Posts Tagged ‘Douglas Booth’


Richard speaks to “CTV News at Six” anchor Andria Case about the best movies and television to watch this weekend including Golden Globe winners “The Mauritanian” and “The United States Vs. Billie Holiday” and a new coming-of-age movie on VOD “My Salinger Year.”

Watch the whole thing HERE! (Starts at 37:40)


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 Disney’s animated action flick “Raya and the Last Dragon” (Disney+ with Premier Access and theatres), the long awaited sequel “Coming 2 America” (Amazon Prime Video), the biopic “The United States Vs. Billie Holiday” (VOD), the legal drama “The Mauritanian” (premium digital and on-demand), the coming-of-age story “My Salinger Year” (VOD) and the look at the war on drugs “Crisis” (on digital and demand).

Listen to the whole thing HERE!

MY SALINGER YEAR: 3 STARS. “not another ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ knock-off.”

Set back in the days when e-mail was “a new trend that will phase out,” “My Salinger Year,” now on VOD, is a coming-of-age story of an aspiring writer who finds herself enmeshed in the shadow of one of the great, reclusive authors of the twentieth century.

Tired of analyzing other people’s work Joanna (Margaret Qualley) drops out of Berkeley to move to New York City to write. “Isn’t that what aspiring did?” she says. “Live in cheap apartments and write in cafes?” She gets a foot in the door with a job with Margaret (Sigourney Weaver), the old-school literary agent of “Catcher in the Rye” author J. D. Salinger. The reclusive author is alive and well, and still writing but unwilling to actually publish any of his work.

Margaret has lots of rules. No computers, no opened toed shoes and no need to wear stocking in the summer. Above all, no talking to Jerry, as in Jerry Salinger. “Jerry doesn’t want to hear about how much you love ‘Catcher in the Rye,’ she says, “and he doesn’t want to hear about your stories. Just say, Yes Jerry, ‘I’ll tell my boss you called.’”

Jerry also doesn’t want to hear from his readers, even though fans send letters by the truck load. Instead, the letters are read, that’s the bulk of Joanna’s new job, and responded to with a form letter.

Soon though, her secretarial role takes on a different dimension when she finds herself emotionally invested in the letters; the stories from fans about how Salinger’s work affected their lives. “I can’t send them a letter that says, ‘Dear Kid, J.D. Salinger doesn’t care about you.” Instead, she secretly begins personalizing the letters, discovering a new inner voice.

“My Salinger Year,” based on the 2014 memoir of the same name by Joanna Rakoff, is a coming-of-age story about pushing insecurity aside to find a path in life. Far from another “The Devil Wears Prada” knock-off—although Weaver has fun playing Joanna’s cantankerous, computer-hating boss—it’s subtler than that.

It works best when it focusses on Joanna’s time at the literary agency. Less so when she’s washing dishes in the bathtub of her cheap NYC apartment she shares with her Socialist boyfriend Don (Douglas Booth). Joanna’s relationship with Salinger (Tim Post, heard but barely seen) and Margaret are the gateways that define her need to step away from the life she knew; to be extraordinary. That’s the film’s most compelling journey, the rest feels shopworn.

“My Salinger Year” is about momentous changes in Joanna’s life, but it doesn’t feel momentous. Qualley is effective but emphasizes the character’s naiveté in a way that underplays Joanna’s journey. A third act dance number, one that visualizes Joanna’s reaction to reading “Catcher in the Rye,” brings the life the story deserves, but by then it’s too little, too late.


Richard joins CP24 anchor Nick Dixon to have a look at the weekend’s new movies including “Skyscraper,” the animated Adam Sandler flick “Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation,” the documentary “Whitney,” the biopic “Mary Shelley,” “Sorry to Bother You” starring LaKeith Stanfield and the comedy “The Death (and Life) of Carl Naardlinger.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!

MARY SHELLEY: 2 STARS. “a conventional look at an unconventional life.”

Today Mary Shelley is a household name even if her best-known book, “Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus,” the first true science fiction tale, was originally published without her name.

