Posts Tagged ‘National Post’


National Post writer Ben Kaplan and parenting writer Samantha Kemp-Jackson join Richard and Beverly Thomson and CTV NewsChannel’s ‘Behind the Headlines’ panel. This week they weigh in on  Facebook hiring 3000 people to monitor violence and abuse, the YouTube family whose kids were taken away and Stephen Colbert!

Watch the whole thing HERE!

Culture Club: Is viral marketing the new normal marketing? National Post Ben Kaplan Jun 9, 2011

the-girl-with-the-dragon-tattoo-the-first-of-the-american-film-adaptations-of-stieg-larssons-millennium-trilogy-she-will-be-playing-the-introverted-damaged-brilliant-lisbeth-salander-the-lead-character-of-all-three-booksSony went through an interesting few days the other week as their Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trailer leaked, though many thought the studio itself was responsible (they said no, and eventually removed the R-rated trailer from the Web before officially releasing a nudity-free version). Meanwhile, the next Batman movie is already heating up the Internet with its viral campaign, even though the movie won’t be out until an entire year from now. Add to that the clever ad schemes for Super 8 and the new Muppet movie, and there’s an argument to be made that you can no longer market a movie with junkets and trailers … you have to have secrets and mystery. In this week’s Culture Club, the Post’s Ben Kaplan asks whether studios can keep people guessing.

This week’s Culture Clubbers
– Dr. Doris Baltruschat, author of Global Media Ecologies: Networked Production in Film and Television and an instructor in the film department at the University of British Columbia.
– Richard Crouse, film critic and host of In Short on Bravo!
– Barry Avrich, founder of Endeavour Marketing and the director of Unauthorized: The Harvey Weinstein Project.

Doris  Viral marketing for feature films hasn’t “peaked” yet because we’ve only seen cross-media advertising strategies for certain genres such as adventure, sci-fi and action movies. We’ve yet to see a campaign that engages viewers from ages six to 60. This brings up the question of whether viral marketing could be successfully applied to other genres such as family, drama and even art-house films.

Richard  I agree with Doris that viral marketing hasn’t come close to peaking, but I question how effective some viral campaigns have been. Snakes on a Plane and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World are two examples of movies that ate up their fair share of Internet space and yet still under-performed at the box office.

Barry  So far, there doesn’t seem to be a direct correlation between the amount of interest online and the box office.

Doris  It’s likely that viral marketing will become more popular in the future, especially when the gaming aspects of campaigns move beyond the current “solve this mystery” to get access to a movie’s trailer or poster.

Richard  Is it possible that for certain kinds of movies — like sci-fi and horror — viral marketing is simply a tool to alert fanboys (and girls) that there’s a new movie out there to download instead of checking out in the theatre?

Barry  Love it or hate it, there’s no playing with the volume with regards to viral marketing. As both a filmmaker and marketing guy, this is a game of swallowing swords. It’s dangerous, but you can get a ton of attention. Ultimately it’s an awareness tool with the potential of imploding a film as you can’t lower the volume on a dud.

Doris  This brings up the question of costs, as well as skills, for rolling out a marketing campaign. Considering the million-plus budget for the Dark Knight campaign by 42 Entertainment, which involved a team of marketers and lasted for a year, how can independent filmmakers in Canada remain competitive?

Richard  I don’t think it’s realistic to think that Canadian or American or any other independent filmmakers can compete with the bottomless pockets of the studios. It’s more a question of having to figure out a cost-effective way to make yourself heard. It’s impossible to predict what kind of marketing will go viral; despite its digital imprint, success on the Internet is still an organic thing that must happen naturally, so indie filmmakers must rely on their wits rather than their pocketbooks. The trick is being heard above all the cyber noise.

Barry  While I usually agree with my much taller friend Richard, I must beg to differ. You can’t compete or out-spend the majors on a TV or print buy, but if you’re provocative and creative, you can make way more noise than studios who are faced with endless levels of approvals and branding rules.

Richard  I hadn’t figured in the endless layers of approvals, but I’d also add that big corporations are less likely to be as provocative for fear of alienating Gladys in Peterborough or their stockholders. Indie artists have the freedom to push the envelope in a way the majors don’t.

