Richard and CTV NewsChannel anchor Andrea Bain talk about the latest movies coming to VOD and streaming services, including the Dakota Johnson-Tracee Ellis Ross musical drama “The High Note,” the Midnight Madness ready “Dreamland,” the rom com riff of “All About Who You Know” and the implausible twists and turns of “Inheritance.”
Richard sits in on the CFRA Ottawa morning show with host Bill Carroll to talk the new movies coming to VOD and streaming services including the Dakota Johnson-Tracee Ellis Ross musical drama “The High Note,” the Midnight Madness ready “Dreamland,” the rom com riff of “All About Who You Know” and the implausible twists and turns of “Inheritance.”
“The High Note,” coming out this week digitally via video on demand, mixes ambition, romance and music in a movie that tries to hit a high C but actually works better when it plays the minor chords.
Set against a backdrop of the Los Angeles music industry, the new film from Nisha Ganatra, now on VOD, sees Dakota Johnson play Maggie, a music obsessed wannabe producer, currently working as a personal assistant to superstar singer Grace Davis (Tracee Ellis Ross). Between running errands and running Grace’s life, Maggie finds time to oversee production on a live album of her boss singing the old hits and discover a new talent, singer-songwriter David Cliff (Kelvin Harrison Jr.). Passing herself off as an experienced producer with loads of industry hook-ups, she inspires him to write great new songs that could launch him into the big leagues. When a plan to position David as the opening act for Grace’s upcoming tour backfires, it threatens to torpedo all of Maggie’s hopes and dreams.
Following up on Ganatra’s last film “Late Night,” which starred Emma Thompson a late-night talk show host whose career is revamped by the influence of a younger, ambitious woman (Mindy Kaling), comes a story that sounds like an echo of the first. There’s more flash here and fewer laughs, but the essential story of a showbiz icon given a new lease on popularity by a newcomer with fresh ideas has a sense of déjà vu to it.
Originally scheduled for a big screen release “The High Note” moved to a digital release in the wake of the pandemic, which may have been a good thing. Its movie-of-the-week plotting and familiar premise feels suited, in a good way, to the smaller screen.
It’s a story about ambition, empowerment and music geekery given charm by Johnson and Ross. Johnson brings her trademarked steely-yet-vulnerable charm to the role of Maggie, while Ross—the daughter of iconic superstar Diana Ross—is a diva with flamboyant clothes and a temperament to match.
Despite the charismatic performers, both characters feel like caricatures. Maggie is a “High Fidelity” reject, a music junkie who speaks as though she’s reciting the liner notes of her favorite album. Ross does some powerful singing but plays Grace in broad diva-esque notes.
“The High Note” is a pleasant enough diversion as a story of empowerment but doesn’t have enough range to make it memorable.
“The Song of Names,” based on Norman Lebrecht’s award-winning novel, is a story of two people sent off in different directions searching for lost family members.
The action begins in 1951. On the eve of his debut concert performance, for a packed house, including kings and queens, Polish musical prodigy Dovidl Rapoport (Jonah Hauer-King) disappears. His adopted English family, including brother Martin (Gerran Howell) is distraught. They first met Dovidl as a nine-year-old who, when he moved in with them to study violin, declared, “If I snore I snore in tune. I am a musician!” The family kept him safe from the Nazi threat and groomed him for greatness.
Cut to 1986. Martin, now played by Tim Roth, is adjudicating a music competition in Northern England when a contestant uses a technique that seems very familiar. Thoughts of his erstwhile brother have consumed Martin and this simple but unique method of rosining the bow sets Martin on a journey that will take him to Poland and finally New York City. His quest has one simple purpose, to find out why Dovidl (played as an adult by Clive Owen) left.
As a celebration of music “The Song of Names” is terrific. Legendary composer Howard Shore has written new music, including the “Song of Names,” a moving recitation of the names of all the Jewish people killed at Treblinka. It’s a powerful moment, solemn and heartrending, that is the film’s absolute high point. More playful is a violin duel in a London air raid shelter between the nine-year-old Dovidl and a teenage rival. Both scenes display the power of music to move us, whether it is to tears or to applause.
It’s the detective story that falls short. Clues that have eluded Martin for decades suddenly become obvious and the journey, such that it is, seems less like a mystery and more like a game of “Where’s Waldo.” More intrigue may have brought with it more emotional weight.
“The Song of Names” is a handsome, if somewhat dreary historical drama that does hit the emotional notes it needs to succeed.
This week on the Richard Crouse Show: Howard Shore has composed scores for over 80 films, including The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit film trilogies. He has three Academy Awards, three Golden Globe Awards and four Grammy Awards on his shelves and was the original musical director for the American show Saturday Night Live from 1975 to 1980. He is also a consistent collaborator with director David Cronenberg, having scored all but one of his films since 1979. He has also composed a few concert works including one opera, The Fly, based on the plot of Cronenberg’s 1986 film.
Based on the award-winning novel by music scholar Norman Lebrecht, THE SONG OF NAMES is a bold journey through friendship, betrayal, and reconciliation.
SYNOPSIS: Martin Simmonds (Tim Roth) has been haunted throughout his life by the mysterious disappearance of his “brother” and extraordinary best friend, a Polish Jewish virtuoso violinist, Dovidl Rapaport, who vanished shortly before the 1951 London debut concert that would have launched his brilliant career. Thirty-five years later, Martin discovers that Dovidl (Clive Owen) may still be alive, and sets out on an obsessive intercontinental search to find him and learn why he left. An emotional story spread over two continents and half a century, the film shows that within the darkest of mysteries sometimes only music has the power to illuminate the truth, heal and redeem.
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Richard joins CP24 to have a look at the weekend’s new movies including Renée Zellweger as Judy Garland in the biopic “Judy,” and the animated Yeti movie “Abominable” and the music doc “Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice.”
Richard sits in on the CTV NewsChannel with news anchor Marcia MacMillan to have a look at the weekend’s big releases including Renée Zellweger’s tour de force, soon-to-be-Oscar-nominated portrayal of “The Wizard of Oz” star in the biopic “Judy,” the animated homesick Yeti movie “Abominable” and the music doc “Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice.”
Richard has a look at the new movies coming to theatres, including Renée Zellweger as Judy Garland in the biopic “Judy,” and the animated Yeti movie “Abominable” and the music doc “Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice” with CFRA morning show host Bill Carroll.
A weekly feature from ctvnews.ca! The Crouse Review is a quick, hot take on the weekend’s biggest and most interesting movies! This week Richard looks at Renée Zellweger as Judy Garland in the biopic “Judy,” and the animated Yeti movie “Abominable” and the music doc “Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice.”