Richard sits in on the CTV NewsChannel with news anchor Marcia MacMillan to have a look at the weekend’s big releases including “Joker,” Meryl Streep’s ”The Laundromat,” the family heist film “Robbery” and the dramedy “Sometimes Always Never.”
Richard has a look at the new movies coming to theatres, including controversial DC Comics flick, “Joker” and Meryl Streep heading an all-star cast in ”The Laundromat,” the family heist film “Robbery” and the dramedy “Sometimes Always Never” with CFRA morning show host Bill Carroll.
Richard sits in on the CJAD Montreal morning show with guest host Ken Connors to talk the new movies coming to theatres including the controversial rethink of one of DC Comics most enduring villain, “Joker” and Meryl Streep heading an all-star cast in ?”The Laundromat.”
Based on “Secrecy World: Inside the Panama Papers Investigation of Illicit Money Networks and the Global Elite” by Jake Bernstein “The Laundromat” chronicles the rot that festers on the corrupt body of our financial institutions.
Divided into chapters with names like “Secret Number One: The Meek Are Screwed,” “The Laundromat” is a funny, star-studded portmanteau of thematically linked stories involving tax loopholes, exploitation and financial malfeasance. “All these stories are about money,” says Ramón Fonseca (Antonio Banderas), “the secret lives of money.” Like “The Big Short” it takes the spoonful-of-sugar-to-help-the-medicine-go-down approach to telling a story so dripping with bile you have to laugh to stop from crying.
Meryl Streep is at the helm of this cinematic op-ed playing Ellen Martin, a steely woman whose husband’s death leads her by the nose into the world of fake insurance policies and a shady Panama City law firm run by slicksters Jürgen Mossack (Gary Oldman) and Fonseca. The flamboyant represent “drug lords, sex traffickers and destroyers of the planet” and also colorfully narrate the action. “Tax avoidance and tax evasion,” says Mossack. “The line between them is as thin as a jailhouse wall.” They’re more interested in the shell companies they control that help line the pockets of their very wealthy clients than the regular Joes affected by their actions. “Bad is such a big word for such a small word.”
As the story splinters into chapters, cameos from Jeffrey Wright (as a secretive insurance broker), Nonso Anozie (as a billionaire who tries to buy his way out of trouble) and David Schwimmer (as a business person screwed by his insurance company) pile up, revealing personal aspects of the dirty business of money laundering. The story wanders here and there but Streep stays on course, lending this ragged movie a strong emotional core.
“The Laundromat” features lively performances—I’m looking at you Oldman and Banderas—timely commentary about whistleblowers and fraud and a rousing fourth-wall-breaking ending and yet, feels like less than the sum of its parts. Director Steven Soderbergh provides some well-crafted big moments but the stories are too far flung and too brief to inspire any real interest in the characters. They come and go with little development (save for Martin), often representing ideas rather than fully formed characters.
Streep plays a double role, an ill-advised choice that feels like a stunt and doesn’t lend much to the telling of the tale, but wraps things up with a wake-up call, asking basic questions—Who is accountable? Where and how do you get justice?—that put a period on this story but should be a starting point for more discussion and thought.
As summer blockbusters go, there is more invention and fun in the first twenty minutes of “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted” than in all of “Battleship” and “Men in Black 3” combined.
As the movie opens Alex the lion (voiced by Ben Stiller), zebra Marty (Chris Rock), giraffe Melman (David Schwimmer) and hippo Gloria (Jada Pinkett Smith) are still stranded in the African savannah with dreams of returning to their New York home. Unfortunately their plane has been hijacked by some shady penguins, who are whooping it up on the French Rivera. The menagerie makes their way to Monte Carlo with an eye toward getting their plane back and heading home. There they attract the attention of Capt. Chantal Dubois (Frances McDormand) a psychotic animal-control officer determined to add Alex’s head to her trophy wall.
To escape from her grip they join an America-bound circus featuring jaguar Gia (Jessica Chastain) sea lion Stefano (Martin Short) and Siberian tiger Vitaly (Bryan Cranston). The animal performers have seen better days, and while they keep Alex and friends safe (for the time being) from the clutches of Dubois, some changes will have to be made if this circus will be able to cut it in America.
“Madagascar” series has ever been my favorite animated franchise. I found the first two films pleasant enough, but not memorable—with the exception of the wisecracking penguins. They are bright, colorful films with good messages but they didn’t have the oomph of Pixar, or even other Dreamworks animations like “How to Train Your Dragon.”
The addition of writer Noah “Squid and the Whale” Baumbach has brought with it a sensibility and humor missing from the other films. It’s rare that a franchise improves as it hits its third installment, but “Madagascar” has.
The new film is funny—it’s worth the price of admission to hear Chris Rock’s Polka Dot Afro Circus song—surreal and literally bursts off the screen in an explosion of neon colored 3-D. It’s frenetic, but imaginative with gags hidden throughout and several show-stopping action and musical sequences.
The penguins still steal the show, but this time around the script and look of the film give them a run for their money.
You had to see this one coming. Any time a movie grosses 500 million dollars a sequel can’t be far behind. So from the same company that brought us Shrek 2 and 3 and the upcoming Shrek 4-D comes Madagascar Escape 2 Africa which sees all the original Central Park Zoo creatures—Alex the Lion (Ben Stiller), Marty the Zebra (Chris Rock), Melman the Giraffe (David Schwimmer), Gloria the Hippo (Jada Pinkett Smith) and, of course, the penguins take another road trip.
As we rejoin the New York-raised zoo animals they are still marooned in Madagascar. When the penguins find an old plane it looks like they might be able to travel back home to America. Unfortunately the plane crash lands far short of their target. This time they end up stranded in Africa, “our ancestral crib,” as Marty the Zebra calls it. They soon discover that despite long lost relatives and some unexpected romance that the African jungle is a much different place than the concrete jungle they’re used to.
Madagascar Escape 2 Africa isn’t a bad kid’s flick, but it suffers from the usual symptoms of sequelitis. It isn’t quite as funny as the first movie, the story feels padded, even at a compact 89 minutes and the situation seems a bit too familiar. Not that any of that will matter to the little ones once they’ve seen the fun supporting cast.
The leads, save for Chris Rock’s hyperactive zebra, are rather bland, so luckily they are supported by lively and colorful secondary characters. Sacha Baron Cohen of Borat fame plays King Julien, the dramatic lemur monarch. His slapstick antics should amuse kids but his sly double entendres are aimed directly at adults. He has a funny, and possibly slightly inappropriate, line about almonds and a silver platter that’ll fly high over the tot’s heads but wake up their parents. In fact, the movie is peppered with lines referring to Darwinism and union trade talks that are clearly calculated to widen the movie’s appeal to all members of the family.
Kids will like the lemur, but they will love the penguins. Penguins are the new dogs. Not since the heyday of dog movies like Benji and Lassie has one species won over the hearts of so many. March of the Penguins was a left field hit a few years ago and an R-rated parody of that movie, Farce of the Penguins, soon followed. The little furry birds have also appeared in Happy Feet, the 3-2-1 Penguins series and even something called Penguins Behind Bars. Everybody loves penguins, and in Madagascar Escape 2 Africa their gangster shenanigans are the highlight of the movie. Next—a third Madagascar movie is already in the works—hopefully Dreamworks will pull back on the bland Alex the Lion character and focus on the penguins.
Madagascar Escape 2 Africa is a family friendly movie with slapstick for the kids and slightly more sophisticated jokes for the adults.