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 whodunnit “Knives Out” with Daniel Craig, the papal buddy picture “The Two Popes” and the timely drama “Queen & Slim.”
Richard has a look at the new movies coming to theatres, including “Knives Out” with Daniel Craig and a cast of n’ere do wells, the Disney+ revamp of “Lady and the Tramp,” the odd couple picture “The Two Popes,” the corporate legal drama “Dark Waters,” and the thought provoking “Queen & Slim” with CFRA morning show host Bill Carroll.
Richard sits in on the CJAD Montreal morning show with host Andrew Carter to talk the new movies coming to theatres including the who dunnit “Knives Out” with Daniel Craig, the Disney+ revamp of “Lady and the Tramp,” the buddy picture “The Two Popes” and the thought provoking “Queen & Slim.”
We first meet the title characters, Angela “Queen” Johnson (Jodie Turner-Smith) and Ernest “Slim” Hinds (Daniel Kaluuya) as they are strangers, passing time on a first, awkward date at a Cincinnati diner. “So what’s gonna happen tonight?” asks Slim. “I thought we could hang out and get to know one another.” Then fate intervenes, Tinder may have brought them together but circumstance binds them together forever when Slim gets pulled over for “failure to execute a turn signal and swerving a little bit.”
The situation quickly spirals out of control.
Slim presses the aggressive cop to hurry it up while Queen, an attorney, questions the officer’s motives in searching the car. As the police officer’s dashcam rolls, there are harsh words, a skirmish, a misfire and soon the cop lies dead.
“You are a Black man who shot a cop and took his gun,” she says.
“But I’m not a criminal,” he replies.
“You are now. If you turn yourself in you will never see your family again. We have to move forward.”
Panicked, they flee, heading for New Orleans home of Queen’s shady Uncle Earl (Bokeem Woodbine). By the time they make it out of state a video of the accidental shooting has gone viral and their photos are splashed all over the papers.
The press paints them as “lovers”—even though they have just met—on cross country crime spree but public opinion is mixed. An African-American mechanic (Gralen Bryant Banks) they meet on the journey says, “You gave them a reason to kill us,” while his young son (Jahi Di’Allo Winston) sees them as folk heroes who stood up to authority. “If you don’t make it,” he says, “that’s OK. You’ll be immortal.”
They plan on making a run to freedom in Cuba. First, they have to avoid the police as they weave and wind their way to Florida’s coast.
Written by Lena Waithe and showcasing the style of director Melina Matsoukas in her feature debut, “Queen & Slim” takes a story with echoes of “Thelma and Louise” or “Bonnie and Clyde” and updates it, presenting the couple on the run tale from an African-American perspective. Angela is a lawyer whose first-hand view of the abuses of the justice system has made her a realist. It is her experience that self-defense will never fly solely based on the colour of their skin and it is her who sets the action in motion. The story of police brutality swaps the frequent narrative, presenting the story of two people who refuse to be oppressed by standing up to authority. There will be no spoilers here but know that “Queen & Slim” isn’t a manifesto, it’s a personal story about how quickly lives, ripe with possibility and promise, can be changed forever.
With terrific performances “Queen & Slim” transcends the outlaws-on-the-lam genre. Instead it is a timely humanistic drama that combines resilience with despair.
Baby Driver: Although it contains more music than most tuneful of movies “Baby Driver,” the new film from director Edgar Wright, isn’t a musical in the “West Side Story,” “Sound of Music” sense. Wallpapered with 35 rock ‘n roll songs on the soundtrack it’s a hard driving heist flick that can best be called an action musical.
The Big Sick: Even when “The Big Sick” is making jokes about terrorism and the “X-Files” it is all heart, a crowd-pleaser that still feels personal and intimate.
Call Me By Your Name: This is a movie of small details that speak to larger truths. Director Luca Guadagnino keeps the story simple relying on the minutiae to add depth and beauty to the story. The idyllic countryside, the quaint town, the music of the Psychedelic Furs and the languid pace of a long Italian summer combine to create the sensual backdrop against which the romance between the two blossoms. Guadagnino’s camera captures it all, avoiding the pitfalls of melodrama to present a story that is pure emotion. It feels real and raw, haunted by the ghosts of loves gone by.
