Posts Tagged ‘Trainwreck’

RICHARD’S HIGHLIGHTS FROM 2015: the best stuff I heard this year

Screen Shot 2015-12-29 at 1.43.12 PMAs the calendar moves ahead to 2016 I’m taking a moment to think back to the great people I met, wrote about or chatted with on television in 2015. I shared Tim Bits with Liev Schreiber—he liked the chocolate, I preferred the glazed—inhaled Johnny Depp’s vape fumes, had a “Sock Battle Supreme” with Anthony Daniels—Mr. C-3PO—and was embarrassed to order a Chai Tea Latte while standing next to Chris Cooper at a coffee bar. On stages, in hotel rooms, on phones and even in the back of taxis, they spoke and I listened. Here’s some of the best stuff I heard this year:

GEORGE MILLER: “I don’t think I’d be the filmmaker I am unless I had that medical education, in two very direct ways. Both of them have a lot of problem-solving in there. But the most important way is that as a doctor you are looking at people in extremis from many points of view. You look inside of people. You see people during birth and death and so on. Through microscopes — a lens. So you’re looking from many, many points of view. That’s exactly what you do in cin ema. Huge wide shots with massive crowds or you’re looking right down inside someone’s brain, someone’s head.”

AMY SCHUMER: “I never thought about being famous. That was never part of my thing, but once it was on the horizon as a possibility, it seemed like a real bummer. I could see there’s no upside. The upside is I sometimes get free appetizers and I can get a reservation at a restaurant. I only go to one place in New York, it’s a tea place, the Tea Cup, and they don’t take reservations but I can make a reservation there. I swear I don’t see another upside. It sucks.

PHYLLIS SMITH: “I worked for JC Penny in the warehouse tagging the merchandise,” she remembers. “I used to stand there and tag thousands of fishing lures or bowling balls or roller shades, which were heavy as heck to lift around. The people were great to work with but the merchandise was a little challenging.

“I used to stand there, thinking about life, wondering what it is we all have in common because we’re not all given the same opportunity. Some people’s health is impaired when they’re born while others are charmed with intelligence or looks. I thought, ‘There has to be something that we all have. A commonality.’ I figured out that it’s the ability to love. We all, in some form or another, want to love and be loved. That was my big revelation. My lightbulb moment. Also, if you’re standing on a concrete floor, make sure you’re wearing comfortable shoes or you’ll pay for it later.

CAROLL SPINNEY: Caroll is President Obama’s ninth cousin, but Big Bird isn’t political in the least. “Big Bird, I’m told by the owners of him, does not have political opinions. I thought of an idea that would get around that problem if someone (ever asked about it). ‘I don’t know who that is,’ he says in Big’s voice. ‘I thought we had a king.’ In most fairy tales, lands are run by kings or queens.

DEBORAH ANN WOLL: A quick Internet search turns up many adjectives used to describe Daredevil star Deborah Ann Woll; gorgeous, talented and cute to name just a few.

The redheaded actress uses other terms to describe herself.

“There’s nerd, geek, all those words,” she says. “I am settling closer and closer to dork. I am a very proud dork.

The former True Blood star — she played fierce teenage vampire Jessica Hamby for seven seasons on the hit show — embraces her inner dork — “I’m Dungeons and Dragons player, a Mystery Science Theatre buff. I like board games.”

She says the role playing games have benefits beyond entertainment value.

“Something like Dungeons and Dragons or a board game is a way for me to be social but it takes some of the responsibility off of me myself. If I don’t feel impressive as myself, I can feel impressive as Mistress Pyrona, the Genosi Sword Maiden. Like my acting, it gives me a little bit of support.”

Screen Shot 2015-12-29 at 1.35.01 PMJAKE GYLLENHAAL: “I think the people I admire as artists are the people who really listen to themselves even if it is to the detriment of what people might consider success. I’d rather be myself and do what I love than listen to someone else and follow that role and be unhappy.

CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER: My favourite line from any interview? Christopher Plummer talking about the dog in “Remember”: “We had two dogs on set. One to do the stunts and the other just making money.”

