Posts Tagged ‘romance’


Screen Shot 2015-04-10 at 2.20.43 PMRichard’s CP24 reviews for “The Longest Ride,” “Danny Collins,” “The Clouds of Sils Maria” and “Cut Bank.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!


Screen Shot 2015-04-10 at 10.16.36 AMRichard’s “Canada AM” reviews for “The Longest Ride,” “Danny Collins,” “The Clouds of Sils Maria” and “Cut Bank.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!

METRO CANADA: Nicholas Sparks, cashing in on our lust for love

Screen Shot 2015-04-09 at 12.13.16 PMBy Richard Crouse – Metro In Focus

Novelist Nicholas Sparks is the current king of romance writers. His flowery prose even gives Harlequin a run for their money in the three-hanky tearjerker department. Who else could write a line like, “Love is like the wind, you can’t see it but you can feel it,” with a straight face?

He is to romance writing what Buckley’s cough syrup is to a tickly throat. They both get the job done, but leave a sickly sweet aftertaste.

His best-known novel adaptation is The Notebook, a cross-generational love story that spent over a year as a New York Times hardcover top seller. Inspired by the story of his wife’s grandparent’s sixty-year marriage, the novel became a 2004 movie starring Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams. The tale of love and Alzheimer’s is emotionally manipulative—writer Gary Panton called this passionate weepie “mushier than a mushed-up bowl of mushy peas that’s just been mushed in an industrial-strength mushifier”—but opening weekend it surfed a wave of tears to the box office top five.

Sparks, a former pharmaceutical salesman writes tales of love and loss, of mighty obstacles overcome and lip-locks galore, which he defines as “dramatic epic love stories” along the lines of “Eric Segal’s Love Story or The Bridges of Madison County… But you can even go all the way back. You had Hemingway write A Farewell to Arms, the movies of the forties—Casablanca, From Here to Eternity—Shakespeare, and that’s the genre I work in.”

He caught some flack for comparing himself to Shakespeare—one writer said, “If Sparks is like Shakespeare, then a housepainter is like Picasso.”—but the fact remains that his unconventional love stories, his parcels of passion, have made his name synonymous with the romance genre.

This weekend prepare for another flurry of Sparkisms—tearstained romantic letters, lines like, “Love requires sacrifice but it’s worth it,” and passionate make-out sessions—as The Longest Ride hits the big screen.

This time around “Two stories separated by time, connected by fate,” get Sparksified as the lives of a young couple, played by Scott “Clint’s son” Eastwood and Britt Robertson and older love birds Alan Alda and Oona Chaplin, interlace. “I wish I could tell you it’s all happily ever after,” says Alda’s character, “not everybody gets that.”

Expect unexpected poignancy.

Critics haven’t always warmed to Sparks’s stories on film—Safe Haven with Julianne Hough as “a young woman’s struggle to love again” has a paltry 12% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes while The Best of Me starring Michelle Monaghan and James Marsden as high school sweethearts reunited after two decades sits at a miserable 8% rating—but audiences can’t seem to get enough of his weepy tales of unrequited love, lost love, mature love and love in a time of trouble. Ten of his books have already been adapted for the movies, with one more, The Choice, scheduled for 2016.

His style of romance has caught on, but don’t call him a romance writer. “I write dramatic fiction. If you go into a further subgenre, it would be a love story, but it has its roots in the Greek tragedies. This genre evolved through Shakespeare. He did Romeo and Juliet. Hemingway did A Farewell to Arms. I do this currently today.”

THE LONGEST RIDE: 2 STARS. “mess with the bull and you will get the horn.”

Screen Shot 2015-04-09 at 12.11.58 PMThe flowery prose of Nicholas Sparks has singlehandedly kept Kleenex in business since “The Notebook” made the former pharmaceutical salesman the King of the Weepie. The latest big-screen Sparksisms—tearstained romantic letters, lines like, “Love requires sacrifice… always,” and passionate make-out sessions—come in the form of “The Longest Ride,” an intergenerational romance starring Clint-spawn Scott Eastwood, Britt Robertson, Oona Chaplin and Alan Alda.

This time around Sparks tells of “Two stories separated by time, connected by fate.”

The first couple is twenty-something sorority sister Sophia Danko (Robertson) an art major—“I love art,” she gushes, “I love everything about it.”—lured to the rodeo by her housemate with the promise of “the hottest guys you’ve ever seen.” There she lays eyes on a cowboy named Luke (Eastwood)—aren’t all cowboys named Luke?—a bull rider trying to make a comeback after almost being killed the last time he competed. They lock eyes and you know it won’t be long before they’re line dancing off to happily-ever-after land. “Before I met you the closest I got to cattle was steak,” she coos.

Fate brings them in contact with ninety-year-old widower Ira Levinson (Alda). Driving home from a date the newly besotted couple spots a nasty car crash on a remote road. They rescue Ira, but the accident has left him near death. The only thing that keeps him going is the urging of his late wife Ruth (Chaplin).

That’s right, dead Ruth gets Sparksified, brought back to life as an ephemeral spirit through the reading of old letters (and sepia toned flashbacks) that recount their life and the ups and downs of marriage.

Brought together by circumstance, the couple’s lives mix and match, as the stories—one existing in memory, the other at the rodeo—converge and they learn about sacrifice, bull ridin’ and the power of love to overcome the challenges life throws in the way of romance.

“The Longest Ride” made me cry, but not in the way Nicholas Sparks intended.

The movie takes place in a world where ranch hands and Warhols co-exist and couples are expected to walk off into the sunset hand in hand. In other words it’s Über Harlequin; an alternate universe romance where two tangentially related stories can be fused together by tears and warm group hugs.

There are parallels between the tales—both men are North Carolina “country bumpkins” who fall for women from out of state, both couples take pictures in photo booths, both have “I don’t know how to make this work” moments and Sophia is about to go to New York to intern at a gallery while Ira left town to go to war—but mostly the stories are tied together by an abundance of Sparksian clichés. There’s the “elevated kiss”—most famously used in “The Notebook” when Ryan Gosling hoisted Rachel McAdams over his head and locked lips—which is overused here as are the obligatory “lake scene,” longing glances and reliance on epistolary to tell the story.

Ira’s letters to Ruth make up the backbone of the romance, but they don’t exactly make sense. To push the story forward they are written in a weird stilted way—“I took over my dad’s booming business while you taught at school”—that appears to be telling Ruth a story she was already familiar with, you know, having lived it and all. It’s a strange way to provide exposition and makes the movie narration heavy.

Stranger still are some of director George Tillman Jr.’s choices. The cross cutting between love making and a bull riding lesson may be the least subtle thing ever and couldn’t feel any less romantic. Add to that one of the worst war scenes in recent memory, close-ups of rage-a-holic bulls and you walk away not feeling filled with romance, but as though you have messed with the bull and gotten the horn.