Baby Driver: Although it contains more music than most tuneful of movies “Baby Driver,” the new film from director Edgar Wright, isn’t a musical in the “West Side Story,” “Sound of Music” sense. Wallpapered with 35 rock ‘n roll songs on the soundtrack it’s a hard driving heist flick that can best be called an action musical.
The Big Sick: Even when “The Big Sick” is making jokes about terrorism and the “X-Files” it is all heart, a crowd-pleaser that still feels personal and intimate.
Call Me By Your Name: This is a movie of small details that speak to larger truths. Director Luca Guadagnino keeps the story simple relying on the minutiae to add depth and beauty to the story. The idyllic countryside, the quaint town, the music of the Psychedelic Furs and the languid pace of a long Italian summer combine to create the sensual backdrop against which the romance between the two blossoms. Guadagnino’s camera captures it all, avoiding the pitfalls of melodrama to present a story that is pure emotion. It feels real and raw, haunted by the ghosts of loves gone by.
Darkest Hour: This is a historical drama with all the trappings of “Masterpiece Theatre.” You can expect photography, costumes and period details are sumptuous. What you may not expect is the light-hearted tone of much of the goings on. While this isn’t “Carry On Churchill,” it has a lighter touch that might be expected. Gary Oldman, not an actor known for his comedic flourishes, embraces the sly humour. When Churchill becomes Prime Minister his wife, Clementine (Kristin Scott Thomas) makes an impassioned speech about the importance of the work he is about to take on. He raises a glass and, cutting through the emotion of the moment, says, “Here’s to not buggering it up!” It shows a side of Churchill not often revealed in wartime biopics.
The Disaster Artist: The key to pulling off “The Disaster Artist” is not recreating “The Room” beat for beat, although they do that, it’s actually about treating Wiseau as a person and not an object of fun. He’s an outrageous character and Franco commits to it 100%. From the marble-mouthed speech pattern that’s part Valley Girl and part Beaker from The Muppets to the wild clothes and stringy hair, he’s equal parts creepy and lovable but underneath his bravado are real human frailties. Depending on your point of view he’s either delusional or aspirational but in Franco’s hands he’s never also never less than memorable. It’s a broad, strange performance but it may also be one of the actor’s best.
Dunkirk: This is an intense movie but it is not an overly emotional one. The cumulative effect of the vivid images and sounds will stir the soul but despite great performances the movie doesn’t necessarily make you feel for one character or another. Instead its strength is in how it displays the overwhelming sense of scope of the Dunkirk mission. With 400,000 men on the ground with more in the air and at sea, the sheer scope of the operation overpowers individuality, turning the focus on the collective. Director Christopher Nolan’s sweeping camera takes it all in, epic and intimate moments alike.
The Florida Project: This is, hands down, one of the best films of the year. Low-budget and naturalistic, it packs more punch than any superhero. Director Sean Baker defies expectations. He’s made a film about kids for adults that finds joy in rocky places. What could have been a bleak experience or an earnest message movie is brought to vivid life by characters that feel real. It’s a story about poverty that neither celebrates or condemns its characters. Mooney’s exploits are entertaining and yet an air of jeopardy hangs heavy over every minute of the movie. Baker knows that Halley and Moonie’s well being hangs by a thread but he also understands they exist in the real world and never allows their story to fall into cliché.
Get Out: This is the weirdest and most original mainstream psychodrama to come along since “The Babadook.” The basic premise harkens back to the Sidney Poitier’s classic “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.” In that film parents, played by Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn, have their attitudes challenged when their daughter introduces them to her African American fiancé. The uncomfortable situation of meeting in-laws for the first time is universal. It’s the added layers of paranoia and skewered white liberalism that propels the main character’s (Daniel Kaluuya) situation into full-fledged horror. In this setting he is the other, the stranger and as his anxiety grows the social commentary regarding attitudes about race in America grows sharper and more focussed.
Lady Bird: Greta Gerwig’s skilful handling of the story of Lady Bird’s busy senior year works not just because it’s unvarnished and honest in its look at becoming an adult but also, in a large degree, to Saoirse Ronan’s performance. I have long called her ‘Lil Meryl. She’s an actor of unusual depth, a young person (born in 1994) with an old soul. Lady Bird is almost crushed by the weight of uncertainty that greets her with every turn—will her parents divorce, will there be money for school, will Kyle be the boy of her dreams, will she ever make enough cash to repay her parents for her upbringing?—but Ronan keeps her nimble, sidestepping teen ennui with a complicated mix of snappy one liners, hard earned wisdom and a well of emotion. It’s tremendous, Academy Award worthy work.
