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 drama “Judas and the Black Messiah” (Theatres), the psychological thriller “St. Maud” (digital and on-demand), Robin Wright’s directorial debut “Land” (in theatres), the cheesy action flick “Skyfire” (VOD) and the dark comedy “Breaking News In Yuba County” (VOD).
Like Rodney Dangerfield, Sue Buttons (Alison Janney) gets no respect. In the new dark comedy “Breaking News in Yuba County,” now available on VOD, she discovers that with respect and unwanted attention comer hand in hand.
A help-desk operator, Sue is verbally abused by random callers, her half-sister Nancy (Mila Kunis) doesn’t remember her birthday and even shopkeepers talk down to her. “You’re important. You’re strong. You matter,” she says into the mirror, despite all the evidence to the contrary. When her husband Karl (Matthew Modine), who has been laundering money for crime boss Mina (Awkwafina), goes missing after a tryst with his mistress (on Sue’s birthday no less), people begin to take notice of Sue. Elevated to local celebrity status, Sue weaves a web of lies to keep policewoman (Regina Hall), deadbeat brother-in-law (Jimmi Simpson) and reporter Nancy from discovering what really happened to Karl.
“Breaking News in Yuba County” is part suburban satire, part character study. As a satire it aims to peel back the soft underbelly of big box stores, small town attitudes and middle-age angst.
As a character study, it follows Sue as she blossoms from wallflower into the anxious center of attention.
In a well-oiled machine, these two elements would sit comfortably side-by-side but here the satire doesn’t cut and the characters don’t compel.
The performances, particularly from Janney, tap every ounce of interest from the script, but the underwritten story from Amanda Idoko doesn’t dig deep enough for the satire. Mean spirited instead of insightful, it attempts the kind of juggling act Joel and Ethan Coen perform in films like “Fargo,” where crime, character and satire blend to unveil a more universal truth. Here, Sue’s search for acknowledgement and fame is as uninspired as her oft-repeated mantra, “You’re important. You’re strong. You matter.”
Richard sits in with Beverly Thomson to have a look at the weekend’s new movies, the boozy thriller “The Girl on the Train,” the courtroom drama “Denial,” the rebellious “The Birth of a Nation” and “Two Lovers and a Bear,” starring Tatiana Maslany.
Richard and CP24 anchor Jamie Gutfreund have a look at the weekend’s new movies, the Emily Blunt thriller “The Girl on the Train,” the Nate Parker historical drama “The Birth of a Nation,” Rachel Weisz in a slice of legal history called “Denial” and “Two Lovers and a Bear,” starring Tatiana Maslany.
The first time most of us noticed Emily Blunt she was “’on-the-edge of sickness thin.” To play Emily Chalton, the prickly first assistant to the editor in The Devil Wears Prada, Blunt dropped pounds from her already slight frame. “It wasn’t like doughnuts were snatched out of my hand,” laughs the 5’ 7½’’ actress, but she was encouraged to slim down. So much so she would occasionally cry from hunger during the shoot. Luckily, though rake thin, she still had the energy to steal the movie from her more seasoned co-stars, Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci.
Although the character fell directly into the love-to-hate-her category, audiences found Blunt irresistible. Her mix of vulnerability and fork-tongued charm—crowned by crystal clear blue eyes and a face anchored with a cleft chin that would make Kirk Douglas envious—earned the title Best Female Scene-Stealer from Entertainment Weekly and nominations for everything from a Teen Choice Award to a Golden Globe.
This weekend she plays a much different character in the much-anticipated thriller The Girl on the Train. Based on the Paula Hawkins bestseller—11 million copies sold and counting—it’s a dark cinematic journey into a missing person’s case. The thirty-three year old actress says playing an alcoholic divorcée who witnesses a crime from a train window, “the most challenging thing I’ve ever done.”
Early reviews are strong. Variety raved she “excels as the broken-down heroine.” Those kind of kudos are an echo of her much-admired, though lesser seen work, in the UK.
After dabbling in drama at age 12 to help conquer a stutter she jumped to the small screen with praised performances in British television period pieces. It was, however, only when she left the lace-bonnets behind and took on a role in the critically-acclaimed My Summer of Love that she really made a splash. The story of a teenage infatuation between Mona (Nathalie Press) and the manipulative and cynical Tamsin (Blunt) earned both Press and Blunt equal shares in an Evening Standard British Film Award for Most Promising Newcomer.
Since then we’ve seen her as an oversexed young women opposite Tom Hanks in Charlie Wilson’s War, warbling Stephen Sondheim’s rich Into the Woods score, riding a polar bear in The Huntsman: Winter’s War and dressed as Princess Diana in the quirky rom com Five-Year Engagement.
She’s done action in both Sicario and Edge of Tomorrow (later renamed Live. Die. Repeat. for home release). Big budget blockbusters don’t usually make room for female characters unless they are sidekicks or girlfriends. In Edge of Tomorrow Blunt avoids being objectified and is as strong, if not stronger than co-star Tom Cruise.
In Sicario she’s part of an elite task force stemming the flow of drugs between Mexico and the US. A multifarious mix of vulnerability, stone cold confidence and outrage, she delivered the most interesting female action star since Mad Max: Fury Road’s Imperator Furiosa.
Next up her diverse career is the lead in Mary Poppins Returns. She says she’s nervous because the flying nanny is “such an important character in people’s childhood,” but has been given the thumbs up by the original Mary, Julie Andrews. “It was lovely to get her stamp of approval. That took the edge off it, for sure.”
