Richard speaks to “CTV News at Six” anchor Andria Case about the best movies and television to watch this weekend. This week we have a look at the scary series “Welcome to the Blumhouse” on Amazon Prime Video, the literary documentary “The Capote Tapes,” now on VOD and the biggest movies on screens this weekend, “Dune.”
Richard joins Ryan Doyle and Jay Michaels of the NewsTalk 1010 afternoon show The Rush for Booze and Reviews! Today he talks about how Mick Jagger singlehandedly made the Tequila Sunrise a staple on drink menus everywhere. Then they talk about “Dune” and “The Harder They Fall,” now playing in theatres.
Richard joins CP24 to have a look at new movies coming to VOD, streaming services and theatres including sci fi epic “Dune,” the wild Western “The Harder They Fall” starring Jonathan Majors, Idris Elba and Regina King and the literary documentary “The Capote Tapes.”
Richard joins NewsTalk 1010 host Jim Richards on the coast-to-coast-to-coast late night “Showgram” to play the game “Did Richard Crouse like these movies?” This week we talk about the much anticipated sci fi epic “Dune,” the wild Western “The Harder They Fall” starring Jonathan Majors, Idris Elba and Regina King and the literary documentary “The Capote Tapes.”
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 much anticipated sci fi epic “Dune” and the neo-Western “The Harder They Fall” starring Jonathan Majors, Idris Elba and Regina King. They also discuss the tragic incident on the set of “Rust” that took the life of director of photography Halyna Hutchins.
“Dune,” the latest cinematic take on the Frank Herbert 1965 classic, now playing in theatres, is part one of the planned two-part series. So be forewarned, the two-and-a-half-hour movie doesn’t wrap things up with a tidy bow. For some, the film’s last line, “This is only the beginning,” will be a promise of more interesting movies ahead, for others, who prefer tighter storytelling and a clear-cut finale, it may come off as a threat.
Director and co-writer Denis Villeneuve benefits from the parceled-out storytelling. Where David Lynch’s ill-fated 1984 version attempted to cover the complexity of the entire book, Villeneuve is given the time for world building, to explain the various and complex spiritual sci-fi elements that make up the story.
Here are the Cole’s Notes.
Set 8,000 years in the future, the story focusses on Paul Atreides (Timothée Chalamet), son of an aristocratic family and possibly, just maybe, a prophet. His father, Duke Leto Atreides (Oscar Isaac), has been bestowed stewardship of Arrakis, the desert planet also known as Dune. His mother, Lady Jessica (Rebecca Ferguson), is part of the Bene Gesserit, a social, religious, and political alliance who can magically control enemies by modulating their vocal tones.
Their new domain, Arrakis, is a desolate, almost inhabitable place that is home to the Fremen, a group of people who have lived on the planet for thousands of years. It is also the universe’s only source of mélange, also known as “spice.” It’s a drug with the power to extend human life, facilitate superhuman planes of thought and can even make faster-than-light travel possible. It is the most valuable commodity in the universe and those who control it, control everything.
When Baron Vladimir Harkonnen (Stellan Skarsgård doing his best impression of Marlon Brando in “Apocalypse Now”), the former steward of Arrakis, double crosses the Atreides clan, Paul and his mother are left in the desert to die. If they are to survive it will be with the help of the Fremen—including Chani (Zendaya) and Stilgar (Javier Bardem)—who call Paul “The Chosen One” and believe he has the power to bring peace to their world.
There’s more. Lots more, but that’s the non-spoilerific version.
Villeneuve lays out the information methodically, allowing the various story points and character motivations to seep into the fabric of the film and make an impact before moving on. There’s a lot to get through, but it doesn’t feel onerous like so many origin stories do.
Also effective are the large scale, and I mean large as in you need three or four eyes to take it all in, action scenes. The entire movie is big. So big it makes even the giant humans Jason Momoa and Dave Bautista, who play swordmaster Duncan Idaho and warrior Glossu Rabban respectively, look puny by comparison. As for the action, Villeneuve pulls out all the stops, staging world ending battles with elegance. Often major battle sequences can be muddled, a blur of colours and glints of metal, but Villeneuve delivers clear cut, tense sequences with a clarity that is unusual for modern action.
“Dune” is big and beautiful, with plentiful action and a really charismatic performance from Momoa. It is unquestionably well made, with thought provoking themes of exploitation of Indigenous peoples, environmentalism and colonialism.
So why didn’t I like it more than I did?
Partially because it’s an epic with no payoff. The cliffhanger nature of the story is frustrating after a two-and-a-half-hour wait. As good audience members we allow ourselves to be caught up in the world, humourless and bleak as it often is, to get to know the characters and then what? Wait for two years for the next movie? Apparently so, and the ending feels abrupt.
Nonetheless, “Dune” is formidable. It’s a grim, immersive movie that doesn’t shy away from the darkness that propels the story or the high-mindedness of the ideas contained within. Eventually, when we have a part two, it will feel like one piece, much like “The Lord of the Rings” franchise, but right now, despite its scope, it feels incomplete.
