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.
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+).
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.
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+).
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.
Welcome to the House of Crouse. Roger Corman has had 90 birthdays. In that time he’s directed 55 movies and produced almost 400. He gave a start to many young film directors, Francis Ford Coppola, Ron Howard, Martin Scorsese and James Cameron to name a few, and is known as the The Pope of Pop Cinema. As a belated birthday present this week the House of Crouse pays tribute to the man who bragged he made a hundred movies in Hollywood and never lost a dime.
Richard’s CP24 reviews for “Star Wars: the Force Awakens”–is it worth your theatre going dollar (even if you could buy a ticket for this weekend)?–or if you should check out the comedy “Sisters” with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler.
Tina Fey and Amy Poehler have such great chemistry together it’s almost as if they’re sisters from different misters. I guess that’s why their new movie, “Sisters” feels like a natural fit. Seeing the pair together it feels inevitable that one day they would move beyond sharing the stage at award shows and on to playing siblings.
They play Jane and Maura Ellis, middle-aged sisters at different places in their lives. Jane is a single mom who can’t hold on to a job. Maura is a nurse who always tries to help people… even if they don’t want her help.
When their parents (Dianne Wiest and James Brolin) decide to simplify their life, sell the family home and move into a senior’s complex in Orlando, the girls are called home to clean out their rooms. Being in the house dredges up memories of the past so they decide to revisit their glory days by throwing one last blow out before they turn the house over to the new owners.
“Sisters” feels a bit like a “Saturday Night Live” reunion. Ex-SNLers Maya Rudolph, Kate McKinnon, Rachel Dratch and Bobby Moynihan all make appearances in a movie that has about as much story as the average SNL skit. The laughs are there, particular when the action heats up midway, but “The Blind Assassin” this ain’t. It’s a simple comedic premise squeezed for giggles by a likeable cast.
At the helm of “Sisters” are Fey and Poehler, comic actors who play the material broadly but still manage to ground Jane and Maura in reality. On the other hand Moynihan goes full bore into a part Chris Farley might have played and while the movie is more fun when the cast run out of control, it’s Fey and Poehler’s rare quiet moments that humanize the story.
In the 1950s, author Robert Schnakenberg’s father was the letter carrier who delivered jazz legend Louis Armstrong’s mail. “Louis would say, ‘Hi Mr. Mailman’ and sometimes Louis and his wife would invite my dad in for coffee. That is sort of my claim to fame.”
It also began a career Schnakenberg says involves “lurking around the edges of famous people.” The author of more than a dozen books, including The Encyclopedia Shatnerica and Christopher Walken A-to-Z, Schnakenberg’s latest is The Big Bad Book of Bill Murray, a weighty tome analyzing the life and career of everybody’s favourite Ghostbuster.
“They’re more history books than puff pieces about celebrities,” he says on the line from his Brooklyn home. “I wanted to approach them from a quasi or mock academic perspective and treat them as if they were historic artifacts rather than just pop culture icons.”
Murray was a perfect subject for the pop historian. “I had done two previous A-to-Zs and was looking around for a third person to round out the trilogy. I had visions of a three volume slip case edition in my head.”
Murray fit the criteria. “Who has a long career? Who has left a paper trail of interviews and profiles? Who has an off-camera persona that is just as interesting as what they do onscreen? It just clicked last year. He reached a point of saturation with all these viral videos going around that (the publisher) said, ‘Let’s do the book now.’”
The volume provides an overview of Murray’s long and varied time in the public eye. From critical appreciations of his films, to interesting trivia, The Big Bad Book of Bill Murray spans decades of fascinating behaviour.
“His career provides a lot of entry points for people who want to get into him,” says Schnakenberg. “If you came of age in the ’70s, the way that I did, you remember the Saturday Night Live version of Bill Murray. If you were 13 in 1984 you probably think of him as Ghostbusters Bill Murray. If you were a proto-hipster in the ’90s your image is probably the guy in all the Wes Anderson movies. Now people know him as the dishevelled guy who crashes people’s parties.”
The point is, for almost forty years Bill Murray has been a constant in our lives. “Bill Murray never had to come back because he never went away,” says the author. “He was always cool; just cool in different forms over the years.”