BRYAN CRANSTON: “I don’t want to portray this idea that I’m just about the art. I’ve been poor and I’ve been rich and rich is better.” Also: Bryan Cranston told me he likes to go up to people wearing the Heisenberg t-shirts they wore on the show Breaking Bad and talk like Walter White… “Nice t-shirt,” and I whisper if to them and their eyes go wide and I put my finger to my lips, like ‘Don’t tell anyone… if you tell people, they won’t believe you.’

SAOIRSE RONAN: Saoirse is an Irish or Scottish name meaning freedom roughly pronounced SEER-shə. “I get very confused about my name all the time,” she said in a recent sit-down. “Sometimes I look at it when I’m writing it down for people and I go, ‘This is actually a ridiculous spelling of a name.’”

ADAM MCKAY: “We wanted to be the first Wall Street movie that took you behind the curtain, that really said, All these confusing terms you hear, all the ways the banks make you feel stupid or bored … it’s actually not that hard. If the guy who did Step Brothers can understand it you can too.”

RYAN COOGLAR: “Whenever I had a big test at school or a football game (my father would) say, ‘Take 10 minutes and watch this scene from Rocky. That’ll get you fired up. That’ll give you the juice to score five touchdowns. Or get an A on that test.’ I’d look over and think, ‘Are we watching this for me or for you?’

ANTHONY DANIELS: Having one of the most recognizable voices in movie history can lead to some surreal moments. Just ask Anthony Daniels. He’s played C-3PO in all seven Star Wars films, including this weekend’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens and once rented a car with a very familiar voice on the GPS.

I felt uncomfortable with me —very clearly — giving me instruction for something I didn’t know. I found it quite bizarre. I was driving thinking, ‘This is unnatural.’”

TIFF: The Toronto International Film Festival is only ten days but it looms large on my schedule every year. This year, in addition to watching dozens of movies and doing interviews for Metro, “Canada AM,” “NewsTalk 1010” and others, I hosted a bunch of press conferences, including, “The Martian” – with Ridley Scott, Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Demolition with Jake Gyllenhaal (#JakeQuake), Our Brand is Crisis with George Clooney and Sandra Bullock and Black Mass with Johnny Depp. They were some of the highlights of the fest for me… and unfortunately provided one of the low points. Read on… and once again Sean Bean, I’m REALLY sorry.

METRO: An insider’s look at TIFF: Behind the scenes with Richard Crouse

Screen Shot 2015-12-29 at 7.44.53 AMEver wondered what it’s like to rub shoulders with celebs?

The backstage room at the TIFF Bell Lightbox’s press conference area is a beehive of activity.

“Is George here yet?”

“Is that Johnny vaping in the corner?”

It’s a place where no last names are necessary and the star wattage is blinding. Actors, directors, publicists and gofers mingle while air kisses, handshakes and Hollywood hugs are exchanged.

This year the Toronto International Film Festival is mounting 11 press conferences featuring everyone from Matt Damon and Sandra Bullock to George Clooney and Keith Richards.

I’m hosting four of them — Demolition, The Martian, Our Brand is Crisis and Black Mass — with, as MGM used to brag, “More stars than are in the heavens.”

Despite the buzzy nature of the events, backstage is a casually chaotic place where actors get caught up with one another before taking the stage.

Matt Damon made the rounds, glad-handing with his The Martian cast mates, many of whom he hadn’t met because he spent 90 per cent of his of screen time alone, stranded on Mars.

The business of the press conferences happens on stage. Moderating these things provides a fascinating glimpse into both sides of the publicity machine.

Ideally the press conferences are a reciprocal event: Reporters ask questions to actors and filmmakers they might not otherwise have access to, and in return the stars get publicity for their films. It’s a pretty simple but often unpredictable transaction.

Gone are the days of the legendary “journalist” who asked all her questions in rhyme, but for every sensible inquiry about the movie, there is inevitably another off-the-wall query that leaves panel lists either annoyed or scratching their heads.

Screen Shot 2015-12-29 at 7.42.45 AMAt the Our Brand is Crisis conference someone asked Bullock about her character’s grown-out roots. The Oscar winner replied as best she could and when she finished, Clooney chimed in, “Aren’t you glad you asked that question?”

Later she shut down a silly query regarding how she keeps her bum as toned as it is in the film. “It’s so sad that you just want to talk about the butt,” she said, before tersely adding that leg lifts are the secret to posterior pertness.

