Posts Tagged ‘Lily Tomlin’

CTVNEWS.CA: THE CROUSE REVIEW LOOKS AT “MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS” & MORE!

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 the historical betrayals of “Mary Queen of Scots,” the cortex boiling animation of “Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse” and the drug addiction drama of “Ben is Back.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!

RICHARD’S CTV NEWSCHANNEL WEEKEND MOVIE REVIEWS FOR DECEMBER 14.

Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Marcia MacMillan to have a look at the weekend’s big releases including the wild and webby “Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse,” the political drama of “Mary Queen of Scots” and the Julia Roberts’s drug drama “Ben is Back.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!

SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE: 4 STARS. “cortex-boiling superhero theatrics.”

Can’t get enough Spider-Man? Check out “Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse,” a mega-origin story that features not one, not two but at least seven iterations of the web slinging superhero.

Before a radioactive spider bit Miles Morales (voice of Shameik Moore) he was a half-Puerto Rican and half-African-American, Brooklyn born student with loving parents. Post bite, his world goes topsy-turvy. Unable to control his brand-new powers—he sticks to everyone and everything like glue—he needs help. Enter the real Spider-Man (Jake Johnson) who asks the younger Spider-Man to combat crime lord Kingpin (Liev Schreiber).

The evil genius doesn’t have superpowers but he does have a machine called a Collider with the power to tear the world apart. “It’s a hell of a freakin’ light show,” Kingpin cackles. “You’ll love this.” When Kingpin hits the Collider’s on switch the various portals between Spider-Verse open, sweeping alternate Spider-People including Peter B. Parker (Johnson again), a “junky, old, broke-down hobo Spider Man,” Spider-Ham (John Mulaney), an anthropomorphic animal parody of Spider-Man, Peni Parker (Kimiko Glenn), a Japanese-American middle school student, adopted by Aunt May and Uncle Ben and Spider-Man Noir (Nicolas Cage), a hard-bitten Raymond Chandler-esque type, into Miles’s world. The inter-dimensional Peter B. becomes a mentor of sorts to Miles—“Disinfect the mask,” he advises. “Use talcum powder. You don’t want chaffing.”—teaching his the tricks of the superhero trade. “You’re like the Spider-Man I don’t want to be,” Miles says to the frayed around the edges Peter. “I don’t think you have a choice kiddo,” Peter B. replies.

Before shutting off the Supercollider and saving the world Miles must sends the other Spider-types back to their realms or they will disintegrate.

“Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse” is a cortex-boiling hit of boffo superhero theatrics. Visually it’s a pop art explosion, paying tribute, in its more restrained moments, to the work of original Spider-Man artist Steve Ditko. In the climatic multiverse showdown, however, it’s as if M.C. Escher and Roy Lichtenstein did acid and conceived a psychedelic freak-out that mixes and matches op art, anime and everything in between. It doesn’t look like any other superhero film you’ve ever seen. It’s wild and woolly, a pastiche of styles formed into one seamless whole.

It’s fresh and funny, and yes, there is a Stan Lee cameo, but despite the eye-catching animation and the flippant time of the script, there is substance; the film has a point. “Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse” is a coming-of-age story for Miles who must tap into his inner strength to succeed. Uncle Ben’s quote, “With great power comes great responsibility,” comes up in the film’s multiple origin stories but is amended to reflect that great power also comes with an awareness of self. “Anyone can wear the mask,” Miles says. “If you didn’t know that before I hope you know it now.” It’s a message about finding the greatness within whether you can shoot webs from your wrists or not. In a tweet the day Stan Lee died Seth Rogen wrote, “Thank you Stan Lee for making people who feel different realize they are special.” Lee didn’t write “Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse” but his powerful, personal message of self worth is alive and well here.

GRANDMA: 3 ½ STARS. “a journey, both physical and metaphysical.”

Screen Shot 2015-09-23 at 7.38.51 AMThe last time Lily Tomlin had a lead role in a film was almost three decades ago. It’s been too long. “Grandma” shows her at age 75 in fine form as a cantankerous poet who goes on a journey, both physical and metaphysical, on one busy afternoon.

