Richard sits in on the CTV NewsChannel with news anchor Marcia MacMillan to have a look at the weekend’s big releases including the financial crisis drama “Hustlers,” the sprawling literary drama “The Goldfinch” and the sci fi story “Freaks.”
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 the pole dancing bandits of “Hustlers,” the sprawling literary drama “The Goldfinch” and the sci fi story “Freaks.”
Richard has a look at the new movies coming to theatres, including Jennifer Lopez in “Hustlers,” the sprawling literary drama “The Goldfinch” and the sci fi story “Freaks” then has a look at the highlights from day one of the Toronto International Film Festival!
Richard sits in on the CJAD Montreal morning show with host Andrew Carter to talk the new movies coming to theatres including Jennifer Lopez in “Hustlers,” the sprawling literary drama “The Goldfinch” and the sci fi story “Freaks” then has a look at the highlights from day one of the Toronto International Film Festival!
“Freaks,” a new sci-fi horror film starring seven-year-old Lexy Kolker and eighty-three-year-old Bruce Dern, is a multi-layered head-scratcher that wonders what it might be like to be a helicopter parent to one of the X-Men.
Seven-year-old Chloe (Kolker) is kept a prisoner in the rundown suburban home she shares with her father Henry Lewis (Emile Hirsch). But this is not “Room” or any other confinement drama. This is the story of a father whose daughter is gifted in a way that will make her a target if she is discovered. Henry has tried to shield her from all this. “I never wanted the world to turn her into a freak,” he says. “She’s just a girl.” Father and daughter are blessed (or cursed depending on your point of view) with the ability to read minds, make themselves invisible and generate protective, clear bubbles.
Chloe doesn’t know or understand the extent of her powers and as long as she is kept separate from the world, may never know. Her only connections to outside world are ghostly visions (or are they real?) of her late mother Mary (Amanda Crew) and the ice cream man, Mr. Snowcone (Bruce Dern) who seems to know a lot about her.
She has been trained to lie about her identity but soon she begins to wonder what lies beyond the walls of their home. What follows is an extreme case of stranger danger.
“Freaks” takes its time. It allows the viewer to reach their own conclusions, and then, more often than not, shatters them. The only thing that is for sure is that Chloe longs for her mother, a feeling expertly demonstrated by Kolker in a performance that gives the movie the heart it needs to make us care for the characters and the situations. The low fi effects don’t distract in the way a larger budget might have afforded but the humanity on display makes up for the lack of eye candy.
Good sci fiction is rarely exactly about what we see on screen. In that sense “Freaks” isn’t about Chloe’s powers, it’s about being different from those around you, about persecution, about feeling unwanted. There are feelings that many can relate to and making them universal, accessible and by times even exciting, is the film’s greatest strength.
The circus is a magical blend of drama, comedy, music and wonderful things you can’t see at home, unless, of course, you live next door to Bozo the Clown.
And that’s why filmmakers look to the Big Top for inspiration. It’s a naturally cinematic place with themes as flexible as sideshow contortionists who can touch their toes with the top of their heads. For instance, Charlie Chaplin mixed comedy and romance in his classic film The Circus, while Trapeze with Burt Lancaster is a three-ring tragedy and Ten Weeks with a Circus is strictly for kids.
This weekend, Water for Elephants, an historical drama starring Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon, takes us backstage at the Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth.
The most famous circus movie is probably The Greatest Show on Earth, Cecil B. DeMille’s story of love, crime and clowns under the big top. Today the film—which was named one of the 100 Most Amusingly Bad Movies Ever Made by the Golden Raspberry folks—is most notable for making Charlton Heston a star and as the first movie Steven Spielberg ever saw.
If DeMille’s movie is the most famous circus movie, then Freaks is certainly the most notorious. Set in the world of a funfair sideshow, it features a cast primarily made up of actual carnival performers—like Elizabeth Green the Stork Woman and Prince Randian a.k.a. the Human Torso—to tell the story of a beautiful trapeze artist who agrees to marry a deformed sideshow performer for his money. As a young man, director Tod Browning (who also helmed Dracula) had been a member of a travelling circus and that experience brought such a horrifying realism to the story that one woman threatened to sue MGM, claiming the film had caused her to suffer a miscarriage.
And speaking of sideshow attractions, these days Benicio Del Toro is known as a serious actor, an Academy Award winner who is sometimes jokingly been referred to as the “Spanish Brad Pitt.” That’s a long way from his first role, human oddity Duke the Dog-Faced Boy in Big Top Pee-wee. Despite earning reviews like, “If there’s a lower form of comedy than circus humor I’ve yet to encounter it,” star Paul Reubens once said that “Big Top Pee-wee is “at least as good as Police Academy.”