Screen Shot 2016-04-23 at 7.35.37 AMRichard and CP24 anchor Nneka Elliot talk about the weekend’s big releases, Charlize Theron and Emily Blunt in “The Huntsman: Winter’s War,” the Tom Hanks dramedy “A Hologram for The King” and Sally Field in “Hello, My Name is Doris.”

Watch the whole ting HERE!


Screen Shot 2016-04-22 at 10.22.06 AMRichard and “Canada AM” host Marci Ien talk about the weekend’s big releases, the pomp and circumstance of “The Huntsman: Winter’s War,” the Tom Hanks dramedy “A Hologram for The King,” Sally Field in “Hello, My Name is Doris” and the sexy sax sounds of “The Devil’s Horn.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!

Metro In Focus: In defence of Charlize Theron: GQ gaffe out of character

Screen Shot 2016-04-18 at 12.11.17 PMBy Richard Crouse – Metro In Focus

In polite society no one would dare ask a stranger about his or her father’s violent death, but celebrity culture is not polite society.

Over the years I’ve heard interviewers ask questions ranging from the innocuous — “What are you wearing?” — to the silly — “How do you keep your bum in such great shape?” — but rarely have I heard anything as unnecessarily meddling as the query aimed at Charlize Theron during a press conference I hosted several years ago.

A reporter asked the actress about seeing her mother shoot her abusive, alcoholic father dead when she was a teenager. But instead of breaking down Theron said, “I’m not talking about that,” with an icy finality that made everyone freeze.

I admired her for not over sharing, not spilling the intimate details of her life à la the Kardashian Klan. She’s careful what she says to the press, avoids scandal and damage controls the ones that inevitably pop up in every celeb’s life. For instance, recently she said, short and sweetly, “We both decided to separate,” when accused of “ghosting” on her romance with Sean Penn.

She understands some things should only be spoken about when and where she chooses and not at the behest of an aggressive reporter looking to dredge up painful memories for the sake of “good television.” Theron is media savvy so I was surprised a few weeks ago when she caused a media hurly burly with comments about the burden of being beautiful.

Chatting up her new film The Huntsman: Winter’s War with British GQ she said, “How many roles are out there for the gorgeous, BLEEPINGing, gown-wearing eight-foot model? When meaty roles come through, I’ve been in the room and pretty people get turned away first.”

She is a beautiful woman, that is as clear as the perfectly positioned nose on her face, but is she intimating that being beautiful has harmed her career?

Turns out she wasn’t, or so she claims. Alleging a misquote, she later apologized, saying that playing “deconstructed characters” appeals because, “how many characters really are there out there for a woman wearing a gown? You have to play real people.

The mea culpa was unnecessary. She works in a business where beauty is a commodity.

The problem with her earlier statement is that publicly acknowledging one’s own looks carries with it a hint of arrogance, a suggestion that winning the genetic lottery somehow makes you superior, but she simply said something others already have.

Keira Knightley claims she almost lost the role in Pride and Prejudice because the director thought she was too pretty and Jessica Biel says being Esquire’s 2005 Sexiest Woman cost her work.

Theron may have missed out on a job or two because of her looks, but it’s also an element of what made her a star.

That and talent, and just as you wouldn’t apologize for skin colour or having red hair or being tall or short, she doesn’t need to say sorry for being beautiful.

THE HUNTSMAN: WINTER’S WAR: 1 STAR. “let’s call this movie a ‘sprequel.’”

Screen Shot 2016-04-18 at 12.06.04 PMOnce upon a time there was a movie called “Snow White and the Huntsman.” Starring Hollywood princesses Kristen Stewart and Charlize Theron, it was a dark reimagining of the classic story that played like the love child of the Brothers Grimm and “The Hobbit” with two compelling characters, warrior Snow White and the villainous Ravenna.

Another film was inevitable, but how do you make a sequel when KStew busy making art films and Ravenna didn’t make it to the end credits? Easy, you rehire Theron, play mix and match “Frozen” and “Game of Thrones” and hope for the best.

