Richard speaks to “CTV News at 11:30” anchor Andria Case about television and movies to watch during the pandemic including the “O Canada Collection” on Disney+ and two comedies, Jon Stewart’s satire “Irresistible” starring Steve Carell, and Netflix Will Ferrell movie,”Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga.”
Richard and CP24 anchor Leena Latafat have a look at the new movies coming to VOD and streaming services including Jon Stewart’s satire “Irresistible” starring Steve Carell, the Netflix comedy with the longest title of the week,”Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga,” the dreary “Exit Plan” and the crime drama “Hammer.”
Richard sits in on the CTV NewsChannel with host Todd Van Der Heyden to have a look at the new movies coming to VOD and streaming services including the political satire “Irresistible” starring Steve Carell, the Netflix comedy with the longest title of the week,”Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga,” and the dreary “Exit Plan.”
Richard sits in on the CFRA Ottawa morning show with host Bill Carroll to talk the new movies coming to VOD and streaming services including the political satire “Irresistible” starring Steve Carell, the Netflix comedy with the longest title of the week,”Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga,” the dreary “Exit Plan” and the father-and-son crime drama “Hammer.”
Big time politics invades small town America in “Irresistible,” an election year satire from director Jon Stewart, now available on VOD.
Former “Daily Show” correspondent Steve Carell reteams with his old boss to play Gary Zimmer, a Washington insider and the Democratic National Committee’s top strategist. In the midst of creating a strategy to win votes in America’s Republican heartland—”We need some way to road test a more rural friendly message,” he says.—he’s directed to a YouTube video of retired Marine colonel Jack Hastings (Chris Cooper), giving an impassioned speech in defense of undocumented workers at a townhall meeting in Deerlaken, a small right-wing Wisconsin town. He’s like “John Wayne and tractor had a baby,” says Gary as he concocts a plan to entice Hastings to run for mayor of Deerlaken, giving the Dems a strong presence in a state sea of red. “Colonel Jack Hastings is our key back into the swing state of Wisconsin,” Gary says. “He just doesn’t know it yet.”
The citified Gary takes off his suit and tie, buys some dungarees and jumps on a private jet to Deerlaken to win over the colonel and his daughter (Mackenzie Davis), who is first seen with her arm inserted where the sun don’t shine, giving relief to a constipated cow. Appealing to Hastings’ sense of duty, Gary convinces the Marine to run and fires up the political machine.
Soon Deerlaken is overrun with Democratic operatives—like demographic profilers played by Topher Grace and Natasha Lyonne—but the really race heats up when the Republican National Committee sends in Faith (Rose Byrne), Gary’s nemesis and now campaign manager to Hastings’ rival. “Twenty bucks says I do better with fear than you do with shame,” she says, taunting Gary. Soon the national media takes notice and the mayoral race in Deerlaken becomes one of the most debated elections in the country.
There’s more but that would involve giving away a plot twist and spoilers. Just keep in mind that the word “resist” is tucked away in the film’s title.
“Irresistible” is equal parts heartfelt and darkly humourous. Stewart begins conventionally enough, with the fish out of water story of bigshot Gary in a town of rubes, then slowly calibrates the story to ask, “Who are the real rubes here?” It’s a damning indictment of how political situations are manipulated, how the media allows outright lies on the airwaves and how both Democrats and Republicans are culpable and clueless to the real needs of the people. It doesn’t exactly blaze new ideological ground but the as a reminder of why the political system is twisted and broken, it’s a timely tale.
“The Daily Show’s” brand of satirical political humour has become a legit source of news for many young people and is so influential Barack Obama has been a frequent guest. But being on the show hasn’t always worked out well for guests.
In 2009, Iranian Canadian journalist Maziar Bahari (Gael García Bernal) was arrested and detained for 118 days after an interview he did on “The Daily Show” aired. The tongue-in-cheek piece featured regular correspondent Jason Jones claiming to be an American spy interviewing Bahari. Iranian officials, under the rule of newly “elected president” Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, didn’t get the joke and Bahari was roused from his mother’s home and taken to jail while his pregnant English fiancée (Claire Foy) waited four months not knowing what was to become of the father of her child.
While in solitary at Evin Prison Bahari is blindfolded and interrogated by The Specialist (Kim Bodnia), a zealot who smells of rosewater. Breaking Bahari’s spirit, the interrogator convinces him to make a televised statement denouncing his actions as a “spy” for Iran’s enemies.
This is a true story, based on a memoir written by the main character, so it is no spoiler to mention that after months of physical and mental torture he is released just in time to see his child born in England.
Jon Stewart, stepping out from behind the “Daily Show” desk and into the director’s chair, divides the movie into two halves. The first half concentrates on Bahari’s coverage of the election. It’s fast, frantic and occasionally even funny mix of news and original footage that sets the scene for what is to come.
The second hour, post arrest, is slower, but more intense. It’s a rollercoaster of emotions as Bahari tries to figure out why he is there and what will happen. The blindfold adds to his fear; sightless he can’t see where the next slap might come from. The dynamic between the questioned and his questioner shifts constantly, never more so than in a scene where Bahari, Scheherazade-style, strings the Specialist along with some randy (and untrue) stories of his one thousand and one nights spent in exotic massage parlors.
Their interaction is at the heart of “Rosewater.” Stewart hasn’t opened the story up much in terms of building subtext—unlike his work on “The Daily Show,” the movie is very straightforward—but does bring sincerity and emotion to the film but the over-all “never give up” message seems trite given the backdrop of the story.