This week on the Richard Crouse Show our first guest today comes from a musical family. Martha Wainwright is daughter of folk singer and actor Loudon Wainwright III and singer-songwriter Kate McGarrigle. Her older brother is Rufus Wainwright… but she has made her own mark with a series of critically acclaimed albums. Her latest is “Love Will Be Reborn,” a record that appears to cover the period of time where Wainwright divorced her husband after about a decade of marriage. “Love Will Be Reborn” was recorded in Wainwright’s hometown of Montreal, in the basement of her cafe, Ursa which also served as a studio. Martha joins us via Zoom from Ursa in Mile End in Montreal.
Then we meet Nicole Dorsey, the director and screenwriter of “Black Conflux,” a film now on VOD after a very successful theatrical run. “The Globe and Mail” praised the story of the lives of a disillusioned teen and an alienated man that converge in 1980s Newfoundland for its “atmosphere of dread and depiction of rural life as a hotbed of sexual fantasies and violence.” Stick around, there’s lots to talk about on that one.
Finally, Marvel’s latest superhero stops by. He’s Canadian, you already know him from starring on “Kim’s Convenience,” but very soon he’ll be best known for playing the title character in “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.” He’s Marvel’s first Asian superhero, his name is Simu Liu and here joins us today.
Each week on the nationally syndicated Richard Crouse Show, Canada’s most recognized movie critic brings together some of the most interesting and opinionated people from the movies, television and music to put a fresh spin on news from the world of lifestyle and pop-culture. Tune into this show to hear in-depth interviews with actors and directors, to find out what’s going on behind the scenes of your favourite shows and movies and get a new take on current trends. Recent guests include Ethan Hawke, director Brad Bird, comedian Gilbert Gottfried, Eric Roberts, Brian Henson, Jonathan Goldsmith a.k.a. “The most interesting man in the world,” and best selling author Linwood Barclay.
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Richard joins Ryan Doyle of the NewsTalk 1010 afternoon show The Rush for Booze and Reviews! Today he talks about the world’s most expensive cocktails–listen in if you’re thirsty with a bulging wallet–and reviews “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” and Amazon Prime’s updated version of “Cinderella” with Camila Cabello.
Richard joins CP24 to have a look at new movies coming to VOD, streaming services and theatres including Simu Liu as Marvel’s first Asian superhero in “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” Amazon Prime’s updated version of “Cinderella” with Camila Cabello and Riz Ahmed in the surreal “Mogul Mowgli.”
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 Simu Liu as Marvel’s first Asian superhero in “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” Amazon Prime’s updated version of “Cinderella” with Camila Cabello and Riz Ahmed in the surreal “Mogul Mowgli.”
Richard joins NewsTalk 1010 host Jim Richards 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 to talk about Marvel’s first Asian superhero in “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” Amazon Prime’s updated version of “Cinderella” and Riz Ahmed in the surreal “Mogul Mowgli.”
“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” the latest addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and now playing in theatres, is a rarity. It’s a superhero origin movie that doesn’t suck. They haven’t all been terrible, but I still feel the burn of “Fantastic Four,” “Green Hornet” and “Catwoman” whenever I hear the dreaded ‘origin story’ descriptor.
But “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” doesn’t suck. It is a stand-alone origin movie with some of the best action sequences seen in the MCU jurisdiction, a couple of Hong Kong screen legends in the form of Tony Leung and Michelle Yeoh and a winning performance from Simu Liu as the first Asian lead in Marvel’s superhero stable.
The story begins 1000 years ago with warlord Wenwu (Leung) taking possession of the mystical Ten Rings, each containing untold power. Now immortal and unbeatable, for the next millennium he amasses wealth and influence as his army secretly has a hand in controlling world events.
His evil ways come to a (temporary) halt when he meets Jiang Li (Fala Chen), a guardian of the mystic realm of Ta Lo. After a flirty battle, they fall in love. Wenwu puts the Ten Rings away as they welcome two kids, Shang-Chi and Xialing (Meng’er Zhang), to their happy family. But the salad days don’t last for long. When Jiang Li is murdered by a rival gang from Wenwu’s past, the immortal’s megalomaniac ways return. He trains Shang-Chi to be his number one assassin, and, at just fourteen-years-old, sends him off on his first mission.
Cut to present day. Shang-Chi is now an adult, living in San Francisco under the name Shaun. He and his best friend Katy (Awkwafina) work as hotel valets during the day, and most nights stay out too late singing karaoke. Katy has no idea of Shaun’s mysterious past until one morning on the bus a gang of daddy dearest’s assassins attempt to retrieve a jade pendant his mother gave him. Old instincts kick in and Shaun defends himself in what is probably the most fun fight sequence in any Marvel movie.
The action now shifts to Macau, as Shang-Chi, with Katy in tow, travel to China to warn Xialing that Wenwu’s assassins are likely coming for her pendant next. But questions loom: Why does Wenwu want the pendants, and what secrets do they contain? “I don’t know what he wants with them,” says Shang-Chi. “But it can’t be good.”
“Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” succeeds because of its action, its cast and story but most of all it works because of its sincerity. It is as epic as any other Marvel movie but it’s the small moments that really add up. The story’s emphasis on personal cultural details, relationships and family provides an earthbound grounding that helps balance out the mystical themes of the final forty-five minutes.
The charming relationship between Shang-Chi and Katy brings considerable comedic relief, but also helps differentiate Shang-Chi from his other Marvel colleagues. He’s not an alien, or a wealthy industrialist with a penchant for world saving, or genetically mutated. He’s a car valet with an extraordinary set of skills learned through years of practice. Liu’s performance is believable both as everyman Shaun and the heroic Shang-Chi, because the relationships that have formed him, with his mother, father, sister and Katy, are well detailed, showing us how and why he became the person he did. That backstory—the dreaded origin story—works, despite a reliance on flashbacks, and is distinct enough so as not to feel like Shang-Chi is being wrestled into the MCU.
The MCU influence becomes evident in the film’s busy climax. What was once a character drama, with great action sequences, that touched on issues of generational trauma via heartfelt performances—Leung elevates every scene he’s in with his majestic presence—switches gears to full blown, muddy CGI. The climatic world saving battle fills the screen with action, but compared to what came before—more up-close-and-personal fight scenes—it feels overblown and uninteresting.
Until that sequence, however, “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” has the heroics, heart, humor and homages to Asian culture to make it the best, and most fun, standalone Marvel movie since “Black Panther.”
Richard joins CP24 to have a look at the weekend’s new movies including the “Little Women,” the war epic “1917,” the courtroom drama “Just Mercy,” the animated spy flick “Spies in Disguise” and Adam Sandler’s surprising work in “Uncut Gems.”
Richard sits in on the CTV NewsChannel to have a look at the weekend’s big releases including the latest remake of “Little Women,” the war epic “1917,” the courtroom drama “Just Mercy” and Adam Sandler’s surprising work in “Uncut Gems.”
When we first meet Walter McMillian (Jamie Foxx), known to friends and family as Johnny D, he’s in his element, in the woods chopping down a tree as part of his pulping business. The calm and serenity of his life is soon uprooted by Alabama lawman Sheriff Tate (Michael Harding). What at first seems to be a routine stop takes a turn when Tate snarls, “You wanna make a break for it? ‘Cuz after what you did I’m happy to end this now.”
Those words kick off the action in “Just Mercy,” a based-on-life-events legal drama starring Foxx and Michael B. Jordan. Johnny D is sent to death row even before he is tried and convicted of the murder of an eighteen-year-old local girl. “You don’t know what it’s like down here when you are guilty since you were born,” he says.
After languishing in a tiny cell near the prison’s “death room” for several years Johnny D is visited by Harvard-trained civil rights defense attorney Bryan Stevenson (Jordan). The former church pianist is an idealistic young man, new to the profession but fueled by a passion to fight injustice. “I wanted to become a lawyer to help people,” he says. Moving to Monroeville, Alabama—where Harper Lee wrote “To Kill a Mockingbird”—he sets up the Equal Justice Initiative with the aid of Eva Ansley (Brie Larson) with an eye toward undoing wrongs.
It’s a daunting task. On his first visit to the prison he is illegally strip searched by a leering guard on his way in. Worse, the community sees him as someone who wants to put convicted killers back on the street. He deals with death threats, witness intimidation and racism but the biggest hurdle comes down to one cold, hard fact. “You know how many people been freed from Alabama death row?” asks Johnny D. “None.”
Working against the odds Stevenson begins a campaign to expose the corruption that landed his innocent client in jail. “Whatever you did your life is still meaningful,” he says, “and I’m going to do everything I can to stop them from taking it.”
“Just Mercy” does a good job in setting up the obstacles Stevenson encounters on his search for the truth. The film could be criticized for director Destin Daniel Cretton’s traditional, linear approach but the entrenched racism and systemic resistance to change Stevenson deals with are undeniably powerful indictments of a legal system that favors the establishment over everyone else.
Bringing the tale of injustice to life are formidable but understated performances from the core cast. Jordan and Foxx keep the theatrics to a minimum. As Stevenson, Jordan is all business, driven by personal passion but bound by his professional attitude. Foxx is stoic, a man who has lost all hope. When his case takes a turn the change in his body language is a subtle reminder that his attitude has shifted.
Equally as strong are the supporting players. As death row inmate Herbert Richardson, Rob Morgan brings vulnerability to the kind of character who is so often portrayed as a one-dimensional stereotype.
The film’s showiest performance comes from Tim Blake Nelson as a man tormented by his role in Johnny D’s wrongful conviction. His face contorted and scarred he gives the character an arc within his relatively short time on screen.
What “Just Mercy” lacks in flashy storytelling it makes up for in its earnest examination of injustice and discrimination.