Posts Tagged ‘This is Where I Leave You’


Screen Shot 2014-09-19 at 10.27.56 AM“Canada AM” film critic Richard Crouse reviews the weekend’s big releases, “The Maze Runner,” “This Is Where I Leave You” and “A Walk Among the Tombstones.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!

THIS IS WHERE I LEAVE YOU: 4 STARS. “actors bind the family and movie together.”

lead_largeIn the novel “This is Where I Leave You” by Jonathan Tropper the family’s last name was Foxman. For some reason it was changed to Altman for the film, which, perhaps, was done to subtly infer what kind of film it wants to be. It’s a multi-character comedy with shades of drama and pathos, which, by definition makes it, in film critic shorthand, Altmanesque.

The film may try and speak Altmanese but something gets lost in translation. Instead it does something much more basic but equally satisfying. Once it gets past trying to emulate Robert Altman, it presents a funny and sad glimpse at the inner works of a very dysfunctional but loving family.

Jason Bateman leads the large ensemble cast as Judd Altman, a successful radio producer who comes home one afternoon to find his wife (Abigail Spencer) in bed with his boss. His perfectly constructed world falls a part, sending him onto a tailspin that is only compounded by the death of his father.

Returning to upstate New York for the funeral he is forced to sit Shiva with his family, his over-sharing mom, a bestselling psychologist with fake breasts and a loose tongue (Jane Fonda) and three siblings, married mom Wendy (Tina Fey), practical Paul (Corey Stoll) and Phillip (Adam Driver), a free spirit who brings his much older girlfriend (Connie Britton).

All under one roof for the first time in many years they must confront the ghosts of their pasts—including Wendy’s ex-boyfriend Horry (Timothy Olyphant) and Judd’s high school sweetheart Penny (Rose Byrne)—and deal with some very real truths in the present.

A mix of sentiment and wisecracks, “This Is Where I Leave You” is an all-star feast of dysfunction. The brothers don’t get along, mom dresses inappropriately and everyone seems to have slept with everyone else. No one is particularly happy but where would the drama be if they were?

The themes—it’s a study of love, marriage, divorce—and setup feel like movies we’ve seen before—family gathers for holiday, funeral, birthday—and the situations—family grudges, old girlfriends show up, delinquent sibling throws a wrench into everybody’s plans—are familiar. The thing that sets “This is Where I Leave You” apart is the casting.

Bateman is front and center and brings a nice balance of comedy and pathos to the role of Judd. He has a way with a line, but here reveals a deft hand with dramatic material, often in the same scene. It’s a lovely, quiet performance.

Fey, as the tipsy, protective older sister, also reveals a deeper well than we’ve seen before. Less versatile are Stoll and Driver who hand in enjoyable but familiar feeling work. Other supporting cast click. Like Bateman, Byrne gear shifts between sweet and funny and sweet and serious with ease while Fonda is hilarious as the widow who wonders whether she should tip the coroner.

The point is, it all gels. The cast comes together as a unit and even though the movie veers toward easy sentimentality when an edgier approach might have been more realistic, the players are the ties that bind the family and this movie together.


10302017_10154556167725293_2800633091001008174_nAppearing in one of the movies! I was in Red Alert, a short that played before the movie Wet Bum. IT’s not enough that I cover 100 movies during the fest, now I have to be in them too! I even got a review. “@richardcrouse is great in Red Alert…” Mike Bullard wrote on twitter. “I’d like to tell you I didn’t know he was a redhead but I knew… I just knew ok.”

In person Benedict Cumberbatch’s voice sounds like hot melting wax. I liked Sherlock well enough and have seen him in several movies, but for me, and I know I’m the last to get it, his performance in The Imitation Game is a game changer. He plays real-life character Alan Turing, a Cambridge mathematician who volunteers to help break Germany’s most devastating WWII weapon of war, the Enigma machine. It was a top-secret operation, classified for more than 50 years, but that wasn’t Turing’s only secret. Gay at a time when homosexuality was illegal, punishable by jail or chemical castration, he was forced to live a world of secrets, both personal and professional.

