Fast reviews for busy people! Watch as Richard Crouse reviews three movies in less time than it takes to wind a clock! Have a look as he races against the clock to tell you about David Fincher’s thriller “The Killer,” the mascot mayhem of “Five Nights at Freddy’s” and Emily Blunt in “Pain Hustlers.”
I joined CP24 to have a look at new movies coming to VOD, streaming services and theatres. Today we talk about David Fincher’s thriller “The Killer,” Emily Blunt in “Pain Hustlers,” the mascot mayhem of “Five Nights at Freddy’s” and the John Cena action flick “Freelance.”
“Pain Hustlers,” a new true crime dramedy based on the non-fiction book “The Hard Sell” by Evan Hughes, starring Emily Blunt and Chris Evans, and now streaming on Netflix, joins the ever-growing list of movies and television shows that detail big pharma’s culpability in the opioid crisis.
Blunt plays Liza Drake, a broke single-mom to daughter Phoebe (Chloe Coleman). Kicked out of her sister’s garage, where they’d been sleeping for more than a month, Liza is desperate for a job and cash.
During a chance meeting with oily pharmaceutical sales rep Pete Brenner (Chris Evans), she impresses him with her tenacity. Sensing she’d do anything for a buck, he offers her a job, despite her complete lack of qualifications, selling a new, inhalable fentanyl-based pain killer directly to doctors.
“It’s a long-odds lottery buried under a thousand rejections,” he tells her.
To keep the job, all she has to do is get the ball rolling by convincing one doctor to prescribe the drug. Just under the deadline, she lands a whale, the morally compromised Dr. Lydell (Brian d’Arcy James) who hands out the drug to his patients like candy to kids at Halloween.
Liza’s piece of the action is more money than she ever could have imagined. “You’re not going to make a hundred K this year,” Brenner tells her. “It’s going to be more like six-hundred.”
Drunk on success—and frequent drinking binges—she bends laws and bribes doctors as she chants her mantra, “Own your territory,” to a growing legion of sales reps. But while her bank account swells, so do her doubts, as her conscience becomes her moral compass.
“Pain Hustlers” breathes much of the same air as “Dopesick,” “Painkiller” and the documentary “All the Beauty and the Bloodshed.” Some. But not all. Those stories focused on patients and the personal toll of the opioid epidemic. Conversely, “Pain Hustlers” turns the camera on the sales reps, the pharmaceutical pushers who made fortunes on the misfortune of others.
Liza’s shift from desperation to greed isn’t a particularly fresh take on the rags-to-riches tale, but Blunt works overtime to make her character compelling. Her desire to succeed, to improve her life isn’t simply about the Benjamins, it’s about creating a new start for her daughter. Blunt grounds the movie with ample humanity, anchoring the film’s often over-the-top antics with her earthbound presence.
To its detriment, “Pain Hustlers” has a lighter tone than other recent opioid dramas. It’s not exactly a laugh a minute, but the jocular tone seems at odds with the serious subject matter, particularly in the performances of Evans and Andy Garcia, whose character loses his mind and the audience’s attention midway through.
“Pain Hustlers” attempts a new take on a hot button topic, but, the formulaic execution and uneven tone feels wonky given subject matter.
Theses days the word landline conjures up a specific retro feel. It harkens back to a time before everyone played Candy Crush on their mobile devices and when pay phones dotted the landscape. That’s the world where the new Jenny Slate dramedy “Landline” takes place.
It’s New York City, 1995. Dana Jacobs (Slate) is a layout artist at Paper Magazine when she isn’t at Blockbuster with her fiancée Ben (Jay Duplass) agonizing over what movie to rent. Younger sister Ali (Abby Quinn) is as free-spirited as her sibling is buttoned down.
“You’re like a piece of toilet paper stuck to my shoe,” Dana says to Ali. “You are the embodiment of constipation,” Ali snaps back.