Barry  The lesson here is: don’t blend in and be provocative even if you offend Gladys.

Ben  Is it only with marketing or has the Internet also changed the way we make films?

Richard  I’d say it’s eroded people’s attention spans to the point where movies aimed at young Internet-savvy users are more concerned with pace than story, or character arcs.

Barry  Long before the Web, the VCR and the DVD machine did enough damage by turning movie theatres into giant living rooms where people are free to talk loudly, eat like pigs and bump my seat. I think more people are watching movies as a result of the Web and Netflix.

Richard  Maybe so, but they’re watching them differently. I hate to think that the next generation’s idea of “going to the movies” is ordering from Netflix and eating pizza while the movie unspools on an iPad.

Passion of the Christian Audience National Post Friday, December 08, 2006

the-nativity-story-originalQuentin Tarantino has said the sign of a good film is that it makes you want to go home, eat some pie and talk about it.
With that in mind, our Popcorn Panel features film buffs feuding in this space each week.

This week’s panel
– Craig Courtice, a short filmmaker who isn’t very tall
– Christa Oancia, mom of five, religion teacher and amateur movie critic
Richard Crouse, host of Rogers Television’s Reel to Real, Canada’s longest-running movie review show and the author of The 100 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen (ECWPress, 2003). His Web site is This week’s pie Shepherd’s

This week’s subject: The Nativity Story

Craig: Whatever you might think of The Passion of the Christ, it was the work of an auteur. Director Catherine Hardwicke is a talented filmmaker, but she lacks the leverage and the ego of Mel Gibson, and as a result I’m not sure The Nativity Story is her vision. For one, there is nothing of the realism she made her name with in Thirteen. Part of the reason the birth of Christ still fascinates us today is the overwhelming odds Mary and Joseph overcame. Certainly, in their journey to Bethlehem, they must have forged an incredible bond, yet there are few scenes that give us a sense of their relationship. Instead, we are subjected to a history lesson featuring King Herod, Zechariah and Elizabeth in the first act and requisite scenes with shepherds and wise men in the third.

Christa: I don’t think Mel Gibson is a good comparison because The Passion was truly his vision. Hardwicke was hired to direct someone else’s vision. It appears that the team behind The Nativity relied primarily on the very limited two Gospel accounts of the birth of Jesus. There was a strong effort to show the evolution of Mary and Joseph’s relationship from one of obligation to one of deep mutual caring and respect. I think Hardwicke did a great job making this story more realistic than most. This account is usually so romanticized that we rarely think beyond the basic details of that holy night. I didn’t go to the movie with the same expectations as I did with The Passion, probably because I didn’t expect the same quality from someone who doesn’t completely live and breathe this story in their life.

Richard: Perhaps Hardwicke doesn’t live and breathe this story, but she is a filmmaker charged with creating a compelling and interesting movie, and I think she let her audience down. Her last two films, Thirteen and The Lords of Dogtown, were edgy examinations of teenage life that dealt with young people in crisis. The Nativity Story covers the same ground, but this time her young protagonists, Mary and Joseph, have larger issues than acne or a spotty report card.

Craig: I think we can all agree The Nativity Story won’t go down in history as a cinematic masterpiece with the likes of The Ten Commandments or The Passion. But just the fact this movie got made seems like a minor miracle. Although 77% of Americans identified themselves as Christian in 2001, Jesus-friendly titles aren’t exactly flooding the multiplexes. Are most Christians just not interested in watching movies about their religion or is Hollywood not willing to back up these films? Let’s not forget, that for all of The Passion’s success, Gibson financed the project himself.

Christa: It won’t hit page one of the paper that Hollywood is not exactly pro-Christian. A quick glance at the top all-time movies shows that Star Wars, Shrek, E.T. and Finding Nemo are the home runs in theatres, yet Hollywood keeps showing its love of R-rated releases. Not sure if it’s about artistic dreams, shock value, Oscar envy or all of the above. Lately, the business side is figuring out that family-friendly, and yes, even Christian movies (thanks Mel) can be moneymakers. I think it’s not really about whether Christians are interested in watching family-friendly movies as much as it is about the lack of interest of filmmakers in making them. Mel has helped raise the bar with artistic merit, quality and morality all in one — what a concept! It’s not a guarantee, however, and the Christian audience will still expect high quality for their movie dollar.

