A new feature from from ctvnews.ca! The Crouse Review is a quick, hot take on the weekend’s biggest movies! This week Richard looks at “Blade Runner 2049,” the survival flick “The Mountain Between Us” and the J.D. Salinger biopic “Rebel in the Rye.”
Richard and CP24 anchor Jamie Gutfreund have a look at the weekend’s new movies including the much anticipated “Blade Runner 2049,” the survival flick “The Mountain Between Us” and the J.D. Salinger biopic “Rebel in the Rye.”
Mountain survival movies usually end with someone eating someone else to stay alive. The Mountain Between Us features the usual mountain survival tropes — there’s a plane crash, a showdown with a cougar and broken bones — but luckily for fans of stars Idris Elba and Kate Winslet cannibalism is not on the menu.
“The combination between survival and romance is why I wanted to do this movie,” says director Hany Abu-Assad. “It is very original. I could make a different survival movie which is on the surface is about survival but deep in its heart it is about love and the spirit of human beings. On the other hand it is an opportunity to make an entertaining movie. It is an entertaining but also sophisticated movie that tells the meaning of life.”
Elba and Winslet play strangers who must bond after a devastating plane crash leaves them badly injured and stranded. They are onscreen for 99 per cent of the film so the casting of the two leads was the first major hurtle for director Abu-Assad.
“This is a very risky movie because it depends on just two characters and if the actors are not good, you’re f—ed,” he laughs. “The process was very long and thoughtful. At the end we came up with Idris and Kate after we saw them at the BAFTAs together. They were presenting. We were throwing all kinds of names around. I don’t want to say who but we wanted to be sure you would want to look at them for an hour and a half and still not get enough. The moment I saw Idris and Kate together on the stage, immediately I thought, this is the movie I want to see. There is fire between these two that made us realize these were the actors we wanted.”
Shot in Western Canada, the vistas of ice and snow — imagine Lawrence of Arabia with snow instead of sand — were real and brought a sense of authenticity to the production.
“All the snow is real, pristine but this comes with a price,” Abu-Assad says. “For example you can’t shoot long days, just six hours a day. Otherwise you will be beaten up from the cold. People from Chicago or Montreal tell me they’re used to the cold. They are used to going 10 minutes from the house to the car or for a five-minute walk in the cold but six hours? That takes a toll. The equipment won’t work so we had to leave the cameras on 24 hours. The moment we stopped them it took hours to warm them up again. Some equipment froze in a way that we couldn’t even move it or touch it.”
Abu-Assad says the elements challenged the cast, crew and him during the shoot, but that it was worth it.
“It makes you hyper-vigilant,” he says, “because you can’t afford to make a mistake. Some scenes are just one take because it is a pristine snow and you can’t go back. It’s very tiring but not frustrating because your adrenaline is pumping. It was beautiful to watch. Things happened in a way that felt so genuine. It was like an orgasm to watch these shots being made.”
Mountain survival movies usually end up with someone eating someone else to stay alive. “The Mountain Between Us” features the usual mountain survival tropes—there’s a plane crash, a showdown with a cougar and broken bones—but luckily for fans of stars Idris Elba and Kate Winslet cannibalism is not on the menu.
The melodramatic tale begins at the Idaho airport on December 29. A storm is brewing and all flights are cancelled, grounding Dr. Ben Bass (Idris Elba) and photojournalist Alex Martin (Kate Winslet). He’s scheduled to perform surgery the next day in Denver, she’s getting married to Mark (Dermot Mulroney) on the 30th. Desperate to make their obligations, professional and personal, the two strangers pay former Vietnam pilot Walter (Beau Bridges) $800 to fly them to Denver in his twin prop plane. The jovial Walt doesn’t bother to file a flight plan because it’s daylight and he’s confident he can beat the storm.
All is going well until Walter suffers a stroke and the plane falls from the sky, crash landing at the top of a remote mountain. The situation? “Your phone is smashed,” says Ben. “Mine has no bars and we’re pretty high up in the mountains.” They’re also banged up. She has a broken leg, he has lacerations on his side. Walt isn’t so lucky, but his dog, who came along for the ride, is unharmed.
Around them is a winter wonderland: cougars, and miles of ice and snow as far as the eye can see. Tucked away in the broken airplane fuselage they wait for rescue. Ben, a man of logic and science, is convinced the airplane’s beacon will alert the authorities. Alex wants to move but is hampered by her injury. They bicker. He calls her reckless; she says he’s afraid to take risks. He’s a neurosurgeon, all logic. “What about the heart?” She asks. “The heart is nothing but a muscle, “he snorts.
Days pass and then weeks pass and soon they begin their trek to safety. “Where are we going?” she asks. “We’re alive,” he says. “That’s where were going.” There will be no spoilers here but I will say the crash and story of survival changes them in ways that couldn’t imagine… but ways the audience will see coming 100 miles away.
The crash sequence in “The Mountain Between Us” is vivid and exciting but the rest of it, including the inevitable plunge-through-the-ice-into-the-icy-depths sequence doesn’t have enough juice to get the pulse racing. Oscar nominated director Hany Abu-Assad is content, for the most part, to keep things light. It’s a grim situation and yet they make cocktail party conversation. “Do you have kids?” “I hope I get to meet your wife,” rather than discussing more pressing matters. The gravity of the circumstances seems to be of secondary importance as she says to the dog, “Don’t look at me like that.” They flip-flop between cozy moments and bickering and their corny reactions don’t ever feel like life-and-death reactions.
It’s all a bit silly—three weeks in and unwashed they still are a fetching couple—but at least there’s no cannibalism and no, they don’t eat the dog.
Welcome to the House of Crouse. This week Denis Villeneuve swings by to tell the HoC what advice Blade Runner director Ridley Scott gave him about reimagining the world for a new generation. Here’s a hint, the answer is NSFW. Then The Mountain Between Us director Hany Abu-Assad describes why shooting his film in remote western Canada was “like having an orgasm.” It’s good stuff so stop by and sit a spell.