The Post: Steven Spielberg film is a fist-pump-in-the-air look at the integrity and importance of a free press. It’s a little heavy-handed but these are heavy-handed times. Director Spielberg and stars Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep are entertainers first and foremost, and they do entertain here, but they also shine a light on a historical era whose reverberations are being felt today stronger than ever.
The Shape of Water: A dreamy slice of pure cinema. Director Guillermo del Toro uses the stark Cold War as a canvas to draw warm and vivid portraits of his characters. It’s a beautiful creature feature ripe with romance, thrills and, above all, empathy for everyone. This is the kind of movie that reminds us of why we fell in love with movies in the first place.
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri: The story of a mother’s unconventional war with the world is simple enough, it’s the complexity of the characters that elevates the it to the level of great art.
Wonder Woman: Equal parts Amazon sword and sandal epic, mad scientist flick, war movie and rom com, it’s a crowd pleaser that places the popular character front and centre. As played by Gal Gadot, Diana is charismatic and kick ass, a superhero who is both truly super and heroic. Like Superman she is firmly on the side of good, not a tortured soul à la Batman. Naïve to the ways of the world, she runs headfirst into trouble. Whether she’s throwing a German tank across a battlefield, defying gravity to leap to the top of a bell tower, tolerating Trevor’s occasional mansplaining or deflecting bullets with her indestructible Bracelets of Submission, she proves in scene after scene to be both a formidable warrior and a genuine, profoundly empathic character.
Welcome to the House of Crouse. First up, “Wilson” star Judy Greer stops by for a quick visit to talk about working with Woody Harrelson and signing the boobs of Archer fans. Then we go long with “Goon: Last of the Enforcers” star Kim Coates. He recites Shakespeare, talks about “Sons of Anarchy” and growing up on the Canadian Prairies. From boobs to Shakespeare, we cover it all, so c’mon in and sit a spell.
Judy Greer wrote a charming, self-depreciating book called I Don’t Know What You Know Me From: Confessions of a Co-Star that chronicles her busy career as the second lead in dozens of movies and television shows like Jurassic World, Ant-Man, Arrested Development and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
She is, as her twitter bio reads, “that girl from that movie/tv show,” a familiar face on screens big and small. If you can’t place the face, perhaps you’ll recognize the voice. One of her longest running roles has her voicing the clingy and emotionally fragile Cheryl Tunt on the wildly popular adult animated spy sitcom Archer. For Greer herself the show has provided a career highpoint.
“I got to sign someone’s boobs at Comic-Con last year,” she says. “I think you’ve really made it if you have your own action figure and people want you to sign their boobs.”
There are other perks as well.
“I went to a dinner party recently, now I’m about to name drop, and Jon Hamm was there. He played a role on Archer but we don’t record together so I never get to meet anyone who does it. When I saw him he said, ‘God, I love your work on Archer and I love Archer so much I just wanted to be in it.’ That was so cool. That was a highlight. Jon Hamm and the boob signing. They work well in tandem. Maybe I’ll sign Jon Hamm’s boobs sometime!”
Her latest film, Wilson, gave her the chance to meet another of her favourite actors.
“I’m looking to work with people who inspire me. I’m pretty happy with the roles I‘m getting and I just want to work with more of my idols. I definitely checked that box with Woody [Harrelson].”
In the film Greer plays Shelly, a dog sitter who is one of the only people who finds the offbeat title character charming.
“There are a handful of actors who couldn’t play this role because you would hate them all the way through to the end. Woody himself is so lovely and wonderful that in the beginning when Wilson is kind of terrible Woody makes you root for him.
“After I saw the movie I found myself wanting to spend more time talking to people who irritate me,” she says. “Maybe that person is a Wilson and Wilson is great. I would want to hear Wilson’s opinion about things. Maybe I’m shutting people down too quickly. Maybe I need to give people who have strong opinions a little bit more of a minute in my life. Maybe there is something to be learned from them.”
