like “Isle of Dogs” this year. So effortlessly cinematic and inventive, it’s best in show.

GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL: 4 ½ STARS. “like a nesting doll, a story within a story.”

grandbudapestOver the course of eight films Wes Anderson has developed a style that is absolutely singular. He spins worlds out of the smallest details with an idiosyncratic style that some call twee and overly theatrical, but whatever you call it, one thing is clear: No one makes movies like Wes Anderson.

In his latest project, “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” he has once again created a movie that future film scholars will coin terms like Wesesque or Andersonian to describe.

Told in flashback, the movie is like a nesting doll, a story within a story, with in a story. Beginning in present day Tom Wilkinson plays The Author, an older man reflecting on one of his greatest books, the story of M. Gustave H (Ralph Fiennes), the legendary concierge at the Grand Budapest

Cut to the late 1960s. The Grand Budapest is no longer so grand, the home to a handful of tenants left over from the place’s glory days. One visitor is the Author, now a young writer played by Jude Law. One day in the steam bath he meets the hotel’s enigmatic owner Mr. Moustafa (F. Murray Abraham). Moustafa agrees to tell the writer the story of the hotel and the legendary Gustave H over dinner.

Flashback to 1932, the heyday of the glamorous hotel. Gustave H rules the place with an iron hand when he isn’t sleeping with the older female guests. A flamboyant gigolo he has a special connection with Madame D (Tilda Swinton), an insecure but impossibly wealthy woman who has fallen for his unctuous charms.

When she is found dead at her home, Gustave H and his most trusted employee, Lobby Boy Zero Moustafa (Tony Revolori), visit to pay respects. At the reading of the will Gustave H is endowed with a priceless painting much to the displeasure of the deceased woman’s family. Angered, her son Dmitri (Adrien Brody) frames Gustave H for murder.

Amid a whirlwind of hired henchmen (Willem Dafoe), helpful concierges (Bill Murray and Bob Balaban), talented chocolatier (Saoirse Ronan), tattooed criminals (Harvey Keitel) and mounting war on the continent, Gustave H is captured and jailed. With the help of his trusted Lobby Boy, must escape and clear his name.

In keeping with Anderson’s style, the story of Gustave H and the hotel is rich with nuance and detail but never feels overwhelming or tiresome. It’s a wittily whimsical story that feels transported in from a bygone era. It’s funny and elegant, feeling like a throwback to the Ealing Comedies complete with social commentary, farce and laugh-out-loud situational comedy.

At its twee little heart is Ralph Fiennes in a strangely mannered performance that not only provides many of the film’s best moments—his Benny Hill style escape from the police is hysterical—but also it’s heart.

Like the movie itself, the performance is original, unexpected and oddly affecting.

With “The Grand Budapest Hotel” Wes Anderson has found a balance between his highly stylized artistic vision, story and heart.

Richard’s weekend movie reviews from CP24! Friday February 7, 2014.

Screen Shot 2014-02-07 at 4.34.14 PMRichard reviews “The Monuments Men,” “Thye Lego Movie” and the Oscar nominated “Dallas Buyer’s Club” with Rena Heer!

Watch the whole thing HERE!

RICHARD’S “CANADA AM” REVIEWS FOR Feb. 07, 2014 W/ Marci Ien.

Screen Shot 2014-02-07 at 4.13.31 PMCanada AM’s film critic Richard Crouse shares his reviews for ‘The Monument Men’ and ‘The Lego Movie.’

Watch the whole thing HERE!

George Clooney’s ensemble World War II flick nothing monumental.

clooney1By Richard Crouse and Mark Breslin – Reel Guys Metro Canada

Synopsis: Based on the book The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History by Robert M. Edsel, the movie stars George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin, Bob Balaban and Hugh Bonneville as a motley crew of art historians, engineers and museum directors recruited to locate and rescue priceless art works stolen by the Nazis. When two members of their team are killed they are no longer observers but active participants in the war.

• Richard: 2/5
• Mark: 3/5

Richard: Mark, this is a wartime comedy. Think Hogan’s Heroes by way of Leonardo Da Vinci and you’ll get the idea. It has some mild laughs — the biggest giggle, for Canadians anyway, comes from the Parisians who blame Matt Damon’s terrible French on having spent too much time in Montreal — but also a great deal of reverence for the art and the work of the real-life monuments men. But what might have been an edgy, exciting look at an under-reported slice of World War II history is reduced to an elegantly directed but somewhat dull film.