Not that the attendees are the only ones to pull a gaffe or two. During the Demolition conference, I asked Chris Cooper a long, rambling question about his character. He seemed genuinely perplexed, and you know what? I was, too. Sometimes you can overthink these things.

Later at The Martian presser, there were 13 people on the stage, everyone from Michael Pena to Damon, Scott, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Jessica Chastain, and in the shuffle I made the horrifying mistake of forgetting to ask the great Sean Bean a question and didn’t realize it until we were out of time.

Screen Shot 2015-12-29 at 7.51.43 AMWho doesn’t acknowledge Lord Eddard Stark?

Me, idiotically. Next year I promise to go to him first and frequently.

Metro Canada In Focus: Dreaming the same dream at the movies.

Screen Shot 2015-09-03 at 7.58.44 AMBy Richard Crouse – Metro In Focus

The summer movie season began amid doom and gloom. I don’t mean George Miller’s filling screens with his dystopian vision of the future in Mad Max: Fury Road or the career ending fallout from the Sony hack. No, I mean the sky-is-falling predictions that circulated about the movie business.

Box office is down! No one goes to the movies anymore! And best of all: Movies are dead!

To paraphrase Mark Twain, I’m happy to say the reports of the death of cinema have been greatly exaggerated. The summer box office of 2015 will go down in the record books as the second-biggest in history with almost seven billion dollars generated by Minions, Ant-Man, Mad Max, dinosaurs and a sad little girl named Riley.

Superheroes helped put bums in seats, but 2015 won’t be remembered as the Year of Ultron. Now that the summer silly season is over, a definite trend toward female-driven movies like Trainwreck, Pitch Perfect 2 and Spy showed that, as Amy Schumer told me, Hollywood has finally realized “our money works, too. Our banks also accept the female dollar.”

But it wasn’t just women going to the movies. With Jurassic World pulling in 1.6 billion samolians worldwide, it seems everyone put down the remote and went to the cinema.

We didn’t rush out to everything — cash grabs like Ted 2 and Terminator: Genisys flopped — but the naysayers, the folks who, in January, were declaring movies to be a thing of the past, an old outmoded form of entertainment in the digital age, missed the point.

People flocked to the movies in huge numbers this summer, filling seats and studio bank accounts, not simply to sit in air conditioning for a few hours as relief from the summer heat or to dine out on popcorn and Twizzlers, but to engage in an age-old ritual.

Of course, you can watch movies at home or on your phone. New technology has made it easier than ever to enjoy a film from the comfort of your coach on a 60-inch screen with surround sound and healthy, homemade snacks, but no matter what set-up you may have in your living room, the thing missing is the ancient practice of sharing entertainment with a large group of strangers. It’s a primal thing, hard-wired into our DNA, that dates back to when tribes of cave dwellers would sit around fires and tell stories through to the Globe Theatre, vaudeville, the talkies and right up to today’s IMAX and AUX screenings.

People have gathered to be entertained since there were tales to be told because there is no better way to enjoy the storytelling experience than surrounded by strangers who are laughing, crying, gasping— whatever — in response to a shared event.

No matter how large your TV or comfortable your sofa, home viewing misses the magical element of community. In the theatre you’re getting the sound and the picture the director intended, but more than that the experience brings people together, inspires conversation, respect and triggers actual physical interaction with others. Try that as you stream a movie on your iPhone.

Of course, as in any other community there are a few troublemakers — texters, seat kickers — but I spend more time in theatres than most and find the pros far outweigh any negatives.

In the era of home entertainment the idea of going to the movies may sound old fashioned or quaint but I like the way English novelist Angela Carter described watching a film in a theatre. She called it “dreaming the same dream in unison” and that, for me will never go out of style.




Screen Shot 2015-07-17 at 2.50.51 PMRichard’s CP24 reviews for “Ant-Man,” “Trainwreck” and “Mr. Holmes.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!

Metro: Amy Schumer creates great roles for great comedians in Trainwreck

Screen Shot 2015-07-16 at 4.40.35 PMBy Richard Crouse – In Focus

In Trainwreck, a new comedy directed by Judd Apatow, Amy Schumer plays a promiscuous New Yorker who finds love.

It’s a side-splitting movie that will be Schumer’s big-screen breakout, but the film is also populated by a very funny supporting cast, many of whom are Schumer’s Manhattan comedy peers.

