Richard speaks to “CTV News at 11:30” anchor Andria Case about the best movies and television to watch this weekend. This week we have a look at the Apple TV+ darkly humorous series “Bad Sisters,” the Crave comedy series “Roast Battle Canada,” and the Lena Dunham coming-of-age story “Sharp Stick.”
Richard joins CP24 to have a look at new movies coming to VOD, streaming services and theatres. Today we talk about the Idris Elba vs. angry lion thriller “Beast,” the creepy kid movie “Orphan: First Kill” and the coming-of-age story “Sharp Stick.”
I sit in on the CFRA Ottawa morning show with host Bill Carroll to talk the new movies coming to theatres including the Idris Elba vs. angry lion thriller “Beast,” “Sharp Stick,” the latest from Lena Dunham, the creepy kid movie “Orphan: First Kill” and the coming-of-age story “Carmen.”
Frank and provocative, “Sharp Stick,” the new film written and directed by “Girls” creator and star Lena Dunham, returns to familiar ground with a sexual coming-of-age story.
Kristine Froseth stars as 26-year-old Sarah Jo. A sexually inexperienced woman who had a hysterectomy at age 17, she still lives at home with her mom (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and wannabe Instagram influencer sister (Taylour Paige). She scraps by, babysitting for Zach, son of Josh (Jon Bernthal) and Heather (Dunham). Heather is pregnant, and Josh has a wandering eye, which happens to land on the flirty Sarah Jo.
Their ”affair” culminates with a tryst on the floor of a cramped laundry room, setting Sarah Jo off on a journey of sexual discovery involving lots of pornography, a fixation on adult film star Vance Leroy (the ornately tattooed Scott Speedman) and carefully organized, random “educational” hook-ups.
“Sharp Stick” reverberates with echoes of the frankness of “Girls” and the edgy work of filmmakers like Larry Clark and Harmony Korine, but never rises to the level of any of those namechecks.
Dunham has woven some interesting characters to surround Sarah Jo, like her mother Marilyn, played by Leigh, a much-divorced Hollywood hanger-on and twerking sister Treina, but she hasn’t given her main character any real depth. She is thirsty for carnal knowledge, and approaches it like a job, with a check list to boot, but aside from the humor inherent in that, Sarah Jo’s arc simply isn’t that interesting. Her desperation to prove to herself and others is repetitive, her actions so naïve they suggest her emotional age is far less than her stated age of 26. Given her mother’s openness regarding sex, it doesn’t ring true that Sarah Jo is completely unfamiliar with anything to do with sexuality.
“Sharp Stick” does have a few funny scenes, an interesting character or three, and an uncomfortable but refreshing candidness about sex but, by the time the end credits roll, Sarah Jo’s journey is the film’s least interesting element.
Richard sits in on the CFRA Ottawa morning show with host Bill Carroll to talk the new movies coming to VOD and streaming services including Shia LeBeouf’s semi-autobiographical story “Honey Boy,” the eco-doc “Spaceship Earth,” the period dramedy “Emma,” the ripped-from-the-headlines “The Assistant,” the family drama “Ordinary Love,” the horror comedy “Extra ordinary,” the ugly divorce proceedings of “Hope Gap” and the neo-realist look at the gig economy “Sorry We Missed You.”
She is the invisible woman. The assistant to a high-flying New York movie mogul, Jane (Julia Garner) floats around the office, silently collating papers, cleaning up mysterious stains from her boss’s casting couch—“Never sit on the couch,” her co-workers joke—wordlessly doing the jobs nobody else will do. An aspiring filmmaker with hopes of one day producing her own movies she sees the job, low level as it is, as a stepping stone.
When her boss flies in a young, pretty waitress (Kristine Froseth) he met at the Sundance Film Festival to work in his office Jane suspects it is a #MeToo situation in the making. Reporting her feelings to HR in hopes of protecting the new naive hire she is instead reminded of how power works. “I can see you have what it takes to produce,” says the appropriately named HR guy Wilcock (“Succession’s” Matthew Macfadyen). “Why are you trying to throw it all away?”
That harrowing scene lies at the heart of “The Assistant,” now on VOD. A timely study of the systemic mistreatment of vulnerable and defenceless women, Jane’s story is an account of the many slights and indignities suffered by subordinates to power.
“The Assistant” is a quiet movie. Much of the dialogue comes from Jane’s conversations with unseen limo drivers or her boss. We see her limited interaction with co-workers, but mostly we see the day-to-day drudgery that fills her hours. She arrives before dawn, stays well into the night and is treated like she should feel lucky to be there. Director Kitty Green keeps the focus tight, allowing the viewer to feel the soul-crushing drudgery of Jane’s job. She is invisible, a presence simply to absorb her boss’s bad temper and get lunch for the senor staffers.
Green never strays from Jane. We don’t meet the head honcho or learn about anyone’s backstory. It’s not that kind of movie. Instead it is a document of the degradations and power dynamic that are an accepted part of the job. The film’s chattiest scene, between Jane and HR’s Wilcock, is quiet but shattering in its impact. His smugness is the very attitude that enabled the very abuse that Harvey Weinstein is facing trial for today. The casual nature of Wilcock dismissiveness is chilling, punctuated by one last parting shot. On her way out of their meeting he ‘reassuringly’ adds, “You don’t have anything to worry about. You’re not his type.”
“The Assistant” is anchored by a subtle yet devastating performance from Garner. The hard-edged bluster she brings to her character on “Ozark” is missing, replaced by anxiety as she realizes the extent of the exploitation happening around her. It’s quiet, restrained and heartbreaking to watch how she is beaten down.
Based on hundreds of interviews with real-life assistants, this is more than just a movie, it is a timely document of abuse of power and complicity.
Richard sits in on the CFRA Ottawa morning show with host Bill Carroll to talk the new movies coming to theatres including the wild “Birds of Prey,” the #MeToo drama “The Assistant” and the giddily gory “Come to Daddy.”
Richard sits in on the CTV NewsChannel to have a look at the weekend’s big releases including the boundary pushing “Birds of Prey,” the #MeToo drama “The Assistant” and the giddily gory “Come to Daddy.”
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 emancipation of Harley Quinn in “Birds of Prey,” the timely messages of “The Assistant” and the father complex(ities) of “Come to Daddy.”