This week on the Richard Crouse Show Podcast we get to know Rob Lindsay, director of “No Responders Left Behind,” a documentary about the fight waged by former “The Daily Show” host Jon Stewart, social activist John Feal and FDNY hero Ray Pfeifer to get health benefits and compensation for 9/11 first responders. The film is now streaming on Discovery Plus in Canada.
Then, Rebecca Ferguson, star of the much anticipated sci fi movie “Dune” stops by to talk about her character Lady Jessica, and why she described reading the book to be like doing a crossword puzzle.
Then, Elaine Taylor Plummer stops by. She is a former actress. You’ve seen her in comedies like “Diamond for Breakfast” and “Half a Sixpence,” and she was even a Bond girl in 1967’s “Casino Royale.” She dropped by the show today to talk about her husband of more than 50 years, the late, great Christopher Plummer and a new commemorative stamp issued by Canada Post in his honour. The couple met while filming Lock Up Your Daughters in 1969, and were together until the actor’s death in 2021 at age 91.
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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Reminders of real life were all around us at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. From the digital screenings we watched at home to half empty, socially distanced screenings at venues like The Princess of Wales Theatre. But when my mind wanders back to September 2021, I won’t be thinking of having to show my proof of vaccination or the social distancing in theatres.
What will linger?
The images of Anya Taylor-Joy in “Last Night in Soho,” crooning an a cappella version of the Swingin’ Sixties anthem “Downtown,” and “Dune’s” Stellan Skarsgård doing his best impression of Marlon Brando in “Apocalypse Now,” come to mind immediately.
Those moments and others like them are the reason the movies exist. They transcend the vagaries of real life, transporting us away from a place where masks, vaccine passports are the reality.
And boy, did we need that this year.
Here a look back at some of the moments that made memories at this year’s TIFF:
“Night Raiders,” a drama from Cree-Métis filmmaker Danis Goulet, draws on the historical horrors of the Sixties Scoop and Residential Schools to create an unforgettable, dystopian scenario set in the new future. It effectively paints a somber portrait of totalitarian future, packed with foreboding and danger. The story is fictional but resonates with echoes of the ugly truths of colonization and forced assimilation. Goulet allows the viewer to make the comparisons between the real-life atrocities and the fictional elements of the story. There are no pages of exposition, just evocative images. Show me don’t tell me. The basis in truth of the underlying themes brings the story a weight often missing in the dystopian genre.
I asked Danis Goulet about having many of her characters in Night Raiders speak Cree: “It is everything to me,” she said. “My dad is a Cree language speaker. He grew up speaking Cree. He learned to speak English in school. His parents were Cree speakers. And coming down to my generation, I’m no longer a Cree speaker and there are entire universes, philosophies and poetry and beauty contained in the language. When we think of where our heritage lies, maybe some people think of museums. For me I think it is in the language. I think that richness doesn’t just offer Indigenous people something. I think if others looked closer at what the language tells us about the history of this land, they would be incredibly amazed. My dad has looked at references in the language that talk about the movement of the glaciers, so, foe me to have the Cree language on screen is everything. I’m in my own process. I go to Cree language camp to try and learn back the language and the language gives back in a way that is so healing and incredible. It is one of the greatest gifts in my life. So, the opportunity to put my dad’s first language on the screen, and the language of the Northern Communities where I come from, and my language that I lost, is the best. It’s incredible.”
From Twitter: @RichardCrouse Was just sent this: “Wanted to check and see if you’d be able to either send proof of vaccine OR a negative covid test prior to your interviews with the talent.” I sent my proof in, but added, “Will the talent be providing me with proof of vaccination?” #TIFF21 #fairquestion 4:48 PM · Sep 9, 2021· 8 Retweets 3 Quote Tweets 206 Likes
There is no mention of COVID-19 in the Jake Gyllenhaal thriller “The Guilty.” But make no mistake, this is a pandemic movie, A remake of 2018 Danish film “Den skyldige,” it is essentially a one hander, shot on a just a handful of set with strict safety protocols in place. Gyllenhaal, as 911 operator Joe Baylor, may be socially distanced from his castmates, but his performance is anything but distant. Played out in real time, “The Guilty” builds tension as Baylor races against a ticking clock to bring the situation to a safe resolution for Emily. Director Antoine Fuqua amps up the sense of urgency, keeping his camera focused on Gyllenhaal’s feverish performance. The close-ups create a sense of claustrophobia, visually telegraphing Baylor’s feeling of helplessness and his crumbling mental state.
The sound of an audience laughing, applauding, crying, or whatever. Just being an audience. The big venues were socially distanced, and often looked empty to the eye, but when the lights went down and folks reacted to the opening speeches or the films, it didn’t matter. Roy Thomson Hall, with its 2600-person capacity, may have only had 1000 or so people in the seats, but for ninety minutes or two hours they formed a community, kindred souls brought together after a long break, and it was uplifting to hear their reactions.
