I appear on “CTV News at 11:30” with anchor Andria Case to talk about the best movies and television to watch this weekend. This week I have a look at a trio of films on the big screen, the live-action “The Little Mermaid,” the Julia Louis-Dreyfus dramedy “You Hurt My Feelings” and Gerard Butler’s latest action-a-thon “Mission Kandahar,” and the Crave musical bio “Love to Love You: Donna Summer.”
I appear on “CTV News at 6” with anchor Andria Case to talk about the best movies and television to watch this weekend. This week I have a look at a trio of films on the big screen, the live-action “The Little Mermaid,” the Julia Louis-Dreyfus dramedy “You Hurt My Feelings” and Gerard Butler’s latest action-a-thon “Mission Kandahar,” and the Crave musical bio “Love to Love You: Donna Summer.”
Watch as I review three movies in less time than it takes to stamp your feet! Have a look as I race against the clock to tell you about the underwater adventures of “The Little Mermaid,” the Julia Louis-Dreyfus in “You Hurt My Feelings” and Gerard Butler in “Mission Kandahar.”
Gerard Butler is no stranger to action. On film he’s battled more terrorists than you can shake a stick at, and he once even took on a network of powerful of satellites gone amok.
His latest, “Mission Kandahar” (titled simply “Kandahar” in the United States), now playing in theatres, brings the action earthbound in a story based on the true experiences of screenwriter and former military intelligence officer, Mitchell LaFortune in Afghanistan in the aftermath of the Snowden leaks.
Butler is Tom Harris, a divorced MI5 military intelligence officer working undercover in Afghanistan circa 2021. He is a “total chameleon,” a man who disappears into the job as he poses as technician hired by their government to lay internet cable in the desert, all the while while gathering intelligence on the Taliban.
Just as he is about to end his mission, and head home to England to visit his daughter, an intelligence leak reveals his identity, location and mission goals. “Our cover is blown,” he says. “We leave in fifteen minutes.”
Exposed and in danger, he and his loyal Afghan interpreter and fixer (Navid Negahban) are trapped in hostile territory.
“No one is coming to rescue us,” Harris says, as he takes matters into his own hands to get the two of them across the 640 kilometers to an extraction point at an old CIA base in Kandahar Province before elite enemy forces can stop them. “The distance is not the main issue. It’s what’s in between.”
Butler, like Liam Neeson, makes very specific kinds of action films. With “Mission Kandahar” he filters the very real issue of securing safety for the Afghan citizens who worked alongside U.S. and NATO personnel for twenty years, through the lens of a Butler Action Flick. That means some defying-all-odds action, a loved one waiting at home for him to return, stereotypical baddies and lots of things that go boom. And, of course, there’s The Presence, the bulky Butler leading the action.
Often entertaining—see “Plane”—Butler’s movies exist in a world mostly untouched by reality, as though the golden era of direct-to-DVD action flicks never went away.
For better and for worse, “Mission Kandahar” fits that mold. The story’s real-life backdrop provides a canvas, but melodrama and action are the movie’s reality.
These days journalists aren’t just reporting the stories, often they are the story. Just ask Jim Acosta. A new film, “A Private War,” places the journalist front-and-centre while detailing a story from our recent past.
Rosamund Pike plays Marie Colvin, long serving war correspondent for The Sunday Times. For three decades she put herself in harm’s way, covering conflicts the world over. “I care enough to go to these places,” she says, “and write about it in a way that makes people want to care about it as much as I do.” While on assignment in Sri Lanka she loses an eye in a bomb blast. Later, when accused of being “stupid“ for going into that war zone she says “I think stupid is writing about the dinner party you went to last night.“
Years of witnessing bloodshed have taken a toll. “You’ve seen more war than most soldiers,” says her photographer Paul Conroy (Jamie Dornan). Plagued by nightmares, she would drink a quart of vodka to calm herself. Her PTSD didn’t keep her from the job, in fact it may have been the engine that kept her going.
In 2012 she, along with Conroy, embarked on her most dangerous assignment, covering the siege of Homs in Syria. Her reporting revealed the Syrian government was targeting civilians in an effort to quell the Arab Spring uprising. “I see it,” she says of the horrors of war, “so you don’t have to.”
As the title suggests “A Private War” is about the push and pull inside Colvin. The battle between her life in England with boyfriend Tony Shaw (Stanley Tucci) and the adrenaline rush provided by her work in the field. “Maybe I would have liked a normal life,” she says, “or maybe I don’t know how. Or maybe this is where I feel most comfortable.”
Pike brings passion and fire to the role, although while on duty in Sri Lanka she looks like she’s part of a “Vogue” fashion spread, not a reporter in the field. Emotionally raw, it’s a portrait of a single-minded person who always put her work first. Unfortunately we don’t learn much more than that. It’s a jittery performance that effectively portrays Covin’s state of mind but by the film’s second half it feels one note.
“A Private War” comes at an interesting time for journalism. With the profession under fire from Fake-Newsers it’s important to discover the stories of the people who report on “the rough draft of history.”