Welcome to the House of Crouse. Put on your jumpers or your nicest frock! It’s “Rule, Britannia!” Day around the HoC. Gemma Arterton pops round to talk about cannibal ants who can change species and her zombie movie “The Girl with All the Gifts.” Then it’s sit-back-and-listen-to-a-legend time as we raid the vault to bring you Michael Caine speaking about his revenge flick “Harry Brown.” It’s great stuff, so never mind the bollocks, drop in for a cuppa and take a load off.
Richard and CP24 anchor Jamie Gutfreund have a look at the weekend’s new movies, “Get Out,” the most original horror film to come down the road in some time, the melodramatic romance “A United Kingdom,” the zombie flick “The Girl with All the Gifts,” and the documentaries “I Am Not Your Negro” and “Dying Laughing. They also do some Oscar predictions!
There are as many kinds of cinematic zombies as there are zombie movies. From George A. Romero’s lumbering brain eaters and the fast-moving fleshbags of 28 Days Later to the undead hordes of World War Z and The Crazies’ sentient creepers, the only thing that binds them is an voracious urge to eat their living counterparts and, these days, an almost unrivalled popularity with horror fans.
It seems when the world is in turmoil people turn to zombies as an outlet for their apocalyptic anxieties. A new British film, The Girl With All the Gifts, borrows from Romero, 28 Days Later and even from The Walking Dead and yet its mix of social commentary, zippy zombies and exploding skulls doesn’t feel like a re-tread.
“The zombie metaphor is humanity eating itself,” says star Gemma Arterton. “This film extends that because it gives zombies, or hungries as we call them, intelligence, empathy, love and the ability to fend for themselves in a more developed way.
“I think we are in a period of time right now where there is major despair out there about what is happening. This film is poignant now, coming out now post Brexit. It feels quite relevant.”
Arterton plays Helen Justineau, teacher of a group of children infected by a zombifying disease but still capable of advanced thought. In the search for a cure these kids are studied at a remote English army base.
Helen has bonded with one remarkable child, Melanie (Sennia Nanua), a youngster as lethal as the others but possessed of superior intelligence and charm. When the base is overrun by “hungries” Helen, Melanie and two others escape but not before the child shows her true colours.
“I did something bad,” she says. “I ate bits of the soldiers.” With the help of the world-weary Sgt. Eddie Parks (Paddy Considine) they make their way to London.
“If you talk to Mike Carey who wrote the book and the screenplay,” says Arterton, who broke out as an MI6 field agent in 2008’s Bond hit Quantum of Solace, “you’ll find he’s not only a great raconteur but he really knows what’s going on with science and politics and he mixes the two together. It is such interesting conversation. He’s obviously a big geek but in a really factual way.”
A case in point, Arterton says, is the virus that lies at the centre of the film.
“The disease, the fungal infection is actually something that exists. There is a colony of ants in South America that have Ophiocordyceps unilateralis,” she explains, diving into the science. “It’s a fungal infection that infects them from the inside and then they sprout and turn into a different type of ant. Then those ants will eat the other ants to survive.
“These things happen in nature. Nature is such a strong force. I love that in this film you can see nature taking back the planet.
“We actually used some shots from Chornobyl as the London skyline because
Chornobyl is this abandoned city that is completely overgrown now. We might die, but nature will be fine. The world is going to keep going without us.”
Helmed by Scottish director Colm McCarthy in his first feature-length production, The Girl with All the Gifts asks difficult questions about the price of survival, capping off the story with chilling words that may — or may not — alleviate lingering zombie phobia.
“It’s not all over,” says Melanie, “it’s just not yours anymore.”
Just when you think the zombie genre has run out of ideas along comes “The Girl with All the Gifts,” a British thriller that puts a fresh spin on the putrid genre.
When the story begins all is calm. Well, as calm as the dystopian future can ever be. A fungal disease called Ophiocordyceps unilateralis has devastated the planet, leaving those affected without free will but with a taste for blood. These “hungries” are set to take over unless something can be done. Enter a group of children infected by the disease but capable of advanced thought. In the search for a cure these children are studied at a remote English army base run by Dr. Caroline Caldwell (Glenn Close). The children are shackled to chairs, forced to wear face masks and have no skin to skin contact with the doctors, teachers or soldiers who look after them. Despite their small sizes everyone regards them as dangerous, hungry creatures—after all they did eat their way out of their wombs!—except teacher Helen Justineau (Gemma Arterton). She reads them stories and has bonded with one remarkable child, Melanie (Sennia Nanua). The youngster is as lethal as the others but is possessed of superior intelligence and charm.
When the base is overrun by “hungries” Dr. Caldwell, Helen and Melanie escape but not before the child shows her true colours. “I did something bad,” she says. “I ate bits of the soldiers.” With the help of the world-weary Sgt. Eddie Parks (Paddy Considine) they make their way to London.
“Our mission statement is to gather data,” says the good doctor.
“It was until the fence went down,” grunts Eddie. “Now our mission statement is to keep ourselves off the menu.”
“The Girl With All the Gifts” borrows from George A. Romero, Danny Boyle and even from “The Walking Dead” and yet its mix of social commentary, zippy zombies and exploding skulls doesn’t feel like a re-tread.
The addition of a child, deadly though she may be, brings empathy to a world so often devoid of compassion. It also opens up some opportunities for dark humour—“Don’t play with anybody who looks dead,” Melanie is warned—that come as a welcome break from the bleakness of many dystopian zombie-fests. As Melanie, Nanua is tremendous, bringing some real humanity to a character who lives on the fringes of humanity.
