Posts Tagged ‘The New York Times’

CTVNEWS.CA: THE CROUSE REVIEW LOOKS AT “PHANTOM THREAD” & MORE!

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 Post,” starring Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep and the latest from Daniel Day-Lewis, “Phantom Thread.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!

RICHARD’S CTV NEWSCHANNEL WEEKEND MOVIE REVIEWS & MORE FOR JANUARY 05.

Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Marcia MacMillan to have a look at the timely historical film “The Post,” starring Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep and the latest from Daniel Day-Lewis, “Phantom Thread.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!

Metro In Focus: A look at journalism in an era before fake news.

By Richard Crouse – In Focus

Earlier this week Northern Michigan’s Lake Superior State University added the term “fake news” to its 43rd annual List of Words Banished from the Queen’s English for Misuse, Overuse and General Uselessness. According to dictionary.com those two toxic words, popularized by Donald Trump and adopted by, well, almost everyone, denote “false news stories, often of a sensational nature, created to be widely shared online for the purpose of generating ad revenue via web traffic or discrediting a public figure, political movement, company, etc.”

A new film, The Post, is a time capsule back to a time before exhortations of “fake news” created an atmosphere where the press is perceived as an enemy rather than the voice of the people.

Meryl Streep plays Katharine Graham, the first female publisher of a major American newspaper. With the paper bordering on insolvency she has tough decisions to make.

When the New York Times breaks the story of a massive cover-up and is shut down by the Nixon White House, hardnosed editor Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks) sees an opportunity to scoop the Times and make a splash. “Are any of you tired of reading the news,” he asks his staff, “instead of reporting on it?” Trouble is, the story involves several people close to Graham, most notably former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara (Bruce Greenwood), who prolonged the Vietnam War despite knowing it was a no-win situation.

Graham must make the decision to publish or not. Running the so-called Pentagon Papers would expose years of government secrets, make an enemy of President Nixon and could scare off the investors she’s been courting. Not reporting could endanger young the Americans who were still being drafted and sent to fight an unwinnable war. “The only way to assert the right to publish is to publish,” argues Bradley.

The Post is a historical tale that feels as timely as any front-page story in today’s paper. A high-stakes look at journalism before the age of fake news, it reminds us of the importance of objective, investigative reporting in an era of secrecy, lies, and leaks. It’s an ‘if you don’t know your past, you don’t know your future” message movie that shines a light on a watershed but mostly forgotten slice of our past.

The Pentagon Papers were a significant turning point in our recent history. They were proof of a credibility gap between what politicians say and what they are doing. For Bradlee, publishing these documents sent a message that the White House had no influence on what stories made the front page and which don’t. “The press must serve the governed not the governors.”

Combined, all these elements add up to a movie that aims to make a statement while avoiding preaching to its audience. Director Steven Spielberg and stars Hanks and Streep are entertainers first and foremost, and they do entertain here, but they also portray a period whose reverberations in the time of fake news are being felt stronger than ever.

The air of paranoia that hung over All the President’s Men, another movie centered on the investigative reporting of The Washington Post, is missing in The Post. Instead, Spielberg film’s 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.

THE POST: 4 STARS. “a little heavy-handed but these are heavy-handed times.”

The air of paranoia that hung over “All the President’s Men,” another movie centered on the investigative reporting of The Washington Post, is noticeably missing in “The Post.” Instead, the new 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.

Meryl Streep plays Katharine Graham, the first female publisher of a major American newspaper. The socialite inherited The Washington Post following her husband Phil Graham’s death in 1963. “Kate throws a great party but she’s only here because her husband died,” harrumphs board member Arthur Parsons (Bradley Whitford). With the paper bordering on insolvency she has tough decisions to make.

Meanwhile hardnosed editor Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks) is looking for a story that will help the paper break out of its local market and go national. “Are any of you tired of reading the news,” he asks his staff, “instead of reporting on it?”

When the New York Times breaks the story of a massive cover-up and is shut down by the Nixon White House, Bradlee sees an opportunity to scoop the Times and make a splash. Trouble is, the story involves several people close to Graham, most notably former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara (Bruce Greenwood), who prolonged the Vietnam War despite knowing it was a no-win situation.

Graham must make the decision to publish or not. Running the so-called Pentagon Papers would expose years of government secrets, make an enemy of President Nixon and could scare off the investors she’s been courting. Not reporting could endanger young the Americans who were still being drafted and sent to fight an unwinnable war. “The only way to assert the right to publish is to publish,” argues Bradley.