Richard: The success of The Passion should have paved the way for a tsunami of Christian themed films at the theatres, because the only thing Hollywood really understands is success. If a documentary about penguins can make a lot of money then why not make a kids’ series about the little furry birds? But I think studio heads realized The Passion’s success was a fluke. It was a great marketing strategy coupled with enough controversy to get people who hadn’t gone to the movies in years interested to see what all the fuss was about. It is hard to capture that kind of lightning in a bottle twice, which is why we haven’t seen a cavalcade of Christian films in mainstream theatres.
In Soviet Russia, Yakov Smirnoff would’ve killed for this publicity
National Post
Friday, November 10, 2006

Quentin Tarantino has said the sign of a good film is that it makes you want to go home, eat some pie and talk about it. With that in mind, our Popcorn Panel features film buffs feuding in this space each week.

– Basem Boshra, associate editor of Weekend Post
– Craig Courtice, a short filmmaker who isn’t very tall
Richard Crouse, host of Rogers Television’s Reel to Real, Canada’s longest-running movie review show, and the author of The 100 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen (ECW Press, 2003). His Web site is

THIS WEEK’S PIE Chiburekki (a deep-fried dough cake from Borat’s homeland)

THIS WEEK’S SUBJECT Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan

BASEM: As a guy who used to download clips of the British version of Da Ali G Show long before it made its way to the colonies, I’d like to think my Borat bona fides are unimpeachable, and I couldn’t have been more excited about his big-screen debut. That anticipation was stoked even further by the rapturous reviews that preceded its release. But while the film made me laugh so hard at times that I hope the theatre staff steam-cleaned my seat after I left, I couldn’t help feeling a bit let down by all the hype (which I allowed myself to be sucked into). Borat: Superfluously Long Title that Stopped Being Funny After I Read It the First Time is, in essence, some good-to-great Borat sketches strung together by a flimsy excuse for a plot. Then it dawned on me: The people penning those glowing notices must not have been all that familiar with Borat’s small-screen oeuvre, the best of which, I’d argue, is stronger than anything in this movie. (If it sounds like I’m down on Borat, I’m not; it’s hilarious, if a tad overlong, even at 84 minutes. It just served as another reminder to keep my expectations measured even in the face of such cheerleading reviews.)

CRAIG: In a nice bit of programming, Showcase had a Da Ali G Show marathon on last weekend, and I caught four or five episodes after watching Borat. Hard to fault Sacha Baron Cohen for going after the big bucks and exposure this film will bring him, but you’re right, Basem, the material fits the TV format better. But I’m more interested in the hype machine that accompanied this baby. Kudos to the producers for a witty PR campaign: having Cohen appear as Borat, inviting George Bush to a screening — this was like old-time hucksterism, and obviously the movie-going public loved it. But I have to admit I’m ashamed (again) of the pack mentality of entertainment journalists. In the Canadian media, just last week, we had stories comparing Borat to Archie Bunker (Maclean’s) and Andy Kaufman (Toronto Star). I’m sure some hack somewhere pulled out the post-9/11 angle. It’s a shame Yakov Smirnoff, Borat’s comedic predecessor (sample joke: “In Soviet Russia, if a male athlete loses, he becomes a female athlete”), didn’t get the same kind of PR in the ’80s. He might have made it beyond guest starring on Night Court.

