A new 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 Hitman’s Bodyguard” withRyan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson, the Steven Soderbergh heist film “Lucky Logan” and the social commentary on social media of “Ingrid Goes West.”
Richard and CP24 anchor Jamie Gutfreund have a look at the weekend’s new movies including “The Hitman’s Bodyguard” withRyan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson, the Steven Soderbergh heist film “Lucky Logan,” the social commentary on social media of “Ingrid Goes West” and the down ‘n dirty grit of the ironically named “Good Time.”
Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Marcia MacMillan to have a look at the big weekend movies including the Ryan Reynolds/Samuel L. Jackson buddy comedy “The Hitman’s Bodyguard,” the Steven Soderbergh heist film “Lucky Logan,” the social commentary on social media of “Ingrid Goes West” and the down ‘n dirty grit of the ironically named “Good Time.”
When all is said and done Adam Driver will likely be remembered for playing Kylo Ren, grandson of villain Darth Vader, in the Star Wars movies. The thirty-three-year-old may be best known for the blockbuster role but it does not define his career. For the star of this weekend’s Logan Lucky, it’s all about a love of acting.
“For me the doing of it is the best,” he told me at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival. “The things surrounding it don’t matter. Trailers, money, they don’t matter if you get to work with really great people. Hopefully what you’re making is bigger than any one person and it feels relevant, as much as you can attach meaning to your job. The love of collaborating with people who are on the same page is really exciting.”
Perhaps his collaborative spirit came from his time in the United States Marine Corps. Driver, like many young people in the aftermath of 9/11, joined the marines but an injury during a training exercise ended his military career after just three years.
“With the military I grew up very fast,” he says. “Suddenly I was responsible for things that aren’t typical for eighteen or nineteen year olds. Other people’s lives and things like that. It ages you. I loved being in the military but when I got my freedom and could be a civilian again I was interested in perusing acting. I had tunnel vision and there was a big learning curve of learning to be a civilian again; it’s not appropriate to yell at people, people are people and I can’t force my military way of thinking on them. There were a lot of things going on. I am better adjusted now.”
Post marines Driver studied at Julliard—“Believe it or not being in the military,” he laughs, “is very different than being in an acting school.”—became one of the breakout stars of HBO’s Girls and worked on the big screen with luminaries like Steven Spielberg, the Coen Brothers, Martin Scorsese and Logan Lucky director Steven Soderbergh.
“It’s a director’s medium so if I get lucky enough to work with great directors, that’s the only thing as far as a game plan I have,” he says. “I have gotten to do that with really great people and it feels good. I’m lucky in that I get to choose things now, but choose things from what I’m offered. The scale doesn’t matter.”
Since his professional debut in 2009 Driver, who his This Is Where I Leave You co-star Jane Fonda calls, “our next Robert De Niro plus Robert Redford,” has carefully curated a career. From multiplex fare like Star Wars to art house offerings like Paterson and Frances Ha he is driven by artistic demands more than box office returns and immediate satisfaction.
“Really great movies have a longer shelf life,” he says. “You come back to them later and find new things in them. So many times you watch a movie and you’re not ready for it and you come back to it later because you’re a different person and suddenly it speaks to you in a different way. When they are well crafted they have that shelf life whereas a lot of things are made for one weekend.”
Director Steven Soderbergh’s biggest box office came courtesy of the glossy “Ocean’s Eleven” series. His new film sees him revisit similar territory but don’t expect a carbon copy of his biggest hits. “Lucky Logan” is a down-home “Ocean’s Eleven” where some good old boys plan a robbery, but the slickness of the franchise films has been left in the vault.
Channing Tatum is Jimmy Logan, former quarterback and Homecoming King whose glory days are in the rear view mirror. Divorced but devoted to his daughter. He’s now a West Virginia miner laid off from his job of filling in sinkholes at the Charlotte Motor Speedway, home of one of the biggest NASCAR races on the circuit.
His brother Clyde (Adam Driver), a bartender and Iraq War vet whose hand was blown off by an IED, chalks up the job loss to a family curse. The Unlucky Logans have a history of misfortune, one that Jimmy hopes to turn around.
