Watch as Richard reviews three movies in less time than it takes to flag a cab! Have a look as he races against the clock to tell you about the all-star murder mystery “Death on the Nile,” the rom com (heavy on the com) “I Want You Back” and the Liam Neeson actioner “Blacklight.”
Richard joins CP24 to have a look at new movies coming to VOD, streaming services and theatres including two rom coms for Valentine’s Day, “I Want You Back” (Amazon) and “Marry Me” (in theatres), the Agatha Christie murder mystery “Death on the Nile” (in Theatres), and the Oscar nominated “Drive My Car” (in theatres).
Richard joins host Jim Richards of the NewsTalk 1010 afternoon show The Rush for Booze and Reviews! Today we talk about the Agatha Christie all-star mystery “Death on the Nile,” the Valentine’s Say Prime Video entry “I Want You Back” with Jenny Slate and Charlie Day and “Blacklight,” the latest shoot ’em up from Liam Neeson. We’ll also give you the history of a two ingredient Spanish drink that was named after the ugliest man in the village where it was invented!
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 two rom coms for Valtentine’s Day, “I Want You Back” (Amazon) and “Marry Me” (in theatres), the Agatha Christie murder mystery “Death on the Nile” (in Theatres), the Liam Neeson actioner “Blacklight” (theatres) and the Oscar nominated “Drive My Car” (in theatres).
Richard joins NewsTalk 1010 host David Cooper on the coast-to-coast-to-coast late night “Showgram” to play the game “Did Richard Crouse Like This?” This week we talk about the Agatha Christie all-star mystery “Death on the Nile,” the Valentine’s Say Prime Video entry “I Want You Back” with Jenny Slate and Charlie Day and “Blacklight,” the latest shoot ’em up from Liam Neeson.
In the whodunnit genre few names loom larger than Agatha Christie. The author of 66 novels and 14 short story collections was known as the Mistress of Mystery and holds a Guinness World Record as the best-selling fiction writer of all time.
Her books are the fuel for countless stage plays, television shows and movies, but the spark that make the novels so entertaining often goes missing in translation.
It speaks volumes that the best Christie movie of late, “Knives Out,” isn’t an adaptation of her work. It borrows the mechanics of her best stories, including the climatic singling out of the murderer in a roomful of suspects, to make the most enjoyable movie tribute to her style in years and that includes Kenneth Branagh’s 2017 thriller “Murder on the Orient Express,” which is actually based on a Christie classic.
The director takes a second kick at the Christie can with “Death on the Nile,” an adaptation of the writer’s best-selling 1937 mystery of jealousy, wealth and death.
The film begins with a flashback to World War I and the origin of Belgian soldier Hercule Poirot’s (Branagh) flamboyant moustache.
Cut to 1937. Poirot, now a world-renowned detective, is on vacation in Egypt aboard the lavishly appointed ship S.S. Karnak. Also aboard are heiress Linnet (Gal Gadot) and her new husband Simon (Armie Hammer), a glamourous, honeymooning couple cruising the Nile in an effort to hide from the jealous Jacqueline (Emma Mackey), who happens to be Linnet’s jealous former friend and Simon’s ex-lover. Jacqueline has other plans, however, and comes along for the ride. “It’s indecent,” says Simon. “She’s making a fool of herself.”
Linnet fears that Jacqueline is up to no good and reaches out to Poirot to look out for her safety on the ship. “Maybe Jacqueline hasn’t committed a crime yet,” she says, “but she will. She always settles her scores.”
When Linnet turns up dead, Jacqueline is the obvious suspect, but she has a rock-solid alibi.
So who could the killer be? Is it Linnet’s former fiancé Linus Windlesham (a very subdued Russell Brand)? Jazz singer Salome Otterbourne (Sophie Okonedo)? Maybe it’s Marie Van Schuyler (Jennifer Saunders), Linnet’s Communist godmother or Rosalie Otterbourne (Letitia Wright) Linnet’s old classmate.
Only one person can get to the bottom of the matter. “I am Detective Hercule Poirot and I will deliver your killer.”
“He’s a bloodhound,” says Rosalie, “so let him sniff.”
