Vin Diesel is a Witch Hunter in the appropriately named “The Last Witch Hunter,” Christopher Plummer hunts Nazis in “Remember,” while Brie Larson searches for freedom in “Room” and Bill Murray looks for redemption in “Rock the Kasbah.” Richard reviews them all with “Canada AM” host Beverly Thomson.
Dean Norris is best known for portraying police officers. “I play DEA, CIA, FBI, LAPD; I got ‘em all,” he once said. He became instantly recognizable to a generation of TV fans as the boisterous DEA agent Hank Schrader on Breaking Bad, and in his new film he’s once again playing a cop, but with a twist.
“You almost feel sorry for him,” says Norris, “until you realize who he is.”
The film is Remember, a road movie of sorts. Christopher Plummer plays Zev, a man on a journey to justice, a quest to find the Nazi guard who killed his family 70 years before. Along the way he meets Norris as Officer Kurlander, a sad and lonely man with a connection to one of Zev’s suspects.
Their explosive meeting is difficult to discuss without giving away a plot point, but suffice to say Norris reveals when he had a chance to watch it he did so with his hands covering his face.
“We had three cameras going and I was like, ‘Just run them and let me hit it,’” says the fifty-two-year-old actor. “It was one of the few times where I almost felt out of body. You know when you see red and get kind of blinded? I’m not even sure what I said some of the time.”
Norris credits his director and co-star with making the five-day filming of the wild sequence possible.
“(Atom Egoyan) does what the good directors do,” he says, “and makes a comfortable space for you to play in and feel safe, which was important on this damn thing because it is so crazy. You want to feel safe to be able to go to wherever you have to go to, and I did with him.”
Norris describes Plummer as one of the greats. “It was like working with Laurence Olivier.”
“It was a pleasure to watch him,” he says. “There would be moments where I’d be in the scene and saying to myself, ‘I’m looking into the eyes of a man who has been in these scenes for decades. Been in the moment with unbelievable people in unbelievable movies.’ It’s like I wanted that to seep into me. Steal his essence.
“It’s a memory I’ll have for the rest of my life.”
With a cast headlined by Christopher Plummer and Martin Landau, Atom Egoyan’s new film “Remember” brings over 150 years of acting experience to the screen. Plummer is Zev, a man set on delivering justice to the Nazi guard who killed his family 70 years before. Plummer and Landau are both Academy Award winners and early buzz suggests they may both earn Oscar attention again for this film.
Revenge is on Max’s mind of (Martin Landau). After a lifetime of bring Nazis to justice with the Simon Wiesenthal Center, he’s now an octogenarian living in a senior’s home confined to a wheelchair. An Auschwitz survivor, he has made it his life’s work to “find the man responsible for the murder of my family,” but time is running out and there is one last name left on his list, Rudy Kurlander. Trouble is, there are multiple Kurlanders who fit the profile. In the dying days of World War II SS soldiers stole the identities of their victims and four Rudy’s emerged in the aftermath. One is an alias for the man responsible for the deaths of Max’s family.
To track down and dispatch Kurlander Max recruits Zev (Christopher Plummer), a ninety year-old widower from the senior’s home. Like Max, Zev was at Auschwitz and as the last living survivors from the prison block is, as Max tells him, “the only person left who can recognize the face of the man who murdered our families.” Despite a failing memory—“Sometimes I forget things,” Zev says.—Zev embarks on the search for Kurlander, armed with a detailed letter from Max to remind him of the operation’s details and a loaded Glock.
“Remember” is a road movie, a journey to justice. Along the way we meet several Rudy Kurlanders, a neo Nazi with a dog named Eva and several very helpful hotel clerks. Despite the constantly changing scenery and situations the constant is Christopher Plummer in a remarkable performance as a man on a mission. Struggling, he methodically works his way through the list, years of anger bubbling under the surface. He’s genteel—“Let us not argue,” he says while holding a gun on one of the Rudys. “We are too old for lies.”—but deeply wounded by events that he can now barely remember. Plummer conveys it all, confusion, anger, fear, resignation and in one extraordinary scene, deep sorrow as he shares a tender moment with one of the Kurlanders.
Egoyan parcels out the story carefully, building tension to an explosive climax. The thrills come with the search, but “Remember’s” main buzz comes from Plummer’s heartfelt and assured performance as a man struggling to reconcile the past with the present.
For those who thought last year’s “WALL-E” was the last word in animated post apocalyptic entertainment along comes a dark fable about a war ravaged world populated by brave burlap dolls (numbered 1 through 9) and terrifying machines. Call it Sock Puppets Save the World if you like, but despite the kid-friendly lead characters, “9” isn’t as cute and cuddly as “WALL-E.”
Set ten years after the war to end all wars actually ended everything, “9” really picks up when the title character mistakenly awakens a terrifying machine with the ability to create other machines of destruction. As 9 and the other dolls fight the evil machines they discover the very essence of their existence; that they were created by a scientist who knew the end of life as he knew it was near. Rather than see all life disappear he created these limited edition rag dolls, each with a special skill, to continue life.
The basic idea behind “9” is something we’ve seen before—technology goes wild and machines turn on humans—but what makes this film unique is, bless their little burlap hearts, the rag dolls. Each has a well defined personality and while the voice work isn’t terribly strong—save for Christopher Plummer as 1, the king doll—they all bring something interesting to the story.
Jennifer Connolly voices 7, a kind of ninja beanie baby character. She’s a strong female presence in a genre that often lacks interesting roles for women. Other voices in this eclectic cast include Elijah Wood, John C. Reilly, Crispin Glover and Martin Landau.
“9” isn’t so much a story as it is a series of action set pieces bound together by ideas. The narrative is simple—man has been destroyed and now these little saviors must defeat the big bad machines or they too will be crushed—and little effort is spent developing the story past a certain point. Lots of effort, however, has been put into creating the elaborate action scenes that make up the bulk of the film.
The wild scenes—mainly of demonic looking machines trying to kill the little dolls—may be too intense for young kids. Ten and eleven year olds should be fine with the imagery—human skulls attached to winged metal skeletons and the like—but anyone younger than that might have trouble sleeping after these frenetic, violent sequences.
Of course, there is an environmental message attached to the story; this is, after all a movie aimed at the young. It’s not heavy handed, but lines like “This world is ours now… it’s what we make of it” subtly push kids to think about their surroundings.
“9” is cool sci fi for kids with imaginative characters and lots of action that doesn’t talk down to its audience.