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.”
Richard and CP24 anchor Jamie Gutfreund have a look at the weekend’s new movies, “The Lost City of Z,” starring Charlie Hunnam as an obsessed Amazonian explorer, the unforgivable “Unforgettable,” the wild and wooly “Free Fire” and the rom mon “Colossal” starring Anne Hathaway as a woman whose drunken stumbling has far reaching effects.
Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Marcia MacMillan to have a look at the big weekend movies, “The Lost City of Z,” starring Charlie Hunnam as an obsessed Amazonian explorer, the unforgivable “Unforgettable,” the wild and wooly “Free Fire” and the rom mon “Colossal” starring Anne Hathaway as a woman whose drunken stumbling has far reaching effects.
“The Lost City of Z” is an epic true-to-life tale of adventure and intrigue. Based on the book of the same name by David Grann it stars Charlie Hunnam as a determined explorer who obsession with the Amazon led to his mysterious disappearance.
Hunnam, who will soon be seen playing another legendary character in “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword,” is Colonel Percy Fawcett, a man convinced of the existence of a lost city deep in the Amazon. When he discovers pottery, evidence of an advanced civilization in the region, he is ridiculed by the scientific establishment who hang on to old-fashioned ideas about indigenous populations. “Your exploits have opened every door for you,” he’s told, “but keep your ideas to yourself. It is one thing to celebrate the people it’s another to elevate them.” At a boisterous Royal Geographical Society meeting he says, “If we can find a city where one was for not to be able to exist we could rewrite history,” only to be drowned out by dismissive chants of, “Pots and pans! Pots and pans!” from his peers.
Determined to prove his theory he returns, aide-de-camp Corporal Henry Costin (Robert Pattinson) and crew at his side only to be side-tracked by James Murray (Angus Macfadyen), a fellow explorer unfit for the journey.
Fawcett doesn’t give up despite Murray’s lawsuits, family trouble, his resignation from the Royal Geographical Society and World War I.
His search for the Lost City of Z provides the subtext for the movie. As much as this is an adventure tale, it’s also the story of a man desperate to not only prove himself personally and professionally. Personally he was, as the mucky mucks say, “unwise in his choice of ancestors.” Professionally he needs to prove to his British countrymen that the forgotten South American civilization were not “savages,” but people who have tamed the jungle and created empires.
His third and final try is a stripped down affair with son Jack (Tom Holland) in tow.
Traditionally made, “The Lost City of Z” feels old fashioned, as though you could almost imagine James Mason and Gregory Peck in the leads. It takes us back to a slower time, a moment in history before there were Starbucks on evefy corner and movies had to have gotcha moments woven throughout. It throws the modern adventure movie playbook out the window. There is no timetable for the action, no crash-and-burn scene every 10 minutes, just a story of survival and class warfare.
For much of the running time that’s OK. Director James Gray takes his time laying out Fawcett’s obsession, allowing us to get under the skin of a man with much to prove. It begins to feel overlong at the hour-and-a-half mark during a scene, wedged between the second and third explorations were a psychic goes on at length about the importance of Fawcett’s work and we still have WWI and the third expedition to go! It is the movie’s “dropout moment,” the scene that loses the audience and the film never recovers.
It’s a shame because “The Lost City of Z” is a handsome movie, ripe with subtext and solid performances. It’s also self indulgent, in need of one of Fawcett’s jungle machetes to chop it down to size.