Richard speaks to “CTV News at 11:30” anchor Andria Case about movies on VOD to watch this weekend including the Disney+ talking animals movie “The One and Only Ivan,” the World War II drama starring Gemma Arterton “Summerland on VOD and the self explanatory documentary “Skin: A History of Nudity in the Movies.”
Richard sits in on the CTV NewsChannel with host Jennifer Burke to have a look at the new movies coming to VOD, streaming services and theatres including the Disney+ talking animals movie “The One and Only Ivan,” the World War II drama starring Gemma Arterton “Summerland on VOD, the self explanatory documentary “Skin: A History of Nudity in the Movies” and the dreary drama “Euphoria.”
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 the Disney+ talking animals movie “The One and Only Ivan,” the World War II drama starring Gemma Arterton “Summerland on VOD, the self explanatory documentary “Skin: A History of Nudity in the Movies” and the dreary drama “Euphoria.”
A wartime British story driven by character and emotion rather than action, “Summerland,” now on VOD, is a showcase for its actors, Gemma Arterton, Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Tom Courtenay.
Arterton is Alice Bloom, a chainsmoking writer who lives alone in a quaint seaside cottage in Kent. She’s a loner, prone to castigating anyone who interrupts her work. Among her neighbors, who have frequently felt the sting of her tongue, rumors fly that she is a witch, or worse, a Nazi sympathizer.
When she’s not typing furiously her thoughts drift backwards in time to the defining moment of her life, a love affair Vera ((Gugu Mbatha-Raw). Alice was left heartbroken when Vera broke off the relationship, leaving for a man and the promise of a family. With bombs dropping on London, Alice becomes the unwelcoming host to Frank (Lucas Bond), a youngster evacuated from his city home as part of Operation Pied Piper.
She’s less than excited about having to care for the boy and Frank isn’t pleased either. Even less so when a school mate (Dixie Egerickx) warns him that Alice will “burn you and do sex things to you.” Over time and through tragedy, however, a bond unexpectedly forms between them.
“Summerland” is a feel-good movie that never digs too deep. It’s central life-is-not-fair theme is given a melodramatic treatment that leans toward the contrived but the relationships between the characters elevates the material. As Alice lets her guard down to accept and nurture Frank, and he, in turn embraces her, the story transcends the predictability of its plot to find a sweet, tender and pleasing spot. It’s aided by beautiful cinematography courtesy of Laurie Rose and lovely production design, but make no mistake, the heart of this story is the characters and the actors who bring them to vivid life.
Richard sits in on the CFRA Ottawa morning show with guest host Matt Harris to talk the new movies coming to theatres, VOD and streaming services including the college comedy “I Used to Go Here” starring Gillian Jacobs, the psychological thriller “She Dies Tomorrow,” the crime drama “The Burnt Orange Heresy,” the kid’s fantasy “The Secret Garden” and the biodoc “Howard: The Howard Ashman Story.”
“The Secret Garden,” the latest adaptation of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s classic 1911 novel, brings the classic story of friendship and wonder to VOD this week.
The tale begins in India in 1947 on the eve of Partition in India. Mary Lennox (Dixie Egerickx), born in India to wealthy English parents, finds herself orphaned when mummy and daddy suddenly pass away in a cholera outbreak. Sent to live with Archibald Craven (Colin Firth, who played a version of his son Colin in a 1987 TV movie of “The Secret Grden”), an aloof uncle she’s never met on his remote and rambling Yorkshire moors estate, the youngster has trouble adapting to life in the large country house under the strict housekeeper Mrs. Medlock (Julie Walters).
While exploring Misselthwaite Manor Mary makes some interesting finds. She meets Colin (Edan Hayhurst), her ailing cousin whose been locked away in one wing of the house. Both are stinging from the loss of a parent—his mother passed—and both feel like outsiders in the family.
When Mary discovers a hidden garden tucked away on the grounds, she and her friend Dickon (Amir Wilson) tend to the forgotten patch of land. Bringing the garden back to life also awakens the place’s natural restorative power that helps Mary, Colin and Mr. Craven heal, physically and spiritually.
Fans of the book should know liberties have been taken with the classic text. The shift to 1947 works, adding an additional layer of meaning to Mary’s story of distress. It helps base the tale in the reality of the situation but the movie allows magic realism to seep in.
That it is from the producer of the “Harry Potter” and “Paddington” movies means that it has a family-friendly fantasy gloss that the original text and other adaptations have done without. The magical elements may only exist in Mary’s imagination and not stem from the wonder of nature as the book suggests, but they are pronounced. There are ghosts and the garden’s trees respond to the kids, almost like Treebeard in “Lord of the Rings: Two Towers.” It adds a more whimsical tone to a story that had previously relied on the more grounded ideas of exercise and fresh air as a road to physical and mental health.
What it all means, really, is that the story isn’t quaint anymore. The new “The Secret Garden” is a handsomely made, big CGI movie that plays like “Masterpiece Theatre” for kids. Closer in tone to “Harry Potter” than author Frances Hodgson Burnett’s original ode to the healing power of love, kindness and nature, it isn’t as soulful as other versions but should appeal to younger audiences who are used to glossy adaptations of books for kids.