Archive for July, 2015


Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 4.15.14 PMRichard’s CP24 reviews for “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation,” “Vacation” and “A Lego Brickumentary” with host Marci Ien.

Watch the whole thing HERE!


Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 9.48.51 AMRichard’s “Canada AM” reviews for “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation,” “Vacation” and “A Lego Brickumentary” with host Marci Ien.

Watch the whole thing HERE!

Metro: Mission Impossible – Actress Overcame Vertigo to do Stunts

Screen Shot 2015-07-29 at 5.47.25 PMBy Richard Crouse – Metro Canada

When Rebecca Ferguson was cast as Ilsa Faust in Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation, the fifth film in the mega Tom Cruise franchise, she didn’t know exactly what she was getting into.

“This is a Mission film,” says the Swedish actress. “You process that in your head. It means action. I don’t know what kind of action, but it will be action. I met Tom Cruise and it was phenomenal. It was welcoming and warm and coffee and chats and laughing and talking. Then we talked about the character and the build up of the script because they were working on it. They were tweaking it. There wasn’t a full script for me to read at that very specific moment but I got the gist of it.”

Ferguson, who is best known for period dramas like BBC’s The White Queen and The Cousin’s War, expected the role would be physical but adds, “they were kind enough not to inform me about the high jumps that were to be held on the first day of shooting.”

She describes her first stunt, a seventy-five foot leap from the roof of the Vienna Opera House, as, “completely, absolutely gob-smackingly terrifying.”

“I told them, ‘Look, I’m great underwater. I dive. I love all that. Jumping off buildings? I’m thinking no.’ They said, ‘That’s fine. We have stunt doubles.’ I went, ‘Stunt doubles? No, no, no, no, no. What do I have to do?’”

For weeks she trained six hours a day to meet the physical demands of the shoot and mentally prepared to overcome her vertigo for the Opera House stunt.

“We just worked our way up and got to seventy-five feet,” she says. “I did the jump.”

What went through her mind as she stepped off the building? “Don’t look down and keep your legs wrapped tightly around Tom. Jump and look cool.”

She says she was not forced into the stunt and could always have said no, but ultimately enjoyed doing it “I love the intensity of the action sequences. There is an energy that is just incredible and your heart is beating.”

The thirty-two year-old actress, who will next be seen opposite Meryl Streep in the Stephen Frears film Florence Foster Jenkins, says in those moments of stress she becomes very focussed. Later though, the weight of the situation sinks in.

“After,” she says, “it hits me. I go, ‘Is that Tom Cruise? Am I kicking ass with Tom Cruise?’”

Metro Canada: Real stunts add to the action in Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation

Screen Shot 2015-07-29 at 5.46.23 PMBy Richard Crouse – Metro In Focus

Check the IMDB page for Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation. You’ll learn that Tom Cruise clung to the outside of an Airbus A400M at an elevation of 5000 feet, held his breath for six minutes underwater and performed dangerous driving scenes all without the aid of an on-camera stuntperson.

It’s not that he is trying to break the stunt union or put anyone out of work. Instead it is Cruise’s commitment to making sure the stunts in his films have a true, palpable sense of danger to them.

Much of what we see on screen these days is computer generated, illusions made up of bits and bytes, but many of the truly eye catching images we’ve seen in movies this summer were created the old fashioned way.

Remember the “car drop” scene from Furious 7? Stunt co-ordinator (and former Knight Rider stunt driver) Jack Gill actually arranged for autos to be launched out of a C-130 Hercules four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft. They shot the scene twice. First aerial photographers in parachutes followed the cars as they dove from an altitude of 12,000 feet and then again from 8000 feet to get helicopter shots. The result is a wild sequence that feels like a rollercoaster ride with real cars.

After years of “following the CG evolution,” using computer generated images to create beautiful animated films like Happy Feet and Babe: A Pig in the City, Mad Max: Fury Road director George Miller says he was keen to go back to “old school” filmmaking “with real cars and real people and real desert.”

That means, unlike the Avengers and their ilk, respecting the laws of physics by using practical effects and keeping the action earthbound. In other words, in a call back to the original Max films — Mad Max, Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior and Beyond Thunderdome — when a car blows up it doesn’t rocket into space. Instead it explodes spectacularly but organically. The wild action you see in Fury Road are actual stunts performed by stunt men and women and not generated by a clever computer operator in a studio. “It was like going back to your old home town and looking at it anew,” Miller says.

