Richard joins CP24 anchor Nathan Downer to have a look at the weekend’s new movies including the giant ape movie “Rampage,” the touching drama “Indian Horse,” the Middle East thriller “Beirut” starring Jon Hamm and Joaquin Phoenix in “You Were Never Really Here.”
Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Marcia MacMillan to have a look at the weekend’s big releases, the giant ape movie “Rampage,” the touching drama “Indian Horse,” the Middle East thriller “Beirut” starring Jon Hamm and Joaquin Phoenix in “You Were Never Really Here.”
Here’s the overview: In the new thriller “Beirut” former “Mad Man” star Jon Hamm plays a world-weary but sharp-tongued man who has crawled inside a whiskey bottle to numb the pain of his existence.
Now here’s the six-word pitch: Don Draper does the Middle East.
The story begins in 1972 in the title city. US diplomat Mason Skiles (Hamm) has lived there on and off for much of his life. He understands the country’s delicate balance of religion and politics but more importantly, he loves the country. Tragedy strikes when Karim (Yoav Sadian Rosenberg), a thirteen-year-old orphan Skiles and wife Nadia (Leila Bekhti) treat as their own, turns out to have a terrorist brother.
Cut to a decade later. Skiles is now a whiskey-in-his-coffee kind of man living in Boston running a small labour-dispute consulting firm. “His career has gone from Kissinger to the crapper,” says a former colleague. When he accepts an offer (and thousands of dollars) from “the Agency” to return to Beirut he finds a city in ruins, torn apart by a decade of civil war. Escorted by handler Sandy Crowder (Rosamund Pike) he must delve into the murky world of CIA dirty tricks and political agendas to negotiate the release of his one time best friend, CIA agent Cal Riley (Mark Pellegrino).
Written by “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” scribe Tony Gilroy, “Beirut” allows Hamm’s now trademarked Damaged Man Routine™ to stay front and centre. It’s a spy story with intrigue and danger—although it should be said there is not much action—that relies on Hamm’s rugged charisma. His struggle is the motor that keeps things interesting, not the character’s ulterior motives or the intrigue. For instance a major a plot twist (NO SPOILERS HERE) is actually more of a straight line than a twist so it is up to Hamm and cast to provide the tension.
“Beirut” feels a tad long, as though some of the scenes of Skiles contemplating the bottom of a glass could have been replaced with something a bit more interesting, like trying to get a release for his old friend. Although Hamm is very good here, those lapses—and the typical pouring-of-the-booze-down-the-sink scene—separate “Beirut” from other, superior talky thrillers like “Munich” or “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.”
Richard and CP24 anchor George Lagogianes have a look at the weekend’s new movies, the Ice Cube high school comedy “Fist Fight,” the Matt Damon white saviour flick “The Great Wall,” Dane DeHaan in the incomprehensible “The Cure for Wellness” and “My Scientology Movie.”
Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Erin Paul to have a look at the big weekend movies, the Ice Cube high school comedy “Fist Fight,” the Matt Damon white saviour flick “The Great Wall,” Dane DeHaan in the incomprehensible “The Cure for Wellness” and “My Scientology Movie.”
“The Great Wall” is not the story of Donald Trump’s relations with Mexico. It’s a $150 million historical epic from Chinese director Zhang Yimou that garnered a lot of criticism for the controversial casting of Matt Damon in a major role.
Detractors called the choice an example of a “white saviour” from the West appropriating Chinese culture and stepping in to save the day. Constance Wu of “Fresh Off the Boat” voiced her disapproval, accusing the film of “perpetuating the racist myth that only a white man can save the world,” adding, “our heroes don’t look like Matt Damon.”
Zhang fought back. “Damon is not playing a role that was originally conceived for a Chinese actor.”
“As the director of over 20 Chinese language films and the Beijing Olympics,” he said in a statement, “I have not and will not cast a film in a way that was untrue to my artistic vision.”
More on that later, but having seen the film, a more blatant criticism would be the generic, formulaic filmmaking.
On the run, mercenary soldiers William Garin (Damon) and Pero Tovar (Pedro Pascal) are captured at a Great Wall outpost by a band of Chinese soldiers called the Nameless Order, led by General Shao (Zhang Hanyu) and Strategist Wang (Andy Lau). The interlopers are due to be disposed of until they offer up a claw Garin separated from a mysterious beast days before.
Turns out, the creature is a Tao Tie, a nasty breed of beast that attacks the Imperial Court every sixty years. The walleyed creatures look like a smooth green werewolf- Komodo Dragon hybrid and are very difficult to kill. When the Tao Tie attack days earlier than expected Tovar and Garin’s bravery earn them privileged spots in the battalion—“We’re honoured to be honoured,” says Garin.—but the pair are secretly only interested in the local “black powder.” “It turns the air into fire!” they gasp. If they can smuggle the gunpowder out of the battalion it will make them rich men in the West.
It’s a great plan until Garin opts to leave his mercenary ways behind join forces with General Lin (Jing Tian), the only female English-speaking commander at the outpost. Her bravery turns his head, reminding him of why he became a soldier in the first place. “Let me fight with you,” he says. “If this is where you choose to die, good luck to you,” scoffs Tovar. If the Tao Tie breach the wall, we’re told several times, nothing can stop them.
“The Great Wall” uses every epic monster film trick in the book. Cameras sweep and swirl, flames lick the screen, there’s slow-mo galore and loads of Zhang’s unique wuxia style action but despite the grandeur and the lushness of the cinematography and costume details it is all rather dull. It’s “Lord of the Rings” without the engaging fantasy and “Game of Thrones” sans the lusty carnality that keeps people watching between dragon conquest scenes.
There is some humour between the battle scenes. Garin and Tovar are awfully quippy for a pair of Song dynasty soldiers. “I’m the one saving you,” Tovar jokes on the battlefield, “so I can kill you myself.” It’s “Hope and Crosby on the Road to the Imperial Court!”
As for Garin as the Saviour from the West, I have to agree with Wu. There are several heroes in this movie but Garin eats up the most screen time and in the end is instrumental in (SPOILER ALERT) keeping the nasty beasties from having their way with the Emperor. Damon is an agreeable actor, although here he dons a flat and ever-changing accent that simply amplifies how completely out of place he seems in ancient China.
“The Great Wall” feels more like an exercise in marketing than it does a movie. The size and spectacle of it appear geared to appeal to an audience used to avenging superheroes, while the casting of a white American star at the heart of another culture’s tale looks to be a blatant attempt at creating a tentpole film for a world audience. What they forgot about was including compelling characters and story.
Welcome to the House of Crouse. Last week we teased you with a taste of Riz Ahmed. Today you get the long version were we talk about Star Wars, The Night of and much more. David Frankel, director of Collateral Beauty, talks about working with an all star cast and how Will Smith controls the weather to get his way on set. C’mon in, sit a spell!
Richard and CP24 anchor Nathan Downer have a look at the weekend’s new movies, the first Star Wars stand-a-lone movie “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” and the latest Will Smith tearjerker “Collateral Beauty.”
Richard sits in with Marcia MacMillan to have a look at the weekend’s new movies, the first Star Wars stand-a-lone movie “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” and the latest Will Smith tearjerker “Collateral Beauty.” Find out which one of us has never seen a “Star Wars” movie. (Here’s a hint… it’s not Richard.)