Richard and CTV NewsChannel anchor Andrea Bain discuss the life and legacy of the late, great Fred Willard, the trip to Mars drama “Red Rover,” the opioid story “Castle in the Ground” and the documentary “They Call Me Dr. Miami.”
Richard speaks to “CTV News at Six” anchor Andria Case about television and movies to watch during the pandemic including “Band Ladies,” a new web series on Highball TV, a Wayne and Garth double hit with “The Dana Carvey Show” and “So I Married an Axe Murderer” on ctv.ca and reviews of two films coming to VOD, “Red Rover” and “Castle in the Ground.”
Richard sits in on the CFRA Ottawa morning show with host Bill Carroll to talk the new movies coming to VOD and streaming services including the trip to Mars drama “red Rover,” the opioid story “Castle in the Ground,” the French arthouse hit “Les Misérables,” the horror comedy “Porno” and the documentary “They Call Me Dr. Miami.”
In “Castle in the Ground,” a new opioid drama now on VOD, the more Ana (Imogen Poots) says, “Everything is going to be OK,” the more it becomes apparent that it’s not.
Set in Sudbury, Ontario, circa 2012, the film stars Alex Wolff as Henry, a young man nursing his mother (Neve Campbell) through the final stages of Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Across the hall is neighbor Ana, a young woman struggling to pull herself out of the pit of addiction. When Henry’s mother dies Ana and the grieving son are drawn together, but this isn’t a mother and son sickness of the week story or a Bukowskian tale of rough romance. It’s a co-dependency thriller set against a backdrop of Ana’s plan to rip off her dealer Polo Boy (Keir Gilchrist). Henry is drawn into the scheme and a life of opioid addiction.
“Castle in the Ground” is a carefully crafted character study of a naïve—or willfully ignorant— man and a Machiavellian addict. Wolff, who impressed in Ari Aster’s “Heredity,” holds the screen during director Joey Klein’s long, unhurried scenes. He brings the hurt of a heartbroken guy, now looking for a connection, even if it isn’t in his best interest. But it is Poots who impresses. Her take on Ana is vividly painted as she plays a cat-and-mouse game with Henry in order to get what she wants. As the situations spirals her chirpy, “everything is going to be OK” assurances, become more ominous.
This is a depressing film, unburdened by light at the end of the tunnel. Dark, visually and thematically, it’s a movie about internal conflict, pain, depression and indulgence that spares none of its characters. Everyone, no matter how sympathetic, are complicit in the lead up to the film’s fiery climax.
“Castle in the Ground” is an up-close-and-personal look at a very large issue. It offers no solutions or searing insight as to how the opioid problem spun so far out of control. Instead, it is simply a well-made and well-acted look at life in a time of personal crisis.
Richard and CP24 anchor Jamie Gutfreund have a look at the weekend’s new movies, the Tatiana Maslany drama “The Other Half,” the rom com “Lovesick” and “Antibirth” starring “Orange is the New Black’s” Natasha Lyonne.
Richard sits in with Marcia MacMillan to have a look at the weekend’s new movies, the Tatiana Maslany drama “The Other Half,” the rom com “Lovesick” and “Antibirth” starring “Orange is the New Black’s” Natasha Lyonne.
“The Other Half, starring Tom Cullen and Tatiana Maslany, is an uncompromising and intense look at mental illness.
Cullen (“Downton Abbey’s” Anthony Gillingham) is Nickie, a short-tempered waiter shown the restaurant’s door when he has a run in with a customer. Coming to his defense is aspiring painter Emily (Maslany), an outgoing young woman suffering from bipolar disease. The pair begin a relationship, sharing a deeply felt connection that weathers Nickie’s sudden rages and Emily’s descent into depression. When her condition spirals out of control her father Jacob (Henry Czerny), fearing for her safety opts to institutionalize his daughter. Months later the couple reunite, moving in together but old problems arise.