Nicholas Hoult, who plays Nux in Fury Road, says having the stunts performed for real added to his performance.

“Because it was all real it actually makes your job a lot easier,” he said. “Rather than being on a stage and having to pretend that things are happening around you and react to nothing, things are actually happening and your reactions are real.”

Carla Gugino says there was quite a bit of greenscreen action in her earthquake movie San Andreas, but adds director Brad Peyton “wanted to do as much in camera as possible.”

In one pivotal scene she and Dwayne Johnson are in a helicopter flying above the carnage.

“The helicopter was in a stage, on a greenscreen,” she says, “but was on a gimbal many, many feet up that literally dropped, dove and spun. We were twenty-five feet off the ground.”

“I think it makes a difference in watching the movie too. It feels much more viscerally connected.”

So filmmakers and actors love giving audiences the real deal thrill of practical effects, but how did Tom Cruise, what feel about hanging on to the side of an aircraft in full flight?

“I was actually scared s—less,” he says.

MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE – ROGUE NATION: 3 ½ STARS. “mission accomplished.”

Screen Shot 2015-07-29 at 5.45.33 PM“This may well be our last mission,” says the Impossible Mission Force head honcho William Brandt (Jeremy Renner). “Let’s make it count.”

Five minutes into “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” Tom Cruise is seen hanging off the side of an airplane as it takes flight. His hair whipped by the wind, grip tightening as the craft puts space between him and the ground, Cruise kicks off the fifth instalment of the popular series with a stunt that proves he’s making it count. Despite what Brandt says, if audiences react expect more missions and wilder stunts.

“Rogue Nation” is set in a world where villains are really villainous, prone to theatrical evil doings like arranging an assassination during an opera so it can be scored by the dramatic operatic stylings of Giacomo Puccini’s “Turandot.” Music swelling, bullets flying, it’s an over-the-top set piece in a movie that revels in its large canvas. Taking place all over the world—Vienna! London! Minsk! Casablanca!—it’s action adventure writ large, with wild stunts that would make Jackie Chan envious, cold-blooded bad guys, hot-blooded agents and double-crosses galore. At one point Hunt even swims through an underground tunnel with the speed of a Cruise Missile. This isn’t the quiet backroom intrigue of “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,” its James Bond on steroids.

Cruise is Ethan Hunt, über action-man described by CIA head Hunley (Alex Baldwin) as “the living manifestation of destiny.” He’s also the hands-on lead agent of the IMF, a super secret group formed to fight against the dastardly Syndicate. Their missions have taken them around the world, leaving a trail of chaos and mayhem in their wake. So much so that Hunley wants to shut them down permanently.

Instead of coming in from the field Hunt goes rogue to infiltrate the Syndicate. With the help of his old IMF cohorts—Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg), Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames)—and a possible double-agent, the fantastically named Ilsa Faust (Rebecca Ferguson), Hunt performs feats of derring-do and uncovers the serpentine truth behind the evil organization. Fortunately the good guys get lucky while the bad guys can’t shoot straight.

This year we have seen a very welcome return to real stunts, old school action that packs a much bigger punch than all the pixels in all the “Avengers” movie put together. Frequent Cruise collaborator and “Rogue Nation” director Christopher McQuarrie keeps the pace up, weaving loads of action into the conspiracy chicanery. More importantly he keeps the stunts organic. With hardly a green screen in sight, you can feel the danger in the stunts. Everyone has had the sensation of sitting inside a plane as it takes flight, and the land below starts to shrink as the craft gains altitude. Now imagine the same thing with Cruise on the outside of the plane. The stunt feels real and grounds the movie, and while old-school in execution, raises the bar for modern action sequences.

Despite the stunts and violence “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation” has a surprisingly light touch. Funnier and with a more linear storyline than previous entries, the movie’s mission is to entertain, and in that it succeeds.

VACATION: 3 STARS. “family movie that is not for families.”