RICHARD: Hey Craig, you forgot to mention The Wild and Crazy Guys from vintage Saturday Night Live. Their accents and attitudes toward women predated Borat by a few decades. The Borat family tree branches off to include guerilla comics who specialize in accosting unsuspecting civilians — Allen Funt is Borat’s great granddaddy, Tom Green the red-haired stepchild, while the fish-out-of-water routine, the ethnic humour, mockumentary style and total immersion in the character owes thanks to The Beverly Hillbillies, Redd Foxx, Christopher Guest and Andy Kaufman respectively. So the character of Borat isn’t a completely new thing. What is new is the way the film was promoted. Having Borat arrive at a red-carpet event in a rustic wagon pulled by peasant women was a stroke of genius. The stunt at the White House and Borat’s offer to sell his grandchild to Madonna were as gut-busting as anything (except maybe the nude wrestling) in the movie and put to shame more conventional attempts at movie hucksterism. When you have risked the wrath of the White House, having a junket at the Four Seasons seems a little tame. What may have seemed like a series of frat-boy hijinks was actually a carefully orchestrated campaign. In terms of the future of the character the campaign may have worked too well — the popularity of the movie and the public awareness of the character has destroyed any chance that Borat will return in his present form. He’d have to go to Mars and pull pranks on unsuspecting aliens because everyone on Earth knows who he is.

BASEM Another critical reference point I’ve heard thrown around (which makes no sense to me) is Jackass. Granted, there’s one prolonged physical gag in Borat — those who have seen it will know the one I’m referring to — that’s as excruciating to sit through as anything Johnny Knoxville and his depraved cohorts have ever conjured up. But that’s where the similarities end. Cohen’s much-dissected brand of social satire — which he ingeniously wraps inside just enough wacky shtick to keep even the frattiest boys engaged — operates on a level the Jackasses couldn’t begin to fathom. (And I thought Number Two was one of the most cathartic and invigorating movie experiences of the year.) In any case, I think much of the (over?) analysis of Borat will soon be rendered moot. Unless Hollywood backs the Brink’s truck up to Cohen’s door — a definite possibility, given the film’s sensational box office — I can’t imagine he would ever want, or have any reason to, revisit Borat. B:CLOAFMBGNOK is about as far as you can take a character before self-parody sets in, and Cohen seems just too savvy to let that happen (he says hopefully).

CRAIG It’s funny you mention Jackass because in the notes I scratched down after watching Borat I wrote: “Expectations too big for what is basically small-screen experience; at least Jackass has some truly big-screen moments.” Which is to say that most Jackass watchers went in expecting video-shot stunts, but came out surprised, whereas most of the patrons who go to see Borat go without knowing it is a digital experience. Borat may top Jackass at the box office, but it will be in DVD sales that these expectations play themselves out. I would guess that those who watched Jackass in the theatre would be more likely to pay a second time to see it, whereas with Borat once you’ve seen it, you’ve seen it. You have to admit by the end of Borat the gags are as original as a Rick Mercer segment. Except for the nude wrestling, of course.

RICHARD Borat may be a boob-tube experience blown up for the big screen, but at least it’s a good one. Jackass: Number Two has its moments but mostly reeks of Ben-Gay and “Look at me!” desperation. Borat, on the other hand, provokes real laughs and perhaps — gasp! — even some real thought. The Jackass oeuvre only makes us chuckle because it is so stupidly brutal. While brutal can be funny, on the big screen I find the act of watching these movies as punishing as participating in one of Johnny Knoxville’s more sadistic stunts. At just 84 minutes, Borat does what good movies do; it doesn’t overstay its welcome and leaves the audience wanting more. With such a lean running time the jokes don’t have time to get stale and, while some of the gags may be from the Rick Mercer school of comedy, most aren’t. Mr. Mercer might attempt to see how much gas 17 cents will buy, but has he ever offered a dignitary cheese made with milk from his wife’s tit? I don’t think so. As for DVD sales, who knows, but I think the extras and outtakes on the Borat disc will be worth the 20 bucks.