In recent years we’ve seen Emily Blunt warbling Stephen Sondheim’s rich “Into the Woods” score, riding a polar bear in “The Huntsman: Winter’s War” and dressed as Princess Diana in the quirky rom com “Five-Year Engagement.” She’s done big budget action, sci fi, period dramas and now she adds Hitchcockian thriller to her list of conquered genres.
In the much-anticipated thriller “The Girl on the Train” she is Rachel a woman whose life has taken a downward dive since her divorce from Tom (Justin Theroux). Alcoholic, unemployed and despondent, she obsesses about Tom, Anna (Rebecca Ferguson), his new girlfriend—and former mistress—and their new baby.
To pass the time on her extended Lost Weekend she drinks vodka and rides a commuter train from the suburbs into Manhattan, even though she lost her high paying PR jobs ages before. Sitting in the third car from the front affords her the perfect view of her favourite house. It’s the home of Megan and Scott Hipwell (Haley Bennett and Luke Evans), a good looking couple with a seemingly perfect life to match their optimistic last name. “She’s everything I want to be,” says Rachel of Megan.
One afternoon as Rachel looks out the train window at the Hipwells she is enraged what she sees. A blur of booze later, she wakes up the next day, hungover and foggy, covered in bruises, to discover Megan has gone missing. Brain beating, blocking memories of the night before, she tries to piece together the events of the night before. Enter Mr. Hitchcock.
Based on the Paula Hawkins bestseller—11 million copies sold and counting—“The Girl on the Train” is not so much a psychological drama as much as it is a boozological one. Rachel is hammered for much of the first half of the film, making her an extremely unreliable narrator. What’s true and what’s not? That would involve giving away plot details that are best left unspoiled, but suffice to say that while there are ups and downs, they are more red herrings and misremembered clues filtered through a haze of booze. There are no “Gone Girl” flourishes here, just straightforward thriller elements banged together to point to an inevitable conclusion.
“Girl on the Train” has some elegant moments, and aspires to be an art house thriller/morality tale—no action, lots of internal dialogue—but to properly tell the story of infidelity and murder it should have embraced its down-and-dirty summertime beach reading origins.
Rising above the languid pacing and uneventful storyline is Blunt whose gut-wrenching, vanity-free performance carries the movie through its slow patches. She’s a raw nerve and if the movie had followed her lead and been just a bit more bleary eyed and blotchy, it may have been a more effective thriller.
He was called many things. The Godfather of Soul, Soul Brother No. 1, Mr. Dynamite, and The Hardest Working Man in Show Business but he preferred to be called Mr. Brown.
James Brown is probably best remembered as the hit maker behind “Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine” and “I Feel Good”; a larger-than-life, cape-wearing showman who made funk a household word over a career than spanned six decades.
A new film, “Get on Up,” aims to fill in the blanks, detailing Brown’s rise from poverty to the top of the R&B charts.
Chadwick Boseman, who, after earning accolades for his performance as Jackie Robinson in”42,” seems to be making a career of playing 20th century legends on screen, plays Brown from age 16 to 60.
In non-linear, cut and paste style, the film tells of an abusive South Carolina upbringing at the hands of his sharecropper father (Lennie James) and a mother (Viola Davis) who abandoned the family early on to career highlights like the incendiary T.A.M.I. Show performance where he upstaged the Rolling Stones, (whose singer Mick Jagger produced this movie). It covers his close friendship with singer-songwriter Bobby Byrd (Nelsan Ellis), a brush with death on a USO show and a young James pulling two-tone loafers off a lynched man.
“Get on Up” is the second musical biopic of the summer but the first one to vibrate with energy, spirit and soul. Where “Jersey Boys” felt staid and straightforward, “Get On Up” is as loose-limbed and funky as one of Brown’s groove-heavy singles.
Some may find the non-linear time jumping scenes that bookend the film arrhythmic, but the randomness of those sequences—it jumps, willy nilly from the 1940s to Brown’s 1970s heyday to a wild scene that lead to his 1988 arrest—breaks the standard rags-to-riches-to-arrests biopic formula. Director Tate “The Help” Taylor takes an impressionistic view of Brown’s life, integrating some magic realism and fourth wall breaking dialogue direct to camera in a bold approach to a very mainstream genre.
Stylistic flourishes aside, there are the usual biographical “one day everyone will know your name” show biz clichés, but the movie is smart enough not to rely on those elements to tell the story. Instead Tate relies on an extraordinarily charismatic performance—one guesses it’s a liberal mix of fact and fiction, life and legend—from Boseman to illuminate Brown’s angels and demons.
He’s called a musical genius more than once, and given his legacy it’s hard not to agree, but some of the more unsavory parts of Brown’s life are glossed over. The drug use and domestic abuse that checkered his life (and arrest record) are touched on but not explored with the same interest as the upward trajectory of Brown’s musical career.
Like the expert backing bands that supported Brown throughout his career, here the character is supported by very good actors. As life-long friend Bobby Byrd, Nelsan Ellis shows he has more range than simply playing Lafayette Reynolds on “True Blood” every week and Dan Aykroyd has fun with the role of Brown’s manager. It’s a shame that good performances from Craig Robinson, as sax legend Maceo Parker, and Viola Davis as Brown’s mother, are limited to extended cameos.
“Get On Up” is one big chunk of funk with a gold standard performance from Boseman and music that will make you want to… er… get on up.