On this week’s Richard Crouse Show Podcast we get to know legendary film critic Leonard Maltin. His new book “Starstruck: My Unlikely Road to Hollywood,” is on shelves now and details his 30-year run on Entertainment Tonight, his interviews with golden age of Hollywood elites like Katharine Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, Sean Connery, Shirley Temple, and Jimmy Stewart and insights into moviemaking with stories from the past, present, and future stars of film, like George Lucas, Kevin Feige of Marvel, Quentin Tarantino, and Guillermo del Toro.
Then, Helen Walsh, author of “Pull Focus: A Novel,” a book that has been described as “Part Real Housewives, part grown-up Nancy Drew,” stops by. Set within the inner workings of an international film festival, the novel details Hollywood power brokers, Russian oil speculators, Chinese propagandists, and a board chair who seemingly has it out for Jane, the book’s main character.
Each week on the nationally syndicated Richard Crouse Show, Canada’s most recognized movie critic brings together some of the most interesting and opinionated people from the movies, television and music to put a fresh spin on news from the world of lifestyle and pop-culture. Tune into this show to hear in-depth interviews with actors and directors, to find out what’s going on behind the scenes of your favourite shows and movies and get a new take on current trends. Recent guests include Ethan Hawke, director Brad Bird, comedian Gilbert Gottfried, Eric Roberts, Brian Henson, Jonathan Goldsmith a.k.a. “The most interesting man in the world,” and best selling author Linwood Barclay.
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Richard and CP24 anchor Nathan Downer have a look at the weekend’s new movies including “The Dark Tower,” the eco-documentary “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power,” the latest Kathryn Bigelow film “Detroit” and the culinary road trip of “The Trip to Spain.”
It’s hard to know exactly how to categorize “The Trip” movies. Since 2010 Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon have co-starred in a series of British television travel shows, later cut down to feature length movies for North America.
The first saw the dynamic duo do a restaurant tour of northern England, then came “The trip to Italy” where they followed in the footsteps of early 19th century English poets on the Grand Tour. This time around trade plates of pasta for pintxos and paella in “The trip to Spain.”
The films are semi-fictional ad libbed culinary road trip adventures that have become increasingly melancholy as the odometer clocks each passing mile. They aren’t documentaries nor are they Food Network style travel shows. They are funny, although the laughs are fewer and further a part in the new, but they also contain moments of profound despondency. Sometimes they seem to be little more than a showcase for Coogan and Brydon’s prodigious gifts of celebrity mimicry, other times they are pathos dipped examinations of aging.
The third course on their culinary trip sees these two—imagine an intellectual version of The Two Ronnies—sample the best of Spain’s New Traditional restaurants, take in the sights but they spend most of their time not appreciating the beautiful coastal scenery but hilariously poking fun at a who’s who of Hollywood, including Al Pacino, Sean Connery and Woody Allen.
Wedged between the jokes and Michael Caine impressions is Coogan’s dissatisfaction, both personal and professional. Contrasted with Brydon’s happy family life and career, Coogan’s fear of becoming last week’s news as he enters his fifties gives the film an edge the others haven’t had. That means “The Trip to Spain” isn’t nearly all-out funny as the others, but it does have more substance. The others weren’t exactly empty calories but this one feels weightier.
“The Trip to Spain” features much of the stuff fans expect—Brydon’s “small man in a box” voice makes an appearance and Coogan’s way with words gives us culinary descriptions like, “life affirming butter”—but director Michael Winterbottom is clearly in a Cervantes state of mind as he sets his Don Quixote and Sancho Panza off on a new Spanish adventure.
Daniel Craig suits up again in the latest Bond flick, taking his fourth spin as the super spy in Spectre. The film’s overseas reviews have been very strong and it will likely dominate the weekend’s box office but who among us would call Craig the best Bond?
I have a theory that the Bond nearest and dearest to your heart is the first 007 you saw projected on the big screen.
Popular consensus tells us that Sean Connery, who played the role in six films spanning 1962 To 1971 and then once again in 1983’s non-officially sanctioned Never Say Never Again, is the best Bond. As cool as Connery was he isn’t my top of the pops. Dr. No, the first 007 movie, came out before I was born and Connery more or less permanently parked his Aston Martin around the time I entered grade two.
The Bond that made the biggest impression on me was Roger Moore. I know critically speaking he wasn’t the most beloved Bond. Pauline Kael once wrote about him, “Roger Moore is dutiful and passive as Bond; his clothes are neatly pressed and he shows up for work, like an office manager who is turning into dead wood but hanging on to collect his pension.”
I also know that hardcore spy fans considered Moore too well-mannered and pleasant to be effective, but he was my first, and I guess the first cut is the deepest because I still have a fondness for his breezy take on the super agent.
But that’s just me.
To get a broader picture I did a highly scientific Double-Blind Bond Peer Reviewed In House Clinical Trial (in other words I asked my Facebook and Twitter friends) to determine the world’s favourite 007 portrayer.
The contenders were Connery, George Lazenby, Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan and Craig — everyone who has played Bond in one of the 24 officially sanctioned 007 movies.
Several contributors brought up others like Barry Nelson, who played James Bond in a 1954 television adaptation of Casino Royale. Also mentioned were David Niven’s turn as Bond in 1967’s Casino Royale and another actor who has never played 007. “Clive Owen,” suggested one poster, “once they get around to casting him in the next one.”
After eliminating the unofficial 007s and non-Bonds a team of experts (OK, it was just me reading through the posts as Live and Let Die played on the TV behind me) sifted through the results.
