Richard sits in on the CTV NewsChannel with news anchor Marcia MacMillan to have a look at the weekend’s big releases including Pixar’s “Toy Story 4,” the devilish doll Chuck in “Child’s Play,” the tuneful coming-of-age story “Wild Rose” and the high-fashion assassin of “Anna.”
Richard has a look at the new movies coming to theatres, including two very different movies starring toys–“Toy Story 4” and “Child’s Play”–the coming-of-age story “Wild Rose” and the runway assassin film “Anna” with CFRA Morning Rush guest host Matt Harris.
In a summer packed with sequels comes a movie that isn’t a sequel but feels like one. “Anna,” the new action-adventure from writer-director Luc Besson, is a new story but breathes the same air as fist-in-the-air Luc Besson thrillers like “La Femme Nikita” and “Lucy.”
Here’s the barest of outlines. Anna (Sasha Luss) is a former prostitute saved from a life on the streets when she’s recruited by the KGB. Her handler Alex Tchenkov (Luke Evans) admires her calm under pressure, smarts and the way she uses her anger. She’s also, he says, “a blank key that can open many doors.“ In other words she’s a beautiful unknown who is not in the radar of their enemies.
She signs on, becomes a killing machine and, in one elaborate mission, is scouted as a high fashion model by a prestigious Paris agency. Cue the modelling, mayhem and murder. When a job goes wrong she finds herself caught between the KGB and the CIA. Working one against the other she attempts to get the one thing she’s never had, freedom. “Is this my life,” she wonders aloud, “waiting to take a bullet between my eyes?”
“Anna” plays with time. The presentation of the story can’t rightly be called a broken timeline as much as a shattered, twisted and torn timeline. Besson loves his “Five Years Earlier,” “Six Months Later” and “Three Years Earlier” title cards to the point of distraction. H. G. Wells didn’t tinker with time as much as Besson does here. “Memento” seems linear by comparison. What is meant to be a playful storytelling device bogs the movie down to point of narrative puzzlement.
Besson, who was accused of sexual misconduct in 2018 (BTW he “categorically denies these fantasist accusations.”), has clearly tried (and failed) to address the #metoo movement in “Anna.” Anna gets violent with a fashion photographer who bears a striking resemblance to Terry Richardson and one of her KGB handlers tells her, “Never put your faith in men Anna. Put faith in yourself.” It would even likely the pass the Bechdel Test—does a film feature at least two women who talk to each other about something other than a man?—but despite cursory acknowledgements it still manages to wring the misogyny out of what should have been a female empowerment tale.
Besson has a habit of making films about female assassins—see “La Femme Nikita,” “The Professional and “Lucy”—but “Anna” suggests he has nothing left to say on the topic.
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 Jennifer Lawrence spy thriller “Red Sparrow,” the 1970s retread “Death Wish” with Bruce Willis and the deliciously venomous “The Party” starring Patricia Clarkson.
Richard and CP24 anchor Nathan Downer have a look at the weekend’s new movies including the Jennifer Lawrence spy thriller “Red Sparrow,” the 1970s retread “Death Wish” with Bruce Willis and the deliciously venomous “The Party” starring Patricia Clarkson.
Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Marcia MacMillan to have a look at the weekend’s big releases, the Jennifer Lawrence spy thriller “Red Sparrow,” the 1970s retread “Death Wish” with Bruce Willis and the deliciously venomous “The Party” starring Patricia Clarkson.
At the end of the chamber dramedy “The Party,” you’ll be glad you were able to be a voyeur and not actually attend the get-together in person. It’s “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” with more characters and twice the vitriol.
Kristin Scott Thomas is Janet, the newly appointed U.K. Health Minister and host of the party. When we first see her she’s holding a gun on a guest. It’s that kind of party.
Cue the flashback.
Gathered together are Janet’s nearest and dearest. There’s sharp-tongued best friend April (Patricia Clarkson), her almost ex and professional life coach Gottfried (Bruno Ganz), Martha (Cherry Jones) and her pregnant partner Jinny (Emily Mortimer), jumpy financial whiz Tom (Cillian Murphy), whose cocaine and aforementioned gun add some spice to an already edgy situation. On the periphery, for a time anyway, is Bill (Timothy Spall), a ticking time bomb with a glass of champagne.
Director Sally Potter wastes no time in presenting her sophisticated but sour soiree. The verbal—and text—fireworks begin almost immediately. Sparkling dialogue drips from the mouths of these actors like liquid gold. When Jinny announces she’s have more than baby Martha says, “Triplets. People. Small people.” It doesn’t sound like much on paper, but the magic is in the delivery. The best lines are reserved for Clarkson, whose blunt, plainspoken words add fuel to the already hot state of affairs. “Although it may have a deleterious effect on your career I think you could consider murder,” she purrs at one point.
Canapés smoulder, truths are revealed—there will be no spoilers here—and lives are shattered, all in just 71 minutes. “The Party” is a delightfully nasty piece of work, artfully realized by Potter and delivered with just the right amount of venom by a dedicated cast.
Baby Driver: Although it contains more music than most tuneful of movies “Baby Driver,” the new film from director Edgar Wright, isn’t a musical in the “West Side Story,” “Sound of Music” sense. Wallpapered with 35 rock ‘n roll songs on the soundtrack it’s a hard driving heist flick that can best be called an action musical.
The Big Sick: Even when “The Big Sick” is making jokes about terrorism and the “X-Files” it is all heart, a crowd-pleaser that still feels personal and intimate.
Call Me By Your Name: This is a movie of small details that speak to larger truths. Director Luca Guadagnino keeps the story simple relying on the minutiae to add depth and beauty to the story. The idyllic countryside, the quaint town, the music of the Psychedelic Furs and the languid pace of a long Italian summer combine to create the sensual backdrop against which the romance between the two blossoms. Guadagnino’s camera captures it all, avoiding the pitfalls of melodrama to present a story that is pure emotion. It feels real and raw, haunted by the ghosts of loves gone by.
