Richard joins CP24 anchor Nathan Downer to have a look at the weekend’s new movies including the speculative “Clara,” the dark comedy “Dead in a Week” and the delightful “Nothing Like Dame” starring Dame Eileen Atkins, Dame Judi Dench, Dame Joan Plowright and Dame Maggie Smith.
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 the metaphysical drama “Clara,” the dark comedy “Dead in a Week” and the delightful “Nothing like a Dame” featuring Dame Eileen Atkins, Dame Judi Dench, Dame Joan Plowright and Dame Maggie Smith.
“Congratulations! You just signed your own death warrant. If you’re not dead within a week you get your money back.” So begins the business deal between unpublished writer William Morrison (Aneurin Barnard) and Leslie O’Neill (Tom Wilkinson), the man he has just hired to kill him. “You seem like a decent man. I’m very happy to kill you.” That exchange sets the tone for what is to come in this dark comedy from writer-director Tom Edmunds.
The story of the benevolent hitman who only kills those who want to die is quite simple but there’s a twist. We learn more about the characters.
Leslie is an aging contract killer afraid he’ll be terminated from by the British Guild of Assassins if he doesn’t keep his quota up.
William is obsessed by death and plagued by questions—What’s the point? Why am I here? What am I contributing?—but starts to see some light at the end of the tunnel when he meets Ellie (Freya Mavor), a book editor with an interest in his book.
Will William go through with the planned assassination or will he try and get out of the ironclad contract?
“Dead in a Week” has a low-key but pitch black tone. The farcical, occasionally over-the-top treatment Edmunds applies to death and dying is tempered somewhat by Wilkinson’s performance as the genial but deadly Leslie. Ultimately the movie isn’t about the suicidal writer but the broader story of a man forced into retirement before he wants to go. “Retirement,” he moans. “It’s the start of the end of our lives.” He’s the most compelling character and as the movie finds itself drawn to cliché it is Wilkinson that keeps us interested.
Like Wrigley’s “Double your pleasure! Double your fun!” gum, this weekend’s movie Legend is two Tom Hardys in one. He plays the dual roles of Britain’s most notorious gangsters, Ronnie and Reginald Kray, identical twins and violent thugs who ruled London’s underworld during the 1950s and 1960s.
Previously real-life siblings Martin and Gary Kemp of ’80s new wave band Spandau Ballet impersonated the brothers in the 1990 film The Krays, but these days special effects allow Hardy to play both brothers. “The movie’s a testament to the Krays’ ability to get away with everything, for a while, anyway,” wrote Ty Burr in the Boston Globe. “But it’s better evidence of Tom Hardy’s ability to do just about anything.”
Already this year we’ve seen the talented actor in the Mad Max reboot Fury Road, the musical London Road and the crime thriller Child 44. Soon he’ll play opposite Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant and is currently shooting Taboo, a new BBC mini series scheduled to air next year.
He’s also made waves as The Dark Knight Rises’ brooding hulk Bane and dream-dancer Eames in the megahit Inception.
In between these box office busters he’s appeared in smaller, edgier films that deserve a look. Here are some of the other films that have helped Tom Hardy become legend.
Lawless takes place during Prohibition. The bootlegging business is booming, run by hillbillies who’ll sell to anyone with a buck and a thirst. The most notorious are the Bondurant family; headed by Forrest (Hardy) who engages in a knock down, drag out moonshine war with a corrupt lawman played by Guy Pearce. Hardy leads the cast as a soft-spoken thug with a brainy bent. “It’s not the violence that sets men apart,” he says, “it is the distance he is prepared to go.”
When he isn’t waxing philosophical he’s busy earning most of the film’s few laughs. It’s a natural, unaffected performance that really shows what he can do without a mask strapped to his face.
In these days of maximalist moviemaking Locke goes the opposite way, trimming the movie down to one claustrophobic setting and a single on-screen actor. Locke is the first movie in recent memory that would probably work as well as a radio drama as it does a film. Hardy is Ivan Locke, a straight arrow construction foreman determined to be at the birth of his child. In his car, he’s battling traffic for the hour-and-a-half drive to London and the mother-to-be’s hospital. Trouble is, the child is the result of a lonely one-night stand and he’s a married man.
The entire film takes place in the front seat of Locke’s car, in real time, as he drives the M1. We see through the windshield, into the backseat and the display screen of car phone and GPS. Most of all we see Hardy’s face, which, even though obscured by a beard, still allows his charisma to ooze through. His face is the engine of the film, his talent the driver.
In the Drop, Hardy he plays Bob Saginowski, a mild mannered bartender at a Brooklyn neighbourhood pub owned by the Chechnyan mafia. Like many of the borough’s bars, Marv’s is sometimes used as a “drop,” a place where gangsters secretly hide money until it is collected by their crime bosses.
As Bob, Hardy is a cypher; kind to dogs, shy and lovesick, he is an average neighbourhood guy. Except in this neighbourhood average guys have pasts, and Hardy does a nice job of playing a man who is trying to move on while the past tries to stop him in his tracks.
