Richard and CP24 anchor Cristina Tenaglia have a look at the new movies coming to theatres, VOD and streaming services including “The Secrets We Keep” (digital and on-demand), “Vampires vs. the Bronx” (Netflix), “I Am Greta” (in theatres) and “Totally Under Control” (Digital and on-demand).
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 Secrets We Keep” (digital and on-demand), “Vampires vs. the Bronx” (Netflix), “I Am Greta” (in theatres) and “Totally Under Control” (Digital and on-demand).
“Vampires Vs. the Bronx,” a “Goonies” style coming-of-age Halloween flick now playing on Netflix, is a throwback to the good old days when horror for kids had fun and an edge. That it also has a timely message is simply the icing on the cake, or in this case, the blood on the stake.
The story centers around Miguel (Jaden Michael), Luis (Gregory Diaz IV), and Bobby (Gerald W. Jones III), three Bronx teens trying to arrange a block party to raise money to save their second home, a bodega operated by Tony (The Kid Mero), from being forced out by a rent hike.
Meanwhile, a new business is buying up all the local businesses, bringing with them gentrification and outsiders to the neighborhood. “White people with canvas bags. That’s always the first sign!” Among the newcomers are Frank (Shea Whigham), the tough guy whose throwing all the money around under the name Murnau Properties and Vivian (Sarah Gadon), a well-meaning newbie who always seems to be nearby whenever the kids are outside.
When people begin to disappear Miguel, the neighborhood’s beating heart and soul, realizes the obvious, that vampires have come north of 120th street. “Sleep with one eye open and don’t get got,” says live-streamer Gloria (Imani Lewis). When they discover that the bloodsuckers plan on taking over the kids watch a “Blade” DVD to pick up vampire hunting tricks and rally the neighborhood to fight back.
“Vampires Vs. the Bronx” is both a loving tribute to teen horror—the guys call the vampires “Suckhead!”—and a carefully constructed condemnation of gentrification. Director Oz Rodriguez brings much personality to the film, bringing the dying neighborhood to vivid life. He builds the world, infusing the story with subtle and not-so-subtle references to racism—“We’re going to wipe you out like the vermin you are,” sneers one vampire—and the timely real world issues regarding marginalized communities—“It’s easier to live somewhere where no one cares when people disappear,” says another bloodsucker—nimbly balancing social commentary and jokes.
The story isn’t just a vampire story, although there’s fangs and stakes and blood. It’s more about the trio of charismatic kids who become heroes to protect something they really believe in. They have heart and humour, and while the horror may not satisfy hardcore gorehounds, the movie’s ebullience will.
Richard joins CP24 anchor Nathan Downer to have a look at the weekend’s new movies including the giant ape movie “Rampage,” the touching drama “Indian Horse,” the Middle East thriller “Beirut” starring Jon Hamm and Joaquin Phoenix in “You Were Never Really Here.”
Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Marcia MacMillan to have a look at the weekend’s big releases, the giant ape movie “Rampage,” the touching drama “Indian Horse,” the Middle East thriller “Beirut” starring Jon Hamm and Joaquin Phoenix in “You Were Never Really Here.”
Here’s the overview: In the new thriller “Beirut” former “Mad Man” star Jon Hamm plays a world-weary but sharp-tongued man who has crawled inside a whiskey bottle to numb the pain of his existence.
Now here’s the six-word pitch: Don Draper does the Middle East.
The story begins in 1972 in the title city. US diplomat Mason Skiles (Hamm) has lived there on and off for much of his life. He understands the country’s delicate balance of religion and politics but more importantly, he loves the country. Tragedy strikes when Karim (Yoav Sadian Rosenberg), a thirteen-year-old orphan Skiles and wife Nadia (Leila Bekhti) treat as their own, turns out to have a terrorist brother.
Cut to a decade later. Skiles is now a whiskey-in-his-coffee kind of man living in Boston running a small labour-dispute consulting firm. “His career has gone from Kissinger to the crapper,” says a former colleague. When he accepts an offer (and thousands of dollars) from “the Agency” to return to Beirut he finds a city in ruins, torn apart by a decade of civil war. Escorted by handler Sandy Crowder (Rosamund Pike) he must delve into the murky world of CIA dirty tricks and political agendas to negotiate the release of his one time best friend, CIA agent Cal Riley (Mark Pellegrino).
Written by “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” scribe Tony Gilroy, “Beirut” allows Hamm’s now trademarked Damaged Man Routine™ to stay front and centre. It’s a spy story with intrigue and danger—although it should be said there is not much action—that relies on Hamm’s rugged charisma. His struggle is the motor that keeps things interesting, not the character’s ulterior motives or the intrigue. For instance a major a plot twist (NO SPOILERS HERE) is actually more of a straight line than a twist so it is up to Hamm and cast to provide the tension.
“Beirut” feels a tad long, as though some of the scenes of Skiles contemplating the bottom of a glass could have been replaced with something a bit more interesting, like trying to get a release for his old friend. Although Hamm is very good here, those lapses—and the typical pouring-of-the-booze-down-the-sink scene—separate “Beirut” from other, superior talky thrillers like “Munich” or “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.”
Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Marcia MacMillan to have a look at the big weekend movies, the great ape flick “Kong: Skull Island,” the Shirley MacLaine dramedy “The Last Word” and the animated “Window Horses.”
Only two things are sure about Skull Island. First, it is home to Megaprimatus kong a.k.a. King Kong and a menagerie of prehistoric creatures. Second, as Mason Weaver (Brie Larson) says in this weekend’s Kong: Skull Island, “We don’t belong here.”