In director Haifaa Al-Mansour’s new biopic “Mary Shelley” Elle Fanning plays the title character as a rebellious daughter of philosophers, smitten with ghost stories. Dreaming of a life less ordinary—”I have a fire in my soul,” she says early on—she begins a scandalous affair with married poet and radical Percy Bysshe Shelley (Douglas Booth). Theirs is an unconventional life, embracing free love and literally and figuratively in the form of Mary’s step-sister Claire Claremont (Bel Powley).

As scandalizing as her lifestyle may have been to her contemporaries, it is her best-known book that sent shock waves through the publishing world. Written in 1816 as part of a competition between Mary, aged 18, her husband, flamboyant Romantic poet Lord Byron (Tom Sturridge) and writer John Polidori (Ben Hardy) to see who could write the best ghost story, “Frankenstein” becomes a way for Mary to funnel her feelings—the heartache of losing her family amid the scandal and her sense of otherness—into print.

“Mary Shelley” is a nicely turned out film, with beautiful period particulars and an eye toward detail in décor. It is a shame then, that director Al-Mansour hasn’t applied the same level of rigour to the script. In what feels like an attempt to make Mary Shelley’s search for her voice relatable to a modern audience her daring edges have been blunted. Her radical lifestyle is alluded to but the presentation feels sterile, funnelled through the prism of romantic drama rather than history. Fewer scenes of Mary and Percy arguing and more of the author’s ground breaking lust for life and the movie might have been a more fitting tribute to a true original.

“Mary Shelley,” despite a solid performance from Fanning, is a conventional look at an unconventional life.

THE LIMEHOUSE GOLEM: 3 STARS. “should satisfy fans of Victorian horror.”

“The Limehouse Golem” is a slice of Victorian Grand-Guignol gaslight horror that owes a debt to Jack the Ripper and to the great Hammer films of he 1960s.

London’s fog-drenched Limehouse district is in the spell of a serial killer who leaves behind mutilated bodies and cryptic messages written in his victim’s blood. The ritualistic killings are so savage, so inhuman the press presume they could only be the work of an ancient evil, the Golem.

Stumped, Scotland Yard assigns Inspector Kildare (Bill Nighy) to the case. Brilliant but troubled, the veteran policeman immediately starts putting clues together even though he knows his superiors think the case is unsolvable. His first break comes with the discovery of a diary of the Golem’s crimes, written in his own hand, kept in the reading room of a library. On the day of the last entry, September 24, only four men where in the reading room, music hall comedian Dan Leno (Douglas Booth), German philosopher Karl Marx, novelist George Gissing and playwright John Cree (Sam Reid).

They each become suspects but high on his list is Cree, a pompous failed playwright poisoned by his wife Elizabeth (Olivia Cooke) on the night of the last Golem murder. The Inspector is convinced she knew he was the killer and poisoned him to stop the carnage. Now he must go full Sherlock to prove that, solve the case and save Elizabeth from the gallows.

“The Limehouse Golem” is a lurid piece of work. Handsomely decked out with fine period details and sumptuous production design, it lures you in with “Masterpiece Theatre” style only to make a sharp U-turn into Hammer Horror territory. Victims are sawn into pieces, beheaded and generally ripped to pieces in ways that would make Jack the Ripper envious. It’s gory and gruesome but what it isn’t is a thriller. Despite a labyrinthine story structure—there’s more flashbacks than you can throw a dismembered head at—the good Inspector seems to be the only one who doesn’t know who the killer is.

On the plus side “The Limehouse Golem” has great performances—does Nighy ever disappoint?—and paints a vivid picture of Victorian music hall, onstage and off. The bawdy nature of the shows nicely compliments the theatrical nature of the killings, helping to create an otherworldly, weird atmosphere.

“The Limehouse Golem” isn’t much of a penny dreadful thriller—there’s too many red-herrings for that—but it does spill enough of the red stuff to satisfy fans of Victorian horror.


Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 3.17.55 PMRichard’s CP24 reviews for “Get Hard,” “Home” “Boychoir” and “October Gale.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!

THE RIOT CLUB: 2 ½ STARS. “the story of class warfare needs a few more skirmishes.”

Screen Shot 2015-03-21 at 2.19.10 PM“The Riot Club” is a story of excess, contempt and aristocratic entitlement. Based on the play “Posh” by Laura Wade it centers around a fictional version Oxford University’s Bullingdon or Riot Club, a two-hundred-and-fifty-year-old drinking fraternity.

