Posts Tagged ‘Murder on the Orient Express’


A weekly feature from from! The Crouse Review is a quick, hot take on the weekend’s biggest movies! This week Richard looks at “Lady Bird,” “Daddy’s Home 2” and “Murder on the Orient Express.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!



Richard and CP24 anchor Nick Dixon have a look at the weekend’s new movies including the mysteries of the all-star “Murder on the Orient Express,” “Daddy’s Home 2” and the sublime “Lady Bird.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!




Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Jennifer Burke to have a look at “Lady Bird,” “Daddy’s Home 2” and “Murder on the Orient Express.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!

Metro In Focus: Like her novels, Agatha Christie was full of surprises.

By Richard Crouse – Metro In Focus

This weekend the Orient Express pulls into the station, bringing with it murder and mayhem. Murder on the Orient Express features an all-star cast including Johnny Depp, Dame Judi Dench and Daisy Ridley. Directed by and co-starring Kenneth Branagh as Belgian detective Hercule Poirot, the often-filmed mystery is based on the book of the same name by Agatha Christie first published in 1934.

The sensational story of a murder —13 strangers on the luxury train and an investigator’s race to solve the puzzle before the killer strikes again — is Christie’s best-known novel, but it is just one of 66 detective novels she penned in a career that spanned more than five decades.

“I think people have been pretty tough on her,” Branagh told The Guardian. “They’re suspicious of the volume of her output.”

It’s true that the author’s omnipresence on bookshelves, 20th century household-name status and massive popularity — over two billion copies of her books have been sold worldwide making her one of the bestselling authors ever — didn’t endear her to the literary elite, but Branagh sees her differently.

“Personally I admire the prolific nature of what she does … her ability to grab the audience’s attention is really striking,” he said. “The surface of what she writes has led people to dismiss her as a second-rater. But I think she is far more than that.”

Christie’s public persona was that of a button-down grandmother with a macabre imagination, but she led a remarkable life.

In an essay for Radio Times, Branagh writes, “This was a woman full of surprises.” He goes on to describe how the author became the first British female surfer to hang ten in Hawaii. “It was 1922,” he writes. “She was fully upright, scantily clad, and 32 years old.”

In her own words Christie says she wore a “wonderful, skimpy emerald green wool bathing dress, which was the joy of my life, and in which I thought I looked remarkably well!”

Another episode from her storied life feels like it could have been ripped out of the pages of one of her books. The year was 1926. Christie was on the verge of a divorce from her first husband when she vanished, leaving behind only her abandoned car, an expired driver’s licence and some clothes.

Already considered a national treasure, her mysterious disappearance was front-page news. Some thought it was a publicity stunt, others wondered if she was trying to frame her husband for murder.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes, tried to solve the mystery with the help of a psychic. When Christie re-emerged 11 days later, after living under an assumed name in a small hotel, she offered no clues as to what had happened.

One popular theory suggests the Queen of Crime had fallen into a psychogenic trance. In the book The Finished Portrait, biographer Andrew Norman sites the adoption of a new personality and “failure to recognise herself in newspaper photographs” as signs that she was depressed and had fallen into a fugue state.

Christie never publicly commented on those missing days, not even in her official biography.

Now, 91 years later the mystery will likely never be solved. So much time has passed that not even Christie’s greatest creation, Murder On The Orient Express’s master detective Hercule Poirot, could get to the bottom of this mystery.

MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS: 2 ½ STARS. “morally interesting questions.”

Agatha Christie’s story of murder and mayhem and a moustachioed detective comes to vivid life on the big screen with, as they used to say, more stars than there are in the heavens. Penélope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Judi Dench, Johnny Depp, Josh Gad, Derek Jacobi, Leslie Odom Jr., Michelle Pfeiffer and Daisy Ridley play travellers on the luxurious train and all are suspected of doing a dastardly deed by Hercule Poirot, the legendary Belgium detective played by director and star Kenneth Branagh.

Set in 1934, a time when women wore afternoon dresses, men donned flat hats and the Orient Express was seen as the epitome of first-class steam-age travel. Poirot, looking for peace and quiet, some downtime between cases, joins the Orient Express in Istanbul, heading for Calais for a much-needed holiday. “Three days free of care, concern the crime,” says friend Bouc (Tom Bateman).

On board is a colourful collection of characters. There’s Russian Princess Dragomiroff (Judi Dench) and her obedient maid Hildegarde Schmidt (Olivia Colman); the racist German academic Gerhard Hardman (Willem Dafoe); “husband huntering” American widow Mrs. Hubbard (Michelle Pfeiffer); the troubled Countess Andrenyi (Lucy Boynton) and her ballet star husband, Russian dancer Count Andrenyi (Sergei Polunin); Spanish missionary Pilar Estravados (Penélope Cruz); British governess Mary Debenham (Daisy Ridley) and American art dealer Ratchett (Johnny Depp), his butler, Masterman (Derek Jacobi) and private secretary, Hector MacQueen (Josh Gad). “There’s nothing like a triangle of strangers pressed together on a train with no purpose but to go from one place to another.”

One of them is murdered and one is a murderer. Vacation or not, there is a crime to be solved and only one man for the job. “My name is Hercule Poirot,” says the elaborately moustachioed detective, “and I am probably the greatest detective in the world.” Thus the “Avenger of the Innocent” goes fishing for clues in a barrel of red herrings.

Lush production design and old school story telling gives this version of “Murder on the Orient Express” a Masterpiece Theatre vibe. It is a parade of great faces and attention to period details with a slight updating in the character’s ideas about race but while the train may be speeding along on tracks of steel, the story isn’t.

Branagh revels in the deduction phase of the tale, shining a spotlight on Poirot’s process. He’s a great character and Branagh is clearly having a good time playing him but his larger-than-life presence sucks much of the air out of the room, leaving the others gasping. Individually the sprawling cast aren’t given much to do, many reduced to little more than cameo appearances. The real mystery is why Branagh would assemble such a stellar cast and then not give them anything to do.

Even more frustrating are several of Branagh’s stylistic choices. Beautiful sets, and frequently, beautiful performers are obscured by odd cinematography. Pfeiffer’s big entrance is shot in an impressive tracking shot that spends more time showing the outside of the train than the actors. Later a crucial revelation is inexplicably shot from above, showing only the backs of the actor’s heads. The camera is almost constantly in motion and while it helps create a sense of forward movement it can be distracting. However, when it focuses on the period details it is a pleasure to gaze upon.

At its core “Murder on the Orient Express” does end with a morally interesting question but doesn’t spend enough time with its characters—save for the great detective who is clearly being set to be the focus of a franchise—for us to get fully invested in whodunit in question.