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.”
Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Marcia MacMillan to have a look at the big weekend movies, “Logan,” the latest (and greatest) Wolverine flick, the time travel teen angst movie “Before I Fall” and the controversial Christian movie “The Shack.”
“Before I Fall,” a new supernatural thriller based on the young adult novel of same name by Lauren Oliver, is essentially an anti-bullying “It gets better” advertisement stretched to feature length.
Zoey Deutch is Sam, high school senior and along with Lindsay (Halston Sage), Allison (Cynthy Wu) and Elody (Medalion Rahimi), one of a quartet of mean girls. “Till death do us part,” they chant in a clumsy bit of foreshadowing. Best friends, Lindsay says, they’ve “kissed the hottest boys, gone to the sickest parties” and, since grade five made the lives of those they deemed less cool miserable. One such classmate is Juliet (Elena Kampouris), an outsider they nicknamed Mellow Yellow after a long ago camp bed wetting.
On Valentine’s Day the four attend a wild house party but things don’t go exactly as planned. On what was supposed to be Sam’s big night with her boyfriend Rob (Kian Lawley), he gets drunk and flirts with other girls. Worse, Juliet shows up to confront her tormentors. When the situation gets out of control the foursome storm out, piling into Lindsay’s SUV. Minutes later the vehicle veers off the road and spins through the air. All are killed.
Or are they?
The next morning Sam wakes up in her bed with a bad case of Déjà vu. It’s once again Valentine’s Day morning and she seems to be reliving the day all over again. “I feel I’m still dreaming,” she says, perplexed. “Or was yesterday a dream?” Is she destined to relive the worst day of her life over and over? Or can she change her fate? The opportunity to revisit the day brings with it some perspective on the way she has lived her life. Out go the eye rolls, in comes a wave of empathy. “Maybe everything done could be undone,” she says. “Maybe things could change and I could change them. If I had to live the same day over and over I would make it a worthy day… but not just for me.”
Like the time travelling child of “Groundhog Day” and “Mean Girls” (but without Bill Marie or Rachel McAdams), “Before I Fall” is a study of teen angst magnified by a glitch in time. For its young adult audience it will likely raise questions about tolerance, bullying and behaviour. Those for whom high school is a long distant memory may have a harder time finding a great deal of depth in Sam’s revelations.
As portrayed in the film Sam has some edge—she’s not very nice to her sister and ignores her parents—but her journey from sinner to saint might have had more oomph if we had seen more of her terrible behaviour. As it is Lindsay is the true mean girl and yet we’re never really sure what happens to her. “Before I Fall” is a redemption story about a teen who doesn’t seem as much mean as she does moody. Hollywood doesn’t like to make movies where the lead is unlikable but in this case it would have added to Sam’s story of salvation.
Deutch is a likable (perhaps too likable) presence and the story has good and timely messages about bullying, teen suicide and the cause and effect of high school life, but “Before I Fall” needs more edge to be truly cutting. Also, since this isn’t an episode of “Star Trek” I’ll forgive the disregard for the space-time continuum rules.
Richard and CP24 anchor Jamie Gutfreund talk about the weekend’s big releases, the scared-of-the-dark thrills of “Don’t Breathe,” the walking-and-talking of “Southside with You,” the noirish grit of “Manhattan Night” and Natalie Portman’s directorial debut “A Tale of Love and Darkness.”
Richard sits in with Todd van der Hayden to have a look at “Don’t Breathe,” a new edge-of-your-seat home invasion flick, the romantic “Southside with You,” the noirish “Manhattan Night” and Natalie Portman’s directorial debut “A Tale of Love and Darkness.”
There was a time when pulpy New York noirs were a popular genre. Claustrophobic and edgy, movies like “Scarlet Street,” “The Dark Corner” and “The Naked City” exposed the Big Apple’s dirty urban underbelly in gritty and entertaining ways. It’s been sometime since we’ve taken a cinematic walk on NYC’s wild side, so a 50’s style noir placed on present day Manhattan streets should be a welcome thing, right? “Manhattan Night” is a based on author Colin Harrison’s award winning New York Times Notable Book of the Year “Manhattan Nocturne.”
“I sell fear, scandal and mayhem,” says investigative reporter Porter Wren (Adrien Brody). “I sell newspapers. With three deadlines a week, I’m always looking for a good story.” It is that search that leads him to Caroline Crowley (Yvonne Strahovski), a femme fatale with a murdered husband (Campbell Scott) and a favour to ask. She uses her seductive powers to convince him to use his skill to find out who offed her husband. Smelling a good story, Wren becomes infatuated with her and investigates the case placing his marriage and life in danger.
Director Brian DeCubellis certainly knows his way around the genre. “Manhattan Night” is ripe with blackmail, danger, moral ambiguity, slick city streets and abuses of power. It hits all the right notes but seems slightly out of tune, like a cover version of a popular song that doesn’t quite capture the magic of the original.