Tomlin plays Elle Reid, a once famous poet, now an unemployed seventy-something living alone following the death of Violet, her companion of thirty-eight years. Her quiet life is interrupted when her granddaughter Sage (Julia Garner) arrives at her door looking for $630 to have an abortion. Her high school boyfriend promised to pay but now doesn’t have the money or the interest to help out. Elle doesn’t have the cash either but hits the road with Sage in search of the cash.

“Mom says you’re a philanthropist,” says Sage. “Wait, that’s not it… misanthropic.”

“That’s an understatement,” `snorts Elle.

Over the next few hours they drop in, unannounced, on the slacker boyfriend (Nat Wolff), an old friend of Elle’s (Sam Elliott), an angry café owner (the late Elizabeth Peña), an old flame (Judy Greer) and the one person who intimidates both Elle and Sage (Marcia Gay Harden).

The premise of “Grandma” is provocative. A young woman and her grandmother trying to raise cash for an abortion is bound to raise an eyebrow or two, but the movie isn’t really about that. The abortion is the McGuffin, the reason for the journey but not the reason for the story. The abortion is treated matter-of-factly, it’s the relationships that count.

It’s a pleasure to watch Tomlin let loose as Elle. As Elle she’s an unstoppable force of nature, unrepentant and resourceful. It’s great fun to watch her bully her way through life but Tomlin adds dimension to the character, allowing her vulnerable side to peak through from time to time. She commands the screen whether she’s being argumentative, beating up a teen (yup, she does that) or crying in the shower at the remembrance of lost love. It’s the moments of openness that elevate “Grandma” from “Grumpy Old Lady” movie to interesting character study.

Good performances keep “Grandma’s” relationships dynamic and by the time all is said and done the message of life goes on, hiccups and all, is subtly but powerfully enforced.

The Hollywood buddy comedy finds its feminine side with Hot Pursuit

Screen Shot 2015-05-05 at 1.35.21 PMBy Richard Crouse – Metro Canada

This weekend Reese Witherspoon and Sofía Vergara play a by-the-book cop and the widow of a drug boss in the comedy Hot Pursuit. The unlikely duo hit the road, teaming up to outrun crooked cops and a murderous cartel. “Right now we can’t trust anyone but each other,” says Reese as they crack wise and dodge bullets.

It’s a movie that follows in the long tradition of Hollywood buddy comedies.

There’s an argument to be made that Abbott and Costello or Laurel and Hardy originated buddy comedies long before Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis donned dresses and camped it up in 1959’s Some Like It Hot. For my money, however, the Billy Wilder film about two musicians who witness the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre and flee the state disguised as women set the template for the modern buddy movie.

The basic formula is there — colliding personalities, gibes and comic conflict between the two actors — but more important than any of that is the chemistry between Lemmon and Curtis. Even though every buddy picture relies on tension between the leads, sparks also have to fly between them or the whole thing will fall flat.

Brett Ratner, director of Rush Hour 1, 2 and 3—which paired Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan to great effect—calls interesting chemistry between actors “an explosion in a bottle” and says it’s crucial to the success of any buddy pic.

Since Some Like It Hot, producers have paired up a laundry list of actors searching for the perfect mix. Lemmon and Walter Matthau were the journeymen of the genre, co-starring in six buddy pictures ranging from the sublime—The Odd Couple, which features the classic buddy picture one-liner, “I’m a neurotic nut, but you’re crazy.”— to the ridiculous — Grumpier Old Men.

The female buddy comedy is a more elusive beast. Recently Melissa McCarthy and Sandra Bullock teamed as a tough-talking street cop and uptight, lone wolf FBI agent to bring down a murderous drug dealer in The Heat and in the 1980s Bette Midler was the Queen of the form, pairing off with Shelley Long for Outrageous Fortune and with Lily Tomlin for Big Business in which both stars played dual roles, making it a buddy comedy times two. “Two’s company. Four’s a riot,” read the movie tagline.