No spoilers here, but the historical record shows that bombshell revelations were made and today The Washington Post is still a going concern.

“The Post” is a historical tale that feels as timely as any front-page story in today’s paper. A high-stakes look at journalism before the age of fake news, it reminds us of the importance of objective, investigative reporting in an era of secrecy, lies, and leaks. It’s a ‘if you don’t know your past, you don’t know your future” message movie that shines a light on a watershed but mostly forgotten slice of our past.

The Pentagon Papers were a significant turning point in our recent history. They were proof of a credibility gap between what politicians say and what they are doing. For Bradlee, publishing these documents sent a message that the White House had no influence on what stories made the front page and which don’t. “The press must serve the governed not the governors.”

Hanks and Streep, the two most trusted people in Hollywood, are solid as the two most trusted people in Washington.

As Graham, Streep is a woman who transcends the attitudes of her male advisors to do the right thing regardless of the repercussions. It’s a slow burn performance as she slowly sheds the weight of her socialite upbringing to embrace an outgoing and progressive point of view. As she grapples with publishing and possibly losing everything versus playing it safe, she becomes one of the film’s few characters with an arc.

Hanks plays Bradlee with bluster. As a noted collector of old school typewriters in real life, Hanks must have relished the chance to surround himself with the clickety-clack soundtrack of a newsroom in full tilt boogie. He is the movie’s reckless moral code, barking orders and making larger-than-life pronouncements on the importance of a free press. Hanks is at the Spencer Tracey stage of his career, an actor who brings with him an aura of decency and strength; the epitome of American exceptionalism made flesh. Despite the character being one-note Hanks breathes life into him, even if only as a spokesperson for the power of the first amendment.

“The Post” is propped up by good supporting performances, although fine actors like Sarah Paulson and Tracy Letts are stranded in roles that don’t give them much to do. Bob Odenkirk as Ben Bagdikian, one of the architects of the plan to publish the Pentagon Papers, fares better in one of the handful of roles expanded to full bloom.

The expected Spielberg touches are there as well. The Washington Post building shakes as the massive printing presses roar to life, a no-so-subtle metaphor of the upset the Pentagon Papers are about to cause in Washington.

Combined, all the elements add up to a movie that aims to make a statement while avoiding preaching to its audience. Spielberg, Hanks and 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.

LOOKING BACK AT 2017: RICHARD picks for the BEST FILMS OF THE YEAR.

THE GOOD (in alphabetical order)

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.

RICHARD’S WEEKEND MOVIE REVIEWS FROM CP24! FRIDAY MAR 31, 2017.

Richard and CP24 anchor George Lagogianes have a look at the weekend’s new movies, the reimagined sci fi classic “Ghost in the Shell,” Alec Baldwin as a bossy tot in “The Boss Baby” and Jessica Chastain in “The Zookeeper’s Wife.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!

OBIT: 3 ½ STARS. “a lively look at the people who tell the stories of the dead.”

What will people remember about you after you’re gone? Friends and family will have personal memories of course, but for many people the last legacy comes in the form of an obituary. “Obit,” a new documentary goes deep into how newspaper epitaphs are written at The New York Times.

Deadly boring? Not by a long shot. It’s a fascinating and funny look at obituarists and the work they do. We’re introduced to the department’s editor, William McDonald, writers Margalit Fox, William Grimes, Paul Vitello, Paul Weber and the inadvertent star of the show, the wryly-hilarious morgue archivist Jeff Roth.

We watch as they decide on who will be included in the exclusive NYT obit page, how much space the dearly departed get—some legacies are whittled down to 600 words, others splayed out across multiple pages—and how they garner information. It’s an old fashioned process; phone calls are made to relatives, handwritten notes are taken. Sometimes mistakes are made, but just as often, as one of the writers notes, “I tend to fall in love with the people I write about.” Most importantly we learn the obits are meant to honour lives lived, not dwell on death.

There isn’t much in the way of narrative—this is more of a slice of life doc—but it does celebrate those no longer with us as much as it does the journalists who write the stories. Take for instance the case of John Fairfax. His claim to fame—he was the first person to cross do a solo crossing of the Atlantic in a rowboat—was just the beginning of his unbelievable life. We’re told he settled a dispute with a pistol at age nine, travelled the Amazon jungle as a teen and once apprenticed to be a pirate.

That’s a hell of a story and “Obit” tells it well, offering a lively look at the men and women who handcraft tales for people whose voices have been silenced.

