Richard Crouse is a Canadian staple when it comes to film, known for his sharp take on cinema in his reviews on CTV’s Canada AM, The Globe & Mail, The National Post, his six books, as well as informed and entertaining movie commentary hosting shows like Reel to Real(Canada’s longest running television show about movies). and The 100 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen on Rogers Television Now, he has a new venture, aptly named: Richard Crouse’s Movie Show. The show combines probing analysis of new theatrical films and DVDs, interview and investigative journalism to uncover “what it is about the medium of movies that holds us in such a state of thrall”. Expect the unexpected. The show airs every Friday at 10:30 a.m. on Canada’s Independent Film Channel and every Sunday at 6:30 p.m. on E!.
First Weekend Club had a chance to catch up with this very busy movie man and discuss his new show, the state of Canadian film, the art of being a film critic and much more…
Describe the show in one sentence.
All the movie news, reviews and interviews you can use!
This is not your first movie show. You’ve done a number of them actually. What made you get involved with this one & how did it come to be? What makes it unique?
Richard Crouse’s Movie Show was a natural extension of my last show Reel to Real. We did that show for ten years and when it came to an end I thought the idea of doing movie reviews on television was still viable. It’s certainly not as common as it once was. There was a time when every morning show had a reviewer on staff and shows like Siskel and Ebert were on every weekend. Now, it’s different. Most television entertainment shows don’t have a critical edge and seem to simply work as extensions of the Hollywood studio’s publicity arms more than anything else. I thought, and still think, that movie criticism is important, serves a purpose and is something that people find interesting. Luckily the folks at IFC Canada and E agree with me.
As for the show itself, Richard Crouse’s Movie Show is the evolution of all the shows I have done previously. I’m still doing the same kind of in depth movie coverage I’ve always done, but the show itself is a bit faster paced with tighter reviews and longer interview segments, but the basic idea of covering an eclectic range of movies—everything from foreign language documentaries to Canadian features and Hollywood blockbusters—hasn’t changed.
How much focus will you be giving Canadian films & talent on the show?
I have always focused on Canadian talent and films on all the shows I’ve done and this one is no different. I’m active in the Canadian film community, hosting events like the First Weekend Club events and Q&As for all kinds of filmmakers—everyone from established artists like David Cronenberg all the way to new directors like Charles Officer—and I plan to continue that kind of support on the show.
The biggest problem Canadian film has is a lack of awareness. Audiences simply don’t know the movies are out there. We make good movies in this country but often they go unseen because there is rarely enough money to mount really effective marketing campaigns. I aim to make people aware that there are good movies that reflect their Canadian experience playing on screens in their neighborhoods. What’s your favorite Canadian film, actor and director?
People ask me for lists of my favorite films all the time and I’m always really non committal with my answers. I’m a Gemini, so my mood changes every few minutes, so depending on my mood the answer changes. Right now I’d say Hard Core Logo, Nadia Litz and David Cronenberg. Ask me again in five minutes and you’ll likely get different answers.
How would you describe the state of the Canadian film industry these days? What sorts of films do you see being made here most?
I think we’re at the beginning of another rebirth of Canadian film. As I answer these questions two Canadian movies are being released on the same weekend—Pontypool and One Week—and are getting great reviews, have decent releases and have a really good chance of finding an audience. Young People Fucking is the number one download on i-tunes. That’s really heartening. I think people are finally realizing that we make great movies in this country that tell our stories and if they go see them perhaps that support will help the industry blossom.
The kinds of films being made here right now are still overwhelmingly American. There’s 200 foreign productions shooting in Toronto this year, and overall there will only be about 80 or so Canadian films made in the same period. But that’s OK, it’s about quality, about making the best films we can, not numbers.
Around the time of Bill C-10 and other proposed funding cuts to the arts I was asked what killed Canadian film, and I said ‘You and I did because we didn’t go see them.’ Now, I’m happy to report, the industry is far from dead. The last while has been really good with filmmakers like Bruce MacDonald, Guy Maddin, Benoît Pilon and David Cronenberg making the best films of their careers and the future is bright. It’s hard making films in Canada, but as long as some kid picks up a camera in Victoria or Winnipeg or Newfoundland and starts making home movies in their basement there is a hopeful and exciting future.
You probably could go write or host a show elsewhere in the world, including our friendly neighbor the USA – why do you stay in Canada?
It’s simple. I’m Canadian. I like it here. I like that there is a market for what I do here. In the US I’d be shaped and hammered into some kind of generic television personality, sans hair gel and horn rims, and while I’d likely make more money I wouldn’t be as happy.
Why did you decide to get involved with film from a more journalistic focus, rather than say, becoming a filmmaker?
Because I can’t frame a photograph to save my life. Because I like watching movies more than I enjoy the process of making them. Because sitting in a darkened movie theatre watching a movie that someone has labored over is still one of the great pleasures of my life.
What episode of your show are you most excited about?
The next one. I’m always most excited by the future and the challenge of trying and doing something new.
Any future projects?
Working on a novel right now about a singer in a band who kills his drummer to get publicity for the band’s new record. It’s a whodunnit, a comedy (I hope) and a comment on the lengths to which people will go to get famous. Who knows, maybe one day it will be a movie…
To keep track of Richard Crouse’s show, viewers can join The Richard Crouse Movie Show Appreciation Society group on FaceBook.