A weekly feature from from ctvnews.ca! The Crouse Review is a quick, hot take on the weekend’s biggest movies! This week Richard looks at the teen sex comedy “Blockers,” the silently spine tingling horror flick “A Quiet Place” and the Kennedy crime drama “Chappaquiddick.”
Richard joins CP24 anchor Nick Dixon to have a look at the weekend’s new movies including the teen sex comedy “Blockers,” the silently spine tingling horror flick “A Quiet Place” and the Kennedy crime drama “Chappaquiddick.”
Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Marcia MacMillan to have a look at the weekend’s big releases, the Kennedy crime drama “Chappaquiddick,” the teen sex comedy “Blockers” and the silently spine tingling horror flick “A Quiet Place.”
In the annals of political scandal several names loom large. Watergate, Profumo and Chappaquiddick, the subject of a new film.
Starring Jason Clarke as Senator Ted Kennedy and Kate Mara as the ill-fated Mary Jo Kopechne, Chappaquiddick recreates an infamous event to unveil the inner workings of one of America’s most powerful families.
The incident that gives the film its name took place on Friday, July 18, 1969. Kennedy threw a party on Chappaquiddick Island as a reunion of the “boiler-room girls,” six women who were the engine of Robert F. Kennedy’s 1968 presidential campaign. Also in attendance was political campaign specialist Kopechne.
While the others drank, danced and dined Kennedy and Kopechne took a drive that would end when Kennedy veered off a bridge and into a tidal channel. He escaped, she did not.
What followed was the battle between Ted’s conscience and his political well-being, a mish-mash of power, influence and morality. Kennedy ultimately fessed up, pleading guilty to a charge of leaving the scene of an accident causing bodily injury, but not before crafting a carefully worded statement and faking a concussion.
The word scandal comes from the Greek word for “snare,” suggesting those enmeshed in trouble are trapped in a breakdown of morality. Politicians, people many hold to a higher standard, caught in a scandal offer up enticing opportunities for drama.
Chappaquiddick’s salacious story of a weak man who panicked is a compelling one, especially when embellished with layers of political and personal intrigue.
Speaking of intrigue, All the President’s Men portrays Watergate, the political scandal that tore down Richard M. Nixon’s presidency. Surprisingly Nixon doesn’t appear on a single frame. Instead it’s the story of the shoe leather burned by the dogged Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, played by Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman. The meticulously researched film was noted for it authentic portrayal of newsroom life and it’s take on Tricky Dick’s dishonour. It struck such a nerve in Washington that it was the first film Jimmy Carter requested to be screened at the White House during his term as President of the United States.
Watergate had all the makings of a great scandal except for one thing, sex. That vital component was more than evident in the Profumo affair, a tawdry British tabloid story brought to vivid life in the 1989 film Scandal. Sunday Herald reporter Barry Didcock called it, “the yardstick against which all other political scandals are measured.”
Ian McKellen stars as John Profumo, the British Minister of War. He’s having an affair with Christine Keeler who is also seeing K.G.B. agent Eugene Ivanov. When news of the love triangle broke the resultant Cold War scandal lead to the downfall of Prime Minister Harold Macmillan’s Conservative government.
Scandal has all the elements of a great controversy, sex, suicide and secrecy. It was such a hot potato that more than two decades after the real life events several British politicians lobbied to stop the film’s production. Co-star John Hurt lashed back, calling the complaining politicos hypocrites simply trying to prevent the truth from coming to light.
“It did seem to have pretty much everything,” said Profumo’s son David of the 1963 brouhaha. “It had sex and drugs and class and color and espionage and intrigue—and at a particularly explosive time.”
“Chappaquiddick,” a new film starring Jason Clarke and Kate Mara, recreates an infamous event to unveil the inner workings of one of America’s most powerful families.
Clarke, an Australian actor best known for his work in “Zero Dark Thirty,” plays Senator Ted Kennedy, the youngest son of a political dynasty. As the movie begins brothers John and Bobby have both been assassinated, gunned down while in office. It’s 1969 and Ted is eyeing a White House run in 1972.
