Watch as Richard reviews three movies in less time than it takes to flag a cab! Have a look as he races against the clock to tell you about the all-star murder mystery “Death on the Nile,” the rom com (heavy on the com) “I Want You Back” and the Liam Neeson actioner “Blacklight.”
Richard joins CP24 to have a look at new movies coming to VOD, streaming services and theatres including two rom coms for Valentine’s Day, “I Want You Back” (Amazon) and “Marry Me” (in theatres), the Agatha Christie murder mystery “Death on the Nile” (in Theatres), and the Oscar nominated “Drive My Car” (in theatres).
Richard joins host Jim Richards of the NewsTalk 1010 afternoon show The Rush for Booze and Reviews! Today we talk about the Agatha Christie all-star mystery “Death on the Nile,” the Valentine’s Say Prime Video entry “I Want You Back” with Jenny Slate and Charlie Day and “Blacklight,” the latest shoot ’em up from Liam Neeson. We’ll also give you the history of a two ingredient Spanish drink that was named after the ugliest man in the village where it was invented!
Richard sits in on the CFRA Ottawa morning show with host Bill Carroll to talk the new movies coming to theatres, VOD and streaming services including two rom coms for Valtentine’s Day, “I Want You Back” (Amazon) and “Marry Me” (in theatres), the Agatha Christie murder mystery “Death on the Nile” (in Theatres), the Liam Neeson actioner “Blacklight” (theatres) and the Oscar nominated “Drive My Car” (in theatres).
Richard joins NewsTalk 1010 host David Cooper on the coast-to-coast-to-coast late night “Showgram” to play the game “Did Richard Crouse Like This?” This week we talk about the Agatha Christie all-star mystery “Death on the Nile,” the Valentine’s Say Prime Video entry “I Want You Back” with Jenny Slate and Charlie Day and “Blacklight,” the latest shoot ’em up from Liam Neeson.
In the whodunnit genre few names loom larger than Agatha Christie. The author of 66 novels and 14 short story collections was known as the Mistress of Mystery and holds a Guinness World Record as the best-selling fiction writer of all time.
Her books are the fuel for countless stage plays, television shows and movies, but the spark that make the novels so entertaining often goes missing in translation.
It speaks volumes that the best Christie movie of late, “Knives Out,” isn’t an adaptation of her work. It borrows the mechanics of her best stories, including the climatic singling out of the murderer in a roomful of suspects, to make the most enjoyable movie tribute to her style in years and that includes Kenneth Branagh’s 2017 thriller “Murder on the Orient Express,” which is actually based on a Christie classic.
The director takes a second kick at the Christie can with “Death on the Nile,” an adaptation of the writer’s best-selling 1937 mystery of jealousy, wealth and death.
The film begins with a flashback to World War I and the origin of Belgian soldier Hercule Poirot’s (Branagh) flamboyant moustache.
Cut to 1937. Poirot, now a world-renowned detective, is on vacation in Egypt aboard the lavishly appointed ship S.S. Karnak. Also aboard are heiress Linnet (Gal Gadot) and her new husband Simon (Armie Hammer), a glamourous, honeymooning couple cruising the Nile in an effort to hide from the jealous Jacqueline (Emma Mackey), who happens to be Linnet’s jealous former friend and Simon’s ex-lover. Jacqueline has other plans, however, and comes along for the ride. “It’s indecent,” says Simon. “She’s making a fool of herself.”
Linnet fears that Jacqueline is up to no good and reaches out to Poirot to look out for her safety on the ship. “Maybe Jacqueline hasn’t committed a crime yet,” she says, “but she will. She always settles her scores.”
When Linnet turns up dead, Jacqueline is the obvious suspect, but she has a rock-solid alibi.
So who could the killer be? Is it Linnet’s former fiancé Linus Windlesham (a very subdued Russell Brand)? Jazz singer Salome Otterbourne (Sophie Okonedo)? Maybe it’s Marie Van Schuyler (Jennifer Saunders), Linnet’s Communist godmother or Rosalie Otterbourne (Letitia Wright) Linnet’s old classmate.