Enlisting his sister Mellie (Riley Keough) and the Bang Brothers, the bleach blonde Joe (Daniel Craig), Sam (Brian Gleeson) and Fish (Jack Quaid), he comes up with an elaborate plan to rob the vault at the Speedway on the busiest weekend of the year.
“Lucky Logan” is a carefully plotted caper flick—although some of the elements of the labyrinthine heist are a little too perfect, relying too much on movie coincidences to be believable—but it’s a loose film with an indie feel. The stars are big but this isn’t a big film. Unlike the sleek “Ocean’s” films, the style of “Lucky Logan” suits its subject. It feels like handmade, blue-collar filmmaking.
Soderbergh’s looseness trickles down to the actors. Tatum and Craig seem to be having the best time, as Driver amps up the sincerity as the younger brother so desperate to live up to big bro’s legacy that he enlisted in the army. Once again (after “American Honey) Keough proves she is a formidable actor and not just Elvis Presley’s grandfather while “Family Guy’s” Seth MacFarlane is suitably smarmy as the owner of a power drink company. Their combined efforts keeps things grounded even when as the caper grows more and more outrageous.
“Lucky Logan” feels like a throwback to the 90s indie scene that made Soderbergh an in-demand filmmaker in the first place. From the Tarantino-esque script—the pop culture references and “Game of Thrones” riffs—to the eye level characters it’s a welcome return.
Richard and CP24 anchor Jamie Gutfreund have a look at the weekend’s new movies, the Emma Stone/Ryan Gosling big screen musical “La La Land,” Fences” with Denzel Washington and Viola Davis and “Why Him?” starring Bryan Cranston and James Franco.
Richard sits in with Erin Paul to have a look at the special Wednesday releases, “Passengers” with Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt, the videogame flick “Assassin’s Creed” with Micheal Fassbender and the animated sing-a-long “Sing.”
“Sing,” like the name would suggest, is a jukebox musical. The hits of Taylor Swift, Elton John and even the late, great Leonard Cohen are all present and sung by a lounge singing mouse and an elephant, among others. Think of it as the “Jersey Boys” of the animal kingdom and you’ll get the idea.
“Sing” is Matthew McConaughey’s second animated movie of the year after Kubo and the Two Strings, but the first film featuring his unique vocal stylings. As Buster Moon, a koala who throws a singing competition to save his failing theatre, the Oscar-winner does an a cappella version of Carly Rae Jepsen’s earworm “Call Me Maybe.”
Before the warbling, however, comes the story of Moon’s show business aspirations. As a child he saw Miss Nana Noodleman (Jennifer Saunders) live on stage and immediately fell in love with the theatre. So much so that he, with the help of this father, saved up and purchased the theatre with dreams of becoming an impresario. Trouble is, he isn’t much of a showman. Filled with passion but short on talent, he staged flop and after flop and by the time we meet him he’s dodging calls from his bank as he tries to figure out a way to pay the mortgage. “None of your shows have worked Mr. Moon!” says Judith from the bank. “Better settle your account by the end of the month!”
His great idea? Throw a singing competition with some of the city’s best undiscovered talent and pack his place to the rafters with people willing to hear them sing. It worked for “American Idol,” so what could go wrong? How about an arrogant lounge singing mouse (Seth MacFarlane) with ties to some nasty underworld bears? Or a stage struck elephant (Tori Kelly)? Perhaps an ill-conceived stage design involving hundreds of shrimps and thousands of gallons of water?
Featuring 85 hit songs from the 1940s to the present day, “Sing” also contains a brand new track by Stevie Wonder and Ariana Grande called “Faith” and good messages for kids about not letting fear get in the way of the things you love, never giving up, about following your dreams. It’s a frenetic package that zips along very quickly you hardly notice it’s a ninety-minute movie stretched to a two hour running time. The songs—many of them earworms that will linger for hours after the end credits roll—pad out the action, prolonging the inevitable happy ending.
Two hours for an animated movie that offers something more than catchy tunes and platitudes is fine. Unfortunately “Sing,” while beautifully animated is too concerned with being a crowd pleaser to be about much of anything. It rises to the level above ‘cute’ on the Animation-O-Meter. Some Pixar level subtext is missing. It’s pretty good eye candy and some giggles but not so much funny stuff as you might imagine in a movie that features a pig in gold lamé.