Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Merella Fernandez to have a look at the weekend’s big releases “The Maze Runner: The Death Cure,” Annette Bening in “Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool” and the thriller “Hollow in the Land.”
A weekly feature from from ctvnews.ca! The Crouse Review is a quick, hot take on the weekend’s biggest movies! This week Richard looks at the latest YA adaptation to hit the screen, “The Maze Runner: The Death Cure,” Annette Bening in “Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool” and the thriller “Hollow in the Land.”
Look the word hardscrabble up in the dictionary and you’re likely to find a picture of “Hollow in the Land’s” Alison Miller (Dianna Agron). She lives in the kind of backwater industrial town where everyone knows her business. And there’s a lot to talk about. Her father is locked up, jailed for an alcohol fuelled crime spree that ended in the death of the son of the local mill owner.
Mom is a long distant memory, having run off, leaving Alison to care for her teenage brother Brandon (Jared Abrahamson). He’s a handful. “You know one of these days you’re going to do some real damage, smart ass,” a local cop (Michael Rogers) tells him when he’s picked up for fighting, “and you’ll have bigger problems than some paperwork. You’ll be sharing a cell with your old man in no time.”
When the neighbours aren’t talking about the Miller’s troubled family history they’re gossiping about Alison and her girlfriend Charlene (Rachelle Lefevre).
Alison’s life is further scrutinized when Brandon lands in deep trouble. The day after his girlfriend Sophie’s violent, drunken father (John Sampson) walked in on them having sex, the old man winds up dead and Brandon is the chief suspect. Convinced of his innocence she launches her own investigation only to wind up under the microscope herself.
“Hollow in the Land” is more of a snapshot of life in a small town than it is a murder mystery. The procedural aspects of the story are less interesting than the characters, which are brought to vivid, scrappy life. Agron, best known as high school cheerleader Quinn Fabray on “Glee,” brings grit to Alison, playing her as determined yet emotionally damaged.
“Hollow in the Land” will be compared to the equally grungy “Winter’s Bone.” Like that movie writer-director Scooter Corkle paints a drab picture of life in this town, creating a backwoods neo-noir with some nice details, but never really satisfies narratively.
Richard and CP24 anchor Nick Dixon have a look at the weekend’s new movies including Chris Hemsworth’s funny take on his most famous character in “Thor: Ragnarok,” the lump of coal that is “A Bad Moms Christmas” and the strangest movie of the year, “The Killing of the Sacred Deer.”
Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Lois Lee to have a look at the clown prince of Asgard in “Thor: Ragnarok,” the grammatically incorrect “A Bad Moms Christmas, the strange “The Killing of the Sacred Deer” and the religious drama “Novitiate.”
“Novitiate,” the new drama from director Margaret Betts, is a story of love, piety, obedience and sacrifice that is as tightly wound as one of Reverend Mother’s (Melissa Leo) Rosaries.
Cathleen (played as a youngster by Eliza Stella Mason) is a just seven years old when she falls in love for the first time. Taken to church for the first time by her non-religious mother Nora (Julianne Nicholson) the little girl becomes attracted to the solemnity of the service. It’s the polar opposite of her home life where Mom and Dad (Chris Zylka) are constantly at one another’s throats. When she’s offered a chance to attend Catholic school for free Cathleen jumps at the chance despite Nora’s misgivings.
At the convent school Cathleen (played by Margaret Qualley from age seventeen on) finds the life she was always unable to enjoy at home. Under the watchful eye of Reverend Mother the teenager decides to give herself over to the church, become a nun and devote herself to the worship and servitude of God.
“That’s the craziest thing I have ever heard,” comes Nora’s stunned reaction.
“I was called,” says Cathleen. “I want to become a nun and there is nothing you can do to make me change my mind.”
Her training—from postulant to the novitiate—coincides with the introduction of Vatican II, a reaction to changing cultural practises after World War II that signalled widespread changes in the church. With change afoot Cathleen determines what it means to embark on a life as a servant of God, as Reverend Mother grapples with what the changes mean to her faith.
“Novitiate” is a detailed, sombre look at the nature of faith that sometimes feels like two movies in one. Cathleen’s narrative leads the story and is the most compelling part of the film but her story of love and sacrifice is diluted by Reverend Mother’s reaction to the reformist and more-liberal-than-she’d-like Vatican II dictums. The characters are bookends but even with the two hour run time there isn’t quite enough story to dive deep into their lives and make us care about both.
Better stated are Cathleen’s quandaries. She wrangles but rarely waivers with her faith, presenting a complex look at the personal toll that comes with the gruelling novitiate process. Qualley and her supporting cast of “sisters”— Liana Liberato, Eline Powell, Morgan Saylor, Maddie Hasson and Ashley Bell—are a mosaic of characters placed together to show the various reasons the young women chose to become nuns.
Leo humanizes the severe Reverend Mother, turning her from stern mistress to a person caught in the tide of change and unable to swim.
Betts, who also wrote “Novitiate’s” script, brings nuance and thoughtfulness to most characters but as a whole the meditative mood of the movie’s two storylines never coalesce.