Only one person can get to the bottom of the matter. “I am Detective Hercule Poirot and I will deliver your killer.”
“He’s a bloodhound,” says Rosalie, “so let him sniff.”
“Death on the Nile” has an old-fashioned Hollywood epic feel to it. There’s glamour, beautiful costumes and even more beautiful people set against an exotic backdrop shot with sweeping, expensive looking crane shots over CGI pyramids. There are, as they used to say, more stars than there are in the heavens populating the screen and a knotty mystery that only Poirot can untie.
It also feels old fashioned in its storytelling. Branagh takes his time setting the scene, adding in two prologues before landing in Egypt. It takes almost an hour to get to the sleuthing and the weaving together of the clues and the characters. The leisurely pace sucks much of the immediacy out of the story, and despite all the moving parts, the mystery isn’t particularly intriguing.
More intriguing is Branagh’s take on Poirot. On film the detective has often been played as the object of fun, and while the character’s ego, persnickety personality and quirky moustache are very much on display, but here he is a serious man, heartbroken and brimming with regret. We learn how the death of a loved one changed him, turning him into the man we see today. It’s a new take on the crime solver that breathes some new life into the character’s lungs.
Then there is the pyramid in the room. Yes, Armie Hammer, the bland slab of a leading man, has a large role in the action. He is so interwoven into the movie that he couldn’t be cut out, à la Kevin Spacey in “All the Money in the World,” despite his recent scandals. At any rate, despite having one of the larger roles, he doesn’t make much of an impression.
“Death on the Nile’s” high style and all-star murder mystery may please Agatha Christie aficionados but it could use a little more of the “Knives Out” vibe to make it feel less old fashioned and conventional.
Richard sits in with Marcia McMillan to have a look at the continuing adventures of the USS Enterprise “Star Trek Beyond,” the family-friendly “Ice Age: Collision Course,” Edina and Patsy’s drunken adventures in “Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie” and the ‘are you afraid of the dark’ movie, “Lights Out.”
Any film that includes “:The Movie” in its title is bound to be little more than a larger version of the TV show, videogame or whatever the source material may be. “Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie,” based on the popular British TV show about best friends bonded by a shared enthusiasm for heavy-drinking and drug abuse, is true to form in that it is less a movie than it is an excuse for some sitcom nostalgia.
Edina Monsoon (Jennifer Saunders) and Patsy Stone (Joanna Lumley) are hard-living socialites on the edges of London high society. Edina is a washed-up PR agent, trying desperately to maintain her lavish lifestyle. She’s not out of money, her “cards are broken.” Patsy is the fashion editor of a snooty magazine who injects foetus blood into her face every morning to stave off the effects of partying and age.
When Edina’s plan to sell her memoir to a huge publisher fails—“You think your life is interesting, but it isn’t,” she’s told. “It may be worth living but it’s not worth reading.”—she becomes determined to recruit fashion icon Kate Moss as a client. Thus begins a wild journey that includes suspected manslaughter, a sham marriage, worldwide grieving and more self-absorption than you can shake a bottle of Bollinger Champagne at. Self absorbed and on the run from a murder charge, Patsy and Adina confront their age and try to keep the party going.
“Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie” isn’t exactly absolutely fabulous. That’s the easy joke, which is appropriate because this movie goes for the easy joke time after time. It certainly doesn’t reinvent the wheel and makes up for its lack of inventiveness with a parade of cameos from British luminaries like Lulu, Emma Bunton, Joan Collins and Graham Norton. In all there are 60 celebrity drive-bys. The only one missing is a Benny Hill.
The leads are broad characters in the sitcom tradition, prime examples of the dangers of arrested development. Luckily both can deliver a line—“Leopard skin and liver spots… that’s old age camouflage.”—with dead precision and will do almost anything to get a laugh and the over-the-top reaction to Kate Moss’s disappearance is very funny (“She will either have drowned or be very, very wet.”), I just wish there were more laughs to be had. I think fans of the television show will still get a kick out of Edina and Patsy’s co-dependence and enabling—it’s the glue that binds them together—but for everyone else the movie will feel like an overlong sitcom episode.