Pollsters said Brosnan Is Not Enough to ’90s Bond Pierce Brosnan who came in dead last with just 1.9 per cent of the vote.
“I liked Pierce Brosnan because he embodied all the others combined,” wrote one positive poster. “Charm, humour, ruthlessness, cunning.”
Timothy Dalton earned 3.9 per cent with one respondent saying, “If there really was an agent who was an assassin with a licence to kill … it would be him.”
At 9.8 per cent, George Lazenby fared better than Brosnan and Dalton even though he only made one 007 film.
My favourite Bond came in third with 15.6 per cent, just behind Daniel Craig’s 21.5 per cent. “Craig gets me wanting to watch whereas the others are placeholders,” wrote a Facebook friend, “Sorry.”
By far and away, Sean Connery was the winner with a whopping 39.2 per cent of the vote. This comment seems to sum up the reason why people like him. “Sean Connery because Sean Connery!”
Who is your favourite Bond? Chime in at @metropicks.
Synopsis: Each year on Nov. 11 we remember and celebrate “the men and women who have served, and continue to serve our country during times of war, conflict and peace.” Remembrance Day is a time to pay respect to the sacrifices brave soldiers have made for our country. In observation The Reel Guys have compiled a list of movies to serve as a backdrop on this solemn day.
Richard: Mark, the first war-themed film to really make an impression on me was The Best Years Of Our Lives. When I was a kid I watched it on television every November and although it’s almost 70 years old the story of servicemen struggling to rebuild their lives after the Second World War is still timely and relevant. Perhaps it feels so authentic because the crew were all Second World War veterans and the main character, who faces discrimination after losing both hands in combat, was played by real-life disabled vet Harold Russell.
Mark: Don’t know the movie, Richard. I grew up in a family of cowards and war movies were forbidden. And I don’t know who said it — probably not Snooki — that “all great war movies are anti-war movies.” That being said, I like the P.O.W. genre, with incarcerated soldiers plotting to get out. The Bridge On the River Kwai is one of the greatest, with a fine performance by Alec Guiness, but let’s also include The Great Escape with Steve McQueen, and a left-field choice, Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence starring David Bowie. Waaaay left-field, Richard, if you get my drift.
RC: War films come in all shapes and sizes. If P.O.W. movies are your thing check out The Hill, a little known British film that features one of Sean Connery’s best performances. Set during the Second World War in North Africa, it’s the story of a stockade run by Brits to punish deserters. Connery wedged it in between Goldfinger and Thunderball and it is a stark contrast to the work he was doing in the Bond films at the time. As for your second thought, which I suspect should be attributed to Steven Spielberg and not Snooki, two films pop to mind. Saving Private Ryan and the First World War drama All Quiet on the Western Front. Both are masterfully made films that show the brutal reality of war from the point of view of the soldiers.
MB: I’ve seen The Hill. It’s great. But the best anti-war movie might be Johnny Got His Gun, a minimalist squirmer told from the point of view of a blind, mute quadruple amputee. Fun times! And as far as soldiers on the ground, I would nominate Black Hawk Down, or Platoon, both of which put you right in the centre of a battle you may not be winning.
RC: We can’t talk about war films so close to Remembrance Day without paying tribute to Canadian soldiers on screen. Paul Gross’s Passchendaele is probably our best-known homegrown look at Canadians in battle but Hollywood has never shied away from depicting fighting Canadians. Canuck heroes are portrayed in the Devil’s Brigade, The Battle of Britain and Attack on the Iron Coast among many others.
MB: Yes, Canadians excel in battle. Canadians also excel at harbouring war resisters, but I’ve yet to see THAT movie.
The first glimpse of Josh Brolin as scarred comic book bounty hunter Jonah Hex reveals it is a role he was born to play. His natural bad boy swagger shines through the character’s heavy make up but Brolin wasn’t the first choice to play the character, or even the second. As is so often the case in Hollywood many other actors were first considered for the part.
California surf boy Matthew McConaughey was approached, as was indie film darling Emile Hirsch.
Thomas Jane even went as far as submitting photos in full Jonah Hex drag, scars and all.
In the end, Brolin brought that extra something special that made the role his, and joined a long list of actors who weren’t the first choice to headline big movies.
Many actors have played James Bond but a recent JamesBondwiki.com poll anoints Sean Connery as the two-to-one people’s favourite.
Guess what? He wasn’t the first choice.
Author Ian Fleming partially modelled the Bond character on Cary Grant, so the suave actor was top-of-the-list when the first Bond film, Dr. No, was cast. Grant, however, sent his regrets, saying he was too old to play the spy.
When Connery was cast, the writer was less than pleased.
“He’s not exactly what I had in mind,” said Fleming, who felt Connery was too “unrefined” for the role. He later changed his mind and Connery went on to play Bond in six movies.
Connery was the first choice to play Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings series but said no.
“I didn’t understand the script when they sent it to me,” he said. “Bobbits? Hobbits?”
New Line apparently wanted him so badly they offered him a huge chunk of the of worldwide box office receipts. That “no” cost him almost $400 million.
Many other movies have “settled” for second choices. Pretty Woman director Garry Marshall courted Molly Ringwald and Daryl Hannah, who said no because she felt it denigrated women, before casting Julia Roberts.
Can you imagine The Matrix without Keanu Reeves? Apparently the Wachowski Brothers could as they offered the role of Neo to Will Smith first. Smith declined, opting to make the box office disaster Wild Wild West instead, but says he has no regrets.
“I would have absolutely messed up The Matrix. At that point I wasn’t smart enough as an actor to let the movie be — whereas Keanu was.”