The effervescent forty-one-year-old, who will next be seen in War for the Planet of the Apes, laughs when she says, “I felt strongly that [director] Craig [Johnson] would be making a huge mistake by not casting me.”
“Sometimes when I read something I fall in love with the character I’m going to play and sometimes I fall in love with the movie itself. In this case I fell in love with the whole movie, the script itself. I had to see this movie pop up for years to come and be so proud that I had a small piece of it. I wanted to do what I could to help Wilson and his story.”
Wilson, the titular character of the new Woody Harrelson dramedy, is the kind of unfiltered curmudgeon who calls his oldest friend a, “toxic, soul destroying vampire.”
He’s the kind of guy drives too slow on the highway and complains when people honk at him. “Everyone is in such a rush,” he harumphs.
He’s the kind of exasperating person who sits next to you on an empty train and then proceeds to ask deeply personal questions.
He’s the kind a guy who has probably been punched in the face, a lot.
But is he the kind of guy you want to spend 90 minutes with in the movie theater?
My answer would be no, but it really depends on whether you call his unfettered behaviour “open and fearless” or just plain rude.
Wilson is a square peg in the world of round holes, a man left alone and friendless when his father died and his only pal, Robert, moves away.
Convinced he must find a companion he tries to re-enter the dating pool. A couple of disastrous dates puts him on the trail of his ex-wife, a woman hasn’t seen in 17 years.
When she tells him she had their baby and put the little girl up for adoption, he insists on hunting her down in an attempt to form a lasting relationship. She is his legacy but her adoptive parents aren’t keen to have Wilson in their daughter’s life.
There’s more, but it would only lead you down the rabbit hole of Wilson’s off beat existence. No spoilers here.
“Wilson,” written by Daniel “Ghost World” Clowes and directed by Craig “The Skeleton Twins” Johnson, never quite finds the sweet spot between world weary versus depression, comedy versus tragedy. Harrelson and Co. play it at a heightened tone, only allowing dribs and drabs of real life to invade Wilson’s made up world.
The film trades on the theme that as people we are a fleeting, temporary presence in the world, soon to be forgotten.
“We want people to love us for who we are,” he says, “but that’s not possible because were all too unbearable.”
But just as that theme settles in Wilson, the man in the movie, shifts into a feel good mode that makes everything that came before seem a little like an elaborate but meaningless set up for some happy-making redemption. Everybody likes a happy ending, I know, but keeping true to Wilson’s crabby character and his journey would’ve been a more satisfying ride.
Richard and CP24 anchor Jamie Gutfreund have a look at the weekend’s new movies, “Get Out,” the most original horror film to come down the road in some time, the melodramatic romance “A United Kingdom,” the zombie flick “The Girl with All the Gifts,” and the documentaries “I Am Not Your Negro” and “Dying Laughing. They also do some Oscar predictions!
Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Marcia MacMillan to have a look at the big weekend movies, “Get Out,” the most original horror film to come down the road in some time, the melodramatic romance “A United Kingdom” and some Oscar predictions!
Jordan Peele learned how to scare people by making them laugh. As characters like Funkenstein’s Monster on the popular sketch show Key & Peele he investigated popular culture, ethnic stereotypes and race relations through a satirical lens.
Get Out, his directorial debut, however, contains few laughs. By design. It’s a horror film about college students Rose and Chris, played by Allison Williams and Daniel Kaluuya. Things are getting serious and it’s time to meet the parents.
“Do they know I’m black?” he asks. She assures him race is a non-issue as they head to her leafy up-state hometown to meet parents Missy and Dean (Catherine Keener and Bradley Whitford). After a few days Chris feels uneasy, a sensation compounded by an alarming call from his best friend. “I’ve been doing my research and a whole lot of brothers have gone missing in that suburb,” he says. Chris wonders if his hosts are racist and deadly or just racist.
“It’s a horror movie from an African American’s perspective,” Peele told Forbes.com.
While working on the script Peele sought advice from Sean of the Dead director Edgar Wright and other genre filmmakers but says ultimately his career in comedy was the best training to make a horror film.
Making people laugh, he declares, and scaring the pants off them share a similar skill set. Both are all about pacing, reveals and both must feel like they take place in reality he says.
