Posts Tagged ‘Brendon Gleeson’


Screen Shot 2015-12-11 at 2.17.15 PMRichard’s “Canada AM” reviews for the new releases “In the Heart of the Sea” with Chris Hemsworth, Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara in “Carol,” Eddie Redmayne in “The Danish Girl” and “Youth” with Michael Caine!

Watch the whole thing HERE!


Screen Shot 2015-12-11 at 2.21.13 PMRichard’s “Canada AM” reviews for the new releases “In the Heart of the Sea” with Chris Hemsworth, Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara in “Carol” and Eddie Redmayne in “The Danish Girl.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!

Metro: Chris Hemsworth lost 33 pounds for In the Heart of the Sea

Screen Shot 2015-12-07 at 10.23.33 AMBy Richard Crouse – Metro In Focus

In the Heart of the Sea features less of Chris Hemsworth than we’ve seen on screen before. He’s in virtually every scene,  but for much of the film the usually bulked up Thor star is set adrift in a raft, starving and physically much less imposing than usual.

The movie is an old-fashioned whale of a tale. Literally.

Based on the true story said to have inspired Moby Dick, it’s about whalers battling not only repeated assaults from the one whale who fought back, but also malnourishment and dehydration.

At sea for three months in tiny whaleboats the men are pushed to the edge of sanity, taking drastic steps to survive.

To convincingly play a starving sailor Hemsworth trimmed 33 pounds off his already toned 6’2 3/4” frame.

“My crazy diet would make you pass out from exhaustion,” he said.  At certain points he was eating just 500 or 600 calories — that’s less than a combo lunch meal at most fast-food places — in the form of a boiled egg, two crackers and a celery stick a day.

Hemsworth and his underfed cast mates passed away the time with conversations “about our favourite foods and what we would eat when we finished the film.”

The actor says losing that amount of weight isn’t something he’d like to do again, but adds, “by those final sequences when we were supposed to be exhausted and emotional. We were feeling that way off screen too, so it helped.”

Dramatic weight loss isn’t new — actors have been yo-yo dieting for roles for years — but doctors say rapid body mass reduction can lead to malnutrition, maladies like gallstones and worse. In other words, as Christian Bale who dumped 60 pounds for his role in The Machinist says, “It ain’t great for your health.”

Still, actors take on dramatic diets to aid in their dramatic work. Anne Hathaway dropped 25 pounds by food deprivation and exercise to make Les Miserables while Matthew McConaughey survived eating only Diet Coke, egg whites and a piece of chicken a day to play AIDS patient Ron Woodroof in Dallas Buyers Club. According to The Playlist he stopped dieting when “people stopped asking if he was all right and started suggesting he seek help.”

Just as common are actors who gain weight. Russell Crowe gained 63 pounds to play a CIA bigwig in Body of Lies, George Clooney gained 35 pounds for Syriana and Renee Zellweger gained 30 pounds for Bridget Jones’s Diary, lost it, only to regain it for the sequel.

Jared Leto who lost 40 pounds to play Rayon in Dallas Buyer’s Club, gained 67 pounds for the film Chapter 27 by drinking melted pints of chocolate Haagen Dazs ice cream mixed with olive oil and soy sauce “to get me bloated even more.”

Why do actors alter their bodies? Some call it dedication  while cynics suggest it’s an easy Oscar. Physical transformations (plus acting talent) brought Robert DeNiro, Charlize Theron and McConaughey to the winner’s circle.

But some actors have sworn off manipulating their weight. Jim Carrey turned down a role in the Three Stooges biopic that would have required him to gain 40 to 50 pounds and Tom Hanks blames gaining and losing weight for roles with him developing Type 2 diabetes.

“I’ve talked to a number of actors who have gained weight for roles and — just out of the sheer physical toll on one’s knees and shoulders — no-one wants to do it again,” he told the BBC.

IN THE HEART OF THE SEA: 3 STARS. “respects the power of the sea.”

Screen Shot 2015-12-07 at 10.24.34 AM“In the Heart of the Sea” stars the man who plays Thor, another guy who was Batman villain Scarecrow and ‘Mad-Eye’ Moody from the “Harry Potter” series but it’s not aimed at the comic book crowd. Based on a the best-selling Nathaniel Philbrick novel of the same name, it’s a retelling of the true events that inspired one of the literature’s greatest novels, Moby Dick.

