Richard speaks to “CTV News at 11:30” anchor Andria Case about movies on VOD to watch this weekend including the Helen Reddy biopic “I Am Woman,” the raunchy revenge flick “Ravage” and the gritty gangster flick “The Tax Collector.”
Richard and CP24 anchor Stephanie Smythe have a look at the new movies coming to theatres, VOD and streaming services including the Helen Reddy biopic “I Am Woman,” the gritty gangster flick “The Tax Collector” and the glossy rom com “The Broken Hearts Gallery.”
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 Helen Reddy biopic “I Am Woman,” the gritty gangster flick “The Tax Collector,” the glossy rom com “The Broken Hearts Gallery,” the Shakespeare update of “Measure for Measure” and the violent revenge film “Ravage.”
Early on in “I Am Woman,” the Helen Reddy biopic now on digital and on demand, the Australian singer, played by Tilda Cobham-Hervey, passes a subway advertisement that sets the tone for the test of the movie. A housewife holds a bottle of ketchup and with a look of surprise says, “Even I can open it!” as Reddy makes her way to a meeting with a dismissive record industry twit.
Melbourne-born Reddy’s plainspoken anthems for a generation of women kicked open doors in a sexist industry and while she never says, “Even I can open it,” about a bottle of ketchup or anything else in the film, it’s clear from the start she has no doubt that she can.
Based on Reddy’s memoir “The Woman I Am,” the movie begins in 1966 when the Beatles ruled the charts and record labels were not interested in “girl singers.” Single-mom Reddy and her young daughter land in New York on the mistaken belief that a record deal was awaiting. It wasn’t but Reddy was, well, ready for success. A polished singer and performer, she just needed a break. That came in the form of Jeff Wald (Evan Peters), an ambitious music biz insider who becomes her manager and husband. When he puts down the coke spoon long enough to focus on Reddy’s career, he manages to land her a record contract. The resulting album, 1971’s “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” and it’s number one hit “I Am Woman” established Reddy not only as a creative force but also as a figurehead of the era’s feminist movement.
“I Am Woman” follows the standard 1970s “Behind the Music” biopic formula. From struggling artist to chart topper, with all the sexism, drugs and rock n’ roll—OK, make that easy listening rock—you expect from a showbiz tale writ large. Add to that some on-the-nose soundtrack decisions—”You and Me Against the World” warbles in the background as Reddy and her music journalist pal Lillian Roxon (Danielle Macdonald) are trying to make a dent in the music business and, the even heavier-handed “Ain’t No Way to Treat a Lady” adorns a scene of marital discord—and you have the makings of corny musical melodrama.
What sets it apart from the pack is a charismatic performance from Cobham-Hervey and some nicely rendered musical numbers.
In a breakout performance Cobham-Hervey captures the spirit of Reddy, a talented everywoman who fought against workplace harassment and discrimination to achieve success. She’s charismatic but brings a certain kind of effortlessness to role, a hard to define quality on display in her first in-studio scene. She’s having a hard time performing to a room of disinterested hard rock producers until Wald suggests she pretend she’s on stage. As the nerves settle Cobham-Hervey brings Reddy to life, allowing the strong, invincible singer to emerge. (Chelsea Cullen provides Reddy’s singing voice.)
Equally effective is the montage that introduces the title song. Intercutting Reddy’s performance with news footage of Equal Rights Amendment rallies and women’s liberation protests, director Unjoo Moon creates a picture perfect portrait of the time, showing us, not telling us why the song was then, and remains, such a powerful statement.
“I Am Woman” is an entertaining, if conventional biography of a woman who was anything but conventional.
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.”
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.