Thanks to the Canadian Screen Awards for having Richard in again last night to host the Press Room. He interviewed the winners as they left the stage and chatted with Mary Walsh, Billy Campbell, Karine Vanasse, Jennifer Baichwal, Stephan James, Deepa Mehta, Theodore Pellerin, the cast of Un Colonie, Catherine O’Hara and the gang from Schitt’s Creek, Jasmin Mozaffari, the Kids in the Freakin’ Hall, AmyBeth McNulty, Kim Coates and many others. Thanks to Anna-Lea Boeki, Alexandra Staseson and Mr. Will Wong for the pictures!
Richard joins CP24 anchor Cristina Tenaglia to have a look at the weekend’s new movies including Christian Bale as former vice president Dick Cheney in “Vice,” the James Baldwin adaptation “If Beale Street Could Talk” and Felicity Jones as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States Ruth Bader Ginsburg in “On the Basis of Sex.”
Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Angie Seth to have a look at the weekend’s big releases including Christian Bale as Dick Cheney in “Vice,” the James Baldwin adaptation “If Beale Street Could Talk” and Felicity Jones as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States Ruth Bader Ginsburg in “On the Basis of Sex.”
A weekly 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 Dick Cheney biopic “Vice,” the James Baldwin adaptation “If Beale Street Could Talk,” and Felicity Jones as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States Ruth Bader Ginsburg in “On the Basis of Sex.”
Based on a well-loved James Baldwin novel, “If Beale Street Could Talk” is a story of love in the face of injustice. Director Barry Jenkins, in his follow-up to the Oscar winning “Moonlight,” has crafted a stately film that takes us inside the relationship at the heart of the story and the heartlessness that threatens to rip it apart.
Childhood friends “Tish” Rivers (Kiki Layne) and Alonzo “Fonny” Hunt (Stephan James) kept their relationship platonic until it blossomed into love when she was 19 and he was 22. With a lifetime of familiarity behind them, their relationship progresses quickly. They move into together and wait for the birth of their first child when tragedy strikes. Framed for sexual assault by racist cop Officer Bell (Ed Skrein) Fonny is thrown in jail. “I hope nobody ever has to look at somebody they love through class,” Tish says. The families rally to raise money for his defence but circumstance conspires to keep him incarcerated.
“If Beale Street Could Talk” is a love story framed against a backdrop of disenfranchisement and turmoil. It is about a woman’s love for her fiancé, a mother and father‘s for their daughter, the power of love to be the fuel of survival. As the faces of this love Jenkins displays an impeccable eye for casting. Through their body language and easy chemistry Layne and James hand in performances ripe with empathy, power and, here’s that word again, love.
There is a delicacy to the filmmaking. Jenkins takes his time, slowly building the story of heartbreak tinged with hope. It’s a period piece but placed alongside the spate of newspaper stories of young African-American men by police it feels as timely as today’s headlines.
Director X (real name Julien Christian Lutz) has captured some of hip-hop’s most iconic images on film. His Hotline Bling music video for Drake racked up almost 300 million online views, and he’s directed promos for everyone from Rihanna and Kendrick Lamar to Iggy Azalea to Busta Rhymes, but now that he’s made the leap to the movies don’t expect a big screen musical from him.
“I’ve lived my life for almost 20 years with guys rapping or singing or singers who wish they were rappers,” he says.
“I’ve swum in those waters enough. Now that I’ve got people talking I don’t want them to talk about rapping and singing. Forgive me if that is not something I’m into right now.
“Maybe when I’m an old man doing a period piece about this time it might be interesting but I’ve always felt hip hop is like a movie right in front of your face. Chris Brown and Drake really got into a fight at a bar and threw vodka bottles at one another. Me fictionalizing a movie of that [isn’t necessary], you’re watching the movie unfold in front of your face, bullet time. For someone else, go on ahead, but there are other stories I’d like to tell and speak in my own voice.”