There are others, dating back to 1937’s Stage Door, but there is no debating that Hollywood has been slow to feature female bonding as a subject of buddy movies. It’s wild there are two man-and-his-dog buddy movies—Turner and Hootch and K9—but so few featuring women. Despite the box office success of several female buddy comedies sequels have been as rare as hen’s teeth. For instance, Vulture.com points out that of the duelling buddy comedies released on April 25, 2008—Tina Fey and Amy Poehler’s Baby Mama and Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay—Fey and company grossed $60 million, while Harold and friends made $38 million and yet the guys laughed all the way to another sequel while Baby Mama remains a one off.

Hollywood is finally warming to the idea of female driven comedies, so perhaps this weekend Witherspoon and the highest paid woman on television can generate enough box office dough to warrant another team-up. In the movie biz money usually speaks louder than anything, including gender.

ALTMAN: 4 STARS. “captures the spirit of a man who built sandcastles over and over.”

altmanThe image of a sandcastle kicks off “Altman,” director Ron Mann’s look at the life and work of Robert Altman. The filmmaker behind movies like “M*A*S*H,” “Nashville” and “The Long Goodbye” once compared making movies to building sand castles, a metaphor he found so powerful he even named his production company Sandcastle 5.

Then later, just before the end credits, the sandcastle disappears. It’s a simple but effective visual summation of Altman’s ethos, build it, watch it go and start all over again.

Mann worked with Altman’s family and colleagues to piece together the personal and professional life of one of the mavericks of American film. The result is a comprehensive documentary that traces Altman’s work back to his roots in industrial filmmaking in Kansas City, to becoming one of television’s most in-demand directors to his iconoclastic work for the big screen. Woven into that narrative is the personal story of the director’s relationship with his wife and business partner of four decades Kathryn and their children.

The story is told in their words—Altman’s reminiscences are culled from 400 hours of footage from his public talks and interviews—accompanied by film clips and unseen until now home movies and stills.

Additional colour comes from the famous faces of Lily Tomlin, Keith Carradine, the late Robin Williams and Elliott Gould, who each answer one question, “What does the word Altman-esque mean to you?” The wide range of answers, which often are pared down to one word or a short phrase, provide a curt but effective glimpse at the unique multiverse Altman created in his life and work.

The result of all these elements is “Altman,” a beautiful and naturalistic portrait of a man, not just his work. It would have been impossible to go in-depth on each of Altman’s 39 films in just ninety minutes, so Mann concentrates on capturing the spirit of a man who built sandcastles over and over again.

THE ANT BULLY: 3 STARS

2006 The Ant Bully 002I’s been awhile since there’s been a good animated ant movie in the theatres. In 1998 there were two—Antz and A Bug’s Life—but ant lovers can rejoice as The Ant Bully comes to theatres today. Adapted from a kid’s book that the movie’s producer, Tom Hanks, used to read to his son, The Ant Bully is the story of a lonely ten-year-old boy who is bullied by the neighborhood kids so he takes out his frustrations on the only thing smaller than him—the ants in his yard. That is until the day the ants come up with a potion that cuts this anthropoid down to size—ant size. It’s kind of a Honey I Shrunk the Kids with insects.

Inventively animated—the director John A Davis seems to have taken his inspiration not from kid’s movies but from the great science fiction look of 1950’s films like The Day the Earth Stood Still—The Ant Bully features the standard moral lessons for kids about cooperation, equality and kindness, but sells those messages with a great deal of gentle humor.

The ant society is effectively compared and contrasted to the human world, displaying the differences in a hilarious scene featuring a firecracker that could be potentially devastating to the ants but makes barely a pop in the human world, and the similarities in the interpersonal relationships. The movie takes its first third to really get in gear, but with the voice work of Julia Roberts, Paul Giamatti, Nicolas Cage, Meryl Streep and Lily Tomlin it soon finds its footing.

Voice work aside the best reason to see this movie are the incredible visuals. The inner workings of the ant colony are particularly well realized, as are the incredible wasps, which look like high-tech aircrafts as much as insects.