Richard speaks to “CTV News at 11:30” anchor Andria Case about television and movies to watch this weekend, including the experimental documentary “Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets,” the forlorn romance “Dirt Music” and the quirky Jenny Slate comedy “The Sunlit Night.”
Richard sits in on the CTV NewsChannel with host Marcia MacMillan to have a look at the new movies coming to VOD and streaming services including feel-good “From the Vine,” the based-on-true-events thriller “Target Number One,” the hybrid barumentary “Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets” and the forlorn romance “Dirt Music.”
It may be possible to gauge your interest in “Dirt Music,” a new film on VOD starring Garrett Hedlund and Kelly Macdonald, by its advertising tagline. “Lose Yourself… Find Yourself… In Love.” That inspirational, Nicholas Sparks-style slogan tells you all you need to know about this movie. Much like the story itself, it’s vague, involves love but what does it really mean?
Stretched over two hours the film sees Macdonald play Georgie Jutland, a former nurse now playing step mother to the two sons of her new boyfriend, crayfish magnate, Jim Buckridge (David Wenham). Life in the tiny Australian fishing port of White Point is uneventful and unhappy until Georgie slips out for a midnight swim. While splashing around in the cleansing waters she meets Luther Fox (Garret Hedlund), a fish poacher plying his illegal trade. It is love at first sight and soon the two begin a passionate affair.
Luther is an enigma, a man with a tragic past. His family gone, he drifts though the world, mourning their loss. He’s a damaged guy who abruptly leaves White Point when it appears Buckridge has discovered the affair with Georgie. He heads north to the remote Coronation Island, looking for solitude and safety. Unable and unwilling to let him go, Georgie, with Buckridge‘s unlikely assistance, embarks on an epic search to find her love.
“Dirt Music” is a story of longing that turns out to be over-long. At a hair over two hours it is a feast for the eyes—the Australian landscape is breathtaking—but the story is as under developed as the film’s terse tagline. Considering the epic nature of Georgie’s search for Luther, these star-crossed lovers spend very little on-screen time together. Certainly not enough for the depth of the connection to be made clear. The result is a bit of a head-scratching exercise in lust and longing. Despite the soaring Australian temperature the pair barely have time to generate the heat needed to make us care when they are torn apart.
The story telling in “Dirt Music” trades in melodrama while Macdonald and Hedlund are playing it straight. She’s an open book, he’s broody whose hobby seems to be staring blankly into the ether. Both are bound by grief but the very thing that connects them feels at odds with the film’s over dramatic edge.
Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Marcia MacMillan to have a look at the big weekend movies, the live action version of “Beauty and the Beast,” the drug addled “T2 Trainspotting” and the no-holds-barred “Goon: Last of the Enforcers.”
Twenty-one years on from the full on frontal assault that was “Trainspotting,” the old gang is back together but the only things that truly binds them is a shared past. “You’re a tourist in your own youth,” says Sick Boy/Simon (Jonny Lee Miller).
At the center of it all is Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor). The last time we saw him he was a wastrel and double-crosser who cheated his friends out of £16,000 in a drug deal. After hightailing it to Amsterdam he’s now a fitness freak who spends more time running in a treadmill than running from the law.
His former friends, now all in their forties, are in various states of personal disrepair. “The wave of gentrification has yet to wash over us,” Simon quips.
Sick Boy/Simon is still a dodgy dude with a King Kong size Coke problem, who makes ends meet by blackmailing the wealthy customers of his prostitute business partner Veronika (Anjela Nedyalkova).
Spud/Daniel (Ewen Bremner), still an impressive mash-up of ears, teeth and gangly limbs, is now a pathetic creature that chooses heroin addiction over a life with his wife Shirley Henderson) and child.
The fourth member of the group, Begbie (Robert Carlyle), he of the bad attitude and broken pint glasses to the face, is indisposed, locked up but with a way out and a gut full of hate for Renton.
Loosely based on author Irvine Welsh’s “Trainspotting” follow-up novel “Porno,” the new film from Danny Boyle, asks if it is ever possible to go home again—in this case Edinburgh—especially if home involves a dangerous psychopath with a grudge and an ex-BFF who wants revenge.
“T2 Trainspotting” does something quite remarkable. It places nostalgia in the rear view mirror while, at the same time, celebrating bygone days. To see Mark confront his past complete with the emotional attachments and entanglements that come along with it feels like a universal reckoning, a reminder that the world changes even if we don’t.
That’s the beating heart of the film, the rest is window dressing, It’s fun to hang out with these almost lovable villains for a couple more hours, to catch up on old times, immerse ourselves in their down-and-dirty lives and even get a new Choose Life riff but a heavy air of regret hangs over the proceedings. It reinforces the idea that we can’t relive the glory days no matter how hard we try. It’s a middle-age truism brought to vivid life by Boyle and cast.
