Richard and CTV NewsChannel anchor Andrea Bain talk about the latest movies coming to VOD and streaming services, including the Dakota Johnson-Tracee Ellis Ross musical drama “The High Note,” the Midnight Madness ready “Dreamland,” the rom com riff of “All About Who You Know” and the implausible twists and turns of “Inheritance.”
Richard sits in on the CFRA Ottawa morning show with host Bill Carroll to talk the new movies coming to VOD and streaming services including the Dakota Johnson-Tracee Ellis Ross musical drama “The High Note,” the Midnight Madness ready “Dreamland,” the rom com riff of “All About Who You Know” and the implausible twists and turns of “Inheritance.”
“The High Note,” coming out this week digitally via video on demand, mixes ambition, romance and music in a movie that tries to hit a high C but actually works better when it plays the minor chords.
Set against a backdrop of the Los Angeles music industry, the new film from Nisha Ganatra, now on VOD, sees Dakota Johnson play Maggie, a music obsessed wannabe producer, currently working as a personal assistant to superstar singer Grace Davis (Tracee Ellis Ross). Between running errands and running Grace’s life, Maggie finds time to oversee production on a live album of her boss singing the old hits and discover a new talent, singer-songwriter David Cliff (Kelvin Harrison Jr.). Passing herself off as an experienced producer with loads of industry hook-ups, she inspires him to write great new songs that could launch him into the big leagues. When a plan to position David as the opening act for Grace’s upcoming tour backfires, it threatens to torpedo all of Maggie’s hopes and dreams.
Following up on Ganatra’s last film “Late Night,” which starred Emma Thompson a late-night talk show host whose career is revamped by the influence of a younger, ambitious woman (Mindy Kaling), comes a story that sounds like an echo of the first. There’s more flash here and fewer laughs, but the essential story of a showbiz icon given a new lease on popularity by a newcomer with fresh ideas has a sense of déjà vu to it.
Originally scheduled for a big screen release “The High Note” moved to a digital release in the wake of the pandemic, which may have been a good thing. Its movie-of-the-week plotting and familiar premise feels suited, in a good way, to the smaller screen.
It’s a story about ambition, empowerment and music geekery given charm by Johnson and Ross. Johnson brings her trademarked steely-yet-vulnerable charm to the role of Maggie, while Ross—the daughter of iconic superstar Diana Ross—is a diva with flamboyant clothes and a temperament to match.
Despite the charismatic performers, both characters feel like caricatures. Maggie is a “High Fidelity” reject, a music junkie who speaks as though she’s reciting the liner notes of her favorite album. Ross does some powerful singing but plays Grace in broad diva-esque notes.
“The High Note” is a pleasant enough diversion as a story of empowerment but doesn’t have enough range to make it memorable.
Richard sits in on the CTV NewsChannel with news anchor Beverly Thomson have a look at the weekend’s big releases including “Men in Black: International,” “Late Night” and the documentaries “There Are No Fakes” and “Watergate.”
A weekly feature from ctvnews.ca! The Crouse Review is a quick, hot take on the weekend’s biggest and most interesting movies! This week Richard looks at “Men in Black: International,” “Late Night” and the documentary “There Are No Fakes” with CFRA Morning Rush host Bill Carroll.
Richard has a look at the new movies coming to theatres, including “Men in Black: International” with Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson stepping in for Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, “Late Night,” starring Mindy J+Kaling and Emma Thompson and the documentaries “Watergate” and “There Are No Fakes” with CFRA Morning Rush host Bill Carroll.
Anyone who has read Bill Carter’s behind-the-scenes-tell-all “The War for Late Night: When Leno Went Early and Television Went Crazy” already knows that the happy, smiling faces you see on your television after midnight aren’t always happy or smiling. That premise is the starting point for “Late Night,” a new comedy written by and starring Mindy Kaling.
Emma Thompson is Katherine Newbury, star of the long-running “Tonight with Katherine Newbury,” a once powerful nighttime chat show. Now the cracks are showing. Ratings are falling off, her all male writing staff are out of touch and worse, the show feels old fashioned compared to the competition. While the Jimmy’s—Kimmel and Fallon—are doing stunts Newbury features Doris Kearns Goodwin, author of “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln” and signs off with the decidedly unhip, “That’s our show everyone. I hope I earned the privilege of your time.”
Facing cancellation—” The show is a relevant,” says network head honcho Caroline Morton (Amy Ryan). “The ratings reflect that.”—Newbury is pressured into hiring Molly Patel (Kaling), a TV newbie whose only job experience comes from working in Quality Control at a chemical plant. She soon discovers the dangerous chemicals she worked with at the plant have nothing on her new toxic work situation. “You’re hired. If it doesn’t work out, which it probably won’t, you’ll be gone.” The other writers consider her unqualified, a “diversity hire,” and don’t even give her a chair in the writer’s room.
Still, Molly, who honed her comedy chops telling jokes on the loudspeaker at her former job, perseveres. Sitting on an overturned trash can (still no chair) she eagerly suggests ways to make the show better, to make her comedy idol more appealing to a younger audience. “I will not be marginalized by the white fist of oppression that prevails around here,” she says.
Her “never give up” mantra doesn’t play well with the boys’ club, particularly head monologue writer Tom (Reid Scott), but, after a rocky start—”Don’t take this the wrong way,” Newbury says to Molly, “but your earnestness can be very hard to be around.”—the new writer’s spirit gradually wins over the host. “I need you, Molly, to help me change this show.”
Molly may help “shake some dust off the [fictional] show” but “Late Night” doesn’t exactly do a deep clean on its genre. The movie is basically a romcom about platonic female relationships. The plotline may be predictable, never zigging or zagging too far off the straight line starting with Molly’s outsider status and ending with the warm embrace of those who once shunned her, but sharp writing and engaging performances from Kaling, Thompson and John Lithgow as Newbury’s ailing husband, keep it on track.
It is a showcase for Thompson’s ability to elevate any movie she appears in—she puts a nice spin on Newbury’s “The Devil Wears Prada” persona—and for Kaling’s sensibility both as a writer and performer. Together they guarantee “Late Night” is more than a “Working Girl” update.
Richard sits in on the CJAD Montreal morning show with guest host Ken Connors to talk the new movies coming to theatres including “Men in Black: International” with Chris Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson stepping in for Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones and “Late Night,” starring Mindy J+Kaling and Emma Thompson.