Director Joey Klein straightforwardly but sensitively portrays the couple’s travails with a combination of clever photography, sound design and careful scripting. Nickie’s alienation is brought to life with dreamlike audio and disorienting visual cues. Maslany brings a kinetic energy to Emily’s troubled state, emphasizing the self-destructive urges that rule her behaviour.
Both leads hand in remarkable performances. Maslany is external, physical in her work, Cullen all brooding and internal. Together they click, creating the emotional core of the film as they struggle to find a way to be together. “The Other Half” is a movie that never takes the easy way out and neither do the actors.
“Dancing with the Stars” has brought dance into the very center of popular culture. Each week b-listers don sparkly outfits and strut their stuff to huge ratings. Whether it’s the Cha Cha Cha or a Quickstep or the Paso doble, dancers are rated and celebrated by a panel of judges.
There is no “Dancing with the Stars” in Iran. Dancing of any sort has been banned in that country since the 1979 revolution, and it is against that backdrop that the story of “Desert Dancer” takes place.
But this isn’t a Middle Eastern “Footloose.” It’s the true story of a young Iranian man named Afshin Ghaffarian (Reece Ritchie). Obsessed with dance as a youngster, he grew up in the shadow of oppression, hiding his passion from the world until he enrolled in university in Tehran. There he met a small group of like-minded people, including Ardavan (Tom Cullen), Sattar (Simon Kassianides) and the beautiful but troubled Elaheh (Freida Pinto), who poured over contraband dance videos and tried to emulate the moves of Rudolf Nureyev and Michael Jackson.
In the days leading up to the 2009 presidential election the underground troupe staged an illegal dance show, a rebellious act that gave them their first taste of true freedom but was also is a dangerous political act.
“Desert Dancer” contains important messages about human rights, cultural liberty and the significance of artistic expression but, despite the real-life source material, is weighed down with clichés. More background and a dose of nuance could have fleshed out the story, elevating it to a strong statement about creative freedom instead of simply a presenting a manipulative tale that put me in the mind of a dogmatic “Dancing with the Stars” episode.
“The Last Days on Mars” is the kind of movie that used to play the bottom -of-the-bill at drive-ins. Set on the red planet, it’s a sci fi thriller that b-movie king Roger Corman would have called “Space Zombies,” with at least two exclamation marks. As it stands, “The Last Days on Mars” might have been more fun if director Ruairi Robinson had embraced drive-in quality of the story and left any illusions of becoming the next Ridley Scott at the concession stand.
An adaptation of Sydney J. Bounds’ short story “The Animators,” the film begins near the end of a long mission on Mars. The exhausted crew—Liev Schreiber, Elias Koteas, Romola Garai, Olivia Williams, Johnny Harris, Goran Kostic, Tom Cullen and Yusra Warsama—is tired of being cooped up and itching to get back to earth. Days before their exit a mysterious algae is found growing on an underground supply of H2O. What should be an exciting discovery turns nasty when the two astronauts who perished making the discovery come back to terrorize the remaining crew with some bloody zombie carnage.
It all seems familiar, and it is, so the trick for Robinson was to create characters that we’d care about if they happen to get infected with alien germs and turn into bloodthirsty virus carriers. By and large he manages to up the emotional ante by casting good actors. Schreiber, Koteas, Garai and Williams elevate the b-movie story to something approaching a b-plus-movie, the plus being some real human interact during the scenes where they aren’t turning tail and fleeing hungry zombies.
There is the standard “I’ll-do-anything-to-survive-including-leaving-you-to-be-devoured” character, the hardnosed scientist type, but there’s also an interesting relationship between Schreiber and Garai that brings one of the movie’s best climatic moments.
“The Last Days on Mars” spends a bit too much time in faux Kubrick Mode before switching to full-on Corman style exploitation, but once it clicks over it’ll make your pulse race. The zombies are appropriately angry, there’s some good shocks and by the time the crew is whittled down to the essentials—that’s not a spoiler, this is a total Who’s Gonna Get It Next flick—a good hero and a nasty bad guy, it’s a bit of drive-in style fun.