The latest adventures of King Kong take place almost entirely on the island but what, exactly, do we know about the place?
Not much, because Skull Island is uncharted and changes from film to film.
In the new movie, a digital map image suggests the island derived its intimidating name from its gorilla skull profile shape but originally the isle wasn’t called Skull Island. The best-known versions of the Kong story, the original 1933 Merian C. Cooper film and the 1976 Dino De Laurentiis production, never mention Skull Island.
The first movie and its subsequent novelisation describe a “high wooded island with a skull-like knob” called Skull Mountain while the ‘76 film refers to Beach of the Skull. It wasn’t until 2004’s Kong: King of Skull Island illustrated novel that the name was first used. Since then the moniker has stuck.
The same can’t be said for its location.
Over the years it’s been pegged everywhere from the coast of Indonesia and southwest of Central America to the Bermuda Triangle and the Coral Sea off the east coast of Australia.
In reality many places have subbed in for the island. In 1933 several locations were pieced together to create Kong’s home.
Outdoor scenes were shot at Long Beach, California and the caves at Bronson Canyon near Griffith Park in Los Angeles. Everything else was filmed on a soundstage in Culver City using odds and ends from other sets. The giant Skull Mountain gate was later reused in Gone with the Wind’s burning of Atlanta sequence.
De Laurentiis spared no expense bringing the island to life in 1976, moving the entire crew to the Hawaiian island of Kauai.
The shoot began at the remote Honopu Beach, a place the crew were told was deserted. Arriving in four helicopters laden with equipment they were greeted by a honeymooning couple who, thinking they had the place to themselves, had slept nude on the beach.
The impressive stone arch seen in the film — “Beyond the arch, there is danger, there is Kong!” — was natural and so huge years later when an episode of Acapulco Heat was filmed there a helicopter flew underneath it.
Peter Jackson’s 2005 King Kong reboot used a combination of New Zealand’s picturesque Shelly Bay and Lyall Bay as Skull Island’s “jungle from hell.” In the film’s closing credits the director paid tongue-in-cheek tribute to all the stars of the 1933 movie, calling them, “The original explorers of Skull Island.”
This weekend’s installment was shot in Vietnam, Queensland, Australia and Kualoa Ranch, Hawaii, where giant sets were built near where Jurassic World was filmed.
The scenery, as John Goodman’s character says, is “magnificent,” but there was also a practical reason to shoot in these exotic locations. The Hollywood Reporter stated the production shot in Australia to take advantage of a whopping 16.5% location offset incentive — i.e. tax break — offered by the Australian government.
Kong: Skull Island describes the isle as “a place where myth and science meet.”
On film though, it’s a spot where the imaginations of Kong fans run wild.
Set in 1973, the “Kong: Skull Island” is unrelated to the Kongs that came before. There’s no Empire State Building, no Jessica Lange, no romance between damsel and beast.
John Goodman is Bermuda Triangle conspiracy theorist William Randa, a man with some wild ideas about an uncharted island in the South Pacific. “This planet doesn’t belong to us. Ancient species owned this earth long before mankind. I spent 30 years trying to prove the truth: monsters exist.” With government funding supplied by a senator (Richard Jenkins) Randa leads an expedition to prove his ideas about certain life forms on the planet. Along for the ride are a military helicopter squadron, a handful of scientists, U.S. military commander Preston Packard (Samuel L. Jackson), former British soldier turned mercenary James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston) and antiwar photographer Mason Weaver (Brie Larson).
Arriving at the island they are greeted by the tallest King Kong ever. “Is that a monkey?” gasps Jack Chapman (Toby Kebbell). Some monkey. At over 100 feet he dwarfs his cinematic brothers—1933’s Kong was 24 feet, the 1976 version was 55 feet while Peter Jackson knocked him back to 25 feet for his 2005 adaptation—and easily knocks many of Randa’s helicopters from the air.
The survivors hit the ground running, only to meet up with Hank Marlow (John C. Reilly), a World War II fighter pilot stranded on the island for decades. “You’ve probably noticed a lot of weird things on this island,” he says in the understatement of the century. As they try and brave the treacherous landscape to meet a refuelling team at the north end of the island the motley crew soon realizes Kong isn’t their only or even biggest problem.
At its furry heart “Kong: Skull Island” feels like an anti-war movie. At least half of it does. The opening section, roughly half the movie, suggests the unintentional and deadly consequences that come from dropping bombs were you shouldn’t. “You didn’t go to someone’s house and start dropping bombs and less you’re looking for a fight.” It’s a timely message about unleashing powers we don’t understand in the name of war wrapped in a Vietnam allegory. “Sometimes the enemy doesn’t exist until you show up at his doorstep,” says Cole (Shea Whigham).
Then Reilly enters and with him comes a new shift. What was once a message movie is now a story of survival and giant beasts. Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts pivots at this point, staging a series of action scenes with cool creatures, and it works as pure creature feature entertainment. It’s cool to see Kong tossing military helicopters around as though they were Tonka Toys and another scene will make you think twice about sitting on an old hollowed out log. Fans of bigly beast action will be more than satisfied with the final battle between Kong and a massive subterranean people eater.
“Kong: Skull Island’s” social commentary doesn’t fade away completely but Kong’s mighty roar does drown most of it out. Just below the roar, almost out of earshot, is the idea that displays of force aren’t always the way to deal with conflict, a rare sentiment for an action movie laden with WMDs. Mostly the flick provides a fun romp with some big budget beasts and (secondarily) an Oscar winner or two.