Richard speaks to “CTV News at Six” anchor Andria Case about the best movies to watch this weekend including the inspired-by-true-events drama “One Night In Miami” (Amazon Prime Video), the Netflix action flick “Outside the Wire” (Netflix) and the young adult drama “Words On Bathroom Walls” (EST, VOD, DVD, Blu-ray).
Richard sits in on the CFRA Ottawa morning show with host Bill Carroll to talk the new movies coming to theatres, VOD and streaming services including the inspired-by-true-events drama “One Night In Miami” (Amazon Prime Video), the Netflix action flick “Outside the Wire” (Netflix) and the young adult drama “Words On Bathroom Walls” (EST, VOD, DVD, Blu-ray).
Based on Julia Walton’s 2017 young adult novel of the same name, “Words on Bathroom Walls,” now on EST, VOD, DVD and Blu-ray, follows a teenager, diagnosed with schizophrenia, navigating mental illness and life in a new school. “How hard could it be to hide my burgeoning insanity from the unforgiving ecosystem that is high school?” says Adam Petrazelli (Charlie Plummer) in the film’s opening moments.
Adam is a foodie with dreams of being a chef but when he accidentally injures a classmate during a psychotic break in lab class his future is jeopardized. A diagnosis of treatment resistant schizophrenia leaves him ostracized from his former friends. They taunt him in the halls—“Where’s the straightjacket?” and call him “freak” as he confronts the voices in his head, the new-agey Rebecca (AnnaSophia Robb), the Bodyguard (Lobo Sebastian) and troublemaker Joaquin (Devon Bostick), a varied group he calls “my inescapable roommates.”
A new drug trial offers hope, as does a switch to a new Catholic school. For the first time in ages he feels like he has autonomy over his life. “I woke up to complete silence. No whispers. No banter. No visions. Just pure, unfiltered, beautiful quiet.” His friendship with valedictorian Maya (Taylor Russell) blossoms, but as the medication slowly affects his ability to cook he struggles to hide the side effects from mother (Molly Parker) and step dad (Walton Goggins).
“Words on a Bathroom Wall” is a coming-of-age story with a difference. Adam’s journey with schizophrenia is sensitively handled, with director Thor Freudenthal finding inventive ways to put the viewer into the main character’s shoes. The voices and hallucinations are brought to life without sensationalism or exploitation. Instead, they show us what is happening in Adam’s mind as he navigates the minefield of high school and first love. Far from demonizing his disease, as has been the case in other less humane cinematic depictions of schizophrenia, they add dimension to the story.
Plummer hands in a break out performance as Adam. He’s an awkward teen, a dutiful son who learns how to cook to comfort his mother and a teen struggling with an illness. His subtle performance goes a long way to creating a character in three-dimensions who is both strong and vulnerable. He shares good chemistry with Russell who brings depth to an underwritten Maya.
“Words on a Bathroom Wall” hits hard before settling into more familiar, optimistic territory but the respectful tone established early on makes up for the sappiness that bogs down the film’s final moments.
Richard joins CP24 to have a look at new movies coming to VOD, streaming services and theatres including the family drama “Pieces of a Woman” (Netflix), dark satire “Promising Young Woman” (in theatres) and the documentary “The Dissident” (VOD/Digital).
Richard sits in on the CTV NewsChannel with host Anita Sharma to have a look at the new movies coming to VOD, streaming services and theatres including the intense drama “Pieces of a Woman” (Netflix), dark satire “Promising Young Woman” (in theatres) and the documentary “The Dissident” (VOD/Digital).
Richard sits in on the CFRA Ottawa morning show with host Bill Carroll to talk the new movies coming to theatres, VOD and streaming services including the intense drama “Pieces of a Woman” (Netflix), dark satire “Promising Young Woman” (in theatres) and the documentary “The Dissident” (VOD/Digital).
“Pieces of a Woman,” now steaming on Netflix, begins with happy, loving couple Martha (Vanessa Kirby) and Shawn (Shia LaBeouf) on what should be one of the happiest days of their lives. In the scene, shot mostly in long takes, Martha is in labor, minutes away from giving birth to their daughter. With their midwife indisposed a replacement named Eva (Molly Parker), unfamiliar with their case, is sent in her place. By the end of the twenty five-minute pre-credit sequence tragedy has struck, and their lives are forever changed.