In “Legend,” a new true crime drama about Britain’s most notorious gangsters, Tom Hardy plays the dual roles of Ronnie and Reginald Kray. Identical twins, the violent thugs ruled London’s underworld during the 1950s and 1960s and became celebrities of a sort, even being photographed by David Bailey and featured on television. Question is, will Hardy’s mirror imaging of the guys be like Wrigley’s “Double your pleasure! Double your fun!” gum or too much of a good thing?
“Legend” begins with voiceover from Reggie’s wife Frances Shea (Emily Browning). “London in the 1960s,” she says. “Everyone has a story about the Krays. Walk into any pub and everyone had a lie about them.” The film strings those romanticizes those stories in a genre-friendly tale of two men on the rise through London’s underworld.
Reggie is a slickster, a thug with a soft spot for Frances and the prestige of owning nightclubs. Ron is unpredictable, a psychopath prone to beating people with a hammer. The brothers are a unit, but two very different cogs of the same wheel. Reggie is straight, Ron is gay, openly so, which in London’s 1960s underworld was an enlightened stance. Reggie tried to work within the system; Ron tried to dismantle it. The thing that bound them was blood, theirs and that of their victims. “My loyalty to my brother is how I measure myself,” says Reggie.
Told from Frances’s point of view, the movie paints a vivid picture of her relationship with Reggie—he sweet talks her with, “The center of the earth can be anywhere you’d like… even the east end of London.”—and Swingin’ London with nightclubs and violent scenes that play like Scorsese with an English accent. On the personal side of the story the downside to being married to a gangster with a blood-is-thicker-than-water connection to his volatile brother quickly becomes apparent and brings the story to a film noir conclusion.
Written and directed by “LA Confidential” and “Mystic River” screenwriter Brian Helgeland “Legend” is a companion piece to the 1990 biopic “The Krays,” which starred actual twins, Spandau Ballet’s Martin and Gary Kemp as Reggie and Ron. The new film is less gritty—there is nothing that comes close to the brutal horror of Gary Kemp using a sword to give a stranger a gruesome “permanent smile”—choosing instead to play up the glamour of the period and the legend of London’s gangland.
It’s a less sensational portrait of the brothers but just as gimmicky in its own way. Special effects allow Hardy to play both brothers and while his performances are frequently impressive, it often feels like a trick to distract from an underwritten story. He effortlessly nails Reggie’s toxic mix of charm and brutality but as Ron seems to be trying too hard. Pulling faces that wouldn’t be out of place in “Reefer Madness,” Hardy strains to perform through facial prosthetics, occasionally to unintended comic effect.
“Legend” is aptly titled. More Kray Bros lore than nuance, it provides a glossy but glossed over look at the violent men behind the bespoke suits.
In the first “Thor” movie Marvel superhero (Chris Hemsworth) and his magical hammer fell in love with Natalie Portman, argued with his father Odin, the one-eyed King of Asgard (Anthony Hopkins) and saved Earth from the super chill Frost Giants.
This time around he’s still in love with Portman (who plays astrophysicist Jane Foster) and fighting with pops but now he must not only save Earth but all Nine Realms from an ancient enemy.
Led by Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) these evil Dark Elves have a bone to pick with Odin. Thousands of years ago Odin’s father banished the Elves and seized their secret weapon, the Aether, a deadly WMD with the power to destroy the universe. Unable to extinguish the Aether the folks of Asgard bury it in a secret location “between the realms.”
Eons later Thor’s girlfriend Foster discovers the Aether in an abandoned warehouse in London, attracting the attention of the vengeful Malekith and his army of angry Elves.
You know what comes next. Hammer time! Thor makes a deal with his untrustworthy (but undeniably compelling) brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and hatches an elaborate plan to save Jane, defeat the Dark Elves and save the universe from the Aether.
“Thor: the Dark World” is a much better movie than 2011’s “Thor.” The love story that bogged down the middle of the first movie is replaced with more double crosses, vengeance and daddy issues into its two hours than any three Norse myths.
There’s a lot going on, but “Game of Thrones” director Alan Taylor nimbly juggles the mythology and the action, peppering the movie with amusing cameos from Stan Lee and a certain other superhero and some light comedy.
It feels slightly generic, as though bits and pieces were cribbed from the Superhero Blockbuster Playbook, but redeems itself in the inevitable showdown between Thor and Malekith. It’s wildly entertaining as they zip to and fro through wormholes, literally punching one another into next week—or at least into a new dimension. It’s tighter and way more fun—check out Thor on the subway!—than the endless dustup that bogged down the last forty-five minutes of “Man of Steel.”
Hemsworth and Hiddleston, the film’s yin and yang, are charismatic and while they don’t do anything much different than they did in the first movie or in “The Avengers,” they both seem to really grasp the film’s semi-serious tone.
“It’s not that I don’t enjoy our little chats,” Loki says to Odin. “It’s just… that I don’t.” It’s a good line and Hiddleston delivers it with perfect timing, half villain, half comedian.
Unless you’re a comic book geek you might need a quick trip to https://marvel.wikia.com/Thor to make sense of the first twenty minutes of “Thor: The Dark World” but once the movie gets the exposition out of the way and gets into the gags and the action it hammers home the good stuff.