Posts Tagged ‘R.J. Cutler’


Richard speaks to “CTV News at 11:30” anchor Andria Case about movies on VOD and in theatres to watch this weekend including the animated stone age family flick “The Croods: A New Age,” the slice-of-David-Bowie’s-life movie “Stardust” on VOD and “Belushi,” the Crave doc about the rise and fall of the beloved “Saturday Night Live” comedian.

Watch the whole thing HERE! (Starts at 19:26)


Richard and CP24 anchor Jamie Gutfreund have a look at the animated comedy “The Croods: A New Age” (theatrical), the David Bowie biopic “Stardust” (In theatres and digital and on-demand platforms), a pair of docs, “Belushi” (Crave) and “Zappa” (Apple TV app and everywhere you rent movies), the new one from Mel Gibson “Fatman” (VOD) and a remake of “Black Beauty” (Disney+).

Watch the whole thing HERE!


Richard and “CP24 Breakfast” host Pooja Handa have a look at some special streaming opportunities and television shows to watch over the weekend including the CBC Gem documentary “Fear of Dancing,” the HBO thriller “The Flight Attendant,” Disney+’s remake of “Black Beauty” and “Belushi,” the in-depth look at the life and times of comedian John Belushi.

Watch the whole thing HERE!


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 the animated comedy “The Croods: A New Age” (theatrical), the David Bowie biopic “Stardust” (In theatres and digital and on-demand platforms), a pair of docs, “Belushi” (Crave) and “Zappa” (Apple TV app and everywhere you rent movies), the new one from Mel Gibson “Fatman” (VOD) and a remake of “Black Beauty” (Disney+).

Listen to the whole thing HERE!

BELUSHI: 4 STARS. “cautionary tale of excess, a tragedy of a talent taken way too soon.”    

John Belushi was only famous for five years before his untimely death at age 33 but in that short time his unique comedic quality left an indelible impression that resonates almost forty years later. A new documentary, now streaming on Crave, looks at his meteoric rise and tragic fall.

Director R.J. Cutler uses the usual devices to tell the story. He mixes and matches archival material, animation, ephemera from Belushi’s life—handwritten letters, home movies etc—and news footage but his ace in the hole, the thing that gives “Belushi” its emotional wallop, are the audio interviews that tell the story.

In 2012 author Tanner Colby released a book called “Belushi: A Biography,” an oral history of the life and times of the “SNL” star. Colby did dozens of interviews with the people who knew Belushi best, Lorne Michaels, Dan Ackroyd, Harold Ramis, and friends and family, including John’s wife Judith. Those interviews form the backbone of the film, bringing with them a conversational, intimate and wistful feel.

The story beats are familiar. An uber talented rebel with a sensitive side finds enormous fame—at one point he had the number one comedy show on TV, movie in theatres and album on the charts—but is undone by personal demons. That’s the story in broad strokes. Filling in the small details is the expertly edited oral history who provide first hand details and impressions on Belushi’s life.

Most devastating of all are the handwritten letters from John to Judith that Cutler brings to life. From the playful tone of the early letters sent while they were courting to the final notes, written in desperation as drugs and depression debilitated the actor, these notes, written in a messy scrawl and often containing funny self-help lists, provide more insight into the Belushi’s mind frame that no talking head interview could ever hope.

“Belushi” has gaps. The warts and all depiction of Belushi’s drug habits is front and center but the misogyny of the early “SNL” days, for instance, is brushed over in a quick passage.

Having said that, the doc packs an emotional punch in its final moments as Belushi’s nearest and dearest express regret for allowing their friend to lapse back into heavy drug use. It is heartbreaking stuff on a personal level for them. For the rest of us, as Belushi fans, the cutting short of his potential feels like a cautionary tale of excess and a tragedy of a talent taken way too soon.


IF I STAY: 3 STARS. “there’s a whole lotta genres bumping heads.”

moretzIn Chloë Grace Moretz ‘s new film “If I Stay,” she plays Mia, a gifted teenage cellist from a family of musicians. When a catastrophic accident throws her into a coma she has an out-of-body experience. The rest of the story is told from the perspective of her memories before the accident and in the present, as she observes, ghostlike, the aftermath of the car crash.

Based on bestselling novel by Gayle Forman “If I Stay” is a romance, a coming-of-age story and a supernatural family drama. That’s a whole lotta genres bumping heads, but director R.J. Cutler does an admirable job at balancing the elements. Using the book as the movie’s backbone, his approach is almost literary, as he treats each component like a chapter in a novel. He turns the pages, introducing each new twist, giving the audience time to adjust. What could have been a muddle is, instead, a living breathing thing, a story unafraid to wear its heart on its sleeve.

Juggling genres aside, the movie has a complicated flashback structure. When it’s not reflecting on the past the tale is told through Mia’s eyes, a young girl halfway between life and turning into a ghost. She must piece together the events of her day and decide whether she wants to go on or slip into a permanent sleep.

At the center of all this is Moretz, an actress who, over the course of a short but eventful career, has made a habit of playing introverted characters with rich lives swirling around them, and here, she delivers what may be her best performance yet. As Mia she is a talented teen just discovering a life beyond the cello that has been her constant companion since she was young. It’s a simple and uncluttered performance with a lot going on behind the eyes.

“If I Stay,” but its nature is melodramatic. It’s a study of life and loss, leaning heavily on the regret of building relationships only to see them disappear in the wink of an eye. Luckily Moretz’s subtle performance prevents the movie from becoming a soap opera of despair.