Richard sits in on the CTV NewsChannel with host Marcia MacMillan to have a look at the new movies coming to VOD, streaming services and theatres including “The Nest,” Jude Law’s story of avarice and privilege, the mind-bending Janelle Monáe drama “Antebellum,” Susan Sarandon’s end of life story “Blackbird” and the documentary “The Way I See It.”
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 twisty-turny Janelle Monáe drama “Antebellum,” “The Nest,” Jude Law’s story of greed, the documentary “The Way I See It” and Susan Sarandon’s end of life story “Blackbird.”
“Blackbird,” the new Susan Sarandon end-of-life drama now on VOD, is a remake of the 2014 Danish film “Silent Heart.” Equal parts heartbreaking and humorous, it’s a movie whose humanity is first and foremost.
Sarandon is Lily, a vey sick woman whose body has betrayed her. Her long battle with ALS has taken the use of one of her arms and she struggles to maintain her dignity in the face of ever declining health. A self-diagnosed A-type personality, Lily has made the decision to end her life on her own terms. With her husband Paul (Sam Neill) she has arranged one last weekend with the family, a celebration of life complete with holiday traditions.
In attendance are daughters Jennifer (Kate Winslet) and Anna (Mia Wasikowska), their significant others, husband Michael (Rainn Wilson) and girlfriend Chris (Bex Taylor-Klaus), grandson Jonathan (Anson Boon) and Lily’s lifelong friend Liz (Lindsay Duncan).
Lily has found a sense of comfort in her decision, but as the fateful time nears, unresolved issues arise as the children reveal they may not be accepting of her choice.
“Blackbird” is an end-of-life drama, bold in its presentation of delicate matters, that never dips into soap-opera sentimentality. With sensitivity and unexpected humor director Roger Michell transcends the disease-of-the-week genre, staging intricate scenes that allow for drama and discourse.
A Christmas dinner scene, for example, begins as a lighthearted gathering. It’s funny, warm, even romantic but deepens into something else as Lily gifts some of her prized possessions to family members. “I haven’t taken this bracelet off in 22 years,” she says, passing it along to her daughter. “I’ve never taken this wedding ring off.” It could have dipped into melodrama but Sarandon, in a tremendous performance, never allows the scene to become maudlin. It’s incredibly sad and for the members of her family, and for the viewer, it’s the moment when Lily’s decision to say goodbye becomes heartbreakingly real.
All the action in “Blackbird” happens inside Lily and Paul’s beautiful home, a powerful architectural presence that almost becomes a character on its own. On the downside the limited setting gives the movie a stagey feeling, as though we’re watching an elaborate play instead of a movie.
The lack of backgrounds, however, helps focus on the issue at hand. “Blackbird” doesn’t debate the ethics of assisted suicide or wallow in any sort of moral quandary. Instead, it celebrates life in all its multi-faceted and messy glory as the characters approach Lily’s end of life in their own, unique ways.
In its examination of the end-of-life “Blackbird” packs an emotional punch, illuminating not only Lily’s end but the entirety of a precious life well lived.
Richard hosted the TIFF press conference for the Susan Sarandon drama “Blackbird.” The story of a dying mother assembles her family to spend a final weekend together before she ends her life was directed by Roger Michell and co-stars Sam Neill, Rainn Wilson and was produced by Sherryl Clark.
“It’s an individual choice and it should be legal and controlled, and there are very, very strict perimeters around… talking to doctors,” Sarandon said at the press conference. “It’s not just ending your life but being able to end your life with dignity and without pain, and I think anybody that has had a family member that has really suffered is very, very much interested and pro having that choice.”
From left to right: Producer Sherryl Clark, Rainn Wilson, Susan Sarandon, Sam Neill and director Roger Michell.
A weekly feature from from ctvnews.ca! The Crouse Review is a quick, hot take on the weekend’s biggest movies! This week Richard looks at jason and the Giant Shark a.k.a. “The Meg,” the new Spike Lee joint ”BlacKkKlansman” and the doggie doo of “Dog Days.”
Richard joins CP24 anchor Nick Dixon to have a look at the weekend’s new movies including ”BlacKkKlansman,” the latest film from Spike Lee, the giant shark flick “The Meg” and the doggie stylings of “Dog Days.”
“The Meg” stars Jason Statham. There’s a giant shark. Its tagline is “Pleased to eat you.” There is no need for a review. You know exactly what you’re getting into here but, because I am paid by the word, here we go.
Based on the book Meg: A Novel of Deep Terror by Steve Alten, “the Meg” sees action-man Statham play Jonas Taylor, a rescue diver who must face his fears to save the crew of a marooned deep-sea submersible from a fate worse than sharknado. Think Quint from “Jaws” without the expressive range. Years before Taylor narrowly escaped being eaten by a 70-foot shark, the Carcharodon megalodon—“Meg” for short—a 100,000 pound, prehistoric great white thought to have been extinct for about 2 million years. Now it appears the giant beast is back and hungry for the crew trapped inside the submersible. Hired by Chinese oceanographer (Winston Chao) Taylor must not only save the stranded sailors but also make sure the Meg doesn’t eat the world… or something. “Man versus Maggie isn’t a fight,” he grunts, “it’s a slaughter.
“The Meg” tries to take all of the thrills of Shark Week and compress them into two hours. It almost gets there but not quite. There are some silly thrills but humungous squids, scientific mumbo jumbo and b-movie dialogue that would make Roger Corman blush buffer the excitements.
“The Meg” is ridiculous. Start to finish. It’s a giant shark story that plays like a watery “Valley of Gwangi.” The key to its ridiculous effervescence is twofold. First, the aforementioned giant shark. Second, Jason Statham, the po-faced hero who, deep down, knows this is silly but is too stoic to admit it to himself or to us. Some people are method actors, relying on past experiences to create their performances. Statham simply glowers. He’s an actor whose dead-eyed stares make up 95% of his method. Running, punching and blowing up sharks comprise the other 5%. Range? He don’t need no stinking range, he just needs to save the world or at least whatever is in peril. A reassuring presence, he’s exactly the same in every movie regardless of the plot. No surprises, just extreme machismo with a side order of sentimentality. Here it works. He’s like a silent movie star, easy to read and fun to watch and without him “The Meg” wouldn’t be nearly as much fun.
“The Meg” has a few scenes that’ll make you chew your popcorn a bit faster and doesn’t skimp on the silly. In fact, there probably won’t be a more hare-brained underwater adventure this year until “Aquaman.”