Richard sits in on the CTV NewsChannel with news anchor Marcia MacMillan have a look at the weekend’s big releases including “The Secret Life of Pets 2,” “X-Men: Dark Phoenix,” the indie drama “Mouthpiece” and the rockumentary “Echo in the Canyon.”
A weekly feature from ctvnews.ca! The Crouse Review is a quick, hot take on the weekend’s biggest movies! This week Richard looks at “The Secret Life of Pets 2,” “X-Men: Dark Phoenix” and the indie drama “Mouthpiece.”
A meta study of grief and self-expression, “Mouthpiece” takes a novel approach to one woman, played by two actresses, Amy Nostbakken and Norah Sadava, and her reaction to the death of her mother Elaine (Maev Beaty). “Grief can manifest itself in unexpected ways,” says a mortician, a line that is as good a tag line as any for this engaging film.
Adapted from Nostbakken and Sadava’s play of the same name, the film essays the 48-hour period in which Cassandra takes care of the business of death, choosing flowers, picking out her mother’s dress for burial and informing friends and family while dealing with the sting of loss. Despite her family’s objections she wants to do the eulogy but struggles to come to grips with her mother’s legacy. Was she a “rock star; a woman who didn’t need a man to get through life” or “a doormat who laid out for people to walk all over?” Did Elaine sacrifice a promising career as a writer in favour of her family, the patriarchy or did she just give up?
Cassandra’s journey includes musical numbers, flashbacks, dark comedy and despite the experimental framing device—two people simultaneously playing one character—a very grounded feeling of connectedness between the Casandri. Nostbakken and Sadava do not play twins, imaginary friends or flip sides of the same coin; they are Casandra’s internal and external psychological conflicts made physical. It creates a tension that constantly questions the complexities of the situations and the attendant emotions.
Director Patricia Rozema opens up the play, allowing the characters to roam the streets of Toronto and perform production numbers without losing the intimate power of the story. Interesting visual style from cinematographer Catherine Lutes cleverly emphasizes the connected quality of the characters.
“Mouthpiece” is unconventional but does something important. From the a cappella score by the two leads to the sparkling dialogue, it gives voice to its female creators, presenting the story from a contemporary point of view while ignoring stereotypes. It’s a personal film that embraces all aspects of its humanity, from vulnerability and strength and everything in between.
After twelves years of regular “Canada AM” movie reviews, Richard and host Beverly Thomson get together one last time to talk about the weekend’s four big releases, “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows,” “Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping,” “Me Before You,” and “Into the Forest.”
Richard andCP24 anchor Nneka Elliot talk about the weekend’s four big releases, “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows,” “Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping,” “Me Before You,” and “Into the Forest.”
“We hadn’t met before at all,” says Ellen Page of her Into the Forest director Patricia Rozema, “and you would think we would have.”
A big screen treatment of one of Robert Munsch’s children’s books brought them together.
“I was in L.A. and checked in to go back to Toronto,” says Rozema.
“Someone said, ‘Are you available to meet with Ellen Page about Paper Bag Princess?’ because we were both circling around it. I said OK and unchecked in and we met and sat in a café.”
“We just really connected,” says Page. “It was so immediate. Then I sent her (Jean Hegland’s novel) Into the Forest.”
The Paper Bag Princess is still on the back burner, but the director says once she got to know Page she wanted to work with her as an actor and producer on Into the Forest because, “I felt she had integrity.”
“After you have done a few (movies) you start thinking, I only want to work with people I want to have dinner with. Seriously. I really look much more closely at who I am working with now.”
There are no hoards of marauding zombies or planet eating black holes, massive solar eruptions or robots involved in their new end-of-the-world drama.
Instead it’s an anti-Michael Bay apocalypse film; a dystopian story focusing attention on the aftermath of disaster and the ties that bind one family together.
“It seemed to have so many things,” says Rozema on why she was drawn to the project.