Despite their differences the sisters bond when Ali discovers erotic poetry her father Alan (John Turturro) wrote for a woman who is not his wife Pat (Edie Falco). Their disgust for his actions brings them together, despite the fact that Dana has thrown off the shackles of engagement and embarked on a secret journey of self-discovery with Nate (Finn Wittrock). “I am flailing,” she says. “Trying to figure out if the life I have picked for myself is the one that I want.” “We are a family of cheaters!” Ali exclaims.
“Landline” uses infidelity as a backdrop for a study of partnership and family. Everyone’s relationship is teetering on the edge and yet this is a hopeful movie, a film that suggests monogamy is viable when given room to breathe.
“Obvious Child” director Gillian Robespierre brings a strong ensemble together, elevating the material with strong performances. Duplass is suitably milquetoast as Ben, the dull but lovable fiancée. Turturro and Falco breathe life into characters that in lesser hands might have been caricatures or worse, simply a plot device to support the sisters’ story.
The stars here, however, are Slate and Quinn. They look like sisters but their chemistry extends beyond the skin deep. Slate’s giggles and affectionate asides—“You’re a weird little bird.”—feel authentic, as though these two have a long shared history that predates anything we see on the screen. They bring humanity and sympathy to the film despite their foibles.
“Landline” is an engaging portrait of broken relationships in an analogue time. It’s a gently heart tugging story about the consequences of breaking relationship rules. There are jokes and there are tears but mainly “Landline” has a wistful tone that gets under your skin.
Richard and CP24 anchor Jamie Gutfreund have a look at the weekend’s new movies, “Logan,” the latest (and greatest) Wolverine flick, the time travel teen angst movie “Before I Fall,” the animated “Ballerina,” the quirky “Table 19” with Anna Kendrick and the controversial Christian movie “The Shack.”
“People do weird things at weddings,” says Huck (Thomas Cocquerel), a handsome stranger who takes Eloise (Anna Kendrick) for a spin on the dance floor in the almost-rom-com “Table 19.” Maybe that’s true, but in the case of this movie, they do quirky and sometimes unpredictable things, but weird? Not quite.
On the day of her childhood friend’s wedding Eloise (Kendrick) repeats the mantra, “Today will not suck.” She may be close to the bride but is attending the wedding begrudgingly. Her ex-boyfriend Teddy (Wyatt Russell), a flame-haired dim wit who dumped her by text with the words “good luck in your future endeavours,” is the best man and she still hate-loves him.
She arrives to find herself seated at Table 19, a collection of misfits she says, “should have known to send regrets but not before sending an expensive gift.” There’s Jo Flanagan (June Squibb), a pot smoker who was once the bride’s nanny, the Kepps (Craig Robinson and Lisa Kudrow), distant friends of the family of the groom, ex-con Walter Thimple (Stephen Merchant) and Rezno Eckberg (“Grand Budapest Hotel’s” Tony Revolori), a young man who introduces himself with, “I have achieved puberty and I’m in the band.”
Because they are the outcasts, invited out of politeness and seated far from the action, they spend the day together. Secrets are revealed and the complex nature of relationships is explored. Will Eloise be able to speak to Teddy? Will the Kepps’ marriage survive the weekend? Will Renzo ever get a date? What will become of Jo and Walter?
“Table 19” is a rom com, but not a traditional one. It’s a super-reverso-rom-com that begins after the couple already has a history and broken up. It’s no secret that the heart of the movie will be their relationship so your enjoyment of the movie will be related to how much you care about this quirky collection of folks.
Kendrick is an agreeable presence, bringing equal parts edge and vulnerability to Eloise. Robinson and Kudrow banter like an old married couple and Squibb radiates warmth while Revolori and Merchant dial up their eccentricities. It’s an interesting group who by times are quite funny but most often feels like a collection of characters rather than real people. They shuffle from one set-up to another—Whoops! They knocked over the wedding cake!—lurching through the wedding on the way to the end credits and some sort of relationship resolution.
“Table 19” will raise a laugh or two or three, but the artificial nature of the situation isn’t weird enough to truly embrace the quirkiness of the characters or interesting enough to engage the audience.