Richard speaks to “CTV News at Six” anchor Andria Case about the best movies and television to watch this weekend. This week we have a look at director Edgar Wright’s time-trippy “Last Night in Soho,” the based-on-true-fact drama “Snakehead” and “The French Dispatch,” the latest from Wes Anderson.
Richard joins Jay Michaels and guest host Tamara Cherry of the NewsTalk 1010 afternoon show The Rush for Booze and Reviews! Today we talk about Halloween icon Vincent Price’s favourite cocktails, the eerie “Last Night in Soho” and Wes Anderson’s latest, “The French Dispatch.”
Richard joins CP24 to have a look at new movies coming to VOD, streaming services and theatres including director Edgar Wright’s time-trippy “Last Night in Soho,” the based-on-true-fact drama “Snakehead,” “The French Dispatch,” the latest from Wes Anderson and the Netflix heist flick “Army of Thieves.”
Richard and CTV NewsChannel morning show host Jennifer Burke chat up the weekend’s big releases including Edgar Wright’s eerie tribute to the swingin’ sixties in “Last Night in Soho,” the true life drama “Snakehead” and Wes Anderson’s latest, “The French Dispatch.”
Richard sits in on the CFRA Ottawa morning show with host Bill Carroll to talk the new movies coming to theatres, VOD and streaming services including Edgar Wright’s time-trippy “Last Night in Soho,” the based-on-true-fact drama “Snakehead,” “The French Dispatch,” the latest from Wes Anderson and the Netflix heist flick “Army of Thieves.”
Richard joins NewsTalk 1010 host Jim Richards on the coast-to-coast-to-coast late night “Showgram” to play the game “Did Richard Crouse like these movies?” This week we talk about the Edgar Wright Halloween special “Last Night in Soho,” the true life drama “Snakehead” and “The French Dispatch,” the latest from Wes Anderson.
“Last Night in Soho,” the new film from director Edgar Wright, now playing in theatres, is a love letter to London’s Swingin’ Sixties by way of Italian Giallo. Surreal and vibrant, it is uneven and more than a little bit silly, but enjoyable for those with a taste for both Petula Clarke and murder.
When we first meet Cornish teenager Eloise (Thomasin McKenzie) she’s dressed head-to-toe in a throwback newspaper print dress of her own design, dancing to Peter and Gordon’s 1964 hit, “A World Without Love.” Several dramatic dance moves later, she makes her way down to her grandmother’s (Rita Tushingham) main floor and a letter announcing she’s been accepted to fashion school in London.
“London is not what you think it is,” granny warns. “It can be a lot.”
Eloise doesn’t heed the warning. She is obsessed with London, specifically the magical period when Julie Christie wore Mary Quant and Carnaby Street was the fashion capital of the world. “If I could live anywhere, I’d live in Soho in the sixties,” Eloise gushes. “It must have felt like the center of the universe.”
Unfortunately, London, as exciting as it is, doesn’t greet Eloise with open arms. At school her mean girl roommate makes life miserable to the point where Ellie moves out, renting a rundown bedsit in Soho from eccentric landlady Ms. Collins (Diana Rigg).
Falling asleep on her first night in the new digs, she is transported back to the glamorous world of the 1960s. “Thunderball” is at the movies, Cilla Black sings at Soho’s Cafe De Paris and the streets of are alive with people like Sandie (Anya Taylor-Joy), a wannabe singer with a great wardrobe and aspirations to stardom. Over time Eloise finds herself drawn into Sandie’s world, the world she had long dreamed about, but are these visions dreams, nightmares or dangerous manifestations of the ghosts that haunt every corner of old London town?
“Last Night in Soho” begins with verve, painting a picture of a time and place that is irresistible. A mosaic of music, fashion and evocative set decoration, the first hour brings inventive world building and stunning imagery. Wright pulls out all the stops, making visual connections between his film and the movies of the era he’s portraying and even including sixties British icons Rigg, Tushingham and Stamp in the cast.
A dance sequence that swaps out Eloise for Sandie at every twirl is exuberant, breathtaking in its choreography and an early indication that the two characters will be intertwined for the remainder of the story.
The first half is glorious fun but takes a very dark turn.
As Eloise becomes immersed in Sandie’s life, she peers beneath Soho’s dazzling veneer to see the dark underbelly of London’s nightlife. Wright changes tone, introducing horror and psychological elements. The two halves fit together like puzzle pieces, dovetailing into one another naturally despite the shift in ambience.