From epic fantasy to B-movie horrors, elves are hot in Hollywood.

elfBy Richard Crouse Metro – Canada

When we think of elves at this time of year visions of Santa’s helpers fill our heads.

The cute, industrious and diminutive creatures from the North Pole can be seen everywhere in December in Christmas TV specials, greeting cards and movies like Arthur Christmas and Santa Claus: The Movie.

One of the most famous movie elves is Buddy, played by Will Ferrell in the neo-classic Elf.

“You’re not an elf,” says Leon the Snowman. “You’re six-foot-three and had a beard since you were fifteen.”

So technically he’s not really an elf, just a human raised by elves but he has more Christmas spirit than Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donder and Blitzen put together.

This weekend, just weeks before December 25, Buddy is joined on the big screen by a very different kind of elf.

“She’s slightly reckless and totally ruthless and doesn’t hesitate to kill.” That’s how Evangeline Lilly describes the 600-year-old “she-elf” Tauriel from this weekend’s The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.

The bow-and-arrow wielding character is new to the J.R.R. Tolkien movie franchise, created by director Peter Jackson and his co-writers Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens.

“She’s our redhead,” says Boyens. “We created her for that reason. To bring that energy into the film, that feminine energy. We believe it’s completely within the spirit of Tolkien.”

Buddy and Tauriel are just two of the many kinds of movie elves.

Elves, or (Gelfling as they’re called in the flick), are the main focus of the Jim Henson film The Dark Crystal.

Dobby the House Elf was voted the No. 1 favourite magical creature in the Harry Potter series by NextMovie.com and Thor: The Dark World featured Dark Elves, an ancient race of dangerous beings whose spaceships are powered by black holes.

The cheeseball b-movie Elves features the tagline, “They’re Not Working for Santa Anymore.” Well, if not Santa, then who? Nazis, that’s who.

Finally Tom Cruise consorted with an elf named Honeythorn Gump in Legend, the Ridley Scott film The New York Times called “a slap-dash amalgam of Old Testament, King Arthur, The Lord of the Rings and any number of comic books.”

Swiss actor David Bennett played the feisty elfin sidekick who not only is the protector of the world’s last two unicorns but, along with elves Screwball, Brown Tom and Oona, helps Cruise’s character save the world from the nasty Lord of Darkness (Tim Curry).

YULE LOVE IT! RICHARDCROUSE.CA’S CHRISTMAS GIFT LIST! DAY FIVE!

Pulp-Fiction-The-Complete-Story-CoverI saw Quentin Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction” on its opening day in Toronto. I sat through it once, transfixed and while everyone else stayed glued to their seats for the credits, discussing the movie and picking up their jaws from the floor, I rushed out and bought another ticket for the next screening and sat through it once more. Not sure how many times I’ve seen it since then, but I was reminded of that first screening when I looked at “Pulp Fiction: The Complete Story of Quentin Tarantino’s Masterpiece,” Jason Bailey’s book on the making of the film.

From amazon.ca: ”

When Pulp Fiction was released in theaters in 1994, it was immediately hailed as a masterpiece. The New York Times called it a “triumphant, cleverly disorienting journey,” and thirty-one-year-old Quentin Tarantino, with just three feature films to his name, became a sensation: the next great American director.
“Nearly twenty years later, those who proclaimed Pulp Fiction an instant classic have been proven irrefutably right. In Pulp Fiction: The Complete Story of Quentin Tarantino’s Masterpiece, film expert Jason Bailey explores why Pulp Fiction is such a brilliant and influential film. He discusses how the movie was revolutionary in its use of dialogue (“You can get a steak here, daddy-o,” “Correct-amundo”), time structure, and cinematography—and how it completely transformed the industry and artistry of independent cinema. He examines Tarantino’s influences, illuminates the film’s pop culture references, and describes its phenomenal legacy. Unforgettable characters like Jules Winnfield (Samuel L. Jackson), Vincent Vega (John Travolta), Butch Coolidge (Bruce Willis), and Mia Wallace (Uma Thurman) are scrutinized from all-new angles, and memorable scenes—Christopher Walken’s gold watch monologue, Vince’s explanation of French cuisine—are analyzed and celebrated.
“Much like the contents of Marcellus Wallace’s briefcase, Pulp Fiction is mysterious and spectacular. This book explains why. Illustrated throughout with original art inspired by the film, with sidebars and special features on everything from casting close calls to deleted scenes, this is the most comprehensive, in-depth book on Pulp Fiction ever published.”
More info HERE!