The film doesn’t come with an “Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental,” disclaimer, probably much to the chagrin of former real-life members, Prime Minister David Cameron and Mayor of London Boris Johnson.

The bulk of the movie takes place at an elaborate dinner in the backroom of a gastropub. Two first year students, ‘Milo’ Richards (Max Irons) and Alistair Ryle (Sam Claflin) are inducted into the legendarily elite club. It’s all debauched fun and games until a few perceived slights—a “ten bird roast” arrives with only nine layers and a hired call girl declines their requests—ignites a drunken, violent response.

Director Lone Scherfig takes her time getting to the meat of the matter. Setting the scene gives us a sense of time and place but feels unnecessary in terms of making the larger point of the insulation from consequences privilege can provide. Perhaps it’s a way to enrich the ham-handed message—is it really such a surprise that ultra-rich yobs can behave pretty much however they like?—or the cartoonish climax but it doesn’t add much dramatically.

The large ensemble—it’s a who’s who of young English actors, including Douglas Booth, Natalie Dormer and Jessica Brown Findlay—hold it together admirably but the story of class warfare might have been stronger if there were a few more skirmishes along the way.

NOAH: 3 STARS. “thought-provoking take on a story that will keep you guessing.”

Russell-Crowe-noah-trailer“Noah” is not your father’s biblical movie.  It’s an art house epic that filters the story through director Darren “Black Swan” Aronofsky’s impressionistic style.

The best way I can describe “Noah” is emotionally ambitious. It takes a familiar tale and shines a new light on it by highlighting Noah’s spiritual quandary. In the film—which takes liberties with the biblical story—he’s a vegan prophet who grapples with doing God’s will while balancing the needs of all of humanity, particularly his family. The meaning of faith and the consequences of adhering to that faith are the film’s main thrust, but as interesting as that is, the movie feels like one thing when it is addressing the spiritual and quite another—possibly a “Lord of the Rings” flick—when it is in action movie mode.

The movie starts at the beginning. Literally.

After a quick recap of Old Testament highlights—the Creation, Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and Cain vs Abel—we meet Noah, the last descendent of Adam and Eve’s good hearted son Seth. The world he lives in is a dangerous place, ruled by Cain’s bloodthirsty bloodline but Noah (Russell Crowe) and family (Jennifer Connelly, Douglas Booth, Emma Watson, Logan Lerman and Leo McHugh Carroll) live peacefully as nature loving, proto hippies. That is, until Noah has a disturbing apocalyptic dream. Consulting with his grandfather Methuselah (Anthony Hopkins) he determines The Creator wants him to build an ark and laden it with two of every creature on earth in advance of a great flood that will destroy mankind and the violence they perpetrate. It’s ultimate Mulligan—a do over for the planet—but Noah will have to make some troubling decisions to fulfill God’s will.

Some may criticize the movie for not being reverent enough, but Aronofsky treats the story as a living breathing thing and not an artifact from another time. The addition of a spectacular creation of the world sequence, as narrated by Noah, may annoy Creationists, but is a moving and beautiful retelling of the biblical story.

Aronofsky may play fast and loose with Noah’s story, but underlines the spirituality that is at the very heart of the tale as evidenced by the Seven Days of Creation scene.

He’s also aided by a terrific performance from Crowe.

Crowe’s been in a bit of a slump in recent years. The dangerous, complex actor of movies like “Gladiator” and “A Beautiful Mind” seemed to have taken a backseat to the performer who thought making “The Man with the Iron Fists” was a good idea. “Noah” is a nice reminder of Crowe’s delicate mix of fearsome masculinity and subtle sensitivity and his tortured performance hits Noah’s zealotry square on the head.

But having said that, Aronofsky moves in mysterious ways. He shot the epic almost entirely in close up and the flood scene could have used a bit more Cecil B. DeMille. Aronofsky means this to be a personal story of a man with the weight of the world on his shoulders, but it is still an end of the world movie. Despite the occasional Peter Jackson flourish—like the stone giants The Watchers and sweeping crane shots—“Noah” doesn’t feel as big as it should. It has big ideas, but the expected sweeping visuals aren’t there.

“Noah” is a thought-provoking take on a familiar story that will keep you guessing until the end credits roll.