“Last Night in Soho” could use more character development in its lead characters, but the chemistry between McKenzie and Taylor-Joy as two sides of the same coin, is electric. Wright uses those characters to explore the misogyny that colors Sandie’s life, wringing horror out of the treatment she receives at the hands of her manager/pimp Jack (Matt Smith). The scares, which out me in the mind of Hammer Horror and “Repulsion,” are eye catching and effective, leading up to a surprising finale.
“Last Night in Soho” is more than the sum of its influences. They abound, but filtered through Wright’s sensibility become an enjoyable ride through a part of town and time that no longer exists.
Reminders of real life were all around us at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. From the digital screenings we watched at home to half empty, socially distanced screenings at venues like The Princess of Wales Theatre. But when my mind wanders back to September 2021, I won’t be thinking of having to show my proof of vaccination or the social distancing in theatres.
What will linger?
The images of Anya Taylor-Joy in “Last Night in Soho,” crooning an a cappella version of the Swingin’ Sixties anthem “Downtown,” and “Dune’s” Stellan Skarsgård doing his best impression of Marlon Brando in “Apocalypse Now,” come to mind immediately.
Those moments and others like them are the reason the movies exist. They transcend the vagaries of real life, transporting us away from a place where masks, vaccine passports are the reality.
And boy, did we need that this year.
Here a look back at some of the moments that made memories at this year’s TIFF:
“Night Raiders,” a drama from Cree-Métis filmmaker Danis Goulet, draws on the historical horrors of the Sixties Scoop and Residential Schools to create an unforgettable, dystopian scenario set in the new future. It effectively paints a somber portrait of totalitarian future, packed with foreboding and danger. The story is fictional but resonates with echoes of the ugly truths of colonization and forced assimilation. Goulet allows the viewer to make the comparisons between the real-life atrocities and the fictional elements of the story. There are no pages of exposition, just evocative images. Show me don’t tell me. The basis in truth of the underlying themes brings the story a weight often missing in the dystopian genre.
I asked Danis Goulet about having many of her characters in Night Raiders speak Cree: “It is everything to me,” she said. “My dad is a Cree language speaker. He grew up speaking Cree. He learned to speak English in school. His parents were Cree speakers. And coming down to my generation, I’m no longer a Cree speaker and there are entire universes, philosophies and poetry and beauty contained in the language. When we think of where our heritage lies, maybe some people think of museums. For me I think it is in the language. I think that richness doesn’t just offer Indigenous people something. I think if others looked closer at what the language tells us about the history of this land, they would be incredibly amazed. My dad has looked at references in the language that talk about the movement of the glaciers, so, foe me to have the Cree language on screen is everything. I’m in my own process. I go to Cree language camp to try and learn back the language and the language gives back in a way that is so healing and incredible. It is one of the greatest gifts in my life. So, the opportunity to put my dad’s first language on the screen, and the language of the Northern Communities where I come from, and my language that I lost, is the best. It’s incredible.”
From Twitter: @RichardCrouse Was just sent this: “Wanted to check and see if you’d be able to either send proof of vaccine OR a negative covid test prior to your interviews with the talent.” I sent my proof in, but added, “Will the talent be providing me with proof of vaccination?” #TIFF21 #fairquestion 4:48 PM · Sep 9, 2021· 8 Retweets 3 Quote Tweets 206 Likes
There is no mention of COVID-19 in the Jake Gyllenhaal thriller “The Guilty.” But make no mistake, this is a pandemic movie, A remake of 2018 Danish film “Den skyldige,” it is essentially a one hander, shot on a just a handful of set with strict safety protocols in place. Gyllenhaal, as 911 operator Joe Baylor, may be socially distanced from his castmates, but his performance is anything but distant. Played out in real time, “The Guilty” builds tension as Baylor races against a ticking clock to bring the situation to a safe resolution for Emily. Director Antoine Fuqua amps up the sense of urgency, keeping his camera focused on Gyllenhaal’s feverish performance. The close-ups create a sense of claustrophobia, visually telegraphing Baylor’s feeling of helplessness and his crumbling mental state.
The sound of an audience laughing, applauding, crying, or whatever. Just being an audience. The big venues were socially distanced, and often looked empty to the eye, but when the lights went down and folks reacted to the opening speeches or the films, it didn’t matter. Roy Thomson Hall, with its 2600-person capacity, may have only had 1000 or so people in the seats, but for ninety minutes or two hours they formed a community, kindred souls brought together after a long break, and it was uplifting to hear their reactions.
