Posts Tagged ‘Doug Jones’

LOOKING BACK AT 2017: RICHARD picks for the BEST FILMS OF THE YEAR.

THE GOOD (in alphabetical order)

Baby Driver: Although it contains more music than most tuneful of movies “Baby Driver,” the new film from director Edgar Wright, isn’t a musical in the “West Side Story,” “Sound of Music” sense. Wallpapered with 35 rock ‘n roll songs on the soundtrack it’s a hard driving heist flick that can best be called an action musical.

The Big Sick: Even when “The Big Sick” is making jokes about terrorism and the “X-Files” it is all heart, a crowd-pleaser that still feels personal and intimate.

Call Me By Your Name: This is a movie of small details that speak to larger truths. Director Luca Guadagnino keeps the story simple relying on the minutiae to add depth and beauty to the story. The idyllic countryside, the quaint town, the music of the Psychedelic Furs and the languid pace of a long Italian summer combine to create the sensual backdrop against which the romance between the two blossoms. Guadagnino’s camera captures it all, avoiding the pitfalls of melodrama to present a story that is pure emotion. It feels real and raw, haunted by the ghosts of loves gone by.

Darkest Hour: This is a historical drama with all the trappings of “Masterpiece Theatre.” You can expect photography, costumes and period details are sumptuous. What you may not expect is the light-hearted tone of much of the goings on. While this isn’t “Carry On Churchill,” it has a lighter touch that might be expected. Gary Oldman, not an actor known for his comedic flourishes, embraces the sly humour. When Churchill becomes Prime Minister his wife, Clementine (Kristin Scott Thomas) makes an impassioned speech about the importance of the work he is about to take on. He raises a glass and, cutting through the emotion of the moment, says, “Here’s to not buggering it up!” It shows a side of Churchill not often revealed in wartime biopics.

The Disaster Artist: The key to pulling off “The Disaster Artist” is not recreating “The Room” beat for beat, although they do that, it’s actually about treating Wiseau as a person and not an object of fun. He’s an outrageous character and Franco commits to it 100%. From the marble-mouthed speech pattern that’s part Valley Girl and part Beaker from The Muppets to the wild clothes and stringy hair, he’s equal parts creepy and lovable but underneath his bravado are real human frailties. Depending on your point of view he’s either delusional or aspirational but in Franco’s hands he’s never also never less than memorable. It’s a broad, strange performance but it may also be one of the actor’s best.

Dunkirk: This is an intense movie but it is not an overly emotional one. The cumulative effect of the vivid images and sounds will stir the soul but despite great performances the movie doesn’t necessarily make you feel for one character or another. Instead its strength is in how it displays the overwhelming sense of scope of the Dunkirk mission. With 400,000 men on the ground with more in the air and at sea, the sheer scope of the operation overpowers individuality, turning the focus on the collective. Director Christopher Nolan’s sweeping camera takes it all in, epic and intimate moments alike.

The Florida Project: This is, hands down, one of the best films of the year. Low-budget and naturalistic, it packs more punch than any superhero. Director Sean Baker defies expectations. He’s made a film about kids for adults that finds joy in rocky places. What could have been a bleak experience or an earnest message movie is brought to vivid life by characters that feel real. It’s a story about poverty that neither celebrates or condemns its characters. Mooney’s exploits are entertaining and yet an air of jeopardy hangs heavy over every minute of the movie. Baker knows that Halley and Moonie’s well being hangs by a thread but he also understands they exist in the real world and never allows their story to fall into cliché.

Get Out: This is the weirdest and most original mainstream psychodrama to come along since “The Babadook.” The basic premise harkens back to the Sidney Poitier’s classic “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.” In that film parents, played by Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn, have their attitudes challenged when their daughter introduces them to her African American fiancé. The uncomfortable situation of meeting in-laws for the first time is universal. It’s the added layers of paranoia and skewered white liberalism that propels the main character’s (Daniel Kaluuya) situation into full-fledged horror. In this setting he is the other, the stranger and as his anxiety grows the social commentary regarding attitudes about race in America grows sharper and more focussed.

Lady Bird: Greta Gerwig’s skilful handling of the story of Lady Bird’s busy senior year works not just because it’s unvarnished and honest in its look at becoming an adult but also, in a large degree, to Saoirse Ronan’s performance. I have long called her ‘Lil Meryl. She’s an actor of unusual depth, a young person (born in 1994) with an old soul. Lady Bird is almost crushed by the weight of uncertainty that greets her with every turn—will her parents divorce, will there be money for school, will Kyle be the boy of her dreams, will she ever make enough cash to repay her parents for her upbringing?—but Ronan keeps her nimble, sidestepping teen ennui with a complicated mix of snappy one liners, hard earned wisdom and a well of emotion. It’s tremendous, Academy Award worthy work.