NEXT WEEK’S PIE Dark chocolate macadamia nut wedge

Unpopped kernels: More on Borat flick
National Post

Basem: You know what. I officially think I’m Borat-ed out. (I knew that would happen, but not so soon.) So how about this news that Universal is shelling out US$42.5-million for the distribution rights to Cohen’s next project, a Bruno movie, featuring the third and, to my eyes, least interesting of his Da Ali G Show triumvirate. The one accusation you regularly hear levelled at Borat is that he’s a one-note character — although I prefer to think of sexism, racism and anti-Semitism as three separate notes, thank you very much — but he’s a complex comic creation next to Bruno, who’s an aggressively gay fashion reporter and … er, that’s about it, as far as I can tell. He has his moments, don’t get me wrong, but are there enough of them (say, 80 or so) to string together for a feature film? I hate to doubt Cohen, who’s certainly one of the most nimble comic minds in the business today, but I just don’t think so. Actually, what I’d love to see him do one day is revisit Ali G in a Borat-style mockumentary, if only to wash away the bad taste left by his atrocious Ali G Indahouse film, hands-down the lamest thing SBC’s been affiliated with (give or take a Madonna video.)

Craig: Maybe I’m just farther to the right on the Kinsey scale, but I look forward to a more in-depth, er, exploration of Bruno. There’s certainly enough homoeroticism in Borat, I figure why not just get it all out there. Besides, while every Bruno segment isn’t comedy gold, there is something much darker, and to my mind, more interesting in probing (there I go again) the not-so-hidden homophobia that runs rampant in North America. I’m thinking of the segment in which Bruno goes to a gun show and interviews an aficionado. The redneck-meets-rainbow shtick is just as savvy as Cohen’s other stuff, but it has something more — danger. It’s all fun-and-games when the gun guy goes off about his love of big calibres, but the punch line here is just that — when Bruno tells him he’s from Gay TV, Colt .45 threatens to knock his teeth out if he mentions the word “gay” one more time. My point is, Bruno’s a lot edgier than Borat or Ali G because of the less-accepted subject matter. It wouldn’t be as popular as Borat, but it could be better.

Richard: Edgy, schmedgy. I fear a Bruno movie would be more of the same. He’s funny enough, but I always thought his segments were the weakest on the television show. Having said that I don’t really want more Borat either. I agree with Basem. The more people quote him to me, the more people say “Nice!” in that Kazakhstani lilt the more I realize very soon I’m going to need a rest from it. I look forward to spending some time with Bruno, but not just yet. I need time. I’m not ready for another SBC essay into America’s heart of darkness whether it is from a gay perspective, a British-Jamaican b-boy standpoint or the point of view of SBC in a bear suit. Let’s allow him to take some time off, recharge and come up with a new idea, perhaps one that doesn’t see him doing another mock doc with a different character.

Forget it Jack, it’s Beantown National Post Friday, October 20, 2006

departedThis week’s film: The Departed

– Craig Courtice, a short filmmaker who isn’t very tall.
– Tracey Lazos, former deputy Arts editor at the Post who now works at the Boston Herald.
– Richard Crouse, host of Rogers Television’s Reel to Real, Canada’s longest-running movie review show, and the author of The 100 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen (ECW Press, 2003). His Web site is

This week’s pie Boston cream

This week’s subject The Departed

Craig An open letter to Jack Nicholson: Dear Jack, The Departed was a great film — too bad you missed it. Your performance was so off base I wonder if you even read the script. You took, for example, a wonderfully designed scene in a porno theatre and turned it into an improv blooper from Anger Management. A dildo? Seriously? This isn’t The Witches of Eastwick or Batman, buddy. You’re supposed to become the character, not a caricature. All I could think of after watching this was “Was Brian Cox too busy to play this part?” Because if he had played this Irish crime boss, he would have paid the same attention to craft that Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio did to their roles.
Those two were revelations, as was Mark Wahlberg. Honestly, if Marky Mark is out-acting you, don’t you think it’s time to devote yourself full-time to something you’re actually passionate about — after all, the Lakers should be pretty good this year.

Tracey You’d think that Nicholson, finally getting to work with Scorsese, would have thought to himself, “Now here’s a chance to do something really important.” Instead, he devours a big plateful of ham and lets his hair do all the acting. But I didn’t think his performance was as egregious as you did, Craig — the guy can still command a scene, and you have to admit, he was menacingly hilarious at times and a pretty scary villain. I wouldn’t want to run into him in Southie. The one thing he failed to bring to this movie that the other players contributed in huge dollops of Boston cream was class. Damon as the smooth-talking rat was a standout for me. That guy has cornered the market on duplicitous nasties you still want to take home to meet your mum.
But back to Jack. The Boston media is in a huge tizzy over the fact that Nicholson appears to channel Beantown’s most obsessed-over mobster-cum-fugitive, Whitey Bulger. Methinks they need to get out more.

