Richard appears on “CTV News at 6” to talk about the best movies and television to watch this weekend. This week he has a look at the violent and visceral Viking drama “The Northman,” “The Bad Guys,” a heist flick for kids, the documentary “The Automat” and season two of “The Flight Attendant” on HBO.
Richard sits in on the CFRA Ottawa morning show with guest host Graham Richardson to talk the new movies coming to theatres including the Viking drama “The Northman,” the surreal Nic Cage homage “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent,” the animated heist flick “The Bad Guys” and the nostalgic documentary “The Automat.”
Richard joins NewsTalk 1010 host David Cooper on the coast-to-coast-to-coast late night “Showgram” to play the game “Did Richard Crouse Like This?” This week we talk about the Viking drama “The Northman,” the surreal Nic Cage homage “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” and the nostalgic documentary “The Automat.”
Watch Richard review three movies in less time than it takes to sign your name! Have a look as he races against the clock to tell you about the violent and visceral Viking drama “The Northman,” the surreal Nic Cage movie “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” and the nostalgic documentary “The Automat.”
A new documentary, “The Automat,” directed by Lisa Hurwitz and now playing in theatres, is a evocative look back when you could get a square meal for a round quarter.
For more than fifty years Horn & Hardart automats fed more Americans than any other restaurant chain. For the price of a nickel you could get a cup of strong coffee, poured from a spout shaped like a dolphin. The rest of the menu was housed behind small doors with windows that displayed the wares, like baked beans, chicken pot pies, creamed spinach or Secretary of State Colin Powell’s favorite, the macaroni and cheese. Pop a coin in the slot, open the door and lunch or dinner is served.
“The Automat” uses talking heads, like Mel Brooks, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elliott Gould, and archival footage to create a nostalgic look at a by-gone institution but to also contextualize the contributions the quirky restaurants made to American society.
A precursor to fast food chains like Burger King or Arby’s, both of whom would later fall under the Horn & Hardart umbrella, the automats were a sensation. The first Horn & Hardart automat opened in 1902 in Philadelphia with a strict adherence to quality and egalitarianism. For the next 89 years—the last New York Horn & Hardart Automat closed in April 1991—everyone was welcome with no racial barrier, tables were shared by strangers and, at their heyday in the 1940s and 50s, they served upwards of 350,000 customers a day in New York alone.
Everyone interviewed raves about the food and the restaurants. Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz talks about how a visit to Horn & Hardart sparked his love of the hospitality business, and how it influences him today. Powell remembers family outings and the delicious pies that were a once-a-week treat.
As glowing as the interviews are, there is often a sense of nostalgic melancholy about the demise the automat—a victim of changing times—as an example of how the good ol’ days, represented by the elegant and welcoming restaurants, are truly behind us.
“It had some style and it was different,” says self-serve automat superfan Mel Brooks. “The marble, the brass, the polished floors, the chatter, the coffee. That was the Automat. It can’t work again because the logistics and economics of today won’t allow anything that simple, naive, elegant and beautiful to flourish again.”
“The Automat” is a quickly paced, interesting and affectionate populist documentary that brings to life how, for a time, happiness could be bought for the price of a cheap cup o’ joe.
The image of a sandcastle kicks off “Altman,” director Ron Mann’s look at the life and work of Robert Altman. The filmmaker behind movies like “M*A*S*H,” “Nashville” and “The Long Goodbye” once compared making movies to building sand castles, a metaphor he found so powerful he even named his production company Sandcastle 5.
Then later, just before the end credits, the sandcastle disappears. It’s a simple but effective visual summation of Altman’s ethos, build it, watch it go and start all over again.
Mann worked with Altman’s family and colleagues to piece together the personal and professional life of one of the mavericks of American film. The result is a comprehensive documentary that traces Altman’s work back to his roots in industrial filmmaking in Kansas City, to becoming one of television’s most in-demand directors to his iconoclastic work for the big screen. Woven into that narrative is the personal story of the director’s relationship with his wife and business partner of four decades Kathryn and their children.
The story is told in their words—Altman’s reminiscences are culled from 400 hours of footage from his public talks and interviews—accompanied by film clips and unseen until now home movies and stills.
Additional colour comes from the famous faces of Lily Tomlin, Keith Carradine, the late Robin Williams and Elliott Gould, who each answer one question, “What does the word Altman-esque mean to you?” The wide range of answers, which often are pared down to one word or a short phrase, provide a curt but effective glimpse at the unique multiverse Altman created in his life and work.
The result of all these elements is “Altman,” a beautiful and naturalistic portrait of a man, not just his work. It would have been impossible to go in-depth on each of Altman’s 39 films in just ninety minutes, so Mann concentrates on capturing the spirit of a man who built sandcastles over and over again.
Ocean’s 13, the third installment of the modish crime comedies, involves an over-the-top casino owner, the giant tool that drilled the Chunnel and George Clooney in very nicely tailored suits. With style to burn and an all-star cast of Hollywood hunks, director Stephen Soderbergh returns to the roots of the franchise after the unfortunate European vacation of Ocean’s 12, unraveling a convoluted but exciting story that’s as smooth as a fine cigar.
Gentlemen thieves Danny Ocean (Clooney) and Rusty Ryan (Brad Pitt) are about to pull off the biggest heist of their careers, but this time they’re not in it for the money. They hatch a plan to avenge their mentor Reuben Tishkoff (Elliott Gould), struck down by a heart attack after being jilted by a business partner. With his Swifty Lazar glasses and trusting nature Rueben allowed himself to be taken for everything he owned by the shifty casino owner Willie Bank (Al Pacino).
Ocean and his henchmen (the 13 of the title) hatch an elaborate plan to crack the uncrackable security system at Bank’s newest casino, taking him for wads of cash, and embarrassing him in the process. All they need to do is fake a natural disaster.
Ocean’s 13 is effortlessly cool, a hipster’s delight of jazzy camera moves, chic colors and a la mode art direction. It looks so great you won’t realize that the cockamamie caper is about as realistic as Don Cheadle’s faux English accent until well after you’ve left the theatre, but that’s OK. If you want to get an inside look at crime and criminals, watch Court TV. This is escapist fun that doesn’t take itself seriously and doesn’t expect you too either.
Ocean’s 13 isn’t about the caper, it’s all about the camaraderie of the actors. It’s all style and little substance; attitude mixed with a dollop of humor to take the edge off and it succeeds in its effortless way in becoming one of the most agreeable movies of the summer.