Darkest Hour: This is a historical drama with all the trappings of “Masterpiece Theatre.” You can expect photography, costumes and period details are sumptuous. What you may not expect is the light-hearted tone of much of the goings on. While this isn’t “Carry On Churchill,” it has a lighter touch that might be expected. Gary Oldman, not an actor known for his comedic flourishes, embraces the sly humour. When Churchill becomes Prime Minister his wife, Clementine (Kristin Scott Thomas) makes an impassioned speech about the importance of the work he is about to take on. He raises a glass and, cutting through the emotion of the moment, says, “Here’s to not buggering it up!” It shows a side of Churchill not often revealed in wartime biopics.
The Disaster Artist: The key to pulling off “The Disaster Artist” is not recreating “The Room” beat for beat, although they do that, it’s actually about treating Wiseau as a person and not an object of fun. He’s an outrageous character and Franco commits to it 100%. From the marble-mouthed speech pattern that’s part Valley Girl and part Beaker from The Muppets to the wild clothes and stringy hair, he’s equal parts creepy and lovable but underneath his bravado are real human frailties. Depending on your point of view he’s either delusional or aspirational but in Franco’s hands he’s never also never less than memorable. It’s a broad, strange performance but it may also be one of the actor’s best.
Dunkirk: This is an intense movie but it is not an overly emotional one. The cumulative effect of the vivid images and sounds will stir the soul but despite great performances the movie doesn’t necessarily make you feel for one character or another. Instead its strength is in how it displays the overwhelming sense of scope of the Dunkirk mission. With 400,000 men on the ground with more in the air and at sea, the sheer scope of the operation overpowers individuality, turning the focus on the collective. Director Christopher Nolan’s sweeping camera takes it all in, epic and intimate moments alike.
The Florida Project: This is, hands down, one of the best films of the year. Low-budget and naturalistic, it packs more punch than any superhero. Director Sean Baker defies expectations. He’s made a film about kids for adults that finds joy in rocky places. What could have been a bleak experience or an earnest message movie is brought to vivid life by characters that feel real. It’s a story about poverty that neither celebrates or condemns its characters. Mooney’s exploits are entertaining and yet an air of jeopardy hangs heavy over every minute of the movie. Baker knows that Halley and Moonie’s well being hangs by a thread but he also understands they exist in the real world and never allows their story to fall into cliché.
Get Out: This is the weirdest and most original mainstream psychodrama to come along since “The Babadook.” The basic premise harkens back to the Sidney Poitier’s classic “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.” In that film parents, played by Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn, have their attitudes challenged when their daughter introduces them to her African American fiancé. The uncomfortable situation of meeting in-laws for the first time is universal. It’s the added layers of paranoia and skewered white liberalism that propels the main character’s (Daniel Kaluuya) situation into full-fledged horror. In this setting he is the other, the stranger and as his anxiety grows the social commentary regarding attitudes about race in America grows sharper and more focussed.
Lady Bird: Greta Gerwig’s skilful handling of the story of Lady Bird’s busy senior year works not just because it’s unvarnished and honest in its look at becoming an adult but also, in a large degree, to Saoirse Ronan’s performance. I have long called her ‘Lil Meryl. She’s an actor of unusual depth, a young person (born in 1994) with an old soul. Lady Bird is almost crushed by the weight of uncertainty that greets her with every turn—will her parents divorce, will there be money for school, will Kyle be the boy of her dreams, will she ever make enough cash to repay her parents for her upbringing?—but Ronan keeps her nimble, sidestepping teen ennui with a complicated mix of snappy one liners, hard earned wisdom and a well of emotion. It’s tremendous, Academy Award worthy work.
The Post: Steven Spielberg film is a fist-pump-in-the-air look at the integrity and importance of a free press. It’s a little heavy-handed but these are heavy-handed times. Director Spielberg and stars Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep are entertainers first and foremost, and they do entertain here, but they also shine a light on a historical era whose reverberations are being felt today stronger than ever.