Over the years Director X has been connected to other projects — there were rumours he would direct a vampire film called Razorwire — but says he chose Across the Line as his debut feature film because “it was actually about something.”
“It’s about where I’m from,” he says. “It’s about Canada but a deeper level of Canadian history and Canadian communities. It’s not just a story about Toronto or a story we know, regardless of the city.”
Inspired by true events, the film is a study of race in small-town Nova Scotia as seen from the perspective of a young National Hockey League prospect. When his chance at the big league is threatened by family problems and racial tension at his high school, he must overcome intolerance, cultural tension and the odds to fulfil his dream.
“It’s a story that needed to be told,” says the director, whose next film is a sequel to the movie Center Stage.
Director X’s music video work is characterized by his own particular sense of style, something he had to put on the back burner while making Across the Line.
“I brought myself to it but at the same time there aren’t any scenes that are just pure visual fun,” he says. “There was no John Woo cool. When you’re making movies you have a responsibility to respect the story over cool awesome shots that belong in blockbusters as opposed to a narrative. But at the same time it’s not just turning on the lights and putting the camera on a tripod. It’s finding a style that aids the story as opposed to just something that is cool stuff.”
Across the Line’s story has already connected with festival audiences. It won Best Atlantic Feature at the Atlantic Film Festival and earned kind reviews at the Beverly Hills and Boston International Film Festivals, which he thinks are driven by the realism on the screen.
“It’s inspired by life,” he says, “and takes turns that only come out of life.”
In the film Race, Toronto-born actor Stephan James plays the greatest and most famous athlete in track and field history. But, when he was approached about the part, James wasn’t sure exactly who Jesse Owens was.
“When I got that call that they’re making a Jesse Owens biopic I scratched my head a little,” the 22-year-old says.
“He won those gold medals, right? How many did he win again? I didn’t know how many he won or where he won them or under what circumstances or when this all took place.”
He quickly learned about Owens’s early career, the Ohio State races that made him a legend and how an African American runner stared down Hitler by winning four gold medals at the 1936 Berlin Olympics.
“After reading the script and researching his life to find out the backstory I was literally blown away. Blown away that this had taken place almost 80 years ago.”
The film documents 28 turbulent months in Owens’s life, from just before he enrolled in university to the Olympics where, ESPN would later say, the runner “single-handedly crush[ed] Hitler’s myth of Aryan supremacy.”
Jason Sudeikis, who plays Owens’s college trainer Larry Snyder, says he wanted to make the movie because “it didn’t lean on any one thing. It was bigger than just a sports film. It wasn’t pontificating, we didn’t treat Jesse with kid gloves and only as an icon. We can’t have all our heroes with giant hammers and capes. While that is good at the box office and for people with stock options I don’t know how good it is for little boys and girls who think that is the only way they can become a hero. We got to show the humanity behind him, we see him warts and all. You see his petulance, you get to see his indecision, you see him make horrible missteps as a husband and father, and yet all through that adversity he has the humility and integrity to correct those mistakes. That is just as heroic as whipping Hitler’s buns for four gold medals.”
James, who was recently seen as civil rights leader John Lewis in the critically acclaimed Selma, felt the weight of playing a legend on screen.
“It is one thing to be leading your own film,” he says. “To be number one on that call sheet, to know you have the biggest workload, to know that there are millions of dollars and ideas on your head. It’s another thing to play Jesse
Owens, the icon, the man, the myth, the legend. A guy who is not only a pivotal person in American history but world history, so I knew I had my work cut for me. The pressure was there. Obviously he’s not alive but his family is and have been very much involved since the beginning. There is a certain responsibility to play a real character, of course, but the great Jesse Owens is a whole other thing.”
After starring as Owens in Race, James has his sights set on playing another kind of hero. “I want to play Spider-Man,” he says. “I think that would be dope. I’ve always wanted to play a superhero but Spider-Man is so cool, so unassuming. I think I can relate a little.”