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 three life stories, the doomed love story “Priscilla,” now playing in theatres, and two Netflix movies, the Stallone doc “Sly” and the bio “NYAD,” about marathon swimmer Diana Nyad.
I joined CP24 to have a look at new movies coming to VOD, streaming services and theatres. Today we talk about Paul Giamatti in “The Holdovers,” the biopic “Priscilla,” the sports drama “NYAD” and the documentary “Sly.”
I sit in on the CFRA Ottawa morning show to talk the new movies coming to theatres including Paul Giamatti in “The Holdovers,” the biopic “Priscilla,” the sports drama “NYAD” and the documentary “Sly.”
There’s stubborn, and then there’s Diana Nyad, the subject of “NYAD,” a new Netflix movie starring Annette Bening as a marathon swimmer who doesn’t know the meaning of the word quit. Battling against age, weather and expectations, she refuses to give up on her dream of swimming the 108 miles (174 km) from Cuba to Key West through shark and jellyfish infested waters. “I will not accept defeat,” she says.
Based on Nyad’s true story, the movie begins on the eve of her 60th birthday. Thirty years after trading her swimming career for a gig as a correspondent for “Wide World of Sports,” she wants another challenge. “You turn sixty and the world decides you’re a bag of bones,” she says.
Sidestepping the self-described “hurtling toward mediocrity,” she sets her sights on revisiting her failed 1978 long distance swim between Cuba to Key West. At age 29 she swam for 42 hours, covered 76 miles (122 km), but was forced to abort because of weather.
At the time experts said the swim was “closer to impossible than possible.” Now, with a ragtag team of volunteers, including her best friend/coach/support system Bonnie (Jodie Foster) and navigator John Bartlett (Rhys Ifans), she sets off to conquer the “Mount Everest” of swims, no matter how many tries it takes. “I don’t leave room for imaging defeat,” she declares.
“NYAD” is not exactly a biopic. It focusses on a specific time in Nyad’s life, filling in background details with hallucinatory flashbacks, so it never goes deep. Instead, it succeeds because it is a portrait of the determination required to become a world class athlete and the team that helps along the way.
It’s also the story of platonic love as it examines the friendship between Nyad and Bonnie. Bening and Foster, both terrific, provide the movie’s heart, providing an emotional element that elevates the film’s prevailing, and occasionally overwrought, inspirational message. The third spoke on the wheel is Ifans as the gruff-navigator-with-a-heart-of-gold. His analytical, logical approach provides a nice counterpart to Bonnie’s tough love and Diana’s self-absorption.
The swimming scenes, and there are many of them, are nicely captured by “Top Gun: Maverick” cinematographer Claudio Miranda, whose camera gives the audience a you-are-there look at Diana in action. The vastness of the ocean, the ever-present danger of sharks and venomous Box Jellyfish coupled with Miranda’s photography amplify the overwhelming odds Nyad is up against.
“NYAD” spends much of its runtime in the water, following Diana as she makes attempt after attempt to achieve her goal, but it isn’t the sport that makes the movie interesting. Like any great sports movie, it’s the people, not the game that is most compelling.
Richard speaks to “CTV News at Six” anchor Andria Case about the best movies and television to watch this weekend including Golden Globe winners “The Mauritanian” and “The United States Vs. Billie Holiday” and a new coming-of-age movie on VOD “My Salinger Year.”
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 Disney’s animated action flick “Raya and the Last Dragon” (Disney+ with Premier Access and theatres), the long awaited sequel “Coming 2 America” (Amazon Prime Video), the biopic “The United States Vs. Billie Holiday” (VOD), the legal drama “The Mauritanian” (premium digital and on-demand), the coming-of-age story “My Salinger Year” (VOD) and the look at the war on drugs “Crisis” (on digital and demand).
“The Last King of Scotland” director Kevin Macdonald makes good use of his background in documentary film for his latest release “The Mauritanian,” now on premium digital and on-demand. The story of a 9/11 suspect held by the U.S. at Guantanamo Bay despite never being officially charged, is a drama based on true events, but uses documentary style devices to convey the nuts and bolts of the case.
Jodie Foster is Nancy Hollander, an attorney who takes on the pro bono case of Mohamedou Ould Slahi (Tahar Rahim), a Mauritanian national accused of acts of terrorism related to 9/11. While he is housed at the Guantánamo Bay detention camp without charge and, as a high-value detainee, subjected to torture, Hollander begins her investigation. “I’m not just defending him,” she says. “I’m defending you and me. The constitution doesn’t have an asterisk at the end that says, ‘Terms and Conditions apply.’”
On the prosecution is Lt. Colonel Stuart Couch (Benedict Cumberbatch), a straight arrow with a personal connection to the case. “He recruited the SOBs who flew your friend into the south tower,” he is told. Couch lost a good friend in 9/11 and is seeking the death penalty for Slahi. “If we miss something,” he says to his team, “this guy goes home. Let’s get to it.”
As the trial looms Couch learns federal agents, including his friend and former classmate Neil Buckland (Zachary Levi), are withholding crucial documents. Powerful people want a quick and decisive conviction and are willing to bury an evidence that may get in the way of that. “Your job is to bring charges,” he is told. Couch fights back, believing the only path to an unequivocal verdict, one without the possibility of appeal, lies in having all the facts. “I’ve never been part of a conspiracy,” he says, “but I’m starting to think this is what it must feel like to be on the outside.”
“The Mauritanian” is an uneven film with several standout elements. As a procedural it is fairly straightforward, but within the story are complex legal questions. At what point does fear circumvent the law? How can human rights violations be condoned under any circumstances? How can habeas corpus, the right to appear before a judge, to know why you’ve been arrested and detained, ever be denied?
Each question is a conversation starter and Hollander wasted no words clarifying her stance on these questions. “I’m not just defending him,” she says. “I’m defending the rule of law.” It’s a powerful reminder that ethics and rules matter. “You built this place and you abandoned all your principles and all of your laws,” Hollander says. “What if you were wrong?”
Adding humanity to the story’s tale of inhuman behaviour is Rahim who hands in a layered, interesting performance in a film that isn’t quite as complex as his work.
Richard and CP24 anchor George Lagogianes do a refresher on “Captain America: Civil War” and then talk about the weekend’s big releases,the George Clooney – Julia Roberts thriller “Money Monster” and the lusty and lurid “A Bigger Splash.”