“The Girl with All the Gifts” is not as outright scary as “28 Days Later” or “Night of the Living Dead,” but it is unsettling. Deliberately paced, it slowly builds to a climax that asks difficult questions about the price of survival, capping it with the chilling words, (MILD SPOILER) “It’s not all over, it’s just not yours anymore.”
Hear the name Disney, and your first thoughts are likely about Mickey Mouse ears, Mary Poppins or the song Let it Go. Uplifting notions born from a company that brags it owns the Happiest Place on Earth.
But for all the cheery feelings the Mouse House has given us over the years, Disney villains have also inspired a nightmare or two.
This weekend, Maleficent creeps into theatres. Starring Angelina Jolie, it is the story of how the Sleeping Beauty villainess became evil after being betrayed by a child. With plumped up cheekbones and headgear with demonic horns, Jolie looks like something from a hellish Hieronymus Bosch painting.
“She isn’t the pretty princess,” says the actress. “She isn’t a beautiful queen. She’s a very awkward, pointy, slightly scary-looking horned creature who goes through a lot in her life.”
Maleficent joins a long list of dastardly Disney villains to inspire sleepless nights.
In The Lion King, Scar (voice of Jeremy Irons) is the brother of the king, Mufasa (James Earl Jones). In a Shakespearean twist, Scar murders his brother and banishes his nephew to gain control of Pride Rock.
Most evil line? “Long live the King.” — Scar to Mufasa before killing him.
Cruella De Vil
In the 1961 animated film and the 1996 live-action film, 101 Dalmatians, Cruella De Vil (voice of Betty Lou Gerson in the cartoon, Glenn Close in the flesh) is a diabolical fashionista who wants to incorporate puppy pelts into her wardrobe.
Most evil line? “Darling, I live for fur. I worship fur!”
Vanity pushes Queen Grimhilde (Lucille La Verne in the 1937 animated version) to try and destroy the life of her stepdaughter (Adriana Caselotti) in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The evil queen can’t bear the thought that there is someone more beautiful than she, so she first orders her huntsman to kill Snow White and cut her heart out and when that doesn’t work, she feeds the pretty girl a poisoned apple.
Most evil line? “Mirror, Mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?”
Hands down, the scariest vision in any Disney film has to be Chernabog, the winged demon who briefly appears in the Night on Bald Mountain sequence of Fantasia. He is the essence of evil and according to Villians Wiki, his hobby is bringing the dead back to life so he can kill them again. Discussing the character in an interview, Walt Disney referred to him as Satan.
Most evil line? Chernabog doesn’t have any lines. When you’re this bad, you don’t need any lines.
To paraphrase Rodney Dangerfield, “Some people get no respect.”
A new film, “Casting By,” clearly and eloquently tells the story of legendary casting director Marion Dougherty, a seminal figure in the careers of a generation of actors. She gave Al Pacino, Robert DeNiro, Glenn Close, Danny Glover and Jon Voight, among others, their first big breaks, redirected Robert Redford’s career from light comedian to star of “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” and paired Carroll O’Connor and Jean Stapleton on “All in the Family.”
“Casting is a high art when you run into a Marion Dougherty,” said television producer Norman Lear.
Still, after 50 years of influential work she was never recognized by the Academy and in the film director Taylor “Ray” Hackford disputes whether casting directors have even earned the right to be called “directors.”
The documentary attempts to right these slights with a detailed and engaging walk down memory lane, combining newly shot material with people who worked with Dougherty and archival footage from set visits and contemporary interviews.
Director Tom Donahue tries to explain the alchemy behind the instinctual art of casting. Woody Allen benefitted from Dougherty’s prowess to steer him toward talent when he was too shy to meet the talent himself. “I never had to shake any hands or tell any lies,” he says. “Never mind the Purell bills.” He even says, “If left up to me, I’d settle for anything.”
“Casting By” is a treat for film fans, particularly if you have a bent for 1970s New York centric cinema. It’s not particularly cinematic in of itself—this could easily be watched on the small screen as a television doc—but the story cuts to the heart of what makes films great and finally offers Dougherty the respect that the Academy and Hackford denied her during her lifetime.
The title character of “Albert Nobbs” is described as “the strangest an I ever met,” which makes sense because he’s actually a woman. Glenn Close, in an Academy Award nominated role, plays a woman who escaped a life of poverty by dressing as a man and taking a job at Morrison’s Hotel in 19th century Dublin.
When Albert meets the house painter Hubert Page (Janet McTeer), another woman living in drag and married to a woman, he is encouraged to escape the shackles of conservative Ireland and live a happy life. Her fatal attraction is Helen () a young maid who has eyes for the handsome new handy-man Joe Macken (Aaron Johnson).
Close played the part of the fastidious butler Nobbs on stage thirty years ago and one can only imagine that the intervening years have deepened the performance. She embodies not only the physicality of the man, but the spirit as well. It’s a stunner of a performance, equally ingrained with repression, gentleness and secrecy.
Unfortunately the towering performances from Close and McTeer are blunted somewhat by a script that isn’t as interesting as the character study that is at the center of it.
It stumbles when it tries to address the larger issue of female poverty in a male dominated society and simply takes too long to make any point at all.
“Albert Nobbs” is a noble failure, a movie with great performances that wants to be important, but is done in by a shallow script.