Posts Tagged ‘Rupert Grint’

RICHARD’S “CANADA AM” REVIEWS FOR JAN. 3, 2014 W/ JEFF HUTCHESON.

Screen Shot 2014-01-03 at 9.42.44 AMMovie critic Richard Crouse reveals his reviews for “Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones,” “CBGB” on DVD, and “Don Jon” on DVD.

Watch the whole thing HERE!

CBGB on DVDB: 2 STARS. “feels more ‘Rock of Ages’ than ‘Raw Power.'”

maxresdefaultHilly 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.

HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 2: 4 ½ STARS

harry_potter_7_part_2-wideSomeone 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.

HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART ONE: 2 STARS

imagesThe 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.

HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF BLOOD PRINCE: FOR HARRY’S FANS: 4 ½ STARS FOR EVERYONE ELSE: 3 STARS

Harry-Potter-and-the-Half-Blood-PrinceFull disclosure: I am not a Potter Head.

While everyone else on the planet was busy getting sucked into Potter’s world of wizardry I missed the boat. I read the first book and have seen all the movies but never really understood what all the fuss was about. The books are phenomenally popular—they’ve made J. K. Rowling the first billionaire author—and the movies have made a fortune—they are among the highest grossing film series of all time—but it wasn’t until the release of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, the sixth entry in the series, that I began to understand the allure.

I don’t usually review the audience I see a film with, or even how they react to the film—the only criteria I use is how I feel about the movie’s quality—but in this case I have to remark on the connection Harry’s fans have with these characters. I saw the movie in a screening room with about twelve other people. Directly in front of me were three twenty-something women who cooed during the romantic scenes, gasped during the adventure sequences and laughed when the silly stuff happened. Normally their amount of distracting interaction with the movie would have ticked me off, but in this case it actually enhanced my appreciation of the film. People have tried to explain the appeal of Potter to me but it wasn’t until I became aware of this trio that I finally began to understand what a deep connection people have to these characters.

Filmmakers often try to make audiences care about the characters in their films, but Rowling, the actors and the franchise’s succession of directors have actually made it happen. Having spent hundreds of hours reading the books, seeing the characters grow up, fall in-and-out of love and inch closer to ending Lord Voldemort’s reign of terror, readers and viewers feel real empathy for Harry, Ron and Hermione.

That’s all well and good, but is The Half Blood Prince a good movie?

Yes, mostly. This is a pacer installment, a place holder which sets up the next chapters and like the others it has high production values, imaginative special effects that will make your eyeballs dance; a talented cast all of whom prance about on beautifully designed sets in spectacular costumes but, “Merlin’s beard!”, as with every film since the first one (the only book I have read) I was occasionally left in the dark as to some of the story’s finer points.

Harry Potterland is a singular place with its own particular customs, history and culture and for those familiar with its trappings the movies are magical things that bring that world to life. For the rest of us all this talk of potions, half blood princes and horcruxes might be a bit head scratching, unless of course, you’re sitting just behind the trio that made the screening of The Half Blood Prince so enjoyable for me.

Official plot summary from Warner Bros.:

“Emboldened by the return of Lord Voldemort, the Death Eaters are wreaking havoc in both the Muggle and wizarding worlds and Hogwarts is no longer the safe haven it once was. Harry suspects that new dangers may lie within the castle, but Dumbledore is more intent upon preparing him for the final battle that he knows is fast approaching. He needs Harry to help him uncover a vital key to unlocking Voldemort’s defenses critical information known only to Hogwarts’ former Potions Professor, Horace Slughorn. With that in mind, Dumbledore manipulates his old colleague into returning to his previous post with promises of more money, a bigger office and the chance to teach the famous Harry Potter.

“Meanwhile, the students are under attack from a very different adversary as teenage hormones rage across the ramparts. Harry’s long friendship with Ginny Weasley is growing into something deeper, but standing in the way is Ginny’s boyfriend, Dean Thomas, not to mention her big brother Ron. But Ron’s got romantic entanglements of his own to worry about, with Lavender Brown lavishing her affections on him, leaving Hermione simmering with jealousy yet determined not to show her feelings. And then a box of love potion-laced chocolates ends up in the wrong hands and changes everything. As romance blossoms, one student remains aloof with far more important matters on his mind. He is determined to make his mark, albeit a dark one. Love is in the air, but tragedy lies ahead and Hogwarts may never be the same again.”

HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX: 3 STARS

harry_potter_and_the_order_of_the_phoenix-normalI have to start by saying I’m not a Harry Potter fan—I’ve only read one of the books, I’ve seen the movies, but have always been left cold by the boy wizard with the scar on his forehead. As a result I wouldn’t know an Obliviator from a Hippogriff, but that doesn’t stop me from objectively looking at the movies.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is a handsome film, with high production values and imaginative special effects that will make your eyeballs dance. The large cast includes fine actors like Alan Rickman, Emma Thompson (don’t blink or you’ll miss her), Gary Oldman, Ralph Fiennes and the majestic Michael Gambon all of whom prance about on beautifully designed sets in spectacular costumes.