Brody is suitably world-weary and Strahovski is mysterious and dangerously seductive. Both are stereotypes that feel airlifted in from another, better, movie. As far as the baddies go, Scott nails it as the troubled and threatening husband, a man who projects his neurosis on everyone around him. He’s over the top, chewing the scenery to such an extent you fear he might actually gnaw through the screen, but at least he’s captures the eye. Ditto Steven Berkoff as a Murdoch-esque media baron who seems to exists to add an unsavoury element to an already grubby affair.
As “Manhattan Night” slowly winds its way toward its anti-climatic final scenes it becomes clear that no amount of stylish direction or outrageous characters can make up for the far-fetched and convoluted story.
“It’s the thing that won’t go away,” says journalist-turned-screenwriter-turned-playwright Thomas Hedley Jr. of his most famous work, Flashdance.
Sitting at the grand Ed Mirvish Theatre on Yonge Street, just blocks away from the strip bars that inspired him to write the original story, he talks about bringing Flashdance to the stage.
“If you are going to do this for the stage, you have to play by the rules of the stage,” he says.
“You need a great love story and the singing and the dancing has to advance the story and you are locked into those techniques. It’s happening in front of your eyes. It’s not three or four body doubles. It’s more honest. That makes it play stronger.”
In 1983, Flashdance was a phenomenon. The story of a welder-by-day, exotic-dancer-by-night Alex Owens (Jennifer Beals) and her dreams of going to ballet school, made off-the-shoulder sweatshirts fashionable and became the number one R-rated movie of the year.
“It was a zeitgeist thing,” he says. “It just clicked.”
Hedley conceived the story years before at a bar called Gimlets in downtown Toronto.
“My friend Robert Markle taught painting at the New School. Like de Kooning, he wanted to have movement in all of his nude studies, so he found this place and these girls were doing it. He said, ‘You gotta come. It’s my Sistine Chapel but you have to behave. I don’t want jerky behaviour.’ I went there and watched him draw them. We were very avuncular. We weren’t like guys on the make or anything. We were the genteel, older men in the back. We got to know (the girls) very well. I’m always drawn to girls 18 to 20 who want to make something dramatic out of themselves and need to be an outlaw before they go off and marry the plumber. There is an enormous energy from those creatures and they were like that.”
The story’s provocative origins grabbed Hollywood’s attention but didn’t guarantee that the story would get turned into a film.
“It was not on the track to being made,” says Hedley, “and then a couple of movies fell out at Paramount and they had a big meeting and said, ‘What do we have?’ (Frank) Mancuso, who was the head of marketing, said, ‘I could sell this one, with the naked girls. Let’s do that one.’ It was lucky that it got made at all. It was a random thing.”
The new stage musical, lands at Ed Mirvish Theatre (formerly The Canon) on May 27, 30 years after the movie was released. It features all the songs from the film — hits like Flashdance What a Feeling, Maniac and Gloria — alongside new songs by Canadian composer Robbie Roth.
It’s a labour of love that has kept Hedley busy for almost 10 years.
“It’s like Sammy Davis, Jr. singing Candy Man,” he says. “If I were him, I’d never want to sing Candy Man but you have to stick with it because it has its own life.”
The eight-foot-tall, gruesomely ugly creation of Victor Frankenstein has been called many things. In the original Mary Shelley novel he is named The Ogre. In the credits of the Boris Karloff film he is referred to as The Monster. He’s also been called a fiend, the thing and the demon.
All those terms are apt for a creature born of dead body parts but a new movie adds a different name to the list—Adam. As in Adam Frankenstein.
I, Frankenstein, stars Aaron Eckhart as Adam, the prefab man. He’s now an immortal martial arts expert battling a war between rival clans in an ancient city. The character takes the name from the Shelley book. Sort of.
Shelley never gave the monster a name—people often mistakenly refer to him as Frankenstein—but in the novel the creature says to Victor, “I ought to be thy Adam; but I am rather the fallen angel.”
Whatever you want to call him, Frankenstein’s Monster has always been a popular character in the movies.
The most famous film featuring the creature has to be Boris Karloff’s 1931 classic, but it wasn’t the first. Five silent films, one with the dramatic title Life Without Soul and another that featured the brute emerging from a cauldron of fiery chemicals, all played to packed houses.
From those dramatic beginnings dozens of movies followed.
Robert De Niro played the beast in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. On the set director Kenneth Branagh banned the word “monster,” insisting instead that everyone refer to the creature the same way he is billed in the credits, as “The Sharp Featured Man.”
Frankenstein: The College Years is basically an unlikely mix of Shelley’s story and Encino Man. Directed by Tom Ace Ventura: Pet Detective Shadyac, this 1991 comedy sees college student Mark (William Ragsdale) reanimate Dr. Frankenstein’s creature who then becomes a football star and a big man on campus known as Frank N. Stein (Vincent Hammond). “He blends right in,” says Mark of the six-foot-nine Frank, “he’s a regular invisible man.”
The movie The Bride, a 1985 remake of The Bride of Frankenstein starring Sting and Jennifer Beals, gave the fiend yet another name. He was dubbed Viktor but not in tribute to his creator Victor Frankenstein. In this retelling the good doctor is known as Baron Charles Frankenstein. The name Viktor was chosen in tribute to the film’s producer Victor Drai.