I join NewsTalk 1010 host Jim Richards on the coast-to-coast-to-coast late night “NewsTalk Tonight” to play the game “Did Richard Crouse Like This?” This week we talk about the light-hearted Jane Fonda sports comedy “80 for Brady,” the new M. Night Shyamalan nail-biter “Knock at the Cabin” and the Anna Kendrick drama “Alice, Darling.”
I sit in on the CFRA Ottawa morning show with host Bill Carroll to talk the new movies coming to theatres including the light-hearted Jane Fonda sports comedy “80 for Brady,” the new M. Night Shyamalan nail-biter “Knock at the Cabin” and the Anna Kendrick drama “Alice, Darling.”
Watch as I review three movies in less time than it takes to change a lightbulb! Have a look as I race against the clock to tell you about the light-hearted Jane Fonda sports comedy “80 for Brady,” the new M. Night Shyamalan nail-biter “Knock at the Cabin” and the Anna Kendrick drama “Alice, Darling.”
I joined CP24 to have a look at new movies coming to VOD, streaming services and theatres. Today we talk about the light-hearted Jane Fonda sports comedy “80 for Brady,” the new M. Night Shyamalan nail-biter “Knock at the Cabin” and the Anna Kendrick drama “Alice, Darling.”
“Knock at the Cabin,” the new wannabe nail-biter from director M. Night Shyamalan now playing in theatres, forces its characters into a decision that makes the famous Sophie’s choice seem easy by comparison. A combo of the cabin-in-the-woods genre and a home invasion movie, it demands to know, “Would you sacrifice a loved one to save humanity?”
Based on Paul G. Tremblay’s 2018 award-winning novel “The Cabin at the End of the World,” the set-up is simple. A young family, Eric (Jonathan Groff), Andrew (Ben Aldridge) and their seven-year-old daughter Wen (Kristen Cui), are on get-a-way in a cabin in the middle of nowhere.
It’s idyllic, relaxing, a much-needed break from the pressures of the outside world until one afternoon as Wen is collecting bugs and is approached by a burly man named Leonard (Dave Bautista).
“Why are you here?” she asks.
“I suppose I’m here to make friends with you,” says Leonard, “and your dads too. But my heart is broken because of what I have to do today.”
Freaked out, Wen runs back to the cabin to tell her dads about the strange man she just met. A second later there is a loud knock at the door.
On the other side of the door are heavily armed invaders, the makeshift Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Leonard, hot-headed Redmond (Rupert Grint), a nurse named Sabrina (Nikki Amuka-Bird) and the nurturing Adriane (Abby Quinn).
Leonard explains they are not there to hurt them, “but you have to stay in the cabin with us.”
The quartet say they are tasked with “the most important job in the history of the world,” as they present the family with a decision that will change the future, for them and the rest of humanity.
“Families throughout history have been chosen to make this decision,” says Leonard. “Your family must willingly choose one of the three of you (to die) to prevent the apocalypse.”
As the clock moves closer to permanent midnight, Eric, the logical lawyer and Andrew, his spiritually minded husband, must decide whether this is a game of murder, manipulation or divine prophesy.
“Knock at the Cabin” drills down on some very hot button topics. The option of making a great personal sacrifice for the greater good thematically echoes the issues of societal responsibility that arose during COVID lockdowns, and vaccine and mask mandates. Shyamalan plays up the story’s rationality vs. uncertainty angle, which is perhaps the defining theme of the COVID conspiracy era, and yet the movie has none of the richness these themes would suggest.
It’s an intriguing premise, but the tension slacks as repetition sets in. I don’t want to give anything away, but Shyamalan establishes a series of events that repeats, sapping the suspense with each cycle.
The talky script hammers home the belief system that brought Leonard and his disciples to the cabin to the point of exhaustion. There are so many avenues for this material to explore, and yet Shyamalan sticks to the narrow lane established in the first ten or fifteen minutes. He plays up the obvious aspects of the story (NO SPOILERS HERE) while working his way toward the play-it-safe ending.
“Knock at the Cabin” mostly wastes an interesting cast and good performances on an underwhelming, hollow story that doesn’t dive deep enough into the collective sense of unease that fuels Leonard and Company’s apocalyptic visions and zealotry. Its single note story without the emotional basis to become a symphony.
Hilly Kristal became known as the Grand Curator of Punk. As the owner of CBGB, the American birthplace of punk rock, he auditioned hundreds of bands and gave groups like The Ramones, Blondie and The Talking Heads their first big breaks. When he liked a band he’d say his now legendary catchphrase, “There’s something there…”
After watching “CBGB,” the Alan Rickman movie based on his life and club, I was reminded of Gertrude Stein’s famous catchphrase, “There is no there there.”
When we first met Hilly (Rickman) he’s a divorced father with two failed clubs to his credit. When he stumbles across a dive bar on New York City’s Bowery he sees an opportunity. Taking over the lease, he befriends the neighborhood’s junkies, bikers and musicians, even if his original idea of presenting country, blue grass and blues (hence the acronym CBGB) gets passed over in favor of underground music by bands like Television and The Ramones.
The club is a hit, but Kristal is a terrible businessman who never pays his rent or liquor distributors. That job falls to his daughter Lisa (“Twilight’s” Ashley Greene) who pays the bills as an endless parade of musicians with names like Iggy Pop (Taylor Hawkins), Joey Ramone (Joel David Moore), Cheetah Chrome (Rupert Grint) and Debbie Harry (Malin Akerman) create a new youth movement on the club’s rickety stage.
Punk rock was a glorious racket, a stripped-down music designed put a bullet in the head of the Flower Power generation. Loud, fast and snotty, the music was ripe with energy and rebellion.
