Richard joins the hosts of NewsTalk 1010’s “The New Rush” with Reshmi Nair and Scott MacArthur for a new segment called “Entertainment Court.” Each week Richard serves as the judge, Reshmi and Scott the jurors, and we render a verdict on the week’s biggest pop culture stories.
This week we ask, Is Kraft Dinner flavoured soft serve ice cream a revelation or an abomination? Is the Academy out of date by only allowing films that have played in theatres to be eligible for awards? Should a restaurant ion Cannes remove images of Johnny Depp, Gerard Depardieu and Woody Allen from their mural wall?
Richard and CP24 anchor George Lagogianes have a look at the weekend’s new movies including ”Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” the no-bull kid’s tale “Ferdinand” and the coming-of-age romance “Call Me By Your Name.”
Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Marcia MacMillan to have a look at the Winston Churchill biopic “Darkest Hour, “The Shape of Water,” a movie Richard says “is the kind of movie that made me fall in love with movies in the first place,” and the not-so-wondrous “Wonder Wheel.”
Personal details run deep in Woody Allen’s films. His life has been fodder for his stories. Sometimes overt, occasionally self-indulgently, most always accompanied by some sort of neurosis his writing reveals much about who he is. “Wonder Wall,” however, may top everything that came before with its story of a man who carries on with both mother and stepdaughter.
Set on Coney Island in the 1950s, “Wonder Wheel” stars Jim Belushi as Humpty, a carousel operator with Kate Winslet as Ginny, his actress-turned-waitress wife. They live in a dowdy apartment with budding pyromaniac Richie (Jack Gore), her son from a previous marriage. It’s a miserable existence. He’s an unhappy recovering alcoholic who prefers fishing to his wife’s company. Approaching forty, she’s unhappily working at a local clam house, battling migraines caused by the endless din from the surrounding amusement parks. “I am not a waitress in a clam bar,” she says. “There’s more to me than that. I’m playing the part of a waitress in a clam bar.”
Ginny’s only consolation is lifeguard and wannabe playwright Mickey (Justin Timberlake). He’s “poetic by nature with hopes of one day writing a classic,” and
she eats it up until Carolina (Juno Temple), Humpty’s estranged daughter shows up, on the run from some nasty mobsters (Steve Schirripa and Tony Sirico).
Woody Allen has made almost fifty films ranging from lush romantic comedies and introspective dramas to art house explorations and musicals. “Wonder Wheel” feels like a combination of all of the above, and yet less because it feels as though its been cobbled together from fragments of his other, better movies. Nostalgia, over-romanticized sense of place, dangerous relationships, psychiatry and highbrow set decoration like references to “Hamlet and Oedipus” abound but it is all been-there-done-that.
Once upon a time Allen’s films clocked in at a svelte 90 minutes but in recent years have grown flabby. “Wonder Wheel” times out at 101 minutes but feels much longer. The stagey, heightened acting style recalls amateur hour Tennessee Williams and seems not only stuck in time, but actually have the ability to stop time. As Humpty Belushi only reminds us how good a role this might have been for John Goodman. Winslet seems to be channelling a heroine from a more interesting movie and Timberlake, as the movie’s in-demand love interest and Greek Chorus, shows none of the ease and grace so amply on display in his singing and dancing. Only Temple fights her way through the muck to emerge as a compelling character.
At the beginning of the film Mickey warns us that what we are about to see will be filtered through his playwright’s point of view. Keeping that promise, Allen uses every amount of artifice at his disposal—including cinematographer Vittorio Storaro’s admittedly sumptuous photography—to create a film that is not only unreal but also unpleasant. “Oh God,” Ginny cries out at one point. “Spare me the bad drama.” Amen to that.
“I knew her very well,” says Penelope Cruz, “but in a way she was not exactly the same person because so many things happened to her and she changed over time, like we all do.”
Cruz isn’t talking about an old friend or a long lost relative. The Spanish superstar is referring to Macarena Granada, a character she first played a decade ago and revisits in the new film The Queen of Spain.
“She has a very intense life,” continues Cruz, “so that was the tricky thing. For the people who knew Macarena, how do I make her recognizable and what are the changes we can see in her after all these years?”
Audiences first met Macarena in 1998 when Cruz played her as an upcoming Spanish movie star in a frothy little confection called The Girl of Your Dreams. It’s years later in real and reel life as Cruz brings the character back to the screen.
Set in 1956, The Queen of Spain portrays Macarena as a huge international star lured back to her home country to star in the first American movie to be shot there since the Franco took power. It’s a wild production but complicating matters is the appearance—and subsequent disappearance—of Macarena’s former director and the man who made her a star.
“The first film was set at a time of interaction with Germany and Macarena had to protect herself from Goebbels,” says Cruz. “This time she is up against Franco. In a way every time she is acting in a film she is just not acting, she is some kind of political heroine. She is fighting for justice. What a life this woman has had! Every time she goes into making a movie she has to save somebody’s life or do something life changing for everybody. If we ever do the third one I don’t know who she’ll have to deal with. Depends on what country. Hopefully the third one will happen someday. Let’s see who she has to encounter this time.”
The Queen of Spain marks the third time Cruz has worked with Fernando Trueba, the Spanish auteur who directed her break out film Belle Époque.
“The knowledge he has of cinema, the passion he has for cinema is very contagious,” she says. “With Fernando it is always more than just entertainment. He is such a great filmmaker and he always talks about so many big subjects at the same time.
“I think Belle Époque is a masterpiece. The film was amazing and for me to start with somebody as brilliant as Fernando, well, it was a year that made it impossible for me not to fall in love with movies.”
The chance to show what goes on behind the scenes in The Queen of Spain’s film-within-the-film was another reason she decided to come back to Trueba and Macarena.
“There are not enough movies about that,” she says. “When I am on the set everything is so crazy and chaotic but at the same time it works. I feel like we need that chaos for it to work. It is magical that things happen and movies get done and get finished. I’m always on the set thinking, ‘These three days of shooting is enough material for three more movies.’”
Richard and CP24 anchor Nathan Downer have a look at the weekend’s new movies including “The Dark Tower,” the eco-documentary “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power,” the latest Kathryn Bigelow film “Detroit” and the culinary road trip of “The Trip to Spain.”