Posts Tagged ‘Michael Pitt’

CTVNEWS.CA: “THE CROUSE REVIEW FOR ‘The Boss Baby,’ ‘Ghost in the Shell’ AND More!

A new feature from from! The Crouse Review is a quick, hot take on the weekend’s biggest movies! This week Richard looks at “Ghost in the Shell,” “The Boss Basby” and “The Zookeeper’s Wife.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!


Richard and CP24 anchor George Lagogianes have a look at the weekend’s new movies, the reimagined sci fi classic “Ghost in the Shell,” Alec Baldwin as a bossy tot in “The Boss Baby” and Jessica Chastain in “The Zookeeper’s Wife.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!


Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Marcia MacMillan to have a look at the big weekend movies, the reimagined sci fi classic “Ghost in the Shell,” Alec Baldwin as a bossy tot in “The Boss Baby” and Jessica Chastain in “The Zookeeper’s Wife.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!

GHOST IN THE SHELL: 2 ½ STARS. “otherworldliness suits the role.”

Can you steal someone’s life? It’s the question at the heart of “Ghost in the Shell,” in more ways than one.

Based on the Japanese manga of the same name by Masamune Shirow, it centers around a woman, played by Scarlett Johansson, rescued by scientists at AI robots manufacturer Hanka Robotics and turned into a weaponized cyber-human. “Your body was damaged,” says Dr. Ouelet (Juliette Binoche). “We couldn’t save it, only your brain survived.” Named The Major (more on that later) after her cerebral salvage she leads task force Section 9 who take down cyber terrorists and hackers by any means necessary. “We saved you,” continues Dr. Ouelet, “and now you save others.” The life the Major once knew is over but as the doctor says, “Your mind, your soul and your ghost, that’s still in there.”

On another level “The Ghost in the Shell” steals away the essence of itskmain character. The Major, or Major Motoko Kusanagi as she was referred to in the 1989 manga series and beyond, is a Japanese character in this case being played by the very western Johansson. Director Rupert Sanders dismisses the whitewashing criticism saying, “I feel that [Johansson] channelled the Major better than anyone else I could have thought of. She was my first choice and remains my first choice. She’s the best actress of my generation and her generation and the person I felt most embodied the physicality and the ability to inhabit that role.”

I think Sanders forgot to insert the word “bankable” in there somewhere.

I’m not suggesting that Johansson isn’t a talented actor or capable of pulling off believable and exciting action scenes. In movies like “Lucy” and “Captain America: Civil War” she has credibly occupied the action space, bringing both toughness and acting chops to her roles. That’s not at issue. What is at issue here is that the character is decidedly Japanese. As a human brain in an entirely synthetic body, she is far from, as Johansson claims, “identity-less.” In fact she is the very embodiment of a culture’s fascination with technology and how that technology interacts with humankind. In this case the technology actually becomes human, or perhaps it’s the other way round. Either way, the cyberpunk heroine is a key figure in Asian science fiction and the new “Ghost in the Shell” conveniently ignores that fact.

More thought has been put into creating the world The Major interacts with. A mix of the original anime, “Minority Report,” and “Robocop” with a taste of “Blade Runner” and “The Matrix” thrown in for completists, it’s a sleek near future environment, dense with activity, like in New York City and Hong Kong had a baby.

It is also a place where it’s now possible to control people by hacking directly into their minds. To combat this invasion of the mind, the Major and Co. have their sights set on Kuze (Michael Carmen Pitt), a shadowy cyber terrorist who is targeting Hanka scientists. Complicating the mission are nagging memories of The Major’s former life that manifest themselves through a glitch in her wiring. She sees strange visions, sort of sensory echoes that hint at memories just out of reach. They are the ghost in the shell. She’s sort of like a high tech Jason Bourne, deadly with little recall of the past. “Who are you?” asks a woman who may or may not be The Major’s mother. “I don’t know,” Maj says with a faraway look.

To get to the bottom of the artificial intelligence technology conspiracy that landed her with Handa Robotics, The Major goes rogue. “They created me,” she says, “but they cannot control me.”

One of the most popular Japanese animated series of all time, “Ghost in the Shell” is a beautiful looking movie, which, like its main character, is in search of its soul. Director Rupert Sanders has an extraordinary eye, whether he is visualizing the hacking of The Major’s mind, creating a nightmarish nightclub sequence or bringing surreal cityscapes complete with video statues and future world architecture to vivid life. The movie is never less that entertaining for the eye, passing the time in a wild swirl of colour and movement.

It’s a shame the story isn’t as entertaining. Filtered through a Hollywood lens, what was once a seminal work of cyber punk is reduced to a superhero origin story with action scenes aplenty. Most are beautifully staged even though the odd shot feels like out takes from an upcoming Black Widow spin off.

Johansson pulls off the cold efficiency of a machine tempered with emerging human feelings. She’s a killing machine but never more human than when she explores what it feels like to be flesh and blood, not synthetics and wires. Its territory she’s tread before, most notably and more effectively in “Under the Skin” but it’s an otherworldliness that suits the role.

Binoche as the empathetic AI specialist and mother figure is terrific and the legendary ‘Beat’ Takeshi Kitano isn’t given much to do, but does it with aplomb.

“Ghost in the Shell” is a gorgeous looking film that will engage the eye but not the brain.


Screen Shot 2016-04-15 at 2.12.52 PMRichard and CP24 anchor Rena Heer talk about the weekend’s big releases, the revamped “The Jungle Book,” a third visit to Calvin’s in “Barbershop: The Next Cut,” the jazzy notes of “Miles Ahead” and the mind altering ‘Criminal.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!


