Posts Tagged ‘Victor Garber’

CFRA IN OTTAWA: THE BILL CARROLL MORNING SHOW MOVIE REVIEWS!

Richard has a look at the new movies coming to theatres, including “Knives Out” with Daniel Craig and a cast of n’ere do wells, the Disney+ revamp of “Lady and the Tramp,” the odd couple picture “The Two Popes,” the corporate legal drama “Dark Waters,” and the thought provoking “Queen & Slim” with CFRA morning show host Bill Carroll.

Listen to the whole thing HERE!

DARK WATERS: 3 STARS. “compelling David and Goliath story.”      

The only thing big and green in Mark Ruffalo’s new film “Dark Waters are the hulking wads of cash a major corporation is willing to pay to cover up an ecological disaster.

Based on true events, Ruffalo plays corporate defense lawyer Robert Bilott, a native West Virginian now working for an upscale Cincinnati firm. He makes a living defending big companies but when Wilbur Tennant (Bill Camp), a friend of his grandmother shows up complaining that chemical giant Dupont is poisoning his livestock, Bilott is at a loss for words. “I defend chemical companies,” he stuitters. “Well, now you can defend me,” replies the plainspoken Wilbur.

Bilott knows the farm. As a kid he rode horses and milked his first cow there and even though the he doesn’t think he can help, he agrees to have a look. On the land he finds horrifying things. 190 cows dead, many born with birth defects and tumors. Wilbur is convinced that runoff from a nearby landfill is responsible. What was once a pastoral paradise is now a poisoned plot of land.

To paraphrase the famous John Denver song, country roads lead Bilott back home to place he belongs, defending a farmer done wrong by a conglomerate more concerned with profit than people.

“Dark Waters” is about accountability. Bilott spends more than a decade of his life, putting his health and family life at risk to take a corporate Goliath to task for their irresponsible behavior. Ruffalo does a good job at portraying the Bilott’s decline as he is worn down by the tactics of his foe, the impatience of the people he is trying to help and his inability to force the power brokers to play fair. It humanizes a story that otherwise would be a high level legal procedural.

Director Todd Haynes shoots the story in drab tones that echo much of the colorless work—i.e. cataloguing the mountain of paper sent over by Dupont in the form of discovery. It doesn’t make for a compelling looking film but it helps set the scene and tone. Fighting back isn’t glamourous work. It’s about late nights, crappy food and a constant feeling of exhaustion.

“Dark Waters” isn’t a thriller. From the first frame there is no question about who is guilty. The question here is how guilty and will they ever pay for what they have done? It is geared to outage and infuriate, to underscore that the big guys don’t always win. It is marred by a leisurely approach and some paper-thin characterizations, but the David and Goliath story is compelling.

CTVNEWS.CA: “THE CROUSE REVIEW LOOKS AT “BLADE RUNNER 2049” & MORE!

A new feature from from ctvnews.ca! The Crouse Review is a quick, hot take on the weekend’s biggest movies! This week Richard looks at “Blade Runner 2049,” the survival flick “The Mountain Between Us” and the J.D. Salinger biopic “Rebel in the Rye.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!

RICHARD’S WEEKEND MOVIE REVIEWS FROM CP24! FRIDAY OCTOBER 06, 2017.

Richard and CP24 anchor Jamie Gutfreund have a look at the weekend’s new movies including the much anticipated “Blade Runner 2049,” the survival flick “The Mountain Between Us” and the J.D. Salinger biopic “Rebel in the Rye.”

Watch the whole tying HERE!

Metro In Focus: The struggle is real: The challenge of depicting a writer’s process

By Richard Crouse – Metro In Focus

There’s a meme that occasionally pops up on my social media pages. It’s a picture of a person slumped over a typewriter, fists clenched, captioned with the words, “Writing is easy. You just sit at your typewriter until little drops of blood appear on your forehead.”