The Post: Steven Spielberg film is a fist-pump-in-the-air look at the integrity and importance of a free press. It’s a little heavy-handed but these are heavy-handed times. Director Spielberg and stars Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep are entertainers first and foremost, and they do entertain here, but they also shine a light on a historical era whose reverberations are being felt today stronger than ever.

The Shape of Water: A dreamy slice of pure cinema. Director Guillermo del Toro uses the stark Cold War as a canvas to draw warm and vivid portraits of his characters. It’s a beautiful creature feature ripe with romance, thrills and, above all, empathy for everyone. This is the kind of movie that reminds us of why we fell in love with movies in the first place.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri: The story of a mother’s unconventional war with the world is simple enough, it’s the complexity of the characters that elevates the it to the level of great art.

Wonder Woman: Equal parts Amazon sword and sandal epic, mad scientist flick, war movie and rom com, it’s a crowd pleaser that places the popular character front and centre. As played by Gal Gadot, Diana is charismatic and kick ass, a superhero who is both truly super and heroic. Like Superman she is firmly on the side of good, not a tortured soul à la Batman. Naïve to the ways of the world, she runs headfirst into trouble. Whether she’s throwing a German tank across a battlefield, defying gravity to leap to the top of a bell tower, tolerating Trevor’s occasional mansplaining or deflecting bullets with her indestructible Bracelets of Submission, she proves in scene after scene to be both a formidable warrior and a genuine, profoundly empathic character.

RICHARD’S WEEKEND MOVIE REVIEWS FROM CP24! FRIDAY DECEMBER 15, 2017.

Richard and CP24 anchor George Lagogianes have a look at the weekend’s new movies including ”Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” the no-bull kid’s tale “Ferdinand” and the coming-of-age romance “Call Me By Your Name.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!

RICHARD’S CTV NEWSCHANNEL WEEKEND MOVIE REVIEWS & MORE FOR DECEMBER 15.

Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Marcia MacMillan to have a look at ”Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” the no-bull kid’s tale “Ferdinand” and the coming-of-age romance “Call Me By Your Name.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!

CTVNEWS.CA: “THE CROUSE REVIEW LOOKS AT “DARKEST HOUR” & MORE!

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 “Darkest Hour, “The Shape of Water” and “Wonder Wheel.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!

RICHARD’S WEEKEND MOVIE REVIEWS FROM CP24! FRIDAY DECEMBER 08, 2017.

Richard and CP24 anchor Jamie Gutfreund have a look at the weekend’s new movies including “Darkest Hour, “The Shape of Water” and “Wonder Wheel.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!

RICHARD’S CTV NEWSCHANNEL WEEKEND MOVIE REVIEWS & MORE FOR DECEMBER 08.

Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Marcia MacMillan to have a look at the Winston Churchill biopic “Darkest Hour, “The Shape of Water,” a movie Richard says “is the kind of movie that made me fall in love with movies in the first place,” and the not-so-wondrous “Wonder Wheel.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!

 

Metro In Focus: a creature-feature ripe with romance, thrills and empathy for all.

By Richard Crouse – Metro In Focus

Set in Cold War-era Baltimore, The Shape of Water sees Sally Hawkins as Elisa, a woman rendered mute by childhood abuse. A cleaner in a military laboratory and storage facility, she communicates through sign language with co-worker Zelda (Octavia Spencer) and best friend and neighbour Giles (Richard Jenkins). When a mysterious Gill Man, held captive in a giant water-filled iron lung, is brought in the cleaners are told to keep their distance.

Elisa, however, bonds with the beast. After hours, when everyone else has gone home, she stays behind, playing music for the creature, performing dance moves learned from old movies and feeding him her special hard-boiled eggs. They click. She relates to him being unable to speak. “He doesn’t know what I lack,” she signs to Giles. “He sees me for what I am. As I am. He’s happy to see me.” He responds to her gentle nature.

His captors feel differently. They see him — “The Asset” they call him — as a case study, ripe for vivisection so they can discover how he can breathe on land and underwater. Everyone except for Elisa, it seems, wants The Asset dead.

When Elisa discovers a hard-nosed coiled-ball-of-rage named Colonel Strickland (Michael Shannon) is torturing the beast, she hatches a catch-and-release plan. Steal the creature, hide him until the next rainstorm fills a nearby canal and set him free.

The tale of intrigue takes a romantic turn when Elisa begins to regard The Asset as more man than monster.

The Shape of Water is a dreamy slice of pure cinema. Director Guillermo del Toro uses the stark Cold War backdrop as a canvas to draw warm and vivid portraits of his characters. Elisa and Giles are an unconventional family, outsiders in a world that values conformity.

Zelda is a feisty and funny presence — “I can handle pee,” she says, mop in hand cleaning up one of The Asset’s messes. “I can handle poo. But blood? That does something awful to me.” — while the creature is an empathic being with soulful eyes who glows with blue light when he is happy.