The incident that gives the film its name took place on Friday, July 18, 1969. Kennedy threw a party on Chappaquiddick Island, a ferry ride away from Edgartown on the nearby larger island of Martha’s Vineyard, as a reunion of the “boiler-room girls,” six women who were the engine of Robert F. Kennedy’s 1968 presidential campaign. Also in attendance is Kennedy’s cousin (and fixer) Joseph Gargan (Ed Helms), former U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts Paul F. Markham (Jim Gaffigan) and political campaign specialist Mary Jo Kopechne (Mara).
While the others drank, danced and dined Kennedy and Kopechne took a fateful drive that would end when Kennedy veered off a bridge and into a tidal channel. Kennedy escaped, leaving Kopechne to drown.
What follows is the battle between Ted’s conscience and his political well-being, a mish-mash of power, influence and morality. Kennedy ultimately fessed up, pleading guilty to a charge of leaving the scene of an accident causing bodily injury, but not before crafting a carefully worded statement and faking a concussion.
“Chappaquiddick’s” story of a weak man who panicked is a compelling one, especially when embellished with layers of political and personal intrigue. Clarke is physically imposing, a bear of a man, but plays Kennedy as a little boy. Blustery on the outside but always looking to his wheelchair-bound father (Bruce Dern) for approval. Kennedy Sr., a power broker who valued his son’s success more than the boys themselves, is only onscreen for a few minutes but his presence and influence looms large in the story.
The wheeling and dealing that surrounds the partial cover-up of Ted’s involvement in Kopechne’s passing are in part to try and protect Kennedy’s upcoming run for the White House and in part to the father of all Kennedys happy. It’s a fascinating dynamic and director John Curran finds a balance between the two high-stakes situations.
A strong supporting cast, including Ed Helms in a rare dramatic role, help pull back the curtain on the latter day Camelot, revealing the behind-the-scenes machinations that kept Ted Kennedy in the Senate and out of jail. “Chappaquiddick” is step-by-step, methodical, but the crime procedural elements of the story are second to the examination of the Kennedy power structure.
“You don’t really connect with people very well.” That’s what people tell Megan Leavey (Kate Mara), the title character of a new film from director Gabriela Cowperthwaite. Luckily she does bond with dogs and that gift saves not only her life but also the lives of many others.
When we first meet Leavey she is a withdrawn young woman, aimless, grieving the loss of her best friend. Living in Valley Cottage, New York with her divorced mother (Edie Falco) and the man who broke up her parent’s marriage, she looks to extricate herself from the drudgery of dead end jobs by enlisting in the Marines. When asked why she signed up she replies, bluntly, “To get the BLEEP away from my life.”
She finds her calling after an embarrassing incident. Caught urinating in public after a night of drinking she is assigned the worst job on base, cleaning out the dog kennels of the K9 bomb-sniffing unit. There she meets Rex (Varco), a violent and aggressive military working dog so powerful he shattered the hand of his former handler with one bite.
With the guidance of the gruff Gunnery Sergeant Massey (Common) and dog trainer Andrew Dean (Tom Felton), Leavey and Rex become devoted to one another and the job. “People count on us and if we do it wrong people die,” she says, “so we gotta do it right.” Spread out over more than 100 missions their teamwork saves thousands of lives but on the second of two deployments in Iraq an Improvised Explosive Device wounds both. Leavey finds the return to civilian life difficult, doubly so when Rex is declared unadoptable. “I’m just trying to give a war hero a home for the last few years of his life,” she says.
Based-on-a-real-life story “Megan Leavey” is a by-the-book but effective bit of storytelling. Guaranteed to tug at animal lover’s heartstrings it’s a love story between woman and dog. “I’d thank him for trying to teach me what love is.” It’s also a tribute to the largely ignored but long, honourable role of dogs in the military.
Cowperthwaite stages several tense bomb sniffing scenes and the troubled family sequences work well but the film is at its best when it explores the loving connection Leavey has with Rex. It’s “Benji” with bombs or “Lieutenant Lassie,” a movie that hinges on the audience buying into the camaraderie between dog and trainer.
Mara is a mix of vulnerability and steel will, a woman who finds meaning in the military and her relationship with Rex, only to see it all jeopardized following her injury.
“Megan Leavey” is a compassionate film that may be a bit too straightforward in its telling but nonetheless is a powerful example of the power of companionship—whether between people or people and animals—to heal the human heart.