Posts Tagged ‘Liane Balaban’


A weekly feature from from! The Crouse Review is a quick, hot take on the weekend’s biggest movies! This week Richard looks at“A Wrinkle in Time,” “The Strangers: Prey At Night” and “Meditation Park.”

Watch the whole thing HERE !

MEDITATION PARK: 3 ½ STARS. “universal story of the immigrant experience.”

Mina Shum’s “Meditation Park” takes place within a few blocks in East Vancouver but tells an emotional and universal story of the immigrant experience in Canada.

Cheng Pei Pei is Maria, the wife of workaholic Bing (Tzi Ma). A stay-at-home wife and mother, she doesn’t feel confident with her grasp of English and is dependent on Bing for almost everything. When she discovers he is having an affair with a much younger woman and is planning a trip to Japan she, along with the help of her family and neighbours, she asserts her independence and comes out from underneath her overbearing husband’s shadow. “First we obey our fathers,” her friend says. “Then our husbands. When they are gone we obey ourselves.”

“Meditation Park” sees Maria break free of the conservative constraints of her upbringing and family life to assimilate into the wider community. The story of her personal journey is told with a mix of comedy—occasionally bordering on slapstick— and heartfelt emotion but it is the performances, particularly from Cheng Pei Pei, that breathes life into the movie. Her broken heart is palpable but so is the joy on her face as she dances to music only she can hear at a block party.

Strong supporting work from Sandra Oh and Don McKellar highlights the strong support system that helps prop Maria up in her time of need but it is the personal story of awakening that lingers.

THE GRAND SEDUCTION: 4 STARS. “plenty of laughs along the way.”

The-Grand-Seduction-Movie“We’ve been looking for a doctor eight years,” says the mayor of Tickle Head, Newfoundland in the new Don McKellar comedy “The Grand Seduction.”

“Well,” replies Murray (Brendan Gleeson), with perfect logic, “let’s stop looking and start finding.”

And that’s just what they do, using every underhanded and dirty trick in the book. These are decent people who try and do the right thing, but they also understand that sometimes you have to bend the rules to get what you want.

Tickle Head, “a small harbor with a big heart,” has had more of its share of hardship since the bottom fell out of the fishery. Unemployment is high and the only jobs are “in town” in St. John’s, a ferry ride away.

The town fathers have a bid on a petrochemical byproduct repurposing plant that makes… well, it doesn’t matter, as they say in the film, it makes jobs. That’s what’s important. One key element is missing, a doctor. The factory deal won’t go through unless there is a local doctor.

When Paul Lewis (Taylor Kitsch), a city slicker plastic surgeon, lands in the harbour for a month long residency, the entire place (population 121) bands together to convince him to stay… by any means necessary.

Not everyone in town is on board. Kathleen (Liane Balaban) doesn’t want an oil company to set up shop in her harbor and certainly doesn’t want to be used as bait to attract the new doctor.

A remake of the French-Canadian hit “La Grande Seduction” is a comedy with a poignant edge. The set-up is outrageous—they spy on Dr. Lewis, tap his phone and even stage a tournament of cricket, his favorite game—but this is a story of a town fighting for survival of their town and their way of life.

There are plenty of laughs along the way—Gordon Pinsent is particularly effective as the deadpan Simon, who has never left Tickle Head—but the heart and soul of the film is in its fondness for the people and their harbor.


worldtravelerWorld Traveler’s star is one of the best and most under-rated actors working in film today. Billy Crudup impresses every time out, but hasn’t yet found the role that will propel him onto the A-list. Unfortunately World Traveler isn’t likely to raise his profile. He plays Cal, a successful thirtysomething who suddenly leaves his wife and child in search of something intangible just beyond the horizon. On the road he meets people who force him to examine the painful corners of his life. Directed by Bart Freundlich, (Julianne Moore’s real-life husband), the movie crawls along at a snail’s pace, and never really exploits the energy inherent in a road picture – just being on the road with the top down and the pedal pressed to the metal. Cal is the typical “the guy who’s trying to find himself,” but he is so self-centered that as a viewer I found myself wishing he would just get lost and never come back. There is some strong acting here though. Canadian Liane Balaban (New Waterford Girl, St. Jude) has a minor but satisfying role. The best work in the film, however, belongs to James LeGros who has a chance meeting with Cal in an airport. They knew one another in high school, and LeGros has been harbouring a grudge against Cal for fifteen years. In a scene that is almost worth the price of admission he unloads an avalanche of resentment on Cal, who listens and decides to change his life. It is a well written scene, wonderfully played by Crudup and LeGros, but not enough to carry the whole movie.