Richard joins CP24 to have a look at new movies coming to VOD, streaming services and theatres including the Benedict Cumberbatch Cold War triller “The Courier” (in theatres and PVOD), the exorcism buddy movie “The Seventh Day” (VOD) and the star-crossed lovers story “The Violent Heart” (VOD).
Richard joins NewsTalk 1010’s Jim Richards coast-to-coast-to-coast late night “Showgram” to play the game “Did Richard Crouse like these movies?” This week we talk about the Benedict Cumberbatch Cold War triller “The Courier” (in theatres and PVOD), the exorcism buddy movie “The Seventh Day” (VOD) and the star-crossed lovers story “The Violent Heart” (VOD).
Richard sits in on the CFRA Ottawa morning show with guest host Matt Harris to talk the new movies coming to theatres, VOD and streaming services including the Benedict Cumberbatch Cold War triller “The Courier” (in theatres and PVOD), the exorcism buddy movie “The Seventh Day” (VOD) and the star-crossed lovers story “The Violent Heart” (VOD).
“The Courier,” a new Benedict Cumberbatch Cold War drama now on PVOD, is the mostly true tale of how an unassuming British businessman helped prevent World War III. “You must convince them you are an ordinary businessman,” he is told, “and nothing more than an ordinary businessman.”
Set in 1962, Cumberbatch is Greville Wynne, a buttoned-down Brit chosen by a joint task force, CIA agent Emily Donovan (Rachel Brosnahan) and MI6’s Bertrand (Anton Lesser), to go undercover and act as a courier between them and Soviet officer Oleg Penkovsky (Merab Ninidze). Wynne’s down-to-earth manner and the fact that he already was doing business in Eastern Europe made him a perfect undercover agent.
As presented, the job was simple. Travel to Moscow under the pretense of work, up a package from Penkovsky and return home. Of course, international intrigue is never that easy, particularly when the information they are passing back and forth is related to preventing a nuclear confrontation.
When the Americans learn that Russia has positioned nuclear warheads on Cuba it becomes a race to get Penkovsky to safety. Out of a sense of loyalty to his business partner-turned-friend, Wynne volunteers to make one more trip to Russia.
“The Courier” is an old-fashioned espionage drama that is more about relationships than it is about James Bond style antics. Loyalty, betrayal and forgiveness go hand-in-hand in the complicated game of making the world a safer place and it is in its portrayal of those qualities that “The Courier” shines.
Wynne has several important relationships in the film. There is his wife, Jessie Buckley bringing much to an underwritten role, and his handler Emily, but it is with Penkovsky that he truly bonds. Trust forms over dinners and even at the ballet, but it is their shared desire to prevent a war that binds them.
Cumberbatch brings much to the role, allowing true feelings to slip past Wynne’s stiff-upper-lip. It’s subtle yet commanding work that steers the film past its grey-ish, icy façade to a place where the cloak-and-dagger story becomes driven by feelings and not intrigue.
Cumberbatch‘s wouldn’t be nearly as effective if he didn’t have such a strong actor playing Penkovsky. Ninidze plays the Russian as an idealogue, a man convinced his country is playing a very dangerous game with the world, It’s a quietly powerful performance, one where what he doesn’t say is as important as what he does say. Ninidze nails it, playing a man whose every move could have massive consequences for him and his family.
“The Courier” is a welcome addition to the Cold War genre.
A weekly feature from from ctvnews.ca! The Crouse Review is a quick, hot take on the weekend’s biggest movies! This week Richard looks at the historical betrayals of “Mary Queen of Scots,” the cortex boiling animation of “Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse” and the drug addiction drama of “Ben is Back.”
Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Marcia MacMillan to have a look at the weekend’s big releases including the wild and webby “Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse,” the political drama of “Mary Queen of Scots” and the Julia Roberts’s drug drama “Ben is Back.”
Mr. Parker, my grade nine history teacher, believed in learning by rote. Once a day thirty schoolmates and I would assemble in his class and were invariably confronted with Mr. Parker in his black suit dusted with chalk from writing, in perfect script, three chalk boards worth of notes. “Write it down and learn it.” A mishmash of dates and names, his notes were detailed but ultimately did not bring the story to life.
Watching “Mary Queen of Scots,” a new historical drama starring Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie, I was immediately transported back to Mr. Parker’s class.
The convoluted tale begins in 1561 with Mary Stuart (Ronan) returning to Scotland being raised Catholic in France and widowed at age eighteen. She comes home to a world of intrigue. Her half-brother, the Earl of Moray (James McArdle) would seem to be an ally but holds resentment that he will lose his exalted place as King with her return. She also faces opposition from John Knox (David Tennant), a religious leader who brands the queen a harlot, unfit for the throne.
Meanwhile in England Mary’s twenty-five-year-old Protestant cousin Queen Elizabeth I (Robbie, under an inch of make-up) has a certain amount of sympathy for her long lost relative. The monarch understand what it means to be a woman ruler in a world of men but her advisers, including her chief council William Cecil (Guy Pearce) see Mary as a threat who must be dealt with.
Cue the intrigue and sharpen those axes.
There is a lot going on in “Mary Queen of Scots.” Political backbiting, betrayal, toxic patriarchy, romance, more betrayal and equal parts empathy and cruelty are all on display, making an already expansive story—it spans roughly twenty years—feel overstuffed. Locations, dates and motivations blur as the courtly manipulations pile atop one another, leaving behind a nicely acted film that feels weighted down by an excess of intrigue.
Robbie and Ronan, rivals for the Best Actress Oscar last year, share just one scene, an historically inaccurate meeting that features the film’s best moments. As Mary shifts from pleading for sisterhood to imperiously claiming the crown of England for herself—“I am a Stuart, the rightful queen.”—there is more drama in those few minutes than in the film’s entire middle section.
“Mary Queen of Scots” has some admirable, timely qualities. Colour-blind casting—most notably through the work of Gemma Chan and Adrian Lester—Mary’s attitude toward the gender-fluid minstrel David Rizzio (Ismael Cruz Cordova) and the portrayal of Mary and Elizabeth as strong willed women are thoroughly modern and to be commended. It’s too bad the narrative machinations bog down what otherwise is a fine tale of political manoeuvring.