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 “Transformers: the Last Night,” “The Hero’s” tale of redemption and the underwater terror of “47 Metres Down.”
Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Marcia MacMillan to have a look at the big weekend movies including the eye scorching visuals of “Transformers: the Last Night,” “The Hero’s” tale of redemption and the underwater terror of “47 Metres Down.”
Sam Elliott, he of the easy drawl, smoky voice and horseshoe moustache, has made almost fifty films but has rarely ever been the above-the-title star. In “The Hero” he plays Lee Hayden, an aging Western film star, diagnosed with cancer. He’s in almost every frame, bringing an easy charm that solidifies his leading man status while smoothing over the film’s rough patches.
“The Hero” is a story of a man who can see the end of the road. Well known but underemployed and living off residual cheques from his heyday, the one time movie star now does voice overs for commercials to pay the bills. When he isn’t shilling for Lone Star BBQ Sauce—“The perfect pard’ner for your ribs.”—he’s smoking dope with his friend, former “Cattle Drive” co-star and drug dealer Jeremy (Nick Offerman). Through Jeremy the seventy-one-year-old meets Charlotte (Laura Prepon), a stand-up comic more than half his age.
As a new life of sorts is beginning with Charlotte a cancer diagnoses—“One of the worst you could hope for,” he says.—prompts him to look for a “chance to write another chapter” with his estranged daughter Lucy (Krysten Ritter) and possibly find some career defining work to leave behind as a legacy.
Writer/director Brett Haley knows how to make the most of Elliott’s weary but stately presence. The pair worked together on Haley’s last film, “I’ll See You In My Dreams,” another look at aging and legacy. Both films rely on clichés to forward their stories, but both films are saved by strong central performances from their stars—Blythe Danner in “I’ll See You In My Dreams,” Elliott in “the Hero”—who bring warmth and believability, not to mention high powered and often untapped star power, to their roles.
When the film falls into the romantic / comeback template already established by films like “Tender Mercies” and “The Wrestler,” Elliott’s quest for redemption keeps it from becoming a maudlin look at Hayden’s twilight years.
Richard sits in with Beverly Thomson to have a look at the weekend’s new movies, the boozy thriller “The Girl on the Train,” the courtroom drama “Denial,” the rebellious “The Birth of a Nation” and “Two Lovers and a Bear,” starring Tatiana Maslany.
Richard and CP24 anchor Jamie Gutfreund have a look at the weekend’s new movies, the Emily Blunt thriller “The Girl on the Train,” the Nate Parker historical drama “The Birth of a Nation,” Rachel Weisz in a slice of legal history called “Denial” and “Two Lovers and a Bear,” starring Tatiana Maslany.
The first time most of us noticed Emily Blunt she was “’on-the-edge of sickness thin.” To play Emily Chalton, the prickly first assistant to the editor in The Devil Wears Prada, Blunt dropped pounds from her already slight frame. “It wasn’t like doughnuts were snatched out of my hand,” laughs the 5’ 7½’’ actress, but she was encouraged to slim down. So much so she would occasionally cry from hunger during the shoot. Luckily, though rake thin, she still had the energy to steal the movie from her more seasoned co-stars, Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci.
Although the character fell directly into the love-to-hate-her category, audiences found Blunt irresistible. Her mix of vulnerability and fork-tongued charm—crowned by crystal clear blue eyes and a face anchored with a cleft chin that would make Kirk Douglas envious—earned the title Best Female Scene-Stealer from Entertainment Weekly and nominations for everything from a Teen Choice Award to a Golden Globe.
This weekend she plays a much different character in the much-anticipated thriller The Girl on the Train. Based on the Paula Hawkins bestseller—11 million copies sold and counting—it’s a dark cinematic journey into a missing person’s case. The thirty-three year old actress says playing an alcoholic divorcée who witnesses a crime from a train window, “the most challenging thing I’ve ever done.”
Early reviews are strong. Variety raved she “excels as the broken-down heroine.” Those kind of kudos are an echo of her much-admired, though lesser seen work, in the UK.
