A new feature from from ctvnews.ca! The Crouse Review is a quick, hot take on the weekend’s biggest movies! This week Richard looks at “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” the adult rom com “The Big Sick” and the political buddy movie “The Journey.”
Richard and CP24 anchor George Lagogianes have a look at the weekend’s new movies including the superhero flick “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” the adult rom com “The Big Sick” and the political buddy movie “The Journey.”
Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Marcia MacMillan to have a look at the big weekend movies including the superhero flick “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” the adult rom com “The Big Sick” and the political buddy movie “The Journey.”
To understand “The Journey” you need to know the players. The film, a speculative look at the negotiations that brought peace to Northern Island after forty years of violence, does a good job of setting the stage but in the interests of clarity, or if you miss the movie’s opening minutes, I’ll give you the Coles Notes.
Set in 2006, the film sees Colm Meaney as Martin McGuinness, the former chief of staff of the Irish Republican Army (“Allegedly,” he says) and Sinn Féin politician. “You may call me the acceptable face of the organization,” he says. Timothy Spall is Ian Paisley, the eighty-one-year-old leader of the Democratic Unionist Party and founder and moderator of the Free Presbyterian Church. The two are sworn enemies—“They are civil war,” says MI5’s Harry Patterson (John Hurt), “they are anarchy.”—warriors on opposite sides of a bloody decades long war known colloquially as The Troubles.
Northern Irish director Nick Hamm and writer Colin Bateman play fast-and-loose with the details. In real life the men met on an airplane. In reel life the film finds a contrivance to place the two in the back of a car, on a sixty-minute trip to the Edinburgh airport. MI5 secretly arranged the meet in hopes the men will discover what they have in common, that barriers will be broken down and that some sort of pact will be reached. It doesn’t start well. “I haven’t spoken to him in thirty years,” snorts Paisley, “another hour will be no trouble.”
History tells us the conversation led to the 2006 St. Andrews Agreement and an end to The Troubles. “We need a leap of faith,” says McGuinness, “and you are a man of faith.” The film shows the head-to-head that led to the treaty; how the two began as egotistical enemies and ended as friends and allies in a new, shared Northern Irish government.
“The Journey” is essentially a two-hander between Meany and Spall. There are others characters—Freddy Highmore as a British agent masquerading as their driver, Hurt as the architect of the scheme—but the movie hinges on the chemistry between its leads. Both hand in sturdy, theatrical performances as they spar, like two heavyweights trading words instead of punches. It often feels like a play adapted for the screen.
Spall is all bluster and religious rage. Meany plays McGuinness as a canny but pliable politician, resolute in his beliefs but hopeful for a deal. Each hand in interesting work but their conversation often feels like history in point form. The passing along of this information feels artificial and drains much of the juice from the situation. The script zips along, never digging too deep, which given the performances is a shame. These actors are hungry for a meatier script but Bateman’s dialogue doesn’t deliver.
Despite the performances “The Journey’s” take on the St. Andrews Agreement feels false. By the time Patterson shrieks, “Bloody hell, they’ve done it! They’ve bloody done it!” the film takes on the tone of a buddy movie and not a persuasive document of how peace came to Northern Ireland.
Richard and CP24 anchor Jamie Gutfreund have a look at the weekend’s new movies, “Office Christmas Party” with T.J. Miller, Jason Bateman and Jenifer Aniston, “Jackie” starring Natalie Portman, “Lion” with Dev Patel and Nicole Kidman and Jessica Chastain as “Miss Sloan.”
Richard sits in with Erin Paul to have a look at the weekend’s new movies, “Office Christmas Party” with T.J. Miller, Jason Bateman and Jenifer Aniston, “Jackie” starring Natalie Portman, “Lion” with Dev Patel and Nicole Kidman and Jessica Chastain as “Miss Sloan.”
Less a biopic than an intimate character study, “Jackie,” sees Natalie Portman play one of the most famous women of the twentieth century, first lady Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy. Director Pablo Larraín personalizes the reaction to assassination of John F. Kennedy, presenting a portrait of grief that values rawness over slick sentimentality.
Focussing on the events immediately following November 22, 1963, the film cuts through the carefully constructed image Jacqueline Kennedy presented to the world. Instead it shows her as a grieving widow struggling to fulfil her personal responsibilities under the scrutiny of the American people and White House staff.
Larraín employs a standard biopic starting point—an interview with a journalist (Billy Crudup)—to frame the tale, but then throws all other familiar biographical approaches out the window. Kennedy’s story is a tragic one played out on the world stage and yet the film is never mawkish. It is a look at the end of “Camelot”—the musical and the ideological state of mind it personified for the Kennedy administration—as a psychological portrait of the woman at the very centre of it all.
Portman plays Kennedy not from the point of view of history—she is remembered for her grace and dignity—but as a woman fraying around the edges as she ponders the gravity of her situation and the legacy that will be left behind. She doesn’t look like Kennedy but, in a performance largely captured in close up, creates a portrait that seamlessly blends the poised, public Kennedy persona with a woman on the verge of a breakdown. It is often harrowing and certainly shows a different side of Kennedy than any other look at the subject.
“Jackie” is a bold film that values visceral feelings over glossy convention. It presumes much in its efforts to peer into the cracks of history, taking abundant artistic licence with what some will see as an intrusive look into Kennedy’s life. This is not “Camelot,” it’s the flipside of that romantic fairy tale.
“Snowpiercer” may be the oddest film of the year so far. The set up sounds like a standard dystopian world scenario… to a point.
Set just seventeen years from today, the movie, written and directed by Joon-ho Bong, takes place in a dystopian world where global warming has turned the planet into one giant snowball.
So far this could be “The Day After Tomorrow,” or “The Colony” or any number of icy thrillers set in a sub zero world.
All of humanity now lives on a train, owned and operated by a mysterious industrialist named Wilford, hurtling through what’s left of ice-covered planet. It’s an ecosystem with its own class system. In the front of the locomotive people live a life of luxury, dining on sushi, partying in nightclubs, tending orchids in greenhouses, while the folks in the back, “the freeloaders” are forced to live in atrocious conditions. Imagine the steerage section in “Titanic” only WAY worse.
Crammed in like sardines these “tail section” passengers are treated like prisoners, forced to eat “protean bars” of dubious quality and tortured for the slightest of infractions. “Know your place,” commands Minister Mason (Tilda Swinton). “Accept your place.”
It’s an atmosphere ripe for revolution, but can ringleaders Curtis (Chris Evans), Gilliam (John Hurt) and right hand man Edgar (Jamie Bell) fight their way through the train (and all of the story’s allegories) to the front and freedom?
Based on the French graphic novel “Le Transperceneige,” “Snowpiercer” is the nerviest actioner to come along in a season crowded with movies that go crash, boom, bang. It’s an environmental thriller—if you haven’t already seen Bong’s “The Host” do so now!—that is unapologetically weird, keeping the audience off balance for the entirety of its two-hour running time.
Tilda Swinton as the train’s Iron Lady, the minister of discipline, plays like a cross between a prison guard, Benny Hill and Margaret Thatcher. It’s a loopy performance that embraces and embodies the movie’s weird spirit.
In the world Bong creates surprises are around every corner, characters come and go, but it never feels odd for odd’s sake. The story rips along like a rocket (or thousand car train, if you like), sometimes in several directions at once, but Bong controls the chaos, keeping the story plausible (OK, plausible-ish) and above all, entertaining.