“I got to give my friends work,” Schumer, who also wrote the script, says, “and they did great in it.”

Colin Quinn and Dave Attell are two standups and friends who make big impressions in the film.

“I consider Colin to be like, in vampire terms, the maker,” says Attell.

Quinn, a legendary comedian and former SNL Weekend Update anchor, co-stars as Amy’s father, a cranky old man with an attitude and a possible drug problem.

“With actors, it’s not about the lines, it’s about the behaviour,” says Quinn. “With us, it’s just about the words. We love it, so if you come up with something funny and it’s quiet behind the camera and they yell ‘Cut’ and everybody starts laughing, that’s the best.

“In so many things it’s not about the words, but in stand-up, it’s all about the words, the order of the words. I feel more than any other art form, the audience matters so much. You have this contentious relationship with them, but they are so much a part of it. I feel like musicians get together and they jam with one each other. We need the crowd to jam. To rehearse.”

Attell is a club veteran, best known for his TV show Insomniac with Dave Attell and dark-edged lines like, “You know, men and women are a lot alike in certain situations. Like when they’re both on fire — they’re exactly alike.”

In the movie, he plays a homeless man who talks to Amy everyday.

“This is the character, of the four characters that I’ve ever played in movies, that is most like me,” he says. “That’s me in five years. That’s me after the last season of Last Comic Standing, physically and emotionally.

“I’ve been in like, three other movies, and this movie was the most fun. You show up and they want you to riff around and you go for the jokes and you keep going until you feel you got it. I love that, especially for people who aren’t classically trained actors.”

You get the feeling that as much as these guys enjoyed making Trainwreck, they are more comfortable on a stage in front of a crowd than they are on a movie set. Both agree that hostile audiences fuel them creatively.

“When it’s not going well, you still have to do the job and that’s what makes it a job,” says Attell. “That’s also often when you come up with the most enlightening stuff, in the tough crowd moment.”

Quinn may prefer live venues but according to Jimmy Fallon he may have more movie work coming his way. The Tonight Show host predicts an Oscar nomination for the comic’s work in the film.

“Why not?” Quinn deadpans. “I wasn’t expecting one but an Academy Award would not affect me now, because after I didn’t get nominated for Grown Ups 2 I feel like it’s a rigged game.”


Screen Shot 2015-07-17 at 11.45.14 AMRichard’s “Canada AM” reviews for “Ant-Man,” “Trainwreck” and “Mr. Holmes.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!

TRAINWRECK: 4 ½ STARS. “an auspicious big screen debut for Schumer.”

Screen Shot 2015-07-16 at 4.42.41 PM“Trainwreck,” the new film from director Judd Apatow, is a romantic comedy with a pure heart and a dirty mouth.

In descending order of importance Amy (Amy Schumer, who also wrote the script) is a party girl, drinker and journalist. Her serial womanizing father’s mantra, “Monogamy isn’t realistic,” made an impression and she has grown into a promiscuous woman whose main relationship rule is “never stay over.” She inappropriate, sometimes cruel—“You are not nice,” says one ex—and occasionally clueless but nonetheless is handed a plum assignment by her editor (Tilda Swinton) to write an article on hotshot sports doctor Aaron Connors (Bill Hader).

Breaking both her personal rule and the first law of journalism, she gets involved with her subject. She leaves a toothbrush at his house, introduces him to her family and for once stays monogamous. Their relationship blooms until she allows self doubt—Why would this guy want to go out with me?—to get in the way of enjoying a happy, functional relationship.

There’s more to the story. Subplots about Amy’s ailing father (Colin Quinn), her sister’s (Brie Larson) suburban life and LeBron James’s cheapness—“I don’t want to end up like MC Hammer!”—are woven into the fabric, but the heart of the tale is about Amy and Aaron. Their roles are flipped—she plays the traditionally male commitment-phobe role, while Aaron wants to settle down—but it is their chemistry that keeps us interested.

Like most Apatow films “Trainwreck” is frontloaded with outrageous laughs that slowly give way to a funny but more restrained resolution. Schumer delivers most of the raunchy stuff but is never less than likeable, even when her character is reckless and immature. It’s a fine line that she treads in her stand-up comedy and it translates to the screen. Perhaps it’s because of the deep core of truth that props up even the more outrageous moments or perhaps it’s her way with a line. Either way her charm in the comedic and dramatic is the stuff of movie stars.

