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 Ryan Gosling’s as astronaut Neil Armstrong in “First Man,” the star studded “Bad Times at the El Royale” and a nasty take on “Home Alone” called “Knuckleball.”
Richard joins CP24 anchor Jamie Gutfreund to have a look at the weekend’s new movies including Ryan Gosling’s take on Neil Armstrong in “First Man,” the star studded “Bad Times at the El Royale” and a nasty take on “Home Alone” called “Knuckleball.”
Richard has a look at Ryan Gosling’s as Neil Armstrong in “First Man,” the star studded “Bad Times at the El Royale” and a nasty take on “Home Alone” called “Knuckleball” with CFRA Morning Rush host Bill Carroll.
Six years ago writer/director Drew Goddard deconstructed the slasher movie genre with the whimsical and exhilarating “Cabin in the Woods.” A mash-up of horror and humour, of post-modern self-awareness and gruesome gags, it simultaneously adopted and challenged the conventions of the slasher genre. He returns to the big screen—his day job is writing, producing and directing TV shows like “Daredevil” and “The Good Place”—with “Bad Times at the El Royale,” an inversion of a 1990s broken timeline crime drama.
The El Royale is the kind of seedy hotel that dotted the highways and byways of 1960s America. Split down the middle by the California/Nevada border, it’s a perfect slice of mid-century kitsch, like the same guy who decked out Elvis’s rec room designed it. When we first lay eyes on it a shady character (Nick Offerman) with a bulging suitcase and a gun wrenches up the floorboards and hides a case of money before replacing the carpet and the furniture. It’s an act that establishes the El Royale as a home-away-from-home for transients and ne’er-do-wells and sets up much of the action to come.
As for the action to come, you’ll have to go see the film to find out what happens. I will tell you that the film takes place ten years after the suitcase was hidden in the hotel and begins with a disparate group of folks checking in well after the El Royale’s heyday. There’s slick talking vacuum cleaner salesman Laramie Seymour Sullivan (Jon Hamm), Reno-bound singer Darlene Sweet (Cynthia Erivo), Father Daniel Flynn (Jeff Bridges), a priest with tired eyes and hippie chick Emily Summerspring (Dakota Johnson). All three pay front desk manager Miles (Lewis Pullman) the $8 deposit and take to their rooms.
Secrets are revealed about the guests and the hotel as an aura of menace clouds the sunny California/Nevada border. “We’re in a bit of a pickle,” says Father Flynn in what may be the understatement of the year.
Goddard takes his time setting up the narrative drive of “Bad Times at the El Royale.” He bobs and weaves, playing with time, slowly revealing the intricacies of the story. For the patient—it runs two hours and 21 minutes—it’s a heck of a ride but may prove too opaque for casual viewers. Large conspiracies are hinted at, secrets are kept and no one is really who they seem to be. For those willing to submit to the grimly funny and admittedly indulgent proceedings, it’s a Tarantino-esque web of intrigue and unexpected violence that plays both as a crime drama and a metaphor for the decay of 1960s idealism.
“Bad Times at the El Royale” is a good movie filled with bad people. It asks you to care about people who do terrible things and by the end, thanks to inventive storytelling and good performances—Erivo is s standout—you just might.
Richard sits in on the CJAD Montreal morning show with host Andrew Carter to talk about Ryan Gosling’s giant leap as Neil Armstrong in “First Man,” the star studded “Bad Times at the El Royale” and a nasty take on “Home Alone” called “Knuckleball.”
Visiting family can be trying. Memories can be stirred up and old wounds opened. But I will guess that no matter how surreal your stopovers with the clan may be, they likely aren’t as melodramatic as Louis (Gaspard Ulliel) visit home after a twelve year absence in Xavier Dolan’s “It’s Only the End of the World.”
Louis is successful and gay, a playwright travelling home to see his family, people he barely knows anymore. Terminally ill, he’s determined to visit on his own terms to prove he is, “until the very end the master of his life.” Instead of open arms he walks into a seething mass of hurt and anger from his relatives, manic mother Martine (Nathalie Baye), short-tempered brother Antoine (Vincent Cassel), frazzled sister-in-law Catherine (Marion Cotillard) and Suzanne (Léa Seydoux) a younger sister he barely knows.
Based on Jean-Luc Lagarce’s play of the same name, “It’s Only The End Of The World,” unfolds episodically, like a series of beautifully performed but melodramatic one act plays. An awkward conversation here, an argument there, punctuated by Dolan’s stylistic flourishes. Slow motion and close-up after close-up showcase the interesting and rather exquisite faces of the cast but lend a claustrophobic feel to the film. As the walls close in on Louis the constant up-close-and-personal bickering grates on the audience. Why doesn’t he just pack his bags and leave? Why don’t we? Either way, it would put an end to the on-screen caterwauling.
There are some touching moments in “It’s Only the End of the World,” but they occur mostly in flashback. In the present day the film portrays a clichéd view of family dysfunction that is neither as revealing nor profound enough to maintain interest. If it’s family trouble you want, go visit your own folks. At least you’ll get a home cooked meal out of the deal.
Richard talks Cannes and Xavier Dolan with the Canadian Press.
“I think he’s got probably a pretty good shot certainly at being taken seriously as a contender, even thought he’s up against the who’s who of international filmmakers like Ken Loach, Pedro Almodovar, Paul Verhoeven, Sean Penn,” says Toronto-based film reviewer Richard Crouse.
“There are a lot of people here that are working at a very high level, but I’d suggest that Xavier Dolan is working at just as high a level.”
Richard hosted the press room at the 2015 Canadian Screen Awards, interviewing all the winners, including Xavier Dolan, Tatiana Maslany (see clip above), “Call Me Fitz” star Joanna Cassidy (Read about her and “Blade Runner” HERE!), Don McKellar, “Mommy” star Anne Dorval, 19-2 star Jared Keeso, Best News Anchor for CTV National News winner Lisa LaFlamme and host Andrea Martin. (Thanks to Mr. Will Wong for the photo!)