After dabbling in drama at age 12 to help conquer a stutter she jumped to the small screen with praised performances in British television period pieces. It was, however, only when she left the lace-bonnets behind and took on a role in the critically-acclaimed My Summer of Love that she really made a splash. The story of a teenage infatuation between Mona (Nathalie Press) and the manipulative and cynical Tamsin (Blunt) earned both Press and Blunt equal shares in an Evening Standard British Film Award for Most Promising Newcomer.
Since then we’ve seen her as an oversexed young women opposite Tom Hanks in Charlie Wilson’s War, warbling Stephen Sondheim’s rich Into the Woods score, riding a polar bear in The Huntsman: Winter’s War and dressed as Princess Diana in the quirky rom com Five-Year Engagement.
She’s done action in both Sicario and Edge of Tomorrow (later renamed Live. Die. Repeat. for home release). Big budget blockbusters don’t usually make room for female characters unless they are sidekicks or girlfriends. In Edge of Tomorrow Blunt avoids being objectified and is as strong, if not stronger than co-star Tom Cruise.
In Sicario she’s part of an elite task force stemming the flow of drugs between Mexico and the US. A multifarious mix of vulnerability, stone cold confidence and outrage, she delivered the most interesting female action star since Mad Max: Fury Road’s Imperator Furiosa.
Next up her diverse career is the lead in Mary Poppins Returns. She says she’s nervous because the flying nanny is “such an important character in people’s childhood,” but has been given the thumbs up by the original Mary, Julie Andrews. “It was lovely to get her stamp of approval. That took the edge off it, for sure.”
In recent years we’ve seen Emily Blunt warbling Stephen Sondheim’s rich “Into the Woods” score, riding a polar bear in “The Huntsman: Winter’s War” and dressed as Princess Diana in the quirky rom com “Five-Year Engagement.” She’s done big budget action, sci fi, period dramas and now she adds Hitchcockian thriller to her list of conquered genres.
In the much-anticipated thriller “The Girl on the Train” she is Rachel a woman whose life has taken a downward dive since her divorce from Tom (Justin Theroux). Alcoholic, unemployed and despondent, she obsesses about Tom, Anna (Rebecca Ferguson), his new girlfriend—and former mistress—and their new baby.
To pass the time on her extended Lost Weekend she drinks vodka and rides a commuter train from the suburbs into Manhattan, even though she lost her high paying PR jobs ages before. Sitting in the third car from the front affords her the perfect view of her favourite house. It’s the home of Megan and Scott Hipwell (Haley Bennett and Luke Evans), a good looking couple with a seemingly perfect life to match their optimistic last name. “She’s everything I want to be,” says Rachel of Megan.
One afternoon as Rachel looks out the train window at the Hipwells she is enraged what she sees. A blur of booze later, she wakes up the next day, hungover and foggy, covered in bruises, to discover Megan has gone missing. Brain beating, blocking memories of the night before, she tries to piece together the events of the night before. Enter Mr. Hitchcock.
Based on the Paula Hawkins bestseller—11 million copies sold and counting—“The Girl on the Train” is not so much a psychological drama as much as it is a boozological one. Rachel is hammered for much of the first half of the film, making her an extremely unreliable narrator. What’s true and what’s not? That would involve giving away plot details that are best left unspoiled, but suffice to say that while there are ups and downs, they are more red herrings and misremembered clues filtered through a haze of booze. There are no “Gone Girl” flourishes here, just straightforward thriller elements banged together to point to an inevitable conclusion.
“Girl on the Train” has some elegant moments, and aspires to be an art house thriller/morality tale—no action, lots of internal dialogue—but to properly tell the story of infidelity and murder it should have embraced its down-and-dirty summertime beach reading origins.
Rising above the languid pacing and uneventful storyline is Blunt whose gut-wrenching, vanity-free performance carries the movie through its slow patches. She’s a raw nerve and if the movie had followed her lead and been just a bit more bleary eyed and blotchy, it may have been a more effective thriller.