A new feature from from ctvnews.ca! The Crouse Review is a quick, hot take on the weekend’s biggest movies! This week Richard looks at “Patti Cake$,” the New York City drama “The Only Living Boy in New York” and the civil war shoot ’em up “Bushwick.”
Richard and CP24 anchor Jamie Gutfreund have a look at the weekend’s new movies including “Patti Cake$,” the New York City drama “The Only Living Boy in New York,” the civil war shoot ’em up “Bushwick” and Penelope Cruz in “The Queen of Spain.”
Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Erin Paul to have a look at the big weekend movies including “Patti Cake$,” the New York City drama “The Only Living Boy in New York,” the civil war shoot ’em up “Bushwick” and Penelope Cruz in “The Queen of Spain.”
“I knew her very well,” says Penelope Cruz, “but in a way she was not exactly the same person because so many things happened to her and she changed over time, like we all do.”
Cruz isn’t talking about an old friend or a long lost relative. The Spanish superstar is referring to Macarena Granada, a character she first played a decade ago and revisits in the new film The Queen of Spain.
“She has a very intense life,” continues Cruz, “so that was the tricky thing. For the people who knew Macarena, how do I make her recognizable and what are the changes we can see in her after all these years?”
Audiences first met Macarena in 1998 when Cruz played her as an upcoming Spanish movie star in a frothy little confection called The Girl of Your Dreams. It’s years later in real and reel life as Cruz brings the character back to the screen.
Set in 1956, The Queen of Spain portrays Macarena as a huge international star lured back to her home country to star in the first American movie to be shot there since the Franco took power. It’s a wild production but complicating matters is the appearance—and subsequent disappearance—of Macarena’s former director and the man who made her a star.
“The first film was set at a time of interaction with Germany and Macarena had to protect herself from Goebbels,” says Cruz. “This time she is up against Franco. In a way every time she is acting in a film she is just not acting, she is some kind of political heroine. She is fighting for justice. What a life this woman has had! Every time she goes into making a movie she has to save somebody’s life or do something life changing for everybody. If we ever do the third one I don’t know who she’ll have to deal with. Depends on what country. Hopefully the third one will happen someday. Let’s see who she has to encounter this time.”
The Queen of Spain marks the third time Cruz has worked with Fernando Trueba, the Spanish auteur who directed her break out film Belle Époque.
“The knowledge he has of cinema, the passion he has for cinema is very contagious,” she says. “With Fernando it is always more than just entertainment. He is such a great filmmaker and he always talks about so many big subjects at the same time.
“I think Belle Époque is a masterpiece. The film was amazing and for me to start with somebody as brilliant as Fernando, well, it was a year that made it impossible for me not to fall in love with movies.”
The chance to show what goes on behind the scenes in The Queen of Spain’s film-within-the-film was another reason she decided to come back to Trueba and Macarena.
“There are not enough movies about that,” she says. “When I am on the set everything is so crazy and chaotic but at the same time it works. I feel like we need that chaos for it to work. It is magical that things happen and movies get done and get finished. I’m always on the set thinking, ‘These three days of shooting is enough material for three more movies.’”
Almost fifty years ago Simon & Garfunkel provided the memorable soundtrack to the equally memorable movie “The Graduate.” This year a wistful S&G song, “The Only Living Boy in New York,” inspired a wry movie of the same name by director Marc Webb.
Set in New York City, the movie centers around Thomas Webb (Callum Turner), a recent college grad in love with his best friend good friend, Mimi (Kiersey Clemons). When she rejects his romantic entreaties he’s crushed. Back at home in his parents Ethan and Judith’s (Pierce Brosnan and Cynthia Nixon) swanky Upper West Side apartment building he meets the boozy new neighbour, W.F. Gerald (Jeff Bridges), an author and sage who offers life advice.
When Thomas learns about Ethan’s affair with Johanna (Kate Beckinsale) he first becomes obsessed with learning more about her and then, perhaps to make Mimi jealous and possibly in an ode to “The Graduate,” begins a romantic affair with the older woman. Navigating his complicated personal life brings his combative relationship with the grizzled Ethan—who once told his son, a wannabe writer, that his work was only “serviceable”—in focus while opening his eyes to the world around him.
“The Only Living Boy in New York” doesn’t have the buoyancy of “(500) Days of Summer,” Webb’s other study of the way relationships work and, sometimes, how they don’t work. It’s more quasi-Phillip Roth than RomCom but it is propped up with some terrific performances.
English born actor Callum is cut from the Benjamin Braddock school of lovesick, confused young man, but it’s the seasoned pros who are worth the price of admission. Nixon is brittle yet steely as a long time New Yorker who was friends with Andy Warhol and mourns the loss of Greenwich Village’s famed Bottom Line club. Beckinsale is more than a plot device, bringing real humanity to a woman caught between the two men.
Bridges, now firmly entrenched in the old coot phase of his career, brings craggy charm to the role of mentor but it is Brosnan who shines. He’s at his best as a man who is simultaneously a father and romantic rival to his son.
“The Only Living Boy in New York” frequently feels like it is about to spin off its axis but Webb fights past the clunky dialogue and overly complicated story to present an engaging coming-of-age story.
