I appear on “CTV News at 11:30” with anchor Andria Case to talk about the best movies and television to watch this weekend. This week I have a look at a trio of films on the big screen, the live-action “The Little Mermaid,” the Julia Louis-Dreyfus dramedy “You Hurt My Feelings” and Gerard Butler’s latest action-a-thon “Mission Kandahar,” and the Crave musical bio “Love to Love You: Donna Summer.”
I appear on “CTV News at 6” with anchor Andria Case to talk about the best movies and television to watch this weekend. This week I have a look at a trio of films on the big screen, the live-action “The Little Mermaid,” the Julia Louis-Dreyfus dramedy “You Hurt My Feelings” and Gerard Butler’s latest action-a-thon “Mission Kandahar,” and the Crave musical bio “Love to Love You: Donna Summer.”
Watch as I review three movies in less time than it takes to stamp your feet! Have a look as I race against the clock to tell you about the underwater adventures of “The Little Mermaid,” the Julia Louis-Dreyfus in “You Hurt My Feelings” and Gerard Butler in “Mission Kandahar.”
Gerard Butler is no stranger to action. On film he’s battled more terrorists than you can shake a stick at, and he once even took on a network of powerful of satellites gone amok.
His latest, “Mission Kandahar” (titled simply “Kandahar” in the United States), now playing in theatres, brings the action earthbound in a story based on the true experiences of screenwriter and former military intelligence officer, Mitchell LaFortune in Afghanistan in the aftermath of the Snowden leaks.
Butler is Tom Harris, a divorced MI5 military intelligence officer working undercover in Afghanistan circa 2021. He is a “total chameleon,” a man who disappears into the job as he poses as technician hired by their government to lay internet cable in the desert, all the while while gathering intelligence on the Taliban.
Just as he is about to end his mission, and head home to England to visit his daughter, an intelligence leak reveals his identity, location and mission goals. “Our cover is blown,” he says. “We leave in fifteen minutes.”
Exposed and in danger, he and his loyal Afghan interpreter and fixer (Navid Negahban) are trapped in hostile territory.
“No one is coming to rescue us,” Harris says, as he takes matters into his own hands to get the two of them across the 640 kilometers to an extraction point at an old CIA base in Kandahar Province before elite enemy forces can stop them. “The distance is not the main issue. It’s what’s in between.”
Butler, like Liam Neeson, makes very specific kinds of action films. With “Mission Kandahar” he filters the very real issue of securing safety for the Afghan citizens who worked alongside U.S. and NATO personnel for twenty years, through the lens of a Butler Action Flick. That means some defying-all-odds action, a loved one waiting at home for him to return, stereotypical baddies and lots of things that go boom. And, of course, there’s The Presence, the bulky Butler leading the action.
Often entertaining—see “Plane”—Butler’s movies exist in a world mostly untouched by reality, as though the golden era of direct-to-DVD action flicks never went away.
For better and for worse, “Mission Kandahar” fits that mold. The story’s real-life backdrop provides a canvas, but melodrama and action are the movie’s reality.
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 angry ape movie “Rampage,” the timely and touching drama “Indian Horse” and the boy-and-his-horse drama “Lean on Pete.”
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.”
“In all honesty if I heard about a film about a boy and his horse I wouldn’t want to go see that because I would think it was a family movie,” says English director Andrew Haigh. We are talking about his newest film Lean on Pete, which is, ironically, a film about a boy and his horse.
Based on the book by Willy Vlautin, it sounds like family fare but it is anything but. The cast should be the first clue. Steve Buscemi, Chloë Sevigny and Steve Zahn, all edgy 90s indie virtuosos, are the above-the-title stars, hinting that this isn’t going to be another National Velvet retread.
“The book is sad at times and tragic at times so the movie felt like a faithful adaptation of that. Oddly, I think that’s why I liked it because it was seemingly playing with more traditional ideas but telling the real life version of that. There could be a family movie about a boy on the road with a horse but it not going to be real. It was only after I finished the film that I realised, ‘This is going to be quite a challenge.’”
