I appear on “CTV News at 6” with anchor Andria Case to talk about the best movies and television to watch this weekend. This week I have a look at Harry Styles in “My Policeman,” the Jennifer Lawrence drama “Causeway, the music doc “The Return of Tanya Tucker featuring Brandi Carlile.”
I joined CP24 to have a look at new movies coming to VOD, streaming services and theatres. Today we talk about Harry Styles in “My Policeman,” the Jennifer Lawrence drama “Causeway, the music doc “The Return of Tanya Tucker featuring Brandi Carlile,” the coming of age story “Armageddon Time” and the drama “The Swearing Jar.”
I sit in on the CFRA Ottawa morning show with host Bill Carroll to talk the new movies coming to theatres including Harry Styles in “My Policeman,” the Jennifer Lawrence drama “Causeway, the music doc “The Return of Tanya Tucker featuring Brandi Carlile,” the coming of age story “Armageddon Time” and the drama “The Swearing Jar.”
Another semi-autobiographical movie adds itself to the ever-growing list of films about filmmakers. Recently movies like “Belfast” and “The Fablemans,” lovingly detailed the young lives of Kenneth Branagh and Steven Spielberg. Now, “Armageddon Time,” starring Anne Hathaway, Anthony Hopkins and Jeremy Strong, and now playing in theatres, treads similar ground, as an edgy Reagan-era period piece about director James Grey’s early life.
Set in Queens, New York, the story takes place over two months in the run-up to Reagan’s election in 1980. Red-headed sixth-grader Paul Graff (Banks Repeta), is an artistically inclined kid, who lives with his second-generation Jewish American parents, Ester and Irving (Anne Hathaway and Jeremy Strong). His older brother Ted (Ryan Sell), now studying at private school, is an over-achiever, whose example has set the bar very high for the head-in-the-clouds Paul.
Only his doting grandfather Aaron (Anthony Hopkins) seems to understand him, and support his artistic ambitions. “You can be an artist if you want to be,” Aaron says. “Nothing’s going to stop you.”
At school his stuffy teacher Mr. Turkletaub (Andrew Polk) doesn’t appreciate a caricature Paul draws of him and punishes him, along with African-American classmate Johnny Davis (Jaylin Webb), a more worldly youngster, who dreams of being an astronaut. The two dreamers hit it off, forming a friendship that teaches Paul difficult lessons about the nature of friendship and family.
“Armageddon Time” draws its name from a Ronald Reagan news interview, seen in the film, where the former “Bedtime for Bonzo” star warned that, unless he is elected to straighten the world out, “We might be the generation that sees Armageddon.”
On a more direct level, the titular Armageddon refers to the battle Paul wages between his good intentions and evil deeds. The impulsive sixth-grader is torn between Ester and Irving’s desire for him to excel at anything, it seems, except for the thing he loves most, his grandfather’s advice to always be a mensch and his friendship with Johnny, and it pushes him to act out, without regard for the consequences.
It is in that push-and-pull that Paul makes the mistakes that will shape the film’s study of race and class, and inform his relationships and, presumably, his future.
The melancholy movie finds its drama within that push-and-pull. At the start Paul and Johnny are goofy troublemakers, bonded by a shared enjoyment of walking their own path, but as their stories become intertwined, their innocence is soon stripped away as the disparity of their life situations is highlighted. Both young actors bring a palpable sense of confusion, disappointment and eventually resignation, to their roles. It is remarkable work from each, performances that shine a harsh light on adolescence, rather than the usual coming-of-age wistful glimmer.
“Armageddon Time” features predictably interesting work from the entire cast, who come together in an ensemble that often feels like a real, dysfunctional family. There is also a subtle showstopper of a scene between Hopkins and Repeta that packs an emotional punch by what it doesn’t say, rather than what it does, but director Grey’s biggest achievement may be the uncompromising, unsentimental and uncomfortable approach to his own coming-of-age story.
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 “Downtown Abbey,” the punk rock genre film “Riot Girls,” Brad Pitt’s trip into outer reaches of space and his own psyche in “Ad Astra.”
Richard sits in on the CTV NewsChannel with news anchor Marcia MacMillan to have a look at the weekend’s big releases including the big screen adaptation of “Downtown Abbey,” Brad Pitt’s trip into outer reaches of space and his own psyche in “Ad Astra” and the music doc “Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band.”
Richard has a look at the new movies coming to theatres, including the big screen adaptation of “Downtown Abbey,” the punk rock genre film “Riot Girls,” Brad Pitt’s trip into outer reaches of space and his own psyche in “Ad Astra” and the music doc “Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and the Band.”
“Ad Astra,” a new space opera starring Brad Pitt, is not simply a journey into the universe but a trek into the star’s ability to keep the story earthbound while reaching for the stars.
Set in the very near future, “a time of hope and conflict,” “Ad Astra” stars Pitt as astronaut Maj. Roy McBride. His father, Clifford McBride (Tommy Lee Jones), went missing three decades before while travelling space, looking for alien life.
The younger McBride’s latest mission is his most important ever, both personally and professionally. Something or someone is sending deadly anti-matter surges toward the earth and NASA thinks they may be coming from McBride Sr’s lost spaceship. They send the stoic Roy, armed with a nuclear device, on a top-secret mission to Neptune to find out what’s going on.
As the stoic Roy hurtles through space his path his fraught with risk. But the most dangerous part of the trip isn’t battling moon bandits or intergalactic monkeys, it’s the journey into his own psyche.
A father and son twist on “Heart of Darkness,” “Ad Astra” is cerebral, humanist sci fi. It is more akin to films like “2001: A Space Odyssey” and Andrei Tarkovsky’s “Solaris” than the big budget space operas that tend to top the box office. It’s a solemn, meditative look at masculinity, isolation and emotional stoicism.
Pitt gives an understated but effective performance that relies on the subtlest of movements. McBride’s outward fortitude masks a tumultuous inner life, ripe with questions and muddled feelings. His training has taught him to stay even keeled—his pulse never raises above 80 even in the most stressful situations—but as he comes closer to Neptune and the possibility of being reunited with his father, cracks begin to appear in his carefully crafted facade. Pitt, in a largely non-verbal performance save for copious voiceover, shows his emotions through the cracks, allowing the character to reveal himself in the contemplative but compellingly unsettling way.
“Ad Astra”—which means “through hardships to the stars” in Latin—has all the hallmarks of a blockbuster, there’s a big star, beautifully shot action sequences by “Interstellar” cinematographer Hoyte Van Hoytema and the kind of end-of-the-world scenario the Avengers love, but it’s a heady one. It’s more concerned with what’s going on inside McBride’s head as what’s happening outside. Also, like so many blockbusters, it doesn’t know what to do with the female characters. Liv Tyler is glimpsed only through a screen and Ruth Negga, while always wonderful, is essentially an exposition machine. Still, the character study is spellbinding enough, thanks to Pitt’s performance, to maintain interest.
Richard sits in on the CJAD Montreal morning show with host Andrew Carter to talk the new movies coming to theatres including the big screen adaptation of “Downtown Abbey,” Brad Pitt’s trip into outer reaches of space and his own psyche in “Ad Astra” and the music doc “Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and the Band.”