Posts Tagged ‘Helena Bonham Carter’

RICHARD’S “CANADA AM” REVIEWS FOR OCTOBER 23 WITH DAN RISKIN.

Screen Shot 2015-10-30 at 11.24.05 AMRichard’s alter ego Zomald Trump reviews the teenage Halloween freak-out “Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse,” and some more adult fare in the ghostly form of “Our Brand is Crisis,” “Truth” and “Suffragette.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!

SUFFRAGETTE: 2 STARS. “well-intentioned retelling of an important and timely story.”

Screen Shot 2015-10-29 at 8.29.06 AM

There’s a noise I hear in my head when I’m watching dryly-presented historical dramas. It’s a faint scratching sound that always reminds me of sitting in Mr. Parkers history class, listing to him write thousands of words on the chalkboard before saying, “Copy this into your scribblers and read chapter 3 by tomorrow.” I was reminded of the sound during a recent screening of the new Carey Mulligan film “Suffragette.”

Set in 1912 London, the movie stars Mulligan as Maud Watts, a young wife, mother and laundry worker. It’s a tough life for the twenty-eight year old, who has worked at the laundry since she was a little girl. Long hours leave little time for her family, husband Sonny (Ben Whishaw) and son George (Adam Michael Dodd), but they are a loving trio, at least until she meets Violet Miller (Anne-Marie Duff), a disciple of Emmeline Pankhurst (Meryl Streep), Britain’s leading suffragette.

In 1912 women were considered to not “have the temperament or the balance of mind” to take part in the political affairs. Following years of peaceful protest for equal rights the suffragettes begin a campaign of civil disobedience.

“You want to respect the law?” says Violet Miller. “Then make the law respectable!”

Maud becomes involved with the cause, helping Edith Ellyn (Helena Bonham Carter) blow up a Member of Parliament’s house and winding up in jail. Prison time was a badge of honour for the suffragettes, but Sonny wants nothing to do with it and soon Maud is separated from her family. With no legal recourse to get custody of her son she throws herself into the movement, fighting to get the vote and rights for women.

For a movie about rebellion “Suffragette” contains very little rebellious spirit. It’s a straightforward retelling of the story, a piece of history right out of Mr. Parker’s class. The only thing missing is the sound of Mr. Parker writing it out on the chalkboard.

It is a well-intentioned retelling of an important and still timely story but director Sarah Gavron leans too heavily on the kitchen sink drama—and a dull visual palette of beiges and reddish browns—for the broader story of the fight for women’s rights to have the impact it deserves.

“It’s deeds not words that will get us the vote,” and Gavron shows us the deeds—including the infamous mailbox bombings and a truly hard to watch prison force-feeding—but by the time the end credits roll there are story threads dangling all over the place and while we’re left impressed by the performances, the story telling itself is less impressive.

THE YOUNG AND PRODIGIOUS T.S. SPIVET: 2 ½ STARS. “whimsy overload warning!”

Screen Shot 2015-04-09 at 12.10.16 PM“The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivot” should come with a whimsy overload warning. The off kilter tale of a boy genius, suicide and a road trip across the United States is so twee it makes Wes Anderson look stodgy.

10-year-old Tecumseh Sparrow Spivet lives on a Montana ranch with his cowboy father (Callum Keith Rennie), entomologist mother (Helena Bonham-Carter) and bored sister (Niamh Wilson) who has dreams of becoming Miss America dancing in her head. A year before his twin brother Layton (Jakob Davies) had a tragic incident with a rifle and passed away.

T.S. has invented a perpetual motion machine that wins him the prestigious Baird Prize by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington. They don’t realize the perpetual motion genius is a preteen and invite him to accept the award in person and deliver a speech. Leaving behind a note to his folks, T.S. packs a bag and hops a freight train headed to DC. On arrival he becomes a sensation due to his age, but a live television interview reveals more about the prodigy’s psyche than the Smithsonian bargained for.

Filtered through the fevered imagination of “Amelie” director Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Reif Larsen’s book “The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet” becomes a dark children’s tale that is not exactly for kids. Packed with iconic American scenery, inventive 3D and enough quirk for two movies, the story is about isolation and dealing with loss. Near the end there are some heightened emotional moments but the overall tone is left-of-center, often pushing the Whimsy Meter needle into the red. Glimpses of the inner-workings of Gracie’s mind and on-screen graphics dazzle the eye, but begin to wear on the nerves by film’s end.

As flashy as the film is, the bittersweet tale of loss in “The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivot” is often overwhelmed by the visuals. Like the diagrams that decorate the screen throughout, the movie is more concerned with showing you the nuts and bolts of the story than allowing you to feel the underlying emotion of the piece.