The Shape of Water: A dreamy slice of pure cinema. Director Guillermo del Toro uses the stark Cold War as a canvas to draw warm and vivid portraits of his characters. It’s a beautiful creature feature ripe with romance, thrills and, above all, empathy for everyone. This is the kind of movie that reminds us of why we fell in love with movies in the first place.
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri: The story of a mother’s unconventional war with the world is simple enough, it’s the complexity of the characters that elevates the it to the level of great art.
Wonder Woman: Equal parts Amazon sword and sandal epic, mad scientist flick, war movie and rom com, it’s a crowd pleaser that places the popular character front and centre. As played by Gal Gadot, Diana is charismatic and kick ass, a superhero who is both truly super and heroic. Like Superman she is firmly on the side of good, not a tortured soul à la Batman. Naïve to the ways of the world, she runs headfirst into trouble. Whether she’s throwing a German tank across a battlefield, defying gravity to leap to the top of a bell tower, tolerating Trevor’s occasional mansplaining or deflecting bullets with her indestructible Bracelets of Submission, she proves in scene after scene to be both a formidable warrior and a genuine, profoundly empathic character.
Richard and CP24 anchorTravis Dhanraj have a look at the weekend’s new movies, pedal-to-the- metal action of “Baby Driver,” the Coppola-ness of “The Beguiled,” “Despicable Me 3’s” million dollar Minions and the eco satire “Okja.”
Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Erin Paul to have a look at the big weekend movies including the wild-and-wooly action of “Baby Driver,” the Coppola-ness of “The Beguiled,” “Despicable Me 3’s” adorable and funny Minions and “Okja’s” tale of super pigs, the people who love hem and the people who want to eat them.
Ever had one of those moments where a random song playing on the radio is the perfect soundtrack for your life in that instant? Director Edgar Wright calls that a #babydrivermoment.
“I think so many times you have things in life where music syncs up with the world,” he says. “You’re sitting there and the windscreen wipers are going in time with the music and you think, ‘Isn’t life great? The world is bending to my music choices.’”
He had one of those moments 22 years ago when the idea for Baby Driver flooded into his brain after listening to The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion track Bellbottoms on repeat. In that instant he imagined the song’s choppy rhythm as the soundtrack to a car chase, filing the idea away for future consideration.
“In 2002 I felt I had potentially squandered the idea by using it for a music video (Blue Song by Mint Royale) and I was mad at myself for doing that,” he says. “Later, after Hot Fuzz I thought, ‘I still have to do something with this idea.’”
With the opening already mapped out, Wright spent years creating the film’s story of a get-away driver named Baby (Ansel Elgort) who wants out of his life of crime and into the arms of a diner waitress played by Lily James. But before they can run off to the happily-ever-after, the driver must square his debt with gang boss Doc (Kevin Spacey).
“It was a slow building up of what the movie and the structure was and finding the main theme of the main character’s relationship with music; this getaway driver who can’t drive unless he has the right music. Then it became, ‘Why is he obsessed with music?’ OK. He has tinnitus and he has to listen to music. What was an escape for him becomes an obsession.”
“A hum in the drum” is how Doc refers to Baby’s tinnitus. In real life it’s a hearing condition that causes an internal, loud ringing or clicking. As the sound can interfere with concentration, Baby plays music to drown it out.
Although it contains more music than most tuneful movies, Baby Driver isn’t a musical in the West Side Story, Sound of Music sense. Wallpapered with 35 rock ‘n’ roll songs on the soundtrack, it’s a hard-driving heist flick that can best be called an action musical.
“The strange thing is people say it is a departure from the other films,” says the Poole, Dorset, England-born Wright, whose other movies include cult favourites Shaun of the Dead and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, “and it is but it is also my oldest idea. I couldn’t have made it 10 years ago. I had to live in North America a bit more. I have lived in Los Angeles and Toronto. I drove across the States twice. I also did lots of research. That all factored into bringing this dream I had when I was 21 to vivid life.”
This weekend Wright will see that dream hit theatres. “I don’t know whether to feel like a proud father or whether it is like my kid is leaving home,” he says. “I feel like when the film is out I may get empty nest syndrome. It has been with me for so long and now it is out. It is a beautiful thing and I don’t know how to describe it.”