“The Huntsman: Winter’s War“ begins its confusing journey as a prequel. Ravenna (Theron) is alive and well, a Grand Guiginol vision of a fairy tale Queen. Despite her best efforts sister Freya (Emily Blunt) refuses to embrace their evil birthright, choosing instead to start a family. When tragedy strikes the formerly good-natured princess finds her wicked power, morphing into the Winter Queen, whose icy glare can freeze kingdoms. The only things missing are Olaf and a show tune or two.

In her frigid northern empire she raises a child army of orphans called the Huntsmen (even though they’re not all boys or men). Elsa’s… er… Freya’s warriors are forbidden to love. They must let it go. “In my kingdom there is one rule do not love,” she says. “It is in a sin I will not forgive.” When Eric (Chris Hemsworth) and Sara (Jessica Chastain) fall hard for one another and plan to elope, Freya goes to extraordinary and cruel lengths to ensure they live happily never after.

Cut to seven years later. The movie is now into sequel territory. Snow White (who is glimpsed only briefly) has defeated Ravenna and now needs Eric to locate the Magic Mirror and ensure it is never used for evil. Cue the goblins, a few hi ho hi ho’s provided by Nick Frost, Rob Brydon, Sheridan Smith and Alexandra Roach and more CGI than you can throw an enchanted mirror at.

I’m not sure what to call “The Huntsman: Winter’s War.“ It’s not a sequel or a prequel and yet it is both. Officially I suppose we’re supposed to call it a “sprequel”; I call it bloated, confusing and worst of all, dull. You would think that any movie featuring Emily Blunt riding a polar bear would be great fun but you’d be wrong. From the half hour of narration that opens the story to the cavalcade of CGI and bad accents—Hemsworth and Chastain easily beat Kevin Costner for worst-ever cinematic British Isles burrs—to sloppy storytelling, this is a grim, not Brothers Grimm tale.

Bad accent aside Hemsworth brings some swagger to the role of Eric, Chastain tries to keep a straight face and sidekicks Frost, Brydon, Smith and Roach create a badly needed sense of fun to the proceedings. Blunt isn’t given much to do, aside from her rather stunning entrance in the polar bear but Theron actually disappoints. In the first film she’s a hoot, a bundle of bad intentions gathered up in one pretty package. Here she’s not the same figure of malicious amusement but oddly disconnected and not nearly as much fun.

Over long “The Huntsman: Winter’s War“ drones on for almost two hours until the narrator (Liam Neeson) reappears. As his dulcet tones close the movie with something to the effect of the story may be over “but fairy talks never end,” it doesn’t seem so much like an ending as it does a threat that they might make a sequel to this mess.

MALEFICENT: 4 STARS. “A winged Angelina Jolie is a formidable force.”

maleficent-wings“Let us tell you an old story anew,” says “Maleficent’s” narrator ((Janet McTeer), “and we’ll see how well you know it.”

The new Angelina Jolie film takes some liberties with a time-honored story, but doesn’t stray too far from the necessary fairy tale elements. There is some grim stuff—treachery and de-winging—but there are also traditional themes about good and evil and the redemption of evil becoming good.

This reimagining of Disney’s “Sleeping Beauty” begins with Maleficent as the pure-hearted fairy protector of the enchanted Moors, “where no man goes for fear of the magical creatures who live within.” When Stefan, a greedy, ambitious human whose betrayal turns her colder than the Polar Vortex, breaks her heart, she vows revenge.

Later, when Stefan (Sharlto Copley) becomes king Maleficent (Angelina Jolie) exacts her vengeance by cursing his baby daughter named Aurora (Elle Fanning with the words, “Before the sun sets on her sixteenth birthday, she will fall into a sleep-like death!” To seal the deal, she adds, “This curse will last until the end of time. No power on earth can change it!”

For the next sixteen years Maleficent is a ghostly presence in Aurora’s life. When they finally meet instead of fear, the young princess welcomes her. “I know who you are,” she says innocently, “You’re my Fairy-Godmother!”

