Richard joins CTV NewsChannel and anchor Lois Lee to have a look at new movies coming to VOD, streaming services and theatres including the virtual reality of “The Martrix Resurrection,” the coming of age dramedy “Licorice Pizza” and Denzel Washington in “The Tragedy of Macbeth” and the jukebox musical “Sing 2.”
Richard sits in on the CFRA Ottawa morning show with guest host Matt Harris to talk the new movies coming to theatres, VOD and streaming services including the virtual reality of “The Martrix Resurrection,” the coming of age dramedy “Licorice Pizza” and Denzel Washington in “The Tragedy of Macbeth” and the jukebox musical “Sing 2.”
Can Richard Crouse review three movies in just thirty seconds? Have a look as he races against the clock to tell you about the Neo’s return to virtual reality in “The Matrix: Resurrections,” the coming of age dramedy “Licorice Pizza” and Denzel Washington in “The Tragedy of Macbeth” in less time than it takes to buy a pack of Twizzlers.
“Licorice Pizza,” the new slice-of-life drama from director Paul Thomas Anderson, and now playing in theatres, is a very specific movie. It transports us back in time to Los Angeles circa the 1970s. Nixon is president. In Hollywood the Tail o’ the Cock restaurant is the place to see and be seen and gas stations face country wide fuel shortages. But against that specific backdrop comes a story ripe with freewheeling charm, nostalgia and universal themes.
Cooper Hoffman, son of the late, great Philip Seymour Hoffman, is Gary Valentine, a cocky fifteen-year-old actor with a blossoming career and a back pocket filled with get rich quick schemes. At picture day at his high school he spots photographer’s assistant Alana (Alana Haim). She is ten years older than him, but he’s feeling lucky and asks her out on a date. She agrees, but says it isn’t a date, just dinner. He takes her to hotspot Tail o’ the Cock and at the end of the night tells her, “I’m not going to forget you. Just like you’re not going to forget me.”
It is the beginning of a mostly platonic relationship that sees them drift in and out of one another’s lives, start a water bed business and navigate maturity. “Maybe fate brought us together,” Gary says to her. “Our roads brought us here.”
“Licorice Pizza” (the name refers to a defunct Californian record store chain) isn’t a movie overly concerned with plot. Instead, it relies on the characters to keep things interesting.
Newcomers Hoffman and Haim, (she plays guitars and keyboards in the pop rock band Haim), do just that. Each are magnetic performers on their own, she is all glowering intensity, he’s got teenage swagger down to a tee—“I’m a showman,” he says, “it’s what I’m meant to do.”—but put them together and sparks fly. From their first exchange in the high school gym to the film’s closing moments they win us over. In the movie the characters experience the first blush of friendship and love. In the audience we get to experience another first, the debut of two new, very promising actors.
Later, after the film, I found myself daydreaming that perhaps we could revisit them every ten years or so à la the relationship trilogy “Before Sunrise,” “Before Sunset” and “Before Midnight.”
Some old-timers get to strut their stuff as well. Sean Penn plays a riff on hard drinking actor William Holden with equal parts smarm and charm and Bradley Cooper pulls out all the stops to bring Hollywood hairdresser-turned-movie mogul Jon Peters to vivid, excessive life.
It is an evocative rendering of a specific time and place, but it doesn’t all sit right. In his recreation of the 1970s, director Paul Thomas Anderson includes two scenes featuring John Michael Higgins as Jerry Frick, owner of the San Fernando Valley’s first Japanese restaurant, The Mikado. In his two scenes he is seen speaking with an over-the-top, buffoonish Japanese accent in conversation with his Japanese wives, played by Yumi Mizui and Megumi Anjo. Both scenes stick out like sore thumbs. I imagine that they are meant to represent the causal racism of the time but they break the movie’s magical spell with cultural insensitivity that adds nothing, save for a cheap laugh, to the story.
“Licorice Pizza” is kind of flipping through a diary. Some details are intense, some glossed over, but everything is relevant to the experience being written about. Like diary entries, the movie is episodic. Each passing episode allows us to get to know Gary and Alana a bit better, and just as importantly, remind us what it means to be young and in love.
Richard and CP24 anchor Nneka Elliot do a refresher on “Captain America: Civil War” and then talk about the weekend’s big releases, the seedy charm of “The Nice Guys” with Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling, the kid’s cartoon “The Angry Birds Movie,” and the Seth Rogen sequel “Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising.”
Richard and “Canada AM” host Marci Ien talk about the weekend’s three big releases, the shady charm of “The Nice Guys” with Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling, the kid’s cartoon “The Angry Birds Movie,” and the Seth Rogen sequel “Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising” and the debauched “High-Rise” with Tom Hiddleston.
Are you among the 200 million people that play Angry Birds on your smartphone? If so you’re in good company.
