Richard sits in on the CTV NewsChannel with news anchor Marcia MacMillan to have a look at the weekend’s big releases including the financial crisis drama “Hustlers,” the sprawling literary drama “The Goldfinch” and the sci fi story “Freaks.”
A weekly feature from ctvnews.ca! The Crouse Review is a quick, hot take on the weekend’s biggest and most interesting movies! This week Richard looks at the pole dancing bandits of “Hustlers,” the sprawling literary drama “The Goldfinch” and the sci fi story “Freaks.”
Richard has a look at the new movies coming to theatres, including Jennifer Lopez in “Hustlers,” the sprawling literary drama “The Goldfinch” and the sci fi story “Freaks” then has a look at the highlights from day one of the Toronto International Film Festival!
Richard sits in on the CJAD Montreal morning show with host Andrew Carter to talk the new movies coming to theatres including Jennifer Lopez in “Hustlers,” the sprawling literary drama “The Goldfinch” and the sci fi story “Freaks” then has a look at the highlights from day one of the Toronto International Film Festival!
If they gave out Oscars for pole dancing the release of “Hustlers” would place Jennifer Lopez one step closer to completing her EGOT collection.
“Jenny from the Block” plays Ramona Vega, centerfold turned superstar stripper. It’s the 2000s and the dancers at New York’s Sin City Café are lap-dancing all the way to the bank. “2007 was the best,” says Destiny (Constance Wu). “I made more money than a brain surgeon.” Ramona has taught Destiny the craft of separating the Wall Street bros who frequent their club from their money. She teaches the neophyte fancy pole moves like the “fairy sit” and “fireman spin,” and the nuances of customer service. “Get them a single, a double, then a triple and then a single,” she says. “You want them drunk enough to get their credit card but sober enough to sign the check.”
They follow the “green brick road” until September 29, 2008. Wall Street is gutted by a stock market crash, putting a stop to open-ended expense accounts and the dolla bills that showered the women as they danced. “It’s the end of an era in American business,” says Brian Williams on the news, and the end of way of life for Destiny, Ramona and friends.
Overnight everything changes. The business turns from glamourous to grimy. “The guys don’t want to spend the dollars,” says the dancer’s den mother (Mercedes Ruehl), “the girls don’t want to share tips in management took the cameras out of the champagne rooms.” With lap dances no longer enough to make money Ramona comes up with a new way of separating the Wall Street guys from their cash. “We can’t dance forever. We have to think like them. Nobody gets hurt.” A mix of sex appeal, flattery and knock-out drugs, it’s not exactly legal but they have no sympathy for the businessmen who they say robbed the country but didn’t get any jail time. “I know it sounds bad that we were drugging people,” Destiny says, “but in our world it was normal.” New recruits to their booming business bring trouble and soon it’s not the stock market crashing but police, crashing through their apartment doors.
Based on a true story and inspired by the New York Magazine article “The Hustlers at Scores” by Jessica Pressler, the movie’s narrative spine is an interview between a journalist (played by Julia Stiles subbing in for Pressler) and Destiny, giving the movie an as-told-told vibe.
The result is a fleet-footed dramedy that captures the heady, high-heeled days at the club when the money flowed like water and it was all giddy good times for the dancers. An early scene puts you in the mind of an R-rated snowglobe as J-Lo swings around a pole, dollar bills filling the air around her. Like the time it evokes, it’s over-the-top but easily upped by the next sequence which finds Ramona finding a quiet moment on a New York City rooftop. As the lights of the city twinkle behind her she is in repose, smoking a cigarette, a fluffy fur coat barely concealing her stage costume. Like some kind of Venus on the Half-Shell by way of 42nd Street she embodies the decadence of the time.
In the first part of the film the camp is amped. By the time Usher shows up, strutting into the club with the cool factor of Sinatra in his prime, a fistful of Benjamins in hand, the picture of the wild ‘n woolly era is complete. Director Lorene Scafaria then gear shifts, adding in the sense of desperation that comes when the money dries up. The movie shifts gears, becoming more of a caper flick as Ramona and pals go fishing for Wall Street sharks.
At the core of the story is the sisterhood between Ramona and Destiny. It’s a mother, mentor pairing that sees the two women bond on a level that transcends simply being business partners. “We are the untouchables,” says Ramona, “like Kobe and Shaq.” They become intricately involved in one another’s lives, which makes the sting of the coming events even more complicated. Lopez and Wu have spark together onscreen, bringing some heart to a story of people who trolled the dark side for a living.
“Hustlers” is a glitzy caper about money, friendship, and revenge against the bankers who went unpunished after a financial crisis brought the country and the dancers at the Sin City Café to their knees. “Everybody is hustling,” says Ramona. “This city, this whole country is a strip club. You’ve got people tossing the money and people dancing.”
Richard sits in with Marcia McMillan to have a look at the the rollercoaster action of “Jason Bourne,” the heartwarming (and slightly raunchy) comedy of “Bad Moms,” “Cafe Society’s” period piece humour and the online intrigue of “Nerve.”
In the latest Jason Bourne movie, Matt Damon will punch, kick and spy master his way to the top of the box office charts.
His previous Bourne films, Identity, Supremacy and Ultimatum, were all hits commercially and critically.
Damon says he owes a great deal to the fictional character.
After the early success of Good Will Hunting, Saving Private Ryan and The Talented Mr. Ripley made him a star, a string of flops cooled his box office appeal.
“Right before The Bourne Identity came out,” he said, “I hadn’t been offered a movie in a year.”
Then his career was Bourne again.
“It’s incalculable how much these movies have helped my career,” he told The Telegraph. “Suddenly it put me on a short list of people who could get movies made.”
