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 “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” withRyan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson, the Steven Soderbergh heist film “Lucky Logan” and the social commentary on social media of “Ingrid Goes West.”
Richard and CP24 anchor Jamie Gutfreund have a look at the weekend’s new movies including “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” withRyan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson, the Steven Soderbergh heist film “Lucky Logan,” the social commentary on social media of “Ingrid Goes West” and the down ‘n dirty grit of the ironically named “Good Time.”
Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Marcia MacMillan to have a look at the big weekend movies including the Ryan Reynolds/Samuel L. Jackson buddy comedy “The Hitman’s Bodyguard,” the Steven Soderbergh heist film “Lucky Logan,” the social commentary on social media of “Ingrid Goes West” and the down ‘n dirty grit of the ironically named “Good Time.”
When all is said and done Adam Driver will likely be remembered for playing Kylo Ren, grandson of villain Darth Vader, in the Star Wars movies. The thirty-three-year-old may be best known for the blockbuster role but it does not define his career. For the star of this weekend’s Logan Lucky, it’s all about a love of acting.
“For me the doing of it is the best,” he told me at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival. “The things surrounding it don’t matter. Trailers, money, they don’t matter if you get to work with really great people. Hopefully what you’re making is bigger than any one person and it feels relevant, as much as you can attach meaning to your job. The love of collaborating with people who are on the same page is really exciting.”
Perhaps his collaborative spirit came from his time in the United States Marine Corps. Driver, like many young people in the aftermath of 9/11, joined the marines but an injury during a training exercise ended his military career after just three years.
“With the military I grew up very fast,” he says. “Suddenly I was responsible for things that aren’t typical for eighteen or nineteen year olds. Other people’s lives and things like that. It ages you. I loved being in the military but when I got my freedom and could be a civilian again I was interested in perusing acting. I had tunnel vision and there was a big learning curve of learning to be a civilian again; it’s not appropriate to yell at people, people are people and I can’t force my military way of thinking on them. There were a lot of things going on. I am better adjusted now.”
Post marines Driver studied at Julliard—“Believe it or not being in the military,” he laughs, “is very different than being in an acting school.”—became one of the breakout stars of HBO’s Girls and worked on the big screen with luminaries like Steven Spielberg, the Coen Brothers, Martin Scorsese and Logan Lucky director Steven Soderbergh.
“It’s a director’s medium so if I get lucky enough to work with great directors, that’s the only thing as far as a game plan I have,” he says. “I have gotten to do that with really great people and it feels good. I’m lucky in that I get to choose things now, but choose things from what I’m offered. The scale doesn’t matter.”
Since his professional debut in 2009 Driver, who his This Is Where I Leave You co-star Jane Fonda calls, “our next Robert De Niro plus Robert Redford,” has carefully curated a career. From multiplex fare like Star Wars to art house offerings like Paterson and Frances Ha he is driven by artistic demands more than box office returns and immediate satisfaction.
“Really great movies have a longer shelf life,” he says. “You come back to them later and find new things in them. So many times you watch a movie and you’re not ready for it and you come back to it later because you’re a different person and suddenly it speaks to you in a different way. When they are well crafted they have that shelf life whereas a lot of things are made for one weekend.”
Director Steven Soderbergh’s biggest box office came courtesy of the glossy “Ocean’s Eleven” series. His new film sees him revisit similar territory but don’t expect a carbon copy of his biggest hits. “Lucky Logan” is a down-home “Ocean’s Eleven” where some good old boys plan a robbery, but the slickness of the franchise films has been left in the vault.
Channing Tatum is Jimmy Logan, former quarterback and Homecoming King whose glory days are in the rear view mirror. Divorced but devoted to his daughter. He’s now a West Virginia miner laid off from his job of filling in sinkholes at the Charlotte Motor Speedway, home of one of the biggest NASCAR races on the circuit.
His brother Clyde (Adam Driver), a bartender and Iraq War vet whose hand was blown off by an IED, chalks up the job loss to a family curse. The Unlucky Logans have a history of misfortune, one that Jimmy hopes to turn around.
Enlisting his sister Mellie (Riley Keough) and the Bang Brothers, the bleach blonde Joe (Daniel Craig), Sam (Brian Gleeson) and Fish (Jack Quaid), he comes up with an elaborate plan to rob the vault at the Speedway on the busiest weekend of the year.
“Lucky Logan” is a carefully plotted caper flick—although some of the elements of the labyrinthine heist are a little too perfect, relying too much on movie coincidences to be believable—but it’s a loose film with an indie feel. The stars are big but this isn’t a big film. Unlike the sleek “Ocean’s” films, the style of “Lucky Logan” suits its subject. It feels like handmade, blue-collar filmmaking.
Soderbergh’s looseness trickles down to the actors. Tatum and Craig seem to be having the best time, as Driver amps up the sincerity as the younger brother so desperate to live up to big bro’s legacy that he enlisted in the army. Once again (after “American Honey) Keough proves she is a formidable actor and not just Elvis Presley’s grandfather while “Family Guy’s” Seth MacFarlane is suitably smarmy as the owner of a power drink company. Their combined efforts keeps things grounded even when as the caper grows more and more outrageous.