The two hit it off, but to no avail. Maleficent’s curse is irreversible and even though the evil-fairy-turned-surrogate-mother begins to feel protective of Aurora she is powerless to change her fate.

Archly theatrical, “Maleficent” harkens back to everything from vintage Disney, to “Lord of the Rings” to the ”Addams Family.” It’s a beautifully rendered film, visually rich, from the Moors’ creatures that look like they escaped from Jim Henson’s “Labyrinth,” to Maleficent soaring through the air, drifting above the clouds. A winged Angelina Jolie is a formidable force.

Like all good fairy tales it is simply told. It’s a familiar story, with a twist, but unlike its spiritual cousins, the “Lord of the Rings” movies or “Snow White and the Huntsman,” it clocks in way under two hours, moving at a deliberate but brisk pace.

The leads are wonderfully cast. Fanning conveys the sugar and spice and everything nice of the innocent princess, while Jolie is a striking screen presence. He extraordinary looks are made even more otherworldly with the addition of cheekbones that would make Kate Moss green with envy. Beyond the superficial, she brings to life the complexity of a fairy scorned; a kind-hearted, loving creature turned to stone but with a glimmer of good burning deep within.

“Maleficent” may be too intense for very young “Sleeping Beauty” fans, but is a fine addition to the Disney collection.


snow-white-and-the-huntsman1“Snow White and the Huntsman” plays like the love child of the Brothers Grimm and The Hobbit. It is dark in tone and in look with just a few hi ho ho’s provided by the Seven Dwarfs. That’ll be my last bad Snow White joke, I promise. The first hour is a gothic fairy tale, the second hour more an action movie, but through it all Charlize’s Theron’s bug eyed Grand Guiginol performance remains constant.

It’s a tale as old as time… wait a minute! That’s Beauty and the Beast. But Snow White’s story dates back almost as far. In this twist on the familiar fairy tale Charlize Theron is Ravenna, an evil queen so obsessed with being the fairest in the land she condemns the dead king’s lovely daughter, Snow White (Kristen Stewart), to a lifetime of solitude and captivity. When the queen’s gossipy mirror-on-the-wall tells her that Ms. White will one day reclaim the throne, Ravenna does what any evil monarch would do. She decides to eat Snow’s still beating heart, thereby ensuring immortality and the throne. Luckily Snow escapes, and with the help of a handsome huntsman, (Thor’s Chris Hemsworth), a childhood friend (Sam Claflin) and eight diminutive allies (Ian McShane, Bob Hoskins, Ray Winstone, Nick Frost, Eddie Marsan, Toby Jones, Johnny Harris and Brian Gleeson), fulfills her destiny.

“Snow White and the Huntsman” may be the fairest movie of the summer, and I’m not referring to the fetching Charlize or KStew, or the chiseled Hemsworth or Claflin, but to the look of the film. It is majestically bleak, blending stark realism with fantasy elements to create a look rich in detail. With much of the color drained from the palette the movie has a dark foreboding feel which helps shape the narrative.

First time director Rupert Sanders knows how to establish atmosphere, it’s too bad he isn’t as skilled in storytelling.

The look, from the sets to the creatures—very cool tree troll and some airy fairies—to Ravenna’s evil wardrobe are all spot on, but some of the good will they create is blown by a script that often relies on banalities.

The talky bits aren’t nearly as interesting as the yelling bits (thanks to Charlize’s unhinged performance) and the action sequences. When the movie is on horseback, or Charlize is chewing the scenery (or her favorite snack, beating bird hearts) the movie is great fun. When it slows down to up the word count, it’s less so.

Stewart brings her usual brooding intensity, this time matched with an English accent and Hemsworth is having fun in a physical role that does not involve throwing a giant hammer. But as appealing as they both are, “Snow White and the Huntsman” becomes something other than a beautifully shot teen retelling of the story (with a strong sword wielding female lead and a feminist twist) only when Theron is lets loose or the band of small-sized warriors are on screen.