Screen Shot 2015-07-29 at 8.41.24 AMRusty Griswold may have grown up but the humor of the movies that made him famous hasn’t. “Vacation” is a reboot of the “National Lampoon Vacation” series that featured Chevy Chase as the hapless patriarch, Beverley D’ Angelo as his wife, daughter Audrey (played in different movies by Dana Barron, Dana Hill, Juliette Lewis and Marisol Nichols) and Rusty (played variously by Anthony Michael Hall, Jason Lively, Johnny Galecki and Ethan Embry in different movies).

In the new film Ed Helms plays Rusty as a sweet-natured adult, father to James (Skyler Gisondo) and Kevin (Steele Stebbins) and husband to Debbie (Christina Applegate). The family is falling apart and on the eve of their usual summer holiday, a boring trip to a camp that everybody hates, Rusty decides to try something different to bring his family together, a recreation of a childhood road trip with his parents to Walley World.

Anyone who remembers the original 1983 film knows the 2500-mile trip turned into a vacation from hell. It seems Rusty learned nothing from his father’s ill-fated journey. “From the moment we left nothing has gone right,” says Debbie. “Can’t you just admit this was a mistake?” From an angry GPS and a menacing trucker to an inappropriately well-endowed brother-in-law and an open sewer, the trip is fraught with problems.

If not for certain brand of anatomical humour “Vacation” would be about 12 minutes long. Remove the swearing and jokes about sexual acts—Wait! Don’t forget the bodily functions!—there wouldn’t be much going on here. Not that I’m a prude. Far from it. Some of it is genuinely funny. It hits many of the same notes as the original—the father’s verbal break down the extremely unseemly relatives (Leslie Mann and Chris Hemsworth)—but doesn’t have the same good-natured feel. It tries hard to inject some heart into the story in the last half hour but up until then is rough around the edges. Need convincing? Check out the fate of the pretty motorist in the sports car.

Co-directors John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein have a tendency to give away the jokes too soon, but Helms and cast sell the jokes, no matter how raunchy. Particularly good are Gisondo as the sensitive son James and Hemsworth who displays an until now unseen sense of comic timing.

Ultimately “Vacation” is about bringing the Griswold family back together, but it’s not a family movie.

A LEGO BRICKUMENARY: 2 ½ STARS. “not nearly as inventive as its subject.”

Screen Shot 2015-07-29 at 5.44.40 PMBrick by brick Lego has become one of the most popular toys in the world. With $4 billion in sales the “monster” brand’s snap together blocks are responsible for more building than Frank Gehry.

“A LEGO Brickumentary,” a new film narrated by Jason Bateman, takes us beyond the playroom and into the realm of the AFOL (Adult Fan of Lego) population and artist Nathan Sawaya who says he spends upwards of $100,000 annually on LEGO parts. We also meet the designers who create new Lego sets and a psychologist who uses the bricks to help autistic kids.

We’re shown a whole subculture where people use Lego lingo like “minifig”—they’re the small plastic articulated yellow brick figurines—and “B.U.R.P.”—that’s a Big Ugly Rock Piece—and attend conventions to trade pieces and show off their creations.

The upbeat movie—it occasionally it feels more like a corporate video or DVD extra for “The Lego Movie” than it does a doc—may err on the side of being a bit too brand friendly, but it does a good job of showing how ubiquitous the building blocks are. “There are 100 LEGO pieces for every person on the planet,” we’re told. Too bad it doesn’t provide any deep insight as to why the Danish toy is so popular other than the often cited fuel for creativity, or, as one conventioneer puts it, “It’s just fun.” Singer, and Lego enthusiast Ed Sheeran chimes in, “It’s good not to take life too seriously.”

Perhaps so Ed, but while directors Kief Davidson and Daniel Junge clearly have a passion for the subject, a little more insight might have made this a better movie.

While there may be over 900,000,000 ways to fit these blocks together, exercise creativity and have fun “A LEGO Brickumentary” isn’t nearly as inventive as its subject.

Richard Talks TIFF Announcements with CP24’s Stephen LeDrew

Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 5.38.14 PMRichard sits in with Stephen LeDrew to talk about the recent announcements from the Toronto International Film Festival. They talk about Atom Egoyan’s new film “remember,” Jake Gyllenhaal in the opening night film “Demolition” and much more.

Watch the whole thing HERE!