Richard I’m with you Tracey. Nicholson’s performance is kind of cockamamie, but it shows that the old coot can still blow younger, prettier actors off the screen. His Costello is a modern day King Lear, an autocrat very much aware of his importance in the world and who uses that knowledge as a licence to behave badly. He’s at least partly crazy, but he’s no Boob McNutt. His madness is used like a parlour trick to unbalance those around him. Like Lear, it appears Costello made the decision to go 5150 to preserve command over his own life and the lives of those around him. The dildo and eating-the-fly scenes are ridiculous, but they are ridiculous on a grand scale. They show Costello’s volatility. I thought Nicholson’s blazing eyes captured that unhinged quality really well. There is a reason why some people are legends and in The Departed we are reminded why Nicholson is acting royalty.

Craig There’s no doubt Nicholson could act — in the ’70s. But now he seems content with shtick rather than the nuance he brought to films like Five Easy Pieces and Chinatown. Heck, if you really want to see what Nicholson is capable of you don’t even have to go back that far; The Pledge (2001) represents some of his finest work. There is a reason this guy has won three Oscars.
And speaking of Oscars, will The Departed finally win Scorsese his? As a huge fan, I’m of two minds on this. First, I think he obviously deserves one, and The Departed is good enough that it wouldn’t be a total sympathy trophy. Marty could also get back to making more artistic pictures like Kundun instead of pandering to the Academy with schlock like The Aviator. On the other hand, while the first 30 minutes of The Departed is the best film I saw this year and the last 30 ain’t half bad either, the middle hour-plus drags. I’m not saying it’s as painful as watching DiCaprio spell out “quarantine” in The Aviator, I’m just saying the whole erectile dysfunction theme was a little limp. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

Tracey I’m almost ashamed to admit this, but I’m not a Scorsese connoisseur. I mean really not. A quick check of IMDb revealed that I’ve seen exactly four-and-a-half of his films. (I never made it through Raging Bull, but I think that’s because the sound on my rental was horrible.) Perhaps I’m just a big girlie-girl, but I’ve just never had much interest in Scorsese’s mean streets. And I enjoyed The Aviator a lot. (Told you — big girlie-girl.) So I was a bit hesitant about watching The Departed. But I loved this film. I loved that it was at once charming and shocking. I loved the fact that there was an intricate story but I didn’t need to wheel out the Universal Plot Explainer to figure out what the hell was going on. I love that Scorsese left his New York comfort zone, came to Boston and captured it so well — rats and all. Sure, there were a couple of scenes that bordered on farce, but we’ll just go ahead and blame Nicholson for those. I think Scorsese should win an Oscar for this movie, regardless of whether he deserves one for his body of work. But with Clint Eastwood breathing down his neck again with his latest epic, who knows?

Richard It would be a cruel twist worthy of a Paul Haggis script if Eastwood beat Scorsese again this year. I was weaned on Scorsese — one of my earliest film memories is sneaking into Boxcar Bertha when I was nine — and as much as I admired his last couple of movies, I didn’t love them, and Scorsese is the kind of filmmaker who should inspire fanatical praise. The last two were handsome, big-budget epics but it felt like he was making movies to please Academy voters and not himself. The Departed is a departure from those sleek studio efforts and places the director firmly back where he belongs — on the mean streets surrounded by gangsters, duplicity and violence. He’s comfortable there among the sleazoids and crazies, and it is that comfort level, and not the sympathy vote, that will earn him at least a best director nomination if not a win. The Departed is Scorsese in top form — effortless, (although I’d guess he watched Pulp Fiction a time or two during production) and brutally cool.
© National Post 2006