The combination of characters and del Toro’s flights of fancy is not only a love letter to the movies — Giles and Elisa live above a movie theatre, watch old musicals on TV and there’s even an Old Hollywood fantasy sequence inside the story — but a Valentine to why we fell in love with the movies in the first place. It’s a feast for the eyes and the heart.

At the centre of it all are Hawkins and Doug Jones as The Asset. Both, one nakedly emotional, the other hidden away under layers of makeup, wouldn’t be out of place in a silent movie. The fantasy elements of the story swirl around but Hawkins’ delicate but steely presence (aided by Jenkins’ heartfelt and occasionally heartbreaking loyalty) grounds the story in reality. Jones, though covered in scales and gills, uses his physicality to project the character’s power and vulnerability.

In the story’s thriller section, Shannon provides a villain whose gangrenous fingers are a metaphor for the rot in his soul. In the actor’s hands, Strickland is as cold as the blood that runs through the creature’s veins.

Wound tightly together these elements combine to form a beautiful creature-feature ripe with romance, thrills and, above all, empathy for all.

THE SHAPE OF WATER: 4 ½ STARS. “ripe with romance, thrills and, above all, empathy.”

Love is not about appearances. That’s a common theme. It’s “Beauty and the Beast” and “King Kong.” It’s “Creature from the Black Lagoon” and “Edward Scissorhands.” It’s “ET” and “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.” With “The Shape of Water” Guillermo del Toro redefines the age-old maxim for a new generation.

Set in Cold War era Baltimore, Sally Hawkins plays Elisa (Sally Hawkins), a woman rendered mute by childhood abuse. A cleaner in a military laboratory and storage facility, she communicates through sign language with co-worker Zelda (Octavia Spencer) and best friend and neighbour Giles (Richard Jenkins). When a mysterious Amazonian Gill Man, held captive in a giant water-filled iron lung, is brought in the cleaners are told to keep their distance. The creature is not from the Black Lagoon, but from a river in South America.

“The thing we keep in there is an affront,” says the hard-nosed coiled-ball-of-rage Colonel Strickland (Michael Shannon). I should know. I pulled that thing out of a filthy river in South America and dragged it all the way home and we didn’t get to like one another much.”

Elisa, however, bonds with the beast. After hours, when everyone else has gone home, she stays behind, playing music for the creature, performing dance moves learned from old movies and feeding him her special hard-boiled eggs. They click. She relates to him being unable to speak. “He doesn’t know what I lack,” she tells Giles. “He sees me for what I ham. As I am. He’s happy to see me.” He responds to her gentle nature.

His captors feel differently. They see him—“The Asset” they call him—as a case study, ripe for vivisection so they can discover how he can breathe on land and underwater. Everyone except for Elisa, it seems, wants the Asset dead. The United States government wants to study the body, while the Russians want to kill him and steal the body to prevent the US from learning anything about it.

When Elisa discovers Strickland is torturing the beast she hatches a catch and release plan. Steal the creature, hide him until the next rainstorm fills a nearby canal and set him free. Zelda and Giles reluctantly agree to help. “He’s not human,” protests Giles. “If we don’t help it,” Elisa replies, “neither are we.” A doctor (Michael Stuhlbarg) who doesn’t want to see the creature harmed, provides medical advice.

The tale of intrigue takes a romantic turn when Elisa begins to regard the Asset as more man than monster.

“The Shape of Water” is a dreamy slice of pure cinema. Del Toro uses the stark Cold War as a canvas to draw warm and vivid portraits of his characters. Elisa and Giles are an unconventional family, outsiders in a world that values conformity. Zelda is a feisty and funny presence—“I can handle pee,” she says, mop in hand cleaning up one of the Asset’s messes. “I can handle poo. But blood? That does something awful to me.”—while the creature is an empathic being with soulful eyes who glows with blue light when he is happy.

The combination of characters and del Toro’s flights of fancy is not only a love letter to the movies—Giles and Elisa live above a movie theatre, watch old musicals on TV and there’s even an Old Hollywood fantasy sequence inside the story—but a Valentine to why we fell in loves with the movies in the first place. It’s a feast for the eyes and the heart.

At the center of it all are Hawkins and Doug Jones as the Asset. Both, one nakedly emotional, the other hidden away under layers of make-up, wouldn’t be out of place in a silent movie. The fantasy elements of the story swirl around but Hawkins’s delicate but steely presence (aided by Jenkins’s heartfelt and occasionally heartbreaking loyalty) grounds the story in reality. Jones. Though covered in scales and gills, uses his physicality to project the character’s power and vulnerability.

In the story’s thriller section Shannon provides a villain whose gangrenous fingers are a metaphor for the rot in his soul. In the actor’s hands Strickland is as cold as the blood that runs through the creature’s veins.

Wound tightly together these elements combine to form a beautiful creature feature ripe with romance, thrills and, above all, empathy for all. This is the kind of movie that reminds us of why we fell in love with movies in the first place.