“It had urgency. It had poetry. It had political import. It seemed to be intimate. It seemed to be really emotional. It seemed like it would be a visual feast and have action and suspense. I thought, ‘What doesn’t this have?’ And it was doable for not that much money because it was basically two girls in the forest.”
The “two girls in the forest” are Page and Evan Rachel Wood. They play sisters living with their widower father deep in the Pacific Northwest forest. It’s an isolated, quiet life, made quieter when a massive blackout knocks out their power. As the days turn into weeks it becomes clear the power may never come back. The closest grocery store has run out of food and the hand-cranked radio suggests terrorism is responsible for the outage.
Violence is in the air, and when tragedy strikes the sisters are forced to become self-sufficient while living off-the-grid.
“I have always loved post apocalyptic stories, films and survivalist stuff,” says Page, “and this really encompassed a lot of stuff I was thinking about at the time in terms of my relationship to the environment and society. What does that mean? What does our future look like?
“To be able to tell that story through the relationship (of the sisters), who are so powerful and so resilient, attracted me.”
Rozema, who also wrote the film’s screenplay, says the approach to the dystopian story isn’t the only unique thing about the movie. She points out that two female leads in a film is “a rare event.”
“It’s ridiculous how rare that is,” she says. “I said that to a friend of mine who is so progressive. He said, ‘Aren’t there many?’ What planet are you on? I said, ‘Name one.’ He said, Thelma and Louise. I said, ‘Name another one.’ That was it.”
There are no hoards of marauding zombies or planet eating black holes, massive solar eruptions or robots involved in Patricia Rozema’s new end-of-the-world drama “Into the Forest.” Instead it’s a dystopian story that focuses attention on the aftermath, and the ties that bind one family together. It’s riveting stuff, survival boiled down to its essence, without the bells and whistles that tend to clutter CGI driven “apocalypse wow” movies.
Adapted from the novel by Jean Hegland this is the story of widower Robert (Callum Keith Rennie) and his daughters Nell (Ellen Page) and Eva (Evan Rachel Wood) are a family who live deep in the Pacific Northwest forest. Miles away from their nearest neighbours, Nell studies for school while Eva rehearses for a dance competition. It’s an isolated, quiet life, made quieter when a massive blackout knocks out their power. As the days turn into weeks it becomes clear the power may never come back. The closest grocery store has run out of food and the hand-cranked radio is suggesting terrorism was responsible for the outage. Violence is in the air, and when tragedy strikes the sisters are forced to become self-sufficient while living off-the-grid.
There’s no big bang in “Into the Forest.” It’s a slow burn that builds in intensity as we get to know the characters. As Nell, Page is studious, responsible and headstrong, while Wood’s Eva is tough, a fighter with a lyrical side. Both are resilient in the face of hardship, but more importantly their sibling dynamic is, well, dynamic. This isn’t a disaster film; it’s a parable about survival in the face of disaster. It’s a study of human nature, willpower and the unbreakable bond that exists between sisters.
The film also contains a subtle but undeniable eco-message. Set against the lush backdrop of British Columbian woodland, “Into the Forest” makes a strong case for the kind of resourcefulness and skill set that seems lost in the age of Apple.
“Into the Forest” is the anti-Michael Bay apocalypse film. It’s a human story, and what it lacks in bombast it makes up for in emotional pyrotechnics.
Richard hosted an intimate Q&A with “Into the Forest” star and producer Ellen Page and director Patricia Rozema at the Varsity Theatre in Toronto. Here’s some info from IMDB: In the not too distant future, two young women who live in a remote ancient forest discover the world around them is on the brink of an apocalypse. Informed only by rumor, they fight intruders, disease, loneliness & starvation.
Richard will host a Q&A with “Into the Forest” stars Ellen Page and director Patricia Rozema at the Varsity Theatre on Tuesday May 31, 2016 at 7 pm. Later in the week keep your eye on “Canada AM” to see Richard’s sit down interview with Page and co-star Evan Rachel Wood!