Anyone who has tried to put words on a page will understand the joke. Writing at a high level requires a combination of talent, study, life experience and dedication; a folio of concrete and ephemeral elements that can blend easily or remain frustratingly difficult to access, depending on the day.

The story of James Joyce’s exasperation while writing his modernist novel Ulysses perfectly illuminates the writer’s frustrating process. As the story goes, a friend dropped by Joyce’s home to find the author upset that after a full day of work he had only written seven words.

“Seven?” his friend says. “But James that’s good — for you, at least.”

“Yes,” Joyce says. “I suppose it is. I’m just not sure what order they go in!”

It should come as no surprise that writers love to write about writing. Screenwriters have tapped out thousands of pages in an effort to illuminate the mysterious process.

From biopics like The End of the Tour and Capote to dramas like Adaptation and Misery, movie after movie has focused on the various ways words make it to the page in the right order.

This weekend Rebel in the Rye is a glossy look at author J.D. Salinger’s unlikely journey from losing a girlfriend to Charlie Chaplin, to the Second World War, from eastern religion to writing the classic novel Catcher in the Rye.

Movies about writers often feature scenes of typewriters clacking, pages crumpled and thrown in the garbage as authors attempt to whip their manuscripts into something readable. Crumpled loose-leaf is a tangible sign of the work, but does little to explain the author’s thought process.

The movie Genius, starring Jude Law as author Thomas Wolfe, does a good job of showing the very lifeblood that flowed through his veins. The You Can’t Go Home Again author creates exciting wordplay that could be compared to the free-flowing fluidity of jazz.

To illustrate the difference between his work and the more staid style of his contemporary Henry James, he pays a jazz band to play a straightforward, traditional version of Flow Gently, Sweet Afton.

“That’s Henry James,” he says as the players plod along. But as the band heats up, splintering off into melodic tangents, he grins and says, describing himself, “That’s Thomas Wolfe.”

The process by which artists go about their work is near impossible to effectively capture on film, but this scene comes close to explaining what it feels like when the creative juices are racing.

Subtler is Paterson, a gentle look at the life of a poetry-writing Paterson, N.J., bus driver played by Adam Driver.

The poems aren’t for publication, simply a way to express his joy in the beauty and art of everyday life. When his dog eats his notebook he has to start again but learns the writer’s greatest lesson.

“Sometimes the empty page presents the most possibilities.” There is great uplift in those words. The blank page isn’t a hindrance to the work but a canvas on which to create something new. It’s the simplest and most beautiful expression of how art is made I’ve ever seen in a movie.

REBEL IN THE RYE: 2 STARS. “You never saw so many phonies in all your life.”

“Rebel in the Rye” is a glossy look at author J.D. Salinger’s unlikely journey from losing a girlfriend to Charlie Chaplin to World War II, from eastern religion to Holden Caulfield. It’s a long strange trip, but would Caulfield label it phoney?

Nicholas Hoult plays Jerome David Salinger, a young man with a talent for words but a father (Victor Garber) who wants him to go into the meat and cheese distribution business. The sharp-tongued teenager isn’t accepted into uptown New York City society and is too square for downtown. The only things he’s good at are getting kicked out of school and writing.

His talent leads him to Columbia University and the Creative Writing class of Whit Burnett (Kevin Spacey). Burnett recognizes Salinger’s gift but isn’t sure of his commitment to the writing life.

Meanwhile, Salinger is a man about town who begins a tumultuous and ill-fated relationship with Eugene O’Neill’s daughter Oona (Zoey Deutch), a pairing that begins his journey towards writing his most famous book.

First though, he yearns to get a short story published. Sights set on Esquire and The New Yorker he receives rejection after rejection until Burnett publishes “The Young Folks,” in a small literary magazine.

Salinger gets some notice, a high-powered agent Dorothy Olding (Sarah Paulson) and a healthy disdain of “phonies,” superficial people who talk one way and behave another. “My father hides the fact that he’s Jewish from our neighbours,” he says. “The first phoney I ever met was on my first day.”