It’s all top notch, the trouble is, I don’t really care.

I have found that throughout the franchise that the films have become more and more inside. As the plots thicken and the page count of the books rises to the 700 and 800 range the various filmmakers at the helm of the movies have struggled to present the material in a way that will keep Potterheads happy. How to get the essence of the books on screen, while still maintaining some kind of cinematic storytelling has always been a problem for the Potter directors, particularly as the books get denser and darker. Alfonso Cuarón pulled it off in the third installment, The Prisoner of Azkaban, but others haven’t always won the battle of presenting Potter lore in a way that would make sense to an outsider.

There’s a lot of info that goes into the stories, unusual people, places and names and of course Harry Potter fans love all that detail because they understand the references and feel a real connection with the characters. I would suggest though, that the new film probably won’t have much appeal for anyone who hasn’t read the books or made a study of the story.

Director David Yates seems to assume that the audience will know what’s going on, and makes no attempt to get the non-Potterheads caught up with the lingo or situation. In that way the movies have simply become big budget companion pieces to the books, designed to sell more wizard hats and magic wands.

Now before you try and cast an Antonin Dolohov’s Curse on me let me continue by saying that I know Potterites will enjoy this movie. It’s a bit talky for the first hour, but it does submerge the viewer in a dark and dangerous world where dementors lurk around every corner and people in authority don’t always have your best interests at heart.

When Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) returns for his fifth year of wizardry studies at Hogwarts he soon discovers that he must bear the brunt of a smear campaign launched against him and the venerable head master Dumbledore (Michael Gambon). His classmates and the wizarding community in general have bought into the stories circulated to the newspapers by the Minister of Magic (Robert Hardy) that Potter is lying about the return of the evil Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) and are treating him like a pariah. The good Minister, you see, is concerned that Dumbledore is after his job and must discredit both the head master and his protégé to protect his post.

To keep an eye on Dumbledore and Potter the Minister brings in a new Defense against the Dark Arts instructor to Hogwarts. Professor Dolores Umbridge (Imelda Staunton) is a rule-spouting tyrant who mistreats the students and teaches a theory-based course that will leave her pupils woefully under prepared should they ever have to defend themselves in the presence of evil.

Harry, at the prompting of his best friends Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint), creates a rouge Defense against the Dark Arts class, hidden deep in the bowels of the school. He secretly trains a small group of students who adopt the name Dumbledore’s Army, who will help fight the astonishing battle that lay ahead.

The Order of the Phoenix may be the most subversive of all the Potter films, harboring as it does, a healthy disrespect for misplaced authority. It’s also the least playful. It’s a dark story in which Harry is in danger, both physically and mentally. Younger viewers may find some of the physical manifestations of danger a bit too intense—the Dementors are scary ghost like creatures who literally suck the life out of their victims—but they probably won’t get the mental anguish angle.

Teens will likely relate to Harry’s adolescent pangs of bitterness, anger and self pity, which are quite realistically portrayed. Harry’s growing up before our eyes, a fact made obvious through flashbacks to the first movie in which he looks like a mere babe in the woods and his issues are the same as teens all over the world. The only difference is most teens can’t hide under the cloak of invisibility when the going gets rough.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix will please most Potter fans and confound non-Potterfiles who may wonder what the heck is going on.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Harry-Potter-cast-harry-potter-and-the-goblet-of-fire-1913230-2560-1924The Harry Potter phenomenon is so powerful that you could have called this Harry Potter Drinks a Goblet of Water and presented an Andy Warhol-style film of young Harry chugging a glass of water for two hours and Potterheads would still wear their wizard hats and line up to see it. There may be fewer kids in line this time, however, as Goblet is the darkest installment in the $2.6 billion (and counting) Potter franchise.

The story is boiled down from the 700-plus page novel by J.K. Rowling and as the poster tagline reads, “Difficult times lie ahead, Harry.” Difficult times indeed. Not only must the three heroes fend off evil supernatural forces in the form of Lord Voldemort but they also must grapple with dangers of a much more mortal sort—jealousy, romance, mortality and Harry’s raging hormones. Voldemort may be Harry’s sworn enemy, but the real trouble starts when puberty comes to Hogwarts. The Goblet of Fire sees the trio growing up and the filmmakers eliminating many of the child-like elements of the earlier three films. Gone are Harry’s goofy family and the house elves and with them went the lighter feel of the other movies. The Goblet of Fire is firmly rooted in supernatural adult fiction and as such earned a PG-13 rating.

A rooftop race with a dragon, Mad Eye Moody’s leering mechanical eye and the snake-like Lord Voldemort are sure to excite Potterphiles, but if I have a complaint it is that there is almost too much going on. Donny Brasco director Mike Newell has done an fine job of cramming a very long book into a two-and-a-half hour film, but it seemed to me that there were too many characters—Alan Rickman’s deliciously menacing Severus Snape gets lost in the crowd, barely managing two lines, while the inclusion of tabloid reporter Rita Skeeter adds nothing to the film but running time—and the quieter scenes, wedged in between spectacular action sequences, seemed rushed.