Richard speaks to “CTV News at Six” anchor Andria Case about the best movies and television to watch this weekend including the poignant coming-of-age drama “Belfast,” the Dwayne Johnson, Ryan Reynolds and Gal Gadot action comedy “Red Notice” and the vicious Hollywood satire “The Beta Test.”
Richard joins CP24 to have a look at new movies coming to VOD, streaming services and theatres including director Kenneth Branagh’s poignant coming-of-age drama “Belfast,” the Dwayne Johnson, Ryan Reynolds and Gal Gadot action comedy “Red Notice, the searing Hollywood satire “The Beta Test” and the literary adaptation “Passing” starring Tessa Thompson and Ruth Negga.
Richard joins guest host Jim Richards and Jay Michaels of the NewsTalk 1010 afternoon show The Rush for Booze and Reviews! Today he talks about the origins of the Irish Coffee, the Kenneth Branagh coming-of-age film “Belfast” and the action comedy “Red Notice” on Netflix!
Richard joins CTV NewsChannel and anchor Merella Fernandez to have a look at new movies coming to VOD, streaming services and theatres including director Kenneth Branagh’s poignant coming-of-age drama “Belfast,” the Dwayne Johnson, Ryan Reynolds and Gal Gadot action comedy “Red Notice” and the literary adaptation “Passing” starring Tessa Thompson and Ruth Negga.
Richard sits in on the CFRA Ottawa morning show with host Bill Carroll to talk the new movies coming to theatres, VOD and streaming services including Kenneth Branagh’s poignant coming-of-age drama “Belfast,” the Dwayne Johnson, Ryan Reynolds and Gal Gadot action comedy “Red Notice,” the literary adaptation “Passing” starring Tessa Thompson and Ruth Negga and the Hollywood satire “The Beta Test.”
Richard joins NewsTalk 1010 guest host David Cooper on the coast-to-coast-to-coast late night “Showgram” to play the game “Did Richard Crouse like these movies?” This week we talk about Kenneth Branagh’s poignant coming-of-age drama “Belfast,” the Dwayne Johnson, Ryan Reynolds and Gal Gadot action comedy “Red Notice” and the literary adaptation “Passing” starring Tessa Thompson and Ruth Negga.
“Belfast,” Kenneth Branagh’s look back at his early life in Ireland, now playing in theatres, is a story very much of its time, but it resonates with contemporary themes.
The movie opens with tourist bureau beauty shots of modern Belfast before jumping back in time to the film’s black-and-white vision of the city in 1969. The Troubles have come to 9-year-old boy Buddy’s (Jude Hill) street. There’s the Unionists, the Ulster Protestants, who want Northern Ireland to remain within the United Kingdom. They are in in violent dispute with Irish nationalists, mostly Irish Catholics, who want Northern Ireland to exit the United Kingdom to join a united Ireland. Buddy is inquisitive but he doesn’t understand what’s going on when an explosion sets his neighborhood, a mix of Catholic and Protestant households, on edge. He’s too busy being smitten with Catherine (Olive Tennant), the pretty girl who sits in front of him at school.
Buddy’s father (Jamie Dornan), a construction worker whose job takes him to England for weeks at a time, is very much aware of the situation. Local hardmen advise him to join the Unionist cause… or else.
For the rest of the tightly-knit family, Ma (Caitriona Balfe), older brother Will (Lewis McAskie) and grandparents (Ciarán Hinds and Judi Dench), life goes on, but the city’s increasing violence forces them to make a choice; Will they stay in the only home they’ve ever known, or relocate to safety in a strange city?
Seen through Buddy’s eyes, “Belfast” tackles big subjects like religious intolerance, senseless neighbor against neighbor violence and ethno-nationalism, but focusses on the effect of those elements, not the elements themselves. That perspective allows Branagh to set the scene with the dramatic opening, a series of period television news broadcasts and the concerned looks on the faces of the adults. But set against a time of upheaval, this is a family drama, but not a political one.
Branagh calls “Belfast” his most personal film, and it feels like it. Every frame radiates with the warmth of the connection Buddy shares with his family, and his family’s relationship to their home and country. Hill’s coming-of-age performance is the anchor that keeps the movie from drifting off course. His joy and infectious laugh when his grandfather cracks a joke is delightful, and you can really see the gears turning as he struggles to figure out why his once peaceful neighborhood isn’t the Eden it once was.
The performances are uniformly interesting, but Balfe, as Ma, shines as a steely, protective presence.
Hinds and Dench, as Buddy’s grandparents, are frisky, lovable and bring an intimacy to their portrayals of people who have been married forever, that is the very definition of heartfelt.
“Belfast” is a lovely, earnest movie that paints a vivid picture of a time, a place and, most importantly, its people. The scenes of Buddy and family at the movies, or crowded around the television also reenforce something many of us have realized during the pandemic, and that is the importance of art—in this case, the movies and television—as an escape from the stark realities of the world.
Based on English writer Vera Brittain’s 1933 memoir about her experiences during World War I, “Testament of Youth” is a handsomely presented, if sometimes a bit restrained story of one woman’s voyage into pacifism.
Alicia “Ex Machina” Vikander stars as Brittain, a tenacious young woman who battles against her father’s (Dominic West) wishes and the conventions of the day to take the Oxford University entrance exam. Her schooling is interrupted when WWI breaks out and brother Edward (Taron “Kingsman: The Secret Service” Egerton), her fiancé Roland Leighton (Kit “Game of Thrones “ Harington) and friends Victor (Colin Morgan) and Geoffrey (Jonathan Bailey) are sent to fight at the front lines. With her friends at risk Vera opts to join them, leaving school to enrol as a nurse in the Voluntary Aid Detachment. Tending to both German and English soldiers in London, Malta and France she learns first hand about personal loss, human suffering and the futility of war.
“Testament of Youth” offers up a different, parallel view to combat, than the usual war film. Told from the point of view of a battle nurse, it is different but no less effecting as a story of female strength. Vikander is the movie’s soul and strength, handing in a performance that is both strong willed and remarkably nimble. When Vera pretends to be the German girlfriend of a dying soldier, the performance transcends the “Downton Abbey” vibe of the production. Moments like these are almost an antidote to the melodrama that masquerades as actual emotion in other scenes. Almost but not quite.
The supporting performances work well enough, although other than Vera the emotional connection necessary for the anti-war message to be truly effective is missing. Large scale shots of dead and dying men in battle and hospitals visualize the sentiment but a real, personal connection with the characters would have been more fitting for a story about a woman so absolutely changed by the war and her experiences.
“Testament of Youth” is based on a true and well-documented story but a dose or three of melodrama—does she really have to get such bad news on her wedding day?—blunts the power of the story.