National Post Diaries December 15 – December 19, 2008


My personal e-mail address begins with “mrchaos” for a reason. As a freelance film critic—root work “free,” I like the freedom of it—I have always tried to avoid structure, particularly in my work life. I generally play by the ATM rule—Always Take the Money!—so unless I have to do something illegal or show myself naked I’ll usually say yes to a gig if there is a pay cheque involved. That often leads to log jammed weeks like the one I have coming up. It’s better to be busy than not (that’s the freelancer’s motto… or at least it should be) but sometimes I sacrifice sleep for work and live to regret it. I’ve just come through a rough weekend of sitting through eight hours of deliberations for a film award on Saturday and then doing a quick in-and-out-in-an-Sunday-afternoon trip to New York to interview the cast of The Wrestler. Today is spent strapped to my computer writing this and trying to think of clever things to say about the movies I have to review this week; reviews that will eventually end up in print on my website, and live on Canada AM and my radio show on CFRB. Tonight I’m hosting a screening of a new movie called Toronto Stories at the Hazelton Hotel screening room. It’s a beautiful space, the kind of elegant mini-theatre I imagine Hugh Hefner has in at the mansion. The only difference, I guess, is that Hefner has Playboy Bunnies draped over his over-stuffed leather seats and we don’t. Tonight two of the film’s directors—there’s four in all—David Weaver and Aaron Woodley will be in attendance to do a Q&A and sip some champagne after the screening. It’ll be a fun night… more on that tomorrow.


I seem to be spending a lot of time in hotels these days. Over the weekend I was at Gladstone in Toronto for a meeting and the W Hotel in NYC to interview freshly minted Golden Globe nominee Mickey Rourke. Since I’ve been back everyone wants to know what he’s like. I only spent a few minutes with the guy, but I my first impression was that he’s unpredictable. Refreshingly so. In the interview he talked about living in a “state of shame”—try getting Brad Pitt to go there… you can’t—and later had me reach down the back of his shirt to check the label. The next night I had dinner at One at the Hazelton Hotel and saw Tom Cruise in the restaurant, Bryan Adams at the bar and heard that Duran Duran was about to check in. Strange days indeed.


There’s nothing but deadlines this week because everyone is trying to cut out early for Christmas. I’ve been screening movies steadily for weeks so I’m caught up with everything I have to see through to New Years. Trouble is, I also have to write about them and shoot advance episodes of my TV show Richard Crouse’s Movie Show. That translates to a lot of keyboard bashing. I make it doubly hard on myself because I have a rule when it comes to reviews; I either write them 24 hours after seeing the film or wait 24 years. One is a gut reaction, the other a considered response with the benefit of hindsight and reflection. In my new book Son of the 100 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen I mostly used the latter approach but these days I’m in the mind numbing position of writing two or three reviews a day. Carpal tunnel here I come!


Thursdays and Fridays are the days I throw off the shackles of my computer and actually reenter society. Spending most of my time in the dark watching movies or at the computer writing reviews doesn’t really do much to hone one’s people skills, so I look forward to Thursday and Fridays when I actually get away from the glow of the computer screen and get to talk to real, live humans. Started the day with a cell phone interview on the Bill Carroll Show on CFRB as I drove to the CTV studios to do a hit on Canada AM discussing the Golden Globe nominations. It’s a fun spot although I’m so gob smacked that James Franco got nominated for Pineapple Express and not Milk I am uncharacteristically speechless by the end of the segment. The rest of the day is spent getting reacquainted with society…


On Friday’s I have to get up at a time I like to call “arse o’clock” to do Canada AM. I’ve been their movie critic for years, but no matter how many times I do the show I feel like barfing every time the alarm goes off at that hour. After dragging a comb across my head and fighting traffic I “entertain the nation” as I like to call it, and head back downtown to shoot an episode of Richard Crouse’s Movie Show for the Independent Film Channel and tape my radio show at CFRB NewsTalk 1010. At night I shoot a review segment for NewsNet and head over to The Royal Theatre to host a screening of Toronto Stories. David Cronenberg and Bruce MacDonald are in the audience. At one point during the Q&A I see Cronenberg cradling his head in his hands. Am I boring David Cronenberg? I hope not… later he says hello and doesn’t seem agitated so I think I’m OK.