Richard and CP24 anchorGeorge Lagogianes have a look at the weekend’s new movies including the new Chris Hemsworth war flick “12 Horses,” Christian Bale’s period piece “Hostiles,” Gerard Butler’s cop drama “Den of Thieves” and Jessica Rothe in “Forever My Girl.”
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 the new Chris Hemsworth war flick “12 Horses,” Christian Bale’s period piece “Hostiles,” and the Gerard Butler’s cop drama “Den of Thieves.”
Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Marcia MacMillan to have a look at the new Chris Hemsworth war flick “12 Horses,” Christian Bale’s period piece “Hostiles,” Gerard Butler’s cop drama “Den of Thieves” and Jessica Rothe in “Forever My Girl.”
When you think of Christian Bale what picture do you conjure up in your mind’s eye? Is it as American Psycho’s square-jawed investment banker Patrick Bateman? Or is it as the gaunt whisper of a man from The Machinist? Perhaps it’s as 3:10 to Yuma’s scruffy cowboy Dan Evans or the cowled Caped Crusader of the Batman films.
The point is Bale recreates himself from film to film. “It’s helpful not to look like yourself,” he recently told The Guardian. “If I look in the mirror and go, ‘Ah, that doesn’t look like me,’ that’s helpful.”
He could make a fortune playing superheroes in action movies but instead chooses to shake things up. Since his breakthrough performance in 1987’s Empire of the Sun, he has been a chameleon, losing 60 pounds to play the skeletal lead in The Machinist and gaining a beer gut and a combover for his role in American Hustle.
Creating the “Olympian physique” of serial killer Patrick Bateman in American Psycho took some discipline. “I’m English,” he said, “we don’t have many gyms around. We’d rather go to a pub instead.” A trainer and a protein diet took off the pounds.
As boxer and former drug addict Dicky Ecklund in The Fighter he dropped 30 pounds and used makeup and prosthetics to age himself. How did he lose the weight? “Usually I always say, ‘Oh, I do a lot of coke whenever I lose weight.’ I’m not sure if it’s so funny for this movie, to say that.” In reality he trained with the real-life Ecklund and boxed the pounds off.
In Velvet Goldmine he plays a London journalist looking into the life and faked death of glam rock singer Brian Slade (Jonathan Rhys Meyers). Once again he had to physically transform, but not in the traditional way.
When his mom saw that he was working out and running at 6 a.m. she said, “Christian, what are you doing? You’re doing a film about sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll. Why don’t you do it the way they did it? They weren’t out running. They drank a helluva lot and lived unhealthily.” “I took that to heart,” he said.
This weekend he appears in Hostiles as the elaborately moustachioed Joseph J. Blocker, an 1892-era U.S. Army captain approaching retirement, grappling with the anguish and regret that has scarred his soul. The impressive ’stache may be his biggest physical transformation for this role — the AV Club joked “Christian Bale’s moustache is the best thing about Hostiles” — but he says the biggest change here was spiritual.
To create the character’s contemplative demeanour he spent a lot of time “sitting in a room quietly staring at a wall.” He says he likes to get as “distant as possible” from his own personality. Imagining Blocker’s life journey before filming allowed him to internalize the character and “feel like you’re trying very hard by the time you get to be working.”
Next up for Bale is the biopic Backseat. He shaved his head and packed on pounds — “I’ve just been eating a lot of pies,” he says — to play former U.S. vice-president Dick Cheney. “I’ve got to stop doing it,” says the 43-year-old actor of the extreme weight gain. “I suspect it’s going to take longer to get this off.”
“Hostiles,” the new Christian Bale drama, is a period piece with a potent message for today. With a nod to the John Wayne classic “The Searchers,” it’s a sombre tale of a man who must confront his deeply held racism.
Set in 1892, Bale plays Joseph J. Blocker, a U.S. Army captain approaching retirement; soul darkened by a career spent warring with indigenous peoples. He’s lost many of his men at the hands of his enemy, seen his people butchered and scalped. In return he turned battlegrounds into killing fields soaked in blood.
Under orders he reluctantly does one last official job before riding off into the sunset. His commanding officer (Stephen Lang) gives him a choice, escort an old enemy, Cheyenne war chief Yellow Hawk (Wes Studi) now dying of cancer, from an remote Army gaol in New Mexico to the Chief’s home in the grasslands of Montana or face a court martial. Putting together a crew of his most trusted men, including his right hand man Sergeant Tommy Metz (Rory Cochrane), he begins the long, dangerous trek. A day or so in the come across Rosalie Quaid (Rosamund Pike), a widow whose family was slaughter right in front of her.
