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 Jennifer Lawrence spy thriller “Red Sparrow,” the 1970s retread “Death Wish” with Bruce Willis and the deliciously venomous “The Party” starring Patricia Clarkson.
Richard and CP24 anchor Nathan Downer have a look at the weekend’s new movies including the Jennifer Lawrence spy thriller “Red Sparrow,” the 1970s retread “Death Wish” with Bruce Willis and the deliciously venomous “The Party” starring Patricia Clarkson.
Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Marcia MacMillan to have a look at the weekend’s big releases, the Jennifer Lawrence spy thriller “Red Sparrow,” the 1970s retread “Death Wish” with Bruce Willis and the deliciously venomous “The Party” starring Patricia Clarkson.
For twenty years, from 1974 to 1994, Charles Bronson starred in “Death Wish” films as Paul Kersey, a successful New York architect turned vigilante after his wife was murdered and child assaulted. “If the police don’t defend us,” he growled, “maybe we ought to do it ourselves.”
In “Death Wish,” the new Eli Roth-directed reboot of the series, Bruce Willis steps in, beating out—but not beating up— Sylvester Stallone who was originally cast as Kersey.
This time around the backdrop is Chicago. Dr. Kersey (Willis) is a surgeon whose work in the ER gives him an up-close-and-personal look at the effects of violence in his city. He gets an even closer look at the carnage when home intruders viciously attack his wife (Elisabeth Shue) and young daughter (Camila Morrone). The healer turns killer, exchanging the scalpel for a gun, which he learns to fire by watching a YouTube show called Full Metal Tactics. “I love my family and when they needed me most I failed to protect them.” As bad guy bodies (and snappy one-liners) pile up he becomes headline news—the newspapers billboard “Grim Reaper Alerts”—but is he right to take the law into his own hands? Is he a folk hero or domestic terrorist?
With gun control front and center in public debate right now “Death Wish” could have been a timely and relevant film. It could ask questions. When does a good guy with a gun, shooting bad guys with guns, become a bad guy with a gun? It could have been a poignant film about a man pushed too far but there is nothing poignant about Roth’s reboot of the seventies series. It’s not a character study of grief or a portrait of Chicago’s escalating crime rate. Satisfied to take the low road, it’s a revenge film pure and simple. Audiences are meant to applaud every time Kersey blows away a bad guy and not think too deeply about the normalization of dangerous behaviour.
Willis, whose resume is dotted with charming hero types, plays Kersey as a wounded man who finds strength in his revenge. He’s locked, loaded and ready to rock. His most famous character, off-duty New York City Police Department officer John McClane, was always keen to dispatch a villain but he didn’t go hunting random victims or torture them once he found them. We are supposed to get the great contradiction of Kersey’s life—he’s a healer in the O.R. but a killer on the street—but the movie gives equal weight to the yin and yang. He’s a good guy because he cures people and a patriot because he rids the streets of undesirables. To be truly effective he must be one or the other. The muddy antihero middle is an ugly, exaggerated male violence fantasy. Is Kersey a folk hero or a killer? The movie can’t seem to decide.
“Death Wish” will provide ammunition for discussion, so that’s something. Gun violence has been a hot button topic when the first movie came out in 1974. It still is, but the conversation has changed.
Richard and CP24 anchor Jamie Gutfreund have a look at the weekend’s new movies, the alien invasion flick “Arrival,” starring Amy Adams, “Loving,” with Joel Edgerton and Ruth Negga and “Almost Christmas” with Danny Glover, Mo’Nique and Gabrielle Union.
It may be a warmer than usual November, but at the movie theatres, it’s already Christmas. It’s not a Christmas miracle, it’s a movie hoping to grab double digit grosses to go along with the month’s double-digit temperatures.
Danny Glover is Walter, the recently widowed patriarch of a large family. Retired and lonely he invites his four children, daughters Rachel (Gabrielle Union) and Cheryl (Kimberly Elise) and sons Christian (Romany Malco) and Evan (Jessie Usher) and the extended family home to Birmingham, Alabama for the holidays. “This is our first Christmas without your mother,” says Walter. “Just five days for you all to act like a family.” It’s not the twelve days of Christmas, it’s five fraught filled days as the family tries to get along. Cheryl and Rachel can barely stand being in the same room together for reasons neither of them can remember and Christian can’t seem to stop working long enough to enjoy the visit. “We’re not going to make it to Christmas are we?” “Not a damn chance,” sighs Aunt May (Mo’Nique).
“Almost Christmas” is like a Bollywood movie. There’s action, tragedy, a dance number, comedy, romance, humour, infidelity and even a slightly risqué bit of slapstick. It has something for everyone and if you can hold on tight as it rockets between heart warming and humourous with the speed of Santa’s sleigh on Christmas Eve, you’ll have a pretty good time.
It’s barely a movie in the strictest sense. It’s more a collection of moments strung together as old ghosts rear their ugly heads during the few festive days the family spends under the same roof. It’s episodic but melodramatically likable as it careens toward a funny and over-the-top dinner scene that involves everything from hurt feelings and guns to Danny Glover’s most famous line from “Lethal Weapon.” The siblings—and everyone else—learn that despite their differences they are stronger together than individually.
Not that you need to be told that. The story telegraphs everything that’s going to happen—there are no surprises under this Christmas tree—but does so in a way that is as sweet as the Potato Pie the family enjoys at dinner.