In other words it was everything that “CBGB” is not.
Director Randall Miller gets period details mostly right—the film’s set features artifacts from the punk rock shrine, including the bar, the pay phone, the poster filled walls and the infamously funky toilets—but entirely misses the spirit of the times and the music.
A movie about punk rock should crackle with energy. Despite a rockin’ soundtrack, “CBGB” feels inert. The story focuses on Kristal but Rickman barely registers. The actor reduces the flamboyant character to a morose monotone; a man at the center of a hurricane but who doesn’t feel the breeze.
The impersonations of the musicians are mostly quite good. The surprising stand-out is Rupert Grint as Dead Boys bassist Cheetah Chrome. It’s as un-Harry Potter a performance as you could imagine and he enthusiastically embraces Daniel Radcliffe’s post-Potter habit of showing his bum as often as possible.
Others acquit themselves in suitable snotty fashion, but the recreations mostly made me wish “CBGB” was a documentary and not a feature film. It has interesting tidbits about the time. For instance when Hilly first meets the Ramones he asks if they have any original songs. They say they only have five tunes, four of which have “I Don’t Wanna” in the title while the fifth is called “I Wanna Sniff Some Glue.” It’s a funny story, whether true or not, it hints at the kind of details that may have fleshed out a film that spends far too much time focused on the club and not on the music.
Not that there is a shortage of music, but it feels more “Rock of Ages” than “Raw Power.”
“CBGB” takes an exciting story of an important time and shaves all the rough edges away, leaving behind smoothed over vision of a rough-and-ready time.
Someone once said, “The trick is growing up without growing old,” and as we reach the end of the Harry Potter film cycle that saying rings true. The series has matured but not over stayed its welcome. “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2,” the eighth, and final film in the franchise is a fitting end for the Boy Wizard and friends. It’s a mature movie that puts a period on the story without being maudlin or overly sentimental.
This is the one muggles far and wide have been waiting for, the final face-off between lightening-bolt-scarred Harry Potter and his nemesis Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes). Elder Wand in hand the merciless leader of the Death Eaters attacks the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, bringing about a fiery showdown between Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint) and the dark forces who put both the Wizarding and Muggle worlds at risk.
As close to a all out action movie as there is in the Potter series Deathly Hallows puts the pedal to the metal early on, effectively using 3D in the action sequences (although not as well in the talky exposition scenes). Harry’s Horcrux hunt (say that fast three times!) takes up much of the movie leading up to some major revelations, an existential train station scene and a heartwarming conclusion, but along the way along the way it’s an exciting ride.
It’s worth it to see beloved thespian Maggie Smith engage in a fireball duel, hear Alan Rickman deliver the best evil vocal tics since Boris Karloff and watch Fiennes wave his wand with wondrous aplomb but despite the bombast this isn’t your average summer blockbuster. There are quiet moments, and the death scene of major character is played out off screen. Of course, it is made all the more horrifying because of what we don’t see, but the typical summer movie doesn’t want you to use your imagination.
Potter does. I’ve been critical in the past because I found the movies to be a bit too inside. If you haven’t read the books and aren’t familiar with the Potterverse—it’s grown to big to be called Potterworld—then you’d be lost. All the talk of Horcruxes and Death Eaters can boggle the muggle mind, but in the new film the Potter-parlance doesn’t get in the way. This time out the Sword of Gryffindor and the like are McGuffins, things that propel the story but in the end aren’t as important as the underlying themes of friendship and good versus evil.
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2” may be the most metaphysical summer blockbuster ever. It deals with large questions of life and death, examines what goes on in the souls of men (and evil lords) all wrapped up in the comforting Potterverse. It has been a long strange journey with its own set of rules, internal logic and kooky creatures but the Potter cinema saga ends with dignity and without cutting corners.
Probably the most satisfying film, not just in the Potter series, but of the summer so far.
The opening line of “Harry Potter 7.5,” the second to last in the series, is “These are dark times we are living in.” Intoned with great gravitas by the Minister of Magic (Bill Nighy) it foreshadows the tone of the movie which includes a people eating snake, Ron going all “Death Wish” on some bad guys and the slithery presence of the one whose name we dare not speak.
This time out Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint), the ginger haired point of the Potter trident, continue their battle with Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) and his evil band of minions, snatchers and Death Eaters. They must locate and destroy the Horcruxes which contains a fragment of a wizard’s soul, battle the fascistic Ministry of Magic and confirm the existence of the three most powerful artifacts of the wizarding world: the Deathly Hallows.
Like all the Potter movies, this one will appeal to the fans of the books but likely leave anyone who hasn’t read the books as unsatisfied as a Dementor in a soul to suck. If you haven’t been keeping up with the exploits of the boy wizard do yourself a favour and google “Horcrux” and “mudblood” before laying down your twelve bucks. Otherwise get ready for a head scratching experience. The movies are good linear adaptations of JK Rowling’s books, and are filled with moments that will resonate with Potter fans but they do not cater to non-Potterheads.
Like the other movies this one is a big handsome beast, almost 2 ½ hours long, with high production value—it echoes everything from Charles Dickens to Triumph of the Will to the Wizard of Oz—and good performances from every English actor currently employed by British Actors’ Equity. But as nice as the movies look—this one has a spectacular animated sequence telling the story of the Deathly Hallows—and as well intentioned as they are, they are a closed club, really for fans only. That’s OK, because there are millions of fans out there, but they leave me a little cold.
I get the appeal of the films. They’re a clever mix of the worldly—friendship, intrigue, good vs. evil—and the otherworldly—everything else—with some action and amiable characters thrown in, but for me the Potter magic wore off some time ago.