“Lucky Logan” feels like a throwback to the 90s indie scene that made Soderbergh an in-demand filmmaker in the first place. From the Tarantino-esque script—the pop culture references and “Game of Thrones” riffs—to the eye level characters it’s a welcome return.
Touched with Fire stars Katie Holmes and Luke Kirby as two poets with bipolar disorder. It’s the work of Paul Dalio who wrote the screenplay, directed, edited and even wrote the musical score.
“The film was kind of a metaphor for my story,” he says. “It was my struggle to come to terms with all this beauty that I found in this thing and all this horror I found in this thing. And how you reconcile that. It took the form of these two lovers who each represented a different aspect of it. As these two lovers pursue their love, it goes back and forth between agony and ecstasy. They have to come to terms with it.”
The idea for the screenplay came from a conversation with his wife Kristina Nikolova, a filmmaker he met while studying film at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. The pair were in Bulgaria nearing the end of production on her movie Faith, Love and Whiskey.
She asked him to write a story for her to direct and as she remembers he said, “How about two crazy people meeting in a psychiatric hospital and they have to basically choose between sanity and love?” She said, “Wow, that’s a great idea, but it’s your story,” and the seed for Touched with Fire was planted.
Dalio’s issues with mental health began when he was in his undergrad years for Dramatic Writing at New York University.
He describes breaking into a “hypomanic state when I was experimenting with marijuana,” which he used as a “creative catalyst.”
“I didn’t know at the time (that) if you have the bipolar gene and you smoke marijuana it actually pushes your mind into a hypomanic state,” he says.
“It makes you temporarily more creative with a quicker mind. At first it was thrilling. It got to the point where my fingers couldn’t keep up with my mind. I had to use a voice recorder. Then my thoughts started overlapping and my mind couldn’t keep up with my thoughts. I would go for runs with the voice recorder to try and speed my mind up to keep up with these overlapping thoughts.
“For a while my professors started to really praise my work, saying it was brilliant, which they never had before. I felt like I was tapping into some kind of divine illumination. I started to think I was experiencing God. Visions from God.”
Soon the creativity that once seemed like a gift “took the form of a demon that was inside of me. Possessing me, laughing at me and my mistakes.”
Dalio spent four years gripped by suicidal thoughts and manic behaviour until realizing, “I couldn’t put my family through that anymore so I had to resign myself to living numb on medication and just getting by.”
A meeting with author Kay Redfield Jamison, whose book Exuberance: The Passion for Life, explores the mind’s pathologies convinced him that he could live and work creatively on his medication.
“She said she experiences exhuberance all the time and I absolutely will if I am patient. She also said she doesn’t know one artist who isn’t more creative after bipolar than before bipolar, as long as they are on the meds.
“It changed everything, It gave me hope. I had something to fight for then.”
Paul Dalio who wrote the screenplay, directed, edited and even wrote the musical score for his new film “Touched With Fire.” It’s a personal story for him, not simply because he was so involved with the production, but because it’s in part based on his own struggle with bipolar disease.
Katie Holmes and Luke Kirby star as bipolar poets who meet in a treatment facility. They bond over a shared love of Vincent Van Gogh’s painting “Starry Night” and the story of the “Little Prince,” drawing parallels between the art, their lives and their creativity. Their connection is intense, surviving the powerful highs and anguished lows of their disease but when she becomes pregnant they must take drastic steps to make their relationship work.
Dalio is deep inside his subject here, and the movie drips with compassion and heartfelt emotion that, luckily, overrides the melodrama which seeps into the love story. His portrayal of manic behaviour takes us inside the feeling by using a shifting colour scheme to emphasize the euphoric sensation that characterizes the highest of highs. Coupled with strong work from Holmes and Kirby it’s a lyrical portrayal of the experience of mania.
It’s a tricky subject and while Dalio occasionally overstates his thesis that creative genius lies within the disease—“think about if you’d medicated van Gogh”—he presents it with power and without a hint of exploitation.
Less effective is the story’s tendency to walk a predictable path. As startling as the depiction of bipolar is, a more traditional “Romeo and Juliet” vibes hangs heavy over the proceedings. As parents and doctors work to keep them apart some of the air gets sucked out of the story.
“Touched With Fire” is a flawed but ultimately fascinating look at a delicate topic.
Welcome to the House of Crouse. Two interesting chats for you today. First up, Mr. Deadpool, Ryan Reynolds. This conversation comes years before he wore the red leather suit and made $135 million on his opening weekend. On today’s show we talk about Buried, his riskiest film to date. Then it is my “conversation” with filmmaker Paul Dalio. I use quotation marks because it’s really just one question and an extraordinary 22 minute long answer. His film is Touched With Fire details the lives of two bipolar poets and you do not want to miss his description of four years of battling the disease himself.