“Flee” is a rarity, an animated documentary. A mix of personal and modern world history, it is a heartfelt look at the true, hidden story of the harrowing life journey of a gay refugee from Afghanistan. Except for a few minutes here and there of archival news footage, “Flee” uses animation to tell the story but this ain’t the “Looney Tunes.” Rasmussen used the animation to protect Amin’s identity, but like other serious-minded animated films like “Persepolis” and “Waltz with Bashir,” the impressionistic presentation enhances the telling of the tale. The styles of Rasmussen’s animation change to reflect and effectively bring the various stages of Amin’s journey to vivid life. It is suspenseful, heartbreaking and often poetic.
I asked “The Survivor” star Vicky Krieps about working opposite Ben Foster: “The first day I came [on set] I was very intimidated,” she said. “I wouldn’t say scared, but it felt like a wall to me. It began like this. There was no small talk. There was no, ‘How are you?’ He was already in character and it was very clear. I thought, ‘OK, I have to play his wife.’ And then, something really interesting happened. I like having a challenge and this felt like a challenge. So, I needed to find a way [to relate to him] because I knew I was going to be his wife. How do I do that? Imagine it as a wall, but then in the wall there are eyes. I used those eyes and I felt like I could open a window, and inside of those eyes was a horizon where I could go. I liked to say to Ben, ‘And then we would dance.’ Sometimes I wrote to him and said, ‘It was nice dancing today.’”
“Last Night in Soho,” from director Edgar Wright, is a love letter to London’s Swingin’ Sixties by way of Italian Giallo. Surreal and vibrant, and more than a little bit silly, its enjoyable for those with a taste for both Petula Clarke and murder. It begins with verve, painting a picture of a time and place that is irresistible. A mosaic of music, fashion and evocative set decoration, the first hour brings inventive world building and stunning imagery. Wright pulls out all the stops, making visual connections between his film and the movies of the era he’s portraying and even including sixties British icons Rigg, Tushingham and Stamp in the cast.
I asked “Dune” star Rebecca Ferguson why she said reading Frank Herbert’s novel was like doing a crossword puzzle: “Sometimes I wonder what comes out of my mouth,” she said. “My mother and many of my friends sit and do crosswords, but I have never been in that world. There is a way of thinking around it. It’s logical, mathematical. You need to be able to see rhythms. Whatever it is. Reading “Dune” was quite dense and I think for people who are immersed into the world of science fiction, they understand worlds and Catharism and this planet and that planet. It is just another picture, which, not to stupefy myself, I am intelligent enough to understand it, but there is a rhythm. I think it is me highlighting the fact that people who live and breathe science fiction, they get it at another level.”
“Dune,” the latest cinematic take on the Frank Herbert 1965 classic, now playing in theatres, is part one of the planned two-part series. “Dune” is big and beautiful, with plentiful action and a really charismatic performance from Jason Momoa as swordmaster Duncan Idaho. It is unquestionably well made, with thought provoking themes of exploitation of Indigenous peoples, environmentalism and colonialism.
CHIPs: It’s a remake, a comedy and an action film and yet it doesn’t quite measure up to any of those descriptors. It’s a remake in the sense that writer-director-star Dax Shepard has lifted the title, character names and general situation from the classic TV show but they are simply pegs to hang his crude jokes on.
The Circle: While it is a pleasure to see Bill Paxton in his last big screen performance, “The Circle” often feels like an Exposition-A-Thon, a message in search of a story.
The Fate of the Furious: Preposterous is not a word most filmmakers would like to have applied to their work but in the case of the “Fast and Furious” franchise I think it is what they are going for. Somewhere along the way the down-‘n’-dirty car chase flicks veered from sublimely silly to simply silly. “The Fate of the Furious” is fast, furious but it’s not much fun. It’s an unholy mash-up of James Bond and the Marvel Universe, a movie bogged down by outrageous stunts and too many characters. Someone really should tell Vin Diesel and Company that more is not always more.
Fifty Shades Darker: Depending on your point of view “Fifty Shades of Grey” either made you want to gag or want to wear a gag. It’s a softcore look at hardcore BDSM (bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism) that spanked the competition on its opening weekend in 2015. Question is, will audiences still care about Grey’s proclivities and Ana’s misgivings or is it time to use our collective safeword? “Fifty Shades Darker” is a cold shower of a movie. “It’s all wrong,” Ana says at one point. “All of this is wrong.” Truer words have never been spoken.