Hosting the This Is Where I Leave You and The Good Lie press conferences.

Robert Pattinson telling me about how Hollywood was before camera phones: “When I first started going to LA everyone was underage and if you were a famous actor the rules did not apply. You could be a sixteen-year-old and go into a club but now that there are camera phones everywhere that doesn’t exist anymore. That period was so weird. You’d see a fourteen-year-old actor wasted, doing lines of blow on the table. It was crazy. Now they just do it at their parent’s house.”

Julie Taymore telling me that A Midsummer Night’s Dream “It was the first play I ever saw. I saw it here in Canada at the Stratford Festival…”

Michael Moore’s answer to my question about his reaction to all the celebrity he gained after appearing at TIFF 25 years ago with Roger and Me: Asked what was going through his head while all this was swirling around him, Moore says: “Why didn’t I go to Jenny Craig three months ago?”

“I don’t know where they are,” Kingsley says about his characters, “if they’re inside me waiting to come out or whether they are outside of me. Are they hunting me or am I hunting them? I don’t know.”

Repairing Dustin Hoffman’s watch. During a roundtable interview the alarm on his watch went off several times. He gave it to me and I looked up the instructions on how to fix it on Google. “How did it you look it up on line? They have instructions to fix Timexes on line? I don’t automatically go to those things,” he said. During the interview he said: “I was told to take acting. Nobody flunks acting.” Later he said that it wasn’t such a bad choice because, for instance, “No one ever says, ‘I want to be a critic when I grow up.’”

Lowlight… waiting for BIll Murray for seven hours. (Although I love this from @ZeitchikLAT: Bill Murray, offering implicit proof on the merits of Bill Murray Day: “If this is really my day, why do I have to do so much work?”)

Sitting next to next to Boo Radley, Bill Kilgore and Tom Hagan. (Robert Duvall!)

Most quotable actors of the festival? Robert Duvall who said, about acting, “There’s no right or wrong just truthful or untruthful.” He calls Billy Bob Thornton “The hillbilly Orson Welles…” and said “Brando used to watch Candid Camera.” Jane Fonda was a close second when she said acting is great for the heart but terrible for the nerves… “Butts have become more in fashion… (since Barbarella) and “Television is forgiving to older women and making it possible for us to have longer careers.”

“I have distilled socialism in this box and am taking it back to America.” – Robert Downey Jr in my roundtable interview.

#TIFF14 socks day 3. Chris O’Dowd called them “powerful.” and Rosamund Pike said, “I’m enjoying your socks. They make me happy.”

Watching “Whiplash” knock the socks off an audience at an IMAX P&! screening. It is part musical—the big band jazz numbers are exhilarating—and part psychological study of the tense dynamics between mentor and protégée in the pursuit of excellence. The pair is a match made in hell. Teacher Fletcher, played by J.K. Simmons is a vain, driven man given to throwing chairs at his students if they dare hit a wring note. He’s an exacting hardliner who teaches by humiliation and fear. This movie doesn’t miss a beat.

Love this quote: “Being in the military,” said Adam Driver of This Is Where I Leave You, “believe it or not, is very different than being in an acting school.”


This Is Where I Leave You - Adam Driver WallpaperBy Richard Crouse – Metro Canada

Like a lot of young people in the aftermath of 9/11 Adam Driver joined the marines. “Being in the military,” says the This Is Where I Leave You star, “believe it or not, is very different than being in an acting school.”

An injury during a training exercise cut short his military career just shy of three years.

“With the military I grew up very fast,” he says. “Suddenly I was responsible for things that aren’t typical for eighteen or nineteen year olds. Other people’s lives and things like that. It ages you. I loved being in the military but when I got my freedom and could be a civilian again I was interested in perusing acting. I had tunnel vision but there was a big learning curve of learning to be a civilian again; it’s not appropriate to yell at people, people are people and I can’t force my military way of thinking on them. There were a lot of things going on. I am better adjusted now.”

Post marines he studied at Julliard, became one of the breakout star of Girls, worked with Spielberg, the Coen Brothers and has a movie coming soon with Martin Scorsese.