Angelina Jolie, Jack Black and Jon Hamm are fans and British Prime Minister David Cameron has admitted to being “mildly addicted” to the game. Since December 2009, folks have been flinging flocks of birds at pig’s fortresses, downloading more than 3 billion versions of the app.
This weekend the Angry Birds game takes the next logical step, catapulting onto the big screen with their very own movie.
Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad and Maya Rudolph star in The Angry Birds Movie, a story that tells us why the annoyed avians — like flock leader Red Bird, Bomb the Black Bird and Slingshot Stella the Cockatoo — are so angry. Turns out they feel betrayed by the tittering piggies that pretend to be their friends but are really only interested in stealing their eggs. Cue the catapults and mountains of TNT.
It’s a brand with a built-in audience, a combination Hollywood finds irresistible, and while it has colourful, easily marketed characters, the game itself doesn’t offer much in the way of story. But that has never stopped producers before.
Remember Super Mario Bros? Siskel & Ebert gave that one two thumbs down and star Bob Hoskins, who played Mario, called it “the worst thing I ever did.”
Despite brutal reviews and box office failure, Nintendo Power magazine praised the film, calling it a trailblazer in the genre of videogame movies.
Which leads us, 23 years after Mario and his brother Luigi stunk up movie theatres, to The Angry Birds Movie. Why is a game from a developer in Espoo, just outside Helsinki, Finland, popular enough to take flight as its own movie?
The success of Angry Birds has to do with something called schema formation, a five-dollar term for mentally grasping and embedding how the game’s interface works the first time you play it.
The addictive part comes in as the action of the game changes. In Play at Work, engineer Charles L. Mauro explains the appeal: “These little birds are packed with clever behaviours that expand the user’s mental model at just the point when game-level complexity is increased.”
The game’s genius is in adding playing details at just the right moment to increase user engagement. In other words, it’s fun. I guess that’s why gamers spend 200 million minutes a day flinging Angry Birds at various targets.
According to marketers AYTM, that’s “equal to 16 years of gameplay every hour of every day.” They also note that players have flung over 100 billion angry birds, a number equal to the amount of real birds on the planet. Those are the kind of statistics Hollywood can’t ignore.
One person unlikely to pass the time with Angry Birds is U.S. communications surveillance whistleblower Edward Snowden. In 2014 he claimed the app was “leaky,” and was vulnerable to the harvesting of information by outside groups.
Mikael Hed, CEO of Rovio Entertainment, the makers of Angry Birds, denied Snowden’s claims.
“We do not collaborate, collude, or share data with spy agencies anywhere in the world,” he said, which must have come as a relief to another of the game’s biggest fans, former Vice President of the United States Dick Cheney, who, apparently, also enjoys hurling a bird or two in his spare time.
200 million people play Angry Birds on their smartphones every day. More fictional birds have been flung in the name of the game than there are real birds in the world. It’s the first app to sell movie rights to the movies and if just a fraction of the people who play the game everyday go see the movie it should be a rousing success. Keep in mind though, that if “The Angry Birds Movie” doesn’t lay an egg at the box office it is inevitable that “Candy Crush: The Saga” and “Fruit Ninjas” movies won’t be far behind. The choice is yours.
This weekend the furious feathered friends catapult onto the big screen accompanied by a classic rock score—this may be the only kid’s flick to feature Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid”—and plenty of bird puns—”Pluck my life,” says Red (Jason Sudeikis) when he is sentenced to anger management class.
Sudeikis, Josh Gad and Maya Rudolph star in “The Angry Birds Movie,” a story that tells us why the annoyed avians—like flock leader Red Bird, Bomb the Black Bird (Danny McBride) and Slingshot Stella the Cockatoo (Kate McKinnon)—are so angry. Turns out they feel betrayed when Bird Island is invaded by pigs—including one named John Ham—who arrive uninvited but soon win over the birds. “We mean no harm,” says Leonard the Pig (Bill Hader). “We saw your island from the sea and thought, I wonder what’s going on there?” Only Red who is suspicious of the porcine interlopers. “Something isn’t kosher with these pigs,” he says, “and it’s up to us to figure out what it is.” Seems the pigs are only pretending to be friendly. In truth they’re only interested in stealing all the eggs on the island. To save the eggs Red assembles the troops—“We’re birds were descended from dinosaurs,” he says, “we’re not supposed to be nice.”—the catapults and mountains of TNT.
“Angry Birds The Movie” is about as plot heavy as you’d imagine a movie based on an app would be. It’s an underdog tale with messages of never giving up and being true to yourself but mostly its an excuse for bad bird jokes—Free Rage Chicken anyone?—and lots of finely feathered action. Breezy in the extreme, it is padded out with frenetic chase scenes and music numbers. The colourful animation is designed to attract the attention of young eyes but for many adults the story will be as about as appealing as a case of bird flu.