The Mountain Between Us: Mountain survival movies usually end up with someone eating someone else to stay alive. “The Mountain Between Us” features the usual mountain survival tropes—there’s a plane crash, a showdown with a cougar and broken bones—but luckily for fans of stars Idris Elba and Kate Winslet cannibalism is not on the menu. Days pass and then weeks pass and soon they begin their trek to safety. “Where are we going?” she asks. “We’re alive,” he says. “That’s where were going.” There will be no spoilers here but I will say the crash and story of survival changes them in ways that couldn’t imagine… but ways the audience will see coming 100 miles away. It’s all a bit silly—three weeks in and unwashed they still are a fetching couple—but at least there’s no cannibalism and no, they don’t eat the dog.
The Mummy: As a horror film it’s a meh action film. As an action film it’s little more than a formulaic excuse to trot out some brand names in the kind of film Hollywood mistakenly thinks is a crowd pleaser.
The Shack: Bad things in life may be God’s will but I lay the blame for this bad movie directly on the shoulders of director Stuart Hazeldine who infuses this story with all the depth and insight of a “Davey and Goliath” cartoon.
The Snowman: We’ve seen this Nordic Noir before and better. Mix a curious lack of Oslo accents—the real mystery here is why these Norwegians speak as though they just graduated RADA—Val Kilmer in a Razzie worthy performance and you’re left with a movie that left me as cold as the snowman‘s grin.
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets: Movies like the high gloss crime thriller “La Femme Nikita,” the assassin mentor flick “Léon: The Professional” and outré sci fi opera “The Fifth Element” have come to define director Luc Besson’s outrageous style. Kinetic blasts of energy, his films are turbo charged fantasies that make eyeballs dance even if they don’t always engage the brain. His latest, “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets,” not only has one of the longest titles of the year but is also one of the most over-the-top, retina-frying movies of the year. Your eyes will beg for mercy.
Wonder Wheel: At the beginning of the film Mickey (Justin Timberlake) warns us that what we are about to see will be filtered through his playwright’s point of view. Keeping that promise, writer, director Woody Allen uses every amount of artifice at his disposal—including cinematographer Vittorio Storaro’s admittedly sumptuous photography—to create a film that is not only unreal but also unpleasant. “Oh God,” Ginny (Kate Winslet) cries out at one point. “Spare me the bad drama.” Amen to that.
Song to Song: I think it’s time Terrence Malick and I called it quits. I used to look forward to his infrequent visits. Sure, sometimes he was a little obtuse and over stayed his welcome, but more often than not he was alluringly enigmatic. Then he started coming around more often and, well, maybe the old saying about familiarity breeding contempt is true. In “Song to Song” there’s a quick shot of a tattoo that sums up my feelings toward my relationship with Malick. Written in flowery script, the words “Empty Promises” fill the screen, reminding us of the promise of the director’s early work and amplifying the disappointment we feel today. This is the straw that broke the camel’s back, the Terrence Malick movie that put me off Terrence Malick movies. I’ll be nice though and say, it’s not him, it’s me.
EXTRA! EXTRRA! MOST COUNFOUNDING
mother!: Your interest in seeing “mother!,” the psychological thriller from “Black Swan” director Darren Aronofsky, may be judged on your keenness to watch American sweetheart Jenifer Lawrence flush a beating heart down a toilet. Aronofsky’s story of uninvited guests disrupting the serene lives of a poet and his wife refuses to cater to audience expectations. “mother!” is an uncomfortable watch, an off-kilter experience that revels in its own madness. As the weight of the weirdness and religious symbolism begins to feel crushing, you may wonder what the hell is going on. Are these people guilty of being the worst houseguests ever or is there something bigger, something biblical going on?
Aronofsky is generous with the biblical allusions—the house is a paradise, the stranger’s sons are clearly echoes of Cain and Abel, and there is a long sequence that can only be described as the Home-style Revelation—and builds toward a crescendo of wild action that has to be seen to be believed, but his characters are ciphers. Charismatic and appealing to a member, they feel like puppets in the director’s apocalyptic roadshow rather than characters we care about. Visually and thematically he doesn’t push button so much as he pokes the audience daring them to take the trip with him, it’s just too bad we didn’t have better company for the journey.
“mother!” is a deliberately opaque movie. Like looking into a self-reflective mirror you will take away whatever you put into it. The only thing sure about it is that it is most confounding studio movie of the year.