At Burnett’s urging Salinger begins writing a book. “Holden Caulfield deserves a novel all his own,” Burnett drunkenly slurs after a night on the town. “Imagine the book you would like to read and then go write it.”

His burgeoning career is cut short, interrupted by World War II. Overseas he continues to write—he storms Normandy with six chapters of what would become the classic “Catcher in the Rye” in his pack—but when he returns to the United States he suffers PTSD and is unable to continue. “I have nothing left to say about Holden Caulfield,” he says. “Nothing left to say at all.”

Spiralling downward, his life is changed when he discovers meditation as a way to quiet his mind. He picks up the story of a troubled kid during the Christmas holidays, finishing “Catcher in the Rye.” The book is an immediate hit, capturing the consciousness of the nation. Salinger becomes a media star but his newfound fame and interactions with disturbed fans people who think they are Caulfield drive him from public life. In his remote New Hampshire home he built walls, physically around his home and mentally, to keep everyone out. “When people become a distraction,” he says, you remove the distraction.” He dedicates his life to writing—something his mentor Burnett was unsure he’d be able to do—but removes the pressure of having to follow up one of the most popular novels of all time by never publishing another word.

The word “phoney” looms large in the legacy of J.D. Salinger. His process was a search for authenticity, a journey writer and director Danny Strong seems to have veered away from. The handsome production design and period details bring style to a film that is almost completely without substance. The complex issues of innocence, identity, belonging, loss and connection that Salinger loved and brought to his work are reduced to platitudes. Yes, the World War II scenes effectively showcase the horrors of war but Salinger’s reaction to them feel, well, phoney. Later, when he finally begins to create again it’s because he “learns to write not to show off his talent, but to display what is in his heart.” It’s a line that would have made the real life Salinger red faced and the movie is full of them.

From its on-the-nose title to the standard biopic conventions “Rebel in the Rye” could probably best be described by Caulfield himself: “You never saw so many phonies in all your life.”

SELF/LESS: 2 STARS. “the drama flops around, unable to take hold.”

Screen Shot 2015-07-07 at 3.38.33 PM“Self/less,” a new sci fi thriller starring Ben Kingsley and Ryan Reynolds, asks a simple question. What could geniuses like Edison, Einstein or Steve Jobs have done with another fifty years?

The story begins with New York real estate mogul Damian (Kingsley) living out his last days. He’s been enormously successful but not even his great wealth can stop the cancer that is eating him from inside. Or can it? A shadowy figure named Dr. Albright (Matthew Goode) sees him as a candidate for an expensive and exclusive process known as shedding—changing an old worn out body for a new one. The new bodies are grown in a lab and should provide decades more life for the intelligence and personality of the patients. On other words, one day you look like Ben Kingsley and after a short nap you wake up looking like Ryan Reynolds.

Along with the new body comes a new identity and a vow of secrecy. You have your old personality but a new life.

What could possibly go wrong?

There are some side effects. Hallucinations, which, it turns out are echoes from the new body’s former life. (MILD SPOILER) The carcasses aren’t test tube babies but bodies harvested from living donors. Damian is having flashbacks to a former life and his investigation leads to a large conspiracy that threatens not only his new life but the lives of everyone he knows.

“Self/less” is the kind of movie where the main character says things like, “I know you don’t have any reason to… but you have to trust me right now.” It’s the kind of standard thriller scripting that prevents “Self/less” from being a truly thought provoking story about identity and the ethics of playing God. Instead it’s a by-the-numbers psychological thriller that never gets more than skin deep.

Reynolds doesn’t disappear into the role. He’s not Damien, he’s not his host body, he’s Reynolds. Charming, yes, good looking yes, but never convincing as a man who feels trapped inside another person’s body. Because the center of the film doesn’t hold the rest of the drama flops around, unable to take hold.

“Self/less” is a handsomely shot movie—director Tarsem Singh also made the extraordinary looking “The Cell”—but suffers from a generic approach.