Mark: Richard, I was really looking forward to this movie. Three of my major obsessions are George Clooney, Nazis and art, although not necessarily in that order. But you’re right; the movie is kind of a snooze in parts. There are some great scenes, but they don’t quite add up. And at no time did I feel much of a sense of danger, probably because the war is ending and the Germans are already on the run. The great cast is mostly split up during the movie, so the expected camaraderie is absent. But there’s one great reason to see this movie, and that’s the prominent role of prickly nerd Bob Balaban.

RC: The cast is terrific. Balaban is a great actor, and an underused one, so it’s always cool to see him trotted out in anything, but for me Bill Murray shows, once again, in a brief scene in a shower (no spoilers here), how his understated style can move an audience. No problems with the acting, but co-writers Clooney and longtime collaborator Grant Heslov appear to have taken a dose of sentimentality pills before putting pen to paper. The earnest, reverential tone is reinforced by old school pacing that focuses on the character and art over action and a rousing soundtrack that sounds airlifted in from a classic wartime era movie.

MB: Bill Murray, as always, proves that less is indeed more. There’s a quasi-romance between Matt Damon and Cate Blanchett that seemed forced to me, not to mention she wears the ugliest pair of shoes in the history of cinema. But all through the movie there’s a moral dilemma that keeps being rammed down our throats. Is art valuable enough to risk human life for? The movie tells us over and over that it is, but to be honest, Richard, I’m not so sure. And if you’re not sure, the urgency falls apart.

RC: It seems like you noticed Blanchett’s shoes more than the art. Therein lies the movie’s central problem.

MB: Well, I’m more of a modernist anyway. When they tell the story of how the Germans burned the Klees, Braques, and Picassos I nearly wept. This isn’t a bad movie, Richard. I just hoped for a great one.

THE MONUMENTS MEN: 2 STARS. “elegantly directed but somewhat dull film.”

The+Monuments+Men+FilmI root for George Clooney. He has a lot going for him; he’s good looking, has a villa in Italy and is good friends with Sandra Bullock. That’s a lot for anyone, but that’s not why I root for him. I’m on his side because even though he’s a superstar he takes chances.

As an actor he put nipples on Batman, starred in a remake of an obscure Russian sci fi film, played a fox in a Wes Anderson movie and has played the lead in a movie about paranormal goats.

As a director he’s just as edgy. He’s stood behind the camera for a black and white look at Edward R. Murrow’s battle with Senator Joseph McCarthy, an old school football movie set in 1925 and an exposé of backroom politics.

He’s an a-lister who takes chances, and I applaud that which makes me sad to report I didn’t find as much to applaud in his most recent film as actor and director “The Monuments Men.”

Based on the book “The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History” by Robert M. Edsel, the movie stars Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin, Bob Balaban and Hugh Bonneville as a motley crew of art historians, engineers and museum directors recruited to locate and rescue priceless art works stolen by the Nazis. When two members of their team are killed they are no longer observers but active participants in the war.

Helping in the mission to return the plundered cultural artifacts is Rose Valland (Cate Blanchett), a French art historian and member of the French Resistance who not only aids the Allied art platoon but also tries to work her Parisian charms on Damon’s character.

“The Monuments Men” is a wartime comedy. Think “Hogan’s Heroes” by way of Leonardo Da Vinci and you’ll get the idea. It has some mild laughs (the biggest laugh, for Canadians anyway, comes from the Parisians who blame Matt Damon’s terrible French on having spent too much time in Montreal) but also a great deal of reverence for the art and the work of the real-life Monuments Men. ”People can come back but if you destroy their achievements, their history,” says George L. Stout (Clooney), “they can’t come back from that. That’s why Monuments Men was created.”

The reverential tone is reinforced by old school pacing that focuses on the character and art over action and a rousing soundtrack that sounds air-lifted in from a classic wartime era movie. The cast is uniformly fine and Bill Murray shows, once again in a brief scene in a shower (NO SPOILERS HERE), how his understated style can move an audience.

No problems there, but co-writers Clooney and longtime collaborator Grant Heslov appear to have taken a dose of sentimentality pills before putting pen to paper. What might have been an edgy, exciting look at an underreported slice of World War II history is reduced to an elegantly directed but somewhat dull film.

“The Monuments Men” is an earnestly told story but the lack of any real energy or surprises undermines its effectiveness.