Director Kornél Mundruczó sets the bar very high in the opening moments of the film. It is riveting filmmaking, intimately showing Martha and Shawn’s anticipation, pain and anguish in real time. The bulk of the film deals with the aftermath as the couple are driven apart by grief and recrimination and it’s very strong, but cooler in tone than the opening.
It is interesting to note that “Piece of a Woman” was originally conceived as character sketches by Kata Wéber meant for the stage. You can feel the attention to detail that was lavished on each of the characters. They are richly drawn and carefully portrayed by the actors.
A trio of performances tell the story.
Kirby, best known as Princess Anne on “The Crown,” digs deep to create a portrait of a person devastated by the loss of her child; someone whose world stopped turning that day. As she looks for closure, there is an intensity that comes from her rage and sorrow manifesting themselves as heartbreak. It is layered, emotionally-draining, award worthy work.
LaBeouf plays Shawn as an attention hungry husband. A man trying to move on by forcing his attentions on Martha and when that doesn’t work, he looks elsewhere. LaBeouf is a bubbling cauldron of frustration, about to overflow.
As Martha’s mother, an imperious woman hell bent on assigning blame, Ellen Burstyn delivers a tour-de-force monologue about the way mothers raise their daughters that could be a short film all on its own.
“Pieces of a Woman” isn’t an easy watch. The performances are raw, real and uncomfortable that exhaust and exhilarate in equal measure.
“Madeline’s Madeline” begins with a nursed telling the audience, “What you are experiencing is just a metaphor.” That sets up the tone for what is to come, a boldly dissociative study of creativity and identity told through the lens of a sixteen year old girl.
The film essays the main people in Madeline’s (Helena Howard) life, with her mother Regina (Miranda July), acting teacher and maternal figure Evangeline (Molly Parker) and, finally, herself as she prepares to be part of an avant grade theatre production.
“Madeline’s Madeline” is a bold film. Madeline’s experiences, both real and imagined, merge creating a dreamy, unsettling pastiche of real life. She is a complicated character, beautifully played by newcomer Howard, with a multi-faceted personality that may be the result of mental illness or in expression of her creative spirit or her troubled relationship with Regina. Director Josephine Decker sets the stage, employing frenetic editing, overwhelming sound design and other experimental film techniques to place the viewer in Madeline’s headspace.
“Madeline’s Madeline” may prove too challenging, too psychedelic for casual viewing. Howard is a powerhouse, careening through the film untethered to the realities of narrative form but the oblique storytelling does the viewer no favours.
To me the still shot of two teens, one wearing an Edward Bear t-shirt, hitchhiking on a two-lane highway is a powerfully nostalgic Canadian image. I grew up in 1970s era Nova Scotia where hundreds of kids (me included) hitchhiked on roads big and small. The image is iconic, a sentimental picture of a simpler time brought to vivid life in “Weirdos,” Bruce McDonald and Daniel MacIvor’s sweet new coming of age story.
Set in 1976 “Weirdos” puts McDonald back on the road. The “Hard Core Logo” director has a way with road movies and here he keeps the story of Kit (Dylan Authors), a bored Antigonish 15 year-old, in constant motion. Kit wants a different life, one far, far away from the small town existence offered by his dad (Allan Hawco) and grandmother (Cathy Jones).
With girlfriend Alice (Julia Sara Stone) in tow Kit hangs out his thumb, hitchhiking toward a change. As the pair make their way to Kit’s artistic mother Laura (Molly Parker)—she knows Andy Warhol!—the nature of the teen’s relationship is challenged as the young man grapples with his sexuality.
With some melancholy and much humour “Weirdos” expertly strings together the small moments that make up Kit’s life. Warm, affectionate and wallpapered with a K-Tel soundtrack of 70’s Cancon, it follows his journey to self-discovery. Authors and Stone do most of the heavy lifting here, handing in naturalistic, understated performances but it’s Parker and Hawko who provide the emotional sparks.
As absent mother Laura, Parker has the film’s flashiest role. She’s a dysfunctional grand dame with an imagined connection to Warhol and a headful of dreams. Her screen time amounts to little more than an extended cameo but Parker’s work is so vivid, so alive, it feels as though we’ve known her for years.
“The Republic of Doyle’s” Hawko is quieter, but poignant as the father who must explain himself in one of the film’s best scenes.
“Weirdos” is the story of outsiders, but as there are more people outside the circle than in, it really is a universal story of self-examination, one that can be enjoyed even if you’ve never hitchhiked or worn an Edward Bear t-shirt.