Charlie Plummer, last seen as John Paul Getty III in All the Money in the World, plays Charley Thompson a fifteen-year-old looking for permanence in his hardscrabble life. To pass the time he gets a job tending to an aging Quarter Horse named Lean On Pete. When the horse’s owner, a crusty old horse trader played by Buscemi, decides to get rid of Pete, to “send him to Mexico”—i.e.: the glue factory— Charley makes off with the horse, embarking on a road trip in search of a better life for both of them.
“It isn’t about the horse,” says Haigh. “It is about Charley’s desperate need for some stability, some security, someone to care for him, someone to care about him. That’s what’s driving him.”
As Charley the eighteen-year-old Plummer is magnetic, quietly creating the character of a desperate young man who does bad things for mostly the right reasons.
“It is not easy trying to cast someone about that age. Especially someone who has to both physically feel right, that they are still a kid but very nearly an adult. I knew I wanted him, in a frame, to look like a kid and then suddenly go older, then younger.
“There a lot of good boys that we had seen but Charley had something different. He approaches scenes in a different way. He doesn’t go the easy emotional way. He finds something a more challenging which sometimes keeps you at even more of a distance but then sometimes pulls you in with that amazing face he has.”
Haigh, who next project is The North Water, a sprawling TV movie about a disgraced ex-army surgeon now working as ship’s doctor on a whaling expedition, hopes people respond to Lean on Pete’s messages of kindness and compassion.
“If people leave the cinema and they feel for that kid and think about him that is all I can really hope for,” he says. “I hope it speaks to the importance of the need to help people who are suffering. I don’t know if people will take that away or not but it is certainly in the DNA of the film.”
The boy-and-his-horse story of “Lean on Pete” sounds like family fare but it is anything but. The cast should be the first clue. Steve Buscemi, Chloë Sevigny and Steve Zahn, all edgy 90s indie virtuosos, are the above-the-title stars, hinting that this isn’t going to be another “National Velvet” remake.
At the beginning of the story fifteen-year-old Charley Thompson (Charlie Plummer) and his single father Ray (Travis Fimmel) are starting their lives over in Portland, Oregon. Charley’s mom went out for cigarettes years ago and never came back. Since then father and son and moved around the country, Ray chasing work, Charley trying to find a place to fit in. They are more like friends than father and son. Ray offers up dubious fatherly advice—“The best women have all been waitresses at some point.”—and finds a new women in every new town.
To pass the time Charley gets a job tending to an aging Quarter Horse named Lean On Pete. Working for crusty old horse trader Del Montgomery (Buscemi) Charley finds purpose and despite the warnings of jockey Bonnie (Sevigny) not to get emotionally involved with the horse—“Don’t think of them as pets,” she says.—the teenager coddles the horse even as it becomes clear Pete isn’t going to win anymore races.
When Del decides to get rid of Pete, to “send him to Mexico”—i.e.: the glue factory— Charley makes off with the horse, embarking on a road trip in search of a better life for both of them.
There are many good messages here for kids about resilience and loyalty but again let me remind you this isn’t a kid’s movie. Del’s foul language and a scene where Charley beats a homeless man with a tire iron rule that out. What we’re left with is a story that feels like it was written for a young adult audience but made by someone weaned on mid-period Wim Wenders. Tonally it feels as though it has one hoof in YA, the other in more adult fare.
Tonality aside, the first hour works very well. Plummer is magnetic, quietly creating the character of a desperate young man who does bad things for mostly the right reasons. His scenes with Buscemi and Sevigny sparkle with a gruff warmth, setting up the lesson in resilience that dominates the second half. As Charley sets off into America’s hinterland Bonnie’s statement of fact, “There’s only so many times you can fall down, right?,” is proven wrong time after time. It’s a road trip of misery that sees Charley survive in very trying circumstances. Paced a little too leisurely in its second hour the road trip section, despite the dramatic events portrayed, is far less interesting than the character work of the first hour.
“Lean on Pete” is an effective portrait of a lonely boy but ultimately simply becomes a laundry list of Charley’s bad decisions.
Richard and CP24 anchor Nneka Elliot talk about the weekend’s four big releases, “Now You See Me 2,” the Cos Play freak-out “Warcraft,” the great Greta Gerwig’s “Maggie’s Plan,” and the spooky atmosphere of “The Conjuring 2.”