Metro In Focus “Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death” meets “Harry Potter”

The_Woman_in_Black_2_Angel_of_Death_-_TrailerBy Richard Crouse – Metro In Focus

Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death has more in common with its predecessor, the 2012 chiller Woman in Black, than just a title and source material.

The first film starred Daniel Radcliffe, Harry Potter himself, in the lead role. The spooky new movie about the strange goings-on at a haunted house during World War II co-stars Potter alum Helen McCrory and Adrian Rawlins.

McCrory, who plays Angel of Death’s uptight schoolmarm, was pregnant when Potter producers offered her the role of pure-blood witch Bellatrix Lestrange in Order of the Phoenix. She passed and the part went to Helena Bonham Carter but two years later she jumped at the chance to play Narcissa, Bellatrix’s sister and the mother of Draco Malfoy, in The Half-Blood Prince.

Co-star Rawlins is the shadowy Dr. Rhodes in Angel of Death, but is best known as the father of Harry in seven Potter movies. Years before playing James Potter the actor starred in the original Woman in Black TV adaptation as Arthur, the role Radcliffe played in the recent remake.

Over the ten years they were in production it seems like the Potter films employed almost all of the British Actors’ Equity Association. Everyone from Ralph Fiennes, Richard Harris and Gary Oldman to Maggie Smith, Imelda Staunton and Emma Thompson appeared in the series. When Bill Nighy was cast in The Deathly Hallows he said. “I am no longer the only English actor not to be in Harry Potter and I am very pleased.”

Less well known than the British superstars that peppered the Potter cast are some of the supporting players, many of which have gone on to breakout success without Harry.

Tom Felton will likely always be associated with cowardly bully Draco Malfoy, so it’s not surprising he played the spineless bad guy utters the famous “damn dirty ape” line,” in Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

Before he starred opposite Rachel McAdams in the time travel romance About Time Domhnall Gleeson was Curse-Breaker Bill Weasley in The Deathly Hallows. The son of actor Brendan Gleeson is on his way to household name status with a role as an Imperial officer who defects to the Republic in J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

The biggest breakout Potter alum has to be Robert Pattinson. He’s best known as sparkling vampire Edward Cullen in the Twilight franchise but he first appeared as Cedric Diggory in The Goblet of Fire. “The day before [the movie came out] I was just sitting in Leicester Square,” he said, “happily being ignored by everyone. Then suddenly strangers are screaming your name. Amazing.”

ALICE IN WONDERLAND: 3 STARS

Johnny-DeppI wonder if Tim Burton has a monkey butler at home. I ask this because I think anyone who can come up with the kind of flights of fancy he puts on screen probably has a monkey butler and other strange and wonderful things kicking around the house to feed his imagination. His latest film, a retelling of “Alice in Wonderland,” benefits from his rich visual style.

Using the original Lewis Carroll stories as a stepping stone, in this reimagined version of the classic tale Alice Kingsley (Mia Wasikowska) is 19 years old. She’s a dreamer in a world of pragmatists who, on the advice of her late father, tries to imagine six impossible things before breakfast each day. This sets her at odds with almost everyone, including her family who think marrying her off to the churlish and haughty Lord Hamish will settle her down. At their engagement party she flees his very public proposal, disappearing into the garden and falling down a rabbit hole into Underland. It’s her second trip to the place she calls Wonderland. Ten years previous she been there but has no memory of it. On this visit she meets an odd assortment of characters including the Cheshire Cat (Stephen Fry), the White Rabbit (Michael Sheen), Absolem, the Caterpillar (Alan Rickman) and the strangest one of all, the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp). They convince her she needs to help them overthrow the evil Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter) by slaying the terrifying Jabberwock (Christopher Lee).

Burton has always made films about outsiders—think Edward Scissorhands, Ed Wood Jr. and Willy Wonka—and in Alice he has found another one to focus his camera on. As a headstrong young woman who doesn’t quite fit the mold of Victorian England she a perfect character for Burton. Like his most famous characters she lives in a world of dreams but unlike his best realized characters she isn’t nearly as interesting. As a result, despite the beautiful visuals and the eye popping 3-D, “Alice in Wonderland” is a bit of a flat line.

Sadly much of the problem lies with Wasikowska. She is delicately beautiful in a way that would very likely leave Lewis Carroll weak in the knees and after her stint on the television show “In Treatment,” we know she can act, but she rarely looks really engaged with the character. Perhaps it is that she spent the entire time acting against a green screen and didn’t get to actually interact with her co-stars very often, but she’s a little too low key to be at the center of a large, fanciful film.

It’s not a complete wash, however. Burton overloads the screen with eccentric and interesting visuals and has succeeded in creating a dream-like version of “Alice in Wonderland.” Unfortunately, like most dreams, when it’s over it’s quickly forgotten.