The physical journey is ripe with danger—they are ambushed by Comanche and must drop off a dangerous prisoner (Ben Foster) along the way—but the metaphysical journey is more interesting. As the days pass Blocker rediscovers his humanity; the man he was before he allowed hate to overwhelm.
Writer, director Scott Cooper’s film drips with gravitas. It is a serious minded look at the bigotry and brutality that fuelled the U.S. Army dealings with the frontier tribes while making room for Blocker’s redemptive arc. But for as beautiful as the movie is, it never feels authentic. Sure you can almost smell the campfires, blood and sweat. Cooper’s details are evocative of a time and place, it’s the relationships between the characters that don’t ring true. The anti-racism message is a powerful and important one but turned into a cliché in its execution. Underdeveloped indigenous characters, all stoicism and nobility, seem to exist only to aid Blocker’s attitude change, which makes the movie feel lopsided, tilted toward Blocker and his band of white saviours.
I think the movie mostly has its heart in the right place in terms of promoting tolerance but the reconciliation portrayed here feels off kilter. (SPOILER ALERT) By the time the end credits roll on this ponderous story, the white viewpoint of the storytelling is made all too clear in a conclusion that sees the two above the title stars come to the rescue of a young indigenous character.
“Hostiles” is a beautifully turned out film. Cooper fills each frame of this deliberately paced movie with a kind of bleak beauty. But with the elegance of the filmmaking comes frustration at the story’s missteps. Bale digs deep, grappling with the anguish and regret that has scarred Blocker’s soul but his transformation doesn’t seem real, or possible.
In Black Mass, Dakota Johnson has a high profile role as the steely-but-sweet girlfriend to notorious gangster James “Whitey” Bulger but for much of her life she was simply known as a child of Hollywood, the daughter of Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson.
Despite an acting career that stretches back to 1999, the 25-year-old became a sensation just last year when she landed the lead role in one of the most anticipated films of the decade.
She beat out half of young Hollywood to play Anastasia Steele in the fastest selling R-rated title ever, Fifty Shades of Grey. She bared all, physically and emotionally; and became famous enough to have designers create clothes for her and an avalanche of interesting scripts to tumble her way. She’ll soon be seen in a Fifty Shades sequel and a remake of the legendary Italian horror film Suspiria.
This week she stars opposite her 21 Jump Street co-star Johnny Depp — they appeared in the 2012 film — as Lindsey Cyr, mother of Bulger’s son and the only person in South Boston who would stand up to the infamous killer.
Cyr is still alive but Johnson didn’t think it was a good idea to meet with her.
“It would have been if my goal had been to be extremely accurate but my goal was to bring out a different side of Jimmy. We talked about meeting her but we decided that it would have added a bunch of components. You wouldn’t see them. You wouldn’t see the stories she was telling because it wasn’t part of our story.”
Instead she studied footage of the former diner waitress and lawyer’s assistant.
“I did as much research as was available to me,” she says, “but the majority of the footage I found on her was pretty recent and it was her looking back on her time with Jimmy Bulger.
“Obviously the time that we see them together (in the film) is when she is quite young. A lot of that came from working it out with (director) Scott Cooper and Johnny.”
In her most intense scene she stares down and out-manoeuvres the controlling gangster after personal tragedy strikes the couple.
“There was a very heavy atmosphere on set but because Johnny was really not himself, he was a completely different person and because I’m not a mother and have never experienced anything as profoundly devastating as losing a child, I think we both completely slipped away from ourselves. That allowed us to create the scene the way it was.”
On acting: Edgerton portrays former FBI agent as a ‘bad dude’
Joel Edgerton didn’t meet the inspiration for his character in Black Mass, former FBI agent John Connolly.
“He’s alive and with us, albeit in federal prison and a little hard to reach,” said the Australian actor. The real-life Connolly was convicted of racketeering and obstruction of justice charges stemming from his relationship with gangster James “Whitey” Bulger.
“His version of events doesn’t line up with our version…. I felt like it was a little unfair to go and visit him in federal prison and say, ‘You stay in here while I’m over here making you look like a bad dude.’ It felt like it wasn’t a very genuine thing to do.”