Hader is an unlikely romantic lead, but for many of the same reasons Schumer succeeds he scores a home run as Aaron. His scenes with Schumer have a comic ease about them, but his funniest work is reserved for his back-and-forth with LeBron James. The basketball superstar is the film’s unexpected secret weapon, delivering lines like, “Do you see his face when you look into clouds?” with the ease of a seasoned comic.

“Trainwreck” is complex and laugh out loud funny—you’ll likely miss some of the best lines because you’ll be laughing so hard—not a mix you get in many rom coms. Featuring edgy, interesting performances from its leads and supporting cast—especially Colin Quinn and Tilda Swinton—it is an auspicious big screen debut for Schumer and is Apatow’s most focused and interesting film to date.

METRO CANADA: Amy Schumer talks first film, why fame sucks

Screen Shot 2015-07-07 at 3.40.20 PMBy Richard Crouse

Amy Schumer is having a fantastic year. The standup comic, television star and headline magnet is about to add movie star to her resumé.

Inside Amy Schumer, her Peabody Award-winning TV show, makes news every single week, whether it’s tackling topics like high school rape culture in a Friday Night Lights takeoff or assembling a jury, à la 12 Angry Men, to debate whether Schumer is quote, hot enough, unquote, to be on television.

She’s everywhere and soon she’ll be on the big screen in Trainwreck, directed by comedy maestro Judd Apatow from a script by Schumer. In the most unconventional rom-com since Bridesmaids, she stars as a young, promiscuous New York woman who drinks too much and finds true love despite doing everything to avoid it.

“To be me right now is very weird,” she says. “It’s weird, I feel like I am famous all of a sudden. I’ve been kind of recognizable but now it is very different and it is very new. It’s overwhelming. It is a little scary. I’m on the subway and it’s not like one or two people — it’s like the whole car wants a picture. It’s overwhelming.”

“I never thought about being famous. That was never part of my thing, but once it was on the horizon as a possibility, it seemed like a real bummer. I could see there’s no upside. The upside is I sometimes get free appetizers and I can get a reservation at a restaurant. I only go to one place in New York, it’s a tea place, the Tea Cup, and they don’t take reservations but I can make a reservation there. I swear I don’t see another upside. It sucks.”

As that last quote displays, Schumer’s work is characterized by a lack of pretence.

“I like to get rid of artifice,” she says. “I haven’t gone to the bathroom in three days and I’m hungover and that’s OK.”

But these days she’s more often than not very publicly on display.

“It’s very hard for me to be in hair and makeup all the time and clothes I don’t feel comfortable in. Because you do this work you feel proud of, I feel you’re punished by having to dress up like a show poodle.”

Trainwreck is set in New York but not because it is the traditional home of the classic rom-coms, but because “I just don’t know any other city,” she says. “I am a creature of habit. I just like going to the Comedy Cellar and walking around the reservoir in Central Park.”

She may be a creature of habit in her personal life, but has shaken up the formula for her first movie, although she balks at the suggestion that she switched the gender roles in the film.

“It was a complete surprise to me,” she says. “There wasn’t a thought of, ‘I’m playing the male role.’ It makes sense to me. I know in most movies it’s not this way, but in my real life and in the lives of the women I’m close to and in this age, I’ve found that, as somebody who is still out there dating, that the men often times are the more vulnerable of the two and just more sensitive. Mostly about it being over. If you go out with someone once and you’re just not feeling it, if a guy doesn’t call me back it is a blow to the ego, but I’m not like, ‘But … why? I have a great job.’

“It’s funny, I was watching The Bachelorette, I’m a fan. One of the guys was feeling rejected and he kind of turned on her. She didn’t do anything to him but he was like, ‘My ex-girlfriend was twice as hot as her.’ I think the male ego is way more sensitive than the female ego. It was not a conscious decision to reverse the roles. That has really been my experience.”

She says watching the final cut of the film and seeing the audience reaction at SXSW earlier this year “was the best night of my life so far.”

“I’m already proud of the movie. The movie is already a success to me. My peers really like it and I got to give my friends work and they did great in it. Beyond that, I hope it changes the perspective of people who see it. I hope people are a little less likely to judge and women feel more empowered.”