“Flee” is a rarity, an animated documentary. A mix of personal and modern world history, it is a heartfelt look at the true, hidden story of the harrowing life journey of a gay refugee from Afghanistan. Except for a few minutes here and there of archival news footage, “Flee” uses animation to tell the story but this ain’t the “Looney Tunes.” Rasmussen used the animation to protect Amin’s identity, but like other serious-minded animated films like “Persepolis” and “Waltz with Bashir,” the impressionistic presentation enhances the telling of the tale. The styles of Rasmussen’s animation change to reflect and effectively bring the various stages of Amin’s journey to vivid life. It is suspenseful, heartbreaking and often poetic.
I asked “The Survivor” star Vicky Krieps about working opposite Ben Foster: “The first day I came [on set] I was very intimidated,” she said. “I wouldn’t say scared, but it felt like a wall to me. It began like this. There was no small talk. There was no, ‘How are you?’ He was already in character and it was very clear. I thought, ‘OK, I have to play his wife.’ And then, something really interesting happened. I like having a challenge and this felt like a challenge. So, I needed to find a way [to relate to him] because I knew I was going to be his wife. How do I do that? Imagine it as a wall, but then in the wall there are eyes. I used those eyes and I felt like I could open a window, and inside of those eyes was a horizon where I could go. I liked to say to Ben, ‘And then we would dance.’ Sometimes I wrote to him and said, ‘It was nice dancing today.’”
“Last Night in Soho,” from director Edgar Wright, is a love letter to London’s Swingin’ Sixties by way of Italian Giallo. Surreal and vibrant, and more than a little bit silly, its enjoyable for those with a taste for both Petula Clarke and murder. It begins with verve, painting a picture of a time and place that is irresistible. A mosaic of music, fashion and evocative set decoration, the first hour brings inventive world building and stunning imagery. Wright pulls out all the stops, making visual connections between his film and the movies of the era he’s portraying and even including sixties British icons Rigg, Tushingham and Stamp in the cast.
I asked “Dune” star Rebecca Ferguson why she said reading Frank Herbert’s novel was like doing a crossword puzzle: “Sometimes I wonder what comes out of my mouth,” she said. “My mother and many of my friends sit and do crosswords, but I have never been in that world. There is a way of thinking around it. It’s logical, mathematical. You need to be able to see rhythms. Whatever it is. Reading “Dune” was quite dense and I think for people who are immersed into the world of science fiction, they understand worlds and Catharism and this planet and that planet. It is just another picture, which, not to stupefy myself, I am intelligent enough to understand it, but there is a rhythm. I think it is me highlighting the fact that people who live and breathe science fiction, they get it at another level.”
“Dune,” the latest cinematic take on the Frank Herbert 1965 classic, now playing in theatres, is part one of the planned two-part series. “Dune” is big and beautiful, with plentiful action and a really charismatic performance from Jason Momoa as swordmaster Duncan Idaho. It is unquestionably well made, with thought provoking themes of exploitation of Indigenous peoples, environmentalism and colonialism.
Shia LaBeouf’s reputation serves him well in “Borg/McEnroe.” The story of one of the all-time great sports rivalries, this film from Swedish director Janus Metz turns the actor’s hotheaded persona into a terrific performance as John McEnroe, the “superbrat” of tennis.
A non-traditional sports movie, “Borg/McEnroe “ ends with the Wimbledon matches in the 1980 final but spends the vast amount of its running time as a behind-the-scenes character study of polar opposites. On the court their games were as much psychological as they were physical, and this movie delves into the backstories that fed their individual styles.
We learn of McEnroe father’s unrelenting push for perfection. Whether it was doing complicated math tricks for dad’s friends or on the court, young McEnroe developed a perfectionist streak that lead to extreme discipline and a hair trigger temper when his lofty standards weren’t met.
In public life Björn Borg (Sverrir Gudnason) was nicknamed the Iceborg, a play on his chilly demeanour but flashbacks to his early life with coach Lennart Bergelin (Stellan Skarsgård) reveal a similar upbringing to McEnroe. The difference between the two competitors came with Borg’s ability to suppress his anger, unlike the combustible McEnroe, who became famous for his on-court outbursts. “They say Borg is an iceberg, keeping it all in,” says one commentator, “until he becomes a volcano.”
The film digs deep, accentuating the similarities between the two players, not their differences. It’s an unusual take for a sports film. Typically sporting films play up the differences between competitors to amp up the conflict but this isn’t a standard sports story. It’s more an existential drama concerned with the why’s of their personalities not the how’s of their game. Many people will know how this story ends—and no, it doesn’t rewriter tennis history—so director Metz wisely focuses on the journey, not the destination.
Perhaps of his own history of public behaviour LaBeouf brings fire and empathy to his portrayal of McEnroe. A performance that could easily have drifted into caricature instead offers a nuanced look at the demons that fuelled the champion’s antics.
Gudnason is a dead ringer for Borg and does a nice job of hinting at the self-doubt that was always just under his icy exterior.
“Borg/McEnroe” gives insight into the lives of these two gold star athletes, revealing the men behind the game.