Richard sits in on the CFRA Ottawa morning show with host Bill Carroll to talk the new movies coming to theatres including the wild “Birds of Prey,” the #MeToo drama “The Assistant” and the giddily gory “Come to Daddy.”
Richard sits in on the CTV NewsChannel to have a look at the weekend’s big releases including the boundary pushing “Birds of Prey,” the #MeToo drama “The Assistant” and the giddily gory “Come to Daddy.”
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 emancipation of Harley Quinn in “Birds of Prey,” the timely messages of “The Assistant” and the father complex(ities) of “Come to Daddy.”
As “Joker” sweeps through Awards Season, scooping up a motherlode of Best Actor gold for Joaquin Phoenix, along comes the standalone story of the Clown Prince of Crime’s former female sidekick. “Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)” sees Margot Robbie revisit her unpredictable “Suicide Squad” character in an R-rated film that is part action, part comedy and all attitude. More in tune with the antics of “Deadpool” than the serious tone of “Joker,” “Birds of Prey” is a fourth-wall-breaking story that doesn’t feel like other superhero movies.
Picking up after the events of “Suicide Squad,” Gotham City has become a cesspool of crime. Batman has flown the coop leaving the city unprotected from the likes of crime lord Black Mask (Ewan McGregor). The baseball wielding Quinn has rid herself of her former “partner in madness,” the Joker—” I am so over clowns!” she says—and now travels with a new squad of vigilantes. “As it turns out, I wasn’t the only dame in Gotham looking for emancipation,” she says. Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell), Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and Renee Montoya (Rosie Perez) come together to help Harley protect Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco), a young pickpocket who had the bad luck of coming into possession of a diamond ebcoded with a valuable secret, a secret Black Mask desperately wants. “I’m back on my feet,” Harley says, “ready to embrace the fierce goddess within.”
“Birds of Prey” is a story of survivors, of feminism, of tough women out on the town and it is the most fun DC has offered up at the movies. The stripped-down story sheds “Suicide Squad’s” nihilistic nonsense in favor of empowerment and general kick assery.
It gets off to a slow start, establishing the characters and situation, but erupts in the last third with bombastic action choreographed by director Cathy Yan and “John Wick” fight maestro Chad Stahelski. Forget the CGI finales of the Marvel Universe, this is blood-soaked up-close-and-personal stunt action with a wicked sense of humour.
Robbie has a gleeful, cheeky commitment to the character that sets the tone for the movie’s 80s new wave kaleidoscopic aesthetic. With a habit of settling disputes with a baseball bat to the groin she isn’t a role model but is unpredictable, scrappy fun to watch on screen. Ditto McGregor who actually seems to be having fun wearing Black Mask’s hyped-up wardrobe after a series of movies that have left his charisma relegated to the backroom.
“Birds of Prey” is loads of fun but manages to weave some serious ideas about not needing men to survive into the chaos. Most of all, though, it feels like a welcome antidote to the monotony of so many comic book inspired films.
Richard sits in on the CJAD Montreal morning show with host Andrew Carter to talk the new movies coming to theatres including the wacky and wild “Birds of Prey” and the timely #MeToo drama “The Assistant.”
Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Lois Lee to have a look at the weekend’s big releases including the supercalifragilisticexpialidocious-ness of “Mary Poppins Returns,” the Transformers prequel “Bumblebee,” the underwater adventures of “Aquaman” and Natalie Portman as a pop star in “Vox Lux.”
The “Transformers” franchise revs up the engine for the sixth time in eleven years with a movie that feels fresh out of the body shop. Pimping the Ride this time out is director Travis Knight, founder of LAIKA studios and director of the wonderful animated fantasy “Kubo and the Two Strings.” Knight puts his own stamp on it, doing away with most of former franchise mastermind Michael Bay’s bombast in favour of a more humanistic approach.
That’s right, “Bumblebee” is a special effects driven story starring a talking robot car that emphasizes the story’s less mechanical aspects.
The action begins with a battle on Cybertron between the Autobots—the rebellious bots—and the evil Decepticons. To save themselves the Autobots, including scout B-127 (Dylan O’Brien), make a run for it, scattering across the galaxy. “We will fight on,” declares Optimus Prime (voice of Peter Cullen), “but we must find safety first.”
B-127 lands on earth, only to be found by a Decepticon operative who disables his vocal processors and damages his memory chip. Beat-up and alone, the robot car hides in open sight at a junkyard as a yellow 1967 Volkswagen Beetle. He’s destined for the car crusher until teenager Charlie Watson (Steinfeld) rescues him from rusting away in her uncle’s junkyard, nicknames him Bumblebee and applies some tender loving care to his dented metal and dusty interior. Charlie and her late father were car nuts who spent their time together refurbishing an old Camaro. Since his sudden death she has worn the sadness of her father’s passing like a shroud.
When she switches on the car for the first time she inadvertently sends a signal to the Decepticons setting into motion an invasion of earth. Enter the military who initially co-operate with the Decepticons, hoping to garner some space age technology tips from the alien beings. “He’s a machine,” snarls Agent Burns (John Cena). “He’s more human than you’ll ever be,” replies Charlie.
I wouldn’t call “Bumblebee” restrained by any stretch but it feels positively Bergmen-esque compared to Michael Bay’s five loud ‘n proud instalments. Bay’s “Transformers” left viewers with scorched eyes and ringing ears. “Bumblebee” does have giant action scenes but it doesn’t forget to spend time with Charlie and her family, mom (Pamela Adlon), bratty brother Otis (Jason Drucker), stepfather Roy (Lenny Jacobson) and neighbour Memo (Jorge Lendborg Jr.). The main relationship, however, is between Charlie and a big chunk of metal.
That relationship is the film’s beating heart. “Bumblebee” is not just a tale of good vs. evil; it’s a story of how friendship can mend a broken heart. Set in 1987, this is a throwback to 80s movies like “ET” that paired kids with fantastical creatures with heart warming results. Knight pulls it off, creating a believable relationship between the two. Bumblebee’s eyes—or at least in the blue bulbs that substitute for his eyes—radiate wonder and tenderness. That’s quite a trick to pull off in an action movie.
“Bumblebee” is a welcome change of pace for the “Transformers” series. Knight brings tenderness, humour—“They literally call themselves Decepticons,” says Agent Burns. “How is that NOT a red flag?”—and action that owes more to the style of the 80s era “Transformers” cartoons and Amblin films than Bay’s bombast.
Richard and CP24 anchor Jamie Gutfreund have a look at the weekend’s new movies, “The Lost City of Z,” starring Charlie Hunnam as an obsessed Amazonian explorer, the unforgivable “Unforgettable,” the wild and wooly “Free Fire” and the rom mon “Colossal” starring Anne Hathaway as a woman whose drunken stumbling has far reaching effects.
Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Marcia MacMillan to have a look at the big weekend movies, “The Lost City of Z,” starring Charlie Hunnam as an obsessed Amazonian explorer, the unforgivable “Unforgettable,” the wild and wooly “Free Fire” and the rom mon “Colossal” starring Anne Hathaway as a woman whose drunken stumbling has far reaching effects.