His love of horror dates back to watching A Nightmare on Elm Street as a teen. It was the first movie that really terrified him. Since then, he says the first sight of Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs really frightened him.
“You come down the hallway, and he’s just waiting for you,” he told the New York Times. “It’s the protagonist in motion and something waiting for him, patiently and calmly. Those are so chilling to me.”
Get Out isn’t a typical horror film, however. Peele refers to it as a “social thriller,” a movie that veers away from the Nightmare on Elm Street thrills that made such an impression on him as a teen. Instead the main villain is something more insidious than even the slash-happy Freddy Kruger; it’s racial tension. He says the story is personal but is quick to add it speedily veers off from anything strictly autobiographical. Instead it is an exploration of racism in all its forms he hopes will ultimately be relatable for his audience no matter who they are.
He compares Chris’s anxiety to Sidney Poitier’s classic Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. In that film parents, played by Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn, have their attitudes challenged when their daughter introduces them to her African American fiancé. He says the uncomfortable situation of meeting in-laws for the first time is universal.
“The layer of race that enriches and complicates that tension (in the film) becomes relatable,” he told GQ. “It’s made to be an inclusive movie. If you don’t go through the movie with the main character, I haven’t done my job right.”
Funnyman Jordan Peele isn’t the first name you think of when you think of horror, but his new movie, “Get Out,” might change that. The “Key & Peele” star has dropped the satire that made his name in favour of scares.
College students Rose and Chris, played by Allison Williams and Daniel Kaluuya, have reached the point in their relationship when it’s getting serious and it’s time for him to meet her parents.
“Do they know I’m black?” he asks. “It seems like something you might want to mention. I don’t want to get chased off the lawn with a shotgun.”
She assures him race is a nonissue—“My dad would’ve voted for Obama third time if he could have,” she says. “They are not racist.”—as they head to her leafy up-state hometown to meet parents hypnotherapist Missy and neurosurgeon Dean (Catherine Keener and Bradley Whitford). After a few days Chris feels uneasy. A police officer demands to see his driver’s license even though he wasn’t driving the car and Dean is friendly, but strange. “How long has this been going on,” dad asks, “this thang.”
The atmosphere of apprehension builds during a garden party thrown on Missy and Dean’s estate. “It’s like they’ve never met a black person who didn’t work for them,” Chris says. Guests make inappropriate remarks and the only other African American attendee (Lakeith Stanfield) is standoffish until a flash bulb triggers a seizure. “Get out!” he screams over and over, attacking Chris. Unnerved Chris wants to leave, but finds himself trapped, wondering if his hosts are racist and deadly or just racist.
Back in the city Chris’ best friend, TSA agent Rod (LilRel Howery), is worried about his friend. After a google search or three Rod becomes convinced Chris has been kidnapped and his being used as a suburban sex slave.
“Get Out” is the weirdest and most original mainstream psychodrama to come along since “The Babadook.” The basic premise harkens back to the Sidney Poitier’s classic Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. In that film parents, played by Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn, have their attitudes challenged when their daughter introduces them to her African American fiancé. The uncomfortable situation of meeting in-laws for the first time is universal. It’s the added layers of paranoia and skewered white liberalism that propels Chris’ situation into full-fledged horror. In this setting Chris is the other, the stranger and as his anxiety grows the social commentary regarding attitudes about race in America grows sharper and more focussed.
The first hour is a slow burn, a gradual build to the weird behaviour that comes in the final third. Peele skilfully shapes the story, carefully adding layers of horror and humour (mostly courtesy of Howery) that grows to a bloody climax. The subtlety of the first hour is abandoned near the end when the movie shifts tone from a sinister Kubrickian feel to something more akin to an 80s slasher flick.
Kaluuya is the film’s beating heart. Williams, Keener and Whitford, who somehow make their mundane WASPy behaviour creepy as a facebook message from your high school gym teacher, ably back Kaluuya. Add to that Walter Marcus Henderson and Betty Gabriel as the otherworldly, possibly lobotomized handyman and housekeeper and you have the elements of a memorable night at the movies.
“Get Out” is a horror film—there are all manner of shocks and jumps—but like all great genre films it isn’t just that. It could more rightly be called a social thriller, a film that looks at everyday ills—in this case racial tension—through the lens of a genre movie.