In revisiting the past the director does, however, put an intimate spin on the story with clever visual integration of past memories—present day characters mournfully share the screen with their younger counterparts—and a melancholy sense that no matter how hard we try to move forward ultimately our lives are simply a continuation of everything that came before. As Renton says, “choose history repeating itself.” It’s not a thunderbolt revelation but revisiting these characters—particularly the tragicomic Spud—puts a face to those anchored in the nostalgia.
For fans of the original film “T2 Trainspotting” will be an enjoyable ride. It is as good a sequel to a classic film as you could hope for. It’s a shame the returning female characters played by Kelly MacDonald and Shirley Henderson are relegated to cameos and the original’s sense of infectious anarchy has been dulled somewhat but the film’s mix of redemption and regret are ample replacements.
I’m not sure how long something has to exist in order to be called a classic, so I’ll qualify this review in a different way. With “Brave” it’s possible Pixar has created an instant classic, a film that will be as fresh thirty years from now as it is today.
It’s a brand new fairy tale about Merida (voice of Kelly Macdonald), a flame-haired Celtic tomboy-turned-princess. She’s feisty, with little regard for the customs of her station in life, including an age-old ritual that will decide who she will marry. When her mother (Emma Thompson) insists she follow custom and choose a husband from the eldest sons of the MacGuffin, Macintosh and Dingwall clans Merida learns that you have to be careful what you wish for—especially when that wish is granted by an absent-minded witch (Julie Walters).
“Brave” so effectively creates its own world and mythology it would be easy to think it is an old tale updated by the story shamans at Pixar, but it’s a new story that feels timeless. There’s no pop culture references à la “Shrek” and only a couple of pop-song montages to date it. Other than that it feels like a classic, with one major difference—strong female characters.
Merida may be a princess in the tradition of Disney princesses but she’s also strong willed with a story arc that keeps her in the middle of the action. There’s nothing passive about her, or about her mother’s character either.
It’s a refreshing change, and one that should appeal to girls. But the movie isn’t just for the distaff side of the family. Everyone will enjoy the humor, the gentle action and characters.
When I first saw the trailers for “Brave” I thought it looked very conventional, as if Pixar was leaving behind the imaginative storytelling that had become their trademark to tell a simpler tale. How wrong I was.
How do you breath life into the withered lungs of a period piece that has been told time and time again? If you’re “Anna Karenina” director Joe Wright you honor Leo Tolstoy’s book while staging the story of deception, honor and love at the intersection where reality and fantasy cross.
Russian writer Leo Tolstoy’s classic story of love, honor and deceit in 1974 Imperialist Russia begins with a family in tatters because of marital transgression. St. Petersburg aristocrat and socialite Anna Karenina (Keira Knightley) travels to Moscow to visit her womanizing brother Oblonsky (Matthew Macfadyen) and his long-suffering wife Dolly (Kelly Macdonald). Her council saves their marriage but the trip proves to be the undoing of hers. She becomes smitten with the affluent Count Vronsky (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), a handsome military man and begins a torrid affair. Soon, however, she discovers that her indiscretion isn’t as easily dismissed as her brother’s.
The story itself is rather simple and has been told many times, what distinguishes this version, aside from the cast (more on that later), is the sumptuous staging. Every frame of the film drips with beauty, from the sets to the clothes to Knightley’s cheekbones. But that’s to be expected from a big retelling of the story. What really captures the eye–and the mind–is the unconventional way Wright has chosen to tell the tale.
The film opens on what appears to be a stage production of “Anna Karenina.” We see musicians, dancing and backstage activity. To further blur the line between reality and illusory we see Anna, Oblonsky and others going about their day. Imagine watching the “Anna Karenina” opera and you get the idea.
It is a brilliant piece of staging for a story that has enough passion and tragedy for two operas. More importantly the style doesn’t overwhelm the substance. The baroque tone established early on sets the stage, literally, for screenwriter Tom Stoppard’s sweeping story of betrayal, forgiveness and death. It is an epic but human story about the best and worst of behavior.
Leading the cast Knightley proves a natural for period pieces. She has a face meant to be framed by fur hats and veils but apart from looking the part she carefully modulates Anna’s descent from socialite to outcast with grace and dignity while allowing notes of frustration and misery to seep through.
Knightley has the showiest role but Jude Law also makes an impression despite showing considerable restraint in his take on Anna’s beleaguered husband Alexei Karenin.
Decked out in blonde curly hair Aaron Taylor-Johnson is almost unrecognizable from his best known role, playing John Lennon in “Nowhere Boy,” but as Count Vronsky he convincingly plays a confident man who allows self-gratification to ruin his life and Anna’s.
A lighter note is supplied by Matthew Macfadyen, whose élan and rakish charm turns the womanizing Oblonsky into one of the film’s high spots.
“Anna Karenina” is a grand film, both in story and style.