In the spirit of “one for them, one for me” for every film like The Martian or the new Jason Bourne, Damon has attached himself to smaller, riskier projects.
He lent his star power to The Good Shepherd, a low budget film directed by Robert De Niro. It’s a spy movie without the bells and whistles we’ve come to expect from our favorite undercover operatives.
There are no elaborate chase scenes a la James Bond or even the great scenery of the Bourne flicks.
In fact, the only thing The Good Sheperd shares with any of those movies is Damon, who plays Edward Wilson, one of the (fictional) founders of the CIA.
Despite mixed to good reviews — USA Today gave the film three out of four stars—and winning the Silver Bear of the prestigious Berlin International Film Festival, the movie barely earned back its production costs at the box office.
Ninety per cent of director Steven Soderbergh’s job on The Informant! was casting this mostly true tale of a highly paid executive-turned-whistleblower who helped uncover a price fixing policy that landed several executives (including himself) in jail.
It’s a tricky balancing act to find an actor who can keep the audience on-board through a tale of corporate malfeasance and personal greed, who can be likeable but is actually a liar and a thief, but Damon is the guy.
The Informant! skewed a tad too far into art house territory to be Soderbergh’s new Erin Brockovich-sized hit, but Damon’s presence kept the story of accounting, paperwork and avarice interesting. Reviews were kind but A Serious Man and The Twilight Saga: New Moon buried the film on its opening weekend.
Damon teamed with John Krasinski to produce and co-write Promised Land, a David and Goliath story that relied on the charm and likability of its cast to sell the idea that fracking is bad and the corporations who dupe cash-strapped farmers into leasing their land are evil.
It’s hard to make talk of water table pollution dramatic but Promised Land makes an attempt by giving much of the heavy lifting to Damon.
Done in by middling reviews and “sobering” box office receipts, this earnest and well-meaning movie might have been better served in documentary form.
With an Oscar on his shelf and more than 70 films on his resume Damon is philosophical about the kinds of films he chooses to make, big or small.
“If people go to those movies, then yes, that’s true, big-time success,” he says.
“Jason Bourne,” the first Matt Damon led film in the series in nine years, proves that actions speak louder than words. Damon speaks a mere twenty-five lines of dialogue as he kicks, punches and crash-boom-bangs his way through this spy thriller, letting the action do the talking.
Damon’s fourth go-round as amnesiac superspy Jason Bourne begins with him tormented by his violent past. Most of his memory is intact, but he’s eaten away by guilt for the terrible things he did as a government programmed killer. “I remember,” he says. “I remember everything.”
To get his ya-yas out he goes all Fight Club, bare-knuckling any and all contenders but he’s drawn back into the international spy game—the movie never met an exotic location it couldn’t use, whether it’s Berlin, Reykjavík, Athens, London or even Vegas—after his former-handler-turned-hacker Nicky Parsons (Julia Stiles) tells him of a collaboration between CIA director Robert Dewey (Tommy Lee Jones, whose face is one forehead wrinkle away from becoming a caricature of an old man) and Silicon Valley kingpin Aaron Kalloor (Riz Ahmed). They’re working on Edward Snowden’s worst nightmare, a new program called Ironhead, a system of full spectrum surveillance; watching everyone all the time.
Wanting Bourne out of the way Dewey uses every newfangled asset at his disposal—like state-of-the-art global surveillance—to find the agent before turning to the old ways and bringing in an assassin known as, appropriately enough, The Asset (Vincent Cassel) to take care of business. “I’m going to cut the head off this thing,” says Dewey.
Flitting about the edges of the intrigue is the CIA’s cyber ops head Heather Lee (Alicia Vikander), who helps Bourne in an effort to keep him away from The Asset’s deadly gaze. “Bringing him in is the smart move,” she says. “There’s no bringing in Bourne,” Dewey says. “He needs to be put down.”
Cue the carnage.
If nothing else “Jason Bourne” proves once and for all that you can’t keep a good man down. Shot, beaten, dropped from a tall building or whatever, he’s the Energizer Bunny of international spies. He just keeps on ticking. We expect that from Bourne and we also demand feral fighting scenes, crazy car crashes and action, action, action. Make no mistake, there’s plenty of Bourne battle and bloodshed and some of it is quite exciting but it doesn’t have the finesse of the earlier films. Director Paul Greengrass’s signature handheld you-are-here style is in place but doesn’t feel as fresh as it did in the other films. Often frenetic instead of pulse-racing, the action sequences are frequent but not as memorable as the magazine-in-the-toaster gag from “Bourne Supremacy” or “Bourne Ultimatum’s” hardcover book punch. Still, you might not make it quite to the edge of your seat, but the combo of action and intrigue will shift you out of a reclining position.
“Jason Bourne” has its moments. Damon brings a grizzled power to the role and Vikander is a welcome addition, even if her motives are sometimes are hard to understand. There are interesting messages about online personal rights versus public safety that would have been moot in 2002 when the series debuted, a labyrinthine plot occasionally weighed down with unnecessary exposition and an unhinged Vegas climax—Bourne must really hope that whatever happens in Vegas stays in Vegas—that would not be out of place in an Avengers movie. I just wish the ending felt less like an Avengers scene—with cars comically flying through the air—and more like a Bourne moment.
From marilyn.ca: “If you love going to the movies, but you’re never sure what to see, Richard Crouse has the answer! Check out these sure-to-be blockbusters to keep you entertained all summer!” They argue about “Finding Dory” and preview “The BFG,” “The Secret Life of Pets,” “Jason Bourne,” “Suicide Squad” and “Ghostbusters.”