Screen Shot 2016-04-15 at 11.52.50 AMRichard and “Canada AM” host Jeff Hutcheson kick around the weekend’s big releases. They find out if “The Jungle Book” is appropriate for all ages, if “Barbershop: the Next Cut” makes the cut and if “Criminal” should be put in movie jail.

Watch the whole thing HERE!

CRIMINAL: 2 STARS. “How a Psychopath Found Redemption and Revenge.”

Screen Shot 2016-04-11 at 11.00.34 AMThe new Kevin Costner movie “Criminal” is crying out for a subtitle. “Criminal” is such a drab, nondescript name. It doesn’t tell you anything about the movie or grab the eye. How about “Criminal: How a Psychopath Found Redemption and Revenge.” It’s grabby and sums up everything you need to know about this deeply silly movie.

The movie begins with a cameo by everybody’s favourite Canadian Ryan Reynolds as Bill Pope, an undercover intelligence officer for the CIA. He alone knows the location of Jan Stroop, a computer whiz (Michael Pitt) who has hacked into the US’s military computers and now controls the world’s fate. The CIA desperately wants to find Pope and Stroop but unfortunately evil-doer and all round bad guy Hagbardaka Heimbahl (Jordi Mollà) got to Pope first. After some very unpleasant back-and-forth the steel jawed agent refuses to give up any information and is left for dead.

Here’s where it gets weird. CIA mucky-muck Quaker Wells (Gary Oldman) finds the grievously wounded Pope and with a ‘never say die’ attitude keeps the man alive long enough so scientist Dr. Franks (Tommy Lee Jones) can transplant the comatose CIA agent’s memories into the mind of another person. “Can you or can’t you transport memories from one live mammal to another?”

Here’s where it gets weirder. In their infinite wisdom the CIA chooses death-row psychopath Jericho Stewart (Costner) as the memory recipient. “He does not understand society or how people are supposed to behave,” says Wells. Perfect. What could go wrong? Jericho must come to grips with the two personalities swirling around his brain—“It’s like my skull is being crushed from the inside,” he says.—as he slowly develops emotions and enough awareness to help and not hinder law enforcement in their search for Stroop.

By the time Pope’s daughter (Lara Decaro) teaches Jericho to play Christmas carols on piano “Criminal’s” cheese factor needle is bouncing uncontrollably into the red.

Remember the face-transplant surgery movie “Face/Off”? It was a silly movie, but at least it made sense in its own oddball way. Unlike the face swap film, however, “Criminal” has no internal logic. Things happen simply because the story requires them to happen and not because they make sense. The leaps of faith required to buy into “Criminal’s” story would give Evel Knievel vertigo. Suspension of disbelief is fine, and a time-honoured way of enjoying a movie, but you have to care about the story and characters in order to go along for the ride. Unfortunately not even this group of old pros can elevate this material.

When Jericho appears to develop feelings for Pope’s wife Jill (Gal “Wonder Women” Gadot) he expresses himself with the most unintentionally funny line of the year. “I know what that ‘love’ word is supposed to mean but…” It’s straight out of a b-movie, a b-movie that should be called “Criminal: How a Psychopath Found Redemption and Revenge.”

I ORIGINS: 3 STARS. “magnetic performances that deepen as the film goes on.”

13901-1“I Origins” is many things. It’s a love story, a sci fi spiritual mystery with a hint of “Frankenstein” thrown in.

Michael Pitt stars as Dr. Ian Grey, a molecular biologist specializing in the evolution of the eye. He’s an atheist, a scientist trying to disprove the idea of intelligent design by creating, from scratch, an eye in a sightless creature. Two women in his life represent the polar opposites of his existence, the sensual, exotic Sophia (Astrid Bergès-Frisbey) and his lab partner, scientist Karen (Brit Marling). A strange discovery brings both his worlds together, the scientific and the spiritual, but is it a random event or a sign that there is more to iris biometrics than hard data and research?

Director Mike Cahill’s last film, “Another Earth,” was a low-fi, sci fi film that valued ideas over the kind of razzmatazz we’ve come to associate with speculative fiction. The same goes with “I Origins.” It’s a small movie about big ideas. Are the eyes a mechanical device or truly a window to the soul? Can science be used to prove or disprove the presence of God? Can faith and science live side-by-side (Hello Mary Shelly!)?

In that sense the movie is a cypher, which is OK, people have been arguing about these concepts for as long as there have been bibles and test tubes, but while “I Origins” is ambitious in its tackling of life’s great mysteries, the story occasionally goes off track. There are some awkward moents that get on the way of smooth storytelling but overall Cahill keeps things chugging along with sheer audacious and ambitious filmmaking.

Pitt, Marling and Bergès-Frisbey hand in magnetic performances that deepen as the film goes on. With this much metaphysics in the air the actors need to ground the story in humanity and they do.

By the time the end credits roll (and stay through the to the very end for a surprise and surprising scene) the metaphysical love story may have asked many more questions than it could ever hope to answer but answers aren’t the point of the film. Ideas are, and the film has those in spades.

“I Origins” Q&A with director Mike Cahill and star Michael Pitt!

Br_Yq9qCMAAH2tgRichard did a really fun and informative Q&A with “I Origins” director Mike Cahill and star Michael Pitt last night at The Varsity in Toronto. Great sold out crowd and loots of questions. Here’s a look… (thanks to Jakub Jasinski, Mr. Will Wong and Scene Creek for the photos!)

Here’s some info on the film from IMDB: A molecular biologist and his laboratory partner uncover evidence that may fundamentally change society as we know it.



Here’s some footage from the vent courtesy of Mr. Will Wong!