Richard 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.”
Richard 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.
Fourteen years after the first “Barbershop” movie the recession has caught up to Calvin Palmer, Jr. (Ice Cube). Due to changing times the barbershop he took over from his father has been forced to amalgamate with a beauty salon run by his business partner, Angie (Regina Hall). “This was the original man cave,” complains one regular, “now it’s just a club with no drinks.”
The customers are divided by sex, men on one side, women on the other, but there’s plenty of back-and-forth, especially between flirty beautician Draya (Nicki Minaj) and the very married Rashad (Common).
Outside the atmosphere isn’t as playful. Out of necessity they have a No Guns Allowed sign in the shop. “Can’t even get a haircut without some knucklehead carrying a gun,” says Eddie (Cedric the Entertainer). “Barbershop used to be a place of peace.” Gang violence is at an all time high, putting Calvin’s teenage son Jalen (Michael Rainey Jr.) at risk. With the neighbourhood in tatters and his son in danger Calvin contemplates moving his shop and family out of the only home they’ve ever known, South Side Chicago. “What are we supposed to do,” Calvin asks his wife, “wait here until something happens?” Before taking that dramatic step the staff stages an intervention, calling for a forty-eight hour ceasefire. Setting up the shop as a safe, neutral space for everyone from all over the city to come and hash out their differences and get a free haircut, they hope to “Increase the Peace.”
“Barbershop: The Next Cut” breathes the same air as “Chi-Raq,” Spike Lee’s recent satirical look at gang violence in Chicago. Director Malcolm D. Lee does away with the stylish flourishes that made his cousin Spike’s movie so memorable, but doesn’t skimp on the social commentary. Wedged between sometimes sharp, sometimes silly one-liners are keenly observed remarks on everything from racism and street violence to monogamy and the importance of community building. The presentations are different—call this “Chi-Raq Lite” if you like—but the pleas for peace are the same.
Working from a thoughtful although occasionally unsubtle script, the large ensemble cast has the chance to provide laughs and heart. Cedric, former Conan O’Brien writer Deon Cole and JB Smooth are in charge of the chuckles, while Cube and Common’s family storylines provide the sentiment. Other standouts include rappers-turned-actors Minaj and Eve.
The humour in “Barbershop: The Next Cut” is the spoonful of sugar that helps the medicine go down. What could have been a heavy-handed treatise on urban violence is instead an enjoyable romp that shines a light on a very important topic.
“The Other Woman,” a new madcap comedy from “The Notebook” director Nick Cassavetes, features a character who tries to push infidelity to Tiger Woodsian heights. There have been philanderers on film before, but rarely has one cinematic cheater spread himself so thin, carrying on simultaneously with Leslie Mann, Cameron Diaz and Sports Illustrated cover girl Kate Upton.
That man, Mark King (Game of Thrones’s Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), is cheating on his wife (Mann) with multiple mistresses, including Carly and Amber (Diaz and Upton).
“We got played by the same guy,” says Carly. “I call it a tie.”
The three women form an unlikely bond—“We are the weirdest friends ever,” says Carly—drowning their sorrows in a sea of tequila shots before hatching a plan to humiliate and financially ruin the three timer. “The three of us can be just as shady as he can.”
With “The Notebook” Cassavetes made one of the most romantic movies of recent years. With “The Other Woman” the pendulum has swung in the opposite direction. This is an anti-romance flick about sex, lies and adultery but it is ripe with laughs and some fun performances.
Mann goes all in as a Lucille Ball-on-the-verge-of-a-nervous-breakdown type, Diaz has great comic timing and even the voluptuous Kate “She’s a clichéd version of every wife’s nightmare” Upton, who will never be confused with Meryl Streep, is charming and funny. Singer Nicki Minaj, who darts in and out of the film in an extended cameo, manages to get a couple of zingers in there as well.
Coster-Waldau doesn’t fare as well. He’s fine as the oily Casanova but is more “Game of Thrones” (he’s Jaime Lannister on the HBO show) when it comes to playing comedy. In other words he’s better at sword swinging than slapstick.
The film is slightly mean spirited and not terribly subtle in its examination of the dynamics between men and women, or in its soundtrack. The “Mission Impossible” theme blares over a scene where Diaz and Mann spy on Coster-Waldau, and you can bet your bottom dollar “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” will play at some point.
It may not be refined but it does get the girl power stuff right, and that’s more the point of the film. This isn’t a movie about the men, they are flesh props, simply the McGuffins that forward the plot. This is a movie about female bonding rather than female blaming and on that level it scores. The comedy material is often elevated and enhanced by the performer’s skill, but the film has its (broken) heart in the right place.
“The Other Woman” is a chick flick that isn’t “Bridemaids” funny, but you will laugh out loud quite a few times.
Music video maker Julien Christian Lutz is better known as Director X.
“I got Julien from my mom and dad,” he writes on his website. X, he says, came from the streets.
One writer, however, suggests that the unusual name could stand for “Director X-tremely Good At Directing.”
The in-demand Canadian-born helmer has worked with everyone from Jay-Z and Nicki Minaj to Rihanna and Drake. The key to his success, he says, is leading “an artist’s life. You have to be as open as you can be to everything.
“You need to keep yourself inspired so you have to do whatever it is going to take to jog your creative brain, whether that be going to an art gallery or whatever.”
His strong visual sense — he uses graphics and letterboxing in tricky and interesting ways — is his trademark, but X says his most influential video came about “from a bad edit the client didn’t like. So I had to go in there and come up with something new.”
To keep the people paying the bills happy he devised a picture-in-picture look for the Fabolous featuring Nate Dogg video Can’t Deny It.
“It was really kind of cool and got taken on by hip hop in general,” he says. “It shook up the norm of what was happening in the genre. It became its own thing. After that, everyone did it. That was a really good moment where the ripples were felt from a piece of my work. I loved it. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. People inside the game know where it comes from, so any time someone copies you, it flows back to you.”
Today, whether it is a music video or a commercial shoot—he’s shot ads for Nintendo, Guinness and Burger King among many others — he’s learned to listen to the customer.
“Some people have the idea that the client is always wrong, and if they weren’t here everything would be better, but I have come to find that the client has an instinct.”
But he didn’t always feel that way.
“You know everything when you’re in your 20s, so you’re passionate about how much you know and passionate about how wrong they are. It’s definitely something that has to be learned. It would have been interesting if someone had come to me and explained that ahead of time, but I had to learn it like I had to learn it.”
The busy filmmaker has gleaned many lessons along the way, but his life and work boil down to one simple statement: “I’m here to make art and express it.”
On Tuesday, Director X will deliver the keynote speech at the Emerge Conference 2014, an initiative of the University of Guelph-Humber to encourage young professionals to embrace new technologies and networks.
X says he hopes to “give some of the knowledge I’ve gained over the years, in front of the camera, behind the camera and how that filters into life itself.” Other speakers include news anchor Christine Bentley, co-founder of BizMedia Dan Demsky, and Eric Alper, director of media relations and label acquisitions at eOne Music Canada.