“Death on the Nile” has an old-fashioned Hollywood epic feel to it. There’s glamour, beautiful costumes and even more beautiful people set against an exotic backdrop shot with sweeping, expensive looking crane shots over CGI pyramids. There are, as they used to say, more stars than there are in the heavens populating the screen and a knotty mystery that only Poirot can untie.
It also feels old fashioned in its storytelling. Branagh takes his time setting the scene, adding in two prologues before landing in Egypt. It takes almost an hour to get to the sleuthing and the weaving together of the clues and the characters. The leisurely pace sucks much of the immediacy out of the story, and despite all the moving parts, the mystery isn’t particularly intriguing.
More intriguing is Branagh’s take on Poirot. On film the detective has often been played as the object of fun, and while the character’s ego, persnickety personality and quirky moustache are very much on display, but here he is a serious man, heartbroken and brimming with regret. We learn how the death of a loved one changed him, turning him into the man we see today. It’s a new take on the crime solver that breathes some new life into the character’s lungs.
Then there is the pyramid in the room. Yes, Armie Hammer, the bland slab of a leading man, has a large role in the action. He is so interwoven into the movie that he couldn’t be cut out, à la Kevin Spacey in “All the Money in the World,” despite his recent scandals. At any rate, despite having one of the larger roles, he doesn’t make much of an impression.
“Death on the Nile’s” high style and all-star murder mystery may please Agatha Christie aficionados but it could use a little more of the “Knives Out” vibe to make it feel less old fashioned and conventional.
In olden days fairy tales were not meant for children. Until The Brothers Grimm came along, and despite their ominous sounding name, cleaned up folkloric tales like Snow White and Sleeping Beauty by removing all the sex and most of the violence, fairy tales were best told after the kids went to bed. So it is with Coraline, a new animated movie based on the Hugo Award-winning book by Neil Gaiman. On the surface it looks like a kid’s movie with stop motion animation and a young central character, but make no mistake this is a PG13 movie filled with creepy images that could send the little ones straight from the theater to the psychiatrist’s couch.
Coraline’s (the voice of Dakota Fanning) journey into a strange and scary new world begins when her parents (Teri Hatcher and John Hodgman) rent an apartment in a peculiar house called The Pink Palace. Upstairs in the attic is circus performer Mr. Bobinski (Ian McShane) and his troupe of musical mice. Downstairs are a pair of retired actresses, Miss Forcible (Jennifer Saunders) and Miss Spink (Dawn French), who share their apartment ith a menagerie of Scottie dogs, some alive, some stuffed. Despite the colorful neighbors Coraline is bored. Her parents neglect her and the only other kid in the neighborhood is the weeby Wybie Lovat. Things get more interesting when she discovers a mysterious door hat leads to a mirror reality, an eccentric Alice Through the Looking Glass world, where er parents pay attention to her and life is interesting. It isn’t until things take a dark turn hat Coraline realizes she may never escape the eerie Other World and return home to her eal parents.
I’ll say it again, despite Coraline’s storyline about a young girl trying to find her way back to her parents and the animation, (it’s the first stop-motion animated feature to be originally filmed in 3D), this is not a movie for little kids. The New York Times called the novel “one of the most truly frightening books ever written” and while the movie tones down some of the scares for the big screen, it is still a chilling ride.
Visually it’s a cross between Pee Wee’s Playhouse and the gonzo caricatures of Ralph Steadman. Director Henry Selick, the brains behind James and the Giant Peach and The Nightmare Before Christmas, has created two unique worlds: Coraline’s mundane day-to-day world and the heightened existence she has behind the mysterious door. Both are flights of fancy, from a garden that recreates Coraline’s face to the marching mouse band. Rendered with great imagination and beauty by Selick and his team the film is pure cinematic eye candy.
Luckily the story equals the surreal imagery. Coraline’s journey to the dark mirror image of her life is effectively scary not because it offers a thrill a minute but because it plays on primal fears, the dread of being abandoned, the unknown and claustrophobia. These basic feelings form the backbone of the story and the inventive visuals and nice voice work from Dakota Fanning and the supporting cast do the rest.
Coraline is the rare animated film that succeeds both as mainstream entertainment and art