The story begins with Herman Melville (Ben Whishaw) offering inn owner Thomas Nickerson (Brendan Gleeson) three months room and board for one night of conversation about a terrible whaling disaster. As a young man Nickerson’s first seafaring job saw him sail out of Nantucket aboard the Essex. Crewed by Captain George Pollard, Jr. (Benjamin Walker), first officer Owen Chase (Chris Hemsworth) and second officer Matthew Joy (Cillian Murphy), their mission is to reach the Pacific Ocean and harvest 2000 barrels of whale oil.

Their journey leads them to 1000 leagues along the equator, a place where, they are warned, “wales go to hide from men.” There are whales aplenty, but soon the tables are turned and the hunters become the hunted as a “demon whale, 100 feet long, white as alabaster,” attacks the Essex, destroying the ship leaving the crew a drift in small whaleboats.

The ship gone, the remaining crew attempt to sail to South America battling not only repeated assaults from the whale, but also starvation and dehydration. At sea for three months the men were pushed to the edge of sanity as they took drastic steps to survive.

“In the Heart of the Sea” feels like an old-fashioned whale-of-a-tale. Big strapping men battle nature, drip testosterone, reinvent sushi (I guess you’ll eat almost anything when you’re adrift) and drink grog. The only thing missing is Errol Flynn.

Director Ron Howard does a good job of respecting the power of the sea, effectively showcasing the brutal payback from Mother Nature when the Essex sail too close to a storm. It’s too bad then, later, when the whale is using the Essex as a ping-pong ball, the movie isn’t nearly as intense or exciting. By that point it’s a horror movie with the whale as Freddie Kruger and the crew as scared-but-determined teens trying to stay alive. The whale is menacing due to its size but it’s barely a character, more a malevolent force but Jason Voorhees had more personality than this leviathan.

At the same time it’s hard to view the sailors as victims when they have been spearing the whales and scooping oil from inside the beast’s heads. So it feels like a lose, lose situation where you don’t care much about the creature or the sailors.

“In the Heart of the Sea” is a handsomely mounted film, just not an exciting one.


Screen Shot 2015-10-30 at 11.24.05 AMRichard’s alter ego Zomald Trump reviews the teenage Halloween freak-out “Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse,” and some more adult fare in the ghostly form of “Our Brand is Crisis,” “Truth” and “Suffragette.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!

SUFFRAGETTE: 2 STARS. “well-intentioned retelling of an important and timely story.”

Screen Shot 2015-10-29 at 8.29.06 AM

There’s a noise I hear in my head when I’m watching dryly-presented historical dramas. It’s a faint scratching sound that always reminds me of sitting in Mr. Parkers history class, listing to him write thousands of words on the chalkboard before saying, “Copy this into your scribblers and read chapter 3 by tomorrow.” I was reminded of the sound during a recent screening of the new Carey Mulligan film “Suffragette.”

Set in 1912 London, the movie stars Mulligan as Maud Watts, a young wife, mother and laundry worker. It’s a tough life for the twenty-eight year old, who has worked at the laundry since she was a little girl. Long hours leave little time for her family, husband Sonny (Ben Whishaw) and son George (Adam Michael Dodd), but they are a loving trio, at least until she meets Violet Miller (Anne-Marie Duff), a disciple of Emmeline Pankhurst (Meryl Streep), Britain’s leading suffragette.

In 1912 women were considered to not “have the temperament or the balance of mind” to take part in the political affairs. Following years of peaceful protest for equal rights the suffragettes begin a campaign of civil disobedience.

“You want to respect the law?” says Violet Miller. “Then make the law respectable!”

Maud becomes involved with the cause, helping Edith Ellyn (Helena Bonham Carter) blow up a Member of Parliament’s house and winding up in jail. Prison time was a badge of honour for the suffragettes, but Sonny wants nothing to do with it and soon Maud is separated from her family. With no legal recourse to get custody of her son she throws herself into the movement, fighting to get the vote and rights for women.

For a movie about rebellion “Suffragette” contains very little rebellious spirit. It’s a straightforward retelling of the story, a piece of history right out of Mr. Parker’s class. The only thing missing is the sound of Mr. Parker writing it out on the chalkboard.

It is a well-intentioned retelling of an important and still timely story but director Sarah Gavron leans too heavily on the kitchen sink drama—and a dull visual palette of beiges and reddish browns—for the broader story of the fight for women’s rights to have the impact it deserves.

“It’s deeds not words that will get us the vote,” and Gavron shows us the deeds—including the infamous mailbox bombings and a truly hard to watch prison force-feeding—but by the time the end credits roll there are story threads dangling all over the place and while we’re left impressed by the performances, the story telling itself is less impressive.