I appear on “CTV News at 11:30” with anchor Andria Case to talk about the best movies and television to watch this weekend, including Hercule Poirot and “A Haunting in Venice,” the crime comedy “A Retirement Plan” and the political satire “El Conde.”
I sit in with NewsTalk 1010 host Jim Richards on the coast-to-coast-to-coast late night “NewsTalk Tonight” to play the game “Did Richard Crouse Like This?” This week we talk about Hercule Poirot and “A Haunting in Venice,” the crime comedy “A Retirement Plan” and the political satire “El Conde.”
Fast reviews for busy people! Watch as I review three movies in less time than it takes to shut the door! Have a look as I race against the clock to tell you about Hercule Poirot and “A Haunting in Venice,” the crime comedy “A Retirement Plan” and the political satire “El Conde.”
I joined CP24 to have a look at new movies coming to VOD, streaming services and theatres. Today we talk about Hercule Poirot and “A Haunting in Venice,” the crime comedy “A Retirement Plan” and the political satire “El Conde.”
I joined CP24 to have a look at new movies coming to VOD, streaming services and theatres. Today we talk about Hercule Poirot in “A Haunting in Venice,” the Nicolas Cage crime comedy “A Retirement Plan” and the return of the Apple TV+ series “The Morning Show.”
I sit in on the CFRA Ottawa morning show with host Bill Carroll to talk the new movies coming to theatres including the new adventure of Hercule Poirot and “A Haunting in Venice,” the crime comedy “A Retirement Plan” and the political satire “El Conde.”
After a short break caused by COVID, Kenneth Branagh’s handsome Agatha Christie adaptations, “Murder on the Orient Express,” “Death on the Nile” and now “A Haunting in Venice,” have become an annual tradition. Like fruit cake at Christmas, or those Halloween Molasses Kisses that stick to everything they come in contact with, the movies are a sweet treat, but are quickly forgotten.
Branagh returns as both director and elaborately mustachioed detective Hercule Poirot. When we first see the world’s best, and most famous sleuth, he is in self-exile in Venice, living alone with only his bodyguard (Riccardo Scamarcio) for company and as protection from the crime groupies that pester him when he leaves the house.
He is burned out, tired of staring into the abyss of the worst of human behavior. Instead, he passes his time ensconced on his rooftop patio, enjoying the sun and the best pastries Venice has to offer.
His idyll is interrupted when an old friend, possibly his only friend, Ariadne Oliver (Tina Fey) drops by. She is the author of a string of detective novels based on Poirot’s exploits, and has a case she thinks will lure him out of retirement.
She convinces him to attend a Halloween night seance at the allegedly haunted palazzo of Rowena Drake (Kelly Reilly), a mother grieving the tragic death of her daughter Alicia. The detective, a man of science, is skeptical, but agrees to attend, if only to expose the proceedings as fakery.
When people start dying, Poirot’s instincts kick in as he sorts through the red herrings, ghostly happenings and the backgrounds of each guest, including the pious housekeeper Olga Seminoff (Camille Cottin), the shell-shocked Dr. Leslie Ferrier (Jamie Dornan) and his precocious son Leopold (Jude Hill) and psychic medium Joyce Reynolds (Michelle Yeoh), to get to the bottom of the case. “There have been two impossible murders,” he says, “as if the living have been killed by the dead. No one shall leave this place until I know who did it.”
“A Haunting in Venice” is the most gothic of Branagh’s Christie adaptations. Tilted camera angles and extreme close-ups lend a claustrophobic, and welcome weird vibe to the murder mystery. Add to that some jump scares and hallucinogenic imagery, and you get the jitteriest of Branagh’s Christie films. The rest of it, from the stunt casting to the big reveal at the end, feel more familiar, like ghostly spectres left over from the other films.
Branagh directs and performs with vigor, but the mechanics of the investigation sap much of the film’s energy and tension. Despite good performances— Cottin and Yeoh are standouts—the talky nature of Poirot’s interrogations, even when broken up by slick editing and inventive photography, slow the movie’s pace to a crawl.
Worse, the cross examinations don’t reveal much in the way of usable clues for the audience. One of the treats of a murder mystery as a viewer is the opportunity to follow along, to arrive at a conclusion based on the information provided. “A Haunting in Venice” cobbles together a series of clues, obvious only to Poirot and screenwriter Michael Green. It feels like a cheat when the great detective reveals an arcane fact not even hinted at in the narrative.
“A Haunting in Venice” is a beautiful looking film, with exquisite, gothic production design and some fun performances, but as a thriller, it feels as lifeless as one of the movie’s murder victims.