His This Is Where I Leave You co-star Jane Fonda calls him, “our next Robert De Niro plus Robert Redford.”

He plays Fonda’s youngest son Phillip, a young man who arrives home for his father’s funeral with a much older finance (Connie Britton) and a chip on his shoulder because his siblings don’t take him seriously.

“I understood Phillip,” he says. “Similar to the military, you leave and grow into a different person. You experience things that obviously people weren’t with you when you experienced them, and you come back and want people to view you differently and acknowledge this man you’ve become.

“It’s like being a civilian when you have rank and are used to a certain level of respect. You’re Lance Corporal and you go to a Starbucks and somebody who probably went to college, and you’re jealous that you didn’t go to college, tells you to move and suddenly you’re angry. You don’t know who I am! I was a Lance Corporal! It means nothing. That kind of dynamic was really relatable to me.”

Driver has a host of projects on the way, including Hungry Hearts, a film that won him the Volpi Cup for Best Actor at the 71st Venice International Film Festival and a little thing called Star Wars Episode VII.

“Star Wars is a big thing,” he says. It’s huge but what [director] J. J. Abrams and [screenwriter] Larry Kasdan have written, the way they have decided to approach the project is how you approach anything. From the very beginning it is all about story and character. Effects and the spectacle, as in the original, won’t take a back seat because it is very much part of the story but the story dictates that instead of vice versa. Yes, this a long time ago in a galaxy far away, but at the same time it’s about loves and friendship, those universal things that gave the original movies such a long life and resonance. It’s all about just playing this moment and the next moment and hopefully at the end we’ll have a movie.”

TIFF 2104: Jane Fonda promotes new dramedy This Is Where I Leave You at TIFF

Jane-Fonda-883x552By Richard Crouse – Metro Canada

Jane Fonda is at TIFF to promote her new film, the family dramedy This Is Where I Leave You.

She’ll spend the next couple of days walking down red carpets and doing interviews, but not doing something she loves — going to the gym.

“If I had my choice I certainly would,” she says. “I walked past it and I sort of salivated, but it’s back to back to back. There’s no time. I sleep eight or nine hours a night and I don’t have time between the interviews and sleep.”

The Oscar-winning star of On Golden Pond, Klute and Coming Home is no stranger to the press circuit, but she says times have changed.
“Honey, back in the day, let me tell you what it was like,” she says.

“You would get on a plane alone — forget the hair and makeup and PR person — and fly to Des Moines and Kansas City and Denver and you’d cut ribbons inaugurating an orphanage, do the Police Gazette Parade, the Dick Clark Dance. You did radio. You had to go to them and had to do the weirdest things. It was hard. This seems easy. Those young ones are spoiled. They don’t know what it used to be like.”

When I ask if answering the same press junket questions over and over ever wears her down she says, “I’m an actor! It’s why I get the small bucks.”

In the film, she plays a best-selling author of self-help books and the mother of a dysfunctional family that gathers for the father’s funeral. She’s an outrageous character, the kind of person who wonders whether she should tip the coroner.

“I read the script, it was laugh-out-loud funny and this woman was fabulous,” she says. “I totally identify with her. I have no borders, porous boundaries. I share way too much.”

Like her character, she has had self-esteem issues, even though she is almost as well known as a workout guru as she is for her acting.

“I never have been (happy with my body image), so you teach what you need to learn. Working out helped me come to peace with my body. I grew up being told that I was fat, and I had to work very hard to overcome that. And if I said I was 100 per cent over that, I’d be lying.”


10494748_10154556167585293_7842689580525945648_nRichard hosted the ‘This is Where I Leave You” press conference: Shawn Levy, Director / Jason Bateman, Actor/ Tina Fey, Actor / Jane Fonda, Actor / Connie Britton, Actor / Corey Stoll, Actor / Abigail Spencer, Actor / Dax Shepard Actor / Kathryn Hahn, Actor / Rose Byrne, Actor / Jonathan Tropper, Screenwriter

Watch the whole thing HERE! Read about the press conference HERE!