Darkest Hour: This is a historical drama with all the trappings of “Masterpiece Theatre.” You can expect photography, costumes and period details are sumptuous. What you may not expect is the light-hearted tone of much of the goings on. While this isn’t “Carry On Churchill,” it has a lighter touch that might be expected. Gary Oldman, not an actor known for his comedic flourishes, embraces the sly humour. When Churchill becomes Prime Minister his wife, Clementine (Kristin Scott Thomas) makes an impassioned speech about the importance of the work he is about to take on. He raises a glass and, cutting through the emotion of the moment, says, “Here’s to not buggering it up!” It shows a side of Churchill not often revealed in wartime biopics.
The Disaster Artist: The key to pulling off “The Disaster Artist” is not recreating “The Room” beat for beat, although they do that, it’s actually about treating Wiseau as a person and not an object of fun. He’s an outrageous character and Franco commits to it 100%. From the marble-mouthed speech pattern that’s part Valley Girl and part Beaker from The Muppets to the wild clothes and stringy hair, he’s equal parts creepy and lovable but underneath his bravado are real human frailties. Depending on your point of view he’s either delusional or aspirational but in Franco’s hands he’s never also never less than memorable. It’s a broad, strange performance but it may also be one of the actor’s best.
Dunkirk: This is an intense movie but it is not an overly emotional one. The cumulative effect of the vivid images and sounds will stir the soul but despite great performances the movie doesn’t necessarily make you feel for one character or another. Instead its strength is in how it displays the overwhelming sense of scope of the Dunkirk mission. With 400,000 men on the ground with more in the air and at sea, the sheer scope of the operation overpowers individuality, turning the focus on the collective. Director Christopher Nolan’s sweeping camera takes it all in, epic and intimate moments alike.
The Florida Project: This is, hands down, one of the best films of the year. Low-budget and naturalistic, it packs more punch than any superhero. Director Sean Baker defies expectations. He’s made a film about kids for adults that finds joy in rocky places. What could have been a bleak experience or an earnest message movie is brought to vivid life by characters that feel real. It’s a story about poverty that neither celebrates or condemns its characters. Mooney’s exploits are entertaining and yet an air of jeopardy hangs heavy over every minute of the movie. Baker knows that Halley and Moonie’s well being hangs by a thread but he also understands they exist in the real world and never allows their story to fall into cliché.
Get Out: This is the weirdest and most original mainstream psychodrama to come along since “The Babadook.” The basic premise harkens back to the Sidney Poitier’s classic “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.” In that film parents, played by Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn, have their attitudes challenged when their daughter introduces them to her African American fiancé. The uncomfortable situation of meeting in-laws for the first time is universal. It’s the added layers of paranoia and skewered white liberalism that propels the main character’s (Daniel Kaluuya) situation into full-fledged horror. In this setting he is the other, the stranger and as his anxiety grows the social commentary regarding attitudes about race in America grows sharper and more focussed.
Lady Bird: Greta Gerwig’s skilful handling of the story of Lady Bird’s busy senior year works not just because it’s unvarnished and honest in its look at becoming an adult but also, in a large degree, to Saoirse Ronan’s performance. I have long called her ‘Lil Meryl. She’s an actor of unusual depth, a young person (born in 1994) with an old soul. Lady Bird is almost crushed by the weight of uncertainty that greets her with every turn—will her parents divorce, will there be money for school, will Kyle be the boy of her dreams, will she ever make enough cash to repay her parents for her upbringing?—but Ronan keeps her nimble, sidestepping teen ennui with a complicated mix of snappy one liners, hard earned wisdom and a well of emotion. It’s tremendous, Academy Award worthy work.
The Post: Steven Spielberg film is a fist-pump-in-the-air look at the integrity and importance of a free press. It’s a little heavy-handed but these are heavy-handed times. Director Spielberg and stars Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep are entertainers first and foremost, and they do entertain here, but they also shine a light on a historical era whose reverberations are being felt today stronger than ever.
The Shape of Water: A dreamy slice of pure cinema. Director Guillermo del Toro uses the stark Cold War as a canvas to draw warm and vivid portraits of his characters. It’s a beautiful creature feature ripe with romance, thrills and, above all, empathy for everyone. This is the kind of movie that reminds us of why we fell in love with movies in the first place.
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri: The story of a mother’s unconventional war with the world is simple enough, it’s the complexity of the characters that elevates the it to the level of great art.
Wonder Woman: Equal parts Amazon sword and sandal epic, mad scientist flick, war movie and rom com, it’s a crowd pleaser that places the popular character front and centre. As played by Gal Gadot, Diana is charismatic and kick ass, a superhero who is both truly super and heroic. Like Superman she is firmly on the side of good, not a tortured soul à la Batman. Naïve to the ways of the world, she runs headfirst into trouble. Whether she’s throwing a German tank across a battlefield, defying gravity to leap to the top of a bell tower, tolerating Trevor’s occasional mansplaining or deflecting bullets with her indestructible Bracelets of Submission, she proves in scene after scene to be both a formidable warrior and a genuine, profoundly empathic character.
Welcome to the House of Crouse. We welcome two film directors to sit a spell at the HoC today. William Friedkin is a legend, the director of The Exorcist and The French Connection among many others. We don’t talk about those. Instead I asked him about one the most trangressive movies ever made, The Devils. Listen in to hear his opinion on why naked nuns may have cost Ken Russell a box office hit. Then Christopher Nolan brings his big brain over to talk about Dunkirk and why cinema matters. It’s good stuff, swing by.