Welcome to the House of Crouse. Five years after being offered the role of Emily Dickenson in “A Quiet Passion” Cynthia Nixon said, “I never thought it would come together. I thought, ‘Thank you for thinking of me, it is a good part for me but I don’t see how you are going to get this made.’” Find out how she and Terence Davies brought the film to the screen. Then sit back and let “First Blood” director Ted Kotcheff regale you with stories from his very entertaining life. It’s all good stuff so c’mon in and sit a spell.
Richard and CP24 anchor Stephanie Smythe have a look at the weekend’s new movies, the redonkulous new “Fast & Furious” entry from Vin Diesel and Company, “The Fate of the Furious,” the family drama “Gifted,” the romantic biopic “Maudie” starring Sally Hawkins and Ethan Hawke and the bizzaro “My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea”!
“Success is counted sweetest, By those who ne’er succeed,” wrote Emily Dickenson in one of the seven poems she published during her lifetime. Those lines must have played on the minds of the filmmakers behind A Quiet Passion, a biopic of the reclusive nineteenth century poet, who suffered setback after setback while bringing the story to the screen.
Five years after being offered the role Cynthia Nixon said, “I never thought it would come together. I thought, ‘Thank you for thinking of me, it is a good part for me but I don’t see how you are going to get this made.’”
The former Sex and the City star often thought about the project but claims she was never impatient at the film’s lack of progress.
“I started acting as a twelve year old and I went to a very tough school and what that taught me was that when I was up for a job that I really wanted and I didn’t get, I would think to myself, ‘At least I don’t have to do double duty. I don’t have to do school and work.’ Now I have three children and am married. I run a household so when I am not working I feel it less than other people.
“If you are in something for the long haul you are not constantly taking its temperature.”
It took years but Nixon and director Terence Davies succeeded in telling Dickenson’s story, bringing to cinematic life not only the facts—she was reclusive and never married—but also the essence of a person with an insatiable need to question societal norms.
“The questions she is asking as a person and as a woman,” says Nixon, “they are big questions. How do I deal with all this love I feel? What does it mean to be intimate with another person? Will I lose myself and do I want to lose myself? I think she was so ahead of her time in thinking these things were an option, like whether she would marry or not. For her that was a question. It wasn’t like she was dying to get married and didn’t. She chose not to. Whether she was going to be a mother or not. These are questions that women today deal with as a matter of course but most nineteenth century women would not have even stopped to consider.”
Nixon says Dickenson’s ideas and words have been a constant in her life. “We had a record at home of Julie Harris reading some of the poems and the letters. I would listen to them again and again so some of the better-known poems and letters I learned by heart.”
Dickenson died 130 years ago but Nixon feels there are timely elements in A Quiet Passion for today’s audiences.
“If you think about the mid nineteenth century in America and you think about the issues we were dealing with in terms of women, it is a straight line from there to here. We’ve obviously come very far but it is exactly the same issues. Are women going to be treated equally? She saw the jump between the way things are supposed to be and the way things are, and she didn’t try to wallpaper over anything.”
“A Quiet Passion” avoids the two major pitfalls of most poetry movies, it neither seeks to ponder the creative process or glamourize the poet’s excesses and rakish behaviour. Instead, this is a modest movie that focuses on Emily Dickenson’s reclusive existence; giving us insight into the personality published just seven poems in her lifetime.
Set in nineteenth century Amherst, Massachusetts, at the start Emma Bell plays Dickenson as an unconventional young woman who leaves her women’s college because she, “will not be forced to piety.” Later “Sex and the City’s” Cynthia Nixon takes over the role as the poet matures into a fiercely opinionated and vivacious woman who lives with her father (Keith Carradine), mother (Joanna Bacon), brother (Duncan Duff) and sister (Jennifer Ehle). Unlike most dour representations of Dickenson, Nixon plays her as an intense, intuitive person bursting at the seams with ideas. Despite the strict morays of the time—she had to ask her father for permission to write—she would stay in that tightly knit family unit her entire life, soaking up the inspiration that fed the nearly 2000 poems she wrote but (mostly) never published. Writing poetry by hurricane lamp, calling it, “my solace for the eternity that surrounds us all,” she pours a life ripe with bereavement and disappointment onto the pages.
There’s not a lot of action in “A Quiet Passion.” It is primarily housebound, as Emily withdraws from the outside world, surrounding herself with those she knows and trusts best. It is, I suppose, a good way to visualize her growing sense of societal alienation but it makes for a film that often feels closed in, claustrophobic.
Luckily there is nothing stodgy about the performances. Nixon leads the cast, breathing life into a character who retreated from the world, expressing her joy and pain in the written word. She makes the mannered dialogue seem natural, bringing an ease to the conversation and societal structures. It’s a lovely performance, one that transcends the film’s archness and artifice.
There is poetry in “A Quiet Passion.” Perhaps not enough of actual poetry for Dickenson purists—it’s mostly heard in voiceover—but a cinematic poetry from director Terence Davies who has visualized one woman’s intimate connection with words.