Posts Tagged ‘Penelope Cruz’


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.


Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 3.08.39 PMRichard and CP24 anchor host Nneka Elliot have a look at he weekend’s big releases, the psychological thrills of “10 Cloverfield Lane,” the grown-up children’s tale “The Little Prince” and the elephant-ejaculating glory of “The Brothers Grimsby.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!


Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 10.11.38 AMRichard and “Canada AM” host Marci Ien have a look at he weekend’s big releases, the psychological thrills of “10 Cloverfield Lane,” the grown-up children’s tale “The Little Prince,” Ethan Hawke in the Chet Baker biopic “Born to be Blue” and the toilet-clogging glory of “The Brothers Grimsby.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!

THE BROTHERS GRIMSBY: 2 STARS. “outrageous lowest common denominator stuff.”

Screen Shot 2016-03-10 at 10.10.50 PMThe idea behind “The Brothers Grimsby” was to make an outrageous comedy with all the earmarks of an all-out action flick. “The Transporter” helmer Louis Leterrier knows his way around a car chase and can blow things up real good, but can Sacha Baron Cohen provide the laughs to go along with the action?

The “Borat” star plays Grimsby native “Nobby” Butcher, a lager-loving football hooligan from northern England, with a Liam Gallagher hairdo and eleven kids. He hasn’t seen his baby brother Sebastian (Mark Strong) in twenty-eight years and has no idea his long-lost sib is now a high-powered MI6 agent. When they do reunite Nobby inadvertently puts in motion a series of events—including almost killing a World Health Organization ambassador for peace in the Middle East—that see the estranged brothers team up to do battle with a deadly assassin, travel the world and hide inside an elephant (you read that right, that is NOT a typo) in an effort to save the world.

“Yesterday I was down at the pub having a regular day with my mates,” says Nobby. “Today I’m with my brother, running, swimming, jumping and doing all sorts of cardio.”

If “Borat” and “Bruno” made you laugh like a hyena on a nitrous oxide binge you’ll know what to expect from “The Brothers Grimsby.” The new film doesn’t have the same cutting edge innovation as Baron Cohen’s best-known work, but it still has plenty of edge. It’s the kind of movie that uses a blocked toilet as a plot point and finds delight in HIV jokes, registered sex offender gags and too many bodily fluid quips to count. It should be a bonanza for those who enjoy their humour on the gastrointestinal side.

Nobby is Baron Cohen’s least developed character yet, a comedy concoction who feels like he might not be that out of place in a particularly raunchy “Carry On” movie. He uses Nob’s idiot temperament to make some social comments—“I understand why you like guns so much,” Nobby says after shooting a gun for the first time. “They completely detaches you from the guilt of your actions.”—but the character has none of the danger and few of the interesting quirks that came along with his mockumentary creations.

Mark Strong waffles between his action man pose and wild slapstick and pulls off both but I’m afraid the image of him covered in elephant ejaculate will stay with me the next time I see him trying to play it straight in a dramatic role.

The guys are given plenty of screen time and some fun stuff to do, which cannot be said for the women in the cast. As Nobby’s wife the usually hilarious Rebel Wilson is wasted, reduced to a fat joke and Penélope Cruz’s character makes her recent turn in “Zolander 2” look like Lady Macbeth.

Like all the best spy movies “The Brothers Grimsby” has international locations like South Africa, Chile, Jakarta and some good action scenes, but like all Baron Cohen’s films it is outrageous lowest common denominator stuff. It may make you laugh, but those laughs come along with a certain amount of shame at finding some of this stuff amusing. At least at a scant eighty-five minutes it doesn’t overstay its welcome.


Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 3.34.36 PMRichard and CP24 anchor Nneka Elliott have a look at the weekend’s big releases, “Deadpool” with Ryan Reynolds as The Merc with the Mouth, “Zoolander 2,” Ben Stiller’s fifteen years in the making sequel to his 2001 comedy cult